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Robert Lester Folsom

Robert Lester Folsom

When Anthology’s reissue of Music and Dreams, the sole contemporaneous album released in 1976 by Robert Lester Folsom, surfaced in 2010, little else was known of the singer-songwriter's nearly five-decade deep archive of unreleased demos and fully formed studio recordings. Born and raised in Adel, Georgia—both then, and now, a sleepy hamlet with a population of less than 5,000—Folsom was fortunate to be minded after extremely supportive parents. Exhibiting a precocious affinity for music, things went widescreen when he observed the same ferry from ‘cross the Mersey as many others of his generation, carrying The Beatles to their paradigm shifting appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Soon thereafter, Folsom began religiously absorbing every morsel of musical output The Fab Four offered, as well as that of their contemporaries. Yet, it wasn’t long before observation transformed into a motivation to create. Even a children’s record player bought by his parents as a gift to him was traded off to a neighborhood friend for a stringless, disheveled guitar (which Folsom’s father shined to prime and function for him in short order). As time went on, Folsom’s innate drive and field of vision broadened; he began enlisting neighborhood friends, classmates, and family members to fulfill his small-scale musical dreams, which would increase in weight with the passage of days.

Over the next several years, while employing ingenious, home brewed over-dubbing techniques with his “love at first sight,” a Sears 3440 two-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, Folsom served as the de facto producer/arranger for any and all scrappy garage band or aspiring singer songwriter in the radius of Adel. Abetted by his mobile recording unit, across a number of unusual locations, and assisted by guitarist and collaborator Hans VanBrackle, this period produced the bounty of Folsom’s self-penned compositions which make up Ode to a Rainy Day and Sunshine Only Sometimes. And eventually, this period of woodshedding led to the formation of his rural-tinged, progressive, southern rock outfit Abacus.

Though carrying Folsom’s own singular sound and vision, Music and Dreams, in equal measure, chartered the seas of smooth West Coast AOR before the yachts to come, while tracing the distinctly Californian sound of Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter soft rock Americana, which tussled on the waters before the large vessels overtook the big blue. Folsom’s earlier compositions found on Sunshine Only Sometimes reflect a darker-hued mixture of mellow folk, downer vibes, and rural tones, revealing his talent for melody and hook was intact far before Music and Dreams, with a keen sense of introspection making the dark and light equally resonant.

Perhaps it was Lester and company’s playing “weird spacey stuff and ballads,” as guitarist Hans VanBrackle describes, in small town Georgia skating rinks, bowling alleys, and school dances expecting Top 40 dance-ready hits which held them down. Perhaps it was simply location. Though, the music of RLF is composed of an intrinsic ability to hear the music truly playing, as opposed to the space in air heard by the lay-ear, which places Folsom’s music in a timeless space primed for perennial (re)discovery.


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