Tag Archives: Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

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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The Ballroom Thieves with The Suitcase Junket

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I love the Ballroom Thieves and have seen them live many times. They’re definitely one of my favorite bands. I was under the weather, but decided to go to this show anyhow, because my friend Marian saw them a few days earlier in Camden and said they’d been particularly “on” and extra fun and very chatty with the crowd. Colin saved me a spot up front because I rushed down to Port City Music Hall after being honored by one of my favorite senior boys on my school’s basketball team at Teacher Appreciation Night.

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Photo by Jeff Lamb Photography

I arrived just in time to see Matt Lorenz, touring solo as The Suitcase Junket, take the stage. I hadn’t seen Matt play for a few years (I saw him play with his band Rusty Belle at One Longfellow Square with Darlingside and Caitlin Canty back in 2013), and never as a solo act. He stole the show. His one-man-band is a powerhouse. Stomping on a kick drum, shaking a collection of shells, bones, and silverware, and playing a guitar he saved from a dumpster, Matt’s vintage sound, and his clear, lovely voice filled the room. He was charming and engaging with the obviously impressed crowd.

The Suitcase Junket is Matt Lorenz


The Ballroom Thieves took the stage after a quick break. They are super talented and sounded great, as always. They didn’t interact much with the crowd, which I missed, so this wasn’t their typical high energy show. My dear college friend, Ken Templeton, was in the crowd reviewing the show for Boston’s Red Line Roots, and I was a little worried that he wouldn’t love them like I do because they were so reserved, but he was quite impressed anyhow. Here’s Ken’s review.

Martin Earley

Callie Peters

The Ballroom Thieves

Devin Mauch and Callie

All of the guys from the Ghost of Paul Revere, Kevin Oates from Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, Connor Garvey, and Max García Conover were all in the house to support the band, and it was nice to witness the camaraderie and to catch up with all of them. Not the best Thieves’ show I’ve seen by far, but everyone is entitled to a mellow night here and there.

xo,

bree

 

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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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Gregory Alan Isakov with MYRO and the Ghost Orchestra

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

I saw Gregory Alan Isakov open for my beloved Brandi Carlile back in 2009 at South Portland High School and was captivated by his lyrics and airy voice. I waited in a long line after the show that night to buy his 2009 album, This Empty Northern Hemisphere, and was really excited to hear Brandi Carlile’s beautiful voice singing along on so much of it. That album is one that you should listen to right now, actually. I saw Gregory Alan Isakov once more in 2011, but sadly not again until April of 2015. I was in love then, and my sweetie joined me for the show and fell in love with Gregory Alan Isakov, too.

Here’s the problem with introducing people you love to musicians you love—sometimes you aren’t in love anymore, and your ex comes to see a musician you introduced them to with the person they started dating a curious two weeks after you ended a two year long relationship. It was awful. I’d been excited about this show (obviously), and my steadfast concert companion Colin kindly bought us tickets for this reserved seating show at State Theatre the day tickets went on sale and our seats were front row center. Problem was, my ex and his girlfriend were just one row behind us. Thank goodness they were stage left and we were stage right, but eight people between us was really not enough for my concert enjoyment. Anyhow, I am human and I was so upset and jittery to see my manipulative, freeloading ex with his no-longer-new girlfriend that I was shaky for the vast majority of the show. If Colin hadn’t been there, I would definitely have left my front row seat and gone home before the show even started. Thinking back to this night, I feel a pit in my stomach and remember how distracted, sad, and angry I was the whole time. I tried to consciously focus on enjoying Gregory’s enchanting voice, Jeb Bows’ positive energy while he danced with his violin, or the powerful, full sound generated by having the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra and the Ghost Orchestra on stage all night, too, but I failed miserably. Coincidentally, my ex asked to borrow the very Gregory Alan Isakov CD I bought the night I first saw him live all those years ago, and he still has it.

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I am grateful that Colin posted the night’s setlist on setlist.fm (his concert schedule is far more impressive than mine, by the way), because you can click on the “play” arrow to the right of the first song of the night, and it will auto play all of the songs in order for you. I am taking this time to hear the show again (pretty much for the first time) right now, and these songs are so layered and beautiful. GAI played five songs from This Empty Northern Hemisphere, which is a perfect album. He is wonderful live—totally not interested in being the center of attention and humble and genuine. I will hopefully feel better next time he’s in town. Or I’ll just go to one of his shows farther away. Either way, he is not to be missed. I’ll close with apt lyrics from one of my favorite GAI songs—“The Moon Song”—“and those broken hearted lovers/they got nothing on me.”

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Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony is available now. Here’s some praise for his new album. Here’s a biographical piece in the New York Times about GAI balancing music and farming.

xo,

bree

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The Ballroom Thieves with Maine Youth Rock Orchestra and The DuPont Brothers

Friday, April 15, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

Nearly two months late but with many, many wonderful senior events at my school behind me (most precious were the graduation marches my seniors did through four of our five district elementary schools), I can catch a quick breath and write a bit. The Ballroom Thieves are easily one of my top favorites live bands. [Fun fact: I first saw The Ballroom Thieves live opening for The Lone Bellow three years ago today!] I feel really lucky to have seen them a lot, and am so glad that their star continues to rise, having now played at the Newport Folk Festival and opened for Lake Street Dive at Thompson’s Point in Portland. That’s a huge venue, and friends who were able to go and had never seen the Thieves messaged me to say how great they are (um, yeah!).

Thinking back, I remember that I was able to grab a quick dinner at Slab with one of my dear former class presidents before heading over to the show. I got to Port City Music Hall early to make sure I’d have my favorite spot up front and even beat Colin there. Erin and Darcy, teachers from Westbrook High School who we’d met a couple of shows back, were also there, and my current (well, graduation was Sunday, but I’m not ready to let go) class president, Carmen, also joined the full house for the show. This was one of those nights when the crowd was top notch. I think it’s because there were a lot of proud Maine Youth Rock Orchestra family members in the crowd, celebrating the beginning of their April vacation week tour with The Ballroom Thieves. Anyhow, it’s always great to be surrounded by positive energy and attentive people at a show, and this was a real treat.

Burlington, Vermont’s The DuPont Brothers took the stage and warmed up the crowd. Their harmonies, pretty guitar arrangements, and friendly banter made for a good set. Brother Zack was celebrating his birthday, so we sang for him. They’d used Kickstarter to fund their most recent album, A Riddle for You, and played a lot of those songs for us. They invited Maine Youth Rock Orchestra (MYRO) to join them for “Trespassers,” which they sweetly dedicated to a big group of young kids sitting on the floor just in front of the stage. The DuPont Brothers will be back in Portland at One Longfellow Square on Thursday, June 30.

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“Trespassers” with The DuPont Brothers and MYRO

Kevin Oates, the founder and director of Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, took the stage to do a little fundraising to support their ten-day tour with The Ballroom Thieves. He said he’d shave his head (and he has really good hair) if they reached their fundraising goal before the show ended, which shows dedication. MYRO is awesome. As a teacher, it hits me right in the feels that this awesome group exists, and that they’ve had such great success, including being featured on NPR Music and being the first youth orchestra to tour with a national artist. Kevin tells the story himself on medium.com with “Why I started Maine Youth Rock Orchestra.” I have a front row ticket to see MYRO play with Gregory Alan Isakov on June 21 at the State Theatre and am SO excited to see them with another of my favorite artists.

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Kevin Oates, founder and director of MYRO

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Martin and Devin of The Ballroom Thieves with MYRO

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Martin, Devin, and Callie of The Ballroom Thieves with MYRO

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The Ballroom Thieves are fantastic. Their songs and harmonies resonate, their desire to connect to the audience admirable, and the sheer force of their musicianship is moving. This was another in a series of top-notch performances from Martin, Devin, and Callie. Hearing them with MYRO, adding to the richness of their already full sound, was phenomenal. I feel really lucky to have been at this show. I was so glad to learn that a new album is forthcoming. You’ve got to check out the video for “Bury Me Smiling” featuring MYRO that NPR Music picked up. “Peregrine” sticks out as a newer song I’m looking forward to getting better acquainted with. “Here I Stand” was a particularly driving force live, and “The Loneliness Waltz” is surely one of my favorite Thieves’ songs. This was truly a phenomenal show—start to finish. See these groups live whenever you have the chance. The Thieves will be joined by MYRO on July 12 at Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney, Maine. Come! I will see you there.

xo,

bree

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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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The Ballroom Thieves with Tall Heights and the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

Friday, April 24, 2015

Empire, Portland, Maine

*I think nearly seven weeks to process the strange events of this night is long enough. I wrote the bulk of this post just days after the show, but was so weirded out by the behavior of a woman in the crowd that I lost focus and never went back to finish the article. Since this show, The Ballroom Thieves have released a new Audiotree session AND have been invited to play their first Newport Folk Festival set! I am thrilled for them. The long story short of this article is that they are phenomenal live and when you go to a concert, you should be nice to the people around you.*

This was the best/worst show I’ve seen in a long while and I am still processing the events of the evening. I’ll explain. My sweetie and I planned our April vacation getaway around going to this show. I love Boston’s The Ballroom Thieves and have seen them a half dozen times and even wrote a preview piece for this show and a review of their debut album, A Wolf in the Doorway, which I rarely do. The last time I saw them play was also with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, which is incredible. I’m a sucker for a string section, so getting to see The Thieves play with an orchestra is a real treat.

Jeff and I wrapped up our adventure in the Kennebunks with an afternoon in Portland, including a trip to the Love Locks fence and a delicious dinner at El Rayo before the show. We stood outside in line at Empire just before doors at 9PM, met up with my concert friend Colin outside, and made our way front and center to the stage so we could be close. It was not very crowded in the front when Tall Heights took the stage. My friend Marian joined us, and then Kate, too. It’s rare for me to be at a show with such a posse, but the Thieves are just that good.

Sadly, there was a loud woman standing right behind me for the bulk of Tall Heights’ set talking with her friends about how “great” the band was and how she’d “pick up the CD after the show.” I was so happy they were happy, but they were also five feet from the performers and one foot from my ear having this ongoing conversation at full volume. *This leads me to concert etiquette tip #1 of the night—if you really must have a (long, loud) conversation, please move away from the stage where people who are probably bigger fans than you are trying to listen.* Unfortunately, I was distracted for most of Tall Heights’ set, but I always appreciate their lovely harmonies, and I enjoyed that Eric Jones (manager of The Ballroom Thieves and Darlingside) played drums with them for a lot of their set. Tim Harrington (guitar) joked that although we were there to celebrate the release of The Ballroom Thieves’ new album, their exciting debut of a Tall Heights tank top surely was more important. He dubbed the night “Tanksgiving.” They wrapped their set with “Spirit Cold,” with the delightful Maine Youth Rock Orchestra as featured performers.

Tall Heights' Paul Wright on cello

Tall Heights’ Paul Wright on cello

Tall Heights' Tim Harrington on guitar

Tall Heights’ Tim Harrington on guitar

Eric Jones on percussion

Eric Jones on percussion

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I won’t hold it against you if you skip this next paragraph, but HOLY COW, I was NOT expecting this to happen at a folk rock show:

This is when my night got really interesting. The gist is that the woman who was so loud and chatty right behind me during Tall Heights physically pushed me out of the way and stood between my sweetie and me at the stage. I was stunned. We were at a folk show, after all, and she was definitely in her thirties. She told me I’d been “taking up the room of three people” during the opening act and she intended to stand in front of me for the rest of the night. I’m not sure how she ended up moving away from me, but then she started poking her elbows and knees into Jeff to try to finagle a spot in front of him. SERIOUSLY? She told him that he was “rude” because he’s tall and blocked her view. Have you been to Empire? There’s plenty of room next to the stage on the floor and she could have stood anywhere. She kept attacking us verbally and Jeff turned around and used his dad voice and told her “I don’t want to hear another word from you for the rest of the night.” *This leads me to concert etiquette tip #2 of the night—if you want to stand in front of me at a show, you need to get there before me, or you need to ask nicely. You cannot physically shove people at a concert. That’s assault.* After Jeff’s stern warning, she moved and didn’t come back. People around us that we didn’t even know approached us to talk about her odd and unacceptable behavior. It was incredibly strange. Maine is a small place, because not even three days later, I saw a picture of this woman show up on my Facebook news feed because we have a mutual friend and they were tagged in a photo together. I sent my friend a message and she assures me that this woman seems nice and normal and must have just been having a bad night and is not the wretched woman I interacted with.

It took a bunch of songs for me to shake that strange experience, but I finally got my head in the game and The Ballroom Thieves rocked our socks, as they always do. They are so solid live—with passionate, urgent vocals, relatable songwriting, strong musicianship, and steady engagement with the crowd. They’re the real deal and I sincerely hope you’ll check them out. I didn’t take notes during the show, but I remember that they played “Coward’s Son”—a favorite of mine, which Martin dedicated to his parents who were at the show. They played “Archers” (which dazzles) and “Lantern” with the awesome Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, Calin wowed on lead on “Bury Me Smiling,” and they wrapped their set with a very high energy “Wolf.” I remember they played a sweet new song to end the night that was fantastic, too. The Thieves are again and again keeping their spot high on my list of favorite live acts. I hope to most of you at their next show. (See show photos below!)

xo,

bree

The Ballroom Thieves' Martin Earley on guitar

The Ballroom Thieves’ Martin Earley on guitar

The Ballroom Thieves' percussionist, Devin Mauch

The Ballroom Thieves’ percussionist, Devin Mauch

The Thieves' cellist, Calin Peters

The Thieves’ cellist, Calin Peters

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Calin and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra Director Kevin Oats

Calin and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra Director Kevin Oats

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Calin and the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

Calin and the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

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Tall Heights joined the Thieves and the MYRO

Tall Heights joined the Thieves and the MYRO

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