Hey Rosetta!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I was very excited for this night of back-to-back shows! I was sad when I first saw that Newfoundland’s elusive Hey Rosetta! was coming back to Portland on the 24th, because I already had plans to see UK’s London Grammar that night. Imagine my delight when I found out that Hey Rosetta! was playing early because One Longfellow Square was hosting a second show there later that night. I could go to both! Serendipity!

I’d seen Hey Rosetta! just a few months earlier for the first time ever opening for Stars at Port City Music Hall. I’ve been a fan for years, and they sounded as good live as I’d hoped. I drove to Portland in a bit of a snowstorm and snagged what I thought was a miraculous parking spot between the two venues and hurried to get a good seat at One Longfellow. I learned when I got to OLS that my great parking spot was probably available because a parking ban was going into effect in a few hours and I’d have to move before the London Grammar show. My concert friend Colin surprised me by coming to the show based on my recommendation on a rare Saturday night off for him. He told me later that it was the best money he’d spent so far in 2015.

Hey Rosetta! took the stage filled to the brim with people,equipment, instruments, and cords. They are seven mostly multi-instrumentalists, and only six of them fit on the actual stage amongst all three keyboards, six guitars, two bass guitars, a cello, French horn, trumpet, fiddle, a drum kit, glockenspiel, and all variety of other percussive tools. They opened with “Soft Offering (For The Oft Suffering)” and completely won over the audience in short time with their powerful, layered sound. It’s also the opening track off their newest album, Second Sight, which just released in the US this week and you can stream here. Hey Rosetta’s last album, Seeds, came out in 2011, so this album is much anticipated.

Hey Rosetta!

Hey Rosetta!

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Tim Baker’s lead vocals are strong and clear. He can really sing, and he knows just where to project and with how much power to make the point. I could listen to him for hours and not tire of it. If there’s any one thing I wish Hey Rosetta! would do differently, it would be to interact more with the audience. Tim chatted a tiny bit to thank us for coming to the show, but I’d love to hear more about the band and about their songs sometime directly from them (Google searching is only so satisfying).

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Since they really did have to get off stage with time to clear off their insane amount of gear so another band could set up for a show, Hey Rosetta! didn’t have time to dally. They invited us to get up and dance together to “Red Heart,” and it was then that I noticed how many great folks were in the crowd. People were really friendly, so I suspect a lot of them were Canadian. They really didn’t have time to leave the stage and wait for us to clap and come back for an encore, so Tim just introduced their last song “Bandages” as being about the long Newfoundland winter and being ready for spring. After Juno and the amount of snow shoveling I’ve done the last two days, I’m ready for spring now, too! Come back anytime, Hey Rosetta! You guys are such a pleasure to see live!

xo,

bree

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Mipso with Dan Mills

Friday, January 16, 2015

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

This show was one of those rare gems—it was such a treat to see both of these bands live!

I’d seen Dan Mills play at Bowdoin College in the fall of 2009—my dear friend Megan worked in student activities then and organized a “Shameless Plugs” concert (I found a video) of musicians with ties to Bowdoin. Dan is outgoing Bowdoin College President Barry Mills’ nephew. I joined Megan for the show and was impressed. I’d stayed on his mailing list all of these years, and was excited when he let us know he’d finally be back in Maine for this show at One Longfellow Square.

The One Longfellow Square board member who welcomed us introduced Dan Mills as Dan Hill. Dan smiled and came to the stage, played a sweet song and then said “it’s totally no big deal, but I figured I should tell you early on that I’m actually Dan Mills.” He handled it graciously and showed no ego—a big plus. Newly engaged Dan played a song about asking a girl’s father for her hand. It was a funny juxtaposition with the chatty girl sitting behind me who was texting with boys she was meeting on Tinder during the show (we moved during intermission). Dan appreciated the overall very attentive audience and said it was like playing in his living room. He told us they usually tour as a five-piece band, but it was just Dan, Adam Podd on upright bass, and Mark Goodell on guitar. I particularly liked “The Good Son” and singing along to “Lonely When You’re Gone.” I think Dan’s voice has a James Taylor thing going on. He’s great.

Adam Podd, Dan Mills, and Mark Goodell

Adam Podd, Dan Mills, and Mark Goodell

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I’d never heard of North Carolina’s Mipso, and am SO very glad that I happened to be front and center to see them live. I’ve haven’t been seeing many new-to-me bands lately, and so this fresh, charming, talented group was such a pleasant surprise. From left to right across the stage, Mipso is Jacob Sharp on mandolin, Wood Robinson on upright bass, Joseph Terrell on lead vocal and guitar, and Libby Rodenbough on fiddle. Their website aptly says “the renegade traditionalists of Mipso are doing their part to take three-part harmony and Appalachian influences into new territory.” I liked them immediately. Their songs are meaningful and it was so refreshing to be able to hear every single lyric sung by Joseph with his crystal clear, bright voice. The harmonies and vocals added by Jacob, Wood, and Libby throughout the night made rounded out their lovely, airy sound. I’m going to go on a little bit more because I do that when I’m excited about a band, but if you need to stop reading now just know that this band is one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

Jacob Sharp, Wood Robinson, Joseph Terrell, and Libby Rodenbough

Mipso is Jacob Sharp, Wood Robinson, Joseph Terrell, and Libby Rodenbough

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Mipso told us it was their first time in Maine and they’ve played 160 (!) shows in the last year, including touring Japan (check out this documentary)! The band met at UNC Chapel Hill and Jacob, Wood, and Joseph toured for a year after graduating together while Libby finished her senior year. They joked they’d never had someone open the show for them that was such a show stealer (a nice compliment for Dan Mills and his band). Everyone was genuine and engaging on stage and I found myself completely drawn in. Jacob showed off his flashy “Bluegrass” belt buckle and said (joked?) he’d bought it for a friend for Christmas, but that for some reason they weren’t in touch anymore. When they introduced “Red Eye to Raleigh,” Libby chimed in to tell us “Raleigh is in North Carolina—just for context.”

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Joseph told us about growing up playing guitar with his grandmother and sang “When I’m Gone” for her. I found this blog post with an entire article about the inspiration for just this one song. I love context! Joseph won first place in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2014 for “Angelina Jane Is Long Gone.” No wonder he won, right? The band told us how much they’d enjoyed their time in Portland—being hosted by The Ghost of Paul Revere, meeting talented violin and guitar makers, enjoying local beer and ramen, and having dinner with Joe Walsh (one of Jacob’s idols). It sounded like a great visit to Portland, and the show was packed with people who obviously knew Mipso personally (friends from North Carolina going to medical school in Maine) and a handful of fans who even knew all of the words to their songs. I’m not sure why I’m so late to the Mipso phenomenon, but I’m on board now.

Mipso unplugged

Mipso unplugged

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I loved Libby’s rich lead vocals on “Down in the Water,” and the guys harmonized particularly beautifully on that tune. They tried out a couple of new songs (and a new verb—“guinea pigging”) on us, including one they’d never played anywhere before that I really liked called “50 Bucks.” Another of my favorites of the night was “This Lonely Town” which included the very pretty lyric “When the seasons change/I hope I never stay the same.” I started to be sad about halfway through Mipso’s set when I realized that they’d eventually have to stop playing, and when Mipso said goodnight, I was bummed. Luckily, they played a last song completely unplugged—a New Grass Revival cover—as a lovely sendoff. Mipso–hurry back to Maine! Friends–check this band out!

xo,

bree

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Max Garcia Conover with Ben Cosgrove

Sunday, January 4, 2014

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

We’re so happy that Max, Sophie, and Arlo the poodle are home from their cross-country fall tour! Our friends Ken, Tasha, and Sammie organized a surprise welcome home party for Max and Sophie before his show later that evening at One Longfellow Square. Ken asked us if we’d be willing to play a song or read something either written by Max or Sophie or inspired by them. It was wonderful to get to catch up with the gang and welcome Max and Sophie back in such a creative way. I was so impressed with friends who learned and reimagined Max’s complex songs and Ellery producer Ben Cosgrove blew us away with an impromptu performance (read: he forgot to prepare and it was still insanely good) of “Evelyn O.” on piano

A welcome home serenade!

A welcome home serenade!

Bartlett and Ben learned a Max song. No easy feat!

Bartlett and Ben learned a Max song. No easy feat!

Ben Cosgrove. You are too good.

Ben Cosgrove. You are too good.

Party organizer Ken Templeton played a Max song, too!

Party organizer Ken Templeton played a Max song, too!

Max played us a song while Sophie lovingly looked on

Max played us a song while Sophie lovingly looked on

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We ventured over to One Longfellow early to grab spots for the show. Ben Cosgrove is a musical prodigy. His piano pieces are layered and interesting. As someone who really loves lyrics (which he doesn’t write), Ben keeps me engaged by talking about the inspiration for each of his songs. He’s regularly inspired by place, he said, and some of the songs he played were “Montreal Song,” “Palo Alto”, and “Abilene”—which is about a cross-Kansas drive and the disorienting feeling of not understanding your place in the expanse. We saw Ben on the second night of his national tour, and he’s ended up in the Pacific Northwest where he’s doing a musical residency for a couple of months. Someone booed when he said he’d be gone a while, and he smiled and said “it’s okay, Mom.” It was a cute moment made better by the fact that Ben’s mom really was in the audience.

 

The insanely talented Ben Cosgrove

The insanely talented Ben Cosgrove

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Max Garcia Conover took the stage after an intermission and told us that playing a show with Ben Cosgrove is the best and also the most harrowing thing possible. Max told us a few stories about his national tour, including a night where he played a “world music night” in Venice Beach (the Garcia in his name must have done it) so he played a song about his Puerto Rican grandfather for good measure. The centerpiece of the tour was the 1986 Toyota Motorhome that Max and Sophie bought for $2,500 to travel America in. It finally gave out in a Wal-Mart parking lot on Thanksgiving and they had to cancel parts of the tour. Max and Sophie decided they really wanted stuffing, so they waiting in the Black Friday line at Wal-Mart to get Stove Top stuffing. Max said it was a low point of the tour. Sophie wrote about this particular adventure on her blog. They eventually made it home to upstate NY where Max learned Bob Dylan’s “I Was Young When I Left Home.”

Max Garcia Conover

Max Garcia Conover

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Sammie Francis-Taylor performed her own interpretation of Max’s “I Won’t Mess You Up” on piano at the welcome home party and Max said it was awesome and the first time he’d ever heard someone play one of his songs. He invited Ben Cosgrove to the stage and they played the rest of the night together. He played “Home,” which is about where he grew up in Ellery, New York. My favorite song on Ellery is “Wildfires Outside Laramie, Wyoming” and Max was nervous about playing the song there on tour. He told us a story about the day he played Laramie (where they liked the song, by the way) and how he had the strange experience of observing a college kid having an existential crisis starting with perusing women’s purses in a used clothing store and ending in the bar where Max played his gig later that night drunk on gin and tonics with chili cheese fries all over his face.

Ben and Max

Ben and Max

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Max introduced “The Start of Fables” with an actually quite funny fable he wrote (finally) about bears and the bear baiting referendum question during Maine’s last election. I won’t ruin it for you since maybe he’ll tell it again. We sang along happily during the audience participation part, too. Max wrapped his set with an unplugged tune on the floor and then asked Ben to play a last song. I liked “Nashua River,” but also wanted to hear one more from Max. We stomped for an encore and Max took the stage to play a final song. Ben joined him and Max said he’d play a Strand of Oaks song called “Leave Ruin” and joked that he wouldn’t even tell Ben what key the song was in and even though Ben didn’t even know the song he’d still play it better than him.

Unplugged from the floor

Unplugged from the floor

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Max told us how grateful he was to be home and to play for us. He told us it can be exhausting to play for new people every night and it felt so good to be back home with the people he loves. He said, “you need your people.” We’re your people, Max. Welcome home!

xo,

bree

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Join me for back-to-back shows Saturday night!

I’m PUMPED for tomorrow night! I’m going to two shows I know are going to be amazing in the same night! Friends will be at both shows, too. Are you coming to either? Both?

I’m catching Newfoundland and Labrador’s Hey Rosetta! at One Longfellow Square in Portland at 6:30. Doors are at 6. I just saw them for the first time in November opening for Stars. They are as good live as I’d hoped they’d be. Check out their Audiotree session by clicking below:

Hey Rosetta! on Audiotree

Hey Rosetta! on Audiotree

I am kind of beside myself that I get to see Britain’s London Grammar for the first time Saturday night at 9 at The State Theatre. Doors are at 8. I’ve been obsessed with them since their KEXP session (click below) at the end of 2013. I’m so looking forward to seeing them in person. Until The Ribbon Breaks opens the show. If you can’t join me, I’ll let you know how the shows were sometime next week!

London Grammar on KEXP

London Grammar on KEXP

xo,

bree

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Ellis Paul with Radoslav Lorkovic and Chris Trapper

Saturday, December 27, 2014

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I was so happy to end my concert year with a girls’ night out in Portland and my 43rd Ellis Paul show! Megan, Sarah, and I had a delicious dinner at Mi Sen on Congress Street (the custard with coconut sticky rice is DELIGHTFUL) and hurried back over to One Longfellow Square to grab good seats and see if anyone had canceled since the show was sold out and Megan accidentally didn’t have a ticket. She eventually did make it in, and my concert friend Colin joined us as well. The show was so crowded that OLS removed half of the stage to accommodate a couple extra rows of seating.

I hadn’t seen Chris Trapper since 2011 when he opened for Colin Hay at The Strand in Rockland. I was a big fan of his band The Push Stars when I was in college, and I was excited when I learned he was opening the show. I was happy to hear “Keg on My Coffin,” which included a pretty solid audience participation part to start the show. Chris told us that his song “This Time” was nominated for a Grammy as part of the August Rush soundtrack and he also got to hang out with Jonathan Rhys Meyers who sang it in the film (which impresses all of his female friends). He also admitted to writing the theme song for a much-hated show called Sox Appeal in which a guy was set up on three two-inning blind dates at Fenway Park during a Red Sox game. I’ll admit to watching a few episodes. Chris also told us about his album of original Christmas songs including “Black and Blue Christmas.” He said he’d been a professional songwriter for about 14 years and that Ellis Paul had been a great mentor throughout that time. He talked about having written so many songs about falling in love, but that staying in love is the much harder part, so he wrote a song about working to stay in love called “Love You Still.”

Chris Trapper

Chris Trapper

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Ellis Paul and pianist extraordinaire Radoslav Lorkovic took the stage after intermission. Their show at One Longfellow Square very near the end of the year has become a tradition I’m grateful for since I went to Club Passim for their New Year’s Eve show every year for eight years before my friends in the area moved away and couldn’t join me there anymore for NYE. I’m so happy they bring the warm up show for the New Year’s show to me in Portland every year!

Ellis and Radoslav opened the show with three of Ellis’ best-known songs“The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down,” “3,000 Miles,” and “Maria’s Beautiful Mess.” Ellis asked us to sing with him on all three. Rad hilariously accompanied Ellis on piano while he read his poem “The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas.” Ellis told us that people have started to show him their rose tattoos because of his song “Rose Tattoo.” He joked that the song is just a love song and not a call to action. Oops! Kidding.

Radoslav Lorkovic and Ellis Paul

Radoslav Lorkovic and Ellis Paul

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“The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas”

“The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas”

Ellis has talked at length at the last few of his shows I’ve attended about the loss of music you can hold in your hand. He laments the loss of the chance to admire album artwork and read the liner notes while listening to an album for the first time. In the age of digital music, we’ve lost that part of our musical heritage. This epiphany happened for him after driving a rental car that didn’t even have a CD player. When he arrived home, he immediately went out and bought his daughters a record player to give them the musical experience he grew up with. His newest album, Chasing Beauty, is now available on vinyl.

Ellis designed the album art for Chasing Beauty

Ellis designed the album art for Chasing Beauty

Vinyl!

Vinyl!

Megan and I were in stiches at one point during the show because Ellis’ family was scattered throughout the crowd and heckled him during the show. He joked that “they have Tourette’s and talk all the time.” He remembered the amazing Pete Seeger who died in January of 2014 and played “If I Had a Hammer” in his honor. Ellis turned 50 yesterday and hosted a house concert on concert window to celebrate. Happy 50th, Ellis! He told us (with help) that “I Feel Fine” was on the top of the chart the week he was born in 1965.

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I was happy to hear “Mary, Mary” live—it’s got to be my favorite Christmas song. Ellis made a beautiful video using sand art for “Mary, Mary” that you should really check out. He’s an artist in many senses of the word. Ellis and Rad unplugged and joined us in the crowd and wrapped their set with “Love is a Curious Thing.” We stomped for an encore and Chris Trapper joined Rad and Ellis on stage to play “Waiting on a Break,” which Ellis said is inspired by the “godfather of Boston music,” Dennis Brennan.

Unplugged in the crowd

Unplugged in the crowd

Rad, Ellis, and Chris sing one more for us

Rad, Ellis, and Chris sing one more for us

I’m always so happy to start or end (or both) my concert year with you, Ellis! Cheers to health, happiness, and good music for all in 2015!

xo,

bree

The set list. Thanks, Colin!

The set list. Thanks, Colin!

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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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