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Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:01

Rick Wakeman of YES on his ‘Grumpy Old Rock Star tour

Written by Mike Dow

Legendary keyboardist, composer, comedian, TV and radio host, and author Rick Wakeman has never done anything half-baked.

His five tenures with the band Yes helped elevate the progressive rock torchbearers into the pantheon of greats beginning with the album “Fragile” in 1971. Wakeman’s contributions to the music of other artists has had a similar impact, including David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and “Hunky Dory” LP, and songs by Cat Stevens, T-Rex, Elton John, Lou Reed and Al Stewart.

The solo career of Rick Wakeman is deep with scores of titles and liberally peppered with high-water marks, including concept albums about the wives of Henry VIII, King Arthur and Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” that sold in the millions on both sides of the Atlantic. He’s still doing it today with his piano-based theme albums – all of which vaulted into the U.K. top 10 upon release, with his just-completed “Christmas Portraits” due to follow suit in late November.

Wakeman is set to bring his first solo trek of America in 13 years to New England this week when his “Grumpy Old Rock Star” tour arrives at Tupelo Music Hall in Derry, New Hampshire, on Sunday, September 22, to be followed by a show at Boston’s The Wilbur on Monday, September 23. Before heading to the west coast, Wakeman will include a show at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, Connecticut on October 13.

Joel Thetford Band and special guest Caroline Cotter to play BAE ballroom Sept. 21

BANGOR - Two distinctly original voices in Americana, alt-country and folk will perform Saturday, September 21, in the ballroom of Bangor Arts Exchange at 193 Exchange St. in Bangor. The Joel Thetford Band with special guest Caroline Cotter will take the stage at 8:00 p.m. as part of the New Nashville North Concert Series.

Fifty years after their debut on Columbia Records, the current incarnation of NRBQ (the original uncategorizable band) has prepared an astonishingly tasty live album compiled from two recent radio performances.

On Sept. 6, Omnivore Recordings will release “Turn On, Tune In” – a 21-song collection comprised of a 2015 live session for Sirius/XM’s The Loft and a 2017 concert from WFMU-FM’s Monty Hall performance space in Jersey City, New Jersey.

As tipped in these pages last spring, The Beatles plan to issue a variety of remixed and remastered editions of “Abbey Road” this fall to mark the 50th anniversary of the album many fans consider the group’s magnum opus.

It’s comforting and reassuring when a longtime favored artist or band releases a new work that stands with the very best material you’ve heard them create. A perfect example is “Face the Sun” – the just-released eighth studio album from Willie Wisely.

“Face the Sun” is quintessential Wisely - a contemporary power-pop classic that reunites him with producer John “Strawberry” Fields, the man behind the glass for the singer songwriter’s 1997 classic “Turbosherbert.”

I expect a Wisely album to be good, whether it’s a solo record, an album from his Willie Wisely Trio or one of his side projects like Secret Friend and The Lover The Keeper. The man seems incapable of writing a bad song which automatically fuels expectations for fans. One of the surprises surrounding “Face the Sun” is that the lion’s share of its songs were castoffs from previous projects.

“This is like a greatest-hits record full of songs that have never been released,” Wisely said with a laugh during a phone interview.

PORTLAND - Thousands of Guster fans will converge on Maine this weekend for the band’s third annual destination “On The Ocean Weekend” event, scheduled to include a broad palette of music, food, special activities and public service.

For Guster guitarist and Portland resident Adam Gardner, it’s another opportunity to connect the band’s fans with the community he calls home.

Melodic metal band Weapons of Anew are set to perform their first Maine show on August 3 at Aura in Portland, as openers for Creed’s Scott Stapp and Texas rockers Messer.

Weapons of Anew released their debut album “The Collision of Love and Hate” in the fall of 2017, and have already recorded most of its follow-up, due for release early in 2020, according to lead singer Ray West.

Weapons of Anew is comprised of West (also a member of the band Spread Eagle), former Axiom/HavocHate guitarist Freddy Ordine, bassist Stefan “Reno” Catrupi, Chris Manfre on drums and guitarist Kris Norris on guitar.

In the following interview with The Maine Edge, West credits each band member’s broad range of musical influence for Weapons of Anew’s unique sound, and he reveals how the band’s second album will differ from the group’s debut.

Dispatch, the long-serving multi-genre indie roots jam band, is set to play their only New England headlining show of the year this Saturday, July 20, at Thompson’s Point in Portland, with special guests Moon Taxi.

Dispatch is performing a limited number of Summer Stops 2019 concerts in support of the new live album “Live 18” and their 2018 studio album “Location 13.” The band is currently working on material for its eighth studio album.

“We’re no strangers to Maine and we’re wicked psyched to be returning for this show,” says Dispatch front man and multi-instrumentalist Chad Stokes.

BANGOR - Pop punk band blink-182 brought their unique sound to the Waterfront Concerts stage on July 13, along with hip-hop icon Lil Wayne.

Our Kevin Bennett was there - take a look at some of the best and brightest images pulled from a big, loud night.

 

ROCKLAND - Blues lovers from around the world are fixing to pitch a wang dang doodle at this year’s 26th edition of the North Atlantic Blues Festival, set for Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14 at Harbor Park in Rockland.

“There’s something at this festival for every blues fan,” says Paul Benjamin, founder of the North Atlantic Blues Festival and a member of the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.

“If you like female vocalists, Texas blues, Mississippi blues, Chicago blues, piano-based blues – you’ll find a lot to like at this year’s festival,” he said. “We try to represent as many different styles of blues as possible with our festival lineup.”

Benjamin says this year’s edition of the North Atlantic Blues Festival will feature seven acts making their first festival appearance with four others that last appeared years ago.

“There’s so much great talent out there, we try to keep the lineup fresh each time,” Benjamin explained of his methodology used to determine the festival’s artist lineup each year.

“We have a five-year rule that if you play the festival, it will be at least that long before you can play it again,” he added.

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