Ryan Montbleau and Jesse Dee

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I’d somehow never seen Ryan Montbleau live.  I’d come close a few times, too—just missing his set at music festivals more than once. I signed up to win tickets from 98.9 WCLZ for this show and won, and so I emailed Ryan and asked if I could photograh the show, which he and his team kindly allowed. I ran into my friends Jason and Sarah when I got to Port City Music Hall, and my new Gardiner neighbor Ari and her friend Jess joined me up front for a bit of the show, too.

I liked Boston’s Jesse Dee. He didn’t say much to us during his set, but he and his electric guitar were a lovely pair onstage. I kept hearing Rickie Lee Jones’ “Chuck E.’s In Love” in his songs. Jess said he reminded her a bit of Martin Sexton. Check out “Boundary Line” and “Slow Down” to get a taste of his soulful sound.

Jesse Dee

Jesse Dee

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I ended up in a nice pocket of concert goers for this show, which is always a real plus. I snuck over to the middle of the crowd to take some photos, and people gladly moved aside to let me in. A woman standing next to me asked if I’d seen Ryan before and excitedly checked back in with me later to see if I liked him. Such nice folks at this show! I think I’d expected Ryan to be an acoustic singer-songwriter, but he arrived as a nine-piece band (including two female singers and guys on keys, drums, percussion, trombone, saxophone, and bass) with a far funkier sound than I’d expected. Sometimes it’s nice to see a band whose music I don’t know so I can put my notebook down and just dance. Thanks for a fun night! Oh! And Ryan’s team recorded the show and you can see the whole thing here! Check out my photos of Ryan and the band below.

xo,

bree

Ryan Montbleau

Ryan Montbleau

Loved this choreography

Loved this choreography

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Is this exactly the outfit Ryan Gosling wore in The Notebook?!

Is this exactly the outfit Ryan Gosling wore in The Notebook?!

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This sweet guy saw me taking photos and insisted I get in one since I have essentially not a single photo of myself at a show. That's his nice friend on the right.

This sweet guy saw me taking photos and insisted I get in one since we have so few photos of ourselves at shows. That’s his nice friend on the right.

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Hollerfest 2: Darlingside, The Ballroom Thieves, and The Ghost of Paul Revere

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Strand Theatre, Rockland, Maine

I was really excited when I saw the lineup for Hollerfest 2. Darlingside and The Ballroom Thieves, both Massachusetts-based bands with strong ties to Maine, are both on my short list of favorite live bands. Add the promise of seeing them play with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, especially when I’m such a sucker for stringed instruments, and I was pumped. My friend Colin and I both skipped seeing insanely talented Lake Street Dive at The State Theatre in Portland to catch this show. It seemed like more bang for the buck and Colin’s a big Ghost of Paul Revere fan, too. I beat Colin to The Strand in Rockland and grabbed front row center seats for us.

I’ve written about Darlingside a bunch now. This “string rock quartet” is the real deal. I love that they perform huddled together around a single microphone and are gifted instrumentalists and vocalists. Their harmonies have such strength—surely a result of many years living and playing together. Don Mitchell (guitar), Auyon Mukharji (violin/mandolin), David Senft (guitar), and Harris Paseltiner (cello) are such a pleasure to watch live. They joked with the crowd in between songs and seemed genuinely excited to play with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, especially since Harris and Auyon played in orchestras growing up.

Don Mitchell, David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner of Darlingside

Don Mitchell, David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner of Darlingside

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They joked that “My Love” is a musical guide for how not to behave in a relationship. It’s one of my favorite Darlingside songs. They told us that “Whippoorwill” was about how great childhood was before fully processing how “uncool they’d been due to lack of youth orchestra.” Auyon kept the laughs going by introducing the band to us with fun facts about everyone’s eating habits while on the road.

They played one of my favorites, “Sweet and Low,” next and then welcomed the MYRO and their director Kevin Oats to the stage. They told us that the orchestra had done all of the work—all Darlingside had done was pick a couple of songs and MYRO director Kevin Oats arranged and taught them. They played two songs together—“The Ancestor” and “Blow the House Down.” The guys from Darlingside were all smiles during both songs and kept looking at the orchestra behind them—clearly tickled about how cool it was to be backed by a talented orchestra. Don joked that he often imagined an orchestra playing behind him in everyday life, but that the MYRO was much better. Auyon said to blame the MYRO if they were actually too awesome and actually did “blow the house down.” It was AWESOME to see the MYRO with Darlingside. All of my regrets about quitting violin after one year playing when I was in third grade came flooding back to me!

Darlingside with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

Darlingside with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

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The Ballroom Thieves took the stage next and played a few songs I hadn’t heard live before—“Carolina” (?) and “Wild Woman.” Devin Mauch (percussion), Martin Earley (guitar), and Calin Peters (cello) were spot on. Their driving, percussive sound with strong harmonies was such a treat to witness after not having seen them play live since April. They played “Bullet,” which they said “killed in the South”—a relief because they’d been getting blank stares up until they played that song that southerners could relate to. They gave a shout out to Paul on sound who’d run sound for an opera at The Strand earlier in the day before doing sound for three bands and an entire orchestra.

The Ballroom Thieves: Martin Earley (guitar), Devin Mauch (percussion), and Calin Peters (cello)

The Ballroom Thieves: Martin Earley (guitar), Devin Mauch (percussion), and Calin Peters (cello)

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I loved hearing Calin on lead vocals for “Bury Me Smiling.” They did their own cute band introductions, as well. I really liked “Here I Stand.” They brought the MYRO to the stage to play “Archers” with them and told us that the orchestra had literally done all the work. Thieves—when do you have new music coming out? I am so ready to have my hands on this newer music to jam to during my morning commute!

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The Ballroom Thieves with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

The Ballroom Thieves with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

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The Ghost of Paul Revere came to the stage and I was really looking forward to having the chance to sit down and listen to their lyrics because I hadn’t seen them in a sit down venue for almost a year and a half. Griffin Sherry talked about being really excited to play with the MYRO and Shawn McCarthy joked that he was nervous because the MYRO are “all better than we are.” I think they played a song or two (I’m still pretty unfamiliar with their music, thus my excitement for this show) before Shawn invited people to get up and dance. A happy bunch of dancers made their way to the stage, inches from me in my front row seat. What that meant for me was that I couldn’t see the band anymore even though I was sitting feet from them front and center. I was so frustrated about having to watch people shaking their butts in my face and blocking my view that I ended up leaving after a couple more songs. My suggestion from a concert goer’s perspective for any live band is that if it’s a sit down venue, then the show is a sit down show. If you want people to be up and dancing, that’s what bars and other non-seated venues are for. I was super disappointed.

The Ghost of Paul Revere

The Ghost of Paul Revere

My obstructed front row "view" of the show after the second song :(

My obstructed front row “view” of the show after the second song :(

On the plus side, I did run into Don from Darlingside on my way out and we got to catch up a bit. I’m already looking forward to seeing them again. What talent. A mixed bag of a night, but great to see two of my favorite live bands play with the talented Maine Youth Rock Orchestra!

xo,

bree

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Carbon Leaf with Tall Heights

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

What a fun night! I held baby Isabelle for a while after school, and then picked up Megan for an adventurous evening celebrating our Friendiversary! We met six happy years ago at Bowdoin College’s amazing annual Thanksgiving dinner. We stopped by the Maine Tweetup at Glass Lounge in the Old Port’s new Hyatt Place hotel for a bit, and then had a scrumptious dinner at Empire before heading over to Port City Music Hall for the show.

Friendiversary!

Friendiversary!

I was surprised by how big the crowd was when we arrived, but I had a press pass and was able to snag a spot just behind the barricade adjacent to the stage with room for Megan, too. We were excited to see our Carbon Leaf friend Stacey very nearby with her husband Don. It’s always great to see them for a Carbon Leaf show and Stacey and I haven’t missed a single Maine Carbon Leaf appearance together since we met at a Carbon Leaf show at Port City in 2009.

Megan, Sarah, Me, Barry from Carbon Leaf, and Stacey at Port City in 2009

Megan, Sarah, Me, Barry from Carbon Leaf, and Stacey at Port City in 2009

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I’d seen Tall Heights back in May of 2013 with Tricky Britches and The Ghost of Paul Revere at One Longfellow Square in Portland and was looking forward to seeing them again. Boston-based folk duo Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello impressed again with their flawless harmonies and engaging stage presence. I particularly liked “Eastern Standard Time” and “I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know.” Tim told us that Paul had just jumped into the Atlantic Ocean in Beverly, Massachusetts to celebrate his recent birthday, and Paul told us it was similarly cold in Maine while pointing out the winter hat Tim was wearing on stage. Their cover of “Yesterday” was really quite pretty, as well. Check out this story about Tall Heights’ background (including their extensive busking experience) and this live recording of “Running of the Bulls” filmed by Boston’s Sofar Sounds.

Tall Heights: Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello

Tall Heights: Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello

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Virginia’s Carbon Leaf took the stage as an enthusiastic crowd cheered them on. Lead singer Barry Privett welcome us and they launched right into songs played frequently over the years on 98.9 WCLZ including “Life Less Ordinary” and “What About Everything?” There were lots of folks in the crowd singing along to all of the songs all night long. “Desperation Song” was a big hit with Barry on penny whistle. Carter Gravatt debuted a new guitar that sounded great and Barry joked that if Carter sold half his gear the band could retire tomorrow.

Carbon Leaf's Barry Privett

Carbon Leaf’s Barry Privett

Terry Clark

Terry Clark

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Jon Markel

Jon Markel

Jason Neal

Jason Neal

Carter Gravatt

Carter Gravatt

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Barry and Carter were joined by the rest of their bandmates—Terry Clark (guitar), Jon Markel (bass), and Jason Neal (drums)—around a single microphone to sing a handful of songs, including a couple a cappella. Their harmonies are incredible—clearly the product of nearly twenty years playing together. Barry told us about their newest independently released album, Constellation Prize, and the re-release of their 2004 album Indian Summer, which had been the property of their former record label, but now belongs to them in the form of Indian Summer Revisited, which inspired their current 50 city tour.

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The guy running stage security was particularly nice and even offered to create a path for me to get to the center of the room so I could take photos from another angle. I turned down his very kind offer, but took my camera and ventured over to the center of the room. I couldn’t believe how great everyone in the crowd was! It’s been a while since the crowd at a show was so lovely. People literally moved out of my way with smiles on their faces like I was Moses parting the sea. Even the guy standing front and center at the stage gladly moved aside to let me in to take a few shots. Maybe the crowd was so wonderfully kind and easy going because the guys in Carbon Leaf are down to earth and friendly themselves? Just a hypothesis.

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Barry told us that we could take home a recording of that night’s show on USB (which is an awesome idea that I wish more bands would borrow). He told us about the music festival they curate at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, Virginia called Carbon Leaf’s Ragtime Carnival in May (in case anyone’s up for a road trip). The guys gave a shout out to WCLZ for always supporting them and for sponsoring the show and a Studio Z earlier in the day. They wrapped up the evening’s encore with one of my very favorites, “Let Your Troubles Roll By,” which was the last song I heard live in 2013 at my last Carbon Leaf show. Energized by the show, Megan and I turned to leave, and I ran into my cousin Jake on the way out, which was a big bonus! Megan was so enthused by the show that she spent part of the ride home downloading more Carbon Leaf music. She was especially taken with “The War Was in Color” during the show and downloaded a couple of versions as we talked about how much fun we had. We’re already excited for our next Carbon Leaf show! Thanks, guys! (Check out more pictures below!)

xo,

bree

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Hey Rosetta! and Stars

Friday, November 8, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I stumbled upon Canada’s Hey Rosetta! many years ago online and love their layered, full sound and lead singer’s Tim Baker’s smooth voice. I’d been keeping an eye on their tour schedule for what felt like forever, and was SO excited to see they were finally coming to Maine to open for Montreal’s Stars. This was the first night of their tour together. I got to Port City Music Hall early to make sure I had a good spot up front, and I met Jen there, who’d driven down from New Brunswick just for the show. It was great to watch the show with another fan, and there were plenty of Hey Rosetta! fans and friendly Canadians in the crowd. My friends Bartlett and Ellie showed up right before the show, too. I’d suggested to Bartlett that he catch Hey Rosetta’s set at Bonnaroo when they were both there in 2012 and he did and was hooked. Hey Rosetta! sounded great live. They are a seven-piece indie band and create a rich sound with the usual four-piece instruments, but also with the addition of a string section, horns, and tight harmonies. I was probably most excited to hear “Yer Spring” and “Young Glass,” both from their 2011 album, Seeds. Tim didn’t say a whole lot to the crowd (which I would have liked), but did tell us that he’d just recovered from being really sick, so I’ll give him a pass. Hey Rosetta! played eight beautiful songs and left the stage—many of us wanting more. I hope they’ll come back and headline a show sometime so we can dig in a bit more. You can stream their newest album, Second Sight, here. I hope you’ll give them a listen.

Tim Baker is the frontman of Hey Rosetta! (I didn't hear back in time from their publicist, so these aren't taken with my fancy camera).

Tim Baker is the frontman of Hey Rosetta!(I didn’t hear back in time from their publicist, so these aren’t taken with my fancy camera).

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I ended up literally front and center touching the stage (my favorite) for Stars, and they were awesome from the first second they took the stage. I’d been streaming their October release, No One is Lost, a lot in the weeks before the show, and really enjoyed their pop sound. Torquil Campbell took us all in immediately as he effortlessly engaged the crowd. He sang above me (and I had to duck out of his way) as he leaned into the eager, bopping crowd. Amy Millan also shone brightly on stage, with her sharp dance moves and comfortable banter. They have the kind of stage presence you earn after more than a decade together, and it shows that they care about the caliber of show they put on and don’t take it for granted. Check out the video for their newest single “From The Night” to get a taste of their style. Even though I was impressed, I hadn’t packed my earplugs, and Stars was L-O-U-D. Bartlett texted me to say they’d left because the sound was so overwhelming, and even though I decided to ditch my front row spot for a place in the very back of the room, I still felt overtaken by the sound in a way that pushed me out the doors early, too. I’ll definitely pack some earplugs and stay the whole show next time (and maybe the guys in the sound booth can turn it down a bit, too?).

Stars

Stars

Torquil Campbell

Torquil Campbell

I love being this close to the stage!

I love being this close to the stage!

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Amy Millan has got *it*!

Amy Millan has got *it*!

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So glad to have finally seen Hey Rosetta! live. I hope they’ll come back again soon and play twice as long.

xo,

bree

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Eric Hutchinson, Tristan Prettyman, and Nick Howard

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

This was the kind of grey and dreary Tuesday that felt like it should have been a Thursday already. I was so ready for Daylight Savings Time, and I think the dark weather sadly ended up clouding my show experience. I had a sluggish afternoon after school holding my dear friend’s two-month-old baby girl for a few hours before heading down to Portland to catch this show. I got to Sarah’s house just as Eric Hutchinson and Tristan Prettyman’s Studio Z interview on 98.9 WCLZ began and listened while I snuggled baby Isabelle. I’d seen Eric live back in 2012 on his “Almost Solo Tour” with accompanist Elliott Blaufuss, and he was a supreme entertainer—as much a stand up comedian as a singer-songwriter. I was happy to hear that he was just as engaging over the radio, joking that the way he and Tristan co-headlined this tour was by each playing their set simultaneously on opposite sides of a curtain and seeing who gets more attention from the crowd. Tristan and Eric talked about being good friends for over a decade and how excited they were to put the City & Sand Tour together (she’s from San Diego and he’s living in NYC). Tristan talked about going through a lot of transitions—being dropped by her label, firing her manager, becoming a one-woman operation, and getting married in August right before spending two weeks in the studio after her honeymoon recording her new EP, Back To Home. They sounded like they were already having fun together on the road (the tour just started the night before in Boston), and they played a fun cover of “All About That Bass” together that got me geared up for the show.

Isabelle is quite snuggly

Isabelle is quite snuggly

She's so snuggly that we fell asleep together for a little while before I took off for the show

She’s so snuggly that we fell asleep together for a little while before I took off for the show.

I arrived early to grab my press ticket and a front row spot. My friends Andrea and Cory were already at Port City Music Hall by the time I arrived, but sadly couldn’t stand up front with me because Cory was injured and needed to sit for the show. For whatever reason, being solo at this show made it less fun. I ended up in a pocket of obnoxious people—drunk people, loud talkers, adults waaaaay too old to be grinding on each other like that, and between that and the dreary weather, I think my positive show experience was over before it began. Most of those annoying people arrived only after Britain’s Nick Howard performed, so I did get an uninterrupted chance to enjoy at least part of the show. Nick was engaging—as far as an opening act goes, he did everything right. He chatted comfortably with the crowd, complimented the area (he joked about being able to see why so many presidents vacation in Maine), sang a few songs we knew (his cover song medley included “Wake Me Up” and “Save Tonight”), asked us to clap, whistle, and sing along, and didn’t play for too long. Well done, Nick. I especially liked his original songs “Can’t Break a Broken Heart” and “Falling for You.”

Nick Howard

Nick Howard

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I was impressed with the speedy set change (it being a school night and all), and Tristan Prettyman and her band took the stage in no time at all. I hadn’t seen her since 2011 at the Life is Good Festival in Canton, Massachusetts, and was glad to see her again. Her last album, Cedar + Gold, got a lot of play on long road trips in my car in 2012. It’s definitely a breakup album (this summer, my break up album was Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour) and was written about her broken engagement with Jason Mraz. Here’s Tristan performing a stripped-down version of “I Was Gonna Marry You” that she didn’t play at the show, since a lot has happened since then. Tristan told us she’d gotten married in August (her husband, Google Venture managing partner, Bill Maris, was in the crowd proudly taking photos). Her new EP, Back to Home, released the day before the show, is a much happier album, and Tristan told us she was playing these songs live for the first time on the City & Sand Tour with Eric. She joked about how all of her songs are about stupid men, and so she really didn’t have anything appropriate to play when she visited her friend’s sixth grade classroom, so she wrote a “namaste” song, “Open Up Your Eyes.” I was glad to hear “Say Anything,” “Madly,” and “My Oh My,” all songs that 98.9 WCLZ has played regularly for ages. Tristan surprised us with a fun cover of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” during her set, which had people happily singing along.

Tristan Prettyman

Tristan Prettyman

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The last time I saw Eric Hutchinson was a real treat. He told a ton of stories about his songs and interacted comfortably with the friendly crowd while playing stripped-down, acoustic songs—my ideal concert-going scenario. This show was different. Eric hopped up on stage with a full band and rocked from start to finish. He didn’t say a whole lot to the crowd, but he and his happy bandmates had great energy and put on a fun show. Eric has a lot of hits from his decade-plus-long career, and he played them all. The crowd was clearly excited to hear “Watching You Watch Him.” During “The Basement” he sampled a little Aretha, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Amy Winehouse. It was a big hit with the crowd and Eric and the band really went all out on it.

Eric Hutchinson

Eric Hutchinson

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Loved seeing this camaraderie

Loved seeing this camaraderie

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Look at the fun they're having!

Look at the fun they’re having!

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Eric called Tristan up on stage and they did one of her songs, “Love Love Love,” together. He told us that the first time he heard that song, he listened to it on repeat for an entire two hour drive. Eric tested out the security of the big speaker on the floor right next to me and then hopped up onto it to start singing “OK, It’s Alright with Me.” I physically had to move to get out of his way. That’s how close to a performer I want to be during a show! (It’s also why I didn’t move to a new spot when I probably should have to get away from the folks I was standing around. Lesson learned.)

Tristan and Eric on her "Love Love Love"

Tristan and Eric on her “Love Love Love”

Eric up on the speaker right next to me. This is the kind of stage proximity I look for!

Eric up on the speaker right next to me. This is the kind of stage proximity I look for!

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I appreciated the way that Eric gleefully interacted with his band on stage. He took the time to introduce all of them and to give them time to highlight their skills, which they especially did during “You Don’t Have to Believe Me.” The show is clearly not all about him to him, and that’s great to see. Eric talked about getting dropped from his label years ago and using the money to make his 2008 album, Sounds Like This. His newest album, Pure Fiction, came out in April of 2014. Eric sampled Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” during “A Little More,” one of his newer songs. I stayed through “Rock and Roll” and then decided to head home before the encore so I could be in bed before midnight on a school night. Eric’s so fun live. Next time I see him, I’ll try harder to bring my dancing shoes!

xo,

bree

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Gardiner, Maine’s 5th Annual Swine and Stein Oktoberfest

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gardiner, Maine

Dedicated people in my sweet little town have been working hard for years to revitalize the downtown and attract people to Gardiner. My sense is that this work is starting to pay off. Surely the biggest event hosted by Gardiner Maine Street is our annual Swine and Stein Oktoberfest. This was the fifth annual Swine and Stein, and I’d say it was the best one yet! I had such a fun day and there were smiling people everywhere. Thanks so much to everyone who came, and to Gardiner Maine Street, the vendors, the musicians, and the more than sixty (60!) volunteers who made such a wonderful event possible! Patrick Wright—director of Gardiner Main Street—you deserve a special shout out for a job incredibly well done! Thanks, Patrick! What I saw on Saturday makes me proud to live in Gardiner.

I showed up a few minutes before the gates opened at 11:30AM to grab a donut at Frosty’s and check out the layout since improvements are made each year to strengthen the event. I got to pet baby goats and sleeping piglets on my short walk along Water Street, which only heightened my excitement for Swine and Stein. If you’ve never been to Swine and Stein, we shut down auto traffic on our picturesque main street (Water Street), and host live animals, food vendors (featuring A LOT of local pork), a local beer tent, fun activities for all ages, and live local bands all day. It’s a great day, and this year, the weather cooperated beautifully, too.

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All of the photos in this post were taken by me. If you’d like to share, please give me (Bree Candland of whatbreesees.com) photo credit. Thanks!

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I overheard a couple wondering how Swine and Stein works, so I stopped to welcome them and explain the event and show them to the gate. I could hear superstar volunteer Derek Zardus of Zardus Art of Massage & Wellness Spa welcoming people to Gardiner and to Swine and Stein at the gate long before I could see him. We moved quickly through the line, got our three drink tickets (included with admission) cleverly attached to our wristband, and the first 1,000 through the line also got a souvenir 5 oz. tasting glass. Later in the day I saw how many people didn’t have one of those little glasses, so I am guessing a lot more than 1,000 people showed up!

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Derek Zardus

Derek Zardus

I LOVED the addition of a professional stage with a sound engineer this year! I could hear Sorcha and Monique Barrett playing as I said my hellos and wandered through the food area to scope out what I might want to get for lunch later. Sorcha is a friend in music—she’s played Swine and Stein before and I’m always happy to get to see her live. She and Monique harmonize beautifully, and their covers of “Jolene” and “Crazy” were flawless. I wasn’t taking notes because I wanted to enjoy the day, but I liked the song Sorcha wrote for a friend’s wedding (the name of which I’d normally have jotted down), and one of Monique’s that might be called “Make It Better.” Later in the day, I introduced them to Johnson Hall director Michael Miclon. We talked about having a singer-songwriter circle show at Johnson Hall sometime this season. I took Sorcha and Monique into Johnson Hall to show them the beautifully renovated performance space downstairs and to show off the cleaned up third floor, which is beautiful and totally ready for renovation. Built in 1864, Johnson Hall has been a ballroom, a movie house, and a theatre. Johnson Hall hopes to renovate the upper floors to use for performances and other events. The potential in that space is unreal. Monique and Sorcha talked about how cool it would be to record an album together (since they often play together, but don’t have one) in that space. The acoustics are amazing. When I took them to the top floor, they were so wowed by the beauty of the space that they broke out in song! I have high hopes for the capital campaign and would LOVE to see Johnson Hall restored.

Sorcha and Monique Barrett

Sorcha and Monique Barrett

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Mike Miclon and Logan Johnston

Mike Miclon and Logan Johnston in front of Johnson Hall

The amazing space on the top floor of Johnson Hall

The amazing space on the top floor of Johnson Hall

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I loved the fun competitions and events that were planned for the day in between bands. The event that stole my heart, however, was the first-ever Swine and Stein Beard and Mustache Competition. Danielle Rodrigue, local beauty expert from Concepts Hair Design and and the MAYOR of Gardiner, Thom Harnett, were the other two judges, and I was thrilled to be asked to join them. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Patrick called contestants to the stage and a wave of beautifully bearded and mustachioed men approached the stage. Did you know there’s a Maine Facial Hair Club? What a great group of guys. We judged in six categories—beards more or less than six inches, partial mustache, freestyle, and a couple of others that I can’t recall since I was on cloud nine the whole time. Clare Marron, Gardiner Maine Street board member and owner of Monkitree, Gardiner’s fine art and craft gallery, organized the event. She worked with The Potter’s House to create amazing mugs (in honor of American Craft Week) for the winners of each category. The winners were thrilled with their surprise award.

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That's me, Danielle, and Gardiner mayor Thom Harnett

That’s me, Danielle, and Gardiner mayor Thom Harnett

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I think you tell I was a BIG fan of the beard and mustache competition!

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Clare Marron of Monkitree gave out awesome prizes to the winners

Clare Marron of Monkitree gave out awesome prizes to the winners

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The German Oktoberfest Band always sets the perfect mood, and they had people swaying and toasting along. My dear friend Rachel came in her dirndl and valiantly competed in the frozen t-shirt contest, but lost in a very close race to the finish.

The German Oktoberfest Band

The German Oktoberfest Band

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Rachel and Ian appropriately dressed for Oktoberfest

Rachel and Ian appropriately dressed for Oktoberfest

The frozen t-shirt content was HILARIOUS

The frozen t-shirt content was HILARIOUS

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Photo finish! That was CLOSE!

Photo finish! That was CLOSE!

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Vintage Wine Bar had a wine tent this year!

Vintage Wine Bar had a wine tent this year!

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!

BBQ!

BBQ!

My delicious lunch

My delicious lunch

Cute dogs!

Cute dogs!

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Dublin the golden retriever

Dublin the golden retriever

Bo surrounded by admirers at Monkitree

Bo surrounded by admirers at Monkitree. Photo courtesy of Clare Marron.

I’d never seen Gunther Brown live, even though lead singer Pete Dubuc sent me their music early on in whatbreesees.com and I liked it a lot. Senator Susan Collins and her team were at Swine and Stein, and she stopped to give a wave to the band early in their set. I was especially glad to hear “(Don’t Forget To) Don’t Go” and “Hello Tonight” live.

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Senator Susan Collins saying hello to Gunther Brown

Senator Susan Collins saying hello to Gunther Brown

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The rock-paper-scissors competition run by Mike Miclon of Johnson Hall was awesome. He held preliminary rounds earlier in the day that I watched and then the semi finalists joined him at the stage to compete in front of all of the Swine and Stein attendees. It was an absolute hoot to watch, and the winner won two free tickets to any upcoming Johnson Hall event. Patrick Wright called up local bearded men to compete in a scaled down version of the earlier event, and a handful of kids who’d made their own mustaches at the craft table competed as well.

The rock-paper-scissor competition preliminary rounds

The rock-paper-scissors competition preliminary rounds

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The rock-paper-scissor finals were a BLAST!

The rock-paper-scissors final rounds were a BLAST!

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I was glad to see The Jason Spooner Band again. It had been quite a while and they sound great. As the day wound down, The Spare Parts Band, featuring Oakland Farms owner and Gardiner city councilor Logan Johnston took the stage to close the event.

The Jason Spooner Band

The Jason Spooner Band

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I nearly forgot about this adorable competition!

I nearly forgot about this adorable competition!

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The Spare Parts Band

The Spare Parts Band

Logan Johnston

Logan Johnston

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Swine and Stein was a blast this year! I went right home and drank some tea to warm and up promptly ended up taking a nap! Thank you so much to everyone who helped make it a success and we’ll see you next year!

xo,

bree

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Darlingside and Jacob Augustine

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Empire, Portland, Maine

This was only my third Darlingside show? That doesn’t seem possible, because they hold a pretty big spot in my musical heart. I first saw them in September of 2012 at One Longfellow Square only because they invited me and I was completely flabbergasted. I declared it one of my top five shows of 2012—which means something since I saw 45 shows that year. They came to play OLS again last fall with the lovely and talented Caitlin Canty, who is a regular collaborator of theirs, and the effervescent Rusty Belle. I’ve mostly adjusted to teacher hours and the show didn’t start until after 9:30PM, so I was excited for the show, but afraid I’d fall asleep in the car on the drive home. I texted my concert buddy Colin, who promised me he’d meet me at the show, so I mustered up the energy for a late night and an hour and a half of driving to see them. Totally worth it. I love seeing shows with Colin because he appreciates music like I do, but also because he keeps track of set lists (which means I don’t have to). It’s kind of like seeing shows just for fun again!

Darlingside's set list--courtesy of Colin

Darlingside’s set list–courtesy of Colin

Darlingside took the stage about 9:45PM. As I glanced around the room, I saw most of The Ghost of Paul Revere, some guys from Tricky Britches, and Eric, who manages The Ballroom Thieves in the crowd. I feel like that turnout tells you this show was worth going to, eh?

Darlingside is a “string rock quartet.” Don, Dave, Auyon, and Harris went to Williams together, and their harmonies are flawless. As they played “God of Loss” and “My Love” to warm up, you could have heard a pin drop. In a bar. Late on a Saturday night. They’re impressive and they draw you in to listen. “My Love” is one of my favorites—a bit of self reflection about the effort one makes in a relationship—“My half-assed best was all I had for your love/my maybe-tomorrows for your heart-to-hearts/my punch-drunk house calls for your candles and wine/my brother, my banjo, my never-done-wrong/all you wanted was me by your side/I tend to get what I want/and do as I please/but you taught me I can’t always get away with everything I thought I could/and for that I thank you, my love.” Their cover of Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979” was energizing and a hit with the crowd.

From left to right, Darlingside is Don Mitchell,  David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner

From left to right, Darlingside is Don Mitchell,
David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner

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Dave promised to try very hard not to hit Auyon with his instruments.

Dave promised to try very hard not to hit Auyon with his instruments.

Darlingside’s harmonies on “The Woods” were particularly standout. I was glad to hear “The Catbird Seat.” It’s pretty, but sad—“By you I swore/By the light or the way you wore it/Now instead I swear I’m over it.” “Blow the House Down” was a crowd favorite. They ended their set with “Good Man,” and the crowd cheered loudly enough for an encore. I was really happy to hear “Sweet and Low” live. I also would have liked to hear “Terrible Things,” but alas. Check out the video, though. It’s excellent.

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Darlingside will join The Ghost of Paul Revere and The Ballroom Thieves (two more of my favorite bands) for Hollerfest 2 at The Strand Theatre in Rockland on Saturday, November 22. They’ll be joined by the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra. I will definitely be there!

Mike, of my former students who is all grown up now, works downstairs at Empire and joined us for a bit. Mike was impressed with Jacob Augustine’s beard, and I told him to get ready to be surprised by Jacob’s sweet falsetto voice. He was. I’d just seen Jacob a few weeks either at Ghostland Music Festival, but he hasn’t played out much and it was a treat to get to see him again so soon. I’d never seen Jacob Augustine with a full band, and the fullness of sound amplified the message of his songs beautifully. Jacob’s band for the night included Asher Platts on upright/bass, Peter McLaughlin on percussion, and my friend McKay Belk rocking the steel guitar. “Halfway to Harlem” was a favorite. They played the long versions of each song, and since I could see their set list from my front row spot, I knew I wouldn’t make it to the end of the night and sadly excused myself for the haul home. I listened to this version of “Peace Comes” in the car en route, though. Sad to miss the rest, Jacob, but so glad to see you twice in short time!

xo,

bree

Jacob Augustine

Jacob Augustine

Jacob with McKay Belk on steel guitar

Jacob with McKay Belk on steel guitar

Jacob with Peter McLaughlin on percussion

Jacob with Peter McLaughlin on percussion

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Asher Platts on upright bass

Asher Platts on upright bass

What's that called, Peter?

What’s that called, Peter?

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