I first heard Jud Caswell a few weeks ago, playing a live set on a blustery Saturday at a small folk festival my family and I attended. It was a raw early fall day on the coast of Maine; low overcast clouds, a biting wind off the water that whipped hard around corners, and, eventually, a cold, stinging rain (which is what finally sent us packing).
We sought refuge in the large, peak-roofed main stage tent, huddling together with others at picnic tables and on the ground covered in wood shavings, largely caring more about the relative warmth of the tent than the performer at the mic.
And then, Jud — unphased by the swirl outside — introduced and began to play his tune Get Poor Slow.
There was that wonderful moment of time standing still and all sensation falling away, except for the hearing of the music and the thrum of it in your chest. That thrum hasn’t left my chest, nor the melody left my ear, in the four weeks since that Saturday afternoon in September.
Jud Caswell is a Maine singer/songwriter with deep, generational roots in his home state and years of experience under his belt as a songwriter, performer, teacher, recording engineer, and producer. He made a name for himself on the national folk circuit, touring nationally and earning a reputation as an award-winning songwriter. In recent years, he’s focused on raising a family and embedding himself deeply in the community and place that nourishes him and inspires his music.
This Friday, Jud Caswell will release a new album Live at the Seagull Shop, his first-ever live recording, and collection of his songs.
A talented and deft picker with an expansive musical vocabulary, Jud has a warm, honeyed vocal tone and a true gift for melody and storytelling. James Taylor is a ready comparison. Jud’s lyrics are richly detailed and extraordinarily visual. His subjects are treated with depth, nuance, and the wisdom of one who keenly observes and acutely feels the world around him.
All of this is on full display on Live at the Seagull Shop. He is a folk singer’s folk singer, flitting easily between traditions and styles, from Irish jigs (Jigs) and drinking songs (Pour Me a Guinness) to banjo-heavy American folk singalongs (That’s the Way We Climb) to quiet acoustic gems (Blackberry Time).
Jud writes about the album, “This record represents something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, which is sharing my songs in their natural habitat. I definitely write for this kind of performance — solo instrument and voice — and the opportunity to capture a show with the energy of a live audience was a real treat.”
What is truly captured on this record is the magic of so many of Jud’s songs to simply stop you dead in your tracks, including a live acoustic version of Get Poor Slow as I first heard it beneath that tent and the achingly beautiful Moon on a String.
Thanks to Jud Caswell for sharing a sneak-peak of his new record with WtMM. Get to know Jud’s music and songwriting through the socials below and look for Live at the Seagull Shop, out this Friday, November 1.