Press/Reviews

Music: Spencer & Vogel
 
The Lodi-based duo of Tim Spencer and Bart Vogel — they sing and play guitars — begins a 2016 series of shows scheduled for the second Friday of each month at this Miracle Mile venue. Stockton’s Frank Colli performs at 7 p.m. Saturday. Mile Wine Company, 2113 Pacific Ave., Stockton. Free. (209) 465-9463.
 
This also appeared in the print version under "Top Picks" in the TIMEOUT section!
Music: Spencer & Vogel
 
Lodi-based Tim Spencer and Bart Vogel, teaming as vocalists and electric/acoustic guitar players, have become a steady presence in Central Valley clubs and pubs. Their goal: To “give rather than receive” and “make the world a better place,” Spencer says their original songs — plus onstage stories and witticisms — are a mix of folk, rock and blues. “Live at the Woodbridge Grange,” released on Nov. 12, provides a 17-tune example. Vogel, 56, also performs as a solo artist and played Christian music for 20 years. Spencer, 59, a Sacramento resident, does blues, rock and jazz in 3 Stones Cry, with daughter Moriah as the vocalist. 7 p.m., Mile Wine Co., 2113 Pacific Ave., Stockton. Free. (209) 465-9463.
 
This also appeared in the print version under "Top Picks" in the TIMEOUT section!
Music: Spencer & Vogel
 
The Lodi acoustic-guitar/vocal duo of Tim Spencer and Bart Vogel has played this venue 100 times since June 3, 2010. They're scheduled for the first Friday of every month in 2016, and have released five singles. 7:30 p.m. Lodi Wine Cellar, 112 W. Pine St. (209) 365-6622.
 
This also appeared in the print version under "Top Picks" in the TIMEOUT section!

The Spencer & Vogel concert was magnificent. Everyone (the band and the audience) knew we were sharing something extraordinary special. The hope amongst those present was that we must present a second Spencer& Vogel concert. We definitely want to have a second. This was the first concert in the series; we learned that advance ticket sales would be key. For future concerts in this series we will have advance ticket sales.

My husband Tim Christensen and I were sad by the low number of Grange members in attendance. We know some Grange members had other commitments, we certainly understand that no member can attend everything---however, what happened at the Woodbridge Grange last night is something Tim and I wish no Grange member had missed. It was a rare evening. It can't be recaptured. Our hearts were breaking that so many members missed it. A second Spencer & Vogel concert will have its on uniqueness, but I just can't see anything beating last night.

Bart Vogel was at home in the Grange building. Every fiber in his body and heart gave love and appreciation to his fellow musicians and to the audience. I have seen Bart perform a lot. Never like last night. He was incredible. I think last night changed Bart. I think he will be permanently enriched by the evening. I think the experience carved a new level of inspirational awareness and creative soaring in Bart.

Those who have heard Tim Spencer know he is a musician's musician, an audio luxury to his audiences, and basically oxygen administered though six strings and perfect timing. Tim did exactly what I expected he would do---he blew us away.

Rounding out the band was Gary Summerfield on drums and Tom Spencer (no relation to Tim Spencer) on bass. Many of us had heard Gary before; most of us had not heard Tom. Gary and Tom are excellent musicians. They are sweet men and they captured our hearts.

This band was very generous and gracious to our Grange last night and they quickly owned the house. We (the audience) were in seventh heaven. We hung on to every song. We would have listened until the sun came up.

Tim and I extend special thanks to Grange members Michael Borboa, Bernie Brooks, Sarah Fino, Gloria Hensel, Robin & Harold Lang, and Vangie Schumann for being on the Spencer & Vogel Concert staff. Also, we thank "new-member-to-be" Gaylen Tackett. Your help made the concert run smoothly, you welcomed people to the hall, you represented our Grange well, and you were collectively wonderful. The band appreciated all that you did. Tim and I appreciated all that you did.

We have 27 names on our list of people who want advance tickets for the next Spencer & Vogel concert we have at the Grange hall. Those people are definitely getting an advance ticket, I promise!

I will share photographs from the concert soon.

Hugs,

Donna

Tim Spencer gave the lesson. Bart Vogel received the message.

"One day he said, 'Hey, do you want to play along?' " Vogel recalled. " 'Do I?' He's a master musician. That's why I went to him. I wanted to go to another level."

For five years, the teacher and student have raised Spencer's guitar tutoring and Vogel's prolific folk-rock song writing into Spencer & Vogel, creating music to "give rather than receive" and "make the world a better place."

Those motivations echo Vogel's religious upbringing - "part of me, for whatever it means, still has a pastor's heart," he said - and Spencer's desire to "play the best music we possibly can."

That'll be their intent tonight at Lodi Wine Cellars and Saturday at Whirlow's in Stockton with Lodi drummer Gary Sommerfeld and Elk Grove bassist Kal Cicero.

"We really want music to be a feeling thing," said Vogel, who sings and plays guitar. "That can happen. There's nothing like music. It just gets in our soul. If it's well-constructed, it stays in your brain. We want to make the world a better place."

They mix Vogel's original songs with a few familiar blues-soul tunes (B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone," Bill Withers' "Use Me"). "You've gotta be pretty skilled to pull it off," Vogel said.

They've approached their aspirations from different angles.

Spencer, 56, who lives in south Sacramento and teaches guitar at Lodi's Music Box, was a nuclear-weapons specialist in the United States Air Force. He won two talent contests at his base (F.E. Warren) in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Vogel, 53, a Lodi resident, learned his profession in a Seventh-Day Adventist Church family of real-estate appraisers and performed Christian music for 20 years.

Spencer wrestled and played football and baseball in San Jose.

"They didn't have sports," Vogel said of church schools he attended in Ventura, Diablo Valley, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Alamo. "They thought it was a bad thing. The big thing was music. Being in choir and band."

That's when Vogel sensed his first misgivings about a faith whose founder mandated vegetarianism - and humanitarianism - in the late 19th century.

"I didn't always fit in," Vogel said. "I was a guitar player. They didn't - quote unquote - allow guitars in the sanctuary."

A Ventura native, Vogel started learning voice and piano in grade school and pursued them - and his outsider guitar - through Monterey Bay Academy's "bigger world" of 500 Adventist students.

His parents, the late Howard and Dolly, now 80 - both real-estate appraisers - helped implant the "music bug from singing in choirs at church," Vogel said. "Music is where you could excel in Adventism. If you had a great voice and played clarinet well, you could star."

Vogel studied theology at Pacific Union College in Angwin (Napa County), but "realized I didn't want to do it. I was raised by parents definitely buying into the church thing. It's kind of liberal. I'm grateful they gave me more of a centrist view."

Music was a bigger ambition, even though Adventists "never want you paid: 'If you have a gift you should share that freely with your brethren.' "

In 1981, he got married after borrowing $7,500 from his dad to record "Promises," an album of "religious folkie" music. He took a job with his dad to pay him back. He's been appraising real estate ever since.

Vogel played in a Lodi Christian band (Living Water, Skyewind) and toured with Harvest Celebration (1979-80). After moving to Los Angeles in 1984 ("a lot of rehearsal, not many gigs"). Vogel returned to Lodi and played Christian-themed music with wife Debra in Promise and En Route, recording one CD. They have a daughter (Morgan) and son (Max, who's displaying musical acumen).

After the marriage ended, Vogel intensified his guitar ambitions, taking lessons from Spencer - who has six children and three grandchildren - and undergoing a song-writing surge influenced by "the painful experience of a changing family structure."

Born in Spokane, Wash., Spencer moved to San Jose at age 3 and started playing trumpet at 4. A three-sport athlete at Valley Christian High, he moved to Sacramento at 18, joining the Air Force and working on intercontinental ballistic missiles. After six years, he returned to civilian jobs at Pacific Bell and Prime America. He worked as a plumber, sold donuts and taught karate.

"I stuck with music all the way, though," said Spencer, who's taught guitar for 18 years at Lodi's Music Box. "Singing and writing rock and blues-oriented tunes."

He and Vogel hope to stick with their musical partnership.

"I like to help (people) move to higher ground," Vogel said, invoking a sustaining faith. "Experience a better life. A healthier life. Some people tease that these songs are so positive, though you wrote them when you were pretty sad and angry. It's somehow therapeutic. It's about much more than music. Our desire is the world becomes a slightly better place because people heard us that night."

"It's important to be in the right state of mind," Spencer said. "There's something healing in music. Being present in the moment. It's a meaningful experience to share. Giving is better than receiving."

Contact reporter Tony Sauro at (209) 546-8267 or tsauro@recordnet.com

 

"Spencer & Vogel is an indie-pop Americana group whose four impressive cornerstones of diversity come together to break new ground. Bart Vogel uses music to tell captivating stories. His beautifully written original songs are observant, straightforward, truthful vignettes that are insightfully crafted with emotional depth, perceptive wit, and aching beauty. Tim Spencer, in my opinion, is one of Central Valley’s hottest talents. His flawless guitar leads are deceptively mellow but suprisingly intricate and intoxicating. Don’t be fooled. Listen and you will hear them nonchalantly become uncontainable. Gary Summerfield’s overall charm is that he is appealing. I have a special place in my heart for modest drummers who can play without missing a beat while singing lead or singing harmony backup. Gary is flat-out fantastic. Kal Cicero’s power shines through his artful and rhythmic consistency. This vibrant band doesn’t have any hype. They deliver unique music without pretense. The members are seasoned musicians, confident, and skilled. They are four personable, talented musicians who connect with their audience."

"There are dozens of local bands that have sprouted in Lodi, Woodbridge, Acampo and Lockeford. Some are solo acts, like those by pianist Gene Hanten, who plays classic American standards. Others offer a classic rock edge, like Crystal Image or Vine Dawgz. Others share a mix, offering Americana and blues, like Lodi band Vogel & Spencer.

Most evenings start out similarly, the crowd enjoying a drink or two as the band gets into their groove.

Bart Vogel, of Spencer & Vogel, says sometimes it happens in the first set. A song will inspire someone in the audience to get up and start dancing. Usually, it just depends who shows up, but by 8 or 9 p.m., they have a packed house.

Like most local groups, Spencer & Vogel warm up as they get started. It’s not all glamour, but everyone has fun.

“We don’t have the luxury of most successful musicians, where they have a dressing room,” he said. “We have to warm up on the fly.”

They start with more tender ballads and let it build from there."

"Awesome job tonight. You all are a great way to start the weekend!"
"Bart Vogel is an incredible singer/songwriter with infectious melodies and powerful uplifting lyrics. I would describe him as sort of James Taylor-ish with a sprinkle of Jack Johnson, sans reggae..Tim Spencer is one of the most gifted guitarists I know or know of.  His ability to bring you along with the heart of the music and take you places you've never dreamed of going is pure bliss to witness first hand. These two, along with the SUPER GIFTED Gary Somerfeld on drums and harmonies that or so tight that they tingle are sure to keep you coming back for more."