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Penobscot Music Festival marks fifth year

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BANGOR - For the fifth Memorial Day weekend in a row, many of the greater Bangor area’s most popular bands will come together for a fundraising celebration of the local live music scene.

The 2018 edition of the Penobscot Music Festival is scheduled for Sunday, May 27, from noon to 6 p.m., outside the Anah Shrine building at 1404 Broadway in Bangor. In the event of rain, the concert will move indoors.

Admission will be by donation with all proceeds designated for Shriners Hospitals for Children – a network of 22 non-profit medical facilities across North America.

According to festival organizer Vinny Cormier of headlining band Dakota, this year’s event has been timed to serve as a tailgate parking lot party for the Jason Aldean concert planned for that evening on the Bangor Waterfront.

“We were in the middle of planning this year’s festival when Waterfront Concerts announced the Jason Aldean concert for May 27 – the same day as our festival,” Cormier said. “The Shriners came up with the idea of adjusting the time of the festival so we could turn into a tailgate party for Jason Aldean.”

When Jimmy Buffet performed at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in August 2016, the Anah Shriners held a fundraising parking lot party at their facility before the concert. The Shriners arranged for concertgoers to be shuttled to the Bangor waterfront from their facility on Broadway and plan to do the same for this Sunday evening’s Jason Aldean concert.

“It was a big success with Jimmy Buffet so they suggested that we use the Penobscot Music Festival as a tailgate party for Jason Aldean,” Cormier said.

Beginning in 2014, the first three editions of the Penobscot Music Festival were held at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer. In 2017, the festival moved to the Anah Shrine building, where Brad Prout serves as head Potentate.

“Everything went off with no problems last year,” said Prout. “We want people to come out and enjoy the bands and then we’ll safely get them to and from the Jason Aldean concert. It’s a great way for people to avoid the traffic and not have to worry about parking downtown.”

Prout says the Anah Shriners will offer free parking at their facility during the Penobscot Music Festival. Jason Aldean concertgoers will be shuttled to and from the waterfront for a small fee.

“All of the proceeds go to Shriners Hospitals for Children,” Prout said. “A number of Shriners will be on hand working during the event. We’ll have food and beverages for sale and we’re looking forward to another great event.”

In addition to headliners Dakota, bands scheduled to perform during the festival include the Allison Ames Band, Overdrive, Midnight Rose, ShyBoy, Right Out Straight and LiveWire.

“All of the bands donate their time for this event,” Cormier said. “Since we’ll start at noon and finish at 6 p.m., each band will play for about 40 to 45 minutes. We also have a guitar that’s been donated to the event. All of the bands will sign it and it will be awarded at some point during the afternoon.”

The stage will accommodate two bands at a time. As one band performs, the next band will set up.

“People won’t have to wait between bands,” said Cormier.

Many of the bands on the bill have been part of the Penobscot Music Festival from the event’s inception.

“I feel it’s important to honor that loyalty by giving them first dibs on returning each year,” Cormier said. “These are all very active bands. Most of them will be working on Friday and Saturday night and then giving up their Sunday to raise money for the Shriners Children’s Hospital.”

During the process of planning this year’s event, Cormier says he has personally met with people who received care from a Shriners hospital when they were a child.

“They thanked me personally for the work we’ve put into this event,” he said. “We all know that we’re doing a good thing but when you meet someone who was a Shriner child that received great medical care when they needed it, it really touches your heart. It makes everyone involved want to work that much harder to make this one the best ever.”

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