An Interview with...
Maple Road Blues Band
In 2022, The Hometown Foundation is excited to bring various musical talents to stages around Washington County. We are looking forward to our Thursday night summer music series at Regner Park (West Bend), and Sandy Knoll Park, a Washington County Park (Town of Trenton) as well as our annual HomeGrown Music Festival on July 10. You will see many talented folks who call Wisconsin home. Joshua M. Miller interviewed Jenny Abbott-Goodell of Maple Road Blues Band (as well as her husband Dave, who handles sound and lighting for many Regner Rocks events). Maple Road Blues Band will play live on August 4 at Sandy Knoll Park.
How have you kept busy the past few years?
This is a great question! Covid certainly had an impact on what we were able to do musically from 2020-2021. We did find a few ways to bring live music to people, including playing at a drive thru fish fry on a weekly basis, keeping fans up to date with regular newsletters, and utilizing the large space at Washington County Fairgrounds to host a show. As things eased from the pandemic, we experienced a surge of venues booking, especially for outdoor, open spaces. Between Maple Road and She’s Right-I’m Left, we’ve been busy most weekends since.
How would you describe Maple Road's sound? What makes it stand out from the crowd?
I would describe our sound as a laid back, yet powerful take on some well-known covers mixed with original music contributing to at least 1/3 of each set. This is one thing that I’ve always really enjoyed about Maple Road-the ability to play our own tunes. It’s likely one of the things that sets us apart. I also think one of the things that helps Maple Road stand out is the unique twist that we put on the covers we play. We don’t really play anything the same way twice. Also, having two lead vocalists and guitarists keeps things interesting for us and hopefully the audience!
Dave, you handle sound/lighting at Regner events. How did you get into that and why do you like it so much?
Ever since I started playing guitar, which is going on nearly 20 years now, I was interested in the “behind the scenes” aspect of live music, and all of the work that went into making a gig happen. I would always read (and still do, actually) articles and forums from industry pros about everything related to PA gear, and slowly started accumulating my own stockpile of equipment. I joined discussion groups, and kept learning more of the “do’s and don’ts” of sound reinforcement. Fast forward to now, I love forming the connection between the performers and the audience, creating an equally great experience for everyone at a show, whether it be a small bar gig, or an awesome outdoor event like the Regner Rocks series!
Maple Road Blues Band performs live in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Origins of the Band
How did the band originally form?
Maple Road formed when I met up with a high school friend and drummer, Nick Casati. I had just started dabbling with playing electric guitar and was being pulled towards the Blues. I was looking for ways to get together and play with actual people. Nick and I had a few jam sessions, and the band grew from there.
She's Right-I'm Left is an acoustic version of the band. What are the benefits of having that option?
She’s Right-I’m Left has not only allowed Dave and I to share music with others from the stage together, but it has also given us a more flexible footprint for venues that want something a bit smaller in size. I like that we can perform as a duo, or when appropriate, bring in bass and percussion as well. It’s also a great option for performing new tunes in a relaxed format.
On Songwriting & Music
The band has a couple albums. What were your goals with those albums?
We really just wanted to share our music, especially the original music. It is beyond cool to look out and see people singing along with songs that I’ve written.
What are some of examples?
We’ve been playing original tunes since the band formed years ago so it’s really cool when I notice people singing along to older songs like, “Facing West,” “Roll to Me,” “Make Things Right,” and “Time for Wine.” It’s like a trip back in a little musical time machine.
Maple Road Blues Band opening for Charlie Daniels
What songs have taken on the most meaning since you wrote them?
I think “Facing West” will always be really special to me. It just captures that “feeling” I had when I first started performing original music and is a reminder to keep doing what I love.
Is the band planning to release new music soon? If so, what should people know about the songs and themes?
There has been talk of this. Especially since our new member, Rory Grouse, joined the band. We’ve all had some pretty big life “projects” lately, but the goal is that when things settle down, we’ll be working on laying some tracks down. To be continued, I guess!
What are some of your favorite gigs?
Ahhh, there have been so many! Anything local is awesome. Seeing the folks that have been following the band for years is really rewarding and special. Opening for Larry McCray at The Bend is one of the more recent favorites
What are some of the most surprising songs you’ve written so far?
Probably not so surprising, I had some extra time during the pandemic to get a few thoughts down. “Wine and Tumbleweeds” is a product of this chapter.
What were you trying to achieve on “Wine and Tumbleweeds”?
Ahh, “Wine and Tumbleweeds.” Again, this is another tune that captures where I was at when I wrote it. It was mid-pandemic, and I personally needed a little boost. There’s a line in the song about a songbird that everyone else can hear but she can’t hear herself. I guess it’s just another reminder to keep going, allow yourself space, grace, and forgiveness.
How has Wisconsin and this area of the state most influenced you as a musician?
There are so many opportunities to share our music! Not all cities have venues that strive to support live music.
Life Outside of Music
What’s your most surprising hobby outside of music?
I’m kind of a stargazer. I love looking up-always have. I feel like my creativity is allowed to breathe in those moments.
Connecting with The HomeTown Foundation
Why is the Hometown Foundation's mission to help local artists important to you?
It’s been really amazing to see the growth of the Hometown Foundation. Hometown has put an amazing amount of effort into providing a platform for local musicians to share their art with those that truly appreciate it, while benefiting a variety of non-profit organizations at the same time. Being part of that is a win-win situation!
Listen to Maple Road Blues Band
Josh also interviewed these artists for the HomeTown Foundation’s 2022 concert series season.
About Joshua M. Miller
Joshua M. Miller is a frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, Guitar World, and the Shepherd Express, among others, He has interviewed the likes of Brian Wilson, Steve Martin, U2 guitarist The Edge, Kiefer Sutherland, and William Shatner. He resides in Kewaskum, is an avid music fan, and is a supporter of the Hometown Foundation. You can follow his writing on twitter and facebook.
Check Joshua’s features in Rolling Stone, Guitar World, SPIN, the Chicago Sun-Times and more at his website.