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Siouxland musician Spencer Aspleaf set to release solo album

Siouxland musician Spencer Aspleaf set to release solo album

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Spencer Aspleaf

Musician Spencer Aspleaf is about to release a new solo album, "Born to Lose."

Local singer/songwriter/all-around musician Spencer Aspleaf will release a new solo album titled “Born to Lose” at a party Saturday at The Marquee.

Aspleaf started playing guitar at age 11 or 12 after being involved in Saturday in the Park’s “Dream Team.” As a child, he was able to talk to the artists that performed at the festival and music started to pique his interest.

After learning to play guitar, Aspleaf had an accident in high school shop class where he nearly cut off his left index finger.

“I haven’t thought about that for a while,” he said. “When I was 16, I took woodworking because I really enjoyed that. I got my hand caught in the saw and lost mobility in my index finger. I had to re-learn how to play because I don’t have the same index finger shape; it’s kind of hooked permanently now. I learned new chord shapes and blues shapes. It was a challenge when I was younger, but I use it to my advantage now.”

Aspleaf says his music is influenced by the likes of Iggy Pop, James Brown, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Con Brio, Sean James and All Them Witches (just off the top of his head).

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2019 Saturday in the Park
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2019 Saturday in the Park

He is also a founding member of the popular local rock group Port Nocturnal. So, what is the difference between the band and his solo work?

“Mine’s a little more laid back,” said the musician. “Port is more experimental and it is heavier, which I love. While I’ve been with the band so long, I have all these songs that don’t fit with the Port Nocturnal vibe.”

Port Nocturnal has an album coming out in the next couple months, as well.

But what is with the pessimistic title of the new solo album, “Born to Lose?" Is this really what Aspleaf thinks about himself?

“I picked that name right before it came out,” said the artist. “I was going back and forth among so many other titles. My interpretation of the song ‘Wild Dogs’ is Tommy Bolin talking about his home, which was Sioux City. Some of the lyrics hit home and I decided to write a song, ‘Born to Lose,’ about growing up here. I don’t feel that way anymore; I love this town. It’s about the hardships you go through as an artist in a small town. I don’t think that will be my most popular song, but I wanted to write about the struggle.”

As for Aspleaf’s other offerings on his new album, each song is original and was written within the past three years. He will also be releasing an acoustic cover of Bolin’s “Wild Dogs.”

While some songs take only 20 minutes for Aspleaf to write, others can take three months or more. His creative process involves a lot of late nights.

“I usually play super late at night,” he said. “I pick up my guitar periodically throughout the day, but the best time that I write is right before I go to sleep. I usually have my guitar in or near my bed. I like drinking coffee while writing, and I smoke a lot of cigarettes…too many. I like to be alone, so I isolate myself for a few hours.”

Because Sioux City isn’t the largest music town on the map, how do musicians from this town garner attention in other cities around the nation? They have to play a lot of gigs.

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Saturday in the Park, 1998
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The Breakaways, 1999
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Saturday in the Park 2000
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Saturday in the Park 2001
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Blues Traveler, 2002

“It’s hard,” said the musician. “You have to gig. You also have to sponsor your posts on social media platforms. You need to be a professional when you go to those gigs, too, especially in bigger cities. Have your gear ready before you hit the stage. There is a specific etiquette you have to have. You can still have fun, obviously, but you've got to remain professional. In those bigger cities, the guys doing sound…that’s their career. If you get in with a couple venues and know a couple bands, it makes things easier. It’s hard when you don’t have a booking agent, which I do not.”

Spencer Aspleaf

Musician Spencer Aspleaf says a middle school accident affects the way he plays.

The album release party will start at 9:30 p.m. The band he will be playing with is currently nameless, but there are options: Spencer Aspleaf & Friends, The Spencer Aspleaf Band, The Spencer Aspleaf Experience or Spenny & the Jets. Members include Alex Rhymer on drums, Zach Pickens on bass, Justin Kisor on trumpet and Aspleaf on vocals and guitar. The band will be playing Aspleaf’s whole new solo album and will throw in several covers for good measure.

You can also catch Aspleaf at Food Truck Fridays on July 26, at Boggs’ Hull Avenue Tavern in Des Moines on Aug. 3 and at the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls on Aug. 4, 8, 9 and 10.

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