Shawn Fogel, aka Golden Bloom, isn’t what you’d call a megalomaniac. He’s just too nice to be demanding or oppressive. Besides, the only person he’d lord over is himself, since he played every instrument on his album, “Fan the Flames” — from guitar, bass and drums to tenor saxophone and glockenspiel. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who will make his annual summer appearance at the Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor this Saturday, does a little bit of everything.
“I started piano lessons in third grade, and ever since then I wanted to add a new instrument each year,” said Fogel, who lives in Massachusetts. “I started playing clarinet and sax in junior high, and guitar, bass and drums in high school. I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, but I wanted to be good enough on as many as I could. My latest thing is to learn to properly play the banjo.”
“Fan the Flames,” Fogel’s newest album, spotlights his major musical skills.
“This is the first time I’ve really done everything on my own,” said Fogel. “I played every instrument. I needed other opinions in there, though, so I worked with some great people for recording and mixing.”
“Fan the Flames,” Fogel’s first full-length album as Golden Bloom, is a fun, freewheeling, irrepressibly hummable collection of songs. Fogel lovingly arranges each song, with a fractured pop sensibility similar to both Elvis Costello and the more upbeat moments of Sufjan Stevens.
“Fan the Flames” is an excellent choice for summer listening. Eastern Maine residents will get a taste of Fogel’s live show this weekend.
Though on Aug. 18 the full album will be available on iTunes and Amazon.com, Fogel tried a slightly unorthodox way of releasing his album. For 10 weeks, leading up until just a few weeks ago, Fogel released a new track on a different music Web site — from blogs to magazines.
“I wish I could say it was my idea. It was my manager, Janelle’s,” said Fogel. “Music blogs and music magazine sites are the way I get my music news, and I know a lot of people are the same way. They do so much for getting my music out there, as well as countless other unknown bands, so I figured I could give back to them and promote my record both by doing that.”
He’s no cheerleader for music piracy, but Fogel nevertheless understands that the way people access and listen to music has changed almost completely since the dawn of downloading. Instead of fighting the current, he’s swimming with it.
“How many people actually go out and buy albums from someone they’ve never heard?” said Fogel. “Downloading music from blogs is one of the only ways unknown indie bands get any exposure. It’s not so much about selling albums; it’s about building a fan base and getting your name out there.”
For his part, Fogel downloads music from blogs regularly — though when he’s driving from place to place on tour, he’s often listening to bands such as My Morning Jacket and Pedro the Lion.
For his appearance in Bar Harbor this weekend, he’s not playing with a full band. In the Golden Bloom live experience, the only constant is Fogel himself. A revolving cast of musicians performs with him, all over the country. This weekend, however, he’ll be mostly solo, although his buddy Jeff “Jack” Patlingrao will be with him on a few songs. Patlingrao is the guitarist for JP-05, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band made up of several former residents of Bar Harbor.
“Whenever I come up to Bar Harbor I play with my friend Jack,” said Fogel. “Our sets kind of meld into one. He’s definitely one of the most fun people I’ve ever played with. And I love coming to Maine. It’s a highlight of my year, each year.”
Golden Bloom will play with JP-05, starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Lompoc Cafe in downtown Bar Harbor. For more, visit www.goldenbloom.net.