For anyone who feels left out of the growing virtual world out there — full of emails and instant messaging and electronics — local artist, musician and around-the-world sailor David Wegman’s recently-released debut CD Home Grown Music should be required listening.
While the recording features a mix of original and traditional songs, all are performed acoustically and are capable of transporting one back to a simpler time.
“We recorded the disc in two 12-hour sessions at Steven Pague’s studio in Claverack, New York, but Maine is where the whole thing started,” Wegman said. “Steven and Benjamin Herndon came up and did a performance where I live in Maine on an island in a lake. We do a reunion every summer and a lot of people come up and camp.”
“A lot of musicians come up and there is no electricity, so we all play acoustic,” the artist added.
The self-taught Wegman, who is joined on the CD by Pague, Herndon, Leah Schraeder, Nina Manin, Patricia Fitzgerald and Paul Hess, first picked up an instrument when he was 25.
“I’ve been playing since I was 25 — I never played anything before that,” said Wegman, now nearing 60. “I started with a harmonica and then a banjo, and then a violin and a guitar. It was all front porch singing and playing.”
Don’t be afraid of the small package that will fall out of your copy of Home Grown Music, the promise on the cover of “Free Seeds Inside” — which Wegman created — is real.
“The seeds came about because of the Home Grown Music and the song Home Grown Tomatoes is on the CD,” said the artist. “The seeds are things they won’t put you in jail for and you can eat.”
Drawing from Life Experience
The musician is also an accomplished artist, but not the “pretty pictures” variety, Wegman explained.
“I am an artist and I write my own music, but only stuff that happens to me — I don’t do pretty pictures for walls,” he said. “I look at my art as kind of like a visual journey of my life and music is kind of the same. They kind of coincide.”
An avid traveler, Wegman draws inspiration for his artistic endeavors from his ever-changing experiences.
“In the last 25 years, I’ve never been in the same place more than a month and a half,” said Wegman. “When you travel like that all the time, you meet a lot of interesting people.”
One would have to love travel to embark on an around-the-world sailing adventure, like Wegman did in 1989 aboard his locally-constructed cowhorn Afrigan Queen.
“Afrigan Queen is the only boat built on St. John that has sailed around the world,” Wegman said. “I left in 1989 and came back in 1998. I went everywhere and played music all over the world.”
The artist had a much earlier encounter with paint than he did with instruments.
“My uncle got me going with painting — when I was eight years old I did my first oil painting and I’ve been painting ever since,” said Wegman. “He was the inspiration who got me started and I just went on from there.”
Wegman, whose work is available locally at Tall Ship Trading Co. in Coral Bay, specializes in people and boats.
“I like painting people and boats and all the things that come along that I am inspired by,” Wegman said. “I’ve been coming to the islands since 1974 and over the years I’ve seen a lot of the real Caribbean flavor disappear — there’s not a whole lot left anymore.”
“Whenever I see something that is still there, like this little place I was at recently in Nevis, I like to paint it and kind of preserve it,” the artist continued.
Wegman also teaches at the Omega Institute for Holistic Study’s St. John retreat every year.
“This year I taught ‘Re-imaging the Image,’ said Wegman. “It was all about picking up things from the dumpster like styrofoam or whatever found objects and using simple items and techniques to make art out of it.”
“Next year I will teach ‘Re-imaging the Image of Yourself,’” the artist continued. “People will make an oil portrait or a pastel or a sculpture or a life-size puppet and interact with it. It is kind of a meditation to see yourself in a different light and even act out plays with each other.”
Staying Ahead of Times
Up next for the traveling artist is a DVD project.
“I want to stay ahead of the times and I think the way to go in the future is making videos,” said Wegman. “I want to film a movie in Maine next summer which will be totally different from normal music videos.”
From painting to writing music to sailing, Wegman has one underlying motto for all of his projects.
“I want to humorously do good works and spread music throughout the country and the world,” said Wegman.
Don’t miss the chance to see Wegman perform along with Pague, Herndon, Rich Greengold and Richard Taxwell at Island Blues on Tuesday, February 6, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. and at Shipwreck Landing on Friday, February 9, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Home Grown Music is available at Jolly Dog, located next to Tall Ship Trading Co., where a number of Wegman’s paintings can be found.
For more information contact the artist at [email protected]