Music and dreams born again

Carly Brown, vocals, daughter of lead singer Lester Folsom; Roy Peak, bass guitar; Jeremy Blanton, lead guitar; Josh Blanton, drums and vocals; Lester Folsom, songwriter, rhythm guitar, lead vocals; Susan Boggs, keyboards and vocals

Carly Brown, vocals, daughter of lead singer Lester Folsom; Roy Peak, bass guitar; Jeremy Blanton, lead guitar; Josh Blanton, drums and vocals; Lester Folsom, songwriter, rhythm guitar, lead vocals; Susan Boggs, keyboards and vocals

 

Robert Lester Folsom is making a come-back.

Folsom, an Ortega Farms resident, is a professional house painter but that wasn’t his first choice for a career nearly 40 years ago. At one time the 60-year-old guitar player dreamed of making it big in the music industry.

After impressing a recording studio engineer in Atlanta in the late 1970s, Folsom took out a loan, got his band on board and recorded “Music and Dreams” in 1976. Although the album was well received, Folsom and his group didn’t get enough gigs to pay off the loan, much less make a career in the music business.

“We had a small splash of success in southern Georgia and maybe North Florida, but it was hard to break into the local music scene in Jacksonville,” said Folsom.

In 2009, “Music and Dreams” was rediscovered on the Internet, re-mastered and re-released for iTunes. Then, record label Mexican Summer invited Folsom to put together a band to perform his music at the College Music Journal Festival in Brooklyn, New York. Around the same time, Riverman Music in South Korea re-issued the album in CD with two singles as bonus material.

“Not a week goes by that I don’t get texts from fans in Asia, Europe and South America who tell me how much my music means to them,” Folsom said. “It’s amazing, unbelievable … and I’ll take it!”

Avondale resident Susan Boggs had played with Folsom many years so he invited her and her sons Josh, of Riverside, and Jeremy Blanton, Murray Hill resident, to join him for the festival.

“The Brooklyn debut was fantastic and quite an experience and since then we have played around Jacksonville,” said Boggs. “We added Clayton Carter (grandson of Carter’s Pharmacy) as our drummer a couple of years ago.”

Although Josh Blanton left the band as bass player last year, he pitched in on the drums for a recent Riverside Arts Market performance when Carter could not attend.

“Having the opportunity to play in this band with my sons has been so special for me. I was a piano teacher for 18 years and they both are great piano players and music has always been a way to connect,” Boggs shared. “The fact that they – now much better musicians than me – let me be a part of their music is something I value.”

Recently Folsom’s daughter, Murray Hill resident Carly Brown, joined the band when he needed a female vocalist for some of his earlier songs. “We’ve always had a strong connection through music,” said Brown, who works full-time at Mac Papers. “Playing together helps us stay connected.

Shared history connects the band as well. “I used to mentor Josh, Jeremy, Clayton and Carly when we played in the Praise Band at Ortega United Methodist Church,” Folsom said.

Folsom and the band have played at Art Walk, Underbellies, The Elbow and private events, as well as at RAM. “I’ve always wanted to be part of the local scene. Now I’m international!”

By Kate A. Hallock

 

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