Tag Archives: 98.9 WCLZ

The Alternate Routes with Luke Fradiani

Friday, September 15, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I’m catching up on blogging today with a heavy heart. I go to school every day in this post-Sandy Hook world, and have no hope that anything will change. I often think about music as being my religion–appreciating the power music has to bring us together and to change us for the better–and being at a concert as being in a sanctuary. My heart breaks for those who went to a concert in Las Vegas and instead got murdered. It’s unfathomable, and yet a norm we are starting to live with.

The Alternate Routes have grappled with the issue of gun violence in their music. Guitarist Eric Donnelly’s parents were murdered by an addict with a gun in their Fairfield, Connecticut jewelry store back in 2005, and his song “Somewhere in America” is a stunning song that reflects on the pervasiveness of gun violence in America.

Read these lyrics to “Somewhere in America”:

“The last thing that my father saw when he was still alive

Was the gun in the hands of a sick young man with bright blue eyes.

A man who looked just like me as far as anyone else could see.

A stranger, not an enemy.

And my mother watched it all.

That was the last thing that she saw.

Somewhere in America

A phone’s about to ring.

An unlucky break.

Wrong time, wrong place.

I’ve heard them all so many times.

If your dad had had a gun of his own,

maybe they’d still be alive.”

The Alternate Routes have also collaborated with Newtown Kindness, an organization that sprang up after the tragedy in the Sandy Hook community, and wrote “Nothing More,” which reminds us that “we are how we treat each other, and nothing more.” So here’s a band that puts their energy into this vital issue, and here’s another day in America where someone’s phone is going to ring. I tried to watch Jimmy Kimmel’s response, but couldn’t make it through.

I first saw the Alternate Routes open for Carbon Leaf back in 2009, and it was a spectacular, super fun show. Alternate Routes lead singer Tim Warren wrote “With all the love I have in my heart” on the CD I bought that night, their 2009 album A Sucker’s Dream. I also saw the Alternate Routes open for Martin Sexton in 2013 and play with the Ballroom Thieves in 2014, but it had been a while since I’d seen them. I watched their Studio Z performance live on Facebook earlier in the day and they told stories that showed their humanity and heart. It made me more excited to see them later that night.

I grabbed a quick solo dinner at the bar at Empire (a regular tradition for me on show nights in Portland), but ended up making friends with a few folks at the bar who let me join in their dinner conversation. I also ran into my friend Griffin Sherry from The Ghost of Paul Revere. His publicist had sent me a preview of their newest song, “Montreal,” and I was able to tell him I’d listened a few times earlier in the day and love it. The Ghost recently announced shows for December 30 and 31 at Port City Music Hall, if you’re looking for end of year plans.

I made my way to Port City Music Hall and joined my friend Andrea in the front row for some of show opener Luke Fradiani’s set. Andrea went to the show to see Luke Fradiani, and didn’t know the Alternate Routes. I was in the opposite situation. Luke was engaging and chatty, and he has a lovely voice. Apparently, he won a season of American Idol, which is pretty cool. Alternate Routes guitarist Eric Donnelly and drummer Kurt Leon were in his band, and I enjoyed the bonus time with them on stage. They did an amazing cover of Billy Joel’s “Downeaster Alexa,” which was amazing. Luke’s songs are a bit simple for my taste, but he was a fine show opener. Andrea disappeared for an hour after Luke’s set to make friends with the band, and his pianist, Mikel Paris walked us out of the venue at the end of the night. It was precious. I don’t usually want to talk to people in bands in case they’re having a bad night and aren’t nice, but Andrea goes for it all the time.

The Alternate Routes were great, if a little subdued compared to the first time I saw them back in 2009 (I think alcohol was involved all those years ago, though). I was glad to hear “The Future’s Nothing New” with a bit of Amy Winehouse’s “Trouble” in the mix. My favorite of their songs is probably “Ordinary,” and I liked hearing it with just Tim and Eric as a duo. Their new song, “Safe Haven,” is sweet as honey, too. Tim sincerely thanked 98.9 WCLZ for their ongoing support of the band. He introduced the last song in their set, “Nothing More,” by saying they were told that should write a song to inspire people to be kind–especially children–and thought it was a good idea. They wrote the song in memory of and in tribute to a bunch of folks and their families who lost children. Tim said that “everybody in here knows something about losing something and I hope you know very little about that, but if the people who went through that can pick up the pieces and carry the torch and try to put something good in the world despite that, the hardest thing that you can imagine, certainly we can try.”

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This is Grace and a friend. They were right here all night and it was super cute.

The band came back for two more songs–“Asked You Twice,” which was a sing along, and we danced the last minutes of the night away to “One Dance Left,” which Tim told us was about feeling free of worry, which doesn’t happen that much. It was a good place to leave it.

Check this band out. They’re using their art to do some powerful things, and it matters.

xo,

bree


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Guster with The Ghost of Paul Revere and the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Thompson’s Point, Portland, Maine

Guster on the Ocean was a great time. I think I’m in the sweet spot age-wise of people who have known Guster since early on in their career as a band, so attending their 25th anniversary show with thousands of fans at Thompson’s Point was a treat.

I’d had a busy week helping my best friend’s dad after back surgery, and I spent the afternoon with him at Maine Med before leaving to meet Rachel and Ian to Uber to the show. We set up a blanket in the front of the blanket area just behind the barricade, but were told to move (of course that area was littered with blankets later in the evening, which seems to happen every time I go to Thompson’s Point). We arrived early to enjoy dinner (I had an awesome grilled cheese with lobster from the SaltBox Cafe) and to explore the Reverb Eco Village (which earned us free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream). I also scored an awesome Guster on the Ocean Nalgene water bottle, which was apparently in short supply.

I ran into so many people from all corners of my life during Spencer Albee’s opening set that I honestly didn’t hear a single one of his songs. I got to catch up with my friend Ben Cosgrove before he joined the Ghost of Paul Revere on stage on keys and accordion. Ben played a few songs on 98.9 WCLZ a few weeks later, and you should definitely check out the session. Ben is incredibly talented.

I loved seeing Portland’s the Ghost of Paul Revere play in front of such a big crowd. They had nearly a dozen musicians with them on stage, including Ben, Kevin Oates from the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra on cello, and a handful of other musicians that beautifully rounded out their sound. They had a blast up there, and I made my way to the stage to see them up close and easily enjoyed their set from the second row with some strangers who became fast friends. Good music is good for that.

I was sporting my “The Way Rock Should Be” t-shirt from the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, and I ran into Kevin’s whole family and got to chat with them in between sets, too. I guess I was technically wearing the shirt of the band to see the band, but I don’t care. So was Matty Oates! I have been listening to Ghost’s new song, “Montreal,” on repeat. It’s fantastic. I am pumped to hear their new album soon. It’s always a pleasure to see GPR live. They also just announced back-to-back shows on December 30 and 31 at Port City Music Hall, which is the next time they’ll play in town because they’re off touring basically every minute until almost 2018. I’m so happy to see this band getting some of the notice they richly deserve.

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Me and Matty Oates showing our MYRO support!

Guster took the stage and we partied for the rest of the night. It was great fun. I loved hearing most of my Guster favorites–“What You Wish For,” “Barrel of a Gun,” “Parachute,” “Either Way,” and “Happier”–live. Guster isn’t playing live much these days, but my alma mater hosted them for a private gig two years ago for Homecoming, and I got to be front and center for that show. I decided to enjoy this show from further away this time, and take it everything Thompson’s Point has to offer.

The phenomenal Maine Youth Rock Orchestra joined Guster for nearly half of the show, and they enriched the sound and elevated the show to another level. Guster was pleased as punch to host this party, and were chatty and grateful all night long. Ryan asked Kevin who the youngest member of MYRO was, and we all chanted “Luke, Luke, Luke” while he accepted a standing ovation. Ryan even freestyled a song for Luke in that moment and the huge cheered along. It was incredible. What a way to make those kids understand they are already rock stars. I loved everything about this night. Let’s do it again next summer!

xo,

bree

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Scars on 45

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I finally got to see Scars on 45 live, and they were a delight. They sang beautifully, were warm and chatty with the crowd, explained the backstory of a few of their songs, and generally have great band chemistry. I am so glad I finally had the opportunity to see them, and I appreciate that 98.9 WCLZ brought them to Portland to do a free show for their listeners at intimate One Longfellow Square. Scars on 45 (Danny, Aimee, Nova, and Nate) are highly listenable, and I bet you’ve already heard some of their songs on the radio. Here’s a session they recorded recently at Paste Magazine’s studios.

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The rest of this post is a laundry list of sadness about poor concert etiquette. If you could use a brush up on how to be respectful during a concert experience, keep reading. If not, just check out England’s lovely Scars on 45 and call it a day.

This night was full of concert etiquette faux pas, which frustrated my concert experience a lot. Why didn’t I move, you ask? People ask me that sometimes. The better question (I think) is, why aren’t people more considerate at shows? I got to One Longfellow Square when the doors opened to get a front row spot. I am visually impaired, and I like to be close to the stage so I can see the band well. If I had moved, I would have had to give up my proximity to the stage or block someone else’s view who’d also arrived early. That’s just not fair. Also, the venue is so small that these annoyances could be experienced by plenty of people in the room.

I’d had a busy day, and I went out of my way to get to this show, both by driving all the way to South Portland to 98.9 WCLZ’s studio solely to pick up the tickets and by leaving a season reveal event at Johnson Hall in Gardiner early to get to Portland in time for doors. I was especially bummed that I ended up between three people who were not considerate of other audience members during the show.

Here are three things I witnessed that I think you should NOT do at an intimate concert:

1. Sing along. It is not your concert. Your name is not on the ticket stub. We came to hear the band sing these songs we like and that have meaning to us in person. (ESPECIALLY do not sing EVERY word to EVERY song SO LOUDLY that people hear you INSTEAD of the band). EXCEPTION–Of course you can sing along when the band invites you to. But that’s it. If you have to sing along, sing quietly. For serious. Besides pushing people aside and trying to steal their earned spots at shows, this is my biggest concert pet peeve. The girl to my immediate left sang over the band all night while standing directly underneath them. It drove me NUTS.

2. Clap. (ESPECIALLY during slow songs and definitely not during covers of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” which does not lend itself to clapping at all, Man Standing Immediately Behind Me).

3. Make awkward conversation with the band while they’re on stage. Don’t heckle the band to get their attention either. This note is mostly for people who need to feel like they’re having a special, one-on-one moment with the band. You don’t impress us by interrupting the band to talk at them. Talk to the band after the show.

My friend Andrea likes pop music and sees a lot of bands that have younger fans that love to sing along and take video all night long. She is used to all of the aforementioned concert behaviors and is truly not bothered by any of them. In fact, she said “they’re just feeling the music.” I wish I was able to see things in that kind light!

I ended up at a free show of a band I really like at a venue I really like with three girlfriends I really like. And I was annoyed so much for so much of the night that I missed out on the joy of the night. The rest of my friends didn’t miss out on the joy, and I’m glad for them. I am always impressed by how a single person can have such a negative impact on a show, and how rarely they even seem to notice. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that just wants to correct the behavior for the greater good. I am so open to reading your suggestions about how to deal or just to commiserate about bad concert etiquette you’ve experienced. Let’s be politer at shows, folks!

xo,

(Whiny–I know) bree

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Look at my lovely lady friends!

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Jamestown Revival with Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

Some shows totally catch you by surprise, and this was definitely one of them. It was well timed, too, because it was also my birthday. This show really made the first day of my new year a special one. I got to Port City Music Hall early enough to snag my favorite spot, and I ran into and got to catch up with Maine Youth Rock Orchestra Executive Director Kevin Oates. It was a treat to be greeted with a big “Happy Birthday” and a hug from him to start the night. Kevin had to head backstage to get ready, and a small crowd emerged just in time for Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters’ opening set.

I saw Hannah and the Martelle Sisters for the first time back in September, when they played with a bigger band and opened for Kaleo. I liked them back then, but they were even better at this show. They took the stage, just the three of them, with a guitar, mandolin, and violin. I was impressed by the fullness of the sound they created. I was glad my friend Marian showed up early on in their set to enjoy it with me. Kevin joined them on cello for a couple of songs, and it’s always a pleasure to hear him play.

A proper crowd streamed in during the opening set, and people were clearly pretty pumped to see Magnolia, Texas’ Jamestown Revival. I’d skipped their first visit to Portland back in October because I didn’t know their music then and it can be tough to get pumped for Sunday night shows, but I regretted it. I was glad for the chance to rectify the situation. Plus, The Ghost of Paul Revere is currently out on tour with them and has spoken very highly of them. Their endorsement matters. I got to catch up with Griffin Sherry after the show, too. He’s the best!

I was impressed by Jamestown Revival. I loved that the band took the stage sporting some combination of ten-gallon hats, cowboy boots, and toothpicks in a totally unironic way. Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay are the frontmen of the band, and they’ve been friends since high school. The band slayed. Every song was strong–and they interacted warmly with the crowd, played requests, and really made it a fantastic night for us. The audience was great, too. There were a lot of fans in the house and people danced and sang along. Early on in the set, Zach said that he could tell this was going to be a special night, and it truly was.

I particularly like “Love Is A Burden” from Jamestown Revival’s 2016 release, The Education Of A Wandering Man. That song is a hit, and you’ve probably heard it on 98.9 WCLZ (who sponsored the show). I enjoyed “Revival” and “California (Cast Iron Soul)” from Jamestown Revival’s 2014 album, Utah. They played “Medicine” from that album at the request of an audience member, even though it wasn’t on their set list. They also did a very pretty cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”

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The crowd was a delight that night (which has such an impact on a show experience), and Jamestown Revival really brought it. The moment the band left the stage, Port City turned the house music on and “Footloose” flooded the room. An impromptu dance party broke out, and a woman I didn’t know grabbed me to dance with her. It was a total blast and shows perfectly the mood Jamestown Revival created in that room that night. We didn’t want the night to end. What a show! Definitely see this band live!

xo,

bree

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A blurry picture of a happy moment dancing to Footloose after the show!


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Soundcheck with The Head and the Heart

Monday, March 6 2017

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

I love The Head and the Heart’s music, but saw them live in 2012, and I was so disappointed. Their songs are truly lovely and emotive, but their live show was b-o-r-i-n-g and phoned in. You know by now that the primary reason I go to see artists live is to have a concert experience, up close and personal. So, The Head and the Heart live is not for me. When I see they’re coming to town, I don’t bother to buy a ticket. Watching their YouTube channel is about as interactive as their live show is, so I’d rather not be in a crowded venue with a bunch of drunk, loud people to see a band if they’re not going to say very much. But I am conflicted about this, because THATH’s music is so moving, and I sometimes wonder if I’ve been too hard on them. Turns out, I don’t think so.

I felt undeserving when my friend Colin invited me to join him to The Head and the Heart’s soundcheck hosted by 98.9 WCLZ ahead of their sold out show at State Theatre. I decided that seeing them with just a handful of people in the room might provide a more intimate concert experience, so I went. We waited outside in the frigid cold for a solid thirty minutes, which was fine because MaineToday/Portland Press Herald/98.9 WCLZ Maine music maven Aimsel Ponti was with us and kept us chatting as a big group.

Once inside, the band assembled to say hello and patiently take pictures with all twenty or so of us. They were all completely nice, if a bit shy. It helped me better understand that they’re probably not super socially confident on the whole and that’s why their live show is flat. I chatted mostly with pianist Kenny Hensley and drummer Tyler Williams, who are the most outgoing in the group, and even had an unexpected conversation about the Sphinx with Tyler.

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Hey! I’m with the band. Thanks to 98.9 WCLZ for this opportunity and for the pic!

When Colin approached to get his picture taken, someone in the band recognized him and exclaimed “Colin!”

Aimsel and the band

The band played two songs–“Another Story” and “False Alarm”–for us after the meet and greet, and then we took off so their show opener could have their soundcheck. I had a twinge of regret about not getting a ticket for the show since they were very nice in person, but I went to two hours of jiu jitsu instead, which is a new love of mine. I felt fine about my decision when I learned (as expected) that they sounded great that night, but didn’t say much to the crowd, which is exactly what I don’t want in a concert experience. So, mixed reviews, but I was grateful for the opportunity to see THATH in a slightly different light.

Here’s Aimsel’s take on the show from her great Aimsel on the Record blog.

xo,

bree

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Carbon Leaf with The Accidentals

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

It’s always a pleasure to see Virginia’s Carbon Leaf live. I’ve been going to their shows in Maine since 2009, and they always bring positive energy and upbeat music. Lead singer Barry Privett told us that he’d done the math, and they’ve played Portland, Maine ten times. I left my fancy camera at home so I could dance, but here are posts from Carbon Leaf shows at Port City Music Hall in December of 2013 and November of 2014 that have longer recaps and far better pictures of the show.

I love Carbon Leaf shows because the crowd is always full of great people who sing along and have a great time. Being part of a great crowd means having a great time at the show, so this is truly an important point to mention. I met a couple who had driven up from Massachusetts for the show, and we danced and sang along from the front row while Carbon Leaf played a solid 20-song set, including songs you’ve definitely heard on 98.9 WCLZ, such as “Life Less Ordinary” and “What About Everything?” “The Boxer” takes on new meaning for me now that I’m training five days a week at a MMA gym. In fact, I met my teammates at our coach’s house after the show to watch the UFC fights until the wee hours.

“Let Your Troubles Roll By” is the Carbon Leaf song that means the most to me and inspires me to lift my head when things are hard. I always think of my friend Sarah, who I met at a Carbon Leaf show at Port City in 2009 and who suffered an aneurysm, but has really come a long way in her recovery. Carbon Leaf even sent her a get well soon card when she was in the hospital. They’re great musicians, but good people, too. That stuff matters to me.

Towards the end of the night, Barry asked to turn the house lights up. Since Veteran’s Day was the day before, Barry asked all of the veterans in the room to raise their hand for much deserved recognition and then dedicated and played “The War Was in Color” for them. It was a moving moment. I’m always glad to see you when you’re in town, Carbon Leaf! See you next fall!

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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