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Mike Dow

Mike Dow

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Acclaimed Dublin band to play Portland Empire on Oct. 9

If you have yet to experience the musical joy on earth that is Pugwash, please allow me to introduce you to “A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through The History of Pugwash,” a compilation of 17 delectable nuggets of pure pop genius recorded by the Dublin, Ireland band between 1999 and 2011. Released this week by the passionate music lovers at Omnivore Recordings, the collection is designed as a Pugwash-primer and is a generous dip into a wonderfully rich catalog of gorgeous songs.   

It’s rare to spend 40 years at any position – especially when that job is in the unpredictable and less than secure world of rock and roll. Rob Halford has been fronting the pioneering heavy metal band Judas Priest since 1974 (minus an 11-year stretch when he’d left to form his own group). Halford says he is grateful for having been granted a commission and a purpose by the group’s fans – to keep singing for Judas Priest.

This summer, “Redeemer of Souls” (Epic/Columbia), Judas Priest’s 17th studio album, debuted at #6 on the Billboard top 200 album chart, giving the band their first top 10 album in the United States.  

Hit maker Kenny Loggins recalls the startling moment, a few years ago, when he first heard his voice blend with those of Nashville singer songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman. “I fell out of my chair the first time we sang. The vocal blend made us sound like siblings. That’s when I knew we were a band.” 

The band is Blue Sky Riders, and they are currently on a tour to support “Finally Home,” their melody and harmony-rich debut album released in 2013. The record shines with elements of pop, country, folk, blues, Americana and even Celtic and Cajun-style grooves.  

Forty five years ago this week, four very unlikely partners joined forces to stage what turned out to be the granddaddy of music festivals.  

Michael Lang, whose previous festival experience included the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, became close friends with fellow Brooklyn native Artie Kornfeld, a Capitol Records producer and songwriter. The pair formed an alliance with two young businessmen (and aspiring TV script writers), John Roberts and Joel Rosenman.  

For nearly two hours on Saturday night, the audience at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center was captivated as John Fogerty and his band delivered a 22-song set heavy on the hits written during his days with Creedence Clearwater Revival.  

Bayou sounds of croaking frogs and chirping crickets signaled Fogerty and his five fellow musicians to take the stage as a welcoming roar from the crowd was met with a thunderous opener in the form of “Travelin’ Band.”  

Rock and roll royalty will step onto the stage of the Cross Insurance Center this Saturday night when John Fogerty, creative mastermind behind Creedence Clearwater Revival, brings his band to Bangor.  

It’s tough to think of another artist with as much mass appeal as John Fogerty. For more than two generations, his songs have touched the lives of listeners spanning a multitude of musical genres. He wrote a song for everyone. 

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 22:12

Mark Miller – A Life of Music

As I watch him gently lift the perfectly-tuned guitars from their cases, I think “This man treats his instruments as if they are his best friends.” He cradles them while his fingers fall over the strings and a smile appears on his face. If they could speak (and in his hands they can), they might ask, “Are you going to make me sing, cry or laugh today?” On a typical night, they will do all three.  

It’s a gorgeous early summer day on the Bangor Waterfront and I’m meeting up with guitarist Mark Miller for a photo session near the water followed by a conversation over lunch at the Sea Dog Brewing Company next door.  

The hospitality industry loves and fears Anthony Melchiorri, host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.” A “fixer” of struggling hotels, Melchiorri is known for a no-nonsense approach and a keen ability to discern deceit.  

Melchiorri’s track record for success is astounding. Starting as a part-time night auditor of an Embassy Suites in Kansas while serving in the United States Air Force and taking business classes at night, he transitioned to his native New York City where he oversaw a rebirth for the historic Plaza, Lucerne and Algonquin hotels.   

When Roy Orbison’s “Mystery Girl” album was issued two months after his sudden death of a heart attack at age 52, it became a rare rock occurrence – a posthumously issued recording worthy of standing proud with his most cherished recordings.   

As “Mystery Girl” quickly jumped into the top five on the Billboard charts, it joined another album blessed with Orbison’s genius – the first record by The Traveling Wilburys was sitting tight at number three. The most holy of rock super-friend alliances reestablished Orbison’s legend while “Mystery Girl” sealed it. It seemed like Roy was still with us.  

The Penobscot Music Festival, a celebration of the area’s local music scene, is scheduled for the evening before Memorial Day, Sunday May 25 at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer. The event, from 4 p.m. to midnight, is set to include eight area bands with admission a mere $2 cover at the door.

Organizer Vinny Cormier, guitarist and vocalist for Dakota (a band celebrating its 30th anniversary this year), says that each of the eight bands will play a 50-minute set. “I’m looking at this as a fun party and a celebration of local music,” Cormier told me during an interview last week. “We’ll have two stages so there won’t be any wait time between bands. As one band is playing, another will set up.”

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