Sometimes it's good to take a break. In the case of Gerry Spehar, a thirty year break has undeniable merit.
Gerry Spehar is from an old Colorado pioneer family--coal miners, ranchers and homesteaders. He was born and raised in Grand Junction, worked on his Uncle Will's ranch punching cattle and farming. Uncle Will gave him his first guitar, a Stella, when Gerry was 13.
Gerry started writing songs immediately, 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. 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 and midwest 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 Bobby Allison and playing the finals at the Grand Ole Opry, landing a publishing deal with the legendary Buzz Cason, returning 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, recording demos with Nashville hotshots, looking for the hit. In 2000 Gerry cut a tribute album to his brother with George Massenberg, Greg Leisz, Pete Wasner and Sam Broussard.
Gerry never put the guitar down, amassing hundreds of tunes in late night sessions in the man cave. He and Sue raised two daughters, made a home that welcomed all.
Thirty years on, they jumped back into music, not just as husband and wife, but as 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.
Enlisting I See Hawks In L.A. as his backup band, with contributions from multi-instrumentalist Tommy Jordan, Nashville keys ace Chris Tuttle, and Gabe Witcher, this album is the return of Gerry Spehar: encompassing leisurely swamp grooves, fingerpicked folk, country funk, and some psychedelic country rock: "I Hold Gravity."
It's the aforementioned upside of a long hiatus: the spirit of the 70s, fresh and unbattered and ready for a world that needs a bit of optimism and, yes, erudition. It's country, folky, dark, witty. Alt country from an OG picker.
Life is funny. Ironic at best, and harsh for certain. Sue passed from cancer as Gerry and the band were finishing the recordings. They were all lucky enough to share her grace, her family, a wedding, and to know that she heard the songs brought to completion in her last days.
Gerry is one tough hombre. He's dedicating phase two to Sue, and he's ready to rock.