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Boston busker to play spooky set at Lynn cafe

Many of the songs Chelsea Spear will perform on Oct. 19 are from "Greetings from Rocky Point," an EP she plans to record in February.

LYNN — Once a busker on the streets of Boston, Chelsea Spear is now performing in venues, and she’s not afraid to get a little spooky.

The North Shore native, primarily of Medford, grew up with a unique taste in music. She, along with her ukulele, will be performing an eclectic set of spooky songs, including murder ballads and original songs about true crime, with a focus on 1980s synth pop at a free show at Walnut Street Cafe on Oct. 19.

In a household filled with creativity — her father was a sports writer and her mother was a freelance photographer — Spear was always finding new ways to fall in love with music. She remembers listening to the Rolling Stones and local alternative bands in her mother’s car on Boston’s WBCN, which is most notably known for being the first radio station to break U2 and The Clash.

“I’ll find something I like and go down the rabbit hole with it and listen to the artists that inspired them,” she said.

From female jazz singers to the angsty British post-punk bands of the 1980s, Spear’s musical interests were ever changing. She held major admiration for jazz singer Blossom Dearie, given the small voice and large sense of humor they shared. Spear watched Dearie perform every Saturday morning on “SchoolHouse Rock!” Because she felt as though the late singer was extremely relatable.

“I felt very isolated when I lived on the North Shore, given there wasn’t regular bus service where I lived, and I had big ambitions,” said Spear. “I always wanted to write stories and interview artists.”

When Spear is not working as a copy editor at a marketing firm in Boston, she spends her free time busking on the city’s streets and in subways with her ukulele. She said when she first began she was playing a lot of new wave pop hits but they became uneasy to play on her instrument. When she first started strumming ’80s synth pop melodies, she was surprised at the positive reactions from bystanders.

“It’s easy to play and people still enjoy it because a lot of that music is still being sampled in new music today,” she said. “With the Netflix show ‘Stranger Things,’ people remember songs I play and say it reminds them of music from the series.”

Not only does Spear perform around Boston, she practices by participating in online open mic nights as well. Many of the songs she will be perform on Oct. 19 were written by her and fit in perfectly with the Halloween season. They are taken from “Greetings from Rocky Point,” an EP she plans to record in February.

“One of the big ones is called ‘Hot Paintings,’ and it’s about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist and I feel like I have to include this song because my dad was working there in the late 1980s and left before the heist happened,” she said. “It was a sad moment in my adolescence because I felt like someone stole from my grandmother’s house. I took it personally.”

 

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