Calling all music lovers in Watertown! Looking for something local for your music choice? One local artist to support is Jon Arthur Schmidt, a Watertown resident who recently released a new album: “From the Marrow”. Schmidt has been a resident of Watertown for several years, and his new album reflects his time with his family, faith, and the pandemic.
While Schmidt wasn’t born in Watertown, he was raised close by in New Germany. He began songwriting in 2007 while in a vocational school in Fargo. Part of the reason he began writing songs was a way to escape some of the difficulties he was having during school. As he continued to go to school and write, he realized that was where his passion laid and dropped out of school. He immediately started working on his first album, and things took off from there.
“It really started to take shape and be something that I loved doing,” said Schmidt.
After releasing his first album in 2008, he got married. From there, Schmidt began moving around quite a bit. He lived in the Carolinas, twice, as well as several Minnesota cities, before settling down in Watertown.
For anyone wondering what Schmidt’s music is like, it’s a unique mix of things. While mostly folk in style, there are alternative motifs and instruments mixed in. There’s the folks classics, such as the acoustic guitar, bass, drums, but there are also synthesizers, theremin, timpani, and several more instruments. Schmidt himself plays several of them, as does his producer Matt Patrick who also does the backing vocals.
All these instruments together give Schmidt’s music its particular style, along with his choice of subject matter. Because songwriting first started as a way to cope, it reflects much of his life. His albums have tackled several aspects, including his family and more recently his faith. As the singer and songwriter, he chooses all the arrangements and music which also lends to a sense of authenticity.
“From the Marrow” is similar in this way, but it has one little caveat: - it was produced during the pandemic.
This was no easy feat, according to Schmidt.
“It was definitely met with a lot of set backs,” said Schmidt. “It was sort of delayed before it even got off the ground.”
The original plan was to release an EP (extended play, which is usually only a few songs compared to a full album). Schmidt met with his producer, Patrick, in January of 2020 to discuss the upcoming release. Then the pandemic rolled in, and Schmidt had to deal with its consequences for childcare, lockdown, and adapt just like everyone else did. By the time they were able to start the project again, it was July, only to have to pull the plug again.
During the delay between July 2020 and December 2020, Schmidt used his time at home to write. As with many songwriters during this time, some of the songs were inspired by the events happening in our world. And the amount quickly became more than an EP, turning into a full album by the time production would take place once again.
“It was kind of a blessing in disguise,” said Schmidt. “It gave me some time to put more into writing, and I had certain experiences during that time that inspired me.”
Most of the production took place in January 2021, and the album was fully released on October 15, with a performance at the Watertown City Hall and Event Center to celebrate on October 16.
According to Schmidt, being able to perform has been a new experience as most of his work has been studio work. He’s looking forward to more performances in the future as he breaks into the live scene more and more. In fact, if you missed the performance on Oct. 16, Schmidt will be playing again on Oct. 26 at Mario’s Italian Kitchen.