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From Brunswick to Big Apple: A musician's rise to fame

News, Lifestyle

From Brunswick to Big Apple: A musician's rise to fame

PORTLAND — It's been a busy year for Aly Spaltro.

Having released her first studio album through a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based record label earlier this year, the Brunswick-raised musician has spent most of 2013 playing dozens of shows across North America and Europe.

Throughout her journey, Spaltro, who now lives in Brooklyn, has shared the stage with national acts like Neko Case, Deerhoof and Dr. Dog.

She even rubbed shoulders with David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, received much-coveted praise from taste-making music website Pitchfork, and made two appearances on National Public Radio.

On Nov. 30, Spaltro will headline a sold-out show at her favorite venue, SPACE Gallery. A few days later, she will join other Portland-area musicians to play with a 19-piece big band on Dec. 6 at the State Theatre.

To the concerts' patrons, Spaltro is better known as "Lady Lamb the Beekeeper," a moniker taken from a lucid dream she scrawled half-awake in a bedside journal.

But while the name has become synonymous with Spaltro's talent and voice, it was originally created to shield her true identify.

Back when she first started playing and recording music in 2007 – just after finishing high school – Spaltro was working in Brunswick at Bart & Greg's DVD Explosion, a retail staple of the Tontine Mall on Maine Street.

The video rental store would go on to serve as her primary practice space for four years – a free amenity that is typically unheard of in the music industry – until she moved to Brooklyn in 2011 to become a full-time musician.

But at the time, because of her familiar face in the downtown area, Spaltro said she decided to conceal her identity with the "Lady Lamb" name when she released her first CD for free at the neighboring Bull Moose retail store.

"No one knew what I was doing," Spaltro said. "I wasn't telling everyone in town that I was a musician, or that I was performing or practicing in the basement of (the Tontine Mall). It wasn't common knowledge."

Bart D'Alauro, co-owner of Bart & Greg's DVD Explosion, was one of the few who knew about Spaltro's music.

"It seems strange to say, because she has so much confidence now, but she didn't have a whole lot of confidence when she first started," he said on Monday. "She came up with the name so she could give her CDs to Bull Moose without people knowing it was her on the recording."

D'Alauro said he originally hired Spaltro because of her eclectic taste in foreign cinema, but the two soon learned that they also shared a similar taste in music.

"Because our music tastes were similar, she trusted me to listen to her (recordings) and I liked what I heard," he said. "... She's a good songwriter, but on top of that she's good at experimenting with guitar and layering things, and I think that made her an interesting musician."

If it wasn't for some early feedback from D'Alauro, Spaltro said she might not be on the same path she is on today.

"He takes the credit for encouraging me to even continue to record because he's the first person I ever shared any music with," she said.

And the encouragement has paid off.

"It's been really exciting for me to go overseas and meet fans from different countries who have been listening to me for a long time," Spaltro said, "and I would have never imagined that someone from Ireland or Spain would know who I am."

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.