Tag Archives: Monique Barrett

Liz Longley with Monique Barrett

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

This was a perfect day. My 2019 class officers and I delivered hundreds of roses and carnations to kids at school, I had a decadent spa facial after school, and Colin met me at One Longfellow Square for this fantastic show. I hadn’t seenPortland songstress Monique Barrett in too long, so when I saw she was opening forLiz Longley, I eagerly added the show to my calendar. I am SO glad I was in the room for this stellar night.

Monique Barrett was charming and personal with the audience. I always appreciate when a musician interacts with the crowd by sharing stories behind the songs and making us feel like part of a concert experience. Monique does this so well. She played all of her songs about love for us in honor of Valentine’s Day, including a sweet song for her nephew Luca. Monique’s honesty shone through, and we laughed a lot together. Monique told us that she was first introduced to Liz Longley’s music when a friend asked her to learn Liz’s “When You’ve Got Trouble” to sing with her at her sister’s wedding. Monique said that her heart was so full in that moment, and she was honored both to have sung that song for a her friend’s sister on her wedding day and now to share the stage with Liz. She ended her lovely set with my favorite of her songs, “Make It Better.”

Monique Barrett

I’d somehow never seen Liz Longley before, but she impressed me in mere seconds. I remember leaning over to Colin maybe 30 seconds into her first song and whispering “I LOVE her!” Her voice is so strong and full that it fills the space that sometimes exists in songs by other singer songwriters. I was smitten right away. Liz told us she had to dig really deep into her catalog of songs to find any about love in a positive way. Most of her songs, and Monique’s too, were about love lost. She asked if anyone in the crowd wasn’t on a date. Colin and I raised our hands (were we the only ones?) and she looked at us and said, “so most of these songs are really for you.” I love a good break up song, so Liz’s music is firmly in my wheelhouse.

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Liz Longley

Liz told us that she just turned 30 and was a little freaked out about it, but the crowd reassured her life is better after 30. She wrote a song the day before our show in the car during her six hour drive, and told us that writing in the car can be liberating because she doesn’t getting get stuck in the structure of a guitar or piano part. She also told us that one of her favorite childhood memories was driving home from the Shore with her mom. Her mom used to sing while she drove to stay awake, and “I Will” by the Beatles was a favorite of her songs to sing. Liz sang a beautiful cover of it for us.

She introduced “Weightless”by telling us that she’d dated someone for three years and they ended up fighting over how to divide their stuff when they broke up even though they’d gotten it all off Craiglist because they were both poor musicians. The lyrics are personal and relatable:

“You can have the couch, the lamp, the diamond ring/the books on the shelf, the dishes in the sink/take take take take take everything.” She told us that she stopped writing music for almost a year afterwards.

I absolutely loved learning that“Rush” was written for Jim and Pam from The Office. Liz said she was watching the episode where they have their first kiss with the sound off, and the words came to her–“as we surrender to it all, have you ever felt so alive/as I feel with you tonight.” Liz told us that she studied songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and that’s when it clicked for me that I loved her honest, personal, hard hitting lyrics as much as I loved her voice. I realized as I wrote this that I don’t often quote song lyrics, but that’s an area where Liz shines. “Memphis” just slays–“The skies aren’t clear and you’re not here/so I just keep telling myself/you wouldn’t make it to Memphis/you wouldn’t make it halfway/you take that lonely road/and you realize your mistake.”

I read up on Liz after this show, and I listened to her entire musical catalog. She lives in Nashville and makes her living as a musician. I spent some of the night trying to figure out who she sounds like, but she sang the first line to a song I can’t find the name of–the lyrics were “Late in September when autumn came”–and it occurred to me that she sounds like Joy Williams (formerly of The Civil Wars), which is a sincere compliment.

Liz played the first song of hers I ever heard, “When You’ve Got Trouble,”and I was so glad to hear it in person. She joked with us all night–she’s pretty self-deprecating, actually–and told us that she was drunk shopping on Amazon years ago and bought some rollerblades. Turns out, she loves them, and bought another pair for her 30th birthday. She laughed as she told us, “if you need to spice up your life, buy rollerblades!”

Liz earned the standing ovation she received, and she kindly closed the night with an encore–a cover of the Alternate Routes“Nothing More.” She played a Concert Window show a couple of months ago to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief, and attributed the night’s success (they raised $3,500 for hurricane victims) to that song, “because it brings people together, which we need in these times.” I couldn’t agree more.

This was a special night. I felt lucky to be there. I hope you’ll look up both of these talented women and see them live.

xo,

bree

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Gardiner, Maine’s 5th Annual Swine and Stein Oktoberfest

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gardiner, Maine

Dedicated people in my sweet little town have been working hard for years to revitalize the downtown and attract people to Gardiner. My sense is that this work is starting to pay off. Surely the biggest event hosted by Gardiner Maine Street is our annual Swine and Stein Oktoberfest. This was the fifth annual Swine and Stein, and I’d say it was the best one yet! I had such a fun day and there were smiling people everywhere. Thanks so much to everyone who came, and to Gardiner Maine Street, the vendors, the musicians, and the more than sixty (60!) volunteers who made such a wonderful event possible! Patrick Wright—director of Gardiner Main Street—you deserve a special shout out for a job incredibly well done! Thanks, Patrick! What I saw on Saturday makes me proud to live in Gardiner.

I showed up a few minutes before the gates opened at 11:30AM to grab a donut at Frosty’s and check out the layout since improvements are made each year to strengthen the event. I got to pet baby goats and sleeping piglets on my short walk along Water Street, which only heightened my excitement for Swine and Stein. If you’ve never been to Swine and Stein, we shut down auto traffic on our picturesque main street (Water Street), and host live animals, food vendors (featuring A LOT of local pork), a local beer tent, fun activities for all ages, and live local bands all day. It’s a great day, and this year, the weather cooperated beautifully, too.

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All of the photos in this post were taken by me. If you’d like to share, please give me (Bree Candland of whatbreesees.com) photo credit. Thanks!

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I overheard a couple wondering how Swine and Stein works, so I stopped to welcome them and explain the event and show them to the gate. I could hear superstar volunteer Derek Zardus of Zardus Art of Massage & Wellness Spa welcoming people to Gardiner and to Swine and Stein at the gate long before I could see him. We moved quickly through the line, got our three drink tickets (included with admission) cleverly attached to our wristband, and the first 1,000 through the line also got a souvenir 5 oz. tasting glass. Later in the day I saw how many people didn’t have one of those little glasses, so I am guessing a lot more than 1,000 people showed up!

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Derek Zardus

Derek Zardus

I LOVED the addition of a professional stage with a sound engineer this year! I could hear Sorcha and Monique Barrett playing as I said my hellos and wandered through the food area to scope out what I might want to get for lunch later. Sorcha is a friend in music—she’s played Swine and Stein before and I’m always happy to get to see her live. She and Monique harmonize beautifully, and their covers of “Jolene” and “Crazy” were flawless. I wasn’t taking notes because I wanted to enjoy the day, but I liked the song Sorcha wrote for a friend’s wedding (the name of which I’d normally have jotted down), and one of Monique’s that might be called “Make It Better.” Later in the day, I introduced them to Johnson Hall director Michael Miclon. We talked about having a singer-songwriter circle show at Johnson Hall sometime this season. I took Sorcha and Monique into Johnson Hall to show them the beautifully renovated performance space downstairs and to show off the cleaned up third floor, which is beautiful and totally ready for renovation. Built in 1864, Johnson Hall has been a ballroom, a movie house, and a theatre. Johnson Hall hopes to renovate the upper floors to use for performances and other events. The potential in that space is unreal. Monique and Sorcha talked about how cool it would be to record an album together (since they often play together, but don’t have one) in that space. The acoustics are amazing. When I took them to the top floor, they were so wowed by the beauty of the space that they broke out in song! I have high hopes for the capital campaign and would LOVE to see Johnson Hall restored.

Sorcha and Monique Barrett

Sorcha and Monique Barrett

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Mike Miclon and Logan Johnston

Mike Miclon and Logan Johnston in front of Johnson Hall

The amazing space on the top floor of Johnson Hall

The amazing space on the top floor of Johnson Hall

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I loved the fun competitions and events that were planned for the day in between bands. The event that stole my heart, however, was the first-ever Swine and Stein Beard and Mustache Competition. Danielle Rodrigue, local beauty expert from Concepts Hair Design and and the MAYOR of Gardiner, Thom Harnett, were the other two judges, and I was thrilled to be asked to join them. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Patrick called contestants to the stage and a wave of beautifully bearded and mustachioed men approached the stage. Did you know there’s a Maine Facial Hair Club? What a great group of guys. We judged in six categories—beards more or less than six inches, partial mustache, freestyle, and a couple of others that I can’t recall since I was on cloud nine the whole time. Clare Marron, Gardiner Maine Street board member and owner of Monkitree, Gardiner’s fine art and craft gallery, organized the event. She worked with The Potter’s House to create amazing mugs (in honor of American Craft Week) for the winners of each category. The winners were thrilled with their surprise award.

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That's me, Danielle, and Gardiner mayor Thom Harnett

That’s me, Danielle, and Gardiner mayor Thom Harnett

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I think you tell I was a BIG fan of the beard and mustache competition!

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Clare Marron of Monkitree gave out awesome prizes to the winners

Clare Marron of Monkitree gave out awesome prizes to the winners

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The German Oktoberfest Band always sets the perfect mood, and they had people swaying and toasting along. My dear friend Rachel came in her dirndl and valiantly competed in the frozen t-shirt contest, but lost in a very close race to the finish.

The German Oktoberfest Band

The German Oktoberfest Band

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Rachel and Ian appropriately dressed for Oktoberfest

Rachel and Ian appropriately dressed for Oktoberfest

The frozen t-shirt content was HILARIOUS

The frozen t-shirt content was HILARIOUS

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Photo finish! That was CLOSE!

Photo finish! That was CLOSE!

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Vintage Wine Bar had a wine tent this year!

Vintage Wine Bar had a wine tent this year!

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!

BBQ!

BBQ!

My delicious lunch

My delicious lunch

Cute dogs!

Cute dogs!

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Dublin the golden retriever

Dublin the golden retriever

Bo surrounded by admirers at Monkitree

Bo surrounded by admirers at Monkitree. Photo courtesy of Clare Marron.

I’d never seen Gunther Brown live, even though lead singer Pete Dubuc sent me their music early on in whatbreesees.com and I liked it a lot. Senator Susan Collins and her team were at Swine and Stein, and she stopped to give a wave to the band early in their set. I was especially glad to hear “(Don’t Forget To) Don’t Go” and “Hello Tonight” live.

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Senator Susan Collins saying hello to Gunther Brown

Senator Susan Collins saying hello to Gunther Brown

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The rock-paper-scissors competition run by Mike Miclon of Johnson Hall was awesome. He held preliminary rounds earlier in the day that I watched and then the semi finalists joined him at the stage to compete in front of all of the Swine and Stein attendees. It was an absolute hoot to watch, and the winner won two free tickets to any upcoming Johnson Hall event. Patrick Wright called up local bearded men to compete in a scaled down version of the earlier event, and a handful of kids who’d made their own mustaches at the craft table competed as well.

The rock-paper-scissor competition preliminary rounds

The rock-paper-scissors competition preliminary rounds

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The rock-paper-scissor finals were a BLAST!

The rock-paper-scissors final rounds were a BLAST!

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I was glad to see The Jason Spooner Band again. It had been quite a while and they sound great. As the day wound down, The Spare Parts Band, featuring Oakland Farms owner and Gardiner city councilor Logan Johnston took the stage to close the event.

The Jason Spooner Band

The Jason Spooner Band

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I nearly forgot about this adorable competition!

I nearly forgot about this adorable competition!

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The Spare Parts Band

The Spare Parts Band

Logan Johnston

Logan Johnston

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Swine and Stein was a blast this year! I went right home and drank some tea to warm and up promptly ended up taking a nap! Thank you so much to everyone who helped make it a success and we’ll see you next year!

xo,

bree

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