Andrew LaVogue’s “Cherry Valley Waltz.” Design by Alyson Peabody

Portland’s Andrew LaVogue only needed two guitars to make an entirely engrossing and gorgeous instrumental album.

With “Cherry Valley Waltz,” released Sept. 16, it’s as if LaVogue has invented his own language that will be uniquely translated by every set of ears that hear it.

LaVogue said that this album was his attempt at emulating a Midwestern summer day.

“Many of the song titles and moods of the album is me trying to express what it was like growing up in the rural Midwest,” he said.

It’s a tribute to that childhood and to himself as a child.

“This album was really about me writing songs I’ve always wanted to write and honoring my younger self, young Andrew who lived in Ohio always wanted to write music for a film,” a goal he achieved with the song “Ode to R. Parker,” written for the documentary “Rick Parker, I’m Afraid” about Falmouth artist Rick Parker.


Originally from Leetonia, Ohio, LaVogue and his wife, Kelsey, moved to Maine in 2015 and absolutely love it. “We have gotten lucky in every possible way since moving to Maine,” said LaVogue. “I have no idea what cosmic debt we paid to be so lucky.”

Perhaps then LaVogue is paying that debt forward by gifting us Mainers, and anyone else who happens upon it, with his music.

The first thing you’ll hear on the opening title track is birds chirping. A few seconds later, the song is awash in the sounds of LaVogue’s Guild acoustic guitar. It sounds like an early spring day that’s unexpectedly warm and full of so much possibility. There’s a soothing, rhythmic feel to “Cherry Valley Waltz” that makes it the perfect starting point. LaVogue said the song, which got its name from a park in his hometown called Cherry Valley Coke Ovens, is meant to feel like “a kid frolicking in the park.”

Andrew LaVogue. Photo by Sarah Violette

On “Sweet and Simple,” LaVogue plays his Fender Stratocaster. There’s nothing quite like the sound of this electric guitar being played slowly and purposefully. It’s as if it’s saying, “I’ve got nothing to prove but stay a while and listen.” “Sweet and Simple” is hypnotic and yet has a kindness to it. It’s listening to you as much as you’re listening to it. There’s a conversation taking place during which my mind is able to wander to many places but is continuously anchored to every note and strum.

The other tracks on “Cherry Valley Waltz” are just as captivating. The acoustic “Remember When” is a tapestry of intricate notes. On the Fender, “Fields of Wheat and Hay” builds upon itself in mesmerizing fashion.

I find “Cherry Valley Waltz” to be an entirely impassioned recording. Words aren’t needed. With an instrumental album like this one, the listener can be emotionally multi-tasking.

In my case, listening to “Cherry Valley Waltz” gave me a sense of awe for what LaVogue had created. But it also got entwined in the feelings of grief around losing my mother in May. At one point, I had to take my headphones off and sob at my desk. But that’s OK. That’s one of the many gifts of music, it’s a sanctuary that always has your back. “Cherry Valley Waltz” is such a place.

Head to LaVogue’s Bandcamp page to go there yourself: andrewlavogue.bandcamp.abum/cherry-valley-waltz.

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