AROUND CAPE ANN: Jon Butcher's latest album 'Special Day' is making waves

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Jul. 22—Gloucester's Jon Butcher, a consummate singer-songwriter and producer, has broken out of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking a musical odyssey in his new album "Special Day," which is garnering attention from coast to coast as well as overseas.

This is the first album Butcher, a Grammy-nominated guitarist, has done since he released "360 degrees" in 2018.

In another major step, his band, The Jon Butcher Axis, will have its first live performance since the pandemic began this Saturday, July 24, at The Center for Arts (TCAN) in Natick at 8 p.m.

"'Special Day' has ten new songs, which I call 'small stories about big events.' I'm excited about this album because, first, I recorded it during my forced 'COVID vacation,' and second, because it is being well-received not only around the country but around the world," said Butcher, who was interviewed by a London newspaper this week.

He believes the subject matter, in part, resonates with listeners.

"While the world went to pieces, I sequestered myself in the recording studio, determined to make something positive out of such pain and anguish. We were all sort of in the same boat — thinking what are we going to do, how are we going to live, how are we going to make money?" he said. "I took all that negative energy and turned it into something that feels a little more hopeful. Hope is an emotion that resonates with everyone."

"No one wants to hear about more devastation. But people want, and need, to somehow feel uplifted. All of us are looking for some positivity, especially now and 'Special Day' has created that energy for me," said Butcher. "Music generally is about being uplifted and it has to be. We need that kind of positivity in our lives to keep going. For me, I need music like I need water. I need it to survive with all the negativity around me in any direction. Music is a wellspring, a way of being rejuvenated and rejuvenating my soul and keeping my eyes pointed upward."

His talents include his "powerful soul-infused vocals; and his guitar work reflects a skillful mix of rock and R&B, funk and soul, jazz and Americana, all of it focused through a prism built from the blues," wrote one critic.

Butcher, a recording artist who emerged from the celebrated '80s Boston music scene, is not one to sit still, and during the pandemic he started a film company, Watercolors Movies, to make mini-movies for artists, musicians, and others who have a story to tell but don't have "deep corporate pockets." This is an addition to his multimedia production company and recording studio, where he has produced music scores for HBO, "Ugly Betty," "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Hendrix: The Movie."

His music can be downloaded at iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, and for those who want an autographed CD, send a message through his website at www.jonbutcher.com or Facebook.

Artist Demonstration: KT Morse

North Shore Arts Association, in collaboration with the Gloucester's cultural districts and partners, celebrates art on Cape Ann every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. in July and August with Cultural Splash. During these extended hours, the public is invited to experience free artist demonstrations at the art association at 11 Pirate's Lane in Gloucester. A wine and cheese "Meet the Artist" reception will follow each demonstration.

This week features award-winning artist KT Morse, who will give an oil painting demo on Thursday, July 22, at 6 p.m.

A master of skies and clouds, she has become known for her large skyscapes. She also is an artist member at the Rockport, Hudson Valley and Lyme art associations, and the National Association of Women Artists.

For more information or to reserve a seat, visit nsarts.org.

New dance performances

Windhover Center for the Performing Arts presents the New York-based Continuum Contemporary Ballet and the company's new works in progress on Monday, July 26, and Tuesday, July 27, both at 7 p.m., on the outdoor stage at the historic farm in Rockport. Each performance will be followed by a conversation and Q&A session with the company.

"Continuum focuses on the genre of contemporary ballet, combining a strong foundation in classical ballet with modern artistry and creativity to generate original works that reflect the present day," according to Windhover. These performances present new works developed in residencies at Sky Hill Farm Studio in Cazenovia, New York, and at Windhover.

"Artist residencies have provided the company a valuable opportunity to reconnect with dance-making and performance in a focused way while taking inspiration from nature, especially after the upheaval and displacement caused by the pandemic. Continuum's new choreography honors and reflects what the company has lived through in the past pandemic year, and features a poetic sensibility that is gentle, sensitive, and detailed," noted Donna Salgado, Continuum founder and choreographer. The dancers include Catherine Gurr, Haley Neisser, Donna Salgado, Vanessa Salgado, and Matthew Michael Uriniak.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at online at https://windhover.org/performances, or by calling the Gloucester Stage box office at 978-281-4433.

Hye Fusion

The Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation presents Hye Fusion in a free concert on the Meetinghouse Green at the corner of Middle and Church streets this Friday, July 23, at 6 p.m. The group is known for its integration of music from the Middle East with Western jazz standards. The members received their musical training from the New England Conservatory as well as from musical mentors such as Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. The musicians play current and traditional instruments including the oud, classical and rhythm guitars, keyboard, clarinet and saxophone as well as the Middle Eastern doumbek. Free-will donations this week go to Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop.

Concert goers bring lawn chairs and blankets to spread out on the green. Performances are handicap accessible; parking on the Green is limited to persons with disabilities. The local food vendor will be Classic Cooks.

For more information, a schedule of upcoming concerts, and to sign up for the newsletter, visit www.gloucestermeetinghouse.org.

The Jantelles

The Jantelles will perform at Captain Carlo's on Harbor Loop in Gloucester on Friday, July 23. from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. This is the group's first public gig in more than a year and the bandmates are eager to share their music, inviting residents to come dine and dance.

Cape Ann Symphony

For an outdoor poolside treat of classical music, the Cape Ann Symphony's "Musical Celebration," which was postponed last week due to rain, will now take place this Sunday, July 25, with performances at 3 and 5:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for both performances. For more details and tickets, visit www.capeannsymony.org, or call 978-281-0543.

Around Cape Ann is a column devoted to events happening on Cape Ann and artists from Cape Ann performing elsewhere. If you would like to submit an item, contact reporter Gail McCarthy at 978-675-2706 or gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com at least two weeks in advance.

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