Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ben Sollee with Dietrich Strause

Sunday, August 5, 2012

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I happened upon Ben Sollee in June of 2011 when I was visiting friends near Washington DC. My friend Clare knew I’d appreciate going to see a show, so she suggested we catch one at Iota in Arlington, Virginia—a teeny, intimate venue. Ben Sollee just happened to be the headliner the night we were out, and boy, what a treat it was to stumble upon him! Ben plays beautiful cello, and his songs are full of interesting syncopation and powerful lyrics. I especially appreciated his interest in and passion for the environment and the ability of the arts to build community.

Fast forward just over a year—Ben Sollee was the darling of this year’s Newport Folk Festival. He played his own set (which I skipped because I knew I’d be seeing him the following week at the very intimate One Longfellow Square), recorded in the Paste Ruins (which I got to watch), and guest starred in so many sets that I called him the “Waldo” of the NFF. He was on a “Ditch the Van” bike tour—meaning that he literally rode a bicycle with his cello following on a trailer from Kentucky all the way to Newport, Rhode Island. The NFF provided buses for concertgoers to take from the parking lots to the stages, and my bus nearly side swiped Ben on the entry road. It was kind of hard not to notice that we almost took out a guy carting a cello! Glad we missed him!

My friend Bartlett was going to join me for Ben, but he recently became a landlord and his tenant had a plumbing issue. I texted him back joking that “s%*t happens” (I thought that was very clever), and I nestled into a seat in the third row center to catch Ben up close and personal. I was pumped. I chatted with the folks around me (shocking, I know) and found out that the woman sitting beside me had run the Beach to Beacon 10K the day before with her 83 year old mom who finished first in her age group! 83?! Impressive!

Lancaster, PA native Dietrich Strause opened the show, and I thought his folky songs were quite compatible with Ben’s sound. His songs were simple and pretty and I liked his finger picking. He admitted that he felt a bit guilty about driving up from Boston (his home base) and joked that Mainers must breathe a big sigh of relief when all of those cars he saw crowding the southbound lanes on the highway leave every Sunday night. I especially liked his songs “Susquehanna” and “Annie Dear.” Here’s a video of Dietrich’s interpretation of the David and Goliath story—“Like a Rock”—that includes some very vociferous ducks. Really. His last song, “Lemonade Springs,” has a great line—“A yellowstone child just looking for a wild love/running from the life she was lost in.” He told us the song was a cautionary tale and told us the real story (I Googled it) of a billionaire in Australia who is having a replica of the Titanic built with plans to launch it on the exact day it originally set sail on. He warned us, “no matter how cheap the tickets are—don’t go.”

Dietrich Strause

Dietrich will be playing Club Passim’s stage at Harvard Square’s Oktoberfest on Sunday, October 7 and at Blue in Portland on Thursday, November 15.

Ben Sollee took the stage after a short break to a full room of admirers. I barely know how to explain his interesting and captivating sound except to say it’s great. He plays cello and has a beautiful voice. His music is kind of folky with bluegrass influence. He opened with “A Few Honest Words,” which has lyrics I like—“Love is a bitter fruit/We’ve learned to eat/But we still don’t know, oh, where it grows.” He played one of my favorites of his tunes, “Something, Somewhere, Sometime” next and the crowd was clearly happy to hear it, too. Jordan Ellis joined Ben for his set and played beautiful percussion. He had to be clever and creative about what tools to use, because he was on a bicycle carrying his gear, too. He plays a mean cajon drum. They’d ridden about 60 miles that day to make it to the show, in fact. Wow. Ben talked about the “Ditch the Van” bike tour and said it forces them to slow down and take everything in and makes them more present in the communities they’re playing in. Here’s Ben talking about touring by bicycle on CNN.

I was really happy to hear “Hurting” with it’s refrain, “it’s gonna be alright.” I think that may be my favorite song on Ben’s Inclusions album. Check out Ben’s Tiny Desk Concert on NPR that opens with “Hurting” and includes “Captivity,” “The Globe,” and “Inclusions.” “How to See the Sun Rise” was a lovely gospel-infused tune that made me feel a little like I was in church rocking out with a powerful house band. Ben clearly loves Kentucky and is interested in the history of Appalachia. He introduced “Prettiest Tree on the Mountain” with a cute story about how he learned there’s such a thing as a leader tree that changes color first in fall and tells the other trees, “yo—it’s time to change. Which is what she said to me.” So, I guess the song is about a broken heart. He also said it’s the only song he’s ever not written—that it just poured out of him.

Ben Sollee and Jordan Ellis

Ben played a song that laments the practice of mountaintop-removal coal mining. This issue was the catalyst for Dear Companion that Ben recorded with fellow Kentucky boy Daniel Martin Moore in 2010. The album was produced by fellow Kentuckian Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Ben and Jordan wrapped their set with “Electrified” which displays the interesting syncopated rhythms of a lot of Ben’s songs, and finished with a beautiful classical piece.

We asked for an encore and Ben and Jordan played five more songs including Paul Simon’s “The Obvious Child” and some fiddle tunes Ben learned from his grandfather Elvis Henry Cornelius. He told us that riding his bicycle reminds him of the cadence of those fiddle songs and he hears them when he rides. They tried to leave the stage after FIVE more songs, but we were so appreciative (and rowdy) that Ben and Jordan came back for one final song, “Built for This.” Ben chatted with audience members after the show and is so much an ordinary guy for being such an incredibly talented musician. If you haven’t seen him live yet, you are really missing out.

Jordan got really creative with his percussion at the end of the night!

Ben’s newest album, Half-Made Manis out as of September 25, 2012. Here’s Ben’s interview about the new album with American Songwriter.




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Mumford & Sons and Friends

Gentlemen of the Road—Portland, Maine Stopover

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Eastern Promenade, Portland, Maine

*I wrote the majority of this post a few weeks ago on a boat anchored in the Barred Islands near Deer Isle, Maine. I found it much easier to write without distractions. The moon was big and bright in the sky and Labor Day weekend on the boat that marked the end of my summer vacation was relaxing and beautiful. I made good progress on Bill Clinton’s autobiography that weekend, too, which I essentially haven’t picked up since then. I also haven’t touched my blog in the three weeks since school started back up this year. We lost a position in my department due to budget cuts and I have double the students I had last year. Every day feels a bit like a marathon. I’ve been seeing great shows still, though, and will get to writing about them eventually. Thanks for bearing with me!*

Barred Islands

The Barred Islands are LOVELY

I want to say two things before I go too far. One, I am SO impressed and grateful that Lauren Wayne, general manager of the State Theatre, was able to convince Mumford & Sons to come to Portland, Maine. She rules. This festival was obviously good for Portland and for Maine.

The second thing that I should say is that I really don’t like music festivals. I think it’s important that I reveal that early on in this post. Unlike everyone else (or so it seems), when I found out that Mumford & Sons was coming to the US this summer for just four dates to headline all-day festivals—including one in Portland, Maine—I was disappointed. I have a short list of bands I desperately want to see and M&S is on it, but I do not like music festivals. I want to see bands up close or I feel like I might as well just listen to their CD at home or in my car during my morning commute. Festivals mean multiple stages and hours and hours of waiting until you get the see the band you really came for. They are exhausting if you come early, or disappointing if you come late and can’t see the band from where you end up. I acknowledge that many people love festivals for lots of reasons that I totally support and I support those people—I’m just not one of them.

I almost passed on buying tickets to the M&S show for all of those reasons, but my friend Clare wanted to go and at the last minute I decided that I would be stupid to miss M&S just because I’d prefer not to have to wait out a whole day to get a decent spot to take in their show. I got us two early bird tickets for $59 each and was not at all surprised that they sold out so quickly.

Clare enjoying the show. We meant to take a picture of the two of us. Oops.

Clare lives in Gardiner, too, so I picked her up at 10:30 Saturday morning in hopes of getting to Portland’s East End around 11:15 to try to get a parking spot. We had absolutely no trouble finding parking, and were at the gates at 11:30 for the noon gate opening. I talked to my concert buddy Monica the night before about how frustrating it was that there was no concrete information about who would play what stage at what time since many of us want to plan when to arrive and where to find a spot. That information was never available, it seems, including the day of the show and after the festival began. Festival staff manned the many entrance gates, checked IDs to give out beer tent bracelets, gave us stick-on moustaches to keep us in theme, but no one seemed to know the schedule for the day.

Residents of the Eastern Prom gave M&S a warm welcome!

Clare and I saw how close together the two stages were and decided to grab a spot on the ground perched up high where we could see both stages okay, but neither up close. There were flags with band names on either of the stages that gave the impression that basically acts would be playing back and forth between the two stages, but that was just a guess (and it turned out to not be quite true). I can’t remember a time when I was so far away from a stage, but since I had a guest and didn’t know for sure who was playing where, I didn’t want to gamble grabbing an up front spot at the wrong stage and missing half the acts so as not to lose my spot up close. As someone who values proximity over all else, it was a tough choice for me.

Simone Felice of The Felice Brothers was up first. Some of the guys from M&S took the stage to warmly thank us for coming out and to introduce him. He sang a sweet song for his daughter Pearl who is two that he wrote for her on the day she was born. I liked “Don’t Wake the Scarecrow.” He told us how he grew up in the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock, New York and played a song for the late Levon Helm. He had a female singer accompany him, but her voice did not mesh well with his and she really overpowered his sound. It might have been fine if they’d adjusted the levels of the microphones, but I’m not sure.

Simone Felice

Haim took the same stage after Simone Felice (there went my theory about alternating stages) and are three sisters from California. My friends Bartlett and Monica had joined us by then and Bartlett joked that “those girls just passed AP English.” They were obviously young—late teens to early twenties—but one of them had a very strong, mature voice for her age. One of the sisters pushed the envelope a bit—joking about vodka and inviting people to skinny dip with them later—I found her stage banter a bit distracting. One of their songs that was unlike the others reminded me of Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. Overall, the girls wanted to rock and can, even if I didn’t really connect with their music. They wrapped their set with a strongly percussive song and one of the sisters grabbed a drumstick and banged on the drum with a lot of enthusiasm. Like I’ll say a lot (or maybe I’ll just say it here and be done with it)—none (few?) of these acts had the stage presence to really engage a crowd of 15,000+ people but all might be really great in a smaller venue. It’s hard to tell and I probably won’t go out of my way to see m/any of them again given this first impression.


Haim rocking out on drums

Reggie Watts, our quirky, inappropriate, and hilarious emcee for the day took the stage and entertained us between sets with jokes about cocaine usage and binge drinking—real family friendly material. Okay, not family friendly, but funny in places.

Nashville’s The Apache Relay was up next (the first on the main stage) and I was really excited to see them since I’d been held up in traffic and missed their set at The Newport Folk Festival the weekend before. Of all of the acts that wasn’t M&S, I’m willing to say they were my favorite—and with Dawes, they rounded out my top three acts of the day. I really liked them immediately—they were gracious and warm and the lead singer had a powerful, pleading voice. The keys and strings rounded out their sound and I would see them again (in a smaller venue) for sure.

The Apache Relay

There was a really long break while UK’s The Macabees set up on the main stage. I decided to go grab some water at the water station, but the line was insanely long. One of my biggest complaints about the day (and I know I’m not alone) is that we were not allowed re-entry and there were not nearly enough food or drink vendors to keep the lines down. Lines for each booth ran up to over an HOUR AND A HALF long. That is ridiculous. If you are going to have over 15,000 people at a festival and won’t let them leave, it’s a no-brainer to go overboard on the food carts and water stations and portable bathrooms. Lines were painfully, painfully long. People were frustrated. There are expletives in my notes of the day that I’ve edited out for the reading public.

My view of The Macabees as I went in search of sustenance

The Macabees

The Macabees didn’t do much for me. I wrote two things down about them: 1. They are British. 2. They are My Morning Jacket-esque. That’s a compliment, I suppose. M&S had introduced the day by saying that the musicians we were seeing that day were some of their very favorite bands. I had already started to wonder by this point if I believed them or not and if perhaps this might have been a collection of bands put together by music label folks to spread the word about acts signed to them. That’s a conspiracy theory that’s not important enough to look into, but I’ll say that if my favorite bands played at a music festival I organized, everyone would be much more impressed with my musical taste. Sorry, M&S—I still love you a lot.

Marian and Alex watching The Macabees

Then the darkest hour of the festival came—St. Vincent’s set. I have had the misfortune of seeing St. Vincent before, opening a few years back for Andrew Bird. I don’t think there’s a middle ground on her—people either love her or hate her. I don’t judge those people who love her, but I truly don’t get her music and find it abrasive and unlistenable. If you love her, I am happy for you and hope you won’t send me angry emails. I wrote that she is Bjork-like with a bit of “new Madonna” sprinkled in. Her music is electronic and quirky. She did “Marrow” that contains a repetitive “H.E.L.P. me” which was a little scary and I wondered how many people sitting there watching agreed with me that we all would like someone to help us by getting her off the stage. I chuckled as I looked around and saw people sitting around us visibly cringing. I pointed it out to a woman sitting near us—I told her “you look how I feel” and she laughed. We were all in this together, commiserating, just waiting for the set to end. Bartlett chimed in—“it only takes one to spoil the festival.” I have no doubt that Oklahoma native, Berklee trained St. Vincent takes herself and her craft very seriously. I think she thinks she’s keeping punk alive. She did a cover for her last song and told us a cute story about the sad end of punk and the funny dish scrubber she’d gotten from a friend called “Sid Dishes.” She certainly has musical talent and I respect that but the style of her music almost couldn’t be less compatible with what I like to listen to. I had a conversation with my concert friend Bob about St. Vincent, and he was shocked at my response to seeing his beloved St. Vincent. He works in a funeral home, so the threats got real. I think I was supposed to pick out my urn and everything. If I ever disappear suddenly…

St. Vincent

Bartlett and Monica. St. Vincent’s set seems a good time for a photo shoot.

This picture of Bartlett isn’t even the best one of him I’ve taken. Woah.

L.A.’s Dawes was popular at Newport Folk Festival and my concert buddy Bob is a big fan. They didn’t do as much for me live as I’d expected they would (and I didn’t dare tell Bob that), but I was far away which is so not my thing. I really like their 2009 North Hills album, though, and will definitely see them someday from up close in a smaller venue. They opened with “If I Wanted Someone”—a song I really like, and did “Fire Away.” I’d call their sound Americana—compatible with Wilco and My Morning Jacket. They played one of my favorites “When My Time Comes” and dedicated it to “the newbies.” We happily sang along with them on the chorus—belting it out, really—and even did the chorus without their help a couple of times through. That’s when I started to realize how many more people had showed up for the festival. We were starting to be quite a crowd. By then my friends Marian and Alex had joined us and Chris (check out his photos from the day at had checked in with us a few times to chat and take a break from taking photos. Dawes did a nice rendition of “Peace In The Valley” and ended with “Time Spent In Los Angeles.” Wylie Gelber from Dawes did a cute write up of the event for The Travel Channel.


Dawes with zoom. I am so far away! 😦

Dropkick Murphys were a late addition to the lineup and came to play a quick set before their show later that night at the State Theatre. I’d seen them live one St. Patrick’s Day years ago in Boston with my Bowdoin friend Lisa and her sisters, Sara and Maria. It was crazy. They are loud and rough and people got excited for them and ran to the stage that they started playing on and bounced for the whole set. They did “Sunshine Highway,” played a new song for us from their album that they’d just wrapped the day before, and were backed by the Parkington Sisters on “Irish Rover.” Even if the Murphys are a bit of a departure from my general musical taste, they know how to put on a lively show, which I appreciate. We needed a boost after the very mellow day of music, actually, and they did a great job. Basically the whole crowd got on their feet for their finale “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” so we were ready to be up and dancing with Mumford & Sons.

Dropkick Murphys looked great in the setting sun

I wrote everything up until this point three weeks ago. I was inspired to finish this post because I stayed up late to watch Mumford & Sons last night on Saturday Night Live—I probably would have been done with this post by now if I hadn’t, actually. Their musical performances—“I Will Wait” and “Below My Feet” were awesome. They also starred in a ridiculous skit where they played “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” in the background.

Mumford & Sons can absolutely entertain a big crowd. I wish I could have been up close (duh), but I still had fun from far away, and that is a HUGE compliment. M&S played “Little Lion Man” early in the show and got everyone up on their feet and celebrating. They played a bunch of songs from their upcoming album, Babel, which is due out on Tuesday. You can preview Babel here. I loved “I Will Wait,” which was new to me but is now getting a lot of radio play now. Here’s a live version of “I Will Wait” recorded at Red Rocks so you can get a feel for the experience we had that night. Here are some photos from the night and Rolling Stone’s write up, too. Their harmonies on “White Blank Page” gave me chills. I love the powerful line in that song—“you desired my attention but denied my affections.” “Timshel,” with the refrain, “you are not alone in this,” was haunting and beautiful. The musicianship and power of “Roll Away Your Stone” was awesome.

We literally waited all day for Mumford & Sons

M&S “close-up”

“Lover of the Light” was new and it was very pretty. It featured a lovely fiddle part and a talented horn section. “Thistle & Weeds” was stunning thanks to Marcus Mumford’s intensity. I liked “Awake My Soul” a lot more live than I do on the album. They wrapped up their set with another new song, “Below My Feet” and closed with the wild, chaotic, and powerful, “Dust Bowl Dance.”

My actual “view” of M&S

We didn’t want them to go just yet, and M&S obliged with an encore. They were so complimentary of Portland and Maine and were obviously so grateful for the whole experience. I was really pleased with how kind they were to us. A few lucky local residents were REALLY pleased, actually! They played “Winter Winds” and people got excited when they started playing the opening notes of “The Cave,” which sounded GREAT. After another round of thanking us profusely for being a great first stopover on their brief American tour, they invited all of the musicians from the day out on stage to cover “The Weight” by The Band. It was quite a sight to behold, and we all sang along. The night ended with a round of fireworks before we were all off on our merry way. I really, really hope to see Mumford & Sons again from up close someday! When I saw them on SNL last night, my first thought was, “Oh! That’s what they look like!” I loved their set, though, and they deserve finding their way onto your iPod if you’re one of the few left who hasn’t discovered them yet.

Now THAT’S an encore!




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Tin Ceilings, Hello Shark, and Run On Sentence

The Oak + The Ax, Biddeford, Maine

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My friend Mark posted on Facebook almost exactly two years ago to highly recommend people check out a Run On Sentence show at Frontier in Brunswick, so I went. I was so caught off guard by the power and beauty of the music that I cleared my schedule so I could see them again the next night at Mayo Street Arts in Portland. I’m so grateful that Mark introduced me to ROS, as those were easily two of the best shows I saw in 2010—and when I say that, given the sheer quantity of shows I see, it means something.

Run On Sentence at Frontier. Thursday, September 2, 2010.

Dustin really is ROS (with occasional help from other musicians) and he started a CSM (Community Supported Music) drive on Kickstarter that I joined. The idea is that we paid up front so he’d have funds to live and tour and write music, and in exchange, we’d receive a song in our email each month from him as a thank you. The songs have been diverse and experimental, and I’m really happy to support music I really believe in. Dustin is not a salesman and is incredibly humble about his gift, but I am confident he will be playing Bonnaroo and will have an Austin City Limits special someday when the right person happens to see him live. Dustin emailed that he was coming to Maine, so I made sure to be there. I encourage all of you to do the same if you see Run On Sentence on a poster in your town.

Dustin’s Kickstarter video

I can’t remember now why I was a little late to the show, but it was a bummer because I liked the incredibly mellow, simple folky songs of Portland-based Tin Ceilings who were mid-set when I arrived. The Oak + The Ax is set up so that people enter the room just next to the stage and I felt like I was interrupting the whole operation when I got there. Dustin was sitting in the front row and I joined him there to take in the rest of Tin Ceilings’ set. I had tried to find out some information about them online, but they are definitely more about the music than social media. Randy has a unique deep voice and simply strummed his guitar while Eric played banjo and provided some harmonies from time to time. I liked the sparseness of their sound. I was able to chat with them between sets and it seems like they are both involved in a lot of projects. One of them, Hersey State, will be playing at The Oax + The Ax Fest on September 30. Randy was kind enough to email after the show to share Hersey State’s bandcamp site with me and invite me to another show.

Eric and Randy of Tin Ceilings

Trio Hello Shark came all the way from Burlington on a Wednesday night to play for a pretty tiny crowd. Two guys were on electric guitar and one played drums. I really liked “My Life” (check out the video) and their cheeky song about being a “Nashville name dropper.” Their songs were generally very mellow as well (definitely a theme of the evening), and I’d say there was a slight Nirvana undertone to their stuff. I chatted with the guys at the end of the night to see if they knew one of my former students, Tristan, who is a musician in Burlington—they did—and we chatted a little about how they were visiting Maine because one of them had just moved here, making band life a little more complicated.

Hello Shark

It was time for Dustin to take the stage, so I said goodbye to Eric and Randy of Tin Ceilings who stayed in the back in order to snag my front row seat. I told them to expect a transcendent experience. Dustin told us that he was in Maine for a month (heading all the way up to Van Buren, actually) to work on a film score for a friend who is making a movie and was working on some solo stuff and would play a bunch of it for us.

Dustin Hamman is Run On Sentence

He opened with “Albion,” a song about the town in Nebraska where his mom is from and went on to play “Forever Shout” which was the second song in the CSM. Dustin definitely has some songs that are playful and quirky, and the next song he played was about a bear that talks. He told us a story after that about how a friend asked him if he was planning to ID3 tag his songs before sending them out to us in the CSM. He said he’d never heard of an ID3 tag and polled us and we hadn’t either. It’s apparently the thing that tells iTunes the information—song name, artist, album name, genre—when importing a song. His friend showed him how to tag his music and he decided to spice it up by inventing a new genre for every song. The fourth song he played he listed as “desert pop.”

Dustin told us about Simon Joyner, his favorite songwriter and someone he’s gotten to play shows with in Nebraska where they both grew up. He said he didn’t appreciate Nebraska when he was growing up there, but has come to appreciate it now. Dustin asked us to sing along to a country song about getting really messed up (my edit, for my teenage readers) and sang a pretty song about a flower.

Dustin rocking out on a super unique apparatus

Since he’d said earlier that he was going to play mostly new stuff from the CSM, he asked if any of us had other requests. I’d chimed in to be sure he was planning to play “I Am The Blood” (check out this video of “I Am The Blood” recorded at SXSW) at some point and he assured me he would. That song knocks me out. Dustin’s voice is so strong and imploring that I get chills whenever I hear it—but it’s especially incredible live. He unplugged his parlor sized acoustic guitar from the amp and put away the cool foot pedals he’d been using to fill the sound earlier and played it acoustic for us. My favorite lyric in the song is “Will you think of all the other ways that this life could have gone/Or will you marvel at the way that it has been?” I am sure everyone else in the room felt it, too, because there was a moment of stunned silence before the hearty applause started just after Dustin finished playing.

Dustin’s “I Am The Blood” was mesmerizing

We definitely wanted to hear more at that point, so Dustin obliged us with one more unrecorded song to end the night. The thing I realized then is that I am always a little sad to see Dustin play live because I know that the night will eventually end. It’s such beautiful music that I could listen to it indefinitely. Please, please check out Run On Sentence. I am already looking forward to the emails I’m going to get thanking me for introducing him to you. You’re welcome. I’ll let you know when he’s back in Maine, too, since he currently lives on the west coast. Thanks, Dustin! Amazing as always!



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The Gawler Family Band

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Johnson Hall, Gardiner, Maine

*It’s September 1st as I’m writing this–nearly the end of a beautiful summer. My baby sister is spending her first night at college and I am off on a four day sailing trip with my best friend’s parents. We had some boat issues yesterday, so moored off Islesboro last night, and we survived the rolling waves today (barely), and are anchored off southwest Vinalhaven. Meg’s mom Beverly brought her iPad and a keyboard so I could blog a little on the trip since they are early to bed people and I’m a night owl. It’s 8:45 and I think I’m the only one on the boat who has been awake for the last half hour or so.*

My view of Vinalhaven from the boat. So pretty!

A month ago, on August 1st, I saw four bands in the course of my day. I woke up relatively early (for “Summer Bree” standards anyhow) and remembered that Gardiner’s Johnson Hall was hosting one of their noontime concerts in the park. I had heard of the Gawler Family Band and decided to go check it out. I crossed the street from the park to visit my good friend Clare at her arts and crafts gallery, Monkitree, to say hi and see if I could take her boxer Bo as my date. Within moments of crossing the street to grab a spot in the park, little kids and elderly folks were coming up to us to get some Bo time. He is a local celebrity and one of the best dogs ever. A little girl came up to me as asked me if that was Bo and then proceeded to hug him and tell me over and over again how soft he is. There was a large group of residents from a local senior citizens’ home in attendance, and they wanted some Bo time, too. It was lovely to see how happy it made them to have some time with a great dog, and even a couple of residents wearing nametags to identify them as patients with Alzheimer’s told me stories about dogs they used to have. If I hadn’t heard a note of music, my day would already have been made.

Bo was a great date! Who wouldn’t love this guy!?

The Gawler Family Band are three daughters and their mom and dad. Two of the daughters, Edith and Elsie, were there for our show, along with their mom, Ellen, and dad, John. They were a delight. This will give you a sense of their style. I can just picture the many years of family nights around a fireplace singing songs together these folks have had. They were at ease playing together, making sure everyone was given time in the spotlight to showcase their individual talents, and delivering beautiful harmonies.

The Gawler Family was all smiles

I’d say the Gawler Family Band is firmly folk and bluegrass influenced, and I absolutely loved how they told stories about what the songs were about and who had written them. They played songs from an era that the elderly folks present seemed to know, and we were invited to sing along a number of times. They all had lovely voices, and played their instruments  beautifully. I loved the traditional sound they produced with violin, banjo, cello, guitar, and harmonica. Ellen suggested that her husband do a recitation of a poem, too, which he graciously delivered in his heavy Maine accent with a big smile on his face. It was a real pleasure to spend an hour with the Gawler Family Band. Bo enjoyed it, too, and when I took him to say hi to the family after their set, John even played harmonica just for him. Check them out when they come to your town!



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