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All Roads lead to Belfast once again

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The All Roads Music Festival returns for third year

BELFAST – Once again this spring, all roads – at least as far as Maine music is concerned – lead to Belfast.

The All Roads Music Festival is returning to the coastal town for the third year courtesy of Launchpad. On May 20, some 30 bands and well over a hundred musicians will be taking to various stages around town. From early afternoon on into the night, five different Belfast venues – the American Legion Hall, the Colonial Theatre, the First Church, the Belfast Free Library and Waterfall Arts -  will play host to Maine-connected bands offering music from all over the genre spectrum.

Advance tickets are available at allroadsmusicfest.org, though they can also be purchased on the day of the show. Festival passes are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. VIP passes (which were on the verge of selling out at press time, so hurry) are $35 and $40. The festival is also offering a Youth Pass, available day-of only, for $10. In addition, tickets for individual performances can be purchased for $7, space permitting.

All Roads is a celebration of local and indie music intended to bring a selection of Maine’s vast and varied talent together into one place.

Josh Gass is one of the co-organizers of the festival.

“We’re thrilled to be going into year three,” he said.

While All Roads has been far from stagnant, Launchpad – the arts organization responsible for the festival – has been very controlled in terms of how the festival has grown.

“We’ve been gradually adding more bands each year,” said Gass. “It’s really hard to whittle down the numbers; we want to include as many artists as we possibly can, but we have to take into account the fact that we’ve had great success with the single day model. We’ve been hesitant to try and expand too much; we don’t want to alter the dynamic of what we have.”

That dynamic is driven by a number of factors, but one of the biggest is the investment on the part of the artists, according to Gass.

“The artists have really been in on what we’re trying to do and what we want to be,” he said. “Without that buy-in on their part, I don’t think we’d have a festival. We certainly wouldn’t exist as we do now.”

There’s a real camaraderie that has built up among the myriad musician who take part in the festival. All Roads presents many of them with opportunities that they simply don’t find anywhere else.

“A lot of these bands are really just pumped to spend a weekend in Belfast,” Gass said. “Many of these musicians know each other, but they don’t necessarily have much of a chance to see one another perform. [All Roads is] a chance for them all to hang out. They can catch up, have some fun and watch each other play. This is a rare opportunity for them to just be together.”

With somewhere north of 130 individual musicians taking part in the festivities, putting it all together is a time-consuming process. Booking and scheduling began back in November of last year, with festival co-organizer Meg Shorette taking the reins and handling the majority of band contact.

As for which bands get picked, well … there are a variety of criteria.

“We like to give priority to bands that have new projects, new stuff coming,” said Gass. “We want a wide variety of music, of course, and we’re always oriented toward Maine-based or Maine-connected stuff. We also try to find a balance between established acts and up-and-comers.

“We also try not to have the same lineup every year,” he continued. “There are some acts that have done all three years, but a lot have just done one or two. Basically, we want to show people what’s current while also trying to be representative of different genres.”

All Roads doesn’t necessarily have artists that are labeled as “headliners” – though there are plenty that would warrant the descriptor.

“We’ve strayed from having a headliner,” Gass said. “But we’re aware that certain artists will draw more than others; we tend to have more established groups playing toward the end of the night. It’s nice to have cappers to the evening.

“So no declared headliners,” he added. “But bands like the Ballroom Thieves, Spose, the Mallett Brothers, Spencer Albee … they kind of serve in that spot.”

All Roads started with the goal of representing the work of artists working in Maine or with Maine connections. As such, they’ve pulled performers from widely varied regions of the state.

“We try to represent as many regions as we can,” said Gass. “There are groups from Bangor, from western Maine, from the coast. The Portland scene is so strong, so there’s a lot from there. But we pull from all over.”

Entering the third year of All Roads, the impression one gets is that many of the logistical wrinkles have been ironed out. Of course, there’s always going to be something, but the nuts-and-bolts seem to be well in hand. Gass credits the production crew – as well as the artists themselves – for keeping things running smoothly.

“We’ve got a great production staff,” he said. “Every production group we’ve worked with has been outstanding. They’re masters of setting up, tearing down and moving them along. A lot has to happen in very little time.

“The understanding of the artists is huge, too,” he added. “There’s a DIY feeling to this festival; the groups are all aware of what this is. They understand the realities. And they’re happy to do whatever they can to help.”

But of course, there’s no festival without an audience. Attendance has been steady the previous two years with a slight uptick last year. Gass expects another similar small uptick with this latest installment, but recognizes that the nature of the event will allow it to grow only so much.

“We could grow more, but we’re getting close to our capacity,” he said. “[All Roads] isn’t meant to be massively attended. I expect it will scale into itself; we could maybe grow another 10 or 20 percent, but that’s about it.

Gass noted that while the VIP passes were on the verge of selling out, there are other presale options. Additionally, there will be plenty of same-day availability.

The All Roads Music Festival is a welcome celebration of Maine music. It’s a chance to see a little of everything that Maine has to offer under one roof (well, five roofs anyway) in a single day. From indie rock to folk to hip-hop, there’s a little something for everyone.

On May 20, all roads do indeed lead to Belfast.

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SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

 

American Legion Hall

1:30 p.m. – Joel Thetford

2:30 p.m. – Goldenoak

Goldenoak has been a fixture on the Maine music scene almost since their inception in 2013 with their own, very personal and folksy sound.

3:45 p.m. – Kenya Hall

5:00 p.m. – Weakened Friends

6:15 p.m. – Paranoid Social Club

Paranoid Social Club has been a mainstay on the musical scene for 15 years, ever since Dave Gutter and Jon Roods founded the group back in 2002. Their indie rock stylings have been a foundational piece in the soundtrack of Maine music.

7:30 p.m. – Spose

Spose’s title of “King of Maine” might be self-styled, but it’s tough to argue his point. The hip-hop artist has been delivering the goods to audiences since 2008; his talent has made him into a beloved figure here in his home state. Check out “Good Luck With Your Life,” his recently-released sixth album.

8:45 p.m. – The Mallett Brothers Band

10:00 p.m. – The Ballroom Thieves

A group that bills itself as “rock in a folk suit,” The Ballroom Thieves have been a fascinating part of the New England music scene for a number of years. Their sound is unlike anything else you’re likely to hear and their attitude is uniquely their own.

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The Colonial Theatre

1:00 p.m. – Songwriters’ Circle

2:45 p.m. – David Mallett (Legacy Artist)

David Mallett is a true music legend and one of the titans of the Maine music scene. He’s spent decades in the business, working with some of the greats; he’s as iconic as any Maine musician. His latest album is “Greenin’ Up.”

4:30 p.m. – Shane Reis

5:45 p.m. – Hannah Daman & the Martelle Sisters

Hannah Daman and sisters Megan and Francesca Martelle first joined forces in Portland in January of 2016. Since then, they’ve brought their fiddle-driven sound to some of that city’s finest venues.

7:00 p.m. – They Called Me Legion

8:15 p.m. – Chris Ross and the North

Chris Ross and the North continue to rise as their musicianship and lyricism grow and evolve. Their powerful, thought-provoking sound has been engaging audiences all over Maine and beyond. Their newest album – due out June 2 – is called “Over Lonesome.”

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The First Church

2:30 p.m. – Blake Russo Band

4:15 p.m. – Tall Horse

5:30 p.m. – Jeff Beam

6:45 p.m. – Midwestern Medicine

8:00 p.m. – Wait

Wait is an indie rock outfit based out of Bangor. They’re one of the staples of that burgeoning scene, possessed of a sound that is all their own.

9:15 p.m. – Spencer Albee

Spencer Albee is an acclaimed singer-songwriter based in Portland who has spent the past two decades as a major force in music both in Maine and farther afield. He is very talented and very prolific; his latest album – his 20th - is “Relentlessly yours.”

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Belfast Free Library

2:15 p.m. – Yes We Kin

4:00 p.m. – Dan Blakeslee

5:15 p.m. – Forget, Forget

This pair – Tyler DeVos and Patia Maule – are one innovative duo. Forget, Forget is an indie electro-pop outfit, one whose special sound is theirs and theirs alone. Their new album – titled “You’re Not Gone” – is scheduled to arrive in July.

6:30 p.m. – Thorn and Shout

7:45 p.m. – Sea Level

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Waterfall Arts

1:00 p.m. – MAMM Slam Winner

2:00 p.m. – Osmia

3:00 p.m. – Cape Cannons

4:00 p.m. – Bad Island

5:00 p.m. – The Worst

6:00 p.m. – The Very Reverend

7:00 p.m. – When Particles Collide

The duo of Sasha Alcott and Chris Viner has been making music as When Particles Collide for years now. They’ve brought their stripped-down, energetic style all over the country – and are getting ready to do so again as they prepare for a lengthy tour taking them through the summer and beyond.

8:00 p.m. – The Restless Atlantic

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