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Title track from Jon Spear's upcoming EP blooms with meaning

Valentine’s Day may be over for another year, but there’s no reason not to surprise someone you care about with a bunch of blooms.

Do it now, Charlottesville singer, songwriter and guitarist Jon Spear recommends. In “Flowers,” the title track of his upcoming EP, Spear encourages people to let the special ones in their lives know how much they’re loved and admired before time slips away.

“We get caught up in the demands of what we’re going to do every day, and we need to be reminded that they won’t be here forever,” Spear said.

The five-song EP will come out on March 15. The Americana title track, which was released Friday, features memorable work by Grammy Award-winning mandolinist Andy Leftwich.

“The first time I heard it, I just about fell out of my chair,” Spear said of Leftwich’s solo. “I was elated. And that’s only one of the instruments he plays.”

Spear said he was inspired to write “Flowers” in part by a quote from blues legend Buddy Guy, in which he asks listeners to being him flowers while he’s still around to enjoy them. Another track on the upcoming EP, “My Once Upon a Time,” is about “how to find solace in the face of adversity.”

For Spear, sharing a “meaningful and important” message in a song helps him make connections with audiences.

“When I play them for people, I get that reaction,” he said. “People will say, ‘We don’t know each other, but I think you know me.’”

Spear has played plenty of large venues in his day, but his favorite musical moments often arrive in the smaller spaces where listeners can reflect and connections can warm hearts.

“It’s my favorite way of playing,” Spear said. “I really like the smaller venues, the listening-type rooms, where I can share it with people.”

Then there’s what he fondly calls “campfire music,” which evokes time spent with friends. “If you’re with friends and enjoying some music around a campfire, I’d like to think my music would be part of that,” Spear said.

Spear said that DJs and radio personnel with whom he has shared “Flowers” have told him that “it seems to be something people are hungry for right now. It’s the kind of music I’ve always been doing.”

Spear has been singing to audiences since he and some friends formed a street-corner doo-wop group that ended up opening for some high-wattage early rock performers. He said he’ll never forget a 1962 concert in New York in which the young singers opened for the Isley Brothers.

“That was the thing that has resonated throughout my life,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. When we performed, we’d have synchronized steps. For a group of kids, we were actually pretty sharp.”

Although they also opened for the Angels and other notable acts, the youngsters never named their group. These days, Spear enjoys playing in a couple of acoustic duos that allow him to savor different styles of music.

Duo partner Dara James “is such a gifted guy,” Spear said. “He has an amazing singing voice. His guitar playing is off the charts.”

When Spear teams up with Ken Farmer, there’s more of a rockabilly and rock vibe.

“I’d have trouble doing one style all the time,” Spear said.


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