Tag Archives: The Ballroom Thieves

The Ghost of Paul Revere with Max Garcia Conover and GoldenOak

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I really care about the clean slate a new year provides, and so I am always a little anxious about having New Year’s Eve plans I am excited about. This night fit the bill perfectly. I had a blast. Welcome, 2018!

I specifically bought a ticket to this show because my friend Max Garcia Conover joined the bill as the night’s first opener, so I knew friends would be there to support him and we could ring in 2018 together. Max was on fire. His songs always have teeth, but the crowd was clearly feeling him and folks erupted with applause after each of his songs. Max is shy by nature, but he shared with the audience and told us the background stories of a few of his songs, which I always appreciate as a concert-goer. Max mesmerized with his guitar playing and kick drum. I’ve seen Max play at least a dozen times, and this was one of his best shows. After his set, people in the audience near me asked me to tell them more about him and asked me to pass along to him how much they’d enjoyed his set.

Max Garcia Conover

Max’s new album, Motorhome, is excellent. No Depression Magazinecalled Motorhome “one of the strongest albums of 2017.” I had coffee with one of my former advisees who also attended the NYE show. She told me that she keeps meaning to take Motorhome out of the CD player in her car so she won’t overplay it, but she keeps forgetting and loves listening to it every time. “Gone,”“Motorhome,”“Abigail for a While,” and “Self Portrait”are some of my favorites on the album, but I love the whole album and think it shows Max’s most cohesive and best writing yet.

I’d never seen Portland’s GoldenOak before, but I liked their sound. They were mellower than Max, so I might have put them on first, but they have a good thing going and I’m glad I got to see them. Check out their new video for “Brother.” They’ll be at Empire with Max Garcia Conover opening on February 22.

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Where do I start about the Ghost of Paul Revere? 2017 was a huge year for them. They toured basically non-stop, criss crossed the country playing in most of the states in America, and put out a killer album–Monarch–that premiered on Billboard. Griffin, Max, and Sean are the best of friends, and it shows in their tight sound and relaxed, engaging stage presence. This was clearly a hometown show for GPR, and they thanked us many times for our ongoing support of the band. In their seventh year as a band, they’ve had their most successful year to date. The momentum they’ve built is palpable and will carry them to the next level. That’s even more obvious as they take the stage tomorrow night to play Conan–their first late night national talk show performance. GPR is definitely on the way to stardom. Ray Routhier featured GPR in an article for the Portland Press Herald last week appropriately titled, “The Ghost of Paul Revere is on the road to making it big.”

The Ghost of Paul Revere

img_7610Ghost had a blast on stage and played their hearts out for us. We were a doting sold out crowd, and it was all good vibes. They invited a few friends on stage to join them throughout the night–Kevin Oates from Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, Devin Mauch from The Ballroom Thieves, and Brian Graham from Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds–come to mind. Someone proposed to his girlfriend during their set, and another friend of the band announced that they’re expecting their first baby, too. It felt like a family reunion as much as a show. I like that.

Sean, Max, and Devin from The Ballroom Thieves

We counted down and rang in 2018 together, and the first song I heard in 2018 was “Next Year,” which is a heartfelt, complex tune and my favorite on Monarch. GPR invited everyone from both opening sets on stage for one of two finales and covered Dawes’ “All Your Favorite Bands” for us. Did they close the night with Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”? They definitely played it towards the end of the night, along with a fantastic cover of the Isley Brothers’ classic feel good song, “Shout.” This night was a total blast and a great way to turn the page on 2017. All good things to all of you in 2018!

xo,

bree

I spy Kevin Oates of MYRO on cello

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I’m usually the one taking photos at concerts, so I was surprised to see that I’m front row center in this picture that Matthew Robbins of matthewrobbinsphoto.com took!

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The Alternate Routes with Luke Fradiani

Friday, September 15, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I’m catching up on blogging today with a heavy heart. I go to school every day in this post-Sandy Hook world, and have no hope that anything will change. I often think about music as being my religion–appreciating the power music has to bring us together and to change us for the better–and being at a concert as being in a sanctuary. My heart breaks for those who went to a concert in Las Vegas and instead got murdered. It’s unfathomable, and yet a norm we are starting to live with.

The Alternate Routes have grappled with the issue of gun violence in their music. Guitarist Eric Donnelly’s parents were murdered by an addict with a gun in their Fairfield, Connecticut jewelry store back in 2005, and his song “Somewhere in America” is a stunning song that reflects on the pervasiveness of gun violence in America.

Read these lyrics to “Somewhere in America”:

“The last thing that my father saw when he was still alive

Was the gun in the hands of a sick young man with bright blue eyes.

A man who looked just like me as far as anyone else could see.

A stranger, not an enemy.

And my mother watched it all.

That was the last thing that she saw.

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A phone’s about to ring.

An unlucky break.

Wrong time, wrong place.

I’ve heard them all so many times.

If your dad had had a gun of his own,

maybe they’d still be alive.”

The Alternate Routes have also collaborated with Newtown Kindness, an organization that sprang up after the tragedy in the Sandy Hook community, and wrote “Nothing More,” which reminds us that “we are how we treat each other, and nothing more.” So here’s a band that puts their energy into this vital issue, and here’s another day in America where someone’s phone is going to ring. I tried to watch Jimmy Kimmel’s response, but couldn’t make it through.

I first saw the Alternate Routes open for Carbon Leaf back in 2009, and it was a spectacular, super fun show. Alternate Routes lead singer Tim Warren wrote “With all the love I have in my heart” on the CD I bought that night, their 2009 album A Sucker’s Dream. I also saw the Alternate Routes open for Martin Sexton in 2013 and play with the Ballroom Thieves in 2014, but it had been a while since I’d seen them. I watched their Studio Z performance live on Facebook earlier in the day and they told stories that showed their humanity and heart. It made me more excited to see them later that night.

I grabbed a quick solo dinner at the bar at Empire (a regular tradition for me on show nights in Portland), but ended up making friends with a few folks at the bar who let me join in their dinner conversation. I also ran into my friend Griffin Sherry from The Ghost of Paul Revere. His publicist had sent me a preview of their newest song, “Montreal,” and I was able to tell him I’d listened a few times earlier in the day and love it. The Ghost recently announced shows for December 30 and 31 at Port City Music Hall, if you’re looking for end of year plans.

I made my way to Port City Music Hall and joined my friend Andrea in the front row for some of show opener Luke Fradiani’s set. Andrea went to the show to see Luke Fradiani, and didn’t know the Alternate Routes. I was in the opposite situation. Luke was engaging and chatty, and he has a lovely voice. Apparently, he won a season of American Idol, which is pretty cool. Alternate Routes guitarist Eric Donnelly and drummer Kurt Leon were in his band, and I enjoyed the bonus time with them on stage. They did an amazing cover of Billy Joel’s “Downeaster Alexa,” which was amazing. Luke’s songs are a bit simple for my taste, but he was a fine show opener. Andrea disappeared for an hour after Luke’s set to make friends with the band, and his pianist, Mikel Paris walked us out of the venue at the end of the night. It was precious. I don’t usually want to talk to people in bands in case they’re having a bad night and aren’t nice, but Andrea goes for it all the time.

The Alternate Routes were great, if a little subdued compared to the first time I saw them back in 2009 (I think alcohol was involved all those years ago, though). I was glad to hear “The Future’s Nothing New” with a bit of Amy Winehouse’s “Trouble” in the mix. My favorite of their songs is probably “Ordinary,” and I liked hearing it with just Tim and Eric as a duo. Their new song, “Safe Haven,” is sweet as honey, too. Tim sincerely thanked 98.9 WCLZ for their ongoing support of the band. He introduced the last song in their set, “Nothing More,” by saying they were told that should write a song to inspire people to be kind–especially children–and thought it was a good idea. They wrote the song in memory of and in tribute to a bunch of folks and their families who lost children. Tim said that “everybody in here knows something about losing something and I hope you know very little about that, but if the people who went through that can pick up the pieces and carry the torch and try to put something good in the world despite that, the hardest thing that you can imagine, certainly we can try.”

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This is Grace and a friend. They were right here all night and it was super cute.

The band came back for two more songs–“Asked You Twice,” which was a sing along, and we danced the last minutes of the night away to “One Dance Left,” which Tim told us was about feeling free of worry, which doesn’t happen that much. It was a good place to leave it.

Check this band out. They’re using their art to do some powerful things, and it matters.

xo,

bree


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All Roads Music Festival

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Belfast, Maine

My best friend’s parents live on the ocean in picturesque Bayside, Maine, which is a tiny village on the ocean right next to Belfast. It’s my favorite place anywhere. When I saw that my beloved Ballroom Thieves were playing the All Roads Music Festival in Belfast, I decided to go. I made it to Bayside with time to enjoy a leisurely lunch and long walk with Beverly and Patrick the pup, and then I made my way over to the Colonial Theatre to see the Festival’s “Legacy” Artist–Maine folk legend David Mallett. Dave played probably eight songs, mostly requests, and took questions from the audience. I asked him if playing “Fire,” a song about a personal tragedy, makes him sad every time he plays it. He said it does if he thinks about his parents, and then he played “Fire” for me, which was a treat. My first concert ever was David Mallett back in 1982 in Harrington, Maine. I was two years old.

Love this photo I snapped before Dave Mallett’s set!

Maine’s own David Mallett with bassist Michael Burd

I found these when I sold my house last year. I know his name is spelled incorrectly, but I was only two years old! Someone else really should have caught that!

I stopped by to visit my friends Sierra and Rob, their kids, and their new baby chicks (!) at their house in Belfast for a bit and made it back to the Colonial to see a new favorite band of mine, Hannah Daman and the Martell Sisters, who are from Portland. I saw them open for Kaleo back in September of 2016, and they opened for Jamestown Revival a couple of weeks earlier on my birthday. They were really excellent that night, too, which I told a very gracious Hannah when I ran into her in the bathroom before their set. They sounded great the third time, too. Hannah and the Martelle Sisters will play the 98.9 WCLZ stage at the Old Port Festival this weekend, and you should really go check them out (I’ll be on Mt. Ararat’s Project Graduation trip, so have to miss it).

I grabbed a delicious dinner at Belfast’s new food truck turned brick and mortar restaurant, Neighborhood. I had to make some tough decisions about how to juggle a handful of shows I was interested in, so I snuck in a few minutes of Chris Ross and the North’s set at Colonial and then went over to the American Legion Hall for the rest of the night. I missed Spose’s high octane set (I’ve somehow never seen him live before), and the crowd was buzzing when I arrived. I ran into a slew of people I know when I got there, which was a lovely surprise, and I spent nearly the entire Mallett Brothers Band set catching up with the fabulous Jay Brown outside. Jay was a favorite student when I was student teaching in his eighth grade social studies classroom, back when he had frosted blonde hair and wore fleece vests. He is a creative force in Maine, having filmed, directed, and produced a plethora of music and promotional videos. His newest project is The Rove Lab. Jay’s been the best forever, and I love that he’s made a name for himself. He introduced me to a bunch of people in the backstage area, and it was great to catch up with him. I also loved seeing musicians catching up back there, too. It was abundantly clear that these bands are friends and relished the opportunity to hang out and see each other play live for a change. I did catch a couple of the Mallett Brothers Band’s songs and their dad joined them on stage for one of them. The audience ate them up. They’re a blast live.

Loved catching up with Jay Brown and his friend Ant. I’m also sporting my Maine Youth Rock Orchestra t shirt! Love MYRO! Thanks for these pictures, Jeff Kirlin!

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The Mallett Brothers Band joined by Dave Mallett

The Ballroom Thieves were the last band of the night, and the tech company struggled to get their sound up and running. There was a really short scheduled turnaround period between bands already, and there was loading in and out to get done in maybe just a 30 minute window. The soundcheck seemed frustrating for all involved, and the Thieves started their set 15 minutes late, which meant they could only play for 45 minutes because of Belfast’s noise ordinance, I assume. I took in the show from the front row with Thieves fans, Erin and Darcie, who both teach at Westbrook High School. We met at a Thieves show a couple of years ago and I like knowing I’ll see them whenever I see the Thieves live. The Thieves basically cut the banter out and played a set of their most upbeat songs. They played hard and the crowd surely enjoyed them, although they didn’t get the full Thieves experience, because they’re actually very engaging when not so rushed. I skipped the after party to get a good night’s sleep and woke up on the ocean in Bayside, which was exactly where I wanted to be.

Major Thieves fans right here!

All Roads Music Festival was great overall. I usually pass on music festivals, but this one was chill and well organized. I was impressed.

xo,

bree

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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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The Ballroom Thieves

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Snow Pond Center for the Arts, Sidney, Maine

I’d never been to Snow Pond Center for the Arts before, but a friend got married there, and when I saw the wedding photos afterwards, I knew I wanted to check out this beautiful amphitheatre in the woods. I love The Ballroom Thieves and have seen them live maybe ten times now. They are easily one of my top favorite bands, and I’ve said so very often and really hope they’re on your radar by now. Martin, Devin, and Callie are wonderfully talented musicians with lyrics and harmonies that hit you in the feels. I met my friend Andrea at the venue. She is a superfan by definition—gets to shows before doors open, connects with bands she loves over social media, and stays after shows to talk to bands—so we drove separately so she could do all of those things. We paid for tickets that included a delicious BBQ, which is the dinner the kids at New England Music Camp eat every night. I was over the moon when I ran into one of my incredible Mt. Ararat kiddos who was attending music camp. We got to catch up a bit and she told me later that she was really impressed with the Thieves and loved the show.

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The Ballroom Thieves took the stage and wowed the crowd. Andrea and I sat on a blanket front and center and soaked it in. It was pretty special to see the Thieves with birds singing their own songs in the trees nearby and enjoying the sky change colors over the amphitheatre. New England Music Camp musicians joined The Thieves on stage and accompanied them for a few songs (which they’d just learned that day), which rounded out the sound. I am really glad I made the trip to see one of my favorite bands in such a lovely spot! Check out “Here I Stand,” which is a favorite Thieves song of mine. Thanks, Thieves! When’s your new album debuting? I am so ready!

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I got a very nice email a couple of weeks later from Christine Durgin, the Director of Community Relations at Snow Pond Center for the Arts. She said it was great to meet me (she gave me such a warm welcome when I arrived) and reminded me I was invited to come back to take a tour. If you need to throw an event of any kind, I suspect these folks are fabulous to work with. Thanks, Christine! I’ll be back!

xo,

bree

I feel like I’ve gone on and on about the Thieves for years, so I intentionally wrote a short post here. If you are someone who likes to know more, here are links to a few older show recaps:

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The Ballroom Thieves with Maine Youth Rock Orchestra and The DuPont Brothers

Friday, April 15, 2016

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

Nearly two months late but with many, many wonderful senior events at my school behind me (most precious were the graduation marches my seniors did through four of our five district elementary schools), I can catch a quick breath and write a bit. The Ballroom Thieves are easily one of my top favorites live bands. [Fun fact: I first saw The Ballroom Thieves live opening for The Lone Bellow three years ago today!] I feel really lucky to have seen them a lot, and am so glad that their star continues to rise, having now played at the Newport Folk Festival and opened for Lake Street Dive at Thompson’s Point in Portland. That’s a huge venue, and friends who were able to go and had never seen the Thieves messaged me to say how great they are (um, yeah!).

Thinking back, I remember that I was able to grab a quick dinner at Slab with one of my dear former class presidents before heading over to the show. I got to Port City Music Hall early to make sure I’d have my favorite spot up front and even beat Colin there. Erin and Darcy, teachers from Westbrook High School who we’d met a couple of shows back, were also there, and my current (well, graduation was Sunday, but I’m not ready to let go) class president, Carmen, also joined the full house for the show. This was one of those nights when the crowd was top notch. I think it’s because there were a lot of proud Maine Youth Rock Orchestra family members in the crowd, celebrating the beginning of their April vacation week tour with The Ballroom Thieves. Anyhow, it’s always great to be surrounded by positive energy and attentive people at a show, and this was a real treat.

Burlington, Vermont’s The DuPont Brothers took the stage and warmed up the crowd. Their harmonies, pretty guitar arrangements, and friendly banter made for a good set. Brother Zack was celebrating his birthday, so we sang for him. They’d used Kickstarter to fund their most recent album, A Riddle for You, and played a lot of those songs for us. They invited Maine Youth Rock Orchestra (MYRO) to join them for “Trespassers,” which they sweetly dedicated to a big group of young kids sitting on the floor just in front of the stage. The DuPont Brothers will be back in Portland at One Longfellow Square on Thursday, June 30.

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“Trespassers” with The DuPont Brothers and MYRO

Kevin Oates, the founder and director of Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, took the stage to do a little fundraising to support their ten-day tour with The Ballroom Thieves. He said he’d shave his head (and he has really good hair) if they reached their fundraising goal before the show ended, which shows dedication. MYRO is awesome. As a teacher, it hits me right in the feels that this awesome group exists, and that they’ve had such great success, including being featured on NPR Music and being the first youth orchestra to tour with a national artist. Kevin tells the story himself on medium.com with “Why I started Maine Youth Rock Orchestra.” I have a front row ticket to see MYRO play with Gregory Alan Isakov on June 21 at the State Theatre and am SO excited to see them with another of my favorite artists.

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Kevin Oates, founder and director of MYRO

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Martin and Devin of The Ballroom Thieves with MYRO

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Martin, Devin, and Callie of The Ballroom Thieves with MYRO

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The Ballroom Thieves are fantastic. Their songs and harmonies resonate, their desire to connect to the audience admirable, and the sheer force of their musicianship is moving. This was another in a series of top-notch performances from Martin, Devin, and Callie. Hearing them with MYRO, adding to the richness of their already full sound, was phenomenal. I feel really lucky to have been at this show. I was so glad to learn that a new album is forthcoming. You’ve got to check out the video for “Bury Me Smiling” featuring MYRO that NPR Music picked up. “Peregrine” sticks out as a newer song I’m looking forward to getting better acquainted with. “Here I Stand” was a particularly driving force live, and “The Loneliness Waltz” is surely one of my favorite Thieves’ songs. This was truly a phenomenal show—start to finish. See these groups live whenever you have the chance. The Thieves will be joined by MYRO on July 12 at Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney, Maine. Come! I will see you there.

xo,

bree

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The Ballroom Thieves with The Bros. Landreth

Friday, November 20

Portland House of Music, Portland, Maine

This show would have been perfect, but the same difficult woman who pushed and verbally harassed me at The Ballroom Thieves show at Empire six months ago was sadly at this show and was as obnoxious as last time. At least I was much further away from her at this show. Concert etiquette is an easy thing to understand—put your phone down, whisper when you talk, respect the personal space of others—but it sadly doesn’t mean everyone comes to a live show to actually listen to the music. For those of us who do, people who ignore those basic rules are the worst. This woman (whose name I know and have decided to withhold after much deliberation) saw me during this show and pointed and waved sarcastically at me during it, all the while talking at more than full volume just inches from the stage while the Thieves performed. I guess she wasn’t really drunk when she was so badly behaved sixth months ago (which was the excuse for her behavior I’d invented) because she shouldn’t have remembered me so many months later. She annoyed the poor people around her so much at this show that they asked her to stop talking over and over again, which she refused, but then she had the audacity to post complaints about how rude the people at the show were later that night on the Facebook event for the show. I continue to be puzzled by her and just hope she’ll skip the next Ballroom Thieves show—for all of our sakes.

Back to the music, though, which was wonderful, even though I was distracted.

This was my first time at Portland House of Music and I liked it. I went with a large group of friends, and we stood next to the stage instead of in the pit, and it offered a great view of the stage. It’s an intimate venue and I don’t think there’s a bad spot in the house. Winnipeg’s The Bros. Landreth were fantastic. The foursome charmed the big crowd with their strong harmonies and honest vocals. At one point, the four stood around one microphone and stunned to silence the entire crowd with their beautiful, sad song, “Greenhouse.” I was truly impressed with their sound and stage presence and have listened to them a bunch since that night. Here’s a piece in Billboard about them that came out last year in advance of their January 2015 release, Let It Lie.  

Bros Landreth

The Bros. Landreth

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The Ballroom Thieves are surely one of my favorite live bands and I love their music so, so much. Martin, Devin, and Callie have incredible chemistry, beautiful harmonies, and heartfelt, engaging songs. They’ve toured a bunch to support A Wolf in the Doorway, and I’m thankful I got to see them live in April, September, and November of 2015. I’m eager for a new album from the Thieves, which must be coming since they’ve played lots of great new songs during these shows. They’re playing a show tomorrow night on New Year’s Eve with Lady Lamb and The Ghost of Paul Revere at State Theatre. (I’ve decided not to go just in case she-who-shall-not-be-named is there, as I don’t want to ring in 2016 anywhere near her.) If you’re feeling up for checking out a fantastic band (you may want to avoid front row center for your concert-going happiness) to end 2015, there are still tickets available! Thieves—I will conjure some bravery to overcome crowd adversity and come see you next time you’re in town! All good things to you in 2016!

xo,

bree

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The Ballroom Thieves

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