Robert Lester Folsom
Robert Lester Folsom
My mom's high soprano and my father's deep bass put me somewhere in the middle. They used to listen to the local AM radio station which featured gospel, country, pop, soul and Paul Harvey at noon. They also joined the Columbia Record Club and not only did I get to listen to Fat's Domino and Johnny Cash, they let me have a selection and that first choice was Rubber Soul by The Beatles. What a huge impact! Until then I thought The Beatles were just "yeah yeah yeah!" This was my favorite pop/rock band obviously inspired by Bob Dylan.
So then there was Dylan. Now not only could I mimic The Beatles, but I could also write songs that expressed my every emotion. I started a band before I could even play the guitar. I traded my record player for my first guitar and the strings were so high off the neck that they could cut your fingers.
My mother bought me a Mel Bay Chord Book and I went to town. I wrote song after song and formed band after band with my friends. Then a friend and I bought a Sears 4 track reel to reel and I started recording everything and everybody. Every reel of tape was an album.
Eventually we would transfer a reel to 8 tracks and sell them to friends. We would pass around our lyric books to girls and we were rock stars in our own little world. We would play for 4-H Club events, church functions, and parties. This went on through high school. I went on to South Georgia College where I met other musicians.
I went there as a music major, but I was seriously looking into music in a much more major sort of way. I met Sparky Smith among many others and not only was he my bass player, but he became a forever trustworthy friend. Then there was Hans Van Brackle who I had already hooked up with in high school and Van Whiddon, Jimmy Whiddon and Sparky's buddy Don Anderson. There were others, like Don Fleming our amazing manager, but this was the nucleus of what would become my band Abacus.
We played proms, VFW dances and parties mixing covers with our original music. It worked for the most part but we felt there had to be more, at least I did. We had a good grouping of original songs and we went to Atlanta to find a studio to record a demo. I grew up listening to the LeFevre Gospel Family and knew they had a fine studio in Atlanta so we went there first.
There we were introduced to their head engineer Stan Dacus. He seemed like a nice cool guy so we booked a session there. We often rehearsed at Sparky's parents' house in Broxton, GA and his mom liked us quite a bit so she said she would pay for us to record our first serious demo. The session went great, Dacus was impressed and I had the fever to do something serious.
I had a wonderful band, but it was hard for us all to get on the same page about recording. This frustrated me a little and I couldn't wait to sort it all out and do something. I told Stan Dacus that I wanted to do a solo album and he said he would like to help. I let him listen to some of the old tapes of my music and he said let's get started ASAP.
I took out a loan at my local bank and booked some time at LeFevre in Atlanta. I told my band what I was doing and asked them if they would like to participate. They were all on board to get the opportunity to record so we began rehearsing. We got real tight with the music I had selected and soon in the summer of 1976 we started recording.
We would lay down the basic tracks with a guide vocal, then we would add overdubs with instruments and serious vocals. Stan was helpful in getting the time we needed. We would book 4 hours and get 6. We spent serious time mixing.
I introduced some new effects, especially a flanger which enabled us to get a sound that stood out over other music of that time. I may have thought at some point we went overboard but in retrospect I think we were dead on as far as capturing the sounds I was hearing in my heart and mind. We had vinyl and 8 tracks made, Danny Dickens (a college art major friend) did the cover art, and Music and Dreams became a reality. There was Georgia success and maybe some north Florida, but not nearly enough airplay and not enough money to do gigs to do the album justice.
Music and Dreams became a small town success with a big debt to pay. I later recorded two songs ("Blues Stay Away" and "Warm Horizons") for a 45 rpm single as a possible leader to a follow-up LP but that was not to be realized. Thirty some odd years later, someone in California heard "April Suzanne" on the Internet and interest in my original music re-emerged. Douglas McGowan of Yoga Records in Los Angeles called Stan Dacus. Stan then called me and I got back with Douglas and the reissue ball started rolling and picked up some good moss.
Douglas pitched Music and Dreams to Mexican Summer in New York where Keith Abrahamson immediately wanted to reissue the album in it's original form on vinyl. This successfully took place in early 2010. Another company in South Korea, Riverman Music, wanted to reissue Music and Dreams in CD format to also include the singles "Blues Stay Away" and "Warm Horizons" as bonus material. This proved to be a very successful reissue and is already in it's second production run. This also took place in early 2010. With so much buzz going on with the reissues, I decided to try to put a new band together.
This took place over a period of about 9 months with local Jacksonville, Florida musicians that I had befriended along my life's journey and we were invited to play at the CMJ (College Music Journal) Festival in New York City this past October. We immediately focused on that one special gig and we went to New York and received excellent reviews. We played to a sold out crowd at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and I watched complete strangers sing my songs along with me as we performed under the hot stage lights. To finally be recognized and appreciated after 30 plus years was so completely gratifying and surreal.
In many ways my music and dreams have been born again and I am now looking forward to what this rebirth will bring to me and to everyone who will share it with me. God bless and keep everyone who has shared in this musical adventure. Thank you so very much! Nov. 2010 Robert Lester Folsom Read more on Last.fm.
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