Monthly Archives: May 2016

Basia Bulat with Twin Limb

Sunday, April 3, 2016

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I’ve taken a very necessary break from blogging over the last few weeks. I’m in charge of all of the senior class events at my school and I’m selling my house and moving. It’s a crazy time in my life. I can’t remember a time I’ve been so busy!

I have fond memories of seeing Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat live early last month at One Longfellow Square. Basia came across my radar back in January of 2011, when I saw her Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. I’d seen Twin Limb open for Houndmouth back in September at Port City Music Hall, and I’d liked them and was looking forward to seeing them again, as well. Colin and I had just seen Darlingside a couple of nights earlier and he had another show to go to, so I went solo.

I was surprised and a bit disappointed to find that the bulk of the seats at One Longfellow were stacked and pushed to the sides when I arrived. I’ve seen it once before, for a bluegrass show where the band really thought people would want to dance. We didn’t. People helped themselves to the stacks of chairs and set up rows before that show even started. One Longfellow Square is a listening room with a mature audience (I am often one of the youngest people in the audience when I see shows there) and we’ve come to expect having seats in rows so we can sit close and enjoy the show comfortably. I asked one of the staff members and was told one of the bands (she didn’t know which) had asked that the chairs be cleared to create a dance floor. I’ve heard lots of Twin Limb and Basia Bulat music and, trust me, it’s not dance music. I was annoyed. What ended up happening is that people sat really far away from the stage in the few seats that were set up. It ruined the intimacy we’ve come to count on at OLS shows and I’d ask the well meaning folks there to really discourage the vast majority of bands from using this seating arrangement in the future. I watched Twin Limb’s set from one of the few seats in the corner of the room and couldn’t see any of their facial expressions (have I mentioned that I’m pretty significantly visually impaired?) and their set fell totally flat for me because of it even though I’d really enjoyed them six or so months earlier. I was grumpy. I considered going home.

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My crappy view of Twin Limb during their opening set. Please don’t set up the room this way, OLS!

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IMG_3440Basia Bulat came out to watch Twin Limb’s set, and she sat on the floor, front and center. Again, my belief is that people shouldn’t come to a show and have to sit on the floor to be respectful to those seated in the back and on the sides. That type of seating situation is a mess, because anyone who wants to be up front has to either stand in front of seated people and be a jerk or sit on the floor. It was really endearing that Basia was so cool and enjoyed the set from the floor. People in the crowd were definitely her fans—a nice couple initially sitting behind me had driven nine hours from Halifax to be at the show. They were giddy when she plopped down on the floor and went to join her. So, Basia was the one who broke the ice and got people closer to the stage. This was the turning point of the night and things started moving in a better direction.

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Basia Bulat is front and center enjoying Twin Limb’s set

I’d been sitting with Jen Dean, a Westbrook photographer whose friend was sick and had decided to also come to the show solo. Even when I go to a show alone, it never lasts long. She was a dear. Basia and her band took the stage. I’d heard her music and although I didn’t expect this, she made it perfectly swayable. She really worked the stage with high energy dancing and switching instruments (she plays guitar, autoharp, dulcimer, piano, ukulele, and charango—which is a South American ukulele-like instrument I had to Google) and interacting sweetly with the crowd. She is a natural born entertainer, and even though I would have preferred a seated show (I’m done with the rant now), she jumped off stage and danced with the swaying crowd and even gave Jen a turn on the dance floor. My grumpiness about the seats dissipated and I found myself swaying along.

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Basia took to the floor to dance with us

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I don’t know a single one of Basia’s song titles, but I was glad I got to see her live in such a tiny venue. I get the feeling that she’s going places, not just because so many folks in the audience knew every word of every one of her songs, but also because she dazzled on stage and made it a feel-good night. Her most recent album, Good Advice, was released earlier this year (check out her song “Fool”), and her tour schedule is packed. Definitely get out to see Basia Bulat live if she’s in your corner of the world.

xo,

bree

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Twin Limb joined Basia and her band for a song

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Darlingside with Haroula Rose

Friday, April 1, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

What an extraordinary April 1st! My dear friend gave birth to a beautiful (and surely brilliant) baby girl, I got to hold baby sheep and goats after school at a friend’s farm, and I finally got to see Darlingside again after an all-too-long break! (The last Darlingside show I caught was in late 2014, when they shared the stage with the wonderfully talented Maine Youth Rock Orchestra).

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I got to hold baby farm animals!

Darlingside is one of my favorite bands to see live. Think indie rock meets orchestra. “Grandpa” Don, the eldest band member (I learned during band introductions), emailed me to invite me to Darlingside’s show at One Longfellow Square back in 2012, and they stole my heart. Multi instrumentalists Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner, and Dave Senft are magnificently talented. Their perfect harmonies show how close they are and how long they’ve been making music together. They really sing with one voice, which is a real feat.

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From left to right, Darlingside is Don Mitchell, Dave Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner

IMG_3312IMG_3318Colin and I grabbed our favorite spot up front at Port City Music HallPort City Music Hall for the show, where we met Westbrook High School teachers Darcie and Erin. It’s always nice to find a pocket of real music lovers to share a show with. Don emerged from backstage and gave me a quick hug. He was trying to track down some missing equipment on stage. I joked with him that I was impressed he was still dealing with his own gear now that Darlingside has gotten so famous. He laughed, but they’ve had a really big year! Darlingside was featured in The New Yorker (in an article called “Harmonious,” no less), their song “The God of Loss” was named a Favorite Song of 2015 by NPR Music, and Folk Alliance International named them 2015 Artist of the Year. Well deserved!

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Haroula Rose

IMG_3282Haroula Rose took the stage alone to open the show—just her and a guitar. She told us that her name means “joy” in Greek, which she gets asked a lot. Her set was sparse and somber, and I respect that her songs are so personal. “Time’s Fool” is a song about love, and “The Leaving Song” is about loss. She told us that she couldn’t play that song for a long while, too. Haroula just released her sophomore album, Here the Blue River, and I particularly like “Songbird.”

Darlingside was flawless, as always. Their banter was hilarious and their songs crisp and inviting. Seeing them live is a real treat—without exception. They played a lot of their new album, Birds Say. They opened their set with “The God of Loss,” which is one of my favorites from the new record, but I was really glad to hear “My Love” and “Sweet and Low” from Pilot Machines, too. I think the song that surprised me most live was “Clay & Cast Iron,” which kind of took my break away. Come join me the next time Darlingside is in town. I’ll be front and center and you should be, too! More pictures below!

xo,

bree

P.S.—I just remembered that David Wax Museum co-headlined this show and I didn’t mention them at all! I think they’re super fun live, but their music just isn’t in my wheelhouse. I stayed and danced for a handful of songs, but didn’t recap their set above because I really don’t post about a band unless I see their whole set and/or fall in love.

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