Tag Archives: Ghostland Music Festival

The Ballroom Thieves with Max Garcia Conover

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Front Street Music Series

Downtown Augusta, Maine Riverfront

I’ve seen The Ballroom Thieves and Max Garcia Conover so many times over the years, but I’d never seen them share the same bill before. That was all the motivation I needed to convince Dan that we should leave our quiet lakefront weekend at camp on Clary Lake to see our friend Max play with The Ballroom Thieves. Plus, the last time we saw the Thieves was last summer at Ghostland, and Dan was in a giant food truck line at the very back of Thompson’s Point and sadly missed their whole set. 

It was a little tricky to figure out how to get to “downtown Augusta’s riverfront behind Cushnoc Brewery” as instructed by our Eventbrite tickets since we aren’t familiar with Augusta, but we managed. We were welcomed by folks at the entrance volunteering for the Front Street Music Series (which is happening all summer) to benefit the renovation of Augusta’s historic Colonial Theater. I have just left the Board of Directors of Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center in nearby Gardiner, Maine, after my three-year term, so I was especially glad to show some support for our neighbors.

We showed up a few minutes into Max’s opening set, and I was impressed with how close to the Kennebec River the stage was. It was beautiful. We brought short folding chairs (I’d encourage you to do the same if you hit up the rest of this summer music series), and just sat back and enjoyed an easy night of great music. I didn’t love (shocker) that Cushnoc had a downstairs bar in the rear, because folks back there were chatty and distracted from the music for me. I know my dream for silent, engrossed audiences at shows is really impractical!

Thanks for taking this, Andrea! I’m never in concert pictures!

Max was glad to share the stage with the Thieves. He told us that he’d played a crazy cross-country tour and there was a show in Iowa where maybe 7 people showed up and 3 of them were the Ballroom Thieves and he was starstruck. He also said they’re as “wonderful and kind in real life and that’s a special thing.” I love how humble Max is, and something I appreciate about his music is that every song is a work in progress. I’ve heard Max play maybe 20 times, and I’ve heard him change so many of his songs over the years to add a verse or lyric about something current. He’s such a hard worker. I was glad to hear a couple of new songs and favorites like “Self Portrait” and “Rich Man.” He also introduced one of his songs by sharing the beginning of his touching, beautiful story about the first girl he ever loved that I’ve had the pleasure to hear him tell twice–once on The Moth mainstage! You should really listen

The Ballroom Thieves took the stage and played a long set. I didn’t love the performance overall, but it was out of their hands and was because Martin often sings the melody and his microphone was just not loud enough. I appreciate how sweet Martin, Callie, and Devin are on stage with each other. Devin’s band introductions are always funny and awkward. All three of the Thieves live in Maine now and Martin joked that the “last time I came to Augusta was to set up our cable with Spectrum. That’s not the best part of Augusta. This next song–‘Trouble’–is about setting up your cable package with Spectrum.”

I absolutely love Devin’s lead vocals and their powerful interpretation of Frightened Rabbit’s “My Backwards Walk” and was so glad to hear it live. Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer, Scott Hutchison, ended his own life a little over a year ago, and a tribute album was recorded by the likes of Julien Baker and Ben Gibbard. Proceeds go to a mental health foundation in Scott’s name. While we’re here, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

I also really enjoyed their cover of Bahamas’ “Lost In The Light,” too. Devin introduced a “love song called ‘Fist Fight’” by encouraging people in the crowd to “at least say hi to the person who’s here that you’ve had your eye on.” He said “quit the crap and go say what’s up.” It was very sweet.

I appreciate that The Ballroom Thieves are using their voice as a band to speak up about issues of global importance. Martin introduced “Do Something”:

This is a risky thing to say in today’s political climate. We are on the side of basic human rights. Sometimes you have to just take a stand. I think this is where we make our stand. It’s a big issue in our country right now even though it shouldn’t be. It’s important to speak up for those who don’t have a voice or for those who have had their voices silenced. Since we are literally on a platform and we have microphones amplifying us across the river we might as well make a stand for basic human rights because I believe it’s the minimum stand you can take. This is a song called “Do Something” and it’s about holding people accountable, especially those in public office, because those people work for us and they have to do what we want them to do or they’re not fulfilling their duty. In a way, we’re Trump’s boss, which flips the Apprentice narrative. That’s where I’ll leave it for now because I’ve gotten in trouble before.

img_4058I’m always glad to see Max Garcia Conover and The Ballroom Thieves live. They both use their platform to speak up for people without a voice, and if you’re down with treating all people with respect and dignity, you’d like them and would be in good company at one of their shows!

xo,

bree

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Ghostland Festival

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Thompson’s Point, Portland, Maine

I missed a ton of concerts this summer because my sweet dad and his awesome girlfriend came up from Florida to help me renovate my cute new house on a tight schedule, so I was so pumped to make up some missed music all at one at Ghostland. I’d forgotten, but I was at the first Ghostland Festival that The Ghost of Paul Revere put together back in 2014 at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick. This show, just four years later, was massive in comparison, and speaks to Ghost’s success and the community of fans they’ve built.

This was my last weekend before kids came back to school, and I was determined to make the most of it. Dan and I made it to Thompson’s Point to pick up our VIP bracelets (seven years of concert blogging has its perks) for the show and I gave my friends Rachel and Ian my spare presale ticket for the show. Colin saved us a spot up front and we made it to him just in time for Sibylline’s set. I’m a big fan of Sibylline, who you may recognize as Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters. I’ve seen them a few times, and their rich harmonies, soulful lyrics, and string arrangements are lovely.

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Sibylline

My dear friend Max Garcia Conover took the stage next, and wowed the crowd with his frank and passionate lyrics about social justice and greed. Max is a troubadour in the truest sense, and his banter was inspiring. He said, “I think we are all living through a time when our society is defined by constant vilification and our government is defined by selfishness. I think when you’re living in that kind of time, any act of empathy is an act of civil disobedience and every song is a protest song and every music festival is a rally.” Max clearly impressed everyone around me up front, and I was proud to be part of his fan club while he played for his biggest crowd to date. For more about Max, here’s my review of his last show at One Longfellow Square.

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Max Garcia Conover (right) and Ben Cosgrove (left)

I’d promised Dan a normal concert experience, but that’s not my jam. Typically, I get to a show before doors open, get a spot along the barricade right up front, and forgo food and drink to maintain a spot up close for the entire show. Dan was hungry, so he made his way to the food trucks along the water at Thompson’s Point, but there were so few that he ended up being in line for almost an hour and he sadly missed one of my favorite bands, The Ballroom Thieves. Martin explained that one of their new songs was “meant to be a song about love and kindness and about speaking up for people who don’t have a voice and can’t stand up for themselves. We need to find common ground with people who we disagree with to move forward.”

The Ballroom Thieves–Martin, Devin, and Callie–have chemistry and talent to spare, and I’m always happy to get to see them live. They were joined onstage for a couple of songs by the insanely talented Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, which takes any musical experience and makes it exponentially better. The Thieves all live in Maine now, so they’re playing here more, and just announceda show on December 28at Port City Music Hall. Check out this post for more on the Thieves.

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The Ballroom Thieves with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

I was a little floored when I saw that South Carolina’s Shovels & Rope was slated to play Ghostland. Michael and Cary Ann are the real deal with percussive, rowdy songs and so much warmth onstage. My pal Aimsel and I saw them from the front row at Port City back last October, which was a truly special and unbeatable experience. The crowd started to swell during their boisterous set, so Dan and I left Colin and ventured over to the renovated shipping container that Thompson’s Point uses as a VIP lounge.

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Shovels & Rope

When The Ghost of Paul Revere took the stage, there were solidly 3,500 fans gathered to cheer them on. I think every single Buxton resident was there, for sure, because Ghostland was a hometown celebration of a band that locals have loved for many years now. Ghost–Griffin, Sean, and Max–always puts on a great show, and they were joined for their whole set by the immensely talented duo of Ben Cosgrove on piano and accordion and Kevin Oates on cello, which made their set exceptional. The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra joined them for a couple of songs, too, and I loved watching all the guys in the band turn around to cheer for the kids before they left the stage.

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From L to R: Ben Cosgrove, Griffin Sherry, Sean McCarthy, Max Davis, and Kevin Oates

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Cheering for MYRO

Sean asked if we’d be willing to turn on the flashlights on our cell phones, and the crowd happily obliged and lit up the lovely night at Thompson’s Point. I saw The Ghost of Paul Revere last on New Year’s Eve, and was especially happy to hear “Next Year”–the first song I heard in 2018–again live. The Ballroom Thieves joined Ghost onstage for an awesome cover of “Under Pressure” to end the night on a high note.

img_5766img_5814So many thanks to Griffin, Sean, and Max from Ghost for their painstaking effort to organize such an awesome party to celebrate the end of summer. So many of my friends were at this show and certainly most of my favorite bands were. Until next year?!

xo,

bree

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Ghostland Music Festival

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thomas Point Beach, Brunswick, Maine

The school year has been SUPER busy! This lovely day was weeks ago now! Sorry for the delay!

My friend Grace texted in the morning to ask if I had any interest in going to the first ever Ghostland Music Festival at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick. It had been on my radar, so I took her text as a sign I should commit. I hurried by Gardiner’s annual Barks in the Park to pet some pups, take some pictures, and chat with my mayor about our most recent concert experiences before heading to Brunswick for the afternoon.

I fell in love with Otis at Gardiner's Barks in the Park!

I fell in love with Otis at Gardiner’s Barks in the Park!

Pretty Penny

Pretty Penny

It was a bit of a gloomy day—overcast and chilly—so turnout for the festival might have a little less than hoped for. I set up folding chairs and blankets close to the stage just outside of the fenced off beer area when I arrived and scoped out the grounds a bit. I was impressed with how well things were organized; especially given it was a first-time festival. Festival sponsor 98.9 WCLZ’s Ethan Minton took the stage to welcome us and tell us about the important work we were supporting by buying a ticket to the festival. He told us that 1 in 4 kids in Maine is food insecure, but Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program feeds over a thousand families each year and provides food to kids on the weekends through their Backpack Program.

98.9 WCLZ's Ethan Minton

98.9 WCLZ’s Ethan Minton

I’d hurried to get to the festival early because I really wanted to see Matt Lorenz who plays as The Suitcase Junket and was scheduled to kick off the festival. He is one talented guy, who I first saw play with his band Rusty Belle and the ever-talented Caitlin Canty. Matt was nowhere to be seen, however, and Ethan told us that he sadly couldn’t make it because of car trouble. When I saw Jacob Augustine come to the stage with his beautiful guitar in hand, I knew we were in for an unexpected treat. Jacob was the second artist I ever wrote about on whatbreesees. I was going through a breakup at the time, and his incredibly heavy, soulful songs were no help at all! But he is beautiful to see in person. Jacob’s playing with one of my favorite bands, the harmonic Darlingside, this Saturday night at Empire in Portland, and you should REALLY go! Jacob’s voice will surprise you because it doesn’t match how he appears at all. He’s tattooed and has an amazing beard, but his voice is a beautiful falsetto full of vibrato. He had us join him in a whistled rendition of Happy Birthday for his friend and closed with “Waco.”

Jacob Augustine

Jacob Augustine

Grace and I grabbed lunch from the food trucks after Jacob’s set. My teriyaki jalapeno pineapple grilled chicken sandwich from the Good Shepherd Food Bank’s food truck was insanely good. Grace picked up some poutine from the other truck and we headed back to our seats in time for Maine’s most talented female vocalist, Anna Lombard. I first saw Anna at Slates in Hallowell and she blew me away. This woman can sing. She headlined Gardiner’s annual Swine and Stein Oktoberfest two years ago and impressed everyone there, too. (Swine and Stein is coming up next Saturday, October 11!). I saw my friend Vivian (who I met before a David Wax Museum show at Empire in Portland) sitting near the stage and grabbed her to come join us and share in the poutine and good music. A very pregnant Anna and her band of well-known Maine musicians like Tony McNaboe and Nate Soule took the stage and serenaded us with most of the tracks from Anna’s 2013 album, Head Full of Bells, including “They Want Us Dead,” “Nothing of Us Left,” “Waiting for Rescue,” “Why Did You Leave Me,” and “Confessions.” Anna sounded good as ever. Dave Gutter joined Anna and the band for “All For You” to end their set.

A great girls' day with Grace!

A great girls’ day with Grace!

Good Shepherd Food Bank's INCREDIBLE food truck!

Good Shepherd Food Bank’s INCREDIBLE food truck!

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Fun and games at Ghostland

Fun and games at Ghostland

Anna Lombard

Anna Lombard

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Dave Gutter’s set was up next. You probably know Dave and his recognizably raspy voice best from Rustic Overtones, which provided the soundtrack to my early college years. “Gangster” sounded great, and Dave said he’d “one up” Anna by inviting an already born child on stage to sing “I Like It Low” with him. Young Connie sounded great and was adorable. “Letter To The President” is a heavy song worth a listen, and Dave kept that mood rolling by ending his set with a song about addiction called “High On Everything.”

Dave Gutter

Dave Gutter

"I Like It Low" featuring Connie

“I Like It Low” featuring Connie on vocals

Boston based Will Dailey and his band took the stage and rocked with their electric guitars. I particularly liked “So Do I” and “Don’t Take Your Eyes Off of Me.” Anna Lombard seemed to be a big Will Dailey fan and she joined him for a song, too.

Will Dailey

Will Dailey

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Will Dailey featuring Anna Lombard

Will Dailey featuring Anna Lombard

An overcast day for a festival

An overcast day for a festival

I’d just seen Samuel James the night before at our dear friend Max Garcia Conover’s national RV tour kickoff show at Mayo Street Arts, and he was up next. The first time I saw Samuel James at Frontier in Brunswick, I felt like I was in his living room. The guy’s got soul. His blues guitar is impressive. I was glad to hear “It Ain’t Right” and “Nineteen,” which he wrote for his dad.

Samuel James

Samuel James

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Ethan invited everyone to move to inside because rain was imminent. Grace and I had been snuggled under our blankets for hours and were kind of spent, so we decided to head home after Samuel James. We missed Dominic and the Lucid, Spencer Albee, and The Ghost of Paul Revere (who I think are the bees knees). The Ghost of Paul Revere did a great job organizing Ghostland and I’m looking forward to seeing them in my sweet little town at Johnson Hall on November 8. I hope you raised a lot of well deserved and much needed funds for Mid Coast Hunger Prevention! Great job, guys!

xo,

bree

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