On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Union Court hosted a duo of University of New Hampshire (UNH) music department alumni, Jim Dozet and Nick Phaneuf, for their weekly “Live @ Union Court” performances.
Dozet and Phaneuf have been performing together for about 10 years and individually played music professionally for about 20. They described performing at Union Court as different and mellow. Phaneuf began his music career in a school band and came to UNH to study music. Once finished with school, he began teaching and performing.
“Most of the career part has just been about making friends with people inside and outside of school and they get you the connections to get you gigs,” Phaneuf said. “It’s the freelance life.”
Dozet chimed in and said that this career path is all about networking and knowing the right people. While Phaneuf began playing music in school, Dozet started later in life.
“I picked up a guitar at 16 and then realized that was kind of what I was into, then I came here and studied music,” Dozet said. “I got a degree in jazz guitar. I met a lot of people, Nick included, who I still perform with.”
Dozet and Phaneuf are both teachers at the Portsmouth Music and Art Center. The two balance teaching with live performances, both having over 20 years of experience performing along the East Coast.
The duo often play at Book and Bar and the Press Room, both in Portsmouth, and also at the Blue Mermaid in Kittery, Maine, where they often do a brunch once a month. At bars, Dozet and Phaneuf typically play with a drummer and also occasionally play with a full band. The vibes of Union Court coincide with that of a bar in which people are passively listening and not necessarily watching them play.
“Having been a student here, I think it’s great that this school is putting resources into there being live music that people bump into by accident,” said Phaneuf. Dozet and Phaneuf refer to gigs like Union Court as “musical wallpaper,” meaning that the people are there for the vibe of the place and the music and performers are just there.
“I usually generalize and say Americana,” Dozet said about the style of music that they play. “We like to play all different sorts of styles and keep it eclectic, so that seems to encapsulate most of what we do.”
“It’s folk influenced or folk adjacent,” Phaneuf added. “We take one step in either direction into blues or bluegrass or rock.”
When they are not performing or teaching music, you can almost always find them outdoors. Phaneuf likes to hike, chop wood and do things on the more active side while Dozet likes to walk his labradoodle, Marvin, with his wife. Phaneuf also has a dog, Zaphod, named after a character from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
“Nick’s a closet nerd,” Dozet joked.