Mike Dow

Mike Dow

edge staff writer

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BREWER - What began a little more than six months ago as a fun exercise in a Brewer basement at the outset of the pandemic now involves recording contracts, a record label, a new YouTube show due to launch soon and even “American Idol.”

The Facebook group Quarantine Karaoke has become a global sensation, and no one is more surprised and gratified than its creator.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, Joseph Meyers, then a resident of Brewer, sought a therapeutic outlet, and like he usually does, he turned to music to make him feel better.

“I was in the living room with my wife, and things were getting shut down, and the hits just seemed to keep coming,” Meyers said during an interview with The Maine Edge.

Meyers had been a member of Bangor area top-40 cover band Trendy Robots, and prior to that, a progressive alternative band that focused on original music called Most of Us Can Stand.

Seeking a positive outlet to channel his feelings about the grim pandemic news, Meyers decided to go to his basement where he has a piano.

“I regularly go down there to play and record music, it’s just part of who I am,” he said.

Meyers recorded a song and posted it on his personal Facebook page with the status: “Quarantine Karaoke.” As he walked up his basement stairs, he realized that he felt better, calling it a “therapeutic event.”

“When I woke up the next day, I had the thought that more people should do that, it really does help you cope with things.”

That was the moment he created a Facebook group called Quarantine Karaoke, then uploaded the first video, and encouraged people to join, share and record themselves singing their favorite songs from home. Within the first 24 hours, 10,000 people joined his group.

“All I did was click a button and say ‘go.’ It really blew up from there,” said Meyers.

BANGOR – The 27th edition of “Paws on Parade,” the largest annual fundraiser conducted by Bangor Humane Society, must be different this year because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Instead of people and pets gathering at the Bangor Waterfront on a single Saturday morning for a fun downtown dog-walk, this year’s edition of Paws on Parade will be a 10-day virtual event that director of development Kathryn Ravenscraft says will have the same spirit.

Participants are encouraged to take part in Paws on Parade from September 17 to September 27 wherever they are, as far as they want to go, when it’s convenient, according to Ravenscraft.

This year’s major event sponsors are Cross Insurance, Darling’s VW and Veazie Veterinary Clinic.

Register online at The Paws on Parade registration page can be found by opening the “programs and events” tab.

Wednesday, 09 September 2020 12:38

Autumn arrivals in new music

The fall musical marketplace could get a little crowded by the looks of the industry’s schedule of current and forthcoming releases.

A bounty of new titles has appeared in recent days from proven players like The Avett Brothers, Jason Mraz, Katy Perry, Bruce Hornsby and My Morning Jacket.

Archival releases are also in abundance this season with boxed sets out now from The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, and titles expected soon from Prince, John Lennon, Tom Petty, Wilco and Elvis Presley.

This week, I’ve selected four new and forthcoming titles that I feel are deserving of your attention.

When The Go-Gos, rock’s first female band to score a No. 1 Billboard album, burst on the scene with 1981’s “Beauty and the Beat,” they were an instant smash. Videos for “Our Lips are Sealed” and “We Got The Beat” coincided with the birth of MTV, and depicted a band of fun-loving BFF’s cruising around LA and hopping onstage to sing their catchy tunes.

The Go-Gos merged the retro sensibility of ‘60s and ‘70s pop with a new wave edge that produced an amalgam of music and image that became an irresistible combo for millions of fans in the 1980s.

Everything was great, until it wasn’t, and the full picture is just now coming into view, thanks to a new Showtime documentary (“The Go-Gos”) and “All I Ever Wanted,” the memoir of Go-Gos guitarist and songwriter Kathy Valentine.

In the following Maine Edge interview, Valentine, a native of Austin, Texas, discusses the heady early success of The Go-Gos, how and why the band imploded and how forgiveness and healing brought them together again.

Micky Dolenz of the beloved 1960s hit-making group The Monkees says he’d like to be on stage this summer with that band’s other surviving member, Mike Nesmith.

The duo had plotted a 2020 tour in support of the new live album “The Mike & Micky Show,” only to see those dates postponed to next spring due to the pandemic.

The rarely idle Dolenz says he and Nesmith had a blast during their first-ever outing as “The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show” last year, and claims the seeds for his shows with Nesmith were planted during The Monkees’ 1960s heyday.

“Even back in the old days, we joked about some day doing ‘The Mike & Micky Show,’” Dolenz told The Maine Edge. “Nez (shorthand for Nesmith) and I always had a special kind of camaraderie in music and comedy, and very similar tastes in both. We used to talk about one day doing a show together, and here we are.”

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 15:45

Heavy hitters lead the pack in new music

The music biz seems to be quietly whistling past the graveyard with fingers crossed this summer as it looks ahead with hope that 2021 will see a widespread return of live concerts. Dozens of acts have already issued new records which would have been tied to their respective tours, while some have decided to hold titles back to see how things shake out.

This week sees a number of high-profile figures in rock and country hit the launch button on new albums, two of which were recorded after the outset of the pandemic.

Guitarist Nils Lofgren sounds like he’s almost in disbelief when he says he’s been on the road for nearly 52 years. The longtime guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and a recurring member of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse, most recently on a 2018 album and tour, tells The Maine Edge the road has been his second home from the age of 17.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician, singer and songwriter has readied the new live double disc “Weathered” for release on August 21. Recorded last year on his first full band tour in more than 15 years, “Weathered” presents Lofgren and his band of family and friends ripping it up in concert in support of his 2019 LP “Blue with Lou,” featuring songs he co-wrote with the late Lou Reed.

The 16 track “Weathered” presents rearranged classics from Lofgren’s vast catalogue, live versions of tracks from his most recent studio LP and select covers, including Hank Williams’s “Mind Your Own Business” and a jam into the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

During the following interview, which aired on the stations of BIG 104 FM (104.3 FM in Augusta, 104.7 in Bangor and 107.7 in Bar Harbor), Lofgren discusses his recent live shows, and explains the unorthodox method of songwriting employed during his collaboration with the legendary Lou Reed, former leader of The Velvet Underground.

An encore presentation of the 2010 GLAAD Media Award winning television docudrama “Prayers for Bobby” recently aired on the Lifetime network, where it made its world premiere in January 2009.

Based on the book by Leroy F Aarons, “Prayers for Bobby” tells the true story of Bobby Griffith, a gay teenager who committed suicide in 1983 when his devoutly religious mother, Mary, refused to accept his homosexuality.

“Prayers for Bobby” stars Academy Award winning actress Sigourney Weaver as Mary Griffith and Ryan Kelley as Bobby Griffith. It is available now on iTunes and Apple TV.

During the following interview, which aired last weekend on the stations of BIG 104 FM (104.3/104.7/107.7 FM), Sigourney Weaver called “Prayers for Bobby,” for which she won a Golden Globe and an Emmy nod, the most important film she’s ever done.

Chaucer is credited with coining the expression “familiarity breeds contempt,” which may be true, but what he did he know about pandemics? He only had to concern himself with the Black Plague.

Covid-19 has hobbled virtually all industry, but a wealth of new music in every genre has been released on schedule over the last four months. True confessions time, dear Maine Edge reader: I probably haven’t heard it.

Like you, I’ve spent a lot of time at home, but most of my music listening, like my TV viewing, has been limited to the comforting and the familiar. In other words, I’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff and becoming reacquainted with the nether regions of my music library at home.

One new music title that I can recommend with confidence, however, is one that I’ve heard almost daily since its release more than three months ago.

Phish – “Sigma Oasis” (JEMP Records; out now).

Since the release of “Here I Go,” the 2015 debut album by Joel Thetford, the Portland-based Texas native has become a leading voice in New England’s alt-country/Americana scene with his songs that are deeply personal yet widely relatable.

Thetford was in the midst of recording a fourth record with his band last fall when they were called upon to open a show for Sarah Shook and the Disarmers at one of Thetford’s favorite venues. The set they performed that night is now available in its entirety on “Joel Thetford Band: Live at Port City Music Hall,” and its release will benefit local musicians currently unable to perform due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Half of the proceeds from the sale of Thetford’s live album will go to Creative Portland’s Artists Relief Fund, a charity organized by the city’s official nonprofit art agency. The fund will make available $500 stipends for local artists to help them make ends meet until they are able to perform again.

“It’s scary for a lot of people right now,” Thetford said during an interview with The Maine Edge. “Many of them are waking up today to no money and no food.”

Recorded on November 17, 2019, “Joel Thetford Band: Live at Port City Music Hall” documents the band’s complete set with new versions of songs from Thetford’s previous albums, plus an opening cover of “If You Don’t Mind,” a song by Alec Gross that Thetford says he has long wanted to perform with his band.

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