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  • by Tom Eastman

Local Group Produces Solid L.P.

When Devonsquare when into the studio in late August, they were experienced enough to know exactly what they wanted in a record, and how to go about getting it. Six weeks in the making, their debut album is now out on the streets, and its quality confirms what the trio's fans throughout New England have known for some time--this is one very talented acoustic pop group.

Devonsquare admirers will be able tto celebrate the release of the album when the Eagle Mountain House hosts an album debut party this Saturday, December 9, beginning at 9 p.m. Featuring Rod Mackenzie and Mike Bessette as the opening act, the party will also feature the members of M K Ultra playing back-up for Devonsquare, as they did on the album. Copies of the album will be available for sale as well, so, as the party invitations say, be there or be square.

Simple entitles Devonsquare, the debut album for the Maine- and New Hampshire-based group was recordws on their own independent label, Blind Date Records. Featuring 10 songs, the LP was produced by popular Maine musician Peter Gallway, and recorded at Studio 3 in Portland.

Since it's an independently produced album, the members of the group--guitarist Tom Dean of North Conway, violinist Alana MacDonald of Brownfield, and percussionist Herb Ludwig of Portland--must market the work on their own. Although distributing an album independently can be a difficult row to hoe, both Alana and Tom noted this week they have received nothing but favorable reviews from all who have heard it to date, and they're confidant that trend will continue.

"I'm having a good time marketing it now," said Tom. "People at radio stations throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and in the Boston area are taking the time to listen to it, and they're calling us back to tell us what a great album they think it is. I now believe that if we can get stations to just listen to it, we'll be all set."

In today's age of programmed playlists, breaking into a radio stations rotation is not easy, but Devonsquare has cracked the nut at a few stations in less than two weeks. Portland's WMGX (93.1 FM) has placd two of the album's songs--"Blue On The Water" and "The Winner"--in its regular lineup, while other stations have been giving air time to "Alibis" as well. The group has a representative marketing the album at stations in the Boston area, as copies have been sent to all Hub stations.

"The album has to sell itself," said Tom. "If we can get more stations to air the music, that would benerate some requests, and we'd then be able to distribute the albums to more stores in the Boston area."

Sales have been strong during the first two weeks of the album's release at stores already carrying it, according to Tom and Alana. "One store in Portland sold 27 copies in a day and 57 in a week, which we're told is even more than Cindy Lauper sold," Alana laughed. Among the stores carrying the album are all DeOrsey's Record Shops in Maine and New Hampshire; Rock Bottom Records and Sessions Music Store in Portsmouth, N.H.; and at Radio Shack, Synergy Natural Foods, and DeOrsey's here in North Conway.

A polished work that highlights the best of Devonsquare's trademark three-part harmony, the group's debut album stands as proof of the trio's talent. As a short-term goal, Tom noted the group will use the album to market itself. His wildest dream, however, would be to have a producer from a national record label hear the music and then either use the album's master disc to record it for national distribution, or re-work a few other songs onto it and record it again.

We've sent out about 75 albums to various contacts we've made over the years in the record business, and we're hoping something will happen," said Tom. Many of the producers are already familiar with Devonsquare, as the group has won a number of songwriting awards over the years. In addition, they have the full-fledged support of Eddie Kramer, formerly a producer for such artists as the Eagles, Carly Simon, and Jimi Hendrix.

Kramer has originally signed a contract to obtain a record deal with a national label for Devonsquare three years ago, but the contract was dropped last year at the group's request. "He's involved wtih a lot of projects and just didn't have enough time to work with us, so we dissolved that contract. But," said Tom, "he's very much interested in us, and he's going to do some footwlrk to help try and sell the album for us. We've got plenty of people to send the album to." Alana added, "Our latest songs are more 'poppy' and a lot stronger than our older stuff, so I'm looking forward to see what these producers who heard our earlier tapes think of our new stuff."

From the opening "Donner Pass" ballad and bluesy "Because I Never Held You" that ends the first side, to the work's more upbeat numbers such as "Cold Love" and "Radio Romance," Devonsquare's debut album is a winner of which both they and their fans can be proud. May we all be someday be able to say that "we knew them back when..."


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