Monthly Archives: August 2012


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island

*I thought I might catch up on the bloggity blog over Labor Day weekend, but then my best friend’s parents invited me to sail Penobscot Bay with them. I’ll be reading Bill Clinton’s autobiography instead, but have lots more to tell you about soon—including Grace Potter who oozes rock ‘n roll. Woah. Have a great weekend!*

Here’s my recap of the first day of the Newport Folk Festival.

I slept like a rock and begrudgingly got up in the morning when my alarm went off. Monica and I were up and running, planning to be at Fort Adams well before the music started on day two of the Newport Folk Festival. We carb loaded at our nice hotel’s brunch, and talked over our schedules for the day.

I was really impressed with the grounds at Fort Adams—the crew did a great job of making it seem like there hadn’t been a deluge the night before. I wore my lobster print rain boots, expecting lots of mud, but there wasn’t any. I did get a lot of compliments on them, though. There was less traffic the second day and I got to a parking spot with plenty of time to check out Saskatoon’s Deep Dark Woods. They had flannel and long beards and a very mellow indie folk sound. I preferred their recordings to their live show, so I left the Harbor stage before the end of their set to see if I could catch HoneyHoney at the intimate Museum stage (an obvious and sad “no” when I saw the line). I decided to use the little bit of free time I wasn’t expecting to wander around the area outside the Quad stage, including Paste Magazine’s lounge in the ruins at the Fort.

Deep Dark Woods

When I got to the Paste Ruins, I was able to catch Ben Sollee wrapping up a set. I figured out there was a way to be much closer to the action, so I wandered into the next cave over and watched through a little opening there. The Sennheiser folks handed out headphones for us to listen with. They recorded a lot of people there that weekend, and the sound in the space was awesome. I watched as Dawes set up, but was committed to getting a good seat in the Quad tent and knew I’d see Dawes the next weekend, so I headed out before they started. Monica found me there first, though, and we said we’d connect for Of Monsters and Men later.

Listening to Ben Sollee

Paste Ruins

Ben Sollee

Ran into Monica!

I immediately ran into my friend Rebecca—Boston social media expert and beer aficionado. We hadn’t seen each other the day before, so it was great to catch up. She firmly instructed me not to miss Gary Clark Jr., which turned out to be sound advice.

I knew Chris (check out his pictures and videos of day two) and Rebecca would be coming to the Quad stage, so I took a second row seat next to two girls who were leaving after Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons. We didn’t need their seats, though, because Chris and Rebecca scored me a seat next to them in the front row when they arrived soon after. It was nice to have people to take in the shows with.

Rhode Island’s own Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons set is a little bit of a blur because I was completely overwhelmed and distracted by how hot Joe is. I thought they sounded great—a rockabilly/Americana sound with fun lyrics and good energy. Joe is coming to Maine tonight (Friday) at Empire Dine and Dance with the Wrong Reasons for $6 (seriously!?) and will play solo at The Oax and The Ax on September 28. I’m away this weekend, but I will DEFINITELY be at the next show.

Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons

Joe Fletcher

Bryan Minto from The Diamond Rugs sat in to play some sick harmonica. I loved Joe’s deep raspy voice and the way the upright bass rounded out their sound. I was really impressed that their rockin’ electric guitarist was filling in for their regular guy whose wife had a baby the day before. I loved “Womanizer Blues” and their tribute to the late Levon Helm with a cover of “Crash on the Levee” from Dylan and The Band’s The Basement Tapes. Every so often Joe made lingering eye contact with me and I readily blushed. He’s working on a solo EP that comes out in October called You’ve Got the Wrong Man. We heartily sang along when asked—“Never would have gotten on the boat if I’d known/That it was going to take me home.” Joe and the boys sang one for George Jones, the very cheeky “Drunk & Single.” Joe invited a gaggle of extra performers from a bunch of bands on stage for “Too Many Doors”—I think there were eleven performers total. They sang their hearts out and left us wanting more. This was a great set, and the band was very appreciative of the opportunity to play Newport Folk Festival.

Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons and Friends

We were right in the front row for New Multitudes’ set and ready to see this super group up close. Straight from their incredibly detailed Facebook page, New Multitudes’ “Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Gob Iron, Uncle Tupelo), Will Johnson (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel), Anders Parker (Varnaline, Gob Iron) and Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk) gratefully deliver New Multitudes, an intimate interpretation of American icon and musical legend Woody Guthrie’s previously unrecorded lyrics.” My favorite singer-songwriter, Ellis Paul, is also a huge Woody Guthrie fan (with a tattoo to prove it) and has also been invited by Woody’s daughter Nora to set some of Woody’s lyrics to music. Ellis’ interpretation is quite folky, and New Multitudes surprised me with how rockin’ their interpretation was. They had great harmonies and put on a great rock show. I especially liked their namesake song “New Multitudes.”

I was too close to the stage to get all of the New Multitudes into one picture!

Jim James of New Multitudes

A woman to my right got up and left after New Multitudes, so my friend Rebecca, who’d mandated I see Gary Clark Jr., was able to join Chris, Rebecca, and I in the front row. I’ll admit I’d never heard of Austin, Texas’ Gary Clark Jr. before, but I’m a big fan now. He was insanely impressive on guitar and has this buttery falsetto voice that gave me chills. I wrote in my notes “I never want him to stop singing.” Here is a video of him performing “Bright Lights” at Coachella. When I posted on Facebook about how we saw gorgeous actor Ryan Gosling just next to the stage for Gary Clark Jr.’s set, a bunch of friends commented about how jealous they were that I saw Ryan Gosling up close, but my college friend Ken said “see, I’m jealous that you were listening to Gary Clark, Jr. His Daytrotter session was mesmerizing.” If you can see Gary Clark Jr. live, do yourself a favor and get there early. Oh my. Here’s the link to the NPR Music recording of his set.

So grateful Rebecca said not to miss Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr and his band

Ryan Gosling through Gary’s legs

Such amazing talent. And such bad lighting for photos.

Rebecca took off after Gary Clark Jr. and Monica got to snag her front row seat. Iceland’s colorful and lovely Of Monsters and Men was a total blast. Of all the acts I saw at The Newport Folk Festival, they were the most energetic. They opened with “Dirty Paws,” one of my favorites, and played most of their awesome album My Head Is an Animal. We were on our feet for the majority of the set, and a huge group of people jumping up and down just outside the tent even got a shout out from the band. We sang along with “Mountain Sound” and learned that “Love Love Love” is not a love song. There was a sign language interpreter for their set, and I loved watching the band watch him with interest as they played. They dedicated a song to him, too. They wrapped their super fun set with “Little Talks” and the heavily percussive “Six Weeks.” I realized about two songs into their set that I was sad just knowing it would eventually end. They were SO good. (There are a variety of rules from labels and artists surrounding recording, so their set is sadly not available from NPR Music or Folk Alley.)

Of Monsters and Men and their sign language interpreter

The crowd was jumping with joy during Of Monsters & Men’s set!

Monica, Rebecca, Chris, and I took off the moment Of Monsters and Men wrapped their set because we were desperate to get a seat for The Tallest Man on Earth. We chose to divide and conquer. Chris got there first and I was second. He snagged two seats in the second row. He decided that since he had a media pass and needed to shoot the first three songs anyway and still catch Jackson Browne, he’d give me one of the two seats. What a gift. Rebecca joined me and Chris took his spot in front of the stage. We lost Monica to the insane crowd. Probably my only real complaint of the whole weekend is that Tallest Man on Earth should have played at a bigger stage. It was so crowded and so many people were trying to fit under the tent that the police had to come in and clear fire lines before the set could start.

Sweden’s Kristian Matsson is Tallest Man on Earth, which is funny because he is really small. He wore a tight tank top and skinny jeans and moved all over the stage (in a somewhat chicken-like way, I’ll say) and made eye contact with the enamored audience. I knew the whole time how lucky I was to be so close for this set—it was a magical experience. I saw a couple of different people around me singing along with their eyes closed and tears streaming down their faces, actually. There’s a tangible something special about Kristian’s music. He played the songs I wanted to hear—“Love Is All,” “1904,” “Where Do My Bluebird Fly,” and “King of Spain.” It started to POUR and no one moved. There was an enormous crowd outside who couldn’t fit under the tent, and everyone stood and listened anyway. It was beautiful to see people show love and devotion like that, and it was just the right way for the weekend to end. Luckily, you can listen to the whole set here.

The Tallest Man on Earth

Kristian Matsson

One of my favorite shots

It started to pour and so many people stood outside anyway

I left this unattended under a tent during The Tallest Man on Earth with no fear. Well, except that it might get wet.

Quite a weekend!

I was a little nervous that it was raining so hard because I’d left my iPhone to charge using an extension cord I’d found under a covered tent adjacent to the stage. (Hey, NFF—how about phone charging stations next year?) Funny that I didn’t worry about anyone stealing it, because I felt like everyone at NFF was connected in some way, but I did worry about having a dead phone battery for the four-hour drive home to Maine in the dark and the rain. I decided to skip Jackson Browne in the pouring rain, made it back to my car, and got out of the parking lot in half the time of the night before. I was so pumped from the weekend that driving home was a breeze and I listened to everyone I’d just seen live to keep me company on the ride. What a weekend. Thanks, Newport Folk Festival!




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Guitar legends Pevar and Kootch coming to Johnson Hall September 8th!

This weekend marks my sixth full year as a homeowner in adorable Gardiner, Maine. Lucky for me, it’s only 30 minutes north of Brunswick and I can make it to Portland for a show in 45ish minutes. DownEast magazine recently suggested that you should move to Gardiner. I agree. One of the things I like about living in my small town is that people who make any effort at all can easily get to know other folks in town. Gardiner Main Street does a good job keeping us connected and informed, and there are opportunities for community members to actively participate in our town.

I got an email from fellow Gardinerite (what do we who live in Gardiner call ourselves?) and Oaklands Farm proprietor  Logan Johnston a couple of days ago about an upcoming amazing show at Gardiner’s own historic Johnson Hall. The information is below. I hope to see you there!



Jeff Pevar and Danny (Kootch) Kotchmar are as comfortable playing a packed stadium as they are a small room.  Over the years, the pair have toured and recorded with musical icons such as James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Donald Fagen, David Foster, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, and Don Henley.   For their only Maine tour date this year, this dynamic duo will give audiences a unique opportunity to experience their virtuosity in the intimate setting of Gardiner’s Johnson Hall. Ed Desjardins and Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center are delighted to present Jeff Pevar and Danny (Kooch) Kotchmar on Saturday September 8, 2012 at Johnson Hall in Gardiner, Maine at 7:30 pm.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Jeff & Danny have been major contributors as “session” and world-touring guitarists for some of the most beloved and important artists to grace the music industry.  Their musical talent is well known among guitar aficionados, and will be quickly recognized by any uninitiated music fan.  As masters of their craft, the two come together on stage to blend harmonizing riffs, mind blowing solos, and familiar vocal tunes.

This rare event is sponsored by Gardiner Main Street and local businesses, including The Musicians 1st Choice, LaPointe Lumber, Ayer European Auto, and David Guillemette Communication Arts. Tickets are $27.00 each available through the Johnson Hall box office (207) 582-7144.

Johnson Hall’s 125-seat studio theater presents a rare opportunity to witness these world class musicians up close and personal.  This show is the first in a pair of concerts billed as the “Guitar Legends” series.  On October 6th, catch Nora Jones’ guitarist Jim Campilango, also at Johnson Hall.

For more information, contact: Ed Desjardins 207-557-3955

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island

I should premise this by saying that I am not much for music festivals—I have no problem with crowds, but care a lot about being close to the stage. Music festivals tend to have multiple stages, so I’m forced to make difficult choices about which acts to see and will usually decide to stay at one stage and forgo hearing other acts to keep my spot up close. I am sure that there are great craft, non-profit, food, and drink tents, too, but these interfere with me being close to the music. Like I said, I’m a bad festival-goer.

All in all, though, I had a good experience at my first Newport Folk Festival. And I’d say it is because of three things—first and second row seats both days, meeting new friends, and beautiful music. If I hadn’t been lucky enough to snag those seats, I’m confident this would be a VERY different post.

If you’re me, or someone like me, festival-going takes advance preparation. I sat with the Newport Folk Festival published schedule and listened to every single band online. I checked out NPR and Paste Magazine’s previews of the Newport Folk Festival, too. I made choices about who I had to see based on who I knew and liked but hadn’t seen live yet. There were four stages (one, very intimate new stage called the Museum stage), and most of the people I felt I had to see were at the smaller Harbor and Quad stages. I would have liked to see a lot of the bands (well, frankly, I would have liked to have seen ALL of the bands all weekend, but that wasn’t possible) at the main Fort stage, but I knew I’d be far back and I’d seen most of those bigger bands before. I was sad to miss Alabama Shakes (who I hear are great live) and Patty Griffin (who I’ve seen a couple of times and adore) there, though.

Planning my Newport Folk Festival schedule. Harder than it looks.

I woke up super early on Saturday morning to make the four-hour drive to Newport and expected to get there in time to park and catch Nashville’s Apache Relay at 11:30. This was not to be, though, because I sat in traffic for a solid hour and a half just trying to get into the parking area. I got to the Harbor stage, a little bummed, just in time to catch the end of Brooklyn’s Spirit Family Reunion. They were amazing. I knew immediately I’d missed a high-energy, talented bunch. I caught “I’ll Find A Way” with audience participation and they ended with “You Were On My Mind.” Here’s a video that captures the energy and musicianship that I briefly witnessed. Their new album is available for $8 on bandcamp. If you like bluegrass and/or spirited folk, check them out. Their full set was recorded by NPR and you can listen to it here.


Spirit Family Reunion

I have wanted to see Rhode Island’s Deer Tick for ages, so made it over to the bigger Quad stage in a hurry. I ran into Ian, someone I know from teeny Bayside, Maine (near Belfast), right away. I knew there was no chance I’d get a spot in the tent, so I grabbed a burrito from Tallulah’s Burritos and watched a bit from the ground behind the tent. I liked their smooth, rock sound, but had an important, reinforcing moment that if I am not pretty close to the stage and can’t see facial impressions, I don’t feel like I’m really there at all. Maybe there’s music lovers therapy I need or something. Here’s Deer Tick’s set, recorded by Folk Alley.

I snuck up close to take a quick shot of Deer Tick

My real view of Deer Tick. Why festivals frustrate me.

I wasn’t expecting to have to grab seats under the tents in order to see the shows. I guess I expected standing general admission. To maintain fire lines, if you don’t have a seat in the tent, you have to be outside the tent. So, I figured I should get over to the Harbor tent early because the shows I wanted to see for the rest of the day were there. I hoped to snag a good seat up close for First Aid Kit as people left their seats to go to other stages. It worked wonders, and changed my whole weekend for the better. First, I got to see LA’s HoneyHoney wrap their high energy, powerful set. I was super impressed and sad I’d not made it there earlier (I had planned to catch HoneyHoney’s set the next day) to enjoy Suzanne’s raspy, powerful voice. She was adorable with her cowgirl ensemble, and they played a beautiful last song that started slow, but quickly became a frenzy of energy. They rocked.


The other great thing that happened because of my timing at the Harbor tent was that I saw this very sweet looking young woman in bright pink lipstick and a great dress grab one of two newly available seats in the second row and asked if I could join her. She warmly said yes, and we got to chatting. She was wearing a media pass, and we quickly figured out that her boyfriend Chris has the popular music blog, Boston Through My Eyes. He is the one who I’d emailed to ask if I could use his Laura Marling pictures for my post since my photos had been destroyed. He’d been really nice about it, and Rebecca wasn’t at all surprised to hear that. What a small world. Check out Chris’ beautiful photos from day one of the NFF here. Furthermore, my concert friend Bob (who I’ll always adore for taking me to see sold out Adele from the third row), texted me that he’d had a debacle the night before because he forgot some of his money for tickets in his apartment back home, and it turns out that Chris and Rebecca had saved the day for him. Again, small world. I often go to shows alone, and so it was nice to have a concert buddy. We looked at our schedules for the rest of the festival and realized that we were completely in sync. Awesome.

I absolutely love First Aid Kit’s album The Lion’s Roar, and was so impressed with Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna’s live show (also recorded by NPR). They wore beautiful and interesting dresses and were clearly pleased as punch to be playing the Newport Folk Festival. I loved their harmonies and the vaguely polka influence in their music. For girls in their early twenties, they are definitely influenced by music of a far earlier era, and covered Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust.” They also covered another Swede’s song—Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up.” I loved “Emmylou,” which they wrote for four of their musical heroes—June Carter, Johnny Cash, Graham Parsons, and Emmylou Harris. The girls bantered comfortably and appreciatively with us, Johanna danced with her piano, and Conor Oberst surprised us on stage to join them for their final song, “King of the World.” I’d see them again in a heartbeat.

Sisters Johanna and Klara are First Aid Kit

They rocked

Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes surprised us for the last song

Rebecca and I were able to move up a row to the front row between sets, and chatted about The Fruitbats and Langhorne Slim while waiting for Portland, Oregon’s Blind Pilot to set up. I’d decided against going to see them the previous night in Portland, Maine since I’d see them here, and they were such fun to watch live. I’m loving their newest album, We Are The Tide, which my favorite radio station, 98.9 WCLZ, has picked up. Everyone on stage seemed to be having a great time, including their jubilant, heartily tattooed pianist with an awesome beard. Their upright bassist was in a great mood, too, for that matter. I’ve rarely seen smiles so big. There were many times that the band picked up the tempo and added multiple percussion parts to their songs. Looking back over my notes from the show I realize that I said that I loved just about every song. They welcomed Newport cellist Sergey Antonov for a song. I’m listening to their album right now, and it’s actually far mellower than their live show. They were great. NPR recorded their set, too. Check it out.

Blind Pilot

With guest cellist Sergey Antonov

I was trying not to freak out that I was sitting front and center for Dallas Green’s set. I love him so much, and he’s the only person I saw at Newport that I’d seen before. I couldn’t miss him. Canada’s Dallas Green tours with a hardcore band called Alexisonfire (currently on a farewell tour) and City and Colour is his side project. I love the juxtaposition of the two genres, as City and Colour is essentially a folk-pop project filled with depressing songs of love and loss. Right up my alley. Many years ago, one of my students introduced me to City and Colour, and I fell in love immediately.

Dallas Green of/is City and Colour

Dallas was chatty, which immediately made me realize how little banter most of the other acts that day had offered. I think that having just one hour to play made people mostly stick to the music. Dallas said he’d been told he couldn’t bring his touring band (which I am just fine with, because I hadn’t seen him solo before), because NFF organizers had told him “it wasn’t that kind of show.” Since six people had just left the stage before him, he was politely puzzled. He told us a lot of the stories behind the songs, which I really appreciated since I always want to know about songs I love.

If you listen to Dallas Green’s music as City and Colour, you may be surprised to find out that he is covered in tattoos from his neck to his fingers. He talked about how he got away with those tattoos with his parents when he was on eTown last week in their inaugural show at their new facility. Here’s the recording of that show. Apparently, he was really impressed with their efforts to be environmentally friendly in their new building (eTown Hall), so he donated his pay at the end of the night to their building fund. I am always relieved that people whose music I love are also good people. It’s a fear I have enough that I rarely stick around to meet artists I really love.

I loved every single song Dallas played. His clear voice, hitting falsetto notes out of this world, and powerful lyrics are magic to me. I can cry within thirty seconds of starting nearly any of his songs. There’s something organic and pure about them. Luckily, NPR recorded his set, too. He asked us to sing along, and I am positive that I can hear myself.

He opened with “We Found Each Other in the Dark” from Little Hell. Dallas jokingly told a guy in the front who had a little harmonica to “take a solo” when he had to switch his own harmonica. He explained that “Body in a Box” is about his grandmother’s death on this 18th birthday. He said it was the first time he’d ever seen his dad vulnerable, and it was really unsettling for him. He divided up the audience to sing in parts on “What Makes a Man,” and I think we sounded pretty good. Someone shouted out for him to take his shirt off and he said there’s a list of things you can’t shout out at a show and that’s on it. Asking for “Freebird” is not okay, either.

He said that “The Grand Optimist” is about his parents’ “complications.” Dallas told us that “Fragile Bird” is about his wife’s night terrors (crap, he’s married, and she is gorgeous). He said that her night terrors are terrifying except when they’re hilarious because she shoots up out of bed and asks him what’s on the wall. He wrapped his set with “Comin’ Home,” which might be my favorite of his songs. I was so so sad when his set was over. I noticed that he stayed after the show to greet everyone who stayed behind. That made me really happy, and no, I didn’t dare talk to him. I had no one with me to pick me up if I passed out due to elation.

Dallas stayed to greet his fans after his set

Thunder and lightning started in, so I decided to skip My Morning Jacket and head to the parking lot to try to beat the traffic out of Fort Adams. As I got to my car the sky opened up and it POURED. The rain caused chaos, and I sat in my car in park for nearly two hours before moving at all. I luckily had my computer with me, so I caught up on some blogging. I was so cold from the rain that I grabbed my friend’s Colby College sweatshirt (Colby is Bowdoin’s nemesis) from the backseat and put in on to warm up. I was so excited when I finally made it to my hotel room to meet up with my friend Bartlett’s friend Monica, who I hadn’t met yet except for a couple of minutes earlier in the day, but was up for splitting a hotel room with me for the night in between shows. I have lots to say about day two, but probably in far fewer words. Coming soon.


Wearing a Colby sweatshirt. Clearly under duress.



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Check out Zac Clark and the Young Volcanoes!

August 14, 2012

I know I write a lot, so in case I might lose you, just click here. You can listen to Zac Clark and the Young Volcanoes here. And check out a video of Zac playing “You Know Me” here. Check out their Subway Sessiontoo.

Zac Clark and the Young Volcanoes on Pledge Music

I have a firm policy that I always go see opening acts. This policy has paid dividends, as some of my favorites are people I saw because I got to a show early—Andrew Bird, Brandi Carlile, The Civil Wars, Milo Greene, and Good Old War. I didn’t know I’d be in for such a treat back in late February when I impromptuly decided to see Company Of Thieves at The Red Room at Café 939 at Berklee in Boston. Here’s my post about that awesome evening of music.

I got there before doors opened and there was already a substantial line to get in. I made my way to the front of the room by the stage and ended up surrounded by Zac Clark’s aunt, uncle, cousins, and friends. They were such a pleasure to take in a show with, and I was really impressed with Zac Clark and the Young Volcanoes.

Zac Clark and the Young Volcanoes at The Red Room at Cafe 939. Zac’s on piano.

Since I knew Zac’s family would save my spot, I dared to venture over to see Zac at the merch table so I could pick up his homemade CD to listen to on the drive home to Maine. Zac was a pleasure to talk to—totally genuine and friendly—and he found out that I had a three-hour drive home and just handed me his CD as a thank you for coming early to the show.

I listened to the whole album a few times through on my way home, and I think it’s great. I especially like “Sing You to Sleep,” “Wait,” and “Traffic.” I emailed Zac to say as much, and he and I have kept in touch a bit by email since then. I would love to see someone invite him to come share a stage in Maine—I think he’d make a particularly good fit with the Pete Kilpatrick Band.

Zac emailed me a couple of weeks ago, and he said I could share this with you:

Hey Bree!

Hope you’re well. . .just wanted to say hey and let you know that I’ve finally got things moving for an official release for Young Volcanoes–you were so kind to post about the Company of Thieves show earlier this year, and I thought I’d pass the info for this kind of non-traditional pre-order that we’re doing, in case it strikes a chord with you and seems like something you’d be into helping spread the word about through your blog!

Basically, I’ve teamed up with a couple of great groups of people to release the record through PledgeMusic, a direct-to-listener platform that’s allowing me to connect with friends, fans and supporters to benefit my hometown of Burlington’s Cancer Patient Support Program with 20% of every sale. The pre-order has been up for a little under a week, and already the response has been overwhelming: we’re over one-third of our way to our budget, which will cover the costs of manufacturing CD & vinyl copies of the album and provide CPS with a donation in the thousands of dollars.

The PledgeMusic folks have provided the music industry in general with an avenue for supporting art and community in new ways, and I’m really excited to keep the ball rolling with this campaign. It’s given me a much-needed reminder that the work we each do has the chance to affect so much more around us than we might initially think, and the motivation to view my music as a vessel for support of a cause close to my heart. CPS brings their funds directly to cancer patients and their families, offering counseling, organized support groups, dietary consultation and help with everyday costs of dealing with the disease–all contributions that I’m proud to support through my music in honor of my mom, who passed away ten years ago and whose spirit lives on through these songs and this cause. To keep things fresh (and kind of ridiculous) at each turn, I’m ignoring the voice inside my head that says “Don’t pass these ridiculous demos along!” and, well, passing outrageous early versions and alternate takes of songs from the record, as well as little video clips, pictures, writings and updates exclusive to those who pledge their support.

Would love to hear your thoughts and see if you’d be down to help pass the word along!! Thanks Bree!



Pre-order the new album and support an incredible charity that directly benefits VT cancer patients!  // Twitter // Facebook

Here are a couple of links Zac and the Young Volcanoes have posted about this project. The first is a television interview on WCAX-TV and the second is an interview Zac did with Pledge Music. This is my second post in a couple of weeks about talented musicians making great music and donating the proceeds to help people with cancer in honor of moms they have lost, so I’m totally on board! Please check out this talented band and see if you might be interested in supporting this project. And if you’re a Maine musician looking to host a great band, give Zac a shout!



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Laura Marling with Willy Mason

Friday, June 15, 2012

Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA

*I took more than a month break from concerts this summer, but have quite recently seen six shows in nine days—three of them all-day outdoor festivals. I have a lot to tell you about and will post about those shows very shortly. But one last post to catch up on first. I want to say a special thank you to Chris Van Slyke for allowing me to share a few of his pictures from Laura Marling’s show with you. My memory card with my pictures from the show was ruined and when I emailed him (even though I was a stranger) to see if I could use his photos, he was completely willing. Check out his awesome music blog, Boston Through My Eyes. It’s a very small world, because I ended up meeting Chris at the Newport Folk Festival and we got to catch up again last weekend at the Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Portland, Maine.*

Thanks to the mild winter (I’d happily give it back if the polar bears could somehow get their melted ice caps back), our school year ended earlier than any I can remember. We wrapped with a staff day on a Wednesday, and I treated myself to a third row seat at Berklee’s lovely performing arts center to see Laura Marling that Friday night. My concert friend Bob (we met at an Iron & Wine show) who knows how much I like Mumford & Sons introduced me to Laura Marling. Both British, they’ve toured and made music together. Laura’s music is firmly folk, which is right up my alley. If you hear her voice, you’ll never forget it. She has a distinctive sound like Joni Mitchell or Emmylou Harris does—each one unmistakably unique. Laura’s voice is mature, too, and you’d probably never guess that her voice and those songs could come from a 22 year old, but they do. Check out NPR’s Laura Marling coverage to listen for yourself.

I got to Boston just in time to park and grab my awesome seat up front. Raised on Martha’s Vineyard and happy to return to Massachusetts to play, Willy Mason took the stage and played sparse songs while finger picking his electric guitar. I liked his lovely, deep voice and his banter with the audience. He sounds far older than he is. He commented on how professional the room felt and chuckled because he was wearing a wrinkled suit jacket that had been crumpled in his backpack. I liked “We Can Be Strong,” “Hard Hand to Hold,” and the very country influenced “Gold Underneath the Ground.” Check out Willy’s 2008 Newport Folk Festival set thanks to NPR. Here’s “Into Tomorrow,” too.

Laura came out wearing a red dress and Nike sneakers. She hopped up on a high stool front and center, and, surrounded by band mates on a plethora of instruments, treated us to “Rambling Man” to open her set. It’s one of my favorites, although there isn’t a Laura Marling song I don’t like. I was really happy with the variety of songs she played from all of her albums—Alas I Cannot Swim, I Speak Because I Can, and A Creature I Don’t Know.

Many thanks to Chris Van Slyke for allowing me to share this photo.

My guess is that Laura probably doesn’t love chatting, but she was warm and her stories were endearing. She said she’d woken up early that morning to enjoy Boston and had a lot of coffee, so warned us the songs might be two or three heartbeats faster. Her drummer interjected that the band had been drinking a lot of beer, so they might slow things down and it would probably balance out in the end.

Her very talented band left her alone on stage to play solo for a while. She probably talked to us most during that part of the night. She was clear on the point that her songs are not at all autobiographical (here’s an interview in The Guardian where she elaborates on that). For example, she played her dad one of her songs (which is terrifying for her since he taught her how to play the guitar) and he asked her hours later if it was about him and demanded the story when she said it obviously wasn’t.

Many thanks to Chris Van Slyke for allowing me to share this photo.

Someone in the audience sneezed and Laura took a moment to say “bless you.” It reminded her of the day before when she’d sneezed, and even though she was wearing headphones at the time, a woman tapped her on the shoulder and said “bless you” to her. She said that would never have happened in England. She reminisced, too, about being 16 and seeing Willy Mason play in London for the first time. It’s hard to believe that these two artists, with their deep voices and thoughtful songs, are as young as they are.

Laura played “Failure” from her first album, and talked about her eternally young looking face and how she both looks and feels 14 years old when she plays it. She also played a palpably powerful version of “Goodbye England.” She was mesmerizing. For such a tiny person, Laura has a commanding presence. Laura also played two new songs and a cover of Ryan Adams’ “My Winding Wheel” that Chris taped and you can watch at Boston Through My Eyes.

Many thanks to Chris Van Slyke for allowing me to share this photo.

Laura’s band came back on stage and she said she didn’t really like talking on stage so she had each of her band mates introduce themselves with fun facts. Their fun facts were adorable and ranged from information about composers to fire engine inventors to displays of fruit art. It was very cute, and I appreciate that Laura took the time to celebrate her talented band.

Laura moved to wrap up the evening by telling us that playing at Berklee as an untrained high school drop out was quite intimidating, but that we’d been a lovely bunch. She also informed us that they have a way around the traditional encore, which was an instruction for us to think of the next song as the last one even though there were two more songs to come. She finished the night with a hauntingly beautiful version of “I Speak Because I Can.” You could have heard a pin drop. Laura is a tiny person but has a huge voice and songwriting chops to back it all up. I would see her again live in a heartbeat.



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Max Garcia Conover with JAW GEMS

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

*I hope you’ve noticed I’ve been working diligently to get caught up on the bloggity blog! Many more things coming to you soon—including information about Zac Clark and the Young Volcanoes’ new album, Laura Marling, two days of the Newport Folk Festival, The Gawler Family Band, Run on Sentence, and Mumford & Sons and friends who I’ll see later today!! Don’t forget that Ben Sollee is coming to One Longfellow Square Sunday (tomorrow) night. He was the “Waldo” of the Newport Folk Festival, and popped up in just about everyone’s sets. He’s super Earth conscious, and he and his whole band have been traveling the whole east coast on bicycles. I won’t be surprised if he shows up later today at the Mumford & Sons shows (I should get to bed soon, actually).*

The MGC/JAW GEMS show was very special to me because it was the first show officially sponsored by my blog! I am a Max Garcia Conover super fan and always work hard to be sure people come out for his shows. I really want people to hear his beautiful and unique music. Max thought that I should get some official credit for that work, so my logo went on the poster. Cool, right? Here’s my post hyping the show. Here are links to two of my write ups about Max from his shows I attended in February and Apriljust in case you want to know more (or, in this case, just about everything there is to know about Max).

Designed by the talented Sophie Nelson

I got to One Longfellow Square early to hear Max’s sound check and went out for dinner afterwards at Local Sprouts with Max, Sophie, and Max’s friend Jason. Our friend Ben showed up and we wandered back to OLS for the show. I was thrilled that some of my former students from Mt. Ararat came to the show—it was so great to see aspiring musicians Genevieve (who has an EP coming out soon—more on that later!) and Mary at the show. One of my homeroom advisees, Jameson, showed up and sat with me. That totally made my day because he was just days away from graduating and I was missing my kiddos already. My music buddy, Caroline, a rising senior at MTA, was there, too. Caroline graciously shared her pictures from that night with me since my memory card with the photos I took crashed and were lost. My friends Megan and Adam who I married last fall came and brought me belated birthday cookies in an awesome vintage-style Hello Kitty tin lunchbox. I shared. Max’s friends were out in full force, and there is always a lot of love in the room at MGC shows.

Max got the evening started by introducing Hassan from JAW GEMS to the stage. He told the story of how they’d met. Hassan had visited Bowdoin as a high schooler to check out campus and Max hosted—he said he’d worked hard to look cool because Hassan was a sick piano player. Hassan played a short solo set on piano. He is ridiculously talented. Hassan is a jazz pianist and I like listening to him even though (GASP) I don’t really like jazz. I prefer lyrics, guitars, and regular song structure. Jazz with lyrics—like Etta James—I do like that, if that helps. Hassan told a story about a class he took with Max on Friedrich Nietzsche at Bowdoin. They sat together and it seemed fitting that they were sharing the stage that night because one thing they’d talked about that semester was how much music connects people.

Hassan invited the rest of the guys from JAW GEMS to the stage. They played a handful of pieces—mostly interpretations of music from other artists—from “Solar” by Miles Davis to “Te Amo” by Atlas Sound. They played an original by Tyler who played a few different sets of keys during the piece. All of the musicians on stage were immensely talented. Jameson whispered to me during the set that they were so good it almost didn’t sound live. Hassan was blowing into a tube throughout the whole show—it sounded like a mix between a harmonica and a synthesizer—and it provided the idea of vocals for the songs. After their set, I asked Hassan and he told me that it was called a talk box. Andy did grab a microphone and there were a few proper lyrics in their final piece. It was layered with effects and had a tinge of Bon Iver to it.

Almost everyone in JAW GEMS. We were sitting close. Photo by Caroline Carrigan.

Max Garcia Conover took the stage and played all of our favorites—“In City Light,” “Barn,” and “The Marshes.” He told a hilarious story about how he used to write love songs for a girl in his first grade class named Hannah. He’d record the songs for her on a tape and give them to her. Once he found out that she played them for her friends and her parents, he stopped writing love songs.

Max Garcia Conover. Photo by Caroline Carrigan.

Max’s finger picking guitar style is just outstanding, and his lyrics are both subtle and captivating. He played “The Wide” (one of my favorites) unplugged and standing in the darkness in the front corner of the stage. Max could have played unplugged all night—you can always hear a pin drop at his shows because we’re so moved and tuned in. Max encouraged us to dance during “Spiral Through the Wheat” and we did a little. I love the way he belts out “I won’t ever be done!” during that song.

Max introduced us to his awesome mom Vivian who passed around his mailing list for people to sign up on. It was super cute. He plugged in his electric guitar for a few songs and admitted that it was only the fourth or fifth time he’d ever played the electric guitar. Max wrapped up his set—full of the humility we’re used to hearing from him in the form of lots of “thank you”s for coming out to the show—and we asked for an encore. He played “Among the White Birches,” which is the foundation of his newest EP, Birches Lo. He stepped from the stage to stand on a chair in the front row to play right in our midst. It was a delightful evening, and I always look forward to seeing Max live.

Congrats, Max! Photo courtesy of MGC.

Max is playing out a lot these days, so you really should check him out! He won honors as “Best New Act” from The Portland Phoenix, which isn’t too shabby for someone who only started playing guitar and writing music in college!



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Check out The Ship by Pete Dubuc

I think you should pick up The Ship by Pete Dubuc. Here’s Pete giving background about the album and also performing “The Ship” on Private Stage. Let me tell you how I came to learn about this beautiful music.

Pete Dubuc sent me a Facebook message back in May:

Hi Bree,

I wind up on your blog on a semi regular basis and would like to send you some music! I have a solo CD coming out this month and I’d send along something from my band Gunther Brown as well. Let me know where I can send it and I’ll get it out right quick!


Pete Dubuc’s The Ship and Gunther Brown

Two shiny CDs showed up in the mail a few days after I replied—Pete’s solo The Ship and Gunther Brown’s self-titled CD. Pete wrote an important note about The Ship in the jacket that I’ll include so you know why the album was created. It reads:

On Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, my mother suffered a major stroke and passed away. She was seemingly in great health, an active hiker and snowshoer. This was just days before ‘the plan’ had my friends and I recording a new Gunther Brown album. Plans change. The day after she passed, I wrote a song in her memory (The Ship) and thought it important that I keep the studio time and record this song for her. The time in the studio would result in these 7 songs which I am releasing as a way to raise money for the American Cancer Society. While Mom was taken by a stroke, the doctors told us that it was brought on by a large tumor on her brain. Her mother – my grandmother – was taken by cancer at the early age of 65. So, now here I am, looking at a pretty legit family history of cancer. It’s everywhere. It affects everyone. I hope, in this small way, to help. Thanks for buying this music and helping this cause.

I absolutely loved “The Ship”—it opens with a lovely lyric “Now the ship has sailed/Now the ship has sailed/To some other beautiful harbor/To other port in the storm.” It’s a really heartfelt and beautiful tribute to Pete’s mom, Linda. I also liked “If You Don’t Ask.” The whole album makes good use of electric guitar, too—it’s emotive and has its own voice. The Ship is striking in its simplicity and very powerful. Here’s a rave review of The Ship in The Portland Press Herald. The Gunther Brown CD is really good, too—I like Pete’s raspy but clear voice and the songwriting. I especially like the song “Maryanne,” that has the very sweet lyric “There hasn’t been a place that wasn’t home/When you’ve got a hold of my hand.” Now that I’ve heard the albums, I definitely want to see Pete live.

Since I liked the CDs so much I was pretty pumped that someone who makes music so in tune with what I like sent me their stuff to listen to. Other acts and managers have gotten in touch with me to see if I’d review albums on my blog, and I’ve replied that I don’t have time to do that (and I don’t). If you’d like me to hear your music, I’d love to be on the guest list for a live show sometime. So, this is not an album review—it’s an album mention. I sent Pete a message a week or so after the CDs came in the mail. If you’re someone (like me), who likes to know about artists and their music, read on:

Hi, Pete–I wanted to wait to get in touch with you until after I’d listened. I love your stuff. I especially love The Ship–the whole thing. It’s lovely, and quite a tribute to your mom. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Would it be okay with you if I mentioned our interaction and your music on my blog in the next few weeks? If so, I’d love to know a few more things:

1. Can you tell me about yourself/Gunther Brown?

2. What’s your songwriting process like?

3. How can people get your music? (Especially The Ship, since it’s for a good cause!)

4. When did the Gunther Brown CD come out? (It is also titled “Gunther Brown”?)

5. Where can folks check out a live Pete Dubuc/Gunther Brown show?

6. Want to put me on your guest list sometime!? I’d love to do a full review!



Here’s Pete’s reply:

Hey, Bree. So here’s a proper response!

Gunther Brown has been around for almost 5 years in various forms. For most of the time we were a five piece band but then for the last year and a half or so, it was a totally acoustic duo with just me and a mandolin player. Right now, we’re a three piece band with myself playing acoustic guitar and singing, Derek Mills playing drums and Chris Plumstead playing electric guitar.

We haven’t been playing any shows for a little bit as we get the new guy, Chris, up to speed on the songs. We’re headed up to play the Arootsakoostik festival next Saturday and the night before we’re playing an in store set at KMH Music in Presque Isle. That will be our first time out in the current lineup. We’re doing some charity stuff coming up – August 23rd a benefit for a community food program in South Portland and September 29th we’re doing a WCLZ event in Brunswick also for a hunger prevention program. I expect in September we’ll start adding in some club type shows as well.

About the music, I’ve always written all the songs. I get them done and then take them to the band and everyone pretty much works out their own parts. I only write when I have something to write. I don’t TRY to write songs, I don’t schedule time to write. If a song is coming it’s just going to happen. If I try, I wind up with something that never gets finished and that I don’t like very much. The songs I like the most are the ones that just happen and usually pretty quickly. I really feel like songs write themselves, they just have to tell someone when they’re ready to come out.

All of my music, Gunther Brown and solo, is on iTunes and Amazon and all that as well as Spotify and MOG for streaming. The Ship is also available at Bull Moose. I did The Ship as a solo album because that song was so personal and with the money going to the American Cancer Society it just felt like it should be something different. Also, since we recorded it less than a week after my mom died, I wasn’t sure how it was even going to come out so I wanted to make it its own thing.

If there’s anything more I can offer, let me know. I’ll be keeping up on your (less frequent) blog since you go see all the same music I dig. Just read the Kathleen Edwards one. I love her and was so pumped that she came back to town. I also saw the show in 2003 that you mentioned. I was working for WCLZ at the time and we put that show together. She was too wasted to come out with us after but I did get to hang with Crash Test Dummies in their room till about 3am. One of the best nights ever for me!

Ok, ok, another story, another time!

My response to Pete:

Thanks for this, Pete! I almost mentioned in my post about KE that she was totally wasted on stage in 2003, but decided to be nice! I’ll alert you when this gets posted! I’m hoping in the next two weeks.

And now it’s a barely a month later. Not bad!

Here’s Pete’s performance of “(Don’t Forget To) Don’t Go” on Private Stage. I absolutely love this song and got it for free on the 2012 Arootsakoostik Music Festival sampler that I learned about on Maine Music’s Facebook page. I really want to see Pete live with Gunther Brown ASAP. They are right up my alley. Check them out and consider supporting the American Cancer Society by buying The Ship. You will not be disappointed.



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