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Mike Dow

Mike Dow

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Saturday, 22 June 2013 06:21

Phish: in the groove on 'Ventura'

Most Phish fans have a favorite era of the band's evolution and can eloquently state their case by citing specific shows and jams.   For many, it's the groove that hit the group in the mid to late 90s when a certain funkiness began to permeate Phish shows, a welcome ingredient that fit their music perfectly.  That fact is made abundantly clear on the band's new archival release, 'Ventura,' a 6-CD box set comprised of two complete concerts performed a year apart at Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura, California in 1997 and 1998.  

For 'Ventura,' Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro has selected two vastly underrated performances that reveal the band in top form, delivering a master class in improvisation and showmanship with the emphasis on groove.

If this were an episode of VH1's 'Behind the Music,' we would now be watching the jubilant career revival that typically follows the meteoric rise and devastating crash in the arc of that series's formula.   

Adam Ant (born Stuart Goddard) has returned with his first album of new material since 1995 actually, make that a double.  The new record, 'Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter,' offers 17 bold and brash songs, each written or co-written by Ant.  

Mick Jones, guitarist and founding member of Foreigner, laughs as he thinks of some of the changes he and the band have gone through since forming. 'These days we have nice, comfortable busses and nice, comfortable jets for traveling,' he said with a chuckle during a recent phone interview. Those busses and jets will bring the band to New Hampshire's Hampton Beach Casino for a sold out show on Saturday, June 29 as part of a tour that has kept them on the road since the beginning of the year.  

The accommodations are not the only changes since 'Feels Like The First Time' broke the band in the United States in the spring of 1977. Foreigner arrived in the era of excess, when bands of their stature weren't exactly encouraged to live like monks. 'The requirements in the dressing room are certainly different now,' he said. 'Where we used to have crates of champagne and all kinds of stuff in the old days, we now have health drinks and water. We don't have a big party to look forward to when we come off the stage,' he said laughing.

Anne Serling on her new book, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling'

Through 156 episodes, from 1959 to 1964, Rod Serling, creator and executive producer of 'The Twilight Zone,' used the fantastic and surreal to tell stories or make a point that would have been impossible in conventional contemporary broadcast settings without the meddling of persnickety network censors.    

With earlier teleplays 'Patterns,' 'Requiem for a Heavyweight' and 'Noon on Doomsday,' Serling had written some of the most indelible scripts of the 1950s only to see them picked apart by executives fearful of controversy with advertisers and viewers.  

Sometimes it's nice to be reminded why we choose to live where we do. For Nina Blackwood, one of MTV's original five 'VJs,' a lifelong love of Maine and six years of residence on the coast has turned her into a virtual one-woman Maine tourist bureau. 'When I was a little girl, we used to come to the southern part of Maine for vacations and I just fell in love with it here,' Blackwood told me in a phone interview last week. 'It was one of those things that got embedded in my soul.'

It's difficult to believe, but MTV is nearly 32 years old. On Aug. 1, 1981 the world's first 24-hour music video channel signed on with the image of a Saturn V rocket leaving the launch pad with the surprisingly understated spoken words, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll.' The first video to be screened was 'Video Killed the Radio Star' by British new-wavers The Buggles. Since then, a small library has been written about how MTV helped shape the cultural landscape of the '80s and '90s back when they actually aired music videos, live concerts and documentaries instead of an unremitting onslaught of brain-squashing reality shows which is what passes for the channel today.   

CD release party set for Friday, May 17th at Nocturnem 

After more than a year spent thinking about the recording of their first full length album, popular acoustic jam-band Mellow Endeavor decided to keep things simple and true.   The finished disc, 'All Paths Lead Home' is an honest representation of how the band sounds in a live setting.  Jason Howe (vocals and cajone) says that it was important for the band to capture the vibe of a live performance for their first album.  'The cleanliness and multi-track sound wasn't something that we were going for on this,' Howe told me in a recent phone interview.  'We tried to get as close to our live sound as possible.  Even the vocals were recorded live with the music,' he says. 

Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:12

James McCartney on Me' new album & tour

First Maine visit set for Portland's One Longfellow Square May 16

Pure pop bliss abounds on 'Me', the first full-length album from James McCartney, due May 21 from ECR Music Group. A rarity in a world where most new pop-rock releases smack the listener with deliberate earnestness, 'Me' is a reminder that the most memorable songs are often the most organic and personal.

Rich in melody and sonics with hooks to spare, many of the songs on 'Me' (including the ultra-catchy first single 'Strong as You') begin gently with acoustic guitar and then lead the listener into welcome and unexpected places. In a recent interview conducted via email, McCartney told me that the songs on 'Me' were all newly written. 'This album is much more of a snapshot of where I'm at, and who I am right now. It's Me,'' he said.

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 11:20

Kat Von D Got Ink?

A conversation with renowned tattoo artist, television personality and author Kat Von D invariably revolves around ink.  

Born Katherine von Drachenberg in Mexico, Kat Von D moved to the Los Angeles area with her parents as a young girl, where she became fascinated with tattoo art and lifestyle. From art and music (she's a classically trained pianist but also harbors a deep love for rock and roll) to fashion, she quickly gained notoriety as one of LA's go-to tattoo artists and personalities.

Band set to play in Bangor on Thursday, April 25 and Rockland on Friday, April 26

'This is the life I've chosen,' said Eric Boatright, lead singer of Shallow Side, a five-piece rock band from Cullman, Alabama that has been on the road playing one-nighters virtually non-stop since they formed in November 2010. The group has two Maine dates on their itinerary this week in support of the new CD, 'Home Today,' and Boatright says he's looking forward to some northern hospitality. 'It will be great to be in Maine and we can't wait to play in new places for new faces.'   

Book signing with The Doors' drummer at Bull Moose in Scarborough 4/20 at 2 p.m.

Somewhere today, a 15-year-old kid is buying his first Doors album and is listening to the beautifully dark and mysterious songs with the same sense of wonder felt by generations of kids before him. As he digs deeper into the band's catalog and explores their history, he will attach a personal value to the band's name. The songs will accompany him during pivotal moments in his life and memories will be made with The Doors providing the soundtrack.   

As Doors drummer John Densmore sees it, part of his job today is to make sure that the value placed upon the band's name, image and music by that 15 year old, and millions of other Doors fans like him, remains untarnished.

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