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Mike Dow

Mike Dow

edge staff writer

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I have a confession to make, dear Maine Edge reader - I love Christmas music.

I should clarify that I don’t love all Christmas music but if it’s done with sincerity and taste, I can usually find a lot to like. If the vocal is Auto-Tuned or if the song is overly schmaltzy, I become the Grinch – and not this new ‘nice Grinch’ they’re trying to sell to the kids.

Here are a few of the recently issued Christmas albums that I’ve been enjoying this season … along with some titles you may want to avoid.

Earlier this year at the 22nd annual Hooters International Pageant, held near Charlotte, North Carolina, 80 Hooters girls from around the world competed for the coveted Miss Hooters International title and crown. The winner - and cover girl for the 2019 Hooters calendar - was 20-year-old Laiken Baumgartner of Douglasville, Georgia.

For more than 40 years - what he calls the greatest years anyone could have - David Steinberg managed the career of comic genius Robin Williams. Steinberg is an executive producer of a massive new video retrospective of Robin Williams appearances and performances: “Robin Williams: Comic Genius.”

The collection is available in two configurations – a 22-DVD set running more than 50 hours and containing more than 100 performances, and a pared down 12-DVD set featuring the cream of the crop.

For the first time, all of Williams’s most memorable standup and television performances have been gathered together: all five HBO standup specials, never-before-released concerts including the Montreal stop on his final tour in 2012, dozens of his best talk show and late-night TV appearances with Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey, Saturday Night Live, James Lipton’s Emmy-nominated 90 minute interview with Williams on “Inside The Actor’s Studio, raw footage and early standup shows.

At the centerpiece of this historic set is “Come Inside My Mind,” a powerful, hilarious and heartbreaking documentary told largely in Williams’s voice that premiered on HBO earlier this year. I recently spoke with Steinberg about this unprecedented comedy collection.

It was a bold move that exceeded expectations when Phish booked a summer residency at Madison Square Garden in July and August 2017. More than 32 years after playing their first show as a foursome, Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell settled in for 13 shows spread over 17 nights.

His songs have been streamed more than 85 million times, but he’ll tell you that he’s not a big deal. Henry Jamison’s fans are likely to tell you otherwise when the Burlington, Vermont-based musician brings his band to his old Portland stomping grounds on December 8 for a show at Port City Music Hall with dreamy baroque-folk pop band Darlingside.

With a number of classic rock titles celebrating milestone 50th anniversaries in 2018 it was a given that reissue producers would come up with a multitude of commemorative box sets to mark the occasion. Some hit the mark beautifully by checking nearly every box on the rock archaeologist’s wish list while others come frustratingly close but ultimately misfire in some significant way.

On her new comedy special, “I’m Crowning,” Liz Stewart is a little dark, a little twisted … and a whole lot pregnant.

More than 11 years after setting out to write the first biography of Benjamin Orr – enigmatic co-founder, co-lead singer and bassist for The Cars, Vermont-based music journalist Joe Milliken says he is thrilled to be able to share so much first-time information about the late charismatic singer and musician.

Milliken’s book, “Let’s Go: Benjamin Orr and The Cars,” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) was written with input from more than 120 of Orr’s family members, friends, bandmates and associates – many of them speaking on the record for the first time.

According to Michael Fishman (“DJ Conner”) the cast of “Roseanne” faced a somber reality when they gathered in late August to begin shooting the first episodes of “The Conners” – ABC’s retitled, restructured reboot of the show that had returned to air with stunning ratings in March after more than two decades. The family matriarch was gone, and they had to figure out a way to carry on without her.

Following a controversial late May tweet from Roseanne Barr, the network pulled the plug on “Roseanne” but changed course three weeks later when they announced a reboot of their reboot. When “The Conners” debuted last month, we saw the cast dealing with the death of Roseanne Conner from an opioid overdose.

Fishman says the characters on “The Conners” have many stories left to tell and that he feels a responsibility to the fans that they honor the legacy of the show by continuing to tackle the deepest and darkest subjects with humor and love.

From the beginning, “Roseanne” reflected the realities of life for many in America. Since the show returned last month as “The Conners,” it has tackled addiction, life for soldiers returning from active duty, and how families cope with grief after a sudden loss.

A few months back, I received an invitation to preview the new self-titled double album by Ace of Cups - a group of women who were at the epicenter of the San Francisco rock scene in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

Despite sharing stages with some of the era’s heaviest hitters, Ace of Cups didn’t have an opportunity to make a studio record of their own until now – and it’s a stunner.

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