Keep Reading. Subscribe Today.

Stay connected with our community and support nationally-acclaimed local news coverage. Sign up for a subscription today. Cancel anytime.

  • Already a subscriber?

Need some new sounds during quarantine? Sumter musicians celebrate John Denver with CD featuring hits, 'obscure' songs

BY IVY MOORE
Arts and culture contributor
Posted 4/2/20

Local musician and producer Kevin Jarvis has been a lifelong admirer of the late John Denver, so his latest CD release is somewhat of a "dream come true."

"I Should Have Been Home Yesterday: Celebrating the Music of John Denver" features not only …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Need some new sounds during quarantine? Sumter musicians celebrate John Denver with CD featuring hits, 'obscure' songs

Posted

Local musician and producer Kevin Jarvis has been a lifelong admirer of the late John Denver, so his latest CD release is somewhat of a "dream come true."

"I Should Have Been Home Yesterday: Celebrating the Music of John Denver" features not only Jarvis but several other musicians, including Farpoint, From the Morning, Johnny Hilton, Mercy's Hand, Gracefully Broken, Greyfeather, Curt Ackerman and others.

"I've been working on this album for quite a while," Jarvis said.

He arranged, mixed, recorded and produced much of the CD at his studio, Starcross Music, near Dalzell.

"I feel like John Denver is underrated," Jarvis said. "He's one of my biggest influences."

His mother was also a big influence.

The CD cover features her guitar, and the black walnut table in the foreground was made by his father, a West Virginia native.

Jarvis admires Denver for his genre-jumping talents, most represented on the CD, as well as his activism for such causes as world hunger, peace and other humanitarian causes.

"His lyrics are pure poetry," Jarvis said.

Genres include folk, rock, "some gospel and praise music, and 'old country.'" The old country is exemplified in Hilton's performance of "Back Home Again," which celebrates the joys of home with such lyrics as "It's the sweetest thing I know of, just spending time with you. It's the little things that make a house a home, like a fire softly burning and supper on the stove, the light in your eyes that makes me warm."

That theme is also evident in "This Old Guitar," sung by Curt Ackerman.

Ackerman is the solo artist on "This Old Guitar," playing guitar and singing with backup by Darren Polutta on bass, Brett Fraseron on banjo and Rick Walker on drums. The lyrics include "This old guitar taught me to sing a love song, it showed me how to laugh and how to cry . What a friend to have on a cold and lonely night."

Jarvis said "This Old Guitar" is "truly autobiographical for John Denver. It's the concept of home. A place where you can feel comfortable and safe."

As producer, Jarvis chose the songs for each group on the CD.

"There's a lot of talent in Sumter," he said. "Each group was amazingly generous with their time and talents. They gave their best."

He plays and sings on many of the cuts, and he performs the vocals and plays all the instruments on the CD's closing song, "Around and Around," which could stand as Denver's last will and testament:

I hope that you will think of me in moments when you're happy and you're smiling,

that the thought will comfort you on cold and cloudy days if you are crying.

And that you'll love to see the sun go down and the world go around and around and around.

Denver's most popular and familiar songs - "Annie's Song," "Sunshine on My Shoulders" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads," for example - share the CD with several lesser-known pieces.

"A lot of his obscure songs are better than his hits," Jarvis said.

"Seasons Suite" celebrates the warming weather and sunshine of the coming spring. Don't miss its extended, melodic instrumental performed by Greyfeather.

The entire album is a gentle but thought-provoking evocation of John Denver, performed by two dozen of the most talented musicians from around Sumter. It's a good listen on a rainy day or when sequestered by the coronavirus, not to mention days full of sunshine.

"I Should Have Been Home Yesterday: Celebrating the Music of John Denver" is available at Music Gator, 1251 Hastings Drive in Sumter; https://cdbaby.com; Amazon (digital only for now); iTunes; Spotify and YouTube.

For more information, contact Jarvis at kmjarvis@ftc-i.net.