MUSICIAN // SONGWRITER
Gerry Spehar is a man on a mission. Following up his critically acclaimed old-school protest album, Anger Management, the Colorado singer songwriter guitar picker is back with Lady Liberty, a bookend celebration of America’s triumph over the darkness of Donald Trump.
Here, Gerry is backed by the always psychedelic Paul Lacques (I See Hawks In L.A.), prog instrumentalists Joe Berardi and Marc Doten (Double Naught Spy Car), L.A. legends Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers) and Rick Moors (Bonedaddys), trumpeter Errin Bone, guitarist Javi Ramos, and vocalist Christine Spehar.
As with Anger Management, the album focuses poignantly on issues that plague the country, but now with hope, not fear.
The songs are undeniably catchy and a compelling listen, and the same description of Gerry's previous releases applies: The spirit of the 70s, fresh and unbattered and ready for a world that needs a bit of optimism.
Lady Liberty, Day One is an impressive feat of post-COVID recording – a beast of a tune with tricky timing and changes that the musicians collaborated on and recorded remotely. Joe Berardi (drums and percussion), Paul Lacques (electric guitars), Rick Moors and Marc Doten (bass) and Gerry (acoustic) fought it to life, and mixer Alfonso Rodenas made marvelous sense of its many tracks.
Laura Dean reflects on the real-life trauma suffered by the brave doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who risk their lives daily to help us survive the Pandemic. It is dedicated to all souls who have succumbed to it, in particular musicians Charley Pride and John Prine, who inspired its simple folk story and treatment. It is a remote collaboration with co-producer Paul Lacques on lap steel.
The Immigrant Suite was cut and mixed pre-COVID at engineer Mitch Zelezny's studio, with Javi and Gerry on acoustic guitars, Erinn on trumpet and Christine on vocals. Gabe Witcher later added sizzling fiddle.
Gerry Spehar is from an old Colorado pioneer family--coal miners, ranchers and homesteaders. He was born and raised in Grand Junction, and as a young man worked on his Uncle Will's ranch punching cattle and farming. Uncle Will gave him his first guitar, a Stella, when Gerry was 13. He started writing songs immediately and practiced like a fiend, absorbing Mississippi John Hurt finger style guitar and drinking in everyone from Haggard to Hendrix.
Gerry lived the late 60s dream, hitchhiking from CU Boulder to home and back. In 1968 when his study abroad in France was interrupted by the student revolution, Gerry bummed all over Europe, playing in train stations and cafes, living off tips. He came home to his college sweetheart Sue and got serious about music, resuming a duo with his brother George.
The Spehar Brothers were the buzz of the mountain club circuit, opening for Boz Scaggs, Ian & Sylvia, John Fahey and Townes Van Zandt. Bill & Bonny Hearne cut Gerry's song "Georgetown," with Nancy Griffith contributing vocals. Things were happening.
When Sue got pregnant with their second child, Gerry put on his only straightjacket--gray mohair--walked into a bank, and got a job. For a few years he juggled music and day gig, winning the Regional Wrangler Country Showdown with partner Bobby Allison and playing the finals at the Grand Ole Opry, landing a publishing deal with the legendary Buzz Cason, returning often to Nashville to play the Bluebird and push his tunes, opening for Merle Haggard.
The day gig won. Gerry got a fat job in L.A., gave up performing and raised a family, still recording demos with Nashville hotshots, looking for the hit. In 2000 Gerry cut a tribute album to his brother with the legendary George Massenberg, Greg Leisz (Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker), Pete Wasner (Vince Gill) and Sam Broussard. Gerry never put the guitar down, amassing hundreds of tunes in late night sessions in the man cave.
Gerry and Sue did things right, raised two brilliant daughters, made a home that welcomed all. Thirty years on, they became songwriting partners, chronicling their cross country drives, their mountain heritage, and an L.A. to Texas landscape filled with shrimpers, dynamiters and wildcatters, wrestlers, roughnecks, overambitious farmers, and Monsanto lawyers – the 2017 album I Hold Gravity.
Sue passed from cancer as Gerry and friends were finishing I Hold Gravity. All were lucky enough to share her grace, and to know that she heard the songs brought to completion in her last days. I Hold Gravity and Anger Management may prove to be folk country and protest classics, and Lady Liberty is another new direction for Gerry Spehar, fearless as always.