Tag Archives: Mipso

Mipso with Dan Mills 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I saw Dan Mills play on campus at Bowdoin College back in 2009 when his uncle Barry was our president. I really enjoyed him then and have seen him on the rare occasions when he’s come back to Maine. Dan Mills played a co-headlining show with Mipso at One Longfellow Square in 2015. Mipso’s fiddle player, Libby, invited me to that show, and since I knew I liked Dan Mills, I was totally game to check them out for the first time. I think I’ve seen Mipso a half dozen times now, and I will always make an effort to see them whenever they come to town. 

My Dan really likes Mipso (and our musical tastes are not super compatible, so that’s saying something), so he joined me for the show. We had our first meal at Eaux and it was DELICIOUS. My former student is a sous chef there and I loved getting to see him in his element. We walked off some of our chicken and waffles on our way over to Port City Music Hall. We grabbed a spot up front and Dan Mills took the stage soon after we arrived.

Dan Mills interacted warmly with the audience. He joked that “when you’re married, you know exactly what’s not going to happen when your wife puts in her mouthguard” before playing a sweet song about a married couple. It’s on his new EP–Small Talk and Saturdays–that he recorded in Parsonfield, Maine at Great North Sound Society. Joseph and Libby from Mipso joined Dan Mills on “Girl from Baltimore.” He told us he’d decided to scrap the whole music thing, and then a beautiful new song poured out of him just after making that choice. He played it for us as his closing song, and it was so, so lovely. Maybe it’s called “Only One,” and the lyrics “there’s aint a lighthouse you could find or any highway exit sign that’s shining brighter than the one that gets you home” hit me right in the feels. I can’t wait to hear it again.

Mipso is lovely, and I am always happy to see them live. I appreciate their warm energy, regard for one another, and crystal clear, lyric-drive,n heartfelt songs. Mipso is Joseph Terrell (lead vocal and guitar), Jacob Sharp (mandolin), Wood Robinson (upright bass), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle). They added Yan Westerlund on drums in 2017, which I’ve adjusted to even though my Dan will you tell you that I hate drums.

I can’t really pick a favorite Mipso song, but always enjoy “Down in the Water,” “Coming Down the Mountain,” “My Burden With Me,” and “Marianne.” Their cover of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” is perfect. Mipso tours a lot, so they were especially excited to have their first day off in two weeks the day after the show. They told us they’ve always played Portland in the winter, so they were really excited to enjoy a summer day in Maine. 

I love when Mipso sings surrounding one microphone. There’s an intimacy to their shows that I really appreciate. Jacob shared the heavy inspiration behind “Hallelujah,” which I was so glad to know:

It’s a funny experience to be so intensely looking at our new songs and the emotions and experiences that we’ve had, because what we do, more than anything, is drive, and then second most, is being up here playing for you. We wrote “Hallelujah” after the Pulse shootings in Orlando. I remember starting to write it thinking that I was losing the ability to be shocked by mass shootings and that’s such a wild experience and a different type of hopelessness and helplessness than I’d felt before. I thought that surely it would feel dated by the time we sang it for people, but it feels realer and realer all the time. I remember being sad at that moment and now I just feel angry and it’s such bullshit that we can’t do anything. I think we can do something and I think there are people we can elect to office who will do something. I hope we can unite about a couple of things at least that seem pretty damn obvious.

The lyrics express that frustration, too–”We’ll say their names / Try our best to spread the blame / We’ll do the dance / We’ll hide from shame.” This song has power.

It’s always a pleasure to see Mipso, and I hope you’ll put them on your radar and check them out. This was a lovely night from start to finish!

xo,

bree

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Lula Wiles with Mia Bertelli

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I saw Lula Wiles open for Mipso in 2016 and for Darlingside in 2017 and I was eager to see them headline a show. Dan made me a quick pre-show dinner after work and I made my way over to One Longfellow Square for Lula Wiles’ sold out show. OLS was packed when I arrived, but I managed to find a single seat in the corner near the stage. Lula Wiles–Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland and Mali Obomsawin–are all Mainers, so I think the room was packed with friends and family. Their recent exposure on NPR couldn’t have hurt, either. I’m happy for them that the word about Lula Wiles is getting out!

Mia Bertelli took the stage with Benjamin Foss, and sisters Edith and Elsie Gawler. Mia told us it was Ben’s debut on the upright bass. They all live in the Belfast area and gig regularly in that neck of the woods. Their harmonies are just lovely. Mia joked that they’d played out the night of the Super Bowl and might make their band name Mia Bertelli and the Harmony Touchdowns. I was fascinated to learn that everyone on stage all night (except Lula Wiles drummer, Sean Trischka) met at Maine Fiddle Camp. If Maine Fiddle Camp needs to drum up business, they should have just recorded this show as inspiration for the talent they help foster. One of the Gawler sisters acknowledged that night’s highlighted local organization, 317 Main, where their mom, Ellen, happens to teach. The quartet performed many songs about water, including “Dip and Sway.” To say that this opening band warmed up the audience is an understatement.I’ve been seeing fewer and fewer shows, and it’s because folks in audiences have grown increasingly rude–talking incessantly, recording the show with their phones above their heads, and even pushing (a lot). I’ve started to avoid shows at bigger venues in town, and I realized 45 minutes into this intimate show at One Longfellow Square–one of Portland’s only true listening rooms–I was just so grateful to be in the room and sharing a concert experience with an audience that really wanted to be right there, too.

Everyone was pumped for Lula Wiles, and they delivered. It’s such a pleasure to hear songs with depth that are steeped in social commentary from a trio of young women who are impressive musicians with beautiful voices. Isa called this show their home state record release show, and they played a lot of songs from their second album, What Will We Do. Check out NPR First Listen’s review of their sophomore album. Lula Wiles met at Maine Fiddle Camp, but they also refined their sound together at Berklee College of Music. They have both an ease and a sophistication from both of those worlds, too.A trapping of growing success, Isa told us that a girl who was mean to her all through school wanted to hang out with her during her last visit home. She wrote a fabulous new song about it, which included the refrain “We’re not making plans, Maryann.” Lula Wiles covered “The Pain of Loving You” by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner on their record and played it for us. Mali teased Isa before they started singing, “this is another song about being alone, right Isa?” Isa responded, “happy love songs might happen at some point, but tonight is not that night.” It might have been Eleanor who interjected that “it’s not really a Lula Wiles show unless you get to learn a lot about our personal lives.” I really appreciate seeing a band in person that wears their hearts on their sleeves and interacts with each other and with the audience and creates a true concert experience–even if they’re gently picking on each other.

Mali lamented the “exploitation and erasure of Native people” asked us to reflect on “what it is like to be Native in a country that was not made for Native people” during “Good Old American Values.” As the trio tuned their instruments to prepare, Mali joked “we have to be perfectly in tune to talk about colonialism, so bear with us.” Mali also took the lead on “Morphine,” which she dedicated to anyone who has struggled with addiction.

Isa picked up a banjo (was that the third or fourth instrument she played that night?) and took the lead on “Shaking as It Turns.” Lula Wiles wrapped up their set on a high note and the audience jumped to a standing ovation. The trio returned to the stage and covered Lucius’ “Go Home” a cappella around a single microphone. I was glad to hear a song without any instruments to sit back and enjoy Lula Wiles’ easy, airy harmonies without any distractions.What a show! Lula Wiles is the real deal, y’all!

xo,

bree

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SnugHouse

Friday, November 9, 2018

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I’m a big fan of Portland’s SnugHouse, and based on the love in the room at this near sell-out EP release show, many of you are, too. SnugHouse’s star has risen quickly in the year they’ve been a band. They played the WCLZ stage at the Old Port Festival in June, are played in regular rotation on Aimsel Ponti’s Music from 207 show on 98.9 WCLZ, and have been featured on 207 twice. If you somehow haven’t heard about SnugHouse yet, let me introduce you. Nikhil Dasgupta, Alex Millan, Laura Pauline, and Rosie Borden came together as solo artists and regulars at the open mic night at the Dogfish Bar in Portland. What they’ve created together is really special.

I was surprised to learn this was only my second SnugHouse show, because I like them so very much. I ran into Nikhil and Sam Kyzivat from Maine Youth Rock Orchestra a week earlier at a Mipso show at Portland House of Music and Events. Sam told me that he was joining SnugHouse on violin and keys for their upcoming tour, so I was even more excited for their Like Water EP release show at One Longfellow Square. I asked Dan to join me and he surprised me by making my favorite Indian dish and pakoras at home before the show. We made our way over to OLS and it was crowded when we got there at the end of the show opener’s set. We grabbed a front row balcony seat, and I got to say hello to Kevin Oates of MYRO and Geneviève Beaudoin (my delightful former student!) of Dead Gowns during intermission.

The energy in the room was supportive and warm. The audience was clearly full of friends, family, and fans, and the band obviously felt the love and were all smiles all night. They told us a bit about some of their songs, their recording process, and highlights from their EP release tour. I always appreciate storytelling on stage–it makes a show more of an experience. Something else I like about SnugHouse is that everyone in the band is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. They share the lead depending on who wrote the song they’re playing and move about the stage from instrument to instrument.

I thought their cover of “Fever” was fun and Laura debuted a new song she wrote called “A Love I’ve Never Had Before.” Laura told us that they didn’t have time to arrange it to play with the full band, so everyone cleared the stage while she sang and you could feel the positive energy her bandmates sent her way from the wings. It makes me happy to see a band that genuinely likes and supports one another. SnugHouse covered a sad, beautiful song by Donovan Woods called “I Ain’t Never Loved No One.” The original song features Rose Cousins, who is one of my top favorite artists.

Take a few minutes and check out SnugHouse. They’ve just put out videos for “Firefly” and “Glass” from Like Water.  They’re a treat in person.

xo,

bree

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Mipso

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Portland House of Music and Events, Portland, Maine

This was my fifth Mipso show. Libby Rodenbough, who plays fiddle and sings in Mipso,  emailed me back in 2015 to invite me to their first-ever show in Maine at One Longfellow Square in Portland, and I’m so glad I went. I don’t think I’ve missed them in Portland since. They’re touring to support their brand new album, Edges Run. Dan really liked “Moonlight” from that album and has mentioned it a couple of times since the show. “People Change” is also from their new album and it’s so depressing, which is right up my alley. The lyrics– “I used to love you like the world would end. I used to love you like a child. The thing about people is that they change when they walk away.” Ugh. I love an honest lyric.

 

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From left to right, Mipso is Libby Rodenbough, Wood Robinson, Joseph Terrell, Jacob Sharp, and Yan Westerlund.

Mipso has an Americana, bluegrassy vibe, and I love their heartfelt songs and tight harmonies. Jacob Sharp (mandolin), Wood Robinson (upright bass), Joseph Terrell (lead vocal and guitar), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle) met at UNC Chapel Hill and have been a band for about five years, but they play together like it’s been longer. They added Yan Westerlund on drums in 2017, too, which has amplified their sound. The most important thing to me about Mipso’s music is that their lyrics are crystal clear and are at the forefront of their songs. For me, lyrics are the most compelling reason to fall in love with a song. I especially like “When I’m Gone” and “Down in the River.” They also circled one microphone to cover Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.” It was perfect and Dan and I have watched the video more than once in the few days since the show.

If Mipso isn’t on your radar, you’re missing out. Mipso IS on SnugHouse and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra’s radar. I saw both Nikhil Dasgupta and Sam Kyzivat at the show, and they’ll be celebrating the release of SnugHouse’s new EP, Like Water, together on Friday night (November 9) at One Longfellow Square. I will definitely be there, and you should come check them out, too!

xo,

bree

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Mipso with Ten String Symphony

Friday, April 21, 2017

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

This was my fourth Mipso show. I love them and will see them whenever they come to Portland. I even kind of planned my April vacation trip to Charleston, South Carolina around making it back for this show. It all started with an email I got a couple of years ago from Mipso fiddle player/vocalist Libby Rodenbough inviting me to come check out their Maine debut at One Longfellow Square. Dan Mills (Barry’s nephew, for my Bowdoin College community readers) opened that show, so I readily accepted the invitation. North Carolina’s bluegrassy folk band Mipso stole my heart. I was hooked.

Mipso came back to OLS in February and November of 2016, and I was at both shows. I thought the addition of a drummer at the November show was an issue because I couldn’t hear their vocals, but their drummer returned for this show and the balance was totally fine. It’s a relief, because one of the things I like best about them is how crystal clear their lyrics are.

Mipso is Jacob Sharp on mandolin, Wood Robinson on upright bass, Joseph Terrell on lead vocal and guitar, Libby Rodenbough on fiddle, and Yan Westerlund on drums. Their 2017 release, Coming Down the Mountain, is excellent. I particularly like the title song and “Water Runs Red” (which they closed their set with). I was very happy to hear “4 Train,” “Marianne”, and “Louise” live. Mipso is a fantastic blend of musicianship and showmanship. Their live show is engaging and it’s a real pleasure to spend an evening in their company. Until next time!

xo,

bree
PS–My dear friend Ken Templeton saw Mipso the following night at The Sinclair and shared his thoughts at Red Line Roots.

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Mipso with Lula Wiles

Thursday, November 3, 2016

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I am usually disappointed when I see shows I want to go to are scheduled for Thursday nights, because it means I have to skip sparring and my women’s Brazilian jiu jitsu class (and my instructor is a beast and doesn’t like it when I’m absent), but I am mostly glad I made an exception for this show. I introduced my former advisee, Carmen, who is now a freshman at Bowdoin College, to Mipso, and she came to see them with me last time they were in town on Valentine’s Day. When Carmen told me she was planning to go and would save me a seat (which she fortunately was able to do), I decided to join her.

When I arrived at One Longfellow Square, I ran into Portland’s own Griffin Sherry of The Ghost of Paul Revere fame, and was able to catch up with him about their upcoming touring scheduled (which is plentiful). I found Carmen in the front row of what little seating existed, since the staff had pushed the seats to the side to create a dance floor (which the website did warn about, but I’d forgotten). OLS–please don’t do this limited seating thing. It’s awful. You’re a listening room, and that’s a wonderful thing. When you clear the room, you encourage people to stop listening. It has happened 100% of the time I’ve been to one of these “limited seating” shows. This night, there was a belligerent dude in a CrossFit t shirt who kept heckling the band and shouting over the music the whole show. I just don’t think people would be as inclined to act so inappropriately in a seated venue. He was super obnoxious. Also, the bands you’ve cleared the floor for (maybe at their request?) just aren’t bands you really can or would dance to, either.

Lula Wiles opened the show and they were delightful. Isa Burke and Ellie Buckland traded a fiddle and guitar back and forth and both sang their hearts out. I wouldn’t have known they were a trio if they hadn’t mentioned that their bass player Mali was missing that night. Isa’s little sister, Julianna, joined them on stage and sang Mali’s part for one song and was great, too. Check out “Losing Side.” Lula Wiles is the real deal, and I will definitely see them next time they’re in town.

Carmen and I traded raised eyebrows when our beloved Mipso took the stage with a drummer in tow. They’re a young bluegrass band from North Carolina with beautiful lyrics and harmonies, but the drums drowned them out and it changed the entire vibe for both of us. I theorized that they added a drummer because they play a lot in bars and could use the volume for those venues, but I was disappointed, whatever the reason. Their drummer (who is talented, just not necessary) left the stage about halfway through their set, much to our relief. It was nice to hear the Mipso we know and love and actually be able to hear the lyrics of the songs.

Lead singer Joseph Terrell (who has a stunningly clear voice) sang “When I’m Gone” for his grandmother, Eldora. I glanced over to the “dance floor” (where no one was dancing because this was not dance music) and saw my dear college friend, Ken Templeton, who was there to cover the show for Boston’s Red Line Roots (he didn’t take kindly to the drunk CrossFit guy, either). Since he’d never seen Mipso before, he wasn’t offended at all by the addition of a drummer like we were (which is to say, you will still like them if you’ve never heard them before). At the end of the night, Mipso invited Lula Wiles back to the stage and treated us to a great rendition of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” It was a delight to catch up with Griffin, Carmen, and Ken, and I was relieved that the obnoxious drunk guy wasn’t wearing a MMA shirt. #represent

xo,

bree

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Mipso

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I was so grateful to get to spend Valentine’s Day with my dear friend Dot in Portland. We had a delicious dinner at Empire and arrived early at One Longfellow Square to grab seats up close for Mipso. North Carolina’s Mipso kindly invited me to their show with Dan Mills back in January of 2015, and I’m so glad I decided to check them out. They were so delightful, in fact, that I scheduled my February vacation trip to visit my dad in Florida around getting to see them play again in Portland. I also randomly caught Mipso playing “Bad Penny” on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, so they’ve had quite the year! Maybe they’ll be a household name by the next time they play in Portland?

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Mipso riding on the KFC float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Mipso is Jacob Sharp on mandolin, Wood Robinson on upright bass, Joseph Terrell on lead vocal and guitar, and Libby Rodenbough on fiddle. This talented, charming group plays beautifully and their harmonies are spot on. They are clearly good friends and good people and are warm and friendly with the audience. I loved “Father’s House” and “Louise,” and it was a treat to see Maine’s most famous mandolin player, Joe Walsh, join Mipso for a couple of songs, too. “4 Train” and “When I’m Gone” both hit me in the feels with their somber lyrics. It’s refreshing to hear songs from a band that feel authentic and meaningful. It’s also wonderful to hear vocalists perform who have crystal clear voices so you can understand every word.

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Jacob Sharp on mandolin, Joseph Terrell on guitar, and Libby Rodenbough on fiddle

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Joseph’s voice has a decidedly Paul Simon sound, which became even more evident during their lovely cover of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.” I’ve already named a lot of favorite songs of the night, but “Get Out,” was another top favorite. Mipso really does it right. They are an absolute pleasure to see live and I’m already eager to have them back to Maine. They joked that they keep coming in the winter and would really like to come back in the summer, so I hope we don’t have to wait as long for their next show here. Thanks again, Mipso! Libby—I hope you had a fun birthday in Portland!

xo,

bree

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Maine’s Joe Walsh joined Mipso on mandolin

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Joe delivered a gift basket to Libby on stage at the end of the night. Her sweet parents sent it to One Longfellow Square to arrive on her birthday.

 

 

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