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Mike Dow

Mike Dow

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Thursday, 26 April 2012 08:44

Secrets of an illegal downloader

'Excuse me, but where were you all when piracy started to decimate the music industry? Why didn't you take a stand against that? Those free records felt good, huh?' - Duff McKagan, former Guns N' Roses bassist in a January 2012 blog post for Seattle Weekly on proposed PIPA/SOPA anti-piracy legislation. Plans to draft the bill were postponed following widespread opposition claiming threats to free speech and innovation. 

At the time SOPA and PIPA were being discussed and protested, the U.S. Justice Department shut down file-hosting/sharing site MegaUpload, just over a year after nailing peer-to-peer file sharing program Limewire. Despite government intervention, internet piracy is alive and thriving as hundreds, if not thousands of similar sites remain active. According to 2011 research from NPD Group, about 9 percent of internet users admit to regularly utilizing the services of peer-to-peer sites (networks of connected computers capable of sharing designated files including the illegal download of copyrighted material), down from 14 percent in 2007.

For this Maine Edge 'secrets' column, I interviewed an active illegal downloader who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. Ryan (not his real name) is 27 and works for a delivery company in the Bangor area.

'This is one smoking band,' I thought to myself while taking in one of the final performances of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' at Penobscot Theatre in downtown Bangor in early May 2010. I didn't realize then that I was watching the genesis of a new band; one that would soon become one of the most active groups in the area.

Guitarist and vocalist Sasha Alcott and drummer Chris Viner are When Particles Collide, a dynamic rock duo based in Bangor and actively garnering new fans and friends around the country. Since January 2011, they have maintained a very active gig schedule at home and on the road including shows in NYC, North Carolina, Boston, Pittsburgh and Kentucky.

When Particles Collide creates high-energy, melodic, unpretentious and well crafted punk-pop with influences that are felt but not obvious. For Sasha: The Pixies, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, MiniBoone, Foo Fighters, The Clash, The Jam and David Bowie are among her faves. For Chris: Green Day is his all-time favorite but he also loves the Dave Matthews Band, especially drummer Carter Beauford. In Viner's formative years, Dream Theatre, Rage Against the Machine and Presidents of the United States loomed large.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 14:29

Willie Wisely Trio get back a true reunion

From the opening chords of 'Kiss Her and Make it Right' on 'True,' their first album in 18 years, you're drawn into the wonderful world of managed chaos that is the Willie Wisely Trio a fierce foursome that are as comfortable cooking grooves wrapped in pure melody as they are tapping into an area they call 'no time' music or 'rocks and logs' music without a beat. Pure Pop for Wow People.

Formed in the late '80s with Wisely on guitar and vocals, James Voss on upright and electric bass, Peter Anderson on drums and Greg Wold on trombone, each member of the Minneapolis-based band arrived with a different influence.

Classic rock, jazz, pop, gospel and punk to comedy and theatrics The Trio stirred it up while traveling the country in a rust-colored van playing roughly 400 shows in five years. Word of mouth helped build an adoring fan base who relished the fact that no two Trio experiences were alike. Shows by The Willie Wisely Trio were equal parts raucous, hilarious, tender and dangerous, and at this moment, there is probably someone, somewhere, telling a story about one of those shows with the capper, 'Man, ya shoulda been there.'

Wednesday, 04 April 2012 14:35

From Korn to Jesus

Brian 'Head' Welch is back with new band, Love and Death

In 2005, after 15 years and more than 30 million albums sold, Korn, one of the most popular metal bands in the world, was about to sign a new deal with Virgin Records worth $25 million. Their lead guitarist, Brian 'Head' Welch, says he was living his dream, but inside, he was dying.

Welch says he started drinking on weekends when he was 15, and once Korn was firmly established, alcohol became a daily escape from the band's punishing tour schedule. After Korn signed to Epic Records in 1994, hard drugs entered Brian's life, leading to an all-consuming addiction to crystal meth that took his family (his wife was addicted as well; Brian later gained custody of his daughter, Jennea) and nearly cost him his life.

Welch says he used methamphetamines every day for two years before finally staggering to a hotel and checking in for a body, mind and soul rehab with Jesus. There, he sat and prayed for hours. 'I said, 'God, I'm weak. I'm going to die if I keep this up,'' Welch told me. ''Please be strong for me. Be real. Send people to help me. Get me out of this.'

'What I found was that God is real and all I had to do was ask Christ to help me,' Welch said. 'When I did that, everything bad that I didn't want fell out of my life.' Welch says he ran from Korn in February, 2005 and began a walk with Jesus that is even stronger today. His 2007 memoir 'Save Me From Myself' (also the title of his 2008 debut solo album) became a New York Times bestseller and led to two further books.

Thursday, 29 March 2012 08:16

Awaiting their return

Phish fan camps at Loring for nine years

EDITOR'S NOTE: (This story is from The Maine Edge's annual April Fools Day edition. As such, you can safely assume that most of it - if not all of it - is totally made-up.)

'Phish is coming back and I can prove it,' says Brian Costigan, 37, of Concord, NH. For the past nine years, Costigan has been living in an RV parked outside the old Loring Air Force base in Limestone, ME site of the Phish festivals in 97, '98 and '03. Certain of the legendary jam band's return in 2012, Costigan claims the band has planted clues only those paying close attention could notice.

According to Harold Hood, media relations director for Loring Commerce Center (formally Loring Air Force Base), 'At first, we didn't know what to think this guy living in his RV, just waiting for Phish.' He said that Loring Development was initially against the idea of having Costigan live outside their gates, but the folks of Limestone convinced them to let him stay. 'They've taken a shine to him,' Hood said. 'He'll help anyone in need, and they help him if he needs something. He helps us plow in the winter and mow in the summer. He's polite and keeps his RV in immaculate condition.' When asked about Costigan's prediction of Phish's return, Hood replied, 'Who knows? We've never seen anything like those concerts. Business like you wouldn't believe. Good kids. Brian is our last connection to those times.'

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:55

The Zambonis

Hockey Rock masters score hat trick on new LP

What started as a fun 'what if?' proposition has evolved into a joyous and celebrated institution. More than 20 years after forming, The Zambonis, the world's foremost purveyors of Hockey Rock, have returned with their best album to date, 'Five Minute Major (in D Minor).'

Hockey fans are as passionate about the sport as rock fans are about the music, and The Zambonis have offered the best of both worlds over seven hockey-themed albums.

'Five Minute Major' faces off with 'Brass Bonanza' the theme for the band's beloved Hartford Whalers for more than 20 years. The Zambonis' version combines surf guitar and drums, horns and even an electric sitar to form the definitive rendition of the happy, catchy tune which continues to be played during games in the band's home state of Connecticut.

When Jason Howe of Houlton heard the news that he was going to be a father of twins, he took care of the necessary preparations and formed a band with a childhood friend at the same time. This 'rock dad' likes to keep busy.

Howe, of popular acoustic jam-rock band Mellow Endeavor, spoke with me last week after putting his boys down for a nap. In addition to the babies, age 11 months, Howe and his girlfriend Danielle also have a 5-year old. Jason told me that he loves being a stay-at-home dad while continuing to work on Mellow Endeavor business. 'It's a full time job with twins and a five year old,' he said 'But I still manage to put about 30 hours a week into the band making contacts, answering email and booking shows.'

Since forming in 2010, Mellow Endeavor has become one of the hardest working bands in Maine. 'Originally, we were thinking we would be doing one show a month. We had no idea how quickly things were going to take off,' Howe said. In finest jam-band tradition, word of mouth has been their best advertising.

Wednesday, 07 March 2012 19:52

Why The Monkees were a big deal

When news broke last week that Davy Jones of The Monkees had died suddenly of a heart attack at age 66, tributes began pouring in on social networking sites. Some comments on Davy's passing from a few of my Facebook friends

'I feel like a piece of my childhood has just died.'

'Remembering Saturday mornings with Davy Jones. Those were the days my friend.'

'So simple, so true. Going to miss him most of all.'

'No drugs, nothing to sensationalize. Just a wholesome kid from the 60s. What a loss. Another big piece of my life has changed forever.'

Teenage depression and anxiety is the subject of a new movie that will premiere at the Gracie Theatre on Wednesday, March 21. The 35 minute film 'The Road Back' was largely created by a dedicated group of local teens and produced by The Acadia Hospital, Project Aware of Saco and Gum Spirits Productions of Portland.

Shot over five days last October at Hermon High School, the film is centered around Allie (Natalie Johnson, a senior at Hermon High School), who deals with depression, and Christian (Josh Devou, a junior at Hermon High School ), who suffers from anxiety. Over the course of the film, these two characters find themselves facing difficult challenges that are compounded by their conditions, but they are ultimately led to discover a way out through treatment.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 12:46

New Bruce - Boring in the U.S.A.

The marriage of music and politics is tricky. For each instance where it works, (Neil Young's 'Rocking in the Free World' - as good as it gets), you could cite 10 where it doesn't (including Neil Young's 'Living With War' - ugh). On Tuesday, March 6, Bruce Springsteen will issue his 17th studio album, 'Wrecking Ball' - a collection of mostly angry songs with Springsteen assuming the role of various characters who feel betrayed by the promise of the American Dream. After I listened to 'Wrecking Ball,' I felt betrayed by the promise of a good Springsteen album. It hurts to admit that - I'm a fan and I sometimes wonder if I'm the only one who feels let down by most everything Bruce has issued over the past 20 years.

Over the last 40 years, Bruce Springsteen has delivered some of the most vital, joyous, engaging and thoughtful songs in rock. Now that I think of it, most of those songs appeared during his first 20 years of recording.

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