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Mike Dow

Mike Dow

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This week’s new music roundup includes several artists we haven’t heard from in a while and an impressive debut from an artist whose music we’ll be hearing for years to come.

I’m constantly impressed with the quantity and quality of music being created by Maine-based artists. We have an extraordinary lineup of talent in this state and it’s a privilege to be encouraged to tell you about their activities in these pages. This week, we give a listen to recently released EPs from three very different homegrown artists.

Documentary filmmaker Christina Fontana says she has devoted more than a decade of her life to a dogged pursuit of the truth in a bizarre and multi-faceted case involving a woman from Hannibal, MissDocumentary filmmaker Christina Fontana says she has devoted more than a decade of her life to a dogged pursuit of the truth in a bizarre and multi-faceted case involving a woman from Hannibal, Missouri, who disappeared in 2009. Fontana’s more than 400 hours of field investigation footage and video diaries shot over 11 years form the basis of “Relentless,” a six-part true crime series streaming on Discovery+.

“Relentless” premiered on June 27 and dropped one episode per week through July 18.

Fontana told The Maine Edge she first became aware of the case in 2010 when she met the family of Christina Whittaker, a 21-year-old who went missing in 2009 after a night of bar-hopping in her hometown.  The interview was initially intended for a film project focusing on the families of the missing, Fontana said, but it became her sole focus after she peeled back the layers of the missing woman’s story and found herself in a world of drug operations and organized crime.ouri, who disappeared in 2009. Fontana’s more than 400 hours of field investigation footage and video diaries shot over 11 years form the basis of “Relentless,” a six-part true crime series streaming on Discovery+.

Jonathan Frakes is a big fan of Maine. The actor and director, best known for his role as Commander William Riker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and his work in the ensuing franchise series and films, has been a Maine resident for years. He set me straight during my interview with him when I introduced him on radio as a “former” Maine resident.

Frakes and his wife, actress Genie Francis (“General Hospital,” “The Young and the Restless”), have actually been splitting their time between the midcoast of Maine and California for many years. Through 2012, when they weren’t filming their respective TV series and films, Francis operated a home furnishings store (The Cherished Home) while Frakes taught filmmaking. As Frakes put it during my interview with him, Maine is the best place in the world but he’d like to keep that a secret.

The primary purpose of the interview was to discuss his work with www.PanCan.org , an organization dedicated to promoting early detection of pancreatic cancer as well as new treatment approaches to the disease. Frakes has joined forces with two Star Trek alumni – Kitty Swink, and her husband, Armin Shimerman – to raise funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for an ongoing fundraiser that has generated nearly $65,000 to date.

In the following interview, Frakes revealed that he recently finished directing a block of episodes for the next season of “Star Trek: Picard,” set to air on Paramount+, and he gave us the backstory of how he ended up playing trombone on an album by Phish.

A fantastic spirit of joy and passion runs through each of the 14 tracks that comprise a new benefit tribute album for Joey Spampinato, co-founding member of NRBQ who was diagnosed with cancer nearly six years ago. The singer, songwriter and bassist spent the better part of four decades in that uncompromising and legendarily influential band, from 1967 through 2004, amassing a devoted audience of fervent fans, some of whom appear on this record.

“Party for Joey: A Sweet Relief Tribute to Joey Spampinato” (True North Records) features a lineup of Q fans and friends, including Bonnie Raitt, Ben Harper with Keith Richards, The Minus 5 (with members of R.E.M.) and comic illusionists Penn and Teller, each having a go at a different Spampinato-penned song, most of which were selected from the group’s expansive back catalog and all recorded expressly for this collection.

The results highlight the stylistic breadth of Spampinato’s songwriting, ranging from Beatle-esque pop and groove-driven rhythm and blues to rockabilly and old-school country, reinforcing the unassailable fact that NRBQ, then and now, is an American treasure.

Musician Gary Numan has always been considered by most American listeners as an artist ahead of his time and he admits that kind of bugs him. The Hammersmith, London native has enjoyed more than four decades of success in the U.K. and other parts of the world while the U.S. knows him primarily for the inexorably infectious top-10 new wave hit “Cars” from his 1979 solo debut “The Pleasure Principal.”

Numan has been mightily prolific over the last four decades. His just-issued 22nd studio album, “Intruder,” nearly topped the U.K chart while reaping some of the best reviews of his career.

The dark and rhythmically ethereal LP explores the concept of climate change from Earth’s perspective. His lyrics surmise what Earth might have to say about the ways it has been betrayed by its children and how it could begin to retaliate. Numan told us that news of the album’s number two debut brought him to tears.

Numan’s influence has been cited by a range of artists in multiple genres, including Prince, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Lady Gaga and Smashing Pumpkins.

In the following interview, Gary Numan, calling from his home in Santa Monica, discusses his new LP’s warm reception and explains why his studio might look unimpressive but is actually more capable than any he’s used. He addresses his disparity in success between the U.K. and U.S.; He recalls his flight around the world that resulted in his arrest in India as a suspected spy, and gives fans a preview of his upcoming six-week fall tour of the U.S. and Canada.

Chicago-based bluesman Ronnie Baker Brooks says he loves Maine’s enthusiasm for the blues. The musician is scheduled to perform Sunday, July 11, at the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland.

Brooks made his first appearance at the North Atlantic Blues Festival in 2005. He returned to the festival a few years later with his father, the late blues legend Lonnie Brooks, and brother, Wayne Baker Brooks, when they performed as the Brooks Family Blues Dynasty.

Brooks first appeared onstage at age nine playing guitar with his father. He launched a solo career in 1998, the same year he released his debut LP “Golddigger,” produced by Janet Jackson. In 2000, Brooks was nominated for the ‘Best New Artist’ Blues Music Award.

Ronnie Baker Brooks’ most recently released album is 2017’s “Times Have Changed,” featuring appearances from Steve Cropper, Bobby “Blue” Bland, “Big Head Todd,” and Felix Cavaliere.

I caught up with Brooks for an interview where he revealed he’s been working on a new album, partially inspired by the weekly shows he performed at home for fans watching online. He shared his fondness for Maine and the enthusiastic audiences here, and recalled his first appearance at the North Atlantic Blues Festival.

ROCKLAND – It will feel like homecoming at Harbor Park in Rockland on July 10 and 11 when blues fans and musicians alike will gather together for the 28th annual North Atlantic Blues Festival. The two-day festival featuring nationally known blues performers has become one of the genre’s most prestigious on the east coast.

North Atlantic Blues Festival founder Paul Benjamin says he and his staff are especially excited about this year’s event after being forced to abandon plans to hold the festival in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are your favorite concert movies of all time? The best concert films make you feel like you’re present in the best seat in the venue with superb sound and visuals. A great concert film can take you from the audience to the stage, backstage, and into the lives of the performers.

Some concert films capture profound historical moments that could never be duplicated, such as “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised),” set to premiere July 2 on Hulu.

Filmed over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969 at the Harlem Cultural Festival, the event presented now legendary soul, R&B and blues performers at the peak of their powers but the film reels and audio tapes ended up collecting dust in a basement for about 50 years until being resurrected for this film directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots.

Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, The 5th Dimension, B.B. King, and The Staple Singers, among others, took the stage in an event that received scant contemporary media attention compared with the coinciding festival that unfolded about 90 minutes away on Max Yasgur’s Bethel, New York dairy farm, which became the setting for Woodstock.

Why was the historic footage presented in “Summer of Soul” relegated to history’s dustbin? Thompson’s film promises to explore the reasons while also speculating how it might have become a game changer had it been shaped into a movie at the time.

As Thompson said to IndieWire of the footage presented in “Summer of Soul”: “What would have happened if this was allowed a seat at the table? How much of a difference would that have made in my life? That was the moment that extinguished any doubt I had that I could do this.”

Our heightened anticipation over “Summer of Soul” got us thinking about some of our favorite concert films of all time. I came up with a preliminary list which was revised several times as I viewed each film again. I expect most readers will take issue with the fact that I neglected to include one or more of their faves.

Led Zeppelin fans, for example, will notice that I didn’t include “The Song Remains the Same,” a perennial entry on many concert movie best-of lists. It did appear on the penultimate version of my list but when I watched it again recently, it became clear that it doesn’t belong here. It is a significant film in that it was the only official live footage of Led Zeppelin released during the band’s lifetime, but as a movie, it’s a mess.

The best available live footage of Led Zeppelin can be found on the 2003 double DVD set, “Led Zeppelin,” containing over five hours of footage. As that set is an anthology compiled from about nine different concerts performed over 10 years and intended for home viewing, it’s outside of the scope of the films profiled here, which all chronicle either a single show, a festival, a tour, or a series of shows shot expressly for a single film.

As much as I’d love to rhapsodize about my favorite music documentaries, such as The Who’s “The Kids are Alright” or “The Beatles Anthology,” most don’t fit the above criteria, and as such, are not included.

The subjective nature of determining a “best of” just about anything is an exercise in futility. Everyone’s taste is different which is why I expect your list of favorite concert films probably differs significantly from mine. My goal here was to come up with 10 great concert movies to be presented in no particular order of excellence.

In addition, Super Genius assignment editor Allen Adams has selected one of his personal favorite concert films from an artist who helped craft a legendary 1984 rock concert movie with his former band which appears below.

(Editor’s note: It’s true. I have. Although I can’t compete with Mike’s expertise and my pick is definitely a little different from his excellent selections.)

We live in a world chock-full of podcasts devoted to almost any subject you can imagine. For foodies, beverage enthusiasts, and those simply looking for genuine laughs and substantive talk, let me direct you toward “Breaking Bread with Tom Papa.” The weekly hour (give or take) of revealing and hilarious chat is hosted by the comedian, actor and author of “You’re Doing Great,” a collection of laugh-out-loud essays about navigating life which shares a title with Papa’s latest Netflix standup special.

Listening to “Breaking Bread with Tom Papa” is a bit like eavesdropping on an intimate conversation between best friends that inevitably takes numerous detours into unpredictable hilarity. Tom’s guest list includes well-known comedians, filmmakers, actors, and food creators all celebrating the true spirit of breaking bread through natural and naturally funny conversation.

In the following interview, Tom Papa discusses how “Breaking Bread” became a lifeline for him during the pandemic. He reveals the most delicious thing he’s ever consumed, drops names of guests that surprised him, and he starts by enthusiastically expressing his love for Maine.

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