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Rising voices in alt-country and folk to join forces for Bangor show

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The Joel Thetford Band with special guest Caroline Cotter are scheduled to perform Saturday, September 21 in the ballroom of Bangor Arts Exchange, 193 Exchange St. in Bangor as part of the Nashville North Music Series. "I love playing BAE," Thetford says. "This will be my first Bangor show with the full band. Caroline is a wonderful singer songwriter. Her songwriting is top-notch. People are in for a great night of music." The Joel Thetford Band with special guest Caroline Cotter are scheduled to perform Saturday, September 21 in the ballroom of Bangor Arts Exchange, 193 Exchange St. in Bangor as part of the Nashville North Music Series. "I love playing BAE," Thetford says. "This will be my first Bangor show with the full band. Caroline is a wonderful singer songwriter. Her songwriting is top-notch. People are in for a great night of music." (photo by Matt Robbins)

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.

“This will be my third show at Bangor Arts Exchange but my first show in Bangor with my full band,” Thetford said during a phone interview. “We’re very excited to share our music with the people of Bangor and the surrounding area.”

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Thetford was raised on a steady of diet of old-school country. Touched by the truth he detected in lyrics by songwriters including Merle Haggard and George Strait, Thetford set out to find his own voice and began composing original material.

Thetford moved to Maine and held down a corporate job with a beverage company for 10 years while dabbling in music on the side. Everything changed when one of Maine’s most prominent songwriters convinced him to take the plunge and pursue music full time.

“I was sharing a house with Will and Luke Mallett of the Mallett Brothers Band when their father, Dave Mallett (“The Garden Song”) said ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if you quit your job and made an album?’ That’s exactly what I did,” Thetford told me in 2017.

Thetford’s first album was the aptly titled “Here I Go,” released in 2015. That record was followed by “The Outer Bank” in 2017 and “Broken Things” last year.

Thetford and his band (Matt Robbins on lead guitar, Nate Soul (formerly of the Mallett Brothers Band) on guitar, Ian Riley on bass, Dan Capaldi on drums) hope to finish recording their fourth album in December or January for release later in 2020.

“We’re working on a folky country-rock vibe,” Thetford said of his next record. “I work hard to make sure the lyrics are honest. When I listen to music, that’s what I like. The songwriting is a team effort with the band and that’s a lot more rewarding for me than it is to say ‘Hey, here’s my song, let’s do this.’”

Thetford and singer-songwriter Caroline Cotter have similar stories when it comes to leaving the relative security of a full-time day job to pursue a career in music. Unknowingly, they both did it at approximately the same time.

“I opened for Caroline’s album release show in New Hampshire,” Thetford said. “When we met and shared our story, we laughed when we realized we’d taken the leap at the same time in 2015. I’ll never forget when I brought her CD home and Dave Mallett was listening to it with me. His response was ‘Jesus, who is that?’ (laughs). He loved her album.”

Cotter will open the show when Dave Mallett performs at the Camden Opera House on November 16.

Cotter’s latest release is 2018’s “Home on the River,” a collection of deeply personal songs that take the listener to unexpected places. The purity in Cotter’s voice makes you want to absorb the lyrics in her songs to discover where she’s been. It turns out she’s been in a lot of places.

The Rhode Island native calls Portland home these days but with a touring schedule like Cotter’s, her home today is anyone’s guess. Cotter’s show with Thetford on September 21 will be her 103rd performance of 2019, a year in which she’s played to audiences across the United States, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people and it’s very cool to keep up with them and stay and touch,” Cotter told me during an interview. “When I did my first tour of Europe, I didn’t know anybody and I played a bunch of venues – good, bad and ugly (laughs).”

Cotter will embark on her sixth European tour next month for four weeks of shows scheduled to include the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.

I asked Cotter if this extensive globetrotting has altered her perspective of people and places.

“I’m sure it has,” she responded. “I hope it’s made me more open and flexible. There’s a cultural exchange that happens when I’m playing in a different country. People in Belgium share their culture with me and they’re curious about where I live in the U.S. and what it’s like here.”

Following the recording of her first album, 2015’s “Dreaming As I Do,” Cotter attended a series of industry conferences and camps.

“I was touring out to Kansas City for a conference and was sleeping on a friend’s couch in Pittsburgh when I had kind of an aha-moment,” Cotter remembered. Exhausted from lack of sleep, Cotter’s nervousness about the prospect of leaving her day job caused her to wake up most nights with anxiety and heart palpitations.

“This time, I slept soundly until 8:00 a.m., which I hadn’t done for months,” she said. “Despite the fact that I was far from home and nothing about the situation was glamorous, it felt very right and that allowed me to relax. I was doing what I was meant to be doing in that moment.”

(Tickets for the Joel Thetford Band with special guest Caroline Cotter at Bangor Arts Exchange on Saturday, September 21, at 8:00 p.m. are $15 in advance/$20 day of show, and available at www.BangorArtsExchange.com.)

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 September 2019 13:54

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