Tag Archives: Martin Earley

Ghostland Festival

Saturday, September 1, 2019

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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The Ballroom Thieves with The Bros. Landreth

Friday, November 20

Portland House of Music, Portland, Maine

This show would have been perfect, but the same difficult woman who pushed and verbally harassed me at The Ballroom Thieves show at Empire six months ago was sadly at this show and was as obnoxious as last time. At least I was much further away from her at this show. Concert etiquette is an easy thing to understand—put your phone down, whisper when you talk, respect the personal space of others—but it sadly doesn’t mean everyone comes to a live show to actually listen to the music. For those of us who do, people who ignore those basic rules are the worst. This woman (whose name I know and have decided to withhold after much deliberation) saw me during this show and pointed and waved sarcastically at me during it, all the while talking at more than full volume just inches from the stage while the Thieves performed. I guess she wasn’t really drunk when she was so badly behaved sixth months ago (which was the excuse for her behavior I’d invented) because she shouldn’t have remembered me so many months later. She annoyed the poor people around her so much at this show that they asked her to stop talking over and over again, which she refused, but then she had the audacity to post complaints about how rude the people at the show were later that night on the Facebook event for the show. I continue to be puzzled by her and just hope she’ll skip the next Ballroom Thieves show—for all of our sakes.

Back to the music, though, which was wonderful, even though I was distracted.

This was my first time at Portland House of Music and I liked it. I went with a large group of friends, and we stood next to the stage instead of in the pit, and it offered a great view of the stage. It’s an intimate venue and I don’t think there’s a bad spot in the house. Winnipeg’s The Bros. Landreth were fantastic. The foursome charmed the big crowd with their strong harmonies and honest vocals. At one point, the four stood around one microphone and stunned to silence the entire crowd with their beautiful, sad song, “Greenhouse.” I was truly impressed with their sound and stage presence and have listened to them a bunch since that night. Here’s a piece in Billboard about them that came out last year in advance of their January 2015 release, Let It Lie.  

Bros Landreth

The Bros. Landreth

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The Ballroom Thieves are surely one of my favorite live bands and I love their music so, so much. Martin, Devin, and Callie have incredible chemistry, beautiful harmonies, and heartfelt, engaging songs. They’ve toured a bunch to support A Wolf in the Doorway, and I’m thankful I got to see them live in April, September, and November of 2015. I’m eager for a new album from the Thieves, which must be coming since they’ve played lots of great new songs during these shows. They’re playing a show tomorrow night on New Year’s Eve with Lady Lamb and The Ghost of Paul Revere at State Theatre. (I’ve decided not to go just in case she-who-shall-not-be-named is there, as I don’t want to ring in 2016 anywhere near her.) If you’re feeling up for checking out a fantastic band (you may want to avoid front row center for your concert-going happiness) to end 2015, there are still tickets available! Thieves—I will conjure some bravery to overcome crowd adversity and come see you next time you’re in town! All good things to you in 2016!

xo,

bree

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The Ballroom Thieves

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The Ballroom Thieves

Friday, September 25, 2015

Johnson Hall, Gardiner, Maine

The Ballroom Thieves are a rock solid favorite band of mine and I’ve written about them a bunch on whatbreesees.com. I first saw The Ballroom Thieves open for The Lone Bellow in June of 2013 at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The fact that I am in love with The Lone Bellow, but that I didn’t want The Thieves to rush their opening set, speaks volumes about how good they are. Their infectious, percussive, dynamic sound—with honest lyrics and gorgeous harmonies—makes them the full package.

I send an annual email to Mike Miclon, Executive Artistic Director of Gardiner’s historical Johnson Hall, with a list of my favorite acts I’d like to see perform a mere .2 miles from my house in the upcoming year. He fell in love with The Ballroom Thieves right away and reached out to book them for this great season of shows at Johnson Hall. Coming off their first performance at Newport Folk Festival, I wasn’t sure they’d take a gig in such a small town, but they did!

This abundantly talented Boston-based trio—Maine’s own Martin Earley (guitar/vocals), Calin Peters (cello/vocals), and Devin Mauch (percussion/vocals)—is simply made to play music together. This show coincided with their second anniversary as a group. It’s incredible to think how quickly they’ve become such a strong unit. Their first full-length album, A Wolf in the Doorway, beautifully captures their spirit, and their newest songs (a few of which they treated us to) continue to show their growth and evolving energy as a band. I like their music so much that it’s impossible to pick favorites, but I always appreciate getting to hear “Coward’s Son” (Martin’s folks were in the crowd and he reminded us it’s just a lyric) and “Bury Me Smiling” (featuring Calin on lead vocal) live. Devin sang lead on a fantastic cover of Frightened Rabbit’s “My Backwards Walk,” and it shined brightly as a highlight of the night, especially because I can’t recall ever hearing him take the lead vocal part before. I like the trend towards featuring each vocalist solo from time to time. Their beautiful blend makes it tricky to distinguish their individual voices, so getting to hear each one solo is a treat.

The Ballroom Thieves--Martin, Devin, and Calin

The Ballroom Thieves–Martin, Devin, and Calin

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I appreciated that Mike gave me a shout out before introducing the band and credited me with getting The Ballroom Thieves to Gardiner. Although I rarely like to talk to musicians I admire (you never know when they might be having a bad day and it ruins the love you have), I enjoyed friendly banter during the show with all three, which was very kind. After the show, my sweetie pointed out that I chatted with the band enough during the show to be a fourth band member. Devin joked that he must have lost the invitation I sent for putting them up at my house for the night. Funny, because I had meant to send an email to their manager Eric extending an invitation to house them after the show, but I was so busy running Homecoming week at my school that it completely slipped my mind. Sorry, Thieves! You have an open invitation, both to return to Johnson Hall and to escape the van life for an evening at my house next time you come to town! More pictures below!

xo,

bree

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Unplugged encore on the floor

Unplugged encore on the floor

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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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The Ballroom Thieves unveil A Wolf in the Doorway

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Boston’s The Ballroom Thieves live just a handful of times, but they quickly made their way onto my short list of favorite live bands. This talented trio—Martin Earley (guitar/vocals), Calin Peters (cello/vocals), and Devin Mauch (percussion/vocals)—is simply made to play music together. Their driving, percussive sound is infectious and their crystal clear vocals and gorgeous harmonies are top notch.

I first saw The Ballroom Thieves open for The Lone Bellow (holy smokes, I know!) back in June of 2013. I’d never heard of them and yet they stole my heart with the urgency of their music, honest lyrics, and engaging live show. They know how to perform and bring it every single time. The last time I saw the Thieves was with the very talented Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, and it was a real treat to see them perform together.

The Ballroom Thieves with Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

The Ballroom Thieves with Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

The Ballroom Thieves just released their first full-length album, A Wolf in the Doorway. They kindly sent it to me a couple of months ago and I’ve been listening on repeat. A Wolf in the Doorway beautifully captures the spirit of the Ballroom Thieves. It opens with “Archers,” which will win you over in seconds. (Check out the video for “Archers” that the Thieves made with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra). “Archers” captures what I think is the Thieves’ essential sound.

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My other favorite songs on the record are towards the end of the album. I love Calin’s airy lead vocal on “Bury Me Smiling.” “The Loneliness Waltz” is beautiful. I’ve listened to that one over and over and the lyric “We are frivolous with our hearts/Watch them bend till they break/Then we pick up the parts/We give/We take/We save and condemn/We live just to love again” slays me. Martin’s lead vocals on “Here I Stand” tell the next part of the story after “The Loneliness Waltz,” and their harmonies are hymn like. The whole album is stellar, and you should definitely give it a listen.

  
Not only have the Thieves released a great new album, but they’re coming to town on Friday! They’re definitely going to sell out Empire, so get your tickets early. They’re bringing the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, and Boston-based folk duo Tall Heights is opening the show. If you’re into string sections and strong harmonies, this is a do not miss show! Come find me at the show and say hi—I’ll be the one smiling big and singing along in the front row.

xo,

bree

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