Monthly Archives: May 2013

Iron & Wine with The Secret Sisters

Saturday, May 18, 2013

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

I still haven’t completed decided how I felt about this show overall. That’s quite unusual. I ran into a colleague on Monday who raved about the show and said it was one of the best he’s ever seen. A different colleague yesterday afternoon said he’d been really disappointed by the show. It seems like the show was many different things to different people. I think I came down somewhere in the middle.

I got to see my concert buddy Bob the Undertaker for this show. We met over two years ago at the State Theatre at an Iron & Wine show, so it was fitting that we’d reconvene to see them again. We met up early and grabbed tacos and margaritas at Taco Escobarr before the show. We made it back to State at 6:30 and there was already a line around the corner for doors at 7. Bob and I snagged a spot just behind two sweet girls front and center along the stage barricade inside. We were pleased with our great spot up close because we knew the show was near sell out, and it would be really crowded later.

Bob and I met at an Iron & Wine show.

Bob and I met at an Iron & Wine show.

The Secret Sisters of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, took the stage. I’d seen them open for Brandi Carlile with my dear friend Tricia from the front row at Berklee Performance Center a year and a half ago in Boston. They are sweet as sugar and were so clearly thrilled by the kind audience response to their songs. I like their post WWII vibe complete with pin curls, a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Leavin’ On Your Mind,” and an Everly Brothers tune. Country to the core, I thought the audience responded well to the duo whose music is not particularly like Iron & Wine’s. T-Bone Burnett is producing their new album that will be out soon. I appreciated their dark tune “Bad Habit” and loved the spiritual “Bury Me.” They wrapped their set with “Tonight You Belong to Me” a cappella. The crowd was attentive and really listened and sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers seemed pleased as punch and kind of surprised by the warm reception.

IMG_6050

The Secret Sisters

IMG_6052

The State Theatre was PACKED!

The State Theatre was PACKED!

I’d been surprised last time I saw Iron & Wine because there were twelve people in the band (including the fabulous Marketa Irglova of Once fame). I’d hoped for Sam, a guitar, and maybe a backup vocalist. At this show there were thirteen onstage. Sam Beam was the bandleader with three backup singers, three string players, three horn players, a drummer, a pianist, and a bassist. Thanks to some awesome audience members, you can go online and listen to the night’s setlist at setlist.fm.

The setlist (minus the encore) from the night.

The setlist (minus the encore) from the night.

Sam Beam and the fabulous dancing horn section of Iron & Wine

Sam Beam and the fabulous dancing horn section of Iron & Wine

IMG_6058 IMG_6059 IMG_6065 IMG_6070

Sam and the band played eight songs together before Sam’s four song solo acoustic set. Sam asked the crowd if anyone had a song in particular they really wanted to hear. The crowd went kind of wild. That’s when I realized that although the full band show is entertaining in a way and fills the room (man, those horn players can really move!), Iron & Wine fans (like me) yearn to hear Sam solo. The crowd got a little aggressive with their requests, but Sam handled it like a champ. He kept thanking us over and over again all night for being there and chatted a lot with us. I felt involved in the show because I was so close to the stage. Sam smiled and waved back at me and even took the request from the girl in front of us for “Bird Stealing Bread” during his solo set who Bob and I pointed out to him.

IMG_6071

IMG_6072 IMG_6073 IMG_6075

IMG_6087

I was so happy to hear “Tree by the River,” “Godless Brother In Love,” “Sixteen, Maybe Less” (solo, with a little “Freebird” thrown in for good measure), “Boy With a Coin” (solo, with a little “Beat It” thrown in), “Naked As We Came” (solo), and The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” (with just Sam and the string section). The crowd seemed really excited to hear “Jezebel,” too. Sam said that he’d been surprised by the success of “Naked As We Came.” He wondered how such a dark song had gotten so popular. Sam chuckled and poked fun at himself a fair amount during his solo set. He made a couple of mistakes and said “the game is up—I’ve learned to lean on the band.” A guy in the crowd got Sam’s attention and threw his demo onstage per Sam’s request. It whizzed past his head and Sam joked, “Your music almost killed me!”

IMG_6084

“Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me” was a great last song for the night. It featured the backup singers and their lush harmonies. The crowd stomped for an encore, and Sam came out and played “Sodom, South Georgia” for us. I was thrilled to hear it. I also would have loved to hear “The Trapeze Swinger,” “Flightless Bird, American Mouth,” and “Walking Far From Home,” but I left content. I got to see some friends in the crowd as I made my way out, and even ran into two girls in prom dresses who’d ditched the Gorham High School prom for the show.

IMG_6083 IMG_6080

I didn't get to bring my DSLR inside. These pictures are blurry, but they show you the awesome moves of the horn section!

I didn’t get to bring my DSLR inside. These pictures are blurry, but they show you the awesome moves of the horn section!

IMG_6099 IMG_6094 IMG_6100

Sam solo acoustic tour!? It would be a dream come true. But bring that trumpet player. He can dance. Okay—bring the whole horn section.

xo,

bree

Bob the Undertaker and me. Blue steel, Bob!?

Bob the Undertaker and me. Blue steel, Bob!?

The real setlist

The real setlist

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Tricky Britches, The Ghost of Paul Revere, and Tall Heights

Saturday, May 11, 2013

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I had an awesome Saturday with great friends that included a tasting and tour at Oxbow Brewery in Newcastle, oysters on the half shell, and a trip to Damariscotta’s fish ladder. I was excited for this show, and my friends and college classmates Harriet and Atlee and Harriet’s brother Tielman decided to join me. I beat them to One Longfellow Square and was genuinely perplexed by the seating arrangements. There were about 40 people trying to crowd in the back and a gaping hole in the middle of the room where a dance floor area had been left open in lieu of seating. It confused everyone, because we go to OLS to listen and generally not to dance. People started building their own rows of seating, so I actually ended up quite close to the stage. I’d recommend against that half-seated/half-dance floor arrangement in the future. In such a small space, it has to be all or nothing.

The Gang at Oxbow Brewery. Thanks to Sophie Nelson for the photo!

The Gang at Oxbow Brewery. Thanks to Sophie Nelson for the photo!

Boston folk duo Tall Heights (Tim Harrington and Paul Wright) took the stage and clearly had a lot of fans in the sold out crowd. I appreciated their lush harmonies and sweet tenor voices. I am a sucker for the cello, so loved hearing it paired with guitar. “Running of the Bulls” and “I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know” stuck out to me. Their new album, Man of Stone, is out now. They ran a Pledge Music campaign to raise funds for their album production and thanked the supporters of that campaign profusely. They even asked a woman in the front row to take pictures of the show on a disposable camera for one of their campaign’s supporters (it was one of the campaign donation incentives). I’m glad I made it out early to catch Tall Heights’ set. I can see why they have a loud cheering section.

Paul Wright of Tall Heights

Paul Wright of Tall Heights

Tim Harrington of Tall Heights

Tim Harrington of Tall Heights

Tall Heights

Tall Heights

I’d heard “San Antone” by Portland’s The Ghost of Paul Revere on 98.9 WCLZ’s Music from 207 show. I didn’t know it was their song at the time, but I’d pulled into my driveway while it was playing, and I liked the song so much that I sat in my car with the engine off until it ended. I was immediately sold. GPR is a five piece of old friends who play an array of instruments that include acoustic guitar and bass, banjo, horn, mandolin, and harmonica. Matt Young on harmonica (and mandolin) impresses, but really wowed the crowd with his killer dance moves. You can’t teach that. GPR calls their genre “holler folk,” which is an apt description for what I saw during their set. Check out this BDN feature on The Ghost of Paul Revere that will give you plenty of background. The Ghost of Paul Revere stole the show. I was so impressed with them. Their harmonies, stomping percussion, and vocal power were stellar. Their songs progressed from mellow to powerhouse. They were funny (especially bassist Sean McCarthy, who I have a total crush on), interacted comfortably with the crowd, and were clearly having a great time. I felt like I was part of the show while they were onstage. I so look forward to seeing them again soon. Check out this review of their album North on The Equal Ground and check out their live show.

Max Davis of The Ghost of Paul Revere

Max Davis of The Ghost of Paul Revere

Max Davis and Matt Baker of The Ghost of Paul Revere

Max Davis and Matt Baker of The Ghost of Paul Revere

Griffin Sherry and Sean McCarthy of The Ghost of Paul Revere

Griffin Sherry and Sean McCarthy of The Ghost of Paul Revere

Matt Young and Griffin Sherry of The Ghost of Paul Revere

Matt Young and Griffin Sherry of The Ghost of Paul Revere

It's blurry, but I love this one!

It’s blurry, but I love this one!

Matt Young has MOVES!

Matt Young has MOVES!

IMG_1039 IMG_1043 IMG_1044 IMG_1050 IMG_1056 IMG_1059

Portland’s Tricky Britches took the stage and thanked us for coming out to their sold out CD release for their new album, Good Company. I’d seen Tricky Britches play with Darlingside last fall, and theirs was one of my favorite shows of 2012. Check out my post from that show. Longtime friends and band mates, the guys of Tricky Britches are very comfortable with each other and are cohesive and well rehearsed. They alternated between original songs, mountain songs, and covers. I liked “Leave My Troubles Behind,” their cover of Vince Gill’s “One More Last Chance,” and “By My Side.” Their friend Rich joined them on banjo for “Fish in the Sea.” Seth and Jed joked about their “wardrobe malfunction”—they’d both worn western shirts with flowers embroidered on them. They thanked their Kickstarter campaign supporters for their help getting the new album out. I liked Bear’s sweet “Sugarcane,” including the lines, “She’s my fire on a cold, cold night/She’s my summer shade.” They wrapped their set with a couple of Appalachian dance tunes that included some super rhythmic stomping. The crowd was amped and clapped heartily in unison for an encore. The guys obliged with “Cumberland Fair,” a song about running into your ex lover at the fairground. Tricky Britches has a loyal local following and you should definitely check out their high-energy live show.

Jed Bresette and Seth Doyle of Tricky Britches

Jed Bresette and Seth Doyle of Tricky Britches

Tyler Lienhardt of Tricky Britches

Tyler Lienhardt of Tricky Britches

IMG_1073 IMG_1074 IMG_1080 IMG_1085

Seth Doyle and Ryan "Bear" Wilkinson of Tricky Britches

Seth Doyle and Ryan “Bear” Wilkinson of Tricky Britches

IMG_1096 IMG_1109 IMG_1116 IMG_1124 IMG_1126

What a great night of local-ish music!

xo,

bree

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Josh Ritter with The Felice Brothers–A guest post by Max Garcia Conover

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

A bunch of us went out to dinner and then to see Josh Ritter to celebrate our dear friend Max Garcia Conover‘s birthday. Josh is really the reason Max started making music, and he will have  a recap of our night for you soon! I’ll say that Josh is a pleasure to see live–he exudes joy and clearly enjoys every second he’s onstage. I ended up front row center for the show and it was great to have so many concert buddies for the night!

xo,

bree

IMG_5908

The Felice Brothers

IMG_5912 IMG_5916 IMG_5919

The incomparable Josh Ritter

The incomparable Josh Ritter

Always smiling

Always smiling

IMG_5952 IMG_5953 IMG_5956 IMG_5967 IMG_5970 IMG_5972 IMG_5973 IMG_5974 IMG_5975 IMG_5976 IMG_5978 IMG_5984

Josh encouraging us to find a partner to slow dance with. We obliged.

Josh encouraging us to find a partner to slow dance with. We obliged.

IMG_5994 IMG_5995 IMG_6001 IMG_6003 IMG_6004

From Josh Ritter's Facebook page

From Josh Ritter’s Facebook page

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shane Alexander

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Johnson Hall, Gardiner, Maine

Johnson Hall is a sweet little arts venue right in downtown Gardiner, Maine. It’s a mere half mile from my house. I’ve gone to a couple of their outdoor summer lunchtime shows over the years I’ve lived in town, but overall, I’ve never been particularly drawn to the lineup. Johnson Hall has made a real effort over the last year to make needed improvements, and with the announcement of their new Executive Artistic Director, Mike Miclon, I’m confident they’re moving in the right direction. I had a chance to talk to Mike on his first day on the job, and I was so happy to hear that many of his ideas were compatible with my own. I’d be thrilled to drive to Brunswick, Portland, and Boston significantly less for concerts, and I think a lineup I’m happy with is on the horizon. It was pretty amazing to leave my house at 7:25 PM and still be on time and in the front row of a venue for a show five minutes later. I could really get used to that!

IMG_0812 IMG_0813

Johnson Hall, Gardiner, Maine

Johnson Hall, Gardiner, Maine

I grabbed my front row center seat just in time for Ed DesJardins, Jenna Campbell, and Luke Cartwright. Jenna and Luke had traveled down from Bangor to open the show with Ed, and they sounded quite cohesive as a trio given their geographical distance. They played a few of Jenna’s songs, a few of Ed’s, a couple more of Jenna’s, another of Ed’s, and then Luke played a couple of his own with Jenna’s help. Jenna’s voice was silky smooth and her songs were deeply personal and autobiographical. One of the lines from her songs that stuck out to me was “memories of the past are like ghosts that never leave.” Ed’s big brother Steve played guitar with the group during Ed’s songs, which included “Help Yourself” and “Old Time Picture Show” off of his album, Innerspace. Ed said “Old Time Picture Show” came to him on a September afternoon at camp after all of the people he’d grown up with there had gone home for the season. Luke had a great voice and sang harmony throughout the set. When he took the lead, his songs were reminiscent of Dashboard Confessional—personal, building, and powerful.

Jenna Campbell

Jenna Campbell

Ed DesJardins

Ed DesJardins

IMG_0818

Luke Cartwright

Luke Cartwright

Steve DesJardins

Steve DesJardins

IMG_0829 IMG_0833

L.A. singer-songwriter Shane Alexander grew up in western Pennsylvania. His mother lived in Hallowell, and he and Ed met and became good friends years ago. I’d missed his show at Johnson Hall last summer, so was very glad to catch him this time. His gentle acoustic finger picked songs in interesting tunings are the foundation for his sound, and his soulful, honest lyrics are captivating. Shane told us stories of his time at Ed’s house this visit—learning how to put a lobster to sleep before cooking it, eating steamers, shooting a potato gun—you know, the normal things we Mainers do on a regular basis. I felt a little like I was in Shane’s living room as he told us stories and drew us in with his haunting and delicate songs.

IMG_0834 IMG_0839

Shane Alexander

Shane Alexander

Shane told us that he comes to Gardiner to play a lot because “I love you.” I started to believe him as he told us tales of his many visits to Maine. The first time he came to Maine to visit, he said, he ended up wasted and on stage at The Wharf in Hallowell within moments of his arrival. He also opened a show for Jewel in Portland, but told us his impromptu gig at The Wharf had been sexier. Shane was touring for his fifth album, Ladera, which came out in April. He’d made a stop at the Guild guitar factory in Connecticut on his way to Maine to play for them and had spent part of the day there meeting literally every employee and seeing how each guitar is made.

Shane played “One So Young” and told us it was about how terrifying it is to become an adult. I liked “The Sky Below,” which showed off Shane’s lovely tone. He played a beautiful cover of Tim Krekel’s “Angel’s Share,” and told us how he’d gotten to know Tim in Maine before he passed away. “Front Porch Serenade” took on a special meaning for Shane when he and his laboring wife showed up at the hospital and she pressed play (a rarity) and they listened to the whole song before going inside. It was surely an appropriate choice—“First time I saw you smile/I could see you walking down the isle/With flowers in your hair and your mama standin’ there/Someday you’ll be my wife/Be the one to share my life/Gonna have us a child/We’ll be happy all the while.” Shane had Ed join him on lap steel for “Front Porch Serenade” and then on piano for “Moore Hotel.”

IMG_0859

Ed and Shane

Ed and Shane

Ed on lap steel

Ed on lap steel

Shane introduced “Feels Like the End” by talking about how we have to push back against the darkness in the world. During his trip north, he’d been in a traffic jam in New York City and when he stopped for gas afterwards, realized he was in Newtown, Connecticut. It was surreal. He said he felt fortunate to play music for people as his contribution towards bringing a little light to the darkness.

“I Will Die Alone” will show up on an upcoming album. Shane and singer-songwriter pal, Jessie Payo, wrote it together at his house. I saw Jessie open for Eric Hutchison back in October. Shane asked if anyone in the audience had a request, and people were certainly fans who had particular songs in mind. A gentleman next to me asked to hear “Stargazer” and Shane told us it was based on the surfer film, Blue Crush. I’ll go ahead and admit that I own that movie and that my best friend Margaret and I think it’s really layered.

IMG_0845 IMG_0854 IMG_0856

Shane told us a little about growing up in a small town in western Pennsylvania, and said he knew it was time to leave after high school. He goes back to play there regularly, and his nostalgic “Skyway Drive-In” seems to be a favorite of his hometown crowd. Shane said it’s his favorite of his songs, and it’s certainly my favorite of the Shane Alexander songs I’ve heard. Shane kindly gave me a copy of Ladera after his show and I’ve listened to “Skyway Drive-In” easily dozens of times. It’s lyrically heavy—“Ache in my chest when I saw you in your dress/We had small town in our bloodstreams/Wild horses in our hearts/It hurts like hell when first love falls apart.” Definitely have a listen.

Shane played “Coffee Kiss” for another audience member. He wrote it on the balcony of his hotel room on a family trip to Maui and it had been a long time since he’d played it. He thanked us sincerely for coming to the show and left the stage. He gave a shout out to Lucky Clark for the interview he wrote up for the Kennebec Journal. Shane came right out to his merch table to meet and greet fans. I decided to say hello and he gave me a copy of Ladera for the road. It’s a great listen from start to finish. “Skyway Drive-In” is by far my favorite song, but I also really like “Raincloud of Knowable Things.” Thanks, Shane, for coming to tiny Gardiner, Maine! Thanks to Ed DesJardins for bringing him to town to play for us!

xo,

bree

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized