Tag Archives: Portland Maine

Lori McKenna with Hailey Whitters

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I’ve been seeing fewer and fewer shows these days. There are two reasons for the lack of live music in my life. The first is that my partner works in theater and I’ve seen 26 plays in the last year alone. The heart of the matter, though, is that audiences seem to be more and more full of people lacking basic concert etiquette these days, and it’s just not fun to go to concerts when people in the audience push, talk non-stop, and record the whole show through their phone screen. I’ve lost my patience with it, so I’m being a lot more picky about the shows I am choosing to attend. I am primarily attending seated shows, where pushing is basically impossible, because people can’t show up late and steal your chair. All of these conscious decisions absolutely melted away from my anxious concert-going brain on Sunday night, though, and I am so grateful for it.

Lori McKenna and her band came to Port City Music Hall to play her album, Bittertown, on its 15th anniversary, and it was a GA seated show. I showed up just after the doors opened (after stopping on Washington Avenue to support Hannah Daman’s [of Sibylline] new delicious maple creemee food truck venture), and found an empty second row center seat. I was blown away by the show in every sense and was so grateful to my fellow concert-goers who were attentive and came to listen. It was perfect and was such an unexpected joy. 

Hailey Whitters took the stage in vintage overalls Lori McKenna gave her, and she just blew me away. I try to never miss an opening act, and Hailey exemplifies the reason why. You just never know who you might fall in love with. Hailey is 29 and from a small town in Iowa. She’s been living in Nashville–co-writing and performing–for 12 years, and she has a voice and songs with lyrics that pierced me in the heart. I was hit right in the feels by “The Days” and “Heartland.” Hailey told us she wrote “Ten Year Town” with fellow songwriter Brandy Clark about feeling low and broken hearted by Nashville and the music industry and being away from home for ten years and not having a lot to show for it. She’d just found out she was going to get to play the Grand Ole Opry later in the week because of that song and told us, “if you have a dream and you feel like giving up–don’t.” I laughed and cried moments apart while she sang “Janice and the Hotel Bar.” Her album, The Dream, is due to be released later this year and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I am so sure Hailey’s on the cusp of getting the recognition she’s worked so hard for. Check her out in Rolling Stone

I heard a couple of women behind me talking about music during the break, so I turned around and they kindly let me join the conversation. I enjoyed the chat with Jo, who owns Cup of Joe in Portsmouth (Jo–I am listening to Erick Baker on repeat right now!), and Fiona from Bait Bag, a feminist punk trio from North Haven I’d heard of because my friend Aimsel is nuts for them.

Lori McKenna came to the stage with her band–Jamie Edwards, John Sands, Paul Kochanski, and Lyle Brewer–after a long break. She told us that Bittertown came out three days after her son David was born. Lori played the entire album straight through and she told us the story behind each and every song. It was my concert dream! She joked that she had to look most of the songs up on Google to have other people teach her how to play them again. She made us laugh a lot all night long. She said, “I have five children and they only really care about whether or not they’re going to get fed after school when they come home and I’m writing a song at the table in my sweatpants.” I loved hearing about the songs from Lori. She told us she could tell when she learned certain things about her own life and when she learned how to play certain chord progressions and with a drummer. We were in the palm of her hand all night, and I remember thinking about halfway through her set that I hadn’t heard a peep from anywhere in the room the whole set. We were all there together to hear these stories, and that really meant something to me. So, it made me laugh even more when Lori told us, “this is a master class in the worst things you can say before or after songs,” because she did everything so right, from start to finish.

We laughed throughout the evening, but especially when Lori told us about her dad, Frank Giroux, who worked for Boston Edison for 42 years and gave his six children a hard time when they didn’t turn off the lights at home. He’d say, “I work for the electric company, I don’t own the electric company.” She joked, “I can’t get away from these utility people. My husband works for the gas company in the maps and records department, which is the name of my publishing company” and she made us promise to call Dig Safe and wait two days for Gene McKenna to see if he sprays a G or does not spray a G in your yard before you dig even a little hole to put up a new mailbox.” 

I was particularly glad to hear a favorite Lori McKenna song, “If You Ask,” in person again. I think I’ve only seen Lori three times live–once in 2006 and again in 2012. All three times have been such a pleasure. She is the best of the best.

Lori’s high school in Stoughton, Massachusetts is about to be torn down, so her last two kids will attend the brand new Stoughton High School that’s been built adjacent to the old one that’s inspired so much of her songwriting. She told us there was never a timeframe that would have made sense for her and Gene to move away, so they stayed put and can walk to her dad’s house and the house her husband Gene grew up in.

Lori said that a lot of songwriting is writing songs that no one ever hears, so she was especially grateful to get to play songs for an audience. She told us that she’d talked about that aspect of songwriting with Liz Rose and Hillary Lidnsey on Malcolm Gladwell’s Broken Record. They wrote an absolutely stunning song together inspired by David Letterman, who on a Netflix special interviewing Howard Stern, said “my son is 14 years old. What’s the world going to be like when he’s my age?” It inspired When You’re My Age,” which had the audience in tears.

Lori played “Humble & Kind” and then Hailey joined her on stage for “Girl Crush” and “Happy People.” Lori told us that they first time she and Hailey ever wrote a song together she showed up in Stoughton and wanted to write a song called “Happy People.” Lori said that the best parts of the song came from Hailey–especially the parts about how we affect one another.  Lori said “It’s the happiest damn song I’ve ever helped write, so we’ll leave you with this and I hope you’re the happiest people we know.” I was a whole lot happier after this show, for sure! Thank you Lori! I sure hope you’ll come back to Maine, too, Hailey! 

xo,

bree

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Jamestown Revival

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I set up for the senior prom Friday night, hosted the prom Saturday night, but still made my way down to Portland Sunday night to see Jamestown Revival at Port City Music Hall. In retrospect, I was way too spent to not take some time off over the weekend, but they’re so worth it. I saw Jamestown Revival on my birthday back in 2017, and it was my third favorite show of 2017. I was happy to see they were coming back to town after two years away, and I’m glad I was in the room.

I showed up at the end of Chris Ross and the North’s set, and they sounded great and made me wish I’d gotten there earlier. There was a huge gap between the stage and the audience when I arrived, so I made my way to an empty space at the stage edge in between sets. I met Annie, a science teacher from Portland, and we chatted about our Jamestown Revival experiences. I often go to shows solo, so it’s nice when I end up in a good pocket of people to enjoy a show with.

Magnolia, Texas’ Jamestown Revival is warm and inviting in person. Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay share the lead, and they’ve been friends since high school. They introduced their songs with details (which I love), sincerely thanked us for being there, and even remembered the woman dressed up like a zebra at their first-ever show in Maine a couple of Octobers back. She was right there in the front row, and loved hearing that they remembered her. “Revival,” “Fur Coat Blues,” and “California (Cast Iron Soul)” stick out as crowd favorites. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t play their best-known song, “Love Is A Burden.” 98.9 WCLZ has played that song on heavy rotation for a couple of years, and I’m bet it’s the only Jamestown Revival song some of folks in the room knew. Their new single, “Who Hung The Moon,” is out now from their upcoming album, San IsabelJonathan introduced “Killing You, Killing Me” saying, “It’s like we work to distract ourselves with our phones. They keep us from having conversations where we look each other in the eye and they take us away from moments and people that matter the most.” We asked for an encore and they graciously obliged with the whole band unplugged around one microphone (while the crowd really listened!) for “Round Prairie Road.”img_2452Lots of my former students were in the room and I got to catch up with them after the show, which made it a really sweet Sunday night, too.

xo,

bree

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Maggie Rogers

Saturday, March 23, 2019

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

I was prepared to not like this show. In fact, I almost skipped it out of sheer frustration. I’d emailed back and forth with Maggie’s publicist about a press pass back in August for the originally scheduled November date at State Theatre. I reached out again closer to the rescheduled date in late February and got the runaround about a press pass and then a final no the week before the show. By then, the show was long sold out. I hadn’t wanted to take a ticket from a fan if I was going to be covering the show, so I didn’t buy one. I can say that I can’t remember a time I worked so hard to get a single ticket to a show. I ended up posting in every Facebook event related to the show and finally a real person messaged me and was selling a ticket AT COST. Two things–there were SO MANY fake Facebookers selling fake tickets in the Facebook event thread. If a person doesn’t have a single Facebook friend–they’re a scammer. Watch out! I connected with a real person who I have mutual friends with on Facebook and they wanted $100 for a single ticket. Bad concert karma to folks who jack up ticket prices! Dear Katia asked for $40 for a single ticket, which covered just the cost of the ticket and fees. Good on you and many, many thanks, Katia.

Saw so many friends at the show!

Turns out, I am so damn happy I worked so hard to find a ticket to this show. I know Maggie is coming back to Portland at the end of July to play Thompson’s Point, but I really hate that venue and have decided I just can’t have a quality concert experience there. It is simply too big a venue for me personally, especially when proximity to the stage is so important to me. Actually, I’d really love the opportunity to talk with the Thompson’s Point team about a trend of simply awful concert etiquette I’ve experienced there and see what we might do as a community to make shows better for everyone. The number of times I’ve been physically pushed at shows there, and often by women in their 50s telling me “it’s a concert!,” (which I found surprising at first), despite many clear statements to people to STOP TOUCHING ME is alarming. Many folks have such little regard for others at that venue particularly, and I just can’t enjoy a concert there anymore.

I digress. I won’t see you at Thompson’s Point, Maggie Rogers, but your electric, captivating, darling sold out show at State Theatre really *almost* makes me want to ditch my Thomspon’s Point boycott.

Maggie Rogers was pure delight. She came out ready to party in a silver shirt that shone all night like her smiling face. She grooved the entire show and worked every inch of the stage. She put on an excellent show, and I am so, so grateful that I had the opportunity to see her live. Sean and I snagged our favorite spot (it’s a secret) and had a great view of the stage. Everyone was so excited for the show and people danced and sang along and threw their hands up in the air during her 75-minute set. It had been awhile since I’d seen a show at State Theatre where concert etiquette wasn’t a huge issue for me. I suppose most folks this night were so into Maggie that they were too busy dancing and singing along to be awful, or, I just got lucky.

img_0914-1Maggie introduced a few of her songs with honest, open details, and seemed genuinely moved to be headlining the State Theatre, which she’d known from years of attending summer camp in Maine. She expressed sincere gratitude about waiting so long for the show and for being willing to reschedule. She thanked us “for being so understanding and for being so open about changing your plans–your hotels, your planes, your trains, your buses–so that I could go do Saturday Night Live.” It turns out, I was glad to see Maggie live for the first time after the release of her 2019 Heard It In A Past Life debut album, because we got to hear every single song from the album in person and had listened to it enough times through (on repeat in my car, at least) that we knew all of the words, too!

Sean lost his mind a little during Maggie’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” and he was coincidentally wearing a Taylor Swift shirt to the show! Maggie sang “Light On,” and told us it’s about graduating from college and figuring out adulthood. She said it recalls a “time when I was scared and overwhelmed. I got on stage every night and felt like I could be vulnerable and could share and I felt so supported doing this thing I love to do more than anything else in the world. SNL is part of the dreams you don’t stay out loud, but so is Thompson’s Point, and I can’t wait to be back here this summer.” Friends–I assure you–Maggie Rogers will kill it at Thompson’s Point. If you like the big venue thing, you should totally go see her there.

Maggie put on a hell of a show and she told us, “You can journal and you can go to therapy, but sometimes you just need to dance things off. I’m up here because singing makes me super happy, but it also gives me a lot of joy to help people release.” And it shows! I think Maggie closed with “Fallingwater,” and the crowd roared for an encore.

Maggie came back to the stage solo and spoke to us about how hard it’s been to fall asleep after the shows because “we create a lot of energy in this space together and being loud together is amazing. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being quiet with a group of people. I’m going to sing and it’s important to know it’s a camp song I grew up singing in Maine in the woods in the dark and it’s special to have my fellow campers’ blessing to sing it. There’s not really rules at concerts, but there’s like guidelines, and if you feel like yelling something, you should wait till after cause that’s rude (AMEN, Maggie!).” Maggie sang “Color Song” from her Maine summer camp a cappella for us to end the night, and I was so happily surprised when everyone in the room stopped to listen. Thanks for that wonderful moment, all!

This was such a happy show and I was so glad to be there. Also, State Theatre played “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” just after the house lights went up, and it kept the good vibes going all the way out the door.

xo,

bree

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Lucy Dacus with Mal Blum and Fenne Lily

Sunday, March 17, 2019

SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine

This was such a lovely night of music. It’s been rare to see shows with a listening audience, but SPACE seems to draw the right folks who really care about the craft of songwriting. I was so pleased to be able to hear the whole show instead of it being drowned out by people treating the show as background noise. I attribute it, also, to the evident love folks in the crowd had for all three artists. So many people sang along and were really joyful all night. It was such a salve for the sadness show-going has brought me in the last couple of years. I’m glad my concert buddy Sean was there to witness it with me, too.

Fenne Lily didn’t introduce herself until the very end of her set, but I was curious about her from the first few bars of her first sad song. Her guitarist’s name is impressively hard to find online, but they were clearly great friends. Both on electric guitars, Fenne Lily’s songs were honest and she shared what inspired nearly all of them (which is solid gold for me at a show). She was charming and funny and I’ll definitely listen to more of her. I did see that she’s somewhat internet famous. Her song “Top to Toe” has over 30 million plays on Spotify. If you like context like I do, check out this interview with Fenne Lily. She complemented the audience last night. She said “thank you for being loud and quiet in the right places.” I totally agree. It was SO NICE to see a show surrounded by people who wanted to be there for the music. It’s becoming more and more rare these days.

 

Fenne Lily

Mal Blum took the stage and I had to quickly search my bag for my earplugs. They were LOUD, but in a captivating, well-oiled way. Mal introduced the band and told us they’re all great friends and grateful to get to make music and tour together. Mal told us “Things Still Left To Say” is about being closeted, and told us they got to have a “Lady and Tramp moment with a turtle” in the video. Mal’s music is about heavy subjects–identity, acceptance, loss–and I was so impressed by how open Mal was when introducing songs. Mal also had self-deprecating charm and self-awareness that I thought was really refreshing. I was also a little bit caught off guard (in a fun way) but how rocking these sad songs were. Folks loved their set and sang along a lot. There were clearly a lot of people in the room to cheer on this band.

Mal Blum

Lucy Dacus took the stage and opened with a new (beautiful) song, “Fool’s Gold.” Lucy really lit up the room with her heartfelt songs and humility. I was standing right in front of the drum kit, so I wished I could have heard her lyrics better, but we were entranced. I’m trying to figure out how someone who is 23 years old has her profound ability to capture emotion in lyrics. Lucy is really impressive. I was introduced to Lucy by her 2016 NPR Tiny Desk Concert and love her collaboration with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers in boygenius.

 

Lucy Dacus

IMG_6840Lucy asked if anyone had seen her play at One Longfellow Square back in 2016. She said a lot has changed in the few years since that self-booked show. Lucy and her band played songs about equally from her 2016 album, No Burden, and her 2018 album, Historian. Everyone in the crowd was super attentive and sang along. Her band stayed behind for her solo encore. She warned us that “if you wanted to leave on a high note, you might want to leave now” before playing another new song about a friend’s difficult relationship with her father that just floored me. It was such a pleasure to be in the room for this sold out show. Thanks, Lucy!

xo,

bree

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Bobby Long with Darrell Foster

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Empire, Portland, Maine

I have no memory of how British singer-songwriter Bobby Long came across my radar, but it was a long time ago and his name has been tucked away in my brain. When I saw he was coming to Empire in Portland, I bought a ticket and showed up, even though I wasn’t very familiar with his folky music. It was an odd night. There were probably 20 people in the room upstairs at Empire at the most crowded point. I sat next to a group of four who’d come all the way up from Long Island for the show and were on a Bobby Long tour road trip.

Less than a week later, most of the night has faded from my mind. Sometimes, shows just aren’t very memorable. Portland-based musician Darrell Foster opened the show, and there were probably only 10 people in the room when he took the stage. That must have been awkward for him, but he rolled with it. He had the guy from college who sang at the open mics on campus vibe. He interacted with the tiny crowd and made a real effort despite the small turnout, which I appreciate. I remember he covered The Tallest Man On Earth, too, which I enjoyed. Check out his song “Dreamer.”

Bobby Long was also pretty mellow, which matched the energy in the room. He chatted warmly with the small crowd, though, and told us what some of his songs were about, which I always appreciate. He even impromptuly covered Macy Gray’s “I Try” after an audience member requested it. There was a fair amount of back and forth chatting with the engaged people in the front of the room who’d come up to Maine from Long Island. As someone who hasn’t listened to him much, I’ve got to say that his songs all sounded alike to me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t stay until the end of a show, but I felt like I wouldn’t miss anything remarkable if I left early, so I did. Listen to Bobby Long on World Cafe or check out his song “1985.” I heard “The Bounty of Mary Jane” live and liked it and also enjoyed Bobby’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” too.

Also, concert etiquette continues to be a huge issue at shows in Portland, which did surprise me given how few people were in the room. There were two women who were having drinks at a high top table 20 feet from the stage who talked super loudly through both sets. Frankly, they were so loud that I couldn’t always hear Darrell or Bobby over them and I was in the front row. Again, if you’re not going to a show to listen, why go at all? The table next to me asked them to please be quiet, but they kept cackling away. I am not surprised anymore, unfortunately. It’s sadly the thing I remember most clearly about the night. Portland concert goers–you’ve really got to get it together.

xo,

bree

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Kacey Musgraves with Natalie Prass

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

Kacey Musgraves was just announced as an addition to the Newport Folk Festival lineup this summer. The Newport Festivals Foundation will be supporting her alma mater–Mineola High School in Texas–by purchasing new instruments for the band program there, too. Kacey said she grew up in a tiny Texas town at the show, and Google tells me that the population of Mineola was 4,515 in 2010, so she’s no liar.

I got to see Kacey Musgraves last week at State Theatre, and she was a delight. I went on faith–having only heard her song “Slow Burn,” but she’s received so many accolades for songwriting that I decided I needed to be there for what will surely be her first and only State Theatre show. The show was sold out because Kacey is already well-known in the country music world (I think? I wouldn’t know, really), but Sean and I both got half priced tickets on StubHub so we could be there.

Natalie Prass opened. She looked like Rainbow Brite in a pleather blue dress, and her band was all dress in blue, too. She told us she was from Richmond, Virginia, but has lived in Nashville for almost a decade and that she’d played the State Theatre twice before with other groups. I looked it up, and she’d been the keyboardist in Jenny Lewis’ band. Natalie worked the crowd and had spunk. I recognized “Short Court Style” from 98.9 WCLZ.

The break between acts was pretty long, and it was because Kacey’s staging was awesome. She took the stage dramatically by climbing up a staircase and suddenly appearing with a spotlight behind her while she opened with “Slow Burn.”The crowd went wild. Kacey is beautiful. She wore sequins. Her songs have heart and honesty and a spirit of inclusion. She kind of took me by surprise, because that’s not the vibe country music gives off. Kacey said as much when she introduced “Follow Your Arrow.” She said something like, “country music isn’t very inclusive, and I say ‘fuck that!’” She also thanked her band (who were dress all in maroon with turtlenecks and gold chains) and touring staff profusely for all of their hard work to “get the job done” and her fans for being there for her.

Kacey told us that Golden Hour, her 2018 album that won CMA’s Album of the Year, is all about falling in love with her husband, Ruston Kelly. WCLZ has also been playing his song, “Mockingbird,” and he’ll be opening for the incredible Patty Griffin at the Music Hall in Portsmouth on April 7. I already have my ticket, and am eager to see him live, too. “Butterflies” is certainly about their relationship.

The crowd sang “Merry Go ‘Round” together, and that and “Follow Your Arrow” were two of my favorites from the night. Both are from Kacey’s debut album, Same Trailer Different Park. I appreciate how she encourages people to be themselves and to ignore haters in “Follow Your Arrow,” singing–“If you can’t lose the weight/Then you’re just fat/But if you lose too much/Then you’re on crack/You’re damned if you do/And you’re damned if you don’t/So you might as well just do/Whatever you want.” That song was definitely a crowd favorite of the night, and Kacey ended her set with it right after a fabulous cover of “I Will Survive” that Natalie Prass sang with her.

Kacey played a three-song encore, starting with “Rainbow,” which is gorgeous song. The lights changed and the room lit up in rainbow colors while everyone sang along to these lyrics–”But you’re stuck out in the same old storm again/You hold tight to your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryin’ to tell ya’That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head.” Did I mention that this was an uplifting show? It really was. She closed her encore set with “High Horse,” which is a favorite of mine from Golden Hour.

Writing this almost two weeks later, I’d almost forgotten about the drunk girls who took selfies and talked through the whole show who stood (inevitably) right in front of me and Sean! OH! And one of then cried for a while (not about the touching songs) while her friends consoled her. Concert goers–chat with your friends and cry your eyes out if you want–but do it in the back of the room!

Kacey’s already too famous to be playing a venue as intimate as the State Theatre, so I’m pumped I got to be in the room for this one!

xo,

bree

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Ellis Paul with Laurie MacAllister

Saturday, December 29, 2018

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

This was my 50th Ellis Paul show! I saw him for the first time at my alma mater, Bowdoin College, back in 2002. I actually had to pass on a few of his shows in Maine over the last year so I could see my 50th show in a venue I really like, and One Longfellow Square fit the bill perfectly. Ellis and his friends have been warming up for their annual Club Passim New Year’s Eve shows at OLS for a solid decade or more, and that festive year-end energy felt like the right time for a milestone 50th show. I’d had a vision that I’d get to sing a song on stage or at least get a shout out from Ellis, and even though neither of those dreams came true, this was the best Ellis has sounded in a couple of years, so my 50th show was still an understated success.

I arrived early at OLS because this show is usually sold out and grabbed an extra seat for Colin in the front row. Ellis’ girlfriend, Laurie MacAllister of Red Molly, opened the show with Red Molly’s bassist, Craig Akin, on upright bass. Laurie put out The Lies the Poets Tell earlier in the year–a record of cover songs about love–and she played a handful of songs from that album for us. She told us that she hadn’t been able to write a song in many years, but her friend and collaborator, David Glaser, who we’d seen play at this very show last year, passed away unexpectedly, and “Out of the Darkness”–a song for David–poured out of her. She covered “Vertigo” by Mark Erelli and Antje Duvekot and “Ten Year Night” by Lucy Kaplansky. Laurie has a pretty voice and is humble and a bit shy on stage. I’d love to hear her singing her own songs in the years ahead.

Laurie MacAllister

Ellis Paul took the stage with Radoslav Lorkovic, Craig, and Laurie, and they entertained a warm crowd with a variety of Ellis’ songs spanning many years. Laurie sang lead vocals on “Home,” which she also covers on The Lies the Poets Tell. Laurie is a great support for Ellis on stage. It’s clear that his voice has struggled to hit the higher notes of his older songs given his rigorous touring schedule, and Laurie is able to supplement his vocals nicely, though it does feel like more of a duet act than a solo singer-songwriter one these days. The quartet dazzled with three covers in their annual end-of-the-year cover songs portion of the setlist–David Glaser’s lovely “Concrete River,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” and “Africa” by Toto. Ellis joked that Don Con nearly quit the band years earlier the first time they tried to cover Toto, but that they’d worked it out.

 

 

I think Rad was “Kicking Out the Lights” in this one!

The band took an intermission after playing ten songs, and I decided to say hi to Ellis in the lobby and let him know it was my 50th show. I really don’t like talking to musicians for the most part because I’m weary about being an annoying fan, but I did want him to know. I said hello and told him it was my 50th show and he very kindly pulled me in for a hug and said a genuine thank you for the ongoing support.

After the break, Ellis and the gang played seven more songs for us. Ellis showed us his beautiful guitar made by George Krakat with Ellis’ signature on the headstock. He charmed us with the story of his family in Aroostook County’s Washburn, Maine, and the incident at the 1979 family reunion that inspired “Five Alarm Fire on the Fourth of July.” He laughed while he told us that he hadn’t changed the names of any of the people in his family in the song, and that “every generation of my family since the Civil War has produced a potato farmer until now–because everyone knows the big money is in folk music.”

Ellis told us about his upcoming album, The Storyteller’s Suitcase, which is funded by supporters. On his website, Ellis writes–”The music will be a collection of stories I’ve gathered from around the country. The Storyteller’s Suitcase will be an autobiography of songs. It’s about love, heroes, and family across the decades of my life. In the past five years since my last album Chasing Beauty I’ve left a marriage, a business partnership, a booking agency. I’ve lost my voice and regained a new one. I’m looking at this project as a new start, after a few years of regrouping and healing.” He told us that the album comes out early in 2019, and I’m eager to listen, especially after hearing “Afterlife,” which is a song Ellis wrote about explaining the death of his father to his then 5-year-old daughter. It was incredibly touching, and I had tears in my eyes while he played it. He did make us laugh, too, when he told us that this had been the “first profound conversation” he’d ever had with his daughter, but that “she’s 14 now, so our conversations are more often profoundly awkward these days.”

I am always happy to hear Ellis play Mark Erelli’s beautiful and timeless “The Only Way.” They dedicated the last song of their set–“The World Ain’t Slowin Down”–to their friend David Glaser and we sang along. We asked for an encore and Ellis and the gang unplugged and sang “Annalee” from within the crowd on the floor. It was the best Ellis show I’d seen in awhile, and a nice one to mark 50 Ellis Paul shows with, too.

xo,

bree

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