Tag Archives: Port City Music Hall

Buffalo Tom

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

For many years, I spent Memorial Day weekend with my best friend in NYC. She’s moved to the suburbs in New Jersey and has a family now, so our annual MDW tradition has ended. This year, I looked forward to some downtime at home instead of a big weekend away. I went to Bowdoin’s Commencement and marched in the alumni parade, visited the farmers’ market, and ventured down to Portland to meet up with Bob for an early dinner at Empire. He insisted we meet at 5:30 for dinner, because he was confident there would be a line at Port City Music Hall for the Buffalo Tom show and wanted to be there by 7–when doors opened. I told him his worries were unnecessary, but there was a short line of fans outside when we arrived at 6:50. Bob loved it. We were front and center for a solid 40 minutes before really anyone else arrived for the show, though (Bob won the battle, but I won the war on our bet).

Times Square. Memorial Day weekend 2010

Bob vouched for Buffalo Tom, has seen them a lot live, and promised they’d be “smart and funny” in person, so I decided to join him for the show. Probably like many other women in their 30s, Buffalo Tom came onto my radar back in 1994, when I was a freshman in high school and watched My So-Called Life religiously. There’s an entire episode that revolves around Angela and Rayanne acquiring fake IDs to sneak into a club to see Buffalo Tom play because Angela’s love interest, Jordan Catalano, was going to be there. Buffalo Tom performed in the club in the episode, and surely expanded their listening audience to include lots more teenage girls than just me. I bought Buffalo Tom’s 1993 album, Big Red Letter Day, after the episode aired, and listened to “Late At Night” on repeat.

Buffalo Tom formed in 1986 when guitarist Bill Janovitz, bassist Chris Colburn, and drummer Tom Maginnis attended U Mass Amherst, and they are currently touring to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1992 album, Let Me Come Over. They don’t have an opening act, play a full set of a mix of their songs, and then play the entire album after an intermission. Since I’ve never heard that album and didn’t fall in love with them live, I didn’t feel bad about leaving after the first set.

They played all of my favorites from Big Red Letter Day–“Late At Night,” “Sodajerk,” “I’m Allowed,” and “Tree House” right at the beginning of their first set. I was happy to hear these songs that reminded me of a formative time in my life in person from the front row. Bill Janovitz chatted with the crowd a bit, mostly to make fun of his own age and say how their fans must already be tired like them from all the standing, but he also had some adorable rock guitar antics. They played an impressive total of 27 songs that night, including a quick bit of “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers as a tribute to Greg Allman, who’d passed away earlier in the day.

I’m a little behind in blogging because my last remaining elderly kitty (sweet Yeltsin) passed away recently, but Bob texted me this today, fully knowing that I didn’t love Buffalo Tom live:

RIP, Yeltsin kitty

“Buffalo Tom is playing Royale on September 10! I’ll pick you up at NOON. There will be a line!”

xo,

bree

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The Wind and The Wave with The Native Sibling and Justin Kawika Young

Friday, May 19, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

Some nights just feel really good, and this was surely one of them. I was surprised by how quiet it was at Port City Music Hall for this triple bill on a Friday night, but it meant the small crowd had plenty of personal space and room to dance, which was a treat.

I got to Port City around 7:45 and noticed a guy I’d seen at Jamestown Revival, so I said hi. He said, “don’t you write that music blog?,” which made me feel a little famous. Sean and I chatted about bands we love and upcoming shows until Seattle’s The Native Sibling took the stage. My Spotify “discover weekly” playlist introduced me to them a while back, and I kept going back to their songs and was really excited to see them in person. Brother and sister duo Ryan and Kaylee Williams were engaging, kind, and genuine. Ryan asked if anyone knew their music, and I raised my hand from front and center. I bought their 2014 album, Letters Kept to Ourselves, after the show and have listened to it on repeat. Kaylee and Ryan were nice in real life and were glad to know I’d already been a fan. Sometimes their song “Here With Me” makes me a little teary. If you like lovely songs with airy harmonies, you’ll like The Native Sibling.

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The Native Sibling–Kaylee and Ryan Williams

Hawaii’s Justin Kawika Young took the stage next, and my friend Marian showed up to enjoy the rest of the night with me. He had tons of stage presence and warmly interacted with the crowd. He asked if any of us had been to Hawaii, so I raised my hand and we ended up having a quick chat during his set. He told us he’d written a song about justice based on a book he’d just finished reading and I was impressed with his passion for social justice. He also played a fantastic medley of songs from the 90s that made my night. Justin had a smooth voice and lots of charisma. Here’s a video of Justin performing his song “Three Weeks From Tomorrow.” I spoke to Justin after the show and he told me that I sounded like a native when I pronounced Hawaiian places, which was a huge compliment.

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Justin Kawika Young

Aimsel Ponti showed up just in time for The Wind and The Wave’s set. She’s a fan. You can read her interview with the band here. Austin’s The Wind and The Wave sounded great. Patty Lynn has a lovely voice. Guitarist/vocalist Dwight Baker told us he was really high, and it showed. The band didn’t interact with us hardly at all. I know we were a small crowd (which might have been disappointing to them), but we were enthusiastic, and it was a bummer that we didn’t get a chance to get to have much of a show experience. Their newest album, Happiness Is Not A Place, was recorded live and is worth a listen. Maybe the band had an off night, but that album is better than their live show was. I ended up chatting with Patty Lynn after the show, and she was very nice, so I expect they have the potential for a more energetic, engaging live show. Their song “Grand Canyon” is about not taking things for granted, and it’s excellent.

Overall, this was an effortless, fun night, and I am glad I was there.

xo,

bree

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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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Blind Pilot with Dickie

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I grabbed my spot in the front row (where I like to be at Port City Music Hall) just after Dickie took the stage. Iowa’s Dickie was pretty good. I texted Colin that their lead singer, Dick Prall, reminded me of Hey Rosetta! (which is a compliment), but I didn’t love violinist Kristina Priceman’s sarcastic jokes directed towards Dick Prall. It detracted from the music for me. Maybe I’m drained from all of the negative energy in our world right now, but having one bandmate pick fun at another on stage was a big turn off. Too bad, because they can play (and they have a bass saxophonist, which is rad), and I bet they have a lot of fun together on the good nights. Check out their song “Pop Pop Pop.”

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Dickie

Blind Pilot took the stage after a very long break between sets. I hadn’t seen them live since I caught them from the front row at the Newport Folk Festival back in 2012, so I was very excited to see them in Portland, Maine. The six piece band plays so many instruments–upright bass, ukulele, trumpet, vibraphone, and one I had to Google, the mountain dulcimer. If you saw their stage set up before the six band members took the stage, you would expect a much bigger band.

Blind Pilot is from the “other Portland,” and we gave them a little bit of crap about that. Israel Nebeker has a silky smooth voice and when partnered with the harmonies of Kati Claborn and Luke Ydstie, they have a rich, upbeat sound. Blind Pilot played a solid 15 song set to a very happy crowd. “3 Rounds And A Song” is such a sweet love song, and I was glad to hear it in person. Right in the middle of the song, though, there was a loud gasp right behind me. A proposal! The crowd clapped and the band smiled. After the song ended, Luke made sure to get the couple’s names (Allie and Patrick) and wished them well. What a sweet moment to witness!

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The whole crowd sang along (including an adorable group of high school aged boys who were in the front row and knew all of the words) to Blind Pilot’s single “Packed Powder” from their most recent release, And Then Like Lions. The band came back for a two song encore, and ended the night with my favorite, “We Are The Tide,” which is a superb pick me up song. Blind Pilot is wonderful live, and I was so pleased to see them in my Portland.

xo,

bree

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Carbon Leaf with The Accidentals

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

It’s always a pleasure to see Virginia’s Carbon Leaf live. I’ve been going to their shows in Maine since 2009, and they always bring positive energy and upbeat music. Lead singer Barry Privett told us that he’d done the math, and they’ve played Portland, Maine ten times. I left my fancy camera at home so I could dance, but here are posts from Carbon Leaf shows at Port City Music Hall in December of 2013 and November of 2014 that have longer recaps and far better pictures of the show.

I love Carbon Leaf shows because the crowd is always full of great people who sing along and have a great time. Being part of a great crowd means having a great time at the show, so this is truly an important point to mention. I met a couple who had driven up from Massachusetts for the show, and we danced and sang along from the front row while Carbon Leaf played a solid 20-song set, including songs you’ve definitely heard on 98.9 WCLZ, such as “Life Less Ordinary” and “What About Everything?” “The Boxer” takes on new meaning for me now that I’m training five days a week at a MMA gym. In fact, I met my teammates at our coach’s house after the show to watch the UFC fights until the wee hours.

“Let Your Troubles Roll By” is the Carbon Leaf song that means the most to me and inspires me to lift my head when things are hard. I always think of my friend Sarah, who I met at a Carbon Leaf show at Port City in 2009 and who suffered an aneurysm, but has really come a long way in her recovery. Carbon Leaf even sent her a get well soon card when she was in the hospital. They’re great musicians, but good people, too. That stuff matters to me.

Towards the end of the night, Barry asked to turn the house lights up. Since Veteran’s Day was the day before, Barry asked all of the veterans in the room to raise their hand for much deserved recognition and then dedicated and played “The War Was in Color” for them. It was a moving moment. I’m always glad to see you when you’re in town, Carbon Leaf! See you next fall!

xo,

bree

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Rachael Yamagata with Pressing Strings

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I have a lot of love for Rachael Yamagata. Her 2004 album, Happenstance, played on repeat in my car for a solid year. I saw her once in September of 2005 at my alma mater, so it had been over a decade since I’d seen her live. Now touring to support her new Tightrope Walker album, I was very excited to be able to see Rachael in Portland (much to the chagrin of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, whose class I had to skip to get to the show on time!).

I arrived at Port City Music Hall towards the end of opener Pressing Strings’ set. I don’t have much of a recollection of them two and a half weeks later, but I do remember they did a cover of “Going to California” that I thought was really good.

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Pressing Strings

Rachael Yamagata and her band took the stage to a small, but obviously loyal crowd. Rachael was a little under the weather, and had been encouraged not to talk too much between songs (which was clearly a struggle for her). I was thrilled to hear “Be Be Your Love” from Happenstance early in her set. It made my day. She told us that “I Don’t Want to Be Your Mother” was about her tendency to date men who need a lot of support, which women in the crowd near me chuckled and shared knowing glances about while Rachael introduced the song. I thought “Over” was great live. Rachael pushed her voice (I hope she was okay in the days that followed) and covered Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou,” which sounded lovely.

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Rachael Yamagata

Rachael’s band was great, too. Her drummer was leaving soon to tour with William Fitzsimmons (who I LOVE), Brandon Walters played bass and is in Lord Huron (seriously!), Michael Chavez on lead guitar has toured with Rachael forever, and Grammy nominated producer John Alagía played piano and guitar. Rachael was charming and open and her voice cuts right through.

Her last song, “Nobody,” is about “going for it” and she sampled Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in there, too, which was an unexpected, welcome surprise. The grateful audience cheered for an encore and Rachael came back and played “Elephants” solo. People in the crowd shouted out requests and Rachael seemed happy to hear them and tried to oblige. She also sang a song for local music maven Aimsel Ponti, who is a longtime Rachael fan and was also at the show. Aimsel also made my day by telling me that Rachael had recorded an entirely acoustic version of Happenstance that was for sale at the merch table. So Happenstance is happily back in my car on repeat, and it holds up beautifully, twelve whole years later! So glad I made it to this show!

xo,

bree

P.S.–Check out the video for “Let Me Be Your Girl”–written/directed by Josh Radnor and starring Allison Janney!

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