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Penobscot Music Festival returns

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Third festival hits the stage on May 29

BREWER - The third annual Penobscot Music Festival, a celebration of the greater Bangor area's live music scene, is set for Sunday, May 29 at Jeff's Catering in Brewer from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Festival spokesman Vinny Cormier, guitarist and vocalist for headlining band Dakota, says that eight bands are confirmed for the festival, offering fans a mix of classic rock and new rock as well as new and classic country.

'There's no competition among the bands,' Cormier said in an interview. 'The musicians are kind of like this whole thing is a little bigger than just our band.' Egos are chucked out the door. This is like a family coming together.'

Each of the bands will perform a 50 minute set, beginning at 2:00 PM. As one band is performing, the next will be setting up. 'There will be no waiting time between bands,' Cormier explained.

Cormier, who plans the festival with the Penobscot Musicians Group, says that, like the festivals held over the last two years, he is expecting a large turnout.

'We had more than 1,400 people over the course of the day at the first one in 2014,' he said. 'Last year's turnout was only slightly smaller but we were competing with the Ed Sheeran concert on the Bangor waterfront.'

The admission fee is a suggested donation of $5.00 with proceeds designated for Children's Miracle Network, an organization which raises funds for children's hospitals and medical research.

'We want to make it as affordable as possible for anybody to come,' Cormier says.

The choice of charity to receive the funds collected at the door was an easy one for Cormier and his fellow festival organizers.

Cormier's brother Tommy, a former member of Dakota, recently went through a battle with cancer. His journey back to health inspired Cormier to find a charity that works directly with children fighting cancer.

'Tommy has been courageous through this whole thing. Never once has he felt sorry for himself or asked 'why me?' He told me that it's hard to complain about your circumstance when the person sitting next to you getting chemo is a 12-year old kid.'

In addition to headliners Dakota playing their mix of classic and new rock, the lineup of scheduled bands includes The Allison Ames Band (country, rock, blues and disco), Overdrive (classic and new rock), Shyboy (classic and new rock), Midnight Rose (country and rock), Live Wire (high energy rock), Right Out Straight (classic rock) and new to the lineup - The Tyler Healey Band (modern country and outlaw' country).

Cormier says that he is indebted to the bands that will be playing for free, giving up their Sunday during a long holiday weekend, for the Penobscot Music Festival.

'It's an incredible thing that I ask these bands to come out and play for nothing,' he told me. 'These musicians stay through the entire day into the night helping with the setup and even helping clean up at the end. These are people who worked Friday night and Saturday night. Here they are giving up their Sunday on a holiday weekend to make this happen.'

Bands who have performed at the last two Penobscot Music Festivals were given first right of refusal for this one.

'I think it's important to honor the bands who have been doing it since the first year,' Cormier told me. 'They have first dibs on returning.'

Cormier says that a number of door prizes will be drawn over the course of the afternoon and evening on May 29. Winners must be present when their name is called.

Among the prizes to be awarded: A weekend getaway at the Bear's Den' motel, restaurant and tavern in Dover-Foxcroft with breakfast and dinner included. A canoe and kayak have been donated by Penobscot Bay Marine. A session with tattoo artist William Cassio will be awarded and a 50/50 raffle is also planned.

Food will be available for sale, provided by Tony and Lisa Brothers; Jeff's Catering will provide a cash bar.

Cormier told me that Jeff Ashey of Jeff's Catering has been crucial to the festival's success.

'Jeff has been so amazing through this whole thing,' Cormier says. 'Not only does he provide the venue, but he also has a crew and they do everything from setting up to cleaning up at the end. We're so grateful to Jeff and his staff for working with us to make this happen.'

Cormier says that the festival is a safe environment for fans to come out, listen to live music and celebrate Memorial Day weekend.

'We have our security team on site for the day and they do a great job making sure everyone is safe,' Cormier said. 'Each year, we tweak it and make it a little better than the one before.'

Cormier says it's been very satisfying to see the Penobscot Music Festival become such a big success but that he would not object to turning the reins over to 'the right person' in the future.

'I'm so thankful for the Penobscot Musicians Group for all of the work they put into this,' he said. 'You kind of get married to this for a little while when it's in the planning stages. It's fun, but it's a lot of work. There is a way of doing this and making it even grander but it would take the right person. This is a great area for live local music. This festival celebrates the bands, the fans and the venues that make it possible.'

('The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth) and WAEI AM 910.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 16:06

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