Monthly Archives: July 2014

Max Garcia Conover

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

This was one of those perfect summer days. I had a glorious day at camp on Highland Lake with my dear friend Eric who I only see a couple of times a year because he’s the principal of a charter elementary school in Newark, New Jersey and doesn’t make it home to Maine nearly enough. He’s one of those great friends that you can pick right up where you left off with, which is a true gift. He packed up to head off to the airport and I made my way over to LFK to meet friends for drinks and dinner before Max’s show. I was thrilled to run into former student and truly talented singer-songwriter Genevieve Beaudoin as she walked by with Kate on their way to see Ryan Adams (who I heard was fantastic). Our crew eventually made our way over to One Longfellow Square to see our dear friend Max Garcia Conover as part of OLS’s Live and Local series.

A perfect day at Highland Lake!

A perfect day at Highland Lake!

We’d already taken baby Mira to her first concert (Josh Ritter at L.L. Bean), but this was her first time seeing Uncle Max live (she’d heard him in utero). That sweet baby has already seen two concerts in her first eight weeks on earth! Check out the sweet picture of her and Ellie. Mira was engrossed during Max’s set. Excellent taste, Mira!

Ellie and Mira

Ellie and Mira

Max Garcia Conover

Max Garcia Conover

Max is increasingly more comfortable interacting with the crowd when he’s on stage. He told us that he’s been busking a lot this summer and he wears a hat pulled down over his brow and plays long instrumental pieces while people mostly walk right by. Recently, he felt someone stop to listen, so he changed up the song to make the piece more interesting. When he finished the song, he looked up and the person he thought he was playing for was actually a post. He thanked us for being an actual human audience.

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Max is heading out in September with his wife Sophie and their dog Arlo in their tiny RV on a cross-country tour to support his upcoming album, Ellery. He told us that the songs he played for us that night was an effort to sort of put them to bed in anticipation of the new album. He played “The Wedding Line” (one of my favorites from Burrow) for his sister Kiah. I’d never heard Max play “Teem” (the opening song on Burrow) live. It’s a lovely instrumental piece that requires special tuning and is quite complicated to play. Max introduced the song by saying that his fabulous producer for Ellery, Ben Cosgrove, is so insanely talented that when he came to play a song-swapping show with Max, he played “Teem” from memory (after just listening to it on the car ride up from Boston)—and Max said Ben played it way better, too. Max is humble, which is something to love about him, but he plays a mean guitar. His fingerpicking is genuinely impressive.

Max unplugged

Max unplugged

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Max will have his Ellery CD release show at Mayo Street Arts on Friday, September 12 before heading out on tour. Max unplugged and came down into the crowd to wrap his set with “As Much a Rising Sun as a Setting One,” which is one of my favorites so I hope he’s not really planning to retire it. We sang along and it was a great end to a lovely evening. Max’s set wrapped about 10PM, so most of us pooped out before Clara Junken and Builder of the House. I like that OLS is doing these local shows every Tuesday this summer. You should definitely check them out! And the shows are only $5! Win!

xo,

bree

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The Lone Bellow

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

South Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The Lone Bellow is my favorite band and I nearly missed the chance to see them play just a couple of hours from home! My dear friend Ken asked me when I saw him at Josh Ritter’s show on July 12th if I was planning to see The Lone Bellow as part of the Prescott Park Concert Series in Portsmouth a few days later. It hadn’t been on my radar, so Ken gets a gold star! Thanks, Ken! I taught at Upward Bound at Bowdoin College on Wednesday morning, had a great lunch with my good friend Sarah, and then headed south to Portsmouth to be in line early so I could get a good spot for the show. Since there was rain in the forecast, Prescott Park Arts worked feverishly to move the show inside to the beautiful South Church on Main Street in downtown Portsmouth. I found a fantastic parking spot just across a parking lot from the church and saw a small group of people gathered on the stairs when I got there. As I stepped out of my car I could hear the sweet sounds of The Lone Bellow’s sound check! The doors to the sanctuary were open, and it was quite a treat to get to hear them play for a bit!

South Church from my parking spot

South Church from my parking spot

I grabbed a spot in line and waited for the doors to open at 5. Since I’m not a Prescott Park Arts Festival member and hadn’t paid for their “reserve a blanket” program (since I’d figured we’d be outside and I’d get there many hours early), my seating choices (even though I was one of the first ten people inside) were limited to seats that weren’t front and center. You won’t be surprised if you’re a regular reader to know that I actually tested out the view from many seats before settling on an elevated section of seating stage left about six pews back in order to see the faces of everyone in the band. I read my friend Sarah’s dad’s new book of poetry for a while and was eventually joined by Mary (a Kindergarten teacher!) and then her husband Henry who told me about their son and his band in Maine. My concert friend Colin eventually joined me for the show and even brought me some snacks since I’d skipped dinner to get our seats. Thanks, Colin!

South Church is lovely

South Church is lovely

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A good read!

A good read!

Thanks for dinner, Colin! You're a lifesaver!

Thanks for dinner, Colin! You’re a lifesaver!

Baby's first concert?!

Baby’s first concert?!

The church was packed by show time. The temperature quickly rose and only got hotter when The Lone Bellow took the stage. The last time I’d seen The Lone Bellowwas back in February at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, and the fans they’d earned that night were back out in full force and had all brought friends. The Lone Bellow was introduced by Rita Carey from 92.5 The River and they got a standing ovation as they approached the stage. I don’t know if I’ve seen a standing O to start a show! It was abundantly clear that this crowd was jazzed and ready for a great night. I had a moment of pause as the show started and Zach sang the opening lyrics of the night—“I let you go/Hope you come back to me”—because their music is visceral and I am going through a break up and wondered if I’d get “all kinds of emotional” during the show. I’m happy (and a little surprised) to report that I made it and was pretty giddy for the rest of the night. In fact, I don’t think I had a conscious thought about anything other than the show for the duration. The Lone Bellow, well, they’ll cure what ails you. There is not another band out there right now that puts on the live show that The Lone Bellow does. They do not hold anything back. It is beyond a pleasure to see them live and I’d go see them night after night if I could.

The Lone Bellow!

The Lone Bellow!

The view from my seat

The view from my seat

Balcony view

Balcony view

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Front row view

Front row view

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Colin kept track of the night’s set list and posted it on setlist.fm:

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Everyone was up on their feet clapping during “Green Eyes and Heart of Gold.” I’ve always described seeing The Lone Bellow as a spiritual experience and have said that their show feels like going to a revival, but this venue took that feeling to a whole new level! I was over the moon when Zach, Brian, and Kanene unplugged and walked to the center of the room (in line with my seat) to play “Watch Over Us” and “Two Sides of Lonely” acoustically. Both were breathtaking. Their passion is palpable. You could have heard a pin drop in the room.

Everyone on their feet for "Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold"

Everyone on their feet for “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold”

Gorgeous light

Gorgeous light

Getting ready for "Watch Over Us"

Getting ready for “Watch Over Us”

This sequence of photos is my favorite from the night. Look at that passion. They give 110%.

This sequence of photos is my favorite from the night. Look at that passion. They give 110%.

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The crowd roared as Zach, Brian, and Kanene head back to the stage to play another of my favorites, “Tree To Grow,” which included some audience participation during the “a tree I’ll grow to let you know my love is older than my soul” refrain. After we belted out the “ba ba das” during “Bleeding Out,” Zach checked in with us to see if anyone had fainted or needed water. It was very sweet. They played their radio hit “You Never Need Nobody” next and then let us know that they’re recording their sophomore album with Aaron Dessner from The National and hope to have it out in January. Zach joked that they’d recorded 19 songs but could only afford to put 13 on the new album. I learned at their last show that their self-titled debut album was funded as a Kickstarter project. Lucky us that the project got funded, right!? Zach also joked about their drummer Brian’s hobbies and let us know that both he and their tour manager were single and looking. They wrapped their incredible set with “The One You Should Have Let Go” and left the stage as the crowd genuinely went wild.

The band came back to the stage and thanked us profusely for a beautiful night before playing their cover of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ “Islands in the Stream.” Zach, Brian, and Kanene unplugged and went back to the center of the room to play “Teach Me to Know” standing on a pew surrounded by thrilled onlookers. The crowd joyfully joined them during the “carried away” refrain and we sang it over and over again, (I think) hoping to make the night last as long as possible. What a beautiful evening of heart-wrenching, hopeful music from some of the most gifted, enthusiastic, giving musicians you could possibly see live. Thank you to everyone who made this very special evening possible!

xo,

bree

P.S.—In case you need more convincing, check out The Lone Bellow’s full show at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston that Front Row Boston just debuted. You will surely be impressed, and sad you missed it live!

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Josh Ritter

Saturday, July 12, 2014

L.L.Bean, Freeport, Maine

I hadn’t seen a show in almost two months (anyone else feel like concert offerings this spring were slim?), so when our friend Bartlett sent a group email invite to join him for Josh Ritter at L.L.Bean, I decided to go for it even though I usually boycott those shows. (I really wish L.L.Bean would build an amphitheater worthy of the great artists they bring to Freeport). Of course, in true Bartlett fashion, he was the last one to join us before the show for a group dinner at Grittys. Michelle has been housesitting in Freeport, so she went at midnight to set up a blanket for the group and got us as good a spot as is possible at an L.L.Bean show. As we arrived at our awesome spot (thanks, Michelle!), students of mine at an adjacent blanket chimed “Hi, Ms. Candland!” in unison—it was nice to see you, girls! AH! I almost missed the most important detail of the entire night—this was almost six-week-old Mira’s FIRST CONCERT!

Mira's first concert!

Mira’s first concert!

Most of the gang had never seen Josh Ritter, but wanted to see him because we know that our dear friend and gifted singer songwriter Max Garcia Conover (who sadly couldn’t make it due to car trouble) credits Josh as one of his strongest musical influences. Josh Ritter is always a pleasure to see live. I don’t there’s a person happier to be on stage performing than he is—Josh is most often seen smiling from ear to ear. There’s something nice about being around that kind of joy that makes me go back to Josh’s shows time after time. My friend Grace was also excited to be working that night—her sign language interpreting during the show was a blast to watch!

This is the best view a blanket set out at midnight will get you at an L.L.Bean show.

This is the best view a blanket set out at midnight will get you at an L.L.Bean show.

Max Garcia Conover and Josh Ritter. May 2013. Courtesy of Chris Bartlett.

Max Garcia Conover and Josh Ritter. May 2013. Courtesy of Chris Bartlett.

Grace was so expressive!

Grace was so expressive!

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“Hopeful” was the first song of the night and it’s one of my favorites. Josh talked about how thrilled he was to be playing with his fabulous band and it was great to see those familiar faces on stage, too. Multi-talented Austin Nevins is incredibly gifted on guitar (here’s my post from a show Austin played with Dietrich Strause and Max). Sam Kassirer not only plays keys with Josh, but also produces amazing music from the likes of Josh, David Wax Museum, and Lake Street Dive at The Great North Sound Society in rural Parsonfield, Maine.

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“Here at the Right Time” and “Change of Time” were both lovely. Josh joked about being from Idaho, who are a “proud seafaring people” from the banks of ancient Lake Idaho. I took a peek behind me and noticed my dear friend Ken and his kiddo Liam dancing and singing along. I ran over to join them for a “Kathleen” sing-a-long.

The view from the dancing section.

The view from the dancing section.

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These two.

These two.

Josh talked about how much he loves Maine and said that he’s not allowed near sharp objects during recording sessions (at Sam’s place in Parsonfield) because it often ends badly. During a recording session, he opened a can of beans and cut himself badly enough that he needed medical attention, and instead of driving the hour to the nearest hospital, a kind veterinarian sewed him back together. Sounds like a perfectly Maine scenario to me. They wrapped their set with another of my top favorites, “Joy To You Baby,” which particularly resonated with me as a recently brokenhearted single person–“There’s pain in whatever/We stumble upon/If I never had met you/You couldn’t have gone/But then I couldn’t have met you/We couldn’t have been/I guess it all adds up/To joy to the end.” It’s easier hearing wisdom about love and loss come from Josh’s beaming face, somehow.

They said goodnight, but came back to serenade us with “The Temptation of Adam” and to rock out on “To the Dogs or Whoever.” My friend Colin (who I met because of whatbreesees.com–lucky me!) posted a set list from the night on setlist.fm (in case you’re curious about what you missed). So glad for a much needed night out with good friends and good music.

xo,

bree

 

Thanks, Colin!

Thanks, Colin!

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Ellis Paul

Friday, May 16, 2014

Johnson Hall, Gardiner, Maine

I’d submitted my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards recertification portfolio earlier in the day after months of work and decided to treat myself to my 42nd Ellis Paul show not even half a mile from my house at Johnson Hall in downtown Gardiner. Johnson Hall has had quite a successful year led by new director Mike Miclon.  My dear friend Megan joined me, and since I’d just seen Ellis two months earlier, she agreed to write the show recap. Megan is also a fourth year PsyD graduate student and the incredibly creative mastermind behind Pencil Events (and this is wedding season), so I suspect her post will come in time (update on 1/14/15–or never, apparently!). My sweetie called just before the show to tell me he’d gone home sick and he sounded terrible, so I was worried and distracted. I offered to leave right then to go take care of him, but he insisted I stay and come later (which I did, laden with Gatorade, chicken soup, and crackers). Ellis chatted with us a lot that night. He’d just had his beautiful guitar, Guinness, severely damaged by an airline and was working on a commencement speech and alma mater song for the University of Maine at Presque Isle that he’d be debuting the next day. You can read his speech here. Ellis wowed the audience, as always, and even graciously came over to say hello after the show. Always looking forward to my next Ellis show.

xo,

bree

Ellis Paul

Ellis Paul

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An unplugged encore

An unplugged encore

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