Jon Pousette-Dart is preparing to bring some good vibes to the Narrows Center next week. The veteran singer-songwriter, leader of the Pousette-Dart Band since the early 1970’s, is returning to town with his band on March 20th.
The Pousette-Dart Band is known for their sophisticated acoustic rock – upbeat singer-songwriter tunes that are fun to sing along to, similar in sound to bands like Poco or Pure Prairie League. Their college shows in the 70’s were epic, and they appeared frequently at campuses around New England during their heyday.
Pousette Dart recalled the band’s origins in a phone interview last week. I asked him about his work on what was known as the “college circuit.” I learned that he once worked closely with a legendary producer.
“Don Law asked me to come to Boston in the early 70’s, and I went there and started playing with John Troy as a duo and a trio. The first thing he did was throw us out on the NACA tour which was the college circuit through New England.”
“We played hundreds and hundreds of colleges during that creative period. It was something we were doing non-stop, and it was the foundation of what we were doing as the band was coming together. For most of the early 70’s, the college circuit was the major part of what we were doing.”
New England was a hotbed of national music activity then, for young “indie” bands like Pousette-Dart, and others like Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Billy Joel who used the college circuit to springboard their careers. It was a geographically friendly region, Pousette-Dart explained.
“I think geography had a lot to do with it. The New England/New York area has a cluster of colleges and clubs in an area that you can travel easily within a certain radius. When you go across the country the distance between venues is huge. People out in New Mexico will drive a hundred miles just to go to dinner. It’s a whole different scale. So the East Coast had the benefit of being a place where you could cover a lot of ground.”
Many of the band’s early fans still come out to shows.
“We really just toured incessantly for a decade, we were fortunate to have a dedicated fan base. The majority of our fans are from the baby boomer generation who became aware of the music at a great time in their lives, when your whole life is starting,” recalled Pousette-Dart.
The band reduced their touring schedule in the 1980’s, but Pousette-Dart has never stopped playing.
“In early 90’s, I started going back to Nashville and writing in earnest. The original band went down there and did our last recording and then parted ways. I started working with a guitar player, Jim Chapdelaine, who played with (former NRBQ guitarist) Al Anderson. We’ve been playing together for almost twenty years, along with original drummer Eric Parker and a bass player named Steve Roues, who I’ve been playing with since high school. The “new band” has been playing for quite a while, it’s a pretty tight unit, the music harks back to what we did in the very beginning.”
Like many artists, Pousette-Dart has adapted to the changing musical landscape, releasing new songs online through his web site.
“Because of the way things have changed, we used to concentrate on albums; now, with streaming and what not, I’m now returning to putting songs out as singles or EP’s because it’s the immediate thing that’s happening right now, and I’m able to kind of address that without putting a whole album together. I take things on a song by song basis … my favorite might be something I’m currently working on.”
The band is looking forward to the Narrows Center show – “We really like that room,” he noted, “and there’s always a really appreciative audience there.”