Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded why we choose to live where we do. For Nina Blackwood, one of MTV’s original five “VJs,” a lifelong love of Maine and six years of residence on the coast has turned her into a virtual one-woman Maine tourist bureau. “When I was a little girl, we used to come to the southern part of Maine for vacations and I just fell in love with it here,” Blackwood told me in a phone interview last week. “It was one of those things that got embedded in my soul.”
It’s difficult to believe, but MTV is nearly 32 years old. On Aug. 1, 1981 the world’s first 24-hour music video channel signed on with the image of a Saturn V rocket leaving the launch pad with the surprisingly understated spoken words, “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll.” The first video to be screened was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by British new-wavers The Buggles. Since then, a small library has been written about how MTV helped shape the cultural landscape of the ’80s and ’90s – back when they actually aired music videos, live concerts and documentaries instead of an unremitting onslaught of brain-squashing reality shows which is what passes for the channel today.
CD release party set for Friday, May 17th at Nocturnem
After more than a year spent thinking about the recording of their first full length album, popular acoustic jam-band Mellow Endeavor decided to keep things simple and true. The finished disc, “All Paths Lead Home” is an honest representation of how the band sounds in a live setting. Jason Howe (vocals and cajone) says that it was important for the band to capture the vibe of a live performance for their first album. “The cleanliness and multi-track sound wasn’t something that we were going for on this,” Howe told me in a recent phone interview. “We tried to get as close to our live sound as possible. Even the vocals were recorded live with the music,” he says.
First Maine visit set for Portland’s One Longfellow Square May 16
Pure pop bliss abounds on “Me”, the first full-length album from James McCartney, due May 21 from ECR Music Group. A rarity in a world where most new pop-rock releases smack the listener with deliberate earnestness, “Me” is a reminder that the most memorable songs are often the most organic and personal.
Rich in melody and sonics with hooks to spare, many of the songs on “Me” (including the ultra-catchy first single “Strong as You”) begin gently with acoustic guitar and then lead the listener into welcome and unexpected places. In a recent interview conducted via email, McCartney told me that the songs on “Me” were all newly written. “This album is much more of a snapshot of where I’m at, and who I am right now. It’s ‘Me,’” he said.
A conversation with renowned tattoo artist, television personality and author Kat Von D invariably revolves around ink.
Born Katherine von Drachenberg in Mexico, Kat Von D moved to the Los Angeles area with her parents as a young girl, where she became fascinated with tattoo art and lifestyle. From art and music (she’s a classically trained pianist but also harbors a deep love for rock and roll) to fashion, she quickly gained notoriety as one of LA’s go-to tattoo artists and personalities.
Band set to play in Bangor on Thursday, April 25 and Rockland on Friday, April 26
“This is the life I’ve chosen,” said Eric Boatright, lead singer of Shallow Side, a five-piece rock band from Cullman, Alabama that has been on the road playing one-nighters virtually non-stop since they formed in November 2010. The group has two Maine dates on their itinerary this week in support of the new CD, “Home Today,” and Boatright says he’s looking forward to some northern hospitality. “It will be great to be in Maine and we can’t wait to play in new places for new faces.”
Book signing with The Doors’ drummer at Bull Moose in Scarborough 4/20 at 2 p.m.
Somewhere today, a 15-year-old kid is buying his first Doors album and is listening to the beautifully dark and mysterious songs with the same sense of wonder felt by generations of kids before him. As he digs deeper into the band’s catalog and explores their history, he will attach a personal value to the band’s name. The songs will accompany him during pivotal moments in his life and memories will be made with The Doors providing the soundtrack.
As Doors drummer John Densmore sees it, part of his job today is to make sure that the value placed upon the band’s name, image and music by that 15 year old, and millions of other Doors fans like him, remains untarnished.
50,000,000 music fans can’t be wrong
It’s one of the biggest parties in all of music, and this year’s celebration promises to be the most impressive to date. On Saturday, April 20, music lovers around the world will come together for Record Store Day, an event that has grown beyond even its creator’s wildest imagination.
In 2007, Chris Brown, head of marketing for nine Bull Moose stores in Maine and two in New Hampshire, came up with the idea of setting aside a special day to celebrate independently owned record stores and the customers who love to inhabit them. Five hundred stores around the country liked the idea enough to join for the event’s inaugural in 2008, and within four years the party had blown wide open with more than 1,500 stores in 21 countries on five continents taking part.
It was a horrific crime that made national headlines in 1989; a young woman, jogging late at night through New York City’s Central Park, was brutally raped and left to die. After a media-fueled public furor, five young black and Hispanic boys were arrested and interrogated for 30 hours. Four of the boys confessed to the crime but in a shocking twist 12 years later, the actual rapist, already serving a life sentence for other crimes, admitted that he committed the crime alone which was confirmed with DNA evidence.
Guitarist Gary Rossington, founding member of Southern rock pioneers Lynyrd Skynyrd, feels like the last of a dying breed. “When you look at all of the bands - especially from the South - that were around when we started, there aren’t many of us left,” he told me in a recent phone conversation.
As the sole original member in the current Skynyrd lineup, Rossington may also have been referencing his own role in the band. The October 1977 plane crash that killed original Skynyrd lead vocalist and lyricist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and singer and vocalist Cassie Gaines, signaled the end of the Skynyrd name for a decade. Rossington spent years recovering from the crash that shattered both of his arms, legs, wrists, ankles and pelvis. A broken heart took longer to heal.
Bringing with him a musical legacy stretching back to the mid ’60s, Dave Mason says he’s looking forward to returning to Maine. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and founding member of Traffic will bring his trio to Portland for a show at Asylum on Saturday, March 30.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been up that way,” Mason told me in a phone interview last week. “Maine is a beautiful state.”
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