Monthly Archives: December 2013

Carbon Leaf with Sarah Blacker

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

It’s been a crazy week and a half since I saw my last concert of 2013. I’ve taken refuge at my boyfriend’s place to have access to power and the Internet. My house is covered in ice and is without power and heat. I’m packed for my trip to Hawaii tonight. Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to make my way Westward despite airport delays. Yes, I know these are first world problems. I suspect this will be my shortest blog post ever since I’m getting picked up in less than 90 minutes. Let’s see. (Nope, I’m still long winded even when I’m in a hurry!).

I was really happy to finally see Boston’s Sarah Blacker. She emailed me almost a year ago to invite me to a show in Maine, and even though I couldn’t make it, I checked out her website and really liked her crystal clear voice. I got in touch about this show, and she was kind enough to invite me again. Sarah was incredibly comfortable and interactive with the audience at Port City Music Hall, which I’m always a fan of, and she can really sing. I loved her cover of “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” She told us about an upcoming video for “Shiver” that was filmed outside in icy weather while she wore a flimsy dress.

The lovely Sarah Blacker

The lovely Sarah Blacker

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Sarah met Carbon Leaf in South Carolina and they’ve been friends since. She was gifted a beautiful ukulele named Leo (my uke is named Alice) and played a couple of songs on it for us. I was really impressed with Sarah’s banter when she introduced “The Most Beautiful Thing” to us—she said it was about someone she was dating who died in a car accident to memorialize him, but also to forgive the sobering moment and to keep drinking. I absolutely appreciated her song “Perfectly Imperfect” about trying to give up the idea of being perfect. Throughout her set she was incredibly sweet and personable. She also really knows how to make the most of her solo sound by beating on her guitar when she needs some percussion.

Sarah plugged Material Objects next door and told us she’d gotten her whole outfit, including grey cowboy boots there earlier in the day. It was a perfect segue to her song “Cowboy.” She closed with “These Summer Nights”—thinking back to warmer times, and said goodnight to us. I said hello to Sarah before I took off that night and she really was a dear. I’m always happy when good musicians are also good people.

Virginia’s Carbon Leaf took the festively decorated stage to an enthusiastic crowd, welcomed by 98.9 WCLZ’s Ethan Minton. My friends Don and Stacey joined me in the happy crowd, too. We met three years ago at the same venue the last time Carbon Leaf played Portland and have been in touch ever since. It was so great to see you guys!

Carbon Leaf concert friends Don and Stacey

Carbon Leaf concert friends Don and Stacey

Carbon Leaf's setlist

Carbon Leaf’s setlist

There was an especially enthusiastic band of folks in the first few rows who knew a lot of Carbon Leaf’s songs by heart. We sang a whole verse for Barry on “One Prairie Outpost.” Someone in the front was using FaceTime to bring a female friend along for the experience and Barry grabbed the phone and took her on a quick backstage tour and then set the phone up on stage for a song as well. Apparently she was home sick but had really wanted to be at the show. It was adorable. Barry also gave Ethan Minton a well-deserved shout out for playing their music on 98.9. He also apologized because it had been three years since they’d played Portland.

WCLZ's Ethan Minton introducing Carbon Leaf

WCLZ’s Ethan Minton introducing Carbon Leaf

Barry using FaceTime

Barry using FaceTime

I always like the gospel feel of “Raise the Roof.” All of the guys surrounded one mic in the center of the stage for a handful of songs, including “Red Punch, Green Punch.” We sang along on “Comfort” and Barry told us how nice it was to hear that we knew the words. He then moved into the sales portion of the evening. Carbon Leaf left their label in 2010 and is releasing music independently. He joked with us that they’ve put out two albums this year that most of us haven’t bought. After the Portland show, they had four shows left in a 50-city tour. Carter was featured on “The Fox and the Hare.” I’d forgotten how talented the guys in this group are because I hadn’t seen them in such a long time. They wrapped their set with “The Boxer” and really whipped the already appreciative crowd into a frenzy.

Carbon Leaf's Barry Privett

Carbon Leaf’s Barry Privett

Jason Neal

Jason Neal

Terry Clark and Barry

Terry Clark and Barry

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Carter Gravatt

Carter Gravatt

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Bassist Jon Markel on lead vocals

Bassist Jon Markel on lead vocals

The guys came back out onstage for an encore and had bassist Jon Markel set up the story behind his song “Carter’s Christmas Beard.” He joked that Carter’s beard is his favorite muse. It’s nice to see a band that clearly likes each other a lot. We laughed through the song with the guys. They played “Tombstone vs. Ashes” and then left us with “Let Your Troubles Roll By,” which is easily my favorite Carbon Leaf song. I thought as I left after the show how that was a really good last live song to hear in a year. I turned on my car to head home and Carbon Leaf’s “What About Everything” was playing on 98.9 WCLZ. This was a solid end to a fantastic year of live music. Thanks to everyone for your support of whatbreesees.com in my first two years! I’ll be back in 2014!

xo,

bree

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Lucius with Kingsley Flood

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

*This is my 100th post on whatbreesees.com! Thanks so much for all of your support in the last (almost) two years!*

I was so excited to see Lucius again. Their website is ilovelucius.com, which is totally appropriate. I saw them over a year ago in Boston at Brighton Music Hall opening for Milo Greene and they were really unique and impressive. Mainers got to see Lucius this summer when they opened for Tegan and Sara at the State Theatre. Portland Press Herald’s Aimsel Ponti was so blown away by Lucius when they opened, that, for her, they stole the show. She called it “The Lucius Effect.” Their new album, Wildewoman, has taken off (check out this killer album review in Rolling Stone) and so the show was moved from its original venue to the larger Port City Music Hall.

My college friends Shaun, Harriet, and Atlee met me for dinner before the show at Empire. I rushed in to meet them after the best first date ever and was in very good spirits. They were over the moon about the duck buns I recommended. If you haven’t eaten at Empire yet, definitely check it out. Sweet Caroline got us out of the restaurant in plenty of time to grab our tickets and grab a spot up front. Naseem, Kingsley Flood’s lead singer, is our college classmate. I’d wanted to see them play this summer at The Newport Folk Festival (here’s their full NFF set), but I was marrying friends on top of a mountain at Sunday River that weekend. How exciting for Kingsley Flood that they’ve already played Newport!

With a decidedly folk-rock sound (emphasis on the rock), Kingsley Flood impressed with the fullness and variety of their sound. I especially liked their use of trumpet, saxophone, maracas, and tambourine. “Sigh A While” premiered on NPR’s All Songs Considered and was probably my favorite song of the night. I loved Janee’s intense and theatrical facial expressions and Naseem really left it all on stage (the pictures will prove it). If anything, I would have liked to hear a little more banter and background information about the songs because that’s really something I’m looking for at a show.

George Hall and Nick Balkin of Kingsley Flood

George Hall and Nick Balkin of Kingsley Flood

Jenée Morgan Force and Chris Barrett of Kingsley Flood

Jenée Morgan Force and Chris Barrett of Kingsley Flood

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Naseem Khuri on lead vocals

I loved Jenée's intense facial expressions

I loved Jenée’s intense facial expressions

Naseem totally went for it

Naseem totally went for it

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Travis Richter on drums is back there

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Something I remembered seeing this summer that I think is very much worth sharing is that Kingsley Flood’s creative video for “Sun Gonna Lemme Shine” landed them a feature on the Huffington Post because it featured a little boy wearing a dress. Definitely check out the story and the video.

Brooklyn’s Lucius took the stage after a long break. I was immediately reminded of their unique 60s vintage style. I was so taken by all of the colors on stage that I ended up with hundreds more photos than I normally take at a show. It took forever (okay, a few days) to decide what photos to share in this post. I love context, so check out this New York Times interview with Jess and Holly of Lucius.

Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius

Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius

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I was looking through my notes from the show and I essentially wrote the title of every song they played with a heart next to each one. My concert buddy Colin joined me for the show and I kept looking back at him to see his reaction. He was totally on board. I also met Megan in the front row who was such a dear. I love shows that bring good people together, and this was one of those nights.

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I love this sequence of photos and their playful facial expressions!

I love this sequence of photos and Holly and Jess’s playful facial expressions!

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Lucius played a stellar, superb, strong set. I cannot say enough about the power and perfection of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig’s harmonies. I’m a big fan of “Don’t Just Sit There” and “Genevieve.” I really, really LOVED “How Loud Your Love Gets.” “Go Home” really shined, too. In my notes next to “Go Home” I wrote love, love, love!!!! So I guess I loved it?! Lucius wrapped their poppy set with “Wildewoman.” The crowd was so into their set from start to finish. From my vantage point, people were singing along—every single word. Drummer Dan Molad was so moved by our enthusiasm that he literally shouted out to us during the song with a huge smile on his face. This was one of those rare shows where a band said very little but I still felt like I knew them. Their music is a bit transcendent in that way.

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The crowd roared for an encore and Lucius happily obliged. Jess smiled and told us “you guys are too cute. You’re amazing.” I appreciated the joy of the audience and Lucius felt it, too. Heck, they created it. They sang “Turn It Around” for us, which is another of my favorite Lucius songs. I may or may not have been watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (an off and on guilty pleasure) sometime last season and heard “Turn It Around” as the opening song. Just as I thought they were going to say goodnight, Lucius stepped off stage and stood on milk crates that the bar dragged over for them to stand on in the center of the room and wowed with “Two Of Us On The Run” completely unplugged. They thanked us and said we’d made them feel at home. They left us with a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Goodbye” from the floor, a perfect way to say, well, goodbye. See Lucius live. I’m a teacher, so I can give you homework.

xo,

bree

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An encore from the floor

An encore from the floor

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The Devil Makes Three with Shakey Graves

Saturday, November 23, 2013

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

I was so pumped for this show. I’ve been listening to country singer-songwriter Shakey Graves for a while now. I am not at all embarrassed to say that I first recognized Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) from his role as “The Swede,” Julie’s summer crush at the pool on Friday Night Lights. That show was brilliant. Austin, Texas’ Shakey Graves (click here to learn of the origin of the moniker) is truly a one-man band. He has a beautifully raspy, yet perfectly clear voice. He masterfully plays finger picked electric guitar and percusses along with a kick drum fashioned out of an old suitcase all at once. I can’t successfully chew gum and walk at the same time, yet he can do all that. Color me impressed. Shakey Graves was super live. He has clearly developed his chops onstage and was at total ease and put on a great show. He joked that Maine’s like Texas because we like our beer and have guns in Maine, too. But, he added, Mainers can handle the cold better. He said he’d been to Maine before, but this was his first show here. I ran into some friends from Portland’s first-ever adult kickball league I played in, and my friend Paulie said about Shakey Graves, “He sure does make a lot of noise for one guy.” Yep. Really good noise. I promise. Listen to “Roll the Bones.” It will leave you wanting more.

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

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The Devil Makes Three is a bluegrass/rockabilly/Americana (wow, that was hard) trio out of Brattleboro, Vermont that had a loyal following in a very crowded State Theatre. I am quite used to seeing lots of bearded flannel-wearing men at shows in Maine, but this show took it to a new level. There was, however, the addition of a lot more folks in tie-dye with dread locks at this show. Everyone is clearly welcome at a TDM3 show—their music is diverse and appeals to a wide audience. I haven’t been around such a happy, dancing bunch at a show in a long while.

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Cooper McBean, Pete Bernhard, and Lucia Turino are The Devil Makes Three

Cooper McBean, Pete Bernhard, and Lucia Turino are The Devil Makes Three

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Pete Bernhard (guitar/lead vocals), Cooper McBean (guitar/banjo), and Lucia Turino (upright bass) of The Devil Makes Three are obviously great friends and have been playing together for a long while. I loved their energy on stage and the sideways smiles they sent to one another. They clearly love what they do, and that means something to the audience.

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According to their website, TDM3’s most recent album, I’m A Stranger Here, is “part heartbreak songs and part barnburners.” I totally agree. People in the crowd were bouncing around dancing during the beginning of their set and I was impressed to see so much dancing even though there was no percussionist on stage. TDM3’s sound was so rhythmic that I didn’t really notice the absence of a percussionist until after the show.

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"A Moment's Rest"

“A Moment’s Rest”

I particularly liked “The Bullet.” I appreciated Cooper’s tribute to Woody Guthrie when he pulled out his banjo that had “This machine annoys fascists” written in marker on the face. “Spinning Like a Top” stood out, too. They covered Doc Watson’s “Walk On Boy.” “Hallelu” was fun.  I noticed that I preferred (and this comes as no surprise as I love an acoustic singer-songwriter sound) TDM3’s “heartbreak songs.” The rest of the crowd, I think, preferred the barnburners. I loved when they pulled one of the guys from their road crew out on stage to play fiddle on “A Moment’s Rest.” TDM3 played a solid set and I particularly loved their great harmonies. A good time was definitely had by all. While we were all dancing inside, Mother Earth was busy outside snowing for the first time this season. It was an extra long drive home on slippery roads, but worth the drive.

xo,

bree

First real snow of the season!

First real snow of the season!

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