USM’s Osher School of Music presents students with an opportunity to learn from a faculty that collectively has a wide variety of experience performing, teaching, and studying music in all its forms. Alumni of USM’s music programs often go on to perform in various institutions, pursue graduate studies, or teach the next generation of promising musicians.
One faculty member among these programs is Dan Sonenberg, a professor of music at USM who has just announced the upcoming release of his sophomore rock album, titled Tiny Malone. The 10 song album is slated to be released on October 7, 2022 on various streaming platforms, as well as Sonenberg’s Bandcamp site.
Accompanied in part by fellow USM faculty Hans Spencer and Alan Kaschub, as well as elite musicians from all over New England, Sonenberg makes a return to his rock roots, after experimenting with folk, electronic, and psychedelic rock in his previous EP Mint Explosion. After taking a break from this project when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Sonenberg hit the ground running this past summer to create something extraordinary out of the seedling ideas he had when the pandemic hit. “Perhaps because of their origins as grooves and riffs, the album is guitar-heavy, and has the most rocking vibe I’ve done on anything since the days of Lovers of Fiction,” Sonenberg states of his new batch of songs in a press release.
Previous to his current project, Sonenberg has a rich history in composing and performing in various outlets. Famously, his original opera The Summer King has graced the national stages of both the Pittsburgh and Detroit Opera Houses in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The Summer King portrays the life of Josh Gibson, who was the second black baseball player ever to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Sonenberg’s compositions have also been featured by many major local organizations, such as Opera Maine, Portland Ovations, and the Portland Symphony Orchestra.
Sonenberg’s band, Lovers of Fiction, is where his recording career began with a 2013 EP titled, The Bear. Lovers of Fiction have also produced a full-length album, Long Overdue (2015). He has gone on to produce his own solo works, such as his debut album Peaks Island Ferry (2014), his single Working for the Man (2020), and his EP Mint Explosion (2021).
When touching on the confessional, intimate themes that prevail within Peaks Island Ferry, Sonenberg stated that Tiny Malone will contain subject matter that’s much more cheerful to hear. He states: “This is not really a confessional work at all. I’ve got songs about my dog, about Questlove’s documentary Summer of Soul, alongside some old fashioned–but
way more optimistic–love songs, and some songs that really aren’t first person at all, but more like little mini fictions. There is one political song–I couldn’t help myself. It’s called ‘Sick and Evil’.” While he doesn’t currently have any plans to immediately perform his works live following the release of his album, he does wish he could bring together a sizable group of musicians to bring his songs the justice they deserve.
Tiny Malone is to be released on October 7, 2022 on all major streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. Sonenberg’s previous discography, including his works with Lovers of Fiction, are also available on all major streaming platforms. His solo pieces are available on his Bandcamp site.