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Mike Dow

Mike Dow

edge staff writer

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Matt Mason, winner of the first season of 'CMT's Next Superstar' in 2011, will visit Maine for the first time on Friday, June 29 when he brings his band to My Fork Restaurant and Sports Lounge on the Odlin Road in Bangor with special guest Chris Ross.

Country music fans were introduced to Mason in 2006, when he was selected from among 20,000 hopefuls to be one of 10 contestants on USA Network's 'Nashville Star.' Judges and fans alike were taken with the young country music traditionalist who was weaned on the music of legends Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings during his formative years in Indiana.

On 'Nashville Star,' Mason placed fourth overall and assumed the show would provide the rocket fuel to get his career off the launch pad. After a move to Nashville, he learned that the music business can be an unpredictable beast, and even a weekly appearance on a popular national broadcast was no guarantee of success.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:03

To keep going, you need three things'

  George Hale in his own words

Everyone at Blueberry Broadcasting will tell you the same thing one of the best parts of our day is when we interact with George Hale. Sometimes he'll cross the hall to visit The Mike and Mike Show and flirt with one of our female guests or rail against the New York Yankees. We still have his famous 2004 'Take that you Yankee bastards!' quote ready to play at any time. Some mornings, I sneak into the GHRT studio, sit on the floor like a little kid and just listen while they do the show.

Even before I sat down to interview George for this story, I knew I wanted to present it as a first-person narrative. Nobody could tell George Hale's story better than George Hale. All I needed to do was ask questions and then step out of the way. With only a few tweaks from me, what follows are highlights in George's words - from two interviews recorded over the last two weeks. This barely scratches the surface we're talking about a man who has been a broadcaster in seven different decades. George's full story could only be told in a book. Mike Dow

(and why you should be there)

Friday, June 22 promises to be a night of fun, fun, fun on the Bangor Waterfront when The Beach Boys hit town for nearly three hours of hits and rarities - one of only 50 American dates scheduled for the band's 50th anniversary tour.

Nearly 20 years have passed since The Beach Boys have performed with their leader Brian Wilson - the man responsible for most of the band's mojo. For this tour Brian is back, and I was more than a little surprised when the news broke that he agreed to do it. Brian doesn't need the money, he doesn't need the aggravation (Mike Love) and it's been decades since he appeared completely at ease on stage. So why did he did agree to be part of a lengthy reunion tour in addition to creating and producing new material for the band's 29th studio album 'That's Why God Made The Radio?' My guess is that he wants closure to The Beach Boys' saga on his terms.

Not many bands survive to see a 50th anniversary tour, and the few who do have seen their share of weirdness. The Beach Boys are no exception. Under the smiles, striped shirts and Mike Love's ballcap lie decades of lawsuits, dysfunction and strange vibrations.

Over five decades, The Beach Boys have kept alive several communities of therapists and litigators. As recently as 2007, Brian Wilson prevailed in cousin Mike Love's ridiculous lawsuit over Brian's CD of re-recorded Beach Boys hits distributed free to the readership of a UK newspaper. What made Wilson's victory especially satisfying was Love's cockiness in the courtroom. According to Brian's wife Melinda, Mike Love turned to his cousin and said, 'You better start writing a real big hit because you're going to have to write me a real big check.' The judge decided otherwise.

The Wilson brothers had an absolute tool bag for a father. By all accounts, Murray Wilson worked overtime to make the lives of his boys a whirlwind of despair. Archival interviews with Brian, Carl and Dennis are filled with painful childhood tales of emotional and physical abuse many too graphic for The Maine Edge. Here's one we can share with you: Murray took perverse pleasure in scaring his sons by removing his glass eye and forcing them to look in the socket.

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 11:42

'Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust'

Ken Scott on recording The Beatles, Bowie, Elton and more

On the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first recording at EMI Studios and the 40th anniversary of Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust,' engineer and producer Ken Scott shares all in new book.

More than 48 years on from the job interview that forever altered his course, legendary recording producer and engineer Ken Scott recalls his nervousness as he climbed the steps outside EMI Studios to meet with the assistant studio manager. 'I had never had a job before, so I was panic-stricken going for this interview,' he remembers.

Only five days previous, after a particularly grueling Friday at school, Scott sat down and penned approximately 10 letters addressed to various London-based record labels, television and radio studios in hopes of landing a position as a recording engineer. Exactly one week later, he received some news that stopped him in his tracks. 'I was offered a job and left school that day,' Scott told me. 'I started at EMI the next Monday. There were nine days between school and starting work at the greatest recording studio in the world.' Ken Scott was 16 years old.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:28

Days with Doris

Blue Hill resident remembers 20 years with America's original sweetheart

BLUE HILL - One day in early 1988, music producer Terry Melcher (The Byrds, The Beach Boys) walked through the door of his mother Doris Day's home in Carmel, California accompanied by John Phillips, formerly of The Mamas & the Papas. Phillips had a song running through his mind and was desperate to put the tune on tape before he forgot it.

Melcher called for his mother's assistant, an Englishman named Sydney Wood. 'Woody, do you have a cassette recorder in your room?' he asked. 'Yes, come on up,' Wood replied. Melcher and Phillips headed up the stairs with an acoustic guitar and sat on Wood's bed while they worked out the song's basic structure. There were no lyrics yet, but the melody and chords were there.

Melcher later played the tape for The Beach Boys, who wanted to record the song immediately. 'Kokomo' was released in July and hit #1 in November giving The Beach Boys the distinction of being the act with the longest span between #1 records (22 years). For Sydney Wood, seeing a Grammy-nominated song come to life in his bedroom was just another day at Doris's place. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 14:41

The Pillbugs Hi-def psychedelic pop

'We were never trying to make it big The Pillbugs' music was made to create a great listening experience for ourselves and to share it with others. If it made money, that would be great too, but it never really has. That's OK; we need people out there like that too.' Mark Mikel of The Pillbugs

I propose the radical notion that the finest of all psychedelic pop-rock bands did not originate in England or San Francisco, nor did they record in the 60s. Many legendary bands have tinkered with psychedelic music, but very few made the commitment for their entire body of work. For my money, the band leading the psych-pop pack in terms of quality and consistency was a quintet from Toledo called The Pillbugs, who released five albums of superbly-crafted songs bursting with uncommon beauty (two of them double CDs) between 1998 and 2008.

Think of Ray Davies's songwriting for The Kinks from 1967-1969 or The Zombies' songs on 'Odessey and Oracle' combined with Phish and Gov't Mule-caliber musicianship, and you have an approximation of The Pillbugs experience.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 10:18

Hello from Karmin!

Nick and Amy talk life, love and music

'When Nick was in the 5th grade at Herbert Sargent School, I remember saying to his parents, Mike and Judy, 'Your son is very gifted and if he chooses this path of music, we'll be buying his CD some day.' Shianne Priest, music director, Leonard Middle School, Old Town

The last 13 months have been an intensely wild ride for pop-duo Karmin who just released their first major-label release, 'Hello' (Epic) last week. In that time, they've gone from playing their songs on the street to playing 'Saturday Night Live,' 'Ellen' and 'The Tonight Show,' and they are currently packing arenas. Say hello to Nick and Amy of Karmin.

Old Town native Nick Noonan and Amy Heidemann, originally of Seward, Nebraska, met near the end of their freshman year at Berklee College of Music in Boston where the duo graduated in 2010. 'We knew of each other,' Nick remembered. 'She always hung out with the gospel crowd, and I just kind of hung out with the horn players. She was the hot singer and I was like the weird jazz-head.' Noonan recalls having a conversation with Heidemann just before breaking for the summer. 'We came back for the first week of sophomore year, we talked at a party and really hit it off. That was it.'

It's late March in Nashville, and Chris Ross is due to walk into a studio in four days to record the follow-up to his acclaimed debut album, 2011's 'The Steady Stumble.' There's only one problem he's two songs short.

Ross is confident that the eight new songs he brought with him are very good, and he isn't willing to short-change his fans. He sets his internal tuner on 'receive,' adjusts his antenna and hopes the songs somehow come through.

He nervously paces while thinking out loud - 'I can write two songs in four days, I can do this,' he says. In a flash of pressure-derived inspiration, the songs arrive just in time. One of the songs, 'I Lied,' is about a man admitting mistakes in past relationships, while the other turns out to be the song selected to open the record.

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 17:00

Jacob McCurdy Traveling Rock Star

The name was familiar to me, but I wasn't aware that he had recorded an album. While scanning Facebook on a recent Sunday, I saw an Amazon.com link for a new album by Jacob McCurdy and decided to preview the songs. 'Wow. This is really good,' I thought while checking out the 30-second song snippets. Full of breezy, melodic, mostly acoustic pop, it's an impressive debut record. 'This kid Jacob McCurdy has got it going on,' I thought as I clicked 'Buy MP3 Album.'

McCurdy's new record is called 'Sleepless,' and it's a collection of original songs compiled from the last several years of life experiences that have taken him from Maine to New York, Colorado, Hawaii, England and other locales that weave their way in and out of the music.

A self-taught musician, Jacob picked up the guitar five years ago as a camp counselor for kids at Tanglewood Summer Camp in Lincolnville. 'I learned how to play 'Hey There Delilah' (Plain White Ts), which was a popular song at the time, and I would play kids to sleep,' McCurdy told me last week. 'When I started, I really wasn't very good, and I'm sure my co-counselor didn't like the fact that I played all the time (laughing).'

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