"People askin' me, what it feels like," he croons in one tune, "standin' on the stage, in the spotlight. / I tell 'em it's like fishin', gotta keep 'em on the line, / gotta get the hook in, once they take a little bite." And by the end of that song, "The Fishin' Jawn," his crowd of listeners have the air of so many wiggling trout eager to jump in the boat.

Fans new and old can hear Ager's music live at his semi-regular dates at places like Teavolve in Baltimore's Harbor East or 49 West in Annapolis, where he shares a monthly bill with the D.C. performer Justin Trawick, not to mention sampling it on his website, his MySpace page or YouTube videos.

As he wraps his set, the audience demands an encore — but one listener, late for an engagement, tries to slip out unnoticed.

"You're gonna do me like that, huh?" Ager says at the mike. "I'll remember you — the guy in the blue-striped shirt. Nah, get home safe, hear?" and the man laughs as he exits.

Page is impressed. "I'm intense. I need to be more fun," he says, smiling at his table.

"And I ain't serious enough," Ager says later. "For me, music is celebration. I can't help it."


As the show comes to an end, the emcees are pleased with how things went.

Part of SOMA's charm, they say, is that as working musicians, they rarely get a chance to see what their counterparts are up to, and Tuesday nights have yet to disappoint them.

Ewald compares Page's voice to that of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Murray chuckles at the cleverness of Ager's lyrics.

A smiling Page claps the co-hosts on the back — "these two are music royalty in Annapolis," he says — and he gives Ager an admiring handshake, hands out copies of his latest CD, "Liberty," and talks a little politics.

"Americans are in for a tough road the next couple of years," says Page, who was to headline a rally for Republican presidential candidates in Greenville, S.C., including Paul, a few days later. "Our liberties are disappearing fast. But tell another person. Tell 50 people. Educate. That's what we can do."

Ager, his plaid shirt stained with perspiration, grins as he tosses copies of "Lunchtime," the latest CD by his band, "Jason Ager & The C.O.P.O.," to anybody who wants one, and he stuffs a copy of Page's disk into his bag.

The German scholar-cum-acoustic troubadour clearly trains his smarts on enjoying the quirks of life — and the chance to write and sing about them.

"Life throws you curveballs, that's for sure," he says. "Will I be doing this 10 years from now? I don't know. I hope so. I know I'll be doing it till no one wants to hear me anymore."


If you go

What: Showcase of Original Music, Annapolis (SOMA), a regular evening featuring original music by local performers

When: Tuesdays, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.

Where: The Austin Grill, Westfield Annapolis Mall, 2002 Annapolis Mall

Admission: free

Information: facebook.com/SOMAwithMegandBryan or (410) 571-6688

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts