Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ryan Montbleau and Jesse Dee

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I’d somehow never seen Ryan Montbleau live.  I’d come close a few times, too—just missing his set at music festivals more than once. I signed up to win tickets from 98.9 WCLZ for this show and won, and so I emailed Ryan and asked if I could photograh the show, which he and his team kindly allowed. I ran into my friends Jason and Sarah when I got to Port City Music Hall, and my new Gardiner neighbor Ari and her friend Jess joined me up front for a bit of the show, too.

I liked Boston’s Jesse Dee. He didn’t say much to us during his set, but he and his electric guitar were a lovely pair onstage. I kept hearing Rickie Lee Jones’ “Chuck E.’s In Love” in his songs. Jess said he reminded her a bit of Martin Sexton. Check out “Boundary Line” and “Slow Down” to get a taste of his soulful sound.

Jesse Dee

Jesse Dee

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I ended up in a nice pocket of concert goers for this show, which is always a real plus. I snuck over to the middle of the crowd to take some photos, and people gladly moved aside to let me in. A woman standing next to me asked if I’d seen Ryan before and excitedly checked back in with me later to see if I liked him. Such nice folks at this show! I think I’d expected Ryan to be an acoustic singer-songwriter, but he arrived as a nine-piece band (including two female singers and guys on keys, drums, percussion, trombone, saxophone, and bass) with a far funkier sound than I’d expected. Sometimes it’s nice to see a band whose music I don’t know so I can put my notebook down and just dance. Thanks for a fun night! Oh! And Ryan’s team recorded the show and you can see the whole thing here! Check out my photos of Ryan and the band below.

xo,

bree

Ryan Montbleau

Ryan Montbleau

Loved this choreography

Loved this choreography

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Is this exactly the outfit Ryan Gosling wore in The Notebook?!

Is this exactly the outfit Ryan Gosling wore in The Notebook?!

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This sweet guy saw me taking photos and insisted I get in one since I have essentially not a single photo of myself at a show. That's his nice friend on the right.

This sweet guy saw me taking photos and insisted I get in one since we have so few photos of ourselves at shows. That’s his nice friend on the right.

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Hollerfest 2: Darlingside, The Ballroom Thieves, and The Ghost of Paul Revere

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Strand Theatre, Rockland, Maine

I was really excited when I saw the lineup for Hollerfest 2. Darlingside and The Ballroom Thieves, both Massachusetts-based bands with strong ties to Maine, are both on my short list of favorite live bands. Add the promise of seeing them play with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, especially when I’m such a sucker for stringed instruments, and I was pumped. My friend Colin and I both skipped seeing insanely talented Lake Street Dive at The State Theatre in Portland to catch this show. It seemed like more bang for the buck and Colin’s a big Ghost of Paul Revere fan, too. I beat Colin to The Strand in Rockland and grabbed front row center seats for us.

I’ve written about Darlingside a bunch now. This “string rock quartet” is the real deal. I love that they perform huddled together around a single microphone and are gifted instrumentalists and vocalists. Their harmonies have such strength—surely a result of many years living and playing together. Don Mitchell (guitar), Auyon Mukharji (violin/mandolin), David Senft (guitar), and Harris Paseltiner (cello) are such a pleasure to watch live. They joked with the crowd in between songs and seemed genuinely excited to play with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, especially since Harris and Auyon played in orchestras growing up.

Don Mitchell, David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner of Darlingside

Don Mitchell, David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner of Darlingside

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They joked that “My Love” is a musical guide for how not to behave in a relationship. It’s one of my favorite Darlingside songs. They told us that “Whippoorwill” was about how great childhood was before fully processing how “uncool they’d been due to lack of youth orchestra.” Auyon kept the laughs going by introducing the band to us with fun facts about everyone’s eating habits while on the road.

They played one of my favorites, “Sweet and Low,” next and then welcomed the MYRO and their director Kevin Oats to the stage. They told us that the orchestra had done all of the work—all Darlingside had done was pick a couple of songs and MYRO director Kevin Oats arranged and taught them. They played two songs together—“The Ancestor” and “Blow the House Down.” The guys from Darlingside were all smiles during both songs and kept looking at the orchestra behind them—clearly tickled about how cool it was to be backed by a talented orchestra. Don joked that he often imagined an orchestra playing behind him in everyday life, but that the MYRO was much better. Auyon said to blame the MYRO if they were actually too awesome and actually did “blow the house down.” It was AWESOME to see the MYRO with Darlingside. All of my regrets about quitting violin after one year playing when I was in third grade came flooding back to me!

Darlingside with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

Darlingside with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

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The Ballroom Thieves took the stage next and played a few songs I hadn’t heard live before—“Carolina” (?) and “Wild Woman.” Devin Mauch (percussion), Martin Earley (guitar), and Calin Peters (cello) were spot on. Their driving, percussive sound with strong harmonies was such a treat to witness after not having seen them play live since April. They played “Bullet,” which they said “killed in the South”—a relief because they’d been getting blank stares up until they played that song that southerners could relate to. They gave a shout out to Paul on sound who’d run sound for an opera at The Strand earlier in the day before doing sound for three bands and an entire orchestra.

The Ballroom Thieves: Martin Earley (guitar), Devin Mauch (percussion), and Calin Peters (cello)

The Ballroom Thieves: Martin Earley (guitar), Devin Mauch (percussion), and Calin Peters (cello)

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I loved hearing Calin on lead vocals for “Bury Me Smiling.” They did their own cute band introductions, as well. I really liked “Here I Stand.” They brought the MYRO to the stage to play “Archers” with them and told us that the orchestra had literally done all the work. Thieves—when do you have new music coming out? I am so ready to have my hands on this newer music to jam to during my morning commute!

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The Ballroom Thieves with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

The Ballroom Thieves with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

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The Ghost of Paul Revere came to the stage and I was really looking forward to having the chance to sit down and listen to their lyrics because I hadn’t seen them in a sit down venue for almost a year and a half. Griffin Sherry talked about being really excited to play with the MYRO and Shawn McCarthy joked that he was nervous because the MYRO are “all better than we are.” I think they played a song or two (I’m still pretty unfamiliar with their music, thus my excitement for this show) before Shawn invited people to get up and dance. A happy bunch of dancers made their way to the stage, inches from me in my front row seat. What that meant for me was that I couldn’t see the band anymore even though I was sitting feet from them front and center. I was so frustrated about having to watch people shaking their butts in my face and blocking my view that I ended up leaving after a couple more songs. My suggestion from a concert goer’s perspective for any live band is that if it’s a sit down venue, then the show is a sit down show. If you want people to be up and dancing, that’s what bars and other non-seated venues are for. I was super disappointed.

The Ghost of Paul Revere

The Ghost of Paul Revere

My obstructed front row "view" of the show after the second song :(

My obstructed front row “view” of the show after the second song 😦

On the plus side, I did run into Don from Darlingside on my way out and we got to catch up a bit. I’m already looking forward to seeing them again. What talent. A mixed bag of a night, but great to see two of my favorite live bands play with the talented Maine Youth Rock Orchestra!

xo,

bree

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Carbon Leaf with Tall Heights

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

What a fun night! I held baby Isabelle for a while after school, and then picked up Megan for an adventurous evening celebrating our Friendiversary! We met six happy years ago at Bowdoin College’s amazing annual Thanksgiving dinner. We stopped by the Maine Tweetup at Glass Lounge in the Old Port’s new Hyatt Place hotel for a bit, and then had a scrumptious dinner at Empire before heading over to Port City Music Hall for the show.

Friendiversary!

Friendiversary!

I was surprised by how big the crowd was when we arrived, but I had a press pass and was able to snag a spot just behind the barricade adjacent to the stage with room for Megan, too. We were excited to see our Carbon Leaf friend Stacey very nearby with her husband Don. It’s always great to see them for a Carbon Leaf show and Stacey and I haven’t missed a single Maine Carbon Leaf appearance together since we met at a Carbon Leaf show at Port City in 2009.

Megan, Sarah, Me, Barry from Carbon Leaf, and Stacey at Port City in 2009

Megan, Sarah, Me, Barry from Carbon Leaf, and Stacey at Port City in 2009

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I’d seen Tall Heights back in May of 2013 with Tricky Britches and The Ghost of Paul Revere at One Longfellow Square in Portland and was looking forward to seeing them again. Boston-based folk duo Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello impressed again with their flawless harmonies and engaging stage presence. I particularly liked “Eastern Standard Time” and “I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know.” Tim told us that Paul had just jumped into the Atlantic Ocean in Beverly, Massachusetts to celebrate his recent birthday, and Paul told us it was similarly cold in Maine while pointing out the winter hat Tim was wearing on stage. Their cover of “Yesterday” was really quite pretty, as well. Check out this story about Tall Heights’ background (including their extensive busking experience) and this live recording of “Running of the Bulls” filmed by Boston’s Sofar Sounds.

Tall Heights: Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello

Tall Heights: Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello

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Virginia’s Carbon Leaf took the stage as an enthusiastic crowd cheered them on. Lead singer Barry Privett welcome us and they launched right into songs played frequently over the years on 98.9 WCLZ including “Life Less Ordinary” and “What About Everything?” There were lots of folks in the crowd singing along to all of the songs all night long. “Desperation Song” was a big hit with Barry on penny whistle. Carter Gravatt debuted a new guitar that sounded great and Barry joked that if Carter sold half his gear the band could retire tomorrow.

Carbon Leaf's Barry Privett

Carbon Leaf’s Barry Privett

Terry Clark

Terry Clark

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Jon Markel

Jon Markel

Jason Neal

Jason Neal

Carter Gravatt

Carter Gravatt

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Barry and Carter were joined by the rest of their bandmates—Terry Clark (guitar), Jon Markel (bass), and Jason Neal (drums)—around a single microphone to sing a handful of songs, including a couple a cappella. Their harmonies are incredible—clearly the product of nearly twenty years playing together. Barry told us about their newest independently released album, Constellation Prize, and the re-release of their 2004 album Indian Summer, which had been the property of their former record label, but now belongs to them in the form of Indian Summer Revisited, which inspired their current 50 city tour.

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The guy running stage security was particularly nice and even offered to create a path for me to get to the center of the room so I could take photos from another angle. I turned down his very kind offer, but took my camera and ventured over to the center of the room. I couldn’t believe how great everyone in the crowd was! It’s been a while since the crowd at a show was so lovely. People literally moved out of my way with smiles on their faces like I was Moses parting the sea. Even the guy standing front and center at the stage gladly moved aside to let me in to take a few shots. Maybe the crowd was so wonderfully kind and easy going because the guys in Carbon Leaf are down to earth and friendly themselves? Just a hypothesis.

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Barry told us that we could take home a recording of that night’s show on USB (which is an awesome idea that I wish more bands would borrow). He told us about the music festival they curate at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, Virginia called Carbon Leaf’s Ragtime Carnival in May (in case anyone’s up for a road trip). The guys gave a shout out to WCLZ for always supporting them and for sponsoring the show and a Studio Z earlier in the day. They wrapped up the evening’s encore with one of my very favorites, “Let Your Troubles Roll By,” which was the last song I heard live in 2013 at my last Carbon Leaf show. Energized by the show, Megan and I turned to leave, and I ran into my cousin Jake on the way out, which was a big bonus! Megan was so enthused by the show that she spent part of the ride home downloading more Carbon Leaf music. She was especially taken with “The War Was in Color” during the show and downloaded a couple of versions as we talked about how much fun we had. We’re already excited for our next Carbon Leaf show! Thanks, guys! (Check out more pictures below!)

xo,

bree

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