Tag Archives: Hallowell

Run On Sentence

Monday, April 7, 2014

Slates, Hallowell, Maine

I was so happy to hear that Dustin Hamann would be in town to play some shows surrounding the release of the soundtrack he scored for just-released Beneath the Harvest Sky, a film made in Van Buren (that’s nearly Canada, folks) by Maine-native Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly. They are responsible for the very moving film The Way We Get By, which connects the lives and struggles of three elderly troop greeters at the Bangor International Airport. I grew up in Bangor and greeted the troops regularly at odd hours when I was in elementary and middle school, and I’m thrilled that lovely film was made so well and was so well received. Check out this feature about filmmakers in Maine including Aron and Gita in April’s Maine Magazine. Beneath the Harvest Sky seems dark and suspenseful compared to The Way We Get By and I don’t think of Dustin’s music as dark, so I’ll be interested to see how the two go together. There are many screenings of Beneath the Harvest Sky planned this week throughout Maine and Dustin is playing before some of them. If you’re able to get out to see him, you will be glad you did. He is really special.

Beneath the Harvest Sky soundtrack by Dustin Hamann

Beneath the Harvest Sky soundtrack by Dustin Hamann

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Dustin is the driving force behind Run On Sentence and writes powerful, captivating music. The first time I ever saw him play (thanks to the suggestion of Mark Wethli) was late summer 2010. I was moved by the music—so much so that I went to see him play again the very next night. It had been a year and a half since the last time I got to see Dustin play in 2012 (here’s that post), so I was thrilled to see that he would be just down the road from me at Slates in Hallowell to celebrate his birthday and the release of the soundtrack he wrote for the film. I was excited to see Mark and Cassie at the show, too, and in the soundtrack liner notes, Dustin said he first really started the real work writing the soundtrack at Cassie and Mark’s place in Brunswick after leaving the film shoot in Van Buren.

Dan Galucki, who grew up in the area and went to Hall Dale High School in Hallowell, is Dustin’s Run On Sentence band mate and was able to play this hometown show, as well. Music enthusiast Lucky Clark interviewed Dan for the Kennebec Journal before the show. It was great to hear them play together and hear the fullness of sound they were able to create on the soundtrack for the film.

I was glad that Dustin and Dan played some older Run On Sentence songs from You The Darkness And Me like “Water,” “These Hills,” and “Out In the Woods.” We didn’t hear my favorite ROS song, “I Am The Blood” that night, but I really hope you’ll take a listen to it. Dustin’s lyrics are meaningful and his voice is raw and intense. He also plays a mean mouth trumpet.

Dustin Hamann and Dan Galucki

Dustin Hamann and Dan Galucki

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I love Dustin’s song “Albion” about his mom’s hometown in Nebraska and am glad it showed up on the soundtrack. Dustin’s songs “The County” and “Rainbows” both appear on the soundtrack and are both captivating. “The County” perfectly sums up the stagnation one might feel living in such a depressed area—“How I lie at night and think of ways I’d say goodbye if ever I could manage to get out/In my dreams I’d up and go/I’d shrug away that heavy load and step out from the shadow of my doubts/But when I’d wake up all my troubles lay around me/Up here in the County.” Rainbows seems a cautionary tale—“Tearing down the rainbows/So they can take the pieces home/Tearing down the rainbows/So they can sell the pieces. . .Well if you ever tear down rainbows/Make sure you wear comfortable shoes/Cause your shoulders they will weigh you down/Til you can’t feel a thing.”

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Dustin and Dan both appear in the film and lived in Van Buren for a couple of months working on writing music while it was filming. Dustin gave me a copy of the 21-song soundtrack it’s a mix of Run On Sentence songs, Dustin solo, and ambient guitar/percussion pieces. Listening to it a few times made me even more eager to see the film. “Stonewall” shows up on the soundtrack and on Dustin’s newest release, Feelings. He said it was about a guy who wouldn’t stop sleeping on his couch so he had to kick him out. It’s a standout song—true to ROS because of it’s varying tempo and intensity—but special because of Dustin’s surprising hearty rounds of “HA HA HAs” in the song.

“Run To You” is surely a favorite on both albums, as well. I particular like the lyrics “And I wonder now and then/If I could do this all again/Would I just lie and watch the wind blow through the grass/Instead of trying to find the words to make it last/Cause I can never quite convey/All the things I mean to say/My words are arrows taking aim upon the truth/That’s all I’ve got/I guess the rest is up to you.” I grabbed a copy of Feelings on my way out because I want to keep a complete ROS hard copy discography on hand. Dustin’s dog, Frankie, an adorable Papillon/Chihuahua mix, is featured on the cover.

Feelings with Dustin and Frankie on the cover

Feelings with Dustin and Frankie on the cover

Dustin told us that Aron and Gita had invited him to write the soundtrack for Beneath the Harvest Sky because of his song “Wide Open Sky” (which is on the soundtrack), which he played while we sang along. He took out his three string cigar box guitar “Li’l Red” for a song or two, and used a piece from a socket wrench as a slide. Dustin’s mom sent a birthday cake for him, so we paused the show and sang him “Happy Birthday.” He asked us (as his birthday gift) to sing loud on “Stoned, Drunk, and Blind.” It’s a great song for a sing along and a perfect way to wrap a Monday night. So glad to see you again, Dustin and Dan! Come back soon!

xo,

bree

Happy Birthday, Dustin!

Happy Birthday, Dustin!

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Ellis Paul

Monday, March 10, 2014

Slates, Hallowell, Maine

I hadn’t seen Ellis Paul in almost a year, so I was excited that my sweetie could take the night off and join me for his first Ellis Paul show (my 41st). When I tell people how many times I’ve seen Ellis live they tend to startle, but those are people who haven’t seen him live yet—or they’d know it’s actually a perfectly reasonable number.

Jeff and I got to Slates in Hallowell (just five miles from my house) in time for coffee and dessert and to settle into our front row seats. Ellis said hello to folks (a lot of familiar faces in the crowd for him, I’m sure) as he took the stage. He opened with “Chasing Beauty,” a song about a road trip he took in his sister’s Ford Pinto when he was 20. He joked about tattoos before playing “Rose Tattoo” and told us that his Woody Guthrie tattoo doesn’t look much like Woody since he got it decades ago. He suggested that tattoo artists show patrons age progression images of our tattoos before letting us actually commit to getting them.

Ellis Paul

Ellis Paul

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Ellis was chatty that night, and he talked at length about the surge in digital music and how sad it is we’ve lost music we can hold in our hands. He reminisced about how important it used to be to read the liner notes when we bought a new record, tape, or CD. He got home from a show in Texas where he rented a car with no CD player (those are almost gone, he lamented) and went straight home and bought his daughters a record player. He brought it to the show and played a Neil Young album on it. It was nice to hear the grit. Ellis’ newest fan-funded album, Chasing Beauty, will obviously come in LP as well. He’ll be doing a Concert Window show on Wednesday, May 28th at 8pm EST to celebrate the album release and will be playing songs live over the Internet from his home.

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He told the hilarious story of his beautiful guitar Guinness and how Neil Young is a guitar dream crusher. It was exciting that Ellis played a new song for us—one he’d only played live the whole way through on guitar with vocals the day before. Did I write this lyric down right from that song? “Love—you’ve done me in.” I liked it. Even Ellis’ new songs seem tried and true. Jeff mentioned that to me after the show (which he really liked). He said Ellis’ songs felt “complete,” and added, “you know how a song sounds familiar even though you know you’ve never heard it before—that’s how I felt about Ellis’ songs.”

I really enjoyed hearing Ellis discuss his song about the Empire State Building. He talked about Arlo Guthrie’s hit “City of New Orleans” (written by Steve Goodman) in which the chorus is written from the perspective of the train. His song, “Empire State,” is written from the perspective of the building. The Empire State Building was built during the Great Depression. It had never occurred to me, but Ellis reminded us, that the poorest immigrants in our country built that extraordinary structure in less than two years for some of the richest people in our country. “Empire State” is the epitome of a folk song—loaded with social commentary and rich history.

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Ellis asked if we had any audience requests and played “Roll Away Bed” for us. He admitted that he was really the one in the relationship with the sleeping issues but says it was his girlfriend in the song. He joked that he ended up in a blanket burrito in the morning while she awoke without covers. The analytics from his website tell him that the number two thing people search that bring them to ellispaul.com is “roll away bed,” which is probably people really looking for portable beds, but he’ll take it.

Ellis gets a lot of letters from soldiers and has written songs about war and its aftermath. His newest is “Plastic Soldiers”—a protest song written with jazz chords. It was a real stand out that night. It’s startling and powerful without being preachy. The chorus goes “Come home soldier/Dinner’s getting colder/It’s time to put your toys away/Marching orders/Backyard borders/You will live to fight another day/Oh, put your plastic soldiers away.”

Ellis told us he was honored to be asked to be the commencement speaker in his homeland at University of Maine Presque Isle where he’ll receive an honorary doctorate next month. He’s also been asked to write their alma mater song. He reminisced about being young in 1982 and a state champion runner to boot. He said he got a hero’s welcome (with fire trucks and all) when he arrived home from competing and was given the key to the city when he was just 17 years old. Aroostook County has been good to him, he said.

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Someone asked him to play “The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down,” which is featured in Me, Myself, and Irene starring Jim Carey. Apparently there’s a zombie version of it someone put up on YouTube and another version (among many) with a guy in a cowboy hat dancing all over London. It’s Ellis’ most commercially successful song with over 1.5 million hits on YouTube, but it’s earned him less than $4 in royalties. Apparently, he was recently asked to testify in Washington DC about music rights for singer-songwriters.

Ellis wrapped the show with “Kick Out the Lights”—a song about Johnny Cash kicking out the stage lights at the Grand Ole Opry. It’s a fun song with boisterous sing along parts for the men and women in the audience. It brought us all together to finish a great night. We asked for an encore and Ellis kindly obliged with “Snow in Austin”—a song about a long-distance relationship between two people living in Austin and Boston.

This Extended Play Session featuring Ellis on Alternate Route TV shows him discussing and playing a lot of newer songs. If you can’t make it out tomorrow night to see Ellis at the Camden Opera House, this might have to do until he’s back in town!

Thanks, Ellis! Looking forward to Chasing Beauty and show #42!

xo,

bree

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Ellis Paul with Rebecca Loebe

Monday, April 15, 2013

Slates, Hallowell, Maine

Monday was a nightmare for everyone in Boston, in New England, for Americans, and for runners and their loved ones everywhere. I just watched a clip from last night’s Yankees game. They played Boston Red Sox standard “Sweet Caroline” while the crowd sang along. It brought tears to my eyes. Stephen Colbert’s response was priceless and worth watching, too. I am always impressed by those brave people trained to run towards danger when we run away from it. Those first responders were in full force Monday and continue to work to put the pieces together to try to figure out what happened that afternoon. We are grateful for them. Whenever there is tragedy, what sticks out to me the most is how many ordinary people step up to care for others. The well circulated Google doc with phone numbers and email addresses of people ready to offer meals, rides, and places to stay to stranded Marathoners was beautiful. What we all instinctively know, I think, is that the Boston Marathon will be back and better than ever next year. No question. Boston is full of hearty, resilient folks, and marathoners train year round to accomplish that life-affirming feat. Nothing’s going to slow them down. Like you, I spent a lot of the afternoon Monday trying to contact friends who were running or watching. It took until the evening to hear back from everyone, but they were all safe. They were lucky. Our thoughts continue to be with Boston—with the families of deceased 8-year-old Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and an unnamed Chinese graduate student at Boston University, and with everyone traumatically injured on Monday. You can donate to the relief fund here.

I didn’t really want to leave the comfort of home, but I had been excited for my 40th Ellis Paul show that night at Slates for weeks. It’s less than five miles from my house, too, so I went for it. I knew it would be a comforting experience, and it really was. Oh. I know 40 shows is a lot, but plenty of Ellis fans have seen him more than I have. I only learned about him in 2002. You can check out my 2012 Ellis Paul show recaps from January 1, September 22, and December 29. I bookended 2012 with Ellis shows and it was a good way to start and end a challenging year.

I was seated at the table front and center at Slates with two married couples, their friend, and a woman who’d driven up to Hallowell from South Portland. Everyone was really warm and it was great to have some people to experience the show with. Rebecca Loebe took the stage and she was charismatic and sweet. Her first song was cute—“I can’t compete with her in that dress.” She gave a shout out to her new hometown, Austin, in her second song, “Darlin’.” Rebecca told a hilarious story about how she is inspired to write songs about the people she meets. “The Chicago Kid” is about an 18-year-old on his first flight ever to meet up with his high school sweetheart later that day and marry her at City Hall—a fulfillment of their promise and his reward for graduating for high school. I guess you should consider how much you want to tell Rebecca if you ever end up sitting next to her on a flight! Her last song, “Meridian,” was inspired by a town she passed on a long road trip from Texas to Georgia. She was a solid storyteller—with a pretty voice and warm presence.

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Rebecca Loebe

Rebecca Loebe

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Rebecca introduced Ellis and stayed with him onstage most of the night. He didn’t mention it to us, but fans on his email list received word that he’s struggling with vocal chord issues and needs to take better care of his voice and be more careful hitting some of his high notes. Rebecca helped fill in the sound all night.

Ellis told us that he and Rebecca had been watching the Boston Marathon earlier that day from Boston College. Ellis was a running stand out in Presque Isle, Maine who went to BC on a track scholarship. If memory serves, an injury that sidelined him in college was the impetus for him to pick up a guitar. He told us it had been incredible to watch Joan Benoit Samuelson run by them earlier in the day. She finished within 30 minutes of her world-record time 30 years earlier with a 2:50:29 finish. Incredible. Ellis recounted most of that to us and then dedicated his set to Joan and all of those hurt by the bombings at the Marathon earlier in the day. He said he hoped to bring as much light as he could that evening, and he succeeded.

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Ellis Paul

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$23 gets you a pretty nice hat at a gas station

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Rebecca leading the sing along

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Ellis telling the story of Guinness

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Here’s the setlist from the night:

  • “Chasing Beauty,” which will be on his forthcoming fan funded album.
  • “Rose Tattoo,” which has a phrase I found particularly comforting—“Love is what matters. Baby, I’ve got your back.” Ellis wore his $23 gas station hat for this one and gave a shout out to his sister Becky who runs Kennebec River Artisans just down the road from Slates.
  • A newer song about the Empire State Building
  • My friend Michelle’s favorite, “Kick Out the Lights,”—a song about when Johnny Cash famously kicked out the stage footlights at the Grand Ole Opry. It required audience participation in the form of “volume over quality,” and we readily obliged.
  • “Christmas Lullaby,” from Ellis’ Christmas album, City of Silver Dreams. Johnny Mathis might put the song on his next Christmas album. I liked, “I’m sending you a prayer—I hope it’s all the love you can take.”
  • “The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down,” which Ellis told us is his most popular song because of its YouTube hits and the sheer number of creative covers of it on the web.
  • Ellis told us the hilarious story of his beloved guitar, Guinness. You can read it in one of my previous show recaps, or just wait and hear it live when you see Ellis. He told us that he loves Joni Mitchell, who he called “the Ted Williams” of songwriting, and covered “Circle Game.”
  • Before playing “3,000 Miles,” Ellis told us he was closing in on his 5,000th show and his 400,000th mile on his 7-year-old Honda CRV. There’s only 350,000 miles to the moon, he joked, “so I’m on my way back!”
  • “Snow in Austin”
  • “Once Upon a Summertime,” which Ellis said was partially inspired by the events of his prom night. He and his ex girlfriend went together to prom anyhow and fought all night. He fell asleep in his very uncool van while driving home and woke up to a moose running alongside him. The song flawlessly evokes the feelings of youth.
  • Ellis and Rebecca unplugged and came out into the audience (to the head of my table) to sing “Annalee.” He caught me taking pictures of him while he tuned and told the story of the luthier in Virgina who repaired Guinness for him and made eye (not quite eye–camera?) contact with me. Those two pictures make me smile.

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Oh hey, Ellis!

Oh hey, Ellis!

"Annalee" unplugged

“Annalee” unplugged

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"Let It Be"

“Let It Be”

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ENCORE

  • “Let It Be” was the right way to end the night. Ellis took the verses and Rebecca sang the chorus. It brought tears to my eyes. Ellis said that he thought the song would “be important today.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Thanks for a delightful night, Ellis and Rebecca. It was a hard day, but you really soothed my spirit with your songs and stories. Until next time.

xo,

bree

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