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A singer, songwriter and musician with deep Maine roots has released his first album of new material since 1992. Ray Pasnen’s “Change Your Mind” features 12 new pop, country and country-rock songs from the Medway native who currently resides in Minden, Germany.

Maine and Atlantic Canada music fans remember Pasnen as frontman for the wildly popular band Choice. Ray’s natural charisma and powerfully dynamic voice contributed greatly to their success. Choice spent much of the 1990s canvassing the state to play most every bar and club, DAV and VFW hall and Elks Club to packed houses. The personalities of each band member, including that of guitarist Jack Swanson, kept Choice fans in stitches as they danced the night away.

Pasnen says his new album was a labor of love that he completed with help from a number of close friends and even the German government.

The first edition of Sound Bites for the new year features an entry from the Great White North, a movie soundtrack loaded with period gems, a solo piano record from a living legend, and the first new music in 30 years from a beloved British band.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 13:10

The Edge at 15: Most popular music stories

Written by Allen Adams

I’m going to do something with this piece that I rarely do – I’m going to talk about Mike Dow.

Now, Mike has been writing for us here at the Edge for over a decade. He is as vital a part of this publication’s voice as anyone whose byline has appeared within these pages, a key contributor to whatever success we have had.

He’s written about all manner of subjects along the way, but he’s perhaps best known for his work in the music sphere – probably because he’s awesome at it.

Of course, Mike is also one of the humblest fellows you’d ever be privileged to meet, a true gentleman. And as a gentleman, Mike is not one to do much in the way of horn tooting … so I’m going to do a little for him here.

I’ll concede that I don’t know if these are Mike’s favorite stories that he’s written for us (though I’d wager that many of them are at least in the conversation), but what I can tell you on no uncertain terms is that these are the ones that the most people have read.

Seriously – just with the stories mentioned in this piece, the dozen or so articles here, Mike has cleared one million page views on our website.

One. Million.

Ain’t that something? Have a look at just a little of what he’s done for the Edge over the years.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 12:53

These Maine music-makers should be on your radar in 2022

Written by Mike Dow

One of the things I love most about my job here at The Maine Edge is that I’m always encouraged to keep my ears tuned to find some of the best home-grown music and to introduce you to the people who create it. Some of the finest music I heard this year came from Maine artists, including some whose impact has spread to other regions.

Here are some of the exceptional Maine-based musicians and bands whose projects received love in The Maine Edge this year. Getting to know them all and writing about how and why they create music has been a true highlight of my year.

Our January cover story about the decimation of the live music scene in the wake of Covid hit home for many of our readers that rely on freelance performance to keep the lights on. Musicians everywhere saw their performance schedules disappear overnight which meant no regular income, and for many musicians no qualified unemployment benefits.

We told you about the formation of the New England Musicians Relief Fund (NEMRF), created in response to the needs of New England area freelance musicians struggling to hold on. The 501(c)(3) non-profit philanthropy was established to provide a temporary safety net for musicians to meet emergency needs in the form of $1,000 grants.

Since its inception last year, the NEMRF has issued more than 500 of those grants to struggling musicians in every New England state. The organization is in the midst of an awareness-raising campaign to reach new grant applicants, potential new donors and the general public.

The fund may have been established in the aftermath of Covid’s silencing of the live music scene but it was designed to continue to serve musicians in the New England area for years to come, even after the virus becomes a memory we’d sooner forget.

As many sectors of the economy began to sputter back to life this year, many music venues were still closed or operating with a greatly reduced schedule with little evidence things would improve in the short-term. The unknown impact of the Omicron variant currently has many venues and musicians on edge that the encouraging progress made this year toward a rebound could vaporize at any moment.

This is how you make the most out of a pandemic. When singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jacob McCurdy saw all of his scheduled gigs evaporate when Covid struck, he pivoted to a period of unbridled creativity. McCurdy established a year-long virtual composer symposium he billed as Songwriters in the Round, a series of songwriter get-togethers utilizing the Zoom app streamed live to Facebook each Sunday. He met a bunch of creative new friends and eventually connected in person with some of them to collaborate on a series of songwriting retreats.

“Make a Fuss,” one of the songs inspired by those sessions, has just been released as a single. It’s a soulful and powerful song of thankfulness.

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. It isn’t every week that two rock icons that first rose to prominence together in the same band happen to check in with The Maine Edge just days apart for interviews related to their solo endeavors.

Keyboardist and vocalist Mark Stein and drummer and vocalist Carmine Appice of the legendary psychedelic rock and soul band Vanilla Fudge are promoting respective solo projects so it makes a lot of sense to include them in the same issue, especially since they both shared similar memories related to their first visit to Maine, circa 1967.

Guitar enthusiasts can thank a celebrated drummer for one of the most impressive guitar rock collections ever assembled. It’s no secret that drummer and vocalist Carmine Appice has performed with many of rock’s greatest guitar-slingers. Nearly 40 of those collaborations form the basis of the new box set “Guitar Zeus 25th Anniversary,” a 3-volume project Appice conceived in the mid-1990s that has been unavailable for years.

The “Guitar Zeus 25th Anniversary” edition includes exclusive recordings from Queen’s Brian May, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Neal Schon of Journey, Ted Nugent, Dweezil Zappa, and more than 30 others. The original recordings (and two previously unreleased tracks) have been compiled for the first time as a 4-LP or 3-CD box set with photos and interviews.

Wednesday, 08 December 2021 12:27

The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ caps a Fab year for fans

Written by Mike Dow

Now that director Peter Jackson’s epic myth-shattering three-part "Get Back" series is out on Disney+ (no spoilers here, only a few teases), Beatles fans can enjoy what is arguably the most significant release under the group’s name in more than 25 years.

Jackson spent more than four years trying to make sense of 80 hours of footage shot in January 1969 for what The Beatles and original director Michael Lindsay-Hogg thought might be a TV special. Halfway through the sessions, in which we see the group working up a batch of new songs, jamming, joking, smoking and arguing, the decision was made to turn it into a movie to fulfill their deal with United Artists.

That film – “Let It Be” - was released in May 1970, one month after the world found out the group had broken up, and as such, had been edited to reflect much of the conflict that went into its creation.

More than half a century later, it is a sweet surprise to discover how emotionally maturely they handled the more intense moments left out of the original film, not to mention the priceless enchanting scenes of joy on days when that good old Beatles wizardry found its way into the studio.

Musician Ryan Hamilton struck upon a brilliant idea just over a year ago when it looked like Covid was going to wipe another year of concert dates from his schedule. The Texas-based power-pop rocker issued a daunting challenge to himself: Release a strong new single each month for a year then compile them all for an album at year’s end. That collection, “1221,” is out now, and true to its inception, it sounds like a greatest hits record, which it is in a sense.

Hamilton is a prolific musician who has the best of both worlds. During normal times, he tours furiously across America and across the pond. He records solo albums and he records with his British band, Ryan Hamilton and The Harlequin Ghosts, in both cases for Little Steven’s Wicked Cool Records label.

A few days after I spoke with Hamilton for this story, he received word that “1221” debuted in the top 10 on the U.K. independent artist albums chart.

“1221” refers to the commission Hamilton assigned himself. Each of the 12 singles represented was released this year on the 12th of each month. It had to be an all-killer, no-filler affair, and even though Hamilton is sitting on enough unrecorded songs to fill more than 10 albums, he said it was important to him to come at it fresh every month.

Hamilton says when he first approached his label with the “1221” concept, he was afraid they might say “What do you expect us to do? Promote a song every month for a year? Are you crazy?” but instead, they championed the idea.

“They were incredible,” Hamilton says, adding “Credit to them for embracing this idea immediately.”

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