August 11, 2013

Where are they now? Mainers in the music biz

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

Some Mainers who have had success in the music business, and where it has led them:

Juliana Hatfield
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Juliana Hatfield

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Howie Day

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Three veteran musicians offer their thoughts:

• JEWEL, 39, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who had several hits in the '90s, including "Who Will Save Your Soul": "Record labels are so far behind in how fans want to enjoy music. That's why the Internet snuck up on them. Today, bands can sell a significant amount of records without a label. To me, there's no reason to try to sign with a label."

• PAULA COLE, 45, singer-songwriter whose hits included "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" in the '90s and produced her latest album, "Raven," using $75,000 raised through the public fundraising website Kickstarter: "In the old paradigm, an artist didn't really know their fans, but now you can really get to know your fan base and speak directly to them. You have to look at it as a small business, and you have to care about your people tremendously to make it work."

• DAVE GUTTER, 38, lead singer for the Portland rock/R&B outfit Rustic Overtones, which signed a deal with Arista Records in 1998 but never released an album for the label due to a management shakeup: "When we got signed, you played a gig for the bigwigs and you tried to get signed, and we did. To build up our fan base, we actually licked stamps and sent out mailers to our fans. Then we went around town and nailed posters to telephone poles. Facebook does all that for you now."

JULIANA HATFIELD -- Born in Wiscasset, the singer-songwriter first experienced musical success in the Boston scene in the 1980s as part of The Blake Babies. Her independent solo album "Become What You Are" gained her biggest hit, "My Sister," which had an accompanying video that got a lot of airtime on MTV. Her song "Spin the Bottle" was in the film "Reality Bites" (1994), and by the mid-'90s, she was touring with the all-female rock festival Lilith Fair. Hatfield now lives in Cambridge, Mass., and is conducting a "crowd-funding" campaign to finance her next solo album.

HOWIE DAY -- The Brewer native was still a teenager when he self-recorded and released his debut album, "Australia," in 2000. His success on his own attracted Epic Records, which re-released the work. Day went on to be a major artist on adult alternative radio stations. His later singles, "She Says" and "Collide," were both hits. He still records and performs regularly, and joined the Boston Pops for Boston's Fourth of July concert this year. 

SPOSE -- Wells rapper Ryan Peters' self-recorded single "I'm Awesome" was a big local hit around 2010 and got him signed to Universal Republic, but a change in leadership at the label led to him being dropped. He took the $190,000 he got in the deal and set himself up at his home so he could record and market his own music. He's currently a self-supporting musician living in Wells, with no day job.

RUSTIC OVERTONES -- This Portland band signed a deal with Arista around 1998, then another one with Tommy Boy a few years later, but never had big-time national success. Today, the band is still playing to fairly big crowds, albeit with a slightly different lineup, in Maine and around the country.

RAY LaMONTAGNE -- Born in New Hampshire, LaMontange was living in Maine and playing clubs around Portland in 2002-03 when he got heard by the right people. His album "Trouble" was released by RCA in 2004, and he was soon getting radio airplay around the country. His 2010 album "God Willin' And The Creek Don't Rise" won a Grammy as best contemporary folk album. 


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Rustic Overtones

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Ray LaMontagne

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