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Mipso with Lula Wiles

Thursday, November 3, 2016

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I am usually disappointed when I see shows I want to go to are scheduled for Thursday nights, because it means I have to skip sparring and my women’s Brazilian jiu jitsu class (and my instructor is a beast and doesn’t like it when I’m absent), but I am mostly glad I made an exception for this show. I introduced my former advisee, Carmen, who is now a freshman at Bowdoin College, to Mipso, and she came to see them with me last time they were in town on Valentine’s Day. When Carmen told me she was planning to go and would save me a seat (which she fortunately was able to do), I decided to join her.

When I arrived at One Longfellow Square, I ran into Portland’s own Griffin Sherry of The Ghost of Paul Revere fame, and was able to catch up with him about their upcoming touring scheduled (which is plentiful). I found Carmen in the front row of what little seating existed, since the staff had pushed the seats to the side to create a dance floor (which the website did warn about, but I’d forgotten). OLS–please don’t do this limited seating thing. It’s awful. You’re a listening room, and that’s a wonderful thing. When you clear the room, you encourage people to stop listening. It has happened 100% of the time I’ve been to one of these “limited seating” shows. This night, there was a belligerent dude in a CrossFit t shirt who kept heckling the band and shouting over the music the whole show. I just don’t think people would be as inclined to act so inappropriately in a seated venue. He was super obnoxious. Also, the bands you’ve cleared the floor for (maybe at their request?) just aren’t bands you really can or would dance to, either.

Lula Wiles opened the show and they were delightful. Isa Burke and Ellie Buckland traded a fiddle and guitar back and forth and both sang their hearts out. I wouldn’t have known they were a trio if they hadn’t mentioned that their bass player Mali was missing that night. Isa’s little sister, Julianna, joined them on stage and sang Mali’s part for one song and was great, too. Check out “Losing Side.” Lula Wiles is the real deal, and I will definitely see them next time they’re in town.

Carmen and I traded raised eyebrows when our beloved Mipso took the stage with a drummer in tow. They’re a young bluegrass band from North Carolina with beautiful lyrics and harmonies, but the drums drowned them out and it changed the entire vibe for both of us. I theorized that they added a drummer because they play a lot in bars and could use the volume for those venues, but I was disappointed, whatever the reason. Their drummer (who is talented, just not necessary) left the stage about halfway through their set, much to our relief. It was nice to hear the Mipso we know and love and actually be able to hear the lyrics of the songs.

Lead singer Joseph Terrell (who has a stunningly clear voice) sang “When I’m Gone” for his grandmother, Eldora. I glanced over to the “dance floor” (where no one was dancing because this was not dance music) and saw my dear college friend, Ken Templeton, who was there to cover the show for Boston’s Red Line Roots (he didn’t take kindly to the drunk CrossFit guy, either). Since he’d never seen Mipso before, he wasn’t offended at all by the addition of a drummer like we were (which is to say, you will still like them if you’ve never heard them before). At the end of the night, Mipso invited Lula Wiles back to the stage and treated us to a great rendition of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” It was a delight to catch up with Griffin, Carmen, and Ken, and I was relieved that the obnoxious drunk guy wasn’t wearing a MMA shirt. #represent

xo,

bree

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David Ramirez

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I saw David Ramirez for the first time a year and a half ago opening for Shakey Graves at the State Theatre in Portland. I was drawn to him immediately and enjoyed the sparseness of a man with a guitar juxtaposed with the urgency and passion he demonstrated with his powerful, rich voice. I sadly missed him a year ago at One Longfellow Square (I had tickets, but unfortunately didn’t make it to the show), so was eager to see him again. Colin went to that show a year ago and David played with a full band, which just isn’t really how I want to see him (or so I told myself, since I missed him). I was very excited to learn that I’d be seeing his 2016 Bootleg Tour–just David and a guitar–and each show would be recorded and audience members would get a link to a download of the show the next day. Right up my alley. Add that this was at teeny, intimate One Longfellow Square, and I was pumped.

I got to see my dear friend Fiona who was visiting from Minneapolis after school and then drove down to meet Colin at OLS. He snagged us great seats in the second row and we took in the living room scene assembled on stage–an area lamp, table, some books, and framed picture of Billy Murray–that gave us the feeling of really being in David Ramirez’s living room.

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David Ramirez wowed with his incredibly powerful voice and honest lyrics. At some point in the show, it dawned on me that David is probably not the nicest guy in real life. There was a distracting woman sitting right behind us who responded loudly after each song. David would finish a song and she’d shout “yes!” (I forgot her other go-to responses) and then try to initiate a conversation with him in between songs. We get it,  you KNOW him! (WOW!) It was annoying, and I totally chuckled when David realized it was his friend in the crowd who kept making it about her (which it sadly became, at times). Etiquette tip–don’t be that girl. No one came to see you perform if you’re not the one on stage. When I said that to Colin after the show, he smiled at me and said “doesn’t he say as much in his songs?” Good point, Colin. I was especially glad to hear “The Bad Days” and “Harder to Lie” in person. 

I will say, though, that even though David’s songs and stage banter mostly make him seem like a guy struggling to feed his healthy ego, he ended his set with “Find the Light,” which was a welcome surprise and an about face from his general tone. The song starts with some warm wishes–“I wish upon you peace/I wish upon you grace/I wish for less of what you want and more of what you need.” I’m so glad I went, even if David Ramirez is probably not someone I’d want to chat with or go have a beer with after the show. His voice and songs are layered and beautiful. And we’re all just learning how to be ourselves anyhow, and he seems to do that with his music, which is a healthy way to grow, I think.

I just realized that Spotify has David providing commentary about every song on his newest album Fables, which is right up my alley! Going to go listen now.

xo,

bree

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Gardiner’s 7th Annual Swine & Stein Oktoberfest

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Water Street, Downtown Gardiner, Maine

I lived in Gardiner for a decade, but moved over the summer back to Brunswick to be closer to work. I really grew to love that sweet little town and miss it a lot. I was excited to spend the day in my former town at one of my favorite annual events, our seventh annual Swine & Stein Oktoberfest. Sponsored by the dedicated folks at Gardiner Main Street, it combines Maine beer, Maine pork, and live music from Maine artists. Add in a hilarious beard and mustache competition, a frozen t-shirt contest, butchering demonstrations, and a rock-paper-scissors competition, and you’ve got a great day. Swine & Stein is always wonderful, and this year, with warm temperatures and some sunshine, was no different.

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Beautiful downtown Gardiner, Maine

I was thrilled to be asked back as a local judge for the third annual Swine & Stein Beard and Mustache Competition, sponsored by Monkitree. It was ultimately the reason I got my concussed self (I hit my head a bit too hard during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a couple of days earlier) up to Gardiner even though I was feeling a little dazed. The men who compete are always smiling and come back from year to year and we have a great time.

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Nearly all of the competitors in the 3rd annual Swine & Stein Beard and Mustache Competition!

We were treated to talented musical acts on the main stage all day—Dominic Lavoie, Oktoberfest German Band, Gunther Brown, Tricky Britches, and The Scolded Dogs. Last year’s cool new additions to the schedule were both back—the “Beer U” tent hosted by Craft Beer Cellar and butchering demonstrations by Emery’s Meat and Produce. I ended up missing the 5th Annual Rock-Paper-Scissors Competition because I ran into old friends and we chatted through it. Next year. It’s one of my favorite things!

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make Swine & Stein a great day! Gardiner Main Street and all of the many, many volunteers I saw in bright orange t-shirts—you rock! See you next year! If you’d like to use one of my photos somehow, please give photo credit to Bree Candland of whatbreesees.com. Thank you!

xo,

bree

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Rachael Yamagata with Pressing Strings

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I have a lot of love for Rachael Yamagata. Her 2004 album, Happenstance, played on repeat in my car for a solid year. I saw her once in September of 2005 at my alma mater, so it had been over a decade since I’d seen her live. Now touring to support her new Tightrope Walker album, I was very excited to be able to see Rachael in Portland (much to the chagrin of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, whose class I had to skip to get to the show on time!).

I arrived at Port City Music Hall towards the end of opener Pressing Strings’ set. I don’t have much of a recollection of them two and a half weeks later, but I do remember they did a cover of “Going to California” that I thought was really good.

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Pressing Strings

Rachael Yamagata and her band took the stage to a small, but obviously loyal crowd. Rachael was a little under the weather, and had been encouraged not to talk too much between songs (which was clearly a struggle for her). I was thrilled to hear “Be Be Your Love” from Happenstance early in her set. It made my day. She told us that “I Don’t Want to Be Your Mother” was about her tendency to date men who need a lot of support, which women in the crowd near me chuckled and shared knowing glances about while Rachael introduced the song. I thought “Over” was great live. Rachael pushed her voice (I hope she was okay in the days that followed) and covered Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou,” which sounded lovely.

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Rachael Yamagata

Rachael’s band was great, too. Her drummer was leaving soon to tour with William Fitzsimmons (who I LOVE), Brandon Walters played bass and is in Lord Huron (seriously!), Michael Chavez on lead guitar has toured with Rachael forever, and Grammy nominated producer John Alagía played piano and guitar. Rachael was charming and open and her voice cuts right through.

Her last song, “Nobody,” is about “going for it” and she sampled Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in there, too, which was an unexpected, welcome surprise. The grateful audience cheered for an encore and Rachael came back and played “Elephants” solo. People in the crowd shouted out requests and Rachael seemed happy to hear them and tried to oblige. She also sang a song for local music maven Aimsel Ponti, who is a longtime Rachael fan and was also at the show. Aimsel also made my day by telling me that Rachael had recorded an entirely acoustic version of Happenstance that was for sale at the merch table. So Happenstance is happily back in my car on repeat, and it holds up beautifully, twelve whole years later! So glad I made it to this show!

xo,

bree

P.S.–Check out the video for “Let Me Be Your Girl”–written/directed by Josh Radnor and starring Allison Janney!

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Darlingside with The DuPont Brothers

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Portland House of Music and Events, Portland, Maine

I was just at the beginning of what would be a week long illness that knocked me out when I decided to drink some tea, take some ibuprofen, and get down to see my beloved Darlingside at Portland House of Music and Events (H.O.M.E.). I’ve been fortunate to see Darlingside a handful of times since 2012, and they bring incredible warmth and talent to the stage.

I’d seen Burlington, Vermont’s The DuPont Brothers open for The Ballroom Thieves and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra back in April, and I really prefered them on this night without the full band. Brothers Zack and Sam DuPont were excellent as a duo. Their harmonies were richer and I could hear their lyrics and feel their meaning better without all the distraction.

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Sam and Zack DuPont–The DuPont Brothers

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Darlingside took the stage and the audience fell quickly under their spell. It’s always amazing to see a band command a crowd’s attention the way Darlingside does. Don, Dave, Auyon, and Harris share one microphone and an evident bond, and we listened intently.

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Darlingside is Don Mitchell, Dave Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner

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I was especially glad to hear “My Love,” “God of Loss,” “The Catbird Seat,” and “Sweet and Low” live. If you haven’t listened to my advice the other half dozen times I’ve recommended Darlingside to you (shame!), it’s not too late to check them out. They are the full package–talented multi-instrumentalists, lovely lyricists, beautiful singers with lush harmonies, and friendly banterers to boot. It’s always a treat to see you, Darlingside! Come back soon!

It was also a pleasure to get to catch up with Maine Youth Rock Orchestra Director Kevin Oates after the show. I am a big MYRO fan and these talented, hard-working teenagers should definitely be on your radar! Kevin introduced me to some of his rock star musicians who were also at the show, and I am so in awe of how cool these kids are!

xo,

bree

 

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Kaleo

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I was the Mt. Ararat High School Class of 2016 Advisor and our graduation ceremony was slated (as always) for the same day and time as the Old Port Festival. I was particularly sad about the bad timing back in June because Iceland’s Kaleo was scheduled to perform and I’d have to miss them. As fate would have it, Kaleo wasn’t able to make the trip and agreed to do a makeup show. 98.9 WCLZ gave away free tickets to the first listeners to request them by mail or in person at the studio, and I was lucky to get a couple.

This was my fourth show in the span of eight days. I was pretty pumped to see Kaleo live. Their  lead singer JJ Julius Son’s voice is spellbinding–I mean, have you heard “All The Pretty Girls”?–and I was looking forward to seeing if he is the real deal. The answer is an emphatic yes. Kaleo’s live show was as crystal clear and flawless as their debut album, A/B. If I could have asked for anything more (and I will, even though I was perfectly happy), I wish that JJ would have interacted more with us and told us some stories about growing up in Iceland and their songs. I was happily surprised to learn that WCLZ recorded the show, so the loads of people who couldn’t get tickets could listen, too! Take a listen and let me know what you think. Oh, and check out Kaleo’s incredibly beautiful videos for “Way Down We Go” (filmed in a volcano) and “Save Yourself” (filmed on an iceberg)!

I also enjoyed Portland based band Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters. They had an upbeat Americana vibe with nice harmonies and energy and were clearly excited to warm up the sold out crowd at Port City Music Hall.

Thanks for making this happen, CLZ!

xo,

bree

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Ellis Paul

Friday, September 16, 2016

Johnson Hall, Gardiner, Maine

Ellis Paul is my favorite singer-songwriter. A Maine native, he’s an incredible storyteller, and I have taken every opportunity possible over the last thirteen years to see him live. This was a delightful night, and I’m so glad to have been in the audience. I’d asked Johnson Hall’s Executive Director Mike Miclon to bring Ellis Paul to Johnson Hall when he first took charge of the venue a couple of years ago, and he readily obliged. Before Mike introduced Ellis to the stage, he singled me out and said that this was my 47th Ellis Paul show and gave a kind shout out to whatbreesees.com, as well. Mike said that he trusts my taste in music, so takes my booking advice seriously. It was such a feel good moment for me, and one of the reasons I love seeing shows at Johnson Hall in teeny Gardiner, Maine so much. It feels like home.

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Ellis Paul

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Ellis took the stage and said his pickup on his guitar wasn’t working, so he came down into the audience and played the bulk of his set unplugged from there. It was such an intimate experience, and we loved it. Ellis had written a new song about traveling that he was still using notes for, and a sweet older gentleman was clearly over the moon to be asked to hold it for Ellis while he sang.

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Blurry but precious

Ellis told us about his experience putting Woody Guthrie’s song “God’s Promise” to music (even after embarrassing himself by awkwardly showing Woody’s son Arlo his Woody Guthrie tattoo). I wasn’t surprised that Ellis ended the night with an impromptu ditty on the piano about how women outnumber men 60/40 in colleges and universities and are clearly poised to take over the world. He sang that he’d be voting for Hillary for his two daughters, made a joke about Trump’s bad hair, and got off stage. It turned out that someone in the audience that night wrote him a letter to explain why Hillary is the Anti-Christ and admonished Ellis for talking about politics at a folk show. Clearly, someone is very lacking in the roots and purpose of folk music!  

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From Ellis Paul’s Facebook page

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As always, it’s a pleasure to see Ellis live. I went up to see the unfinished Opera House on the top levels of Johnson Hall after the show (there’s been some new money pledged to the renovation project, too!) and just before I left, Mike told Ellis that I can really sing and that we should do a duet at my 50th Ellis show. Sounds like a plan to me!

xo,

bree

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