Max Garcia Conover and Friends

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lion’s Pride, Brunswick, Maine

Portland’s Max Garcia Conover is playing a couple of weekly shows, and he’s bringing his friends. MGC plays Mondays at Flask Lounge in Portland from 6-8 PM and Fridays at Lion’s Pride in Brunswick from 9-11 PM.

What a delightful Friday. We gave midterm exams at school for half the day. A bunch of us gathered to grade exams together in Dennis’ room in the afternoon—he has a classroom with windows in our predominantly windowless school. My boyfriend Jeff texted to say that he had an unexpected night off and could join a growing group of us for a dessert gathering and then Max’s first Lion’s Pride Friday night show! I was so excited!

Jeff and I had dinner at Bangkok Garden and one of my seniors was our server. She was excited to see me out on date night and told me she very much approved when Jeff was out of earshot. We picked up Will and headed over to Chris and Courtney’s for delicious treats and some time to catch up with friends before heading over to Max’s show.

An impromptu idea to rally the group for Max’s first Friday night show at Lion’s Pride was wildly successful. By the middle of his first set, the room was completely full with at least twenty of us—including most of the teachers in our friend group who decided to rally for Max late on a Friday night. I hadn’t seen Max play in a few months, not since he opened for David Berkeley back in November at One Longfellow Square. It was great to hear him sing the songs that I play on repeat while I’m driving or grading—like “Thatch House” and “The Creek Woman Poet” from Birches Lo.

Max Garcia Conover

Max Garcia Conover

IMG_6416 IMG_6423

Max claims to hate sing-alongs because they can be super awkward, but he always makes us do them anyway. We stood and belted “Honey, we’ve been trying…” during our audience participation part on “The Start of Fables” and it felt really good to be awake that late on a Friday night and singing with a room full of good friends. I liked Max’s new song, “Home,” and the idea behind it—that we think the place we grew up in is really lame until we leave and come back (I haven’t had that moment yet, but I grew up in Bangor).

Singing along with MGC

Singing along with MGC

Max said he is thinking of these weekly shows as a curator might, and that he hopes to bring friends to the mic every week. Sammie Francis and her new husband (!), Max Taylor, did a couple of songs. Our dear friend Brady joined Max on The Avett Brothers’ “Murder In The City.” I love Max’s story about meeting Jim Avett (the Brothers’ dad) at The Great Blue Heron Music Festival, but I’ll let you hear that story for yourself some week.

Sammie Francis and Max Taylor

Sammie Francis and Max Taylor

Brady and Max

Brady and Max

Max gave a lovely introduction about his teacher and music mentor, Ken Templeton. Ken and I graduated from Bowdoin together and he is someone I love running into so we can catch up about the bands we’re currently listening to and whatever Daytrotter session we last fell in love with. Ken took the stage and said that his professor Pete Coviello said that that best teachers teach kids how to love something and he was happy to have done that with music for Max.  Ken said he was so taken with The Lone Bellow (I will take full credit for introducing y’all to them) when we saw them together in November, that he decided to play “Watch Over Us.” I hadn’t heard Ken play in AGES and I was floored by his power. I was so stunned that I forgot to clap when he finished the song, too! Amazing, Ken!

Ken Templeton

Ken Templeton

Max sent the tip jar around and joked that if you claim deductions on your taxes for musical equipment because music is your profession but that you don’t make any money at it, then the IRS demotes it to “hobby.” He called his fiancée, the lovely and talented Sophie Nelson, up to the mic to sing “You’re the Farthest I Go.” (They did a great Damien Jurado cover together earlier in the evening, too). That new song is so very sweet and Max and Sophie sound great together.

Sophie and Max

Sophie and Max

Here are some things I was reminded of Friday at Max’s show:

1. 9-11 PM doesn’t feel as late if you’re surrounded by friends.

2. Be ready to sing along.

3. Don’t be the person who doesn’t have any cash for the tip jar.

4. These friends are the best anyone could ask for. We filled the room to support Max, as always.

Come out some week and join us.



PS—Max gave out copies of his first full-length album, Burrow, at Lion’s Pride. Jeff and I listened to it in the car on Saturday and Jeff’s youngest son, Max, was already singing along to it by Sunday morning.

I love this blurry picture I snapped of Max at the end of the night.

I love this blurry picture I snapped of Max at the end of the night.

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