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It's late March in Nashville, and Chris Ross is due to walk into a studio in four days to record the follow-up to his acclaimed debut album, 2011's 'The Steady Stumble.' There's only one problem he's two songs short.

Ross is confident that the eight new songs he brought with him are very good, and he isn't willing to short-change his fans. He sets his internal tuner on 'receive,' adjusts his antenna and hopes the songs somehow come through.

He nervously paces while thinking out loud - 'I can write two songs in four days, I can do this,' he says. In a flash of pressure-derived inspiration, the songs arrive just in time. One of the songs, 'I Lied,' is about a man admitting mistakes in past relationships, while the other turns out to be the song selected to open the record.

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 17:00

Jacob McCurdy Traveling Rock Star

Written by Mike Dow

The name was familiar to me, but I wasn't aware that he had recorded an album. While scanning Facebook on a recent Sunday, I saw an Amazon.com link for a new album by Jacob McCurdy and decided to preview the songs. 'Wow. This is really good,' I thought while checking out the 30-second song snippets. Full of breezy, melodic, mostly acoustic pop, it's an impressive debut record. 'This kid Jacob McCurdy has got it going on,' I thought as I clicked 'Buy MP3 Album.'

McCurdy's new record is called 'Sleepless,' and it's a collection of original songs compiled from the last several years of life experiences that have taken him from Maine to New York, Colorado, Hawaii, England and other locales that weave their way in and out of the music.

A self-taught musician, Jacob picked up the guitar five years ago as a camp counselor for kids at Tanglewood Summer Camp in Lincolnville. 'I learned how to play 'Hey There Delilah' (Plain White Ts), which was a popular song at the time, and I would play kids to sleep,' McCurdy told me last week. 'When I started, I really wasn't very good, and I'm sure my co-counselor didn't like the fact that I played all the time (laughing).'

Thursday, 26 April 2012 08:44

Secrets of an illegal downloader

Written by Mike Dow

'Excuse me, but where were you all when piracy started to decimate the music industry? Why didn't you take a stand against that? Those free records felt good, huh?' - Duff McKagan, former Guns N' Roses bassist in a January 2012 blog post for Seattle Weekly on proposed PIPA/SOPA anti-piracy legislation. Plans to draft the bill were postponed following widespread opposition claiming threats to free speech and innovation. 

At the time SOPA and PIPA were being discussed and protested, the U.S. Justice Department shut down file-hosting/sharing site MegaUpload, just over a year after nailing peer-to-peer file sharing program Limewire. Despite government intervention, internet piracy is alive and thriving as hundreds, if not thousands of similar sites remain active. According to 2011 research from NPD Group, about 9 percent of internet users admit to regularly utilizing the services of peer-to-peer sites (networks of connected computers capable of sharing designated files including the illegal download of copyrighted material), down from 14 percent in 2007.

For this Maine Edge 'secrets' column, I interviewed an active illegal downloader who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. Ryan (not his real name) is 27 and works for a delivery company in the Bangor area.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 12:44

When Particles Collide better music through chemistry

Written by Mike Dow

'This is one smoking band,' I thought to myself while taking in one of the final performances of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' at Penobscot Theatre in downtown Bangor in early May 2010. I didn't realize then that I was watching the genesis of a new band; one that would soon become one of the most active groups in the area.

Guitarist and vocalist Sasha Alcott and drummer Chris Viner are When Particles Collide, a dynamic rock duo based in Bangor and actively garnering new fans and friends around the country. Since January 2011, they have maintained a very active gig schedule at home and on the road including shows in NYC, North Carolina, Boston, Pittsburgh and Kentucky.

When Particles Collide creates high-energy, melodic, unpretentious and well crafted punk-pop with influences that are felt but not obvious. For Sasha: The Pixies, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, MiniBoone, Foo Fighters, The Clash, The Jam and David Bowie are among her faves. For Chris: Green Day is his all-time favorite but he also loves the Dave Matthews Band, especially drummer Carter Beauford. In Viner's formative years, Dream Theatre, Rage Against the Machine and Presidents of the United States loomed large.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 12:36

Cleveland's Rock Hall welcomes new class

Written by Tom Withers (AP)

CLEVELAND - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony didn't miss Axl Rose at all.

The rowdy celebration, which in past years has included awkward moments, touching tributes and unforgettable performances, rocked on without Rose, the Guns N' Roses frontman who may one day regret skipping a night when 6,000 fans, 1,400 guests and many of music's biggest stars partied in Public Hall with the class of 2012.

Hard rockers Guns N' Roses minus Rose headlined this year's eclectic group of inductees. Others being enshrined are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beastie Boys, folk icon Donovan, late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro and British bands the Small Faces and Faces.

Before the ceremony started with a blistering performance by Green Day, Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis said it was strange to be enshrined while on tour.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 14:29

Willie Wisely Trio get back a true reunion

Written by Mike Dow

From the opening chords of 'Kiss Her and Make it Right' on 'True,' their first album in 18 years, you're drawn into the wonderful world of managed chaos that is the Willie Wisely Trio a fierce foursome that are as comfortable cooking grooves wrapped in pure melody as they are tapping into an area they call 'no time' music or 'rocks and logs' music without a beat. Pure Pop for Wow People.

Formed in the late '80s with Wisely on guitar and vocals, James Voss on upright and electric bass, Peter Anderson on drums and Greg Wold on trombone, each member of the Minneapolis-based band arrived with a different influence.

Classic rock, jazz, pop, gospel and punk to comedy and theatrics The Trio stirred it up while traveling the country in a rust-colored van playing roughly 400 shows in five years. Word of mouth helped build an adoring fan base who relished the fact that no two Trio experiences were alike. Shows by The Willie Wisely Trio were equal parts raucous, hilarious, tender and dangerous, and at this moment, there is probably someone, somewhere, telling a story about one of those shows with the capper, 'Man, ya shoulda been there.'

Wednesday, 04 April 2012 14:35

From Korn to Jesus

Written by Mike Dow
Brian 'Head' Welch is back with new band, Love and Death

In 2005, after 15 years and more than 30 million albums sold, Korn, one of the most popular metal bands in the world, was about to sign a new deal with Virgin Records worth $25 million. Their lead guitarist, Brian 'Head' Welch, says he was living his dream, but inside, he was dying.

Welch says he started drinking on weekends when he was 15, and once Korn was firmly established, alcohol became a daily escape from the band's punishing tour schedule. After Korn signed to Epic Records in 1994, hard drugs entered Brian's life, leading to an all-consuming addiction to crystal meth that took his family (his wife was addicted as well; Brian later gained custody of his daughter, Jennea) and nearly cost him his life.

Welch says he used methamphetamines every day for two years before finally staggering to a hotel and checking in for a body, mind and soul rehab with Jesus. There, he sat and prayed for hours. 'I said, 'God, I'm weak. I'm going to die if I keep this up,'' Welch told me. ''Please be strong for me. Be real. Send people to help me. Get me out of this.'

'What I found was that God is real and all I had to do was ask Christ to help me,' Welch said. 'When I did that, everything bad that I didn't want fell out of my life.' Welch says he ran from Korn in February, 2005 and began a walk with Jesus that is even stronger today. His 2007 memoir 'Save Me From Myself' (also the title of his 2008 debut solo album) became a New York Times bestseller and led to two further books.

Thursday, 29 March 2012 07:26

Capture the Sun

Written by Katy England
Local band releases album

ORONO Local band Capture the Sun recently released their debut album with 13 tracks available for free.

'It has 70 minutes of music and it took us a long time [to write and record],' said Kyle Hussey, 22, of Vassalboro. 'We started writing when we first started the band. It's been a two-and-a-half-year project. We're all busy with different things And only able to record on some weekends or when we had a free afternoon.'

Capture the Sun is composed of Kyle Hussey, guitar; James Hadley, guitar; Justin Hadley, drums; and Tony Babb, bass. Hussey describes the band's sound as instrumental progressive metal.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:55

The Zambonis

Written by Mike Dow
Hockey Rock masters score hat trick on new LP

What started as a fun 'what if?' proposition has evolved into a joyous and celebrated institution. More than 20 years after forming, The Zambonis, the world's foremost purveyors of Hockey Rock, have returned with their best album to date, 'Five Minute Major (in D Minor).'

Hockey fans are as passionate about the sport as rock fans are about the music, and The Zambonis have offered the best of both worlds over seven hockey-themed albums.

'Five Minute Major' faces off with 'Brass Bonanza' the theme for the band's beloved Hartford Whalers for more than 20 years. The Zambonis' version combines surf guitar and drums, horns and even an electric sitar to form the definitive rendition of the happy, catchy tune which continues to be played during games in the band's home state of Connecticut.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 14:07

Mellow endeavor - acoustic jam trio makes bold moves

Written by Mike Dow

When Jason Howe of Houlton heard the news that he was going to be a father of twins, he took care of the necessary preparations and formed a band with a childhood friend at the same time. This 'rock dad' likes to keep busy.

Howe, of popular acoustic jam-rock band Mellow Endeavor, spoke with me last week after putting his boys down for a nap. In addition to the babies, age 11 months, Howe and his girlfriend Danielle also have a 5-year old. Jason told me that he loves being a stay-at-home dad while continuing to work on Mellow Endeavor business. 'It's a full time job with twins and a five year old,' he said 'But I still manage to put about 30 hours a week into the band making contacts, answering email and booking shows.'

Since forming in 2010, Mellow Endeavor has become one of the hardest working bands in Maine. 'Originally, we were thinking we would be doing one show a month. We had no idea how quickly things were going to take off,' Howe said. In finest jam-band tradition, word of mouth has been their best advertising.

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