Mare Edstrom in the Burlington Standard Press

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By Patricia Bogumil STAFF WRITER
Dec 16th, 2004, No. 24

Mare Edstrom is pretty, petite and polite-speaking. But she's also not afraid to lean back and holler when her music takes her there.

Since releasing her second album last month through Spiritone Records in Watertown, this former, Waterford and East Troy resident has seen a near explosion of rave reviews on the Internet lauding her very personal style of singing the blues. And what a long, strange trip it's been for her to get there.

Before embracing the blues, Edstrom, 39, spent years performing and exploring classical, folk and jazz music. Along the way, she earned degrees in math and physics. from Universify of Wisconsin-Whitewater, as well as teacher certification.

She was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years for her son, now age 11, as well as being a teacher and a tutor. "But the music never let me go," she said. The music also never brought her joy, said Edstrom, until she found her voice singing the blues.

Edstrom says she has always sung. She remembers driving her brother nuts while they drove in the family car as kids. And her mother remembers her 3-month-old daughter humming happily in her crib.

Edstrom started taking piano lessons at age 8, picked up the French horn in fourth grade, and played in school bands and other groups.

And by the time she met musician and producer Kenn Fox at Hartland Music two years ago, Edstrom had already written about 50 songs that she wanted to at least record, if not have produced. "Otherwise," she explained, "they would never be heard."

Edstrom credits' her association with Fox with helping her finally find her musical path. "Primarily, what we do now is blues," she said.

Edstrom's new CD release, "Inside the Blues," makes a believer out of anyone who might have thought a singer needs the whiskey-soaked growl of a Janis Joplin to sing the blues. Instead, said one reviewer, Edstrom just belts it out with a cleaness that fills up the ears.

"I love this music," said Edstrom. She dedicates her album as a tribute to the people who invented the blues and those who have kept its legend alive through the course of time.

Fox produced "Inside the Blues" on Spiritone Records, and also plays the guitar.

""Edstrom said, she 'is not sure where her blues trip will carry her. "I just feel like I'm kind of along for the ride," she said, laughing.

But Edstrom says she also tries to make sure that whatever professional path she follows is a good road that leads to peace in her heart.

"I try to do it with integrity," she said, "and that can be hard to do sometimes in this industry."

Edstrom says that she'd be pretty surprised if her career brings her fame and fortune in the future - and also a little scared. "It's always been the journey that's more important to me than where I end up," she explained.

But whenever opportunities in life open up, Edstrom added, she tries not to neglect them.

"It's hard to define which thing you can do that you want to do," she mused. And that's maybe why they call it the blues.

Edstrom and Fox play regular gigs at the Daily Brew Coffee House in Burlington; Cafe.Carpe, Fort Atkinson; and The Pub, Oconomowoc.

Her CDs can be purchased at the Daily Brew; Barnes and Noble Books, Greenfield and Exclusive Co., Brookfield. Information is available online at www.spiritonerecords.com.

 

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