Saturday, October 13, 2012
Water Street, Gardiner, Maine
Gardiner’s third annual Swine and Stein Oktoberfest was a big success. It rained last year, which was unfortunate, but people were back and ready for a good time this year. If you’ve never been to Swine and Stein, it’s a great time with something for everyone—a local beer tent, plenty of food vendors that specialize in local pork, live music, and games for kids. There are usually some animals to pet, and this year I was tickled that there were adorable goats and pigs. I think they like me more because they know I don’t eat them, but I digress. Here’s Bo the boxer checking them out.
I got to S&S early in the day so that I could hear Portland’s favorite bluegrassy duo, North of Nashville. I’d been asked by Gardiner Main Street, who worked so hard to organize and run this event, to help with the press release for the event. This is what I wrote about North of Nashville:
North of Nashville is certainly Portland’s hardest-working and most energetic country/bluegrass duo. Jay Basiner and Andrew Martelle, both members of popular Portland band This Way are taking it to the streets and bars with their high-octane music. They are famous for their epic sets rich with guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and harmonica. Be prepared to get up and dance during their set.
They didn’t disappoint! I sat on a hay bale with my Gritty’s Halloween Ale and enjoyed their upbeat set. Jay and Andrew are both so talented, and play out so often that they know how to keep a crowd engaged and entertained. Swine and Stein was their first of three gigs that day, actually.
Jay told us that his grandfather worked on the railroad, and growing up around him informed his songwriting. He played “City of New Orleans,” which everyone knew and was happy to hear. They did a bluegrass version of “The Letter,” a song about a letter Abe Lincoln wrote to the country after the Civil War. Their version was called “Common Country.” I’m always impressed that Jay can sing, play guitar, and play foot percussion at the same time. I remember being impressed by that early in the year when I saw This Way play, too.
They played a Springsteen song and the title track from This Way’s newest album, The Story of Simon Pure (which is in rotation on 98.9 WCLZ). Jay and Andrew were kind to us and I appreciated knowing a bit about the songs they played, too. They were chilly under a tent in the shade on a cold day, but they still played their hearts out with winter hats and/or fingerless gloves on. They wrapped their set with my favorite This Way song about playing music for a living, “Take It All (Or Leave it All Behind).” Definitely check out North of Nashville and their full band, This Way. They are talented, high energy, and fun.
I was chilly, too, and also needed to catch up with some friends, so I took some time off from being fully present at the music tent. I got to hear Poke Chop and The Other White Meat from a distance. They had a bluesy sound and people really seemed to like them. The Oktoberfest German Band played two sets and I loved seeing old men in lederhosen playing clarinets and brass instruments. They sounded great and were adorable and set an appropriate tone for the day.
The sun went down and it got cold. I was sad that anna & the diggs played last because a lot of people were Oktoberfested out by then and missed their set. I did a quick rally of local friends to get as many people to the stage as possible. I’d seen them at Slates in Hallowell back in April and was abundantly impressed. I wrote a glowing review of the show and Anna and I have been in touch a bit since then. It was really nice when I saw her that she remembered me and took the time to introduce to me to all of the guys in the band. That kind of warmth is nice to see from talented musicians!
Anna and the boys sounded great. Everyone who stayed for their set had a blast and was impressed. I’d told one of my colleagues who lives in town that I’d recommended anna & the diggs for the lineup and his friend sought me out to tell me that I have the best taste in music ever. I do have good taste in music if I say so myself, but what he was really saying is that he loved anna & the diggs. There’s nothing not to love.
Here’s what I wrote about anna & the diggs for the Swine and Stein press release:
anna & the diggs is comprised of former members of Portland’s popular Americana group Gypsy Tailwind who have delved into soul, rock, and R&B. Lead singer Anna Lombard won “Best Female Vocalist” in this year’s Portland Phoenix music poll and it was more than well deserved. This headlining set is sure to please. anna & the diggs are insanely talented and are not to be missed!
anna & the diggs sounded great as always. I liked “River Girl,” the title track of the EP they released this summer. I really love “We Were Younger Then” about being in love with someone for a long time. Check out anna & the diggs on Private Stage to get a good taste of their sound. They wrapped their set with “Mercedes Benz.” We were an appreciative, if small audience. One thing we learned is that we need to put the headlining bands a bit earlier in the lineup so no one misses them!
Anna and the guys (Max, Colin, Chris, and Ben) graciously stayed around to say hello to their new fans while they packed up so they could head to their next gig of the night—Asylum’s League of Extraordinary Women. You’ve really got to work to make it in the music biz, I guess! Thanks for fitting us into your day, anna & the diggs!