Tag Archives: Tall Heights

Tall Heights with Upper Structure

Tall Heights with Upper Structure

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Portland House of Music and Events, Portland, Maine

I saw Tall Heights play for the first time with Tricky Britches and The Ghost of Paul Revere back in 2013 at One Longfellow Square. I saw them again in 2014 and 2015, but not again until last week. When I saw they were doing a seated show with Berklee College of Music a cappella group Upper Structure, I bought my ticket and made plans to get to Portland House of Music and Events on a chilly Sunday night. I love Tall Heights powerful collaboration on “Spirit Cold” with Upper Structure and am a sucker for a cappella, too.

The show was very mellow, and Upper Structure didn’t do an opening set, so it was an early night, as well. Paul Wright (cello) and Tim Harrington (guitar) took the stage with their drummer, Paul Dumas, and six-member Upper Structure. Tim talked about his 8-month-old son and the conflicting feelings of being scared about parenting and the love he has for his son when introducing “Under Your Skin.”

Tim also told us that Jack from Upper Structure emailed them when “Two Blue Eyes” wasn’t on the set list for the short run of shows they were doing together to say that he was out if it they didn’t add it to the list. They joked that they didn’t feel like making an arrangement for six singers for the song, so “here he is.” Jack popped on stage without the rest of Upper Structure and sang a third part with just Tim and Paul.

Tim also introduced “Roanoke”–the last song on their latest album. He said “it’s an art piece for the artist, but it’s not the kind of song my parents would like. So if you don’t like it, I don’t care. The next four minutes are actually for us.” Paul didn’t say if his parents liked the song, but when he mentioned they were in the crowd, a couple sitting near me beamed with pride, which was very sweet since they’d told us this was their last show of the decade and I love that Paul’s parents were there for it. 

As always, even a seated show for a folk duo had at least one major concert etiquette issue. A woman sitting in the very front row on the upper level adjacent to the stage (and directly between me and the stage) was whispering loudly into her girlfriend’s ear throughout the entire night. It was so distracting and rude and seems to be the norm for folks at just about every show I end up at, always.

Towards the end of their set, Tall Heights told us that their collaboration with Upper Structure was very fulfilling, because are great singers and great people, too. They introduced “Keeps Me Light” as a reflection on what is happening in the world and said “there’s something very defiant about hope.” I think that’s a good song to end this decade with, actually. I’d had a couple more shows on my potential list, but it turns out that this was also my last show of the decade. I was so glad to catch up with Nikhil and Sam from SnugHouse and the incomparable Kevin Oates after the show, too. It was the perfect icing on the cake of this last show of the decade. See you in 2020!

xo,

bree

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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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Carbon Leaf with Tall Heights

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

What a fun night! I held baby Isabelle for a while after school, and then picked up Megan for an adventurous evening celebrating our Friendiversary! We met six happy years ago at Bowdoin College’s amazing annual Thanksgiving dinner. We stopped by the Maine Tweetup at Glass Lounge in the Old Port’s new Hyatt Place hotel for a bit, and then had a scrumptious dinner at Empire before heading over to Port City Music Hall for the show.

Friendiversary!

Friendiversary!

I was surprised by how big the crowd was when we arrived, but I had a press pass and was able to snag a spot just behind the barricade adjacent to the stage with room for Megan, too. We were excited to see our Carbon Leaf friend Stacey very nearby with her husband Don. It’s always great to see them for a Carbon Leaf show and Stacey and I haven’t missed a single Maine Carbon Leaf appearance together since we met at a Carbon Leaf show at Port City in 2009.

Megan, Sarah, Me, Barry from Carbon Leaf, and Stacey at Port City in 2009

Megan, Sarah, Me, Barry from Carbon Leaf, and Stacey at Port City in 2009

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I’d seen Tall Heights back in May of 2013 with Tricky Britches and The Ghost of Paul Revere at One Longfellow Square in Portland and was looking forward to seeing them again. Boston-based folk duo Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello impressed again with their flawless harmonies and engaging stage presence. I particularly liked “Eastern Standard Time” and “I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know.” Tim told us that Paul had just jumped into the Atlantic Ocean in Beverly, Massachusetts to celebrate his recent birthday, and Paul told us it was similarly cold in Maine while pointing out the winter hat Tim was wearing on stage. Their cover of “Yesterday” was really quite pretty, as well. Check out this story about Tall Heights’ background (including their extensive busking experience) and this live recording of “Running of the Bulls” filmed by Boston’s Sofar Sounds.

Tall Heights: Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello

Tall Heights: Tim Harrington on guitar and Paul Wright on cello

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Virginia’s Carbon Leaf took the stage as an enthusiastic crowd cheered them on. Lead singer Barry Privett welcome us and they launched right into songs played frequently over the years on 98.9 WCLZ including “Life Less Ordinary” and “What About Everything?” There were lots of folks in the crowd singing along to all of the songs all night long. “Desperation Song” was a big hit with Barry on penny whistle. Carter Gravatt debuted a new guitar that sounded great and Barry joked that if Carter sold half his gear the band could retire tomorrow.

Carbon Leaf's Barry Privett

Carbon Leaf’s Barry Privett

Terry Clark

Terry Clark

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Jon Markel

Jon Markel

Jason Neal

Jason Neal

Carter Gravatt

Carter Gravatt

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Barry and Carter were joined by the rest of their bandmates—Terry Clark (guitar), Jon Markel (bass), and Jason Neal (drums)—around a single microphone to sing a handful of songs, including a couple a cappella. Their harmonies are incredible—clearly the product of nearly twenty years playing together. Barry told us about their newest independently released album, Constellation Prize, and the re-release of their 2004 album Indian Summer, which had been the property of their former record label, but now belongs to them in the form of Indian Summer Revisited, which inspired their current 50 city tour.

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The guy running stage security was particularly nice and even offered to create a path for me to get to the center of the room so I could take photos from another angle. I turned down his very kind offer, but took my camera and ventured over to the center of the room. I couldn’t believe how great everyone in the crowd was! It’s been a while since the crowd at a show was so lovely. People literally moved out of my way with smiles on their faces like I was Moses parting the sea. Even the guy standing front and center at the stage gladly moved aside to let me in to take a few shots. Maybe the crowd was so wonderfully kind and easy going because the guys in Carbon Leaf are down to earth and friendly themselves? Just a hypothesis.

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Barry told us that we could take home a recording of that night’s show on USB (which is an awesome idea that I wish more bands would borrow). He told us about the music festival they curate at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, Virginia called Carbon Leaf’s Ragtime Carnival in May (in case anyone’s up for a road trip). The guys gave a shout out to WCLZ for always supporting them and for sponsoring the show and a Studio Z earlier in the day. They wrapped up the evening’s encore with one of my very favorites, “Let Your Troubles Roll By,” which was the last song I heard live in 2013 at my last Carbon Leaf show. Energized by the show, Megan and I turned to leave, and I ran into my cousin Jake on the way out, which was a big bonus! Megan was so enthused by the show that she spent part of the ride home downloading more Carbon Leaf music. She was especially taken with “The War Was in Color” during the show and downloaded a couple of versions as we talked about how much fun we had. We’re already excited for our next Carbon Leaf show! Thanks, guys! (Check out more pictures below!)

xo,

bree

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