“I haven’t had a record in 14 years,” says Spencer Brewer, Redwood Valley resident and man of many hats.

“In 2008 the economy crashed and in 2009 there was a paradigm shift in the music industry which forced me out of the music industry.”

But all the while, the accomplished pianist, promoter, artist, piano tuner and marketer for the wine industry continued to perform and perform, working on various compositions and ultimately producing his 15th album, “Behind the Veil”, which will be performed for the public for the first time on Saturday, November 12 at the SPACE Performing Arts Theater in Ukiah.

This album represents Brewer’s personal paradigm shift, which he describes as “going much further in the way I felt and made music”.

“Over my lifetime, I have been blessed to create and produce ideas across a wide range of genres. In every event, windows of knowing, understanding and letting go have occurred. This collection of music allows me to get out of my own way, to listen quietly and to let out what was “behind the veil”.

Like so many children, Brewer began playing the piano and taking music lessons at the age of seven. But he had access to a person and a musical genre that most children did not have.

“My grandmother, Alma Loveless Gertrude ‘Doody’ Brewer was a flapper in the 20’s. She played boogie-woogie music and Southern folksongs. Learning blues and boogie-woogie allowed me to creating my own music and exploring different musical styles Brewer stopped formal music lessons at the age of 12, with a directive from his mother that he should continue practicing one hour a day.

“It forced me to open doors – to explore creativity through music.” Brewer began composing simple melodies and mastering the complex boogie-woogie style and rhythm. “Two different hands go in two different directions. I used to play the same thing on the piano, over and over, every day, really loud. It drove my dad crazy,” he smiles.

Brewer dropped out of school and moved to Austin to become a musician in Texas, playing everything from rock ‘n roll in bars to collaborating with modern dance companies, creating music, backing other artists and building his own instruments.

“I was definitely living the hippie lifestyle. I had written a few musicals in New York. In 1981 we moved to Missouri, and I recorded my first record, which was a compilation of those musicals, blues, boogie and a solo song or two. Because of this tape, someone told me I was playing this thing called “New Age Music,” which was solo piano. I had never heard of it before. I got rid of all the vocals from the musicals on the album which then became “Where Angels Dance”.

The release of this album and the establishment of his company, Willow Rose Records, marked the official start of Brewer’s professional music career.

“I made a few more records and Narada Productions had the rights to my next seven. During that time I made a lot of music and toured constantly. Eventually I stopped touring. recording in Redwood Valley, where we recorded 200 records, a dozen film scores and countless radio commercials. Brewer continued to compose, play concerts and produce music events and festivals, including his production 25 year old from Sundays in the Park in the city of Ukiah.

“Behind the Veil” represents a collaboration between Brewer and music powerhouse Michael Whalen, whom he calls the “sherpa” of the project. Whalen, a prolific composer and producer is based in New York. He and his team broadcast Brewer’s music worldwide and also produced several music videos, a first for Brewer.

“Michael is a senior executive in today’s world of streaming and post-production. A couple of friends encouraged me to reach out to him. Our first conversation was a ‘Kumbaya moment’. He listened to what I was doing and wanted to be part of this project.

“The music on this record focuses on the compositions themselves, rather than the arrangements around the compositions. Most of my previous albums had full instrumentation or orchestra around them, so the original song was there, but the piano was buried deep. This album features the raw composition itself and the piano,” says Brewer.

The album features a musical powerhouse, including multi-Grammy award-winning violinist Jeremy Cohen, who arranged the strings for the project. Paul McCandless plays soprano sax. The San Francisco Quartet performs the string arrangements. Chad Katlinger plays viola, Vera d’Andres plays cello, and Nancy Rumbel plays English horn and oboe.

Brewer’s next gig will feature local powerhouses, in addition to Jeremy Cohen on fiddle. Margie Rice will play 2nd violin and Joel Cohen will play cello. “Paul Yarbrough is one of the founders of the Alexander String Quartet. He recently moved to Redwood Valley, and he will be playing viola. The concert will be filmed and the full album will be released on January 20, 2023 as a CD and on all the usual streaming platforms.

On Brewer’s website, the first video from the new album is available for viewing and listening. “Parasols in Paris” was recorded in the Cave Saracina wine cellar. The videographer for the project was Kirk Fuller of Fuller Digital Media. The strings were arranged by Jeremy Cohen and the musicians include Margie Rice and Katherine Wang on violin, Linda Marks on viola and Joel Cohen on cello. The piece begins with Brewer at the piano, playing a deceptively simple waltz, the video alternating between the musical quartet and street scenes on a rainy day in Paris. The melody begins languidly and slowly builds to an emotional crescendo, heightened by the beauty of slow-motion raindrops, the faces of Parisians walking in the rain and yes, umbrellas. For those who have followed Brewer’s music since his debut, there is a maturity and warmth to his playing. It’s not hard to imagine that a similar song was composed over 100 years ago, but it emanates from the complexity and emotion of today’s world. The “face-on” mix of his piano on the 12-song album is confirmation of Brewers’ tour de force abilities as a songwriter and pianist.

“This song group has come and gone over the past few years and was very special to me. They went deeper into composition than I had ever done before. That’s why I realized it was time to release them.

Additionally, Bobby Cochran recorded the piano for the album and provided the artist photos, with Larry Wagner producing the cover photo for one of Brewer’s unique assemblage sculptures – fittingly, including a arrangement of piano keys in the shape of a mandala.

Brewer still manages to play the piano regularly, but has managed to push past her mother’s warning of daily keyboard sessions.

“I don’t have a schedule. I play when I’m inspired,” he explains. He is also the last remaining piano tuner in Mendocino County.

“Eight techs moved, quit or died, leaving only me. Much of my work involves playing hundreds of freshly tuned pianos. I’m trying to teach Wendy DeWitt the trade. The setting is more a matter of listening. You have to learn the hammer technique, the tensions and the relationships with the intervals. You should be able to hear these beats between intervals. It took me months to be able to hear and count them.

Each week, Brewer has dozens of pianos waiting for its tuning services. “I have over 40 people on a waiting list. I probably would if I didn’t release a book, an album and book concert tours,” he laughs.

Having seen and experienced the seismic shifts in the music industry over the past quarter century, Brewer has no idea what’s next.

“It is the honest truth to God. I have no idea where this is all leading. The industry has gone somewhere I never expected it to go and it’s definitely not the industry I grew up with. It’s very difficult to be heard and to be successful in the music world compared to when I was much younger. There’s so much competition, so much content, and so many people trying to be seen and heard.

To that end, Brewer cements his musical legacy in another way. “For three and a half years, I have worked with local artist Jesse Timm. He transcribed each piano piece onto sheet music. He’s an absolute genius. There will be a full songbook on Sheet Music Plus and Sheet Music Direct. I have never done this before. Not only can you buy the disc, but you can also download the transcripts and listen to them.

Although he’s mostly retired from the wine business, one of the company’s hits, Star Trek Wine, is still a part of Brewer’s life.

“They still ask me to represent wine at Star Trek conventions, which I wouldn’t miss for the world,” he smiles.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. The SPACE Theater is located at 508 W. Perkins St. in downtown Ukiah. Visit https://www.spencerbrewer.com for the latest news on the upcoming disc release and all of his other work. Tickets for the November album release concert are also available through SPACE Performing Arts at (707) 462-9370, the Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah and through https://www.brownpapertickets.com