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Gardiner’s 7th Annual Swine & Stein Oktoberfest

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Water Street, Downtown Gardiner, Maine

I lived in Gardiner for a decade, but moved over the summer back to Brunswick to be closer to work. I really grew to love that sweet little town and miss it a lot. I was excited to spend the day in my former town at one of my favorite annual events, our seventh annual Swine & Stein Oktoberfest. Sponsored by the dedicated folks at Gardiner Main Street, it combines Maine beer, Maine pork, and live music from Maine artists. Add in a hilarious beard and mustache competition, a frozen t-shirt contest, butchering demonstrations, and a rock-paper-scissors competition, and you’ve got a great day. Swine & Stein is always wonderful, and this year, with warm temperatures and some sunshine, was no different.

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Beautiful downtown Gardiner, Maine

I was thrilled to be asked back as a local judge for the third annual Swine & Stein Beard and Mustache Competition, sponsored by Monkitree. It was ultimately the reason I got my concussed self (I hit my head a bit too hard during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a couple of days earlier) up to Gardiner even though I was feeling a little dazed. The men who compete are always smiling and come back from year to year and we have a great time.

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Nearly all of the competitors in the 3rd annual Swine & Stein Beard and Mustache Competition!

We were treated to talented musical acts on the main stage all day—Dominic Lavoie, Oktoberfest German Band, Gunther Brown, Tricky Britches, and The Scolded Dogs. Last year’s cool new additions to the schedule were both back—the “Beer U” tent hosted by Craft Beer Cellar and butchering demonstrations by Emery’s Meat and Produce. I ended up missing the 5th Annual Rock-Paper-Scissors Competition because I ran into old friends and we chatted through it. Next year. It’s one of my favorite things!

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make Swine & Stein a great day! Gardiner Main Street and all of the many, many volunteers I saw in bright orange t-shirts—you rock! See you next year! If you’d like to use one of my photos somehow, please give photo credit to Bree Candland of whatbreesees.com. Thank you!

xo,

bree

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Tricky Britches at the Gardiner Fire Relief Benefit Concert

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gardiner Waterfront, Gardiner, Maine

Gardiner, Maine—the sweet little town I proudly call home—suffered a major fire on July 16, 2015. Four historical buildings on Water Street (our main drag downtown) were destroyed along with a few businesses and all the possessions of a dozen tenants. The Gardiner Fire Department responded swiftly and decisively, and with the help of many neighboring fire departments, was able to contain the fire.

Aerial views of the fire from Jason Daughtery via WMTW's Facebook page

Aerial views of the fire from Jason Daughtery via WMTW’s Facebook page

Gardiner's Water Street

Gardiner’s Water Street

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Although there was, amazingly, no loss of human life, a cat was reported lost in the fire. As a proud cat lady, my heart was heavy in the days that followed, not just because so many people had lost all of their cherished possessions, but also because Jolene’s cat, Carol Ann, was gone. I cried some tears over it. To my amazement, a few weeks later, I saw this post on Facebook:

Jolene and Carol Ann--reunited! Courtesy of Gardiner Police Department's Facebook Page

Jolene and Carol Ann–reunited! Courtesy of Gardiner Police Department’s Facebook Page

A kind soul in downtown Gardiner spotted a cat wandering around the rubble of the gutted buildings lost in the fire in the weeks that followed. The cat was taken to Kennebec Valley Humane Society, and Carol Ann, hereby dubbed “The Miracle Kitty!,” was found and reunited with her overjoyed mom, Jolene. My heart grew three sizes. I called At Home Veterinary Hospital and covered the cost of Carol Ann’s vet bill so she could be cleared and go home to her mom.

So many people and businesses have graciously supported the Gardiner fire relief fund after this devastating fire. Clare Marron at Monkitree hosted a silent auction that raised over $5,000 in one weekend alone. The Boys & Girls Club of Gardiner hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. There were many others too. It’s still not too late to donate to the fire relief fund hosted by the United Way of Kennebec Valley. I noticed just last week that Gardiner’s Hannaford was collecting donations for the fund, too.

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Gardiner Main Street, with help from generous local sponsors, threw a “Thank You” party for the firefighters who responded to the fire. The Gardiner Rotary Club grilled dinner for all of the firefighters and their guests and then opened up the remains for the rest of us and raised an additional $1,500. Johnson Hall hosted Portland bluegrass band, Tricky Britches, as part of their free summer Waterfront Concert Series that night, and the band provided great entertainment at this wonderful community event. WMTW Channel 8 was on hand to cover the event.

Gardiner Main Street Director Patrick Wright alongside Tricky Britches

Gardiner Main Street Director Patrick Wright alongside Tricky Britches

Mayor Thom Harnett thanking local fire fighters

Mayor Thom Harnett thanking local fire fighters

Johnson Hall Director Mike Miclon with Tricky Britches

Johnson Hall Director Mike Miclon with Tricky Britches

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I was among a handful of people honored during intermission by Thom Harnett, Gardiner’s extraordinary mayor, with a Gardiner Heart & Soul Award for efforts related to the fire relief. My small contribution to helping Gardiner’s “Miracle Kitty” being recognized publicly, and totally unnecessarily, just goes to show what a dear community Gardiner is. I was genuinely overjoyed that night to be cheered as a local supporter of my sweet town. If you are looking for a community that will welcome, nurture, support, and celebrate you, too, Gardiner’s the place! More photos below!

xo,

bree

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A beautiful night on the Gardiner Waterfront

A beautiful night on the Gardiner Waterfront

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A wholly undeserved, but very welcome recognition from my sweet town!

A wholly undeserved, but very welcome recognition from my sweet town!

Surely one of Gardiner's cutest little ones

Surely one of Gardiner’s cutest little ones

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Darlingside and Jacob Augustine

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Empire, Portland, Maine

This was only my third Darlingside show? That doesn’t seem possible, because they hold a pretty big spot in my musical heart. I first saw them in September of 2012 at One Longfellow Square only because they invited me and I was completely flabbergasted. I declared it one of my top five shows of 2012—which means something since I saw 45 shows that year. They came to play OLS again last fall with the lovely and talented Caitlin Canty, who is a regular collaborator of theirs, and the effervescent Rusty Belle. I’ve mostly adjusted to teacher hours and the show didn’t start until after 9:30PM, so I was excited for the show, but afraid I’d fall asleep in the car on the drive home. I texted my concert buddy Colin, who promised me he’d meet me at the show, so I mustered up the energy for a late night and an hour and a half of driving to see them. Totally worth it. I love seeing shows with Colin because he appreciates music like I do, but also because he keeps track of set lists (which means I don’t have to). It’s kind of like seeing shows just for fun again!

Darlingside's set list--courtesy of Colin

Darlingside’s set list–courtesy of Colin

Darlingside took the stage about 9:45PM. As I glanced around the room, I saw most of The Ghost of Paul Revere, some guys from Tricky Britches, and Eric, who manages The Ballroom Thieves in the crowd. I feel like that turnout tells you this show was worth going to, eh?

Darlingside is a “string rock quartet.” Don, Dave, Auyon, and Harris went to Williams together, and their harmonies are flawless. As they played “God of Loss” and “My Love” to warm up, you could have heard a pin drop. In a bar. Late on a Saturday night. They’re impressive and they draw you in to listen. “My Love” is one of my favorites—a bit of self reflection about the effort one makes in a relationship—“My half-assed best was all I had for your love/my maybe-tomorrows for your heart-to-hearts/my punch-drunk house calls for your candles and wine/my brother, my banjo, my never-done-wrong/all you wanted was me by your side/I tend to get what I want/and do as I please/but you taught me I can’t always get away with everything I thought I could/and for that I thank you, my love.” Their cover of Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979” was energizing and a hit with the crowd.

From left to right, Darlingside is Don Mitchell,  David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner

From left to right, Darlingside is Don Mitchell,
David Senft, Auyon Mukharji, and Harris Paseltiner

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Dave promised to try very hard not to hit Auyon with his instruments.

Dave promised to try very hard not to hit Auyon with his instruments.

Darlingside’s harmonies on “The Woods” were particularly standout. I was glad to hear “The Catbird Seat.” It’s pretty, but sad—“By you I swore/By the light or the way you wore it/Now instead I swear I’m over it.” “Blow the House Down” was a crowd favorite. They ended their set with “Good Man,” and the crowd cheered loudly enough for an encore. I was really happy to hear “Sweet and Low” live. I also would have liked to hear “Terrible Things,” but alas. Check out the video, though. It’s excellent.

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Darlingside will join The Ghost of Paul Revere and The Ballroom Thieves (two more of my favorite bands) for Hollerfest 2 at The Strand Theatre in Rockland on Saturday, November 22. They’ll be joined by the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra. I will definitely be there!

Mike, of my former students who is all grown up now, works downstairs at Empire and joined us for a bit. Mike was impressed with Jacob Augustine’s beard, and I told him to get ready to be surprised by Jacob’s sweet falsetto voice. He was. I’d just seen Jacob a few weeks either at Ghostland Music Festival, but he hasn’t played out much and it was a treat to get to see him again so soon. I’d never seen Jacob Augustine with a full band, and the fullness of sound amplified the message of his songs beautifully. Jacob’s band for the night included Asher Platts on upright/bass, Peter McLaughlin on percussion, and my friend McKay Belk rocking the steel guitar. “Halfway to Harlem” was a favorite. They played the long versions of each song, and since I could see their set list from my front row spot, I knew I wouldn’t make it to the end of the night and sadly excused myself for the haul home. I listened to this version of “Peace Comes” in the car en route, though. Sad to miss the rest, Jacob, but so glad to see you twice in short time!

xo,

bree

Jacob Augustine

Jacob Augustine

Jacob with McKay Belk on steel guitar

Jacob with McKay Belk on steel guitar

Jacob with Peter McLaughlin on percussion

Jacob with Peter McLaughlin on percussion

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Asher Platts on upright bass

Asher Platts on upright bass

What's that called, Peter?

What’s that called, Peter?

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The Coloradas with This Way

Friday, January 20, 2012

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

This Way

I first saw Roy Davis with his band Roy Davis and the Dregs on my 28th birthday in 2008 at One Longfellow Square. They opened for a band I absolutely love and miss dearly since they split to go solo—the everybodyfields. I thought Roy was great and bought his album “Dead Weight” that night and have listened to it often. Here’s a link to all things Roy Davis and The Coloradas where you can check out all of their music.

When the days are short and light is limited, knowing there will be cute boys playing instruments on a Friday night makes it an easy sell to get my teacher friends to stay out late with me. My friends Michelle and Audrey readily agreed to join me at One Longfellow Square to see This Way and Roy’s new project, The Coloradas. I was frankly expecting more flannel. There were a lot of thermal shirts, though—I’d believe it if someone said LL Bean had sponsored the show. Check out The Coloradas’ official video for “Crooked Youth” here to get a taste of what they’re up to.

I had never seen Portland-based Americana band This Way before. They were great. You can check them out at their website. Lead singer Jay Basiner had a lot of good energy. He claimed to be feeling a little under the weather, but I wouldn’t have guessed it. He said he’d played a little too hard at Sugarloaf and he was paying the price. He joked about how wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Heart had won a WWF championship with a 105 degree fever, so he’d push through. Having grown up a wrestling fan (am I admitting this?) with a poster of the Ultimate Warrior on my wall until high school, I was amused.

Their drummer was away at another gig, so Jay played a lot of foot percussion while also singing and playing the guitar and harmonica. I was impressed. I thought their harmonies were beautiful and Andrew Martelle rounded out the sound with his captivating fiddle and mandolin playing. They had a full sound, and played a mellower set that fit well in One Longfellow’s intimate listening room. I especially liked “New York City,” “Balance Beam,” and “Take It All (Or Leave It All Behind)” from their album “Goodbye Forever” that I named my own price for when I downloaded it from their bandcamp site. This Way also has a YouTube channel where you should check them out. I especially like their rockin’ version of “Take It All (Or Leave It All Behind)” from their “Goodbye Forever” release show in 2011 at Port City Music Hall.

This Way will be playing with Boston’s Kingsley Flood (I graduated from Bowdoin with their lead singer) and Tricky Britches at Empire Dine and Dance on February 25th.

After the fastest breakdown of a stage I’ve seen in ages (James from OLS rushed to be sure we’d all be out by the 11PM parking ban), The Coloradas took the stage. This was the night of the debut of their self-titled album featuring Roy Davis, Bernie Nye, Joe Walsh, Steve Roy, Amanda Kowalski, Calvin Goodale, and Jon Nolan. Not all of those musicians were present, but they were joined by members of The Stowaways and Tricky Britches—all fine musicians.

The Coloradas and Friends

One Longfellow was quite full that night, but up until then, we’d been a very quiet, attentive audience. Roy broke the ice. He is self-deprecating and funny. We laughed a lot. Bernie nearly poked Roy in the eye with his banjo (the band really squeezes in around a single mic) and Roy joked that he was sorry if he “sprayed head blood all over” us, and that he tries to “say head blood once a show.” We chuckled. It was appreciated humor.

I really liked the first two songs from their album that they played first that night—“Misery” and “This Isn’t Love, Natalie.” The blend of mandolin, banjo, guitar, upright bass, fiddle, and their vocal harmonies were great. Many women would probably be interested in “This Isn’t Love, Natalie”—it goes, “and standing in the rain I felt like singing all my songs for you/But this isn’t love, Natalie/It’s never love until I leave you my key.” Oh, and the guy in the song does eventually give her his key—and then promptly runs away. A torturous reminder that apparently men really are from Mars and women are from Venus and we see the same things so differently. I’d like to hear Natalie’s version of the song.

“Down On My Knees” sounded great. If The Coloradas ever start telling stories about what these songs are about, I’d be curious about this one and “Know Your Enemy” and “Enid” for that matter. They had a friend join them who played a mean harmonica.

The band stepped off stage and Roy invited his brother Calvin up. They played two songs together, with Calvin accompanying Roy on the piano. Both were lovely. They played two of Roy’s “older” songs—“We Are A Lighting Bolt” and “Lie Like the Snow Falls.” I’ve listened to “Lie Like the Snow Falls” more since that night—there is an arresting line in it—“he got a watch with a hand that keeps track of the minutes since she left.” It’s on “Dead Weight” from Roy Davis and the Dregs, which is a great album. The chorus goes “don’t cry when your glass is full/Just lie like the snow falls/Hell is the little things/Love will dance again.”

I was caught a little off guard by “How Little You Needed Love.” It’s heavy, like a lot of their songs are, I think.  The chorus is “and when you’re dying it’ll feel good to know/You were alone then/You’re alone now/You showed them/How little you needed love.” I’m sure that song has quite a backstory. The band finished up the night with “Eight Ball Blues,” but the previously quiet crowd stomped and hooted for an encore and the guys obliged. I’m sure everyone there that night is already excited to see both groups again. I certainly am.

I bought the The Coloradas’ debut CD after the show and have listened to it a lot over the past week. I really, really like the album. Every song is good. Bernie’s song “A Brand New Day” is a lovely interlude halfway through. I love his voice—he sounds like an old man in the very best way possible. The lyrics on the album are sometimes simple and straightforward and it’s easy to imagine the story, but sometimes I have almost no idea what’s going on. It keeps me guessing, and I like that. I’ll be ready for more stories about what these songs are about the next time I see The Coloradas. Sam Pfeifle from The Portland Phoenix wrote a good review of the album and you should check it out. Pick up a copy of the album, too.

xo,

bree

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