Boston’s Jesse Dee will be closing out the Tweed River Music Festival in fine fashion. The seasoned singer-songwriter has wowed crowds across the US and Europe with his high energy soul revue. On My Mind/In My Heart, his 2013 release, was a Twangville favorite, filled with the kind of soul and R&B that recalls the finer moments of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Dee will undoubtedly send everyone home on a music high.
Dee spoke with us about penning letters to Ben and Jerry and the virtues of living in a thriving music community.
This is your first time playing the Tweed River Music Festival. What, if any, expectations do you have for the experience?
I’m expecting to have a great time! It’s hard to go wrong with good people + good music, in a beautiful Vermont setting. I’ve regretfully had to miss the festival in past years. So I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to take part this year. It’s a privilege to be part of such a quality lineup of performers.
Are there any particular artists that you are particularly excited to see perform at Tweed this year?
I’m always excited to see Tim Gearan and his band play. He has been a long time favorite. But the list continues from there: The Blue Ribbons, The B3 Kings, Andrea Gillis, No Small Children, The Silks….
Vermont is a haven for outdoor sports and activities year-round. Are there any outdoor sports/activities that you especially enjoy when you’re not working?
Cooking, camping, swimming…. Fortunately for me Tweed River Music Festival has those activities covered!
What is your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor?
“Oatmeal Cookie Chunk” always made quite a favorable impression on my taste buds. (sweet cream cinnamon ice cream w/ chunks of oatmeal cookie and fudge) The flavor has unfortunately been discontinued. I’ve written several strongly worded letters to both Ben and Jerry. However, I’d recommend supporting your local, independent ice cream shop.
Do you think differently about festival shows than you do about regular shows?
I always try to adapt my performance to it’s environment. It’s important to play to the audience regardless of it’s size or location. There are many different elements that factor in to a successful performance. But the idea is to connect with people. Sometimes it’s necessary to approach a festival show differently than a non-festival show in order to do so.
Tweed has always been a festival that is built around community. How would you describe the music community in your home town/town where you live? How has it, if at all, influenced your music?
I’m fortunate to be part of an amazing music community in Boston and it’s surrounding towns – Cambridge, Somerville, etc. It has been instrumental in my growth as a performer of music, as well as a lover of music. I’ve continually been inspired by world class musicians (that can be found playing any night of the week), and been nourished by the support of music fans / friends ( that can also be found at shows any night of the week). Not only does it provide me regular opportunities to get the necessary music fix I need, but it inspires me to get (a lot) better as a musician!
A good local music community holds much value for many reasons. One of the big reasons is it’s capability of bringing the greater community together.
A festival like Tweed is a good example of just that. It’s no coincidence that the Tweed community of artists + attendees alike, continues to draw heavily from the greater Boston music community!
How does “location” fit into your songwriting?
I don’t think I have many songs that reference specific locations in the actual lyrics. But “location” can certainly affect how I write and what I write.
Our immediate surroundings affect the way we reflect inward. So when I’m writing I often times enjoy a more secluded location to extract words / ideas from my own head. But a more public location, e.g. a bus, subway, city streets, etc. can be more conducive to extracting words / ideas from other people. Some locations simply just have more songs floating around in them waiting to be captured.
I aspire to write songs that can be enjoyed in any location, however. Waitsfield, VT sounds like a good spot! I hope you can join us there !
While this will be Dee’s first appearance at the Tweed River Music Festival, he is a veteran festival performer. Here he is wowing the crowd at the 2013 Life Is Good Festival.
Tweed River Music Festival is less a showcase for bands and more a celebration of everything that great music embodies: the deeply personal link between artist and fan, the spirit of community and cooperation and, yes, the magical atmosphere of a great show in a stunning setting.
Set on a bucolic swath of land nestled between the Green and Northfield Mountains in the Mad River Valley in Waitsfield, VT, the 2015 Tweed River Music Festival will host more than 30 acts, including staples such as Bow Thayer, Tim Gearan, Andrea Gillis, White Dynomite and The Curtis Mayflower, while also welcoming Bloodshot Records recording artist Lydia Loveless, Vermont natives Waylon Speed and Alligator Records recording artist (and Boston native) Jesse Dee. Other great musical acts include Joe Fletcher, JP Harris and The Tough Choices, Caitlin Canty and ANTI Records recording artist Christopher Paul Stelling.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.