Jon Shain & Joe Newberry
Friday, Jan. 22, 8 p.m.
5504 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham
The blues guitarist Jon Shain is contemplating the ways in which the seven songs he wrote with the old-time banjo player Joe Newberry altered his musical approach.
Those tuneswritten for their collaborative debut as a duo, the new Crow the Dawnreminded him to be open to new experiences, Shain says, and to surrender his ego in collaborative work. It showed him that a different approach isn’t necessarily a wrong approach and that truly paying attention to someone else’s work can be more valuable than playing blues licks alongside it.
But then, almost as an afterthought, Shain realizes that the experience had a more tangible effect: It helped him salvage a band of which Newberry wasn’t even a member.
As Shain and Newberry worked to finish the 14-track record last summer, F.J. Ventre, the longtime bassist in Shain’s self-named trio and the anchor for much of Crow the Dawn, said he was quitting the band. He and Shain had played together since 1982, when they were both Massachusetts high school students, but it was time to move on.
“I was really bummed out about it,” Shain says. “I decided that, if F.J. was leaving, I was just going to break up the band, start something new.”
He diagnosed the problem, however, just in time: Though he and Ventre had played together for more than 30 years, Shain had written all the songs. If he and Ventre co-wrote some material, as he had just done with Newberry, would his bassist and buddy stick around?
“I made him that offer, and that’s what it ended up being, really,” Shain says. “After writing with Joe, I had the confidence to know that, if I could be successful writing with him, I could be successful writing with F.J., too We’ve been working with some of his ideas, bouncing them around, and I’m already ready for that project.”