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All Roads lead to Belfast once again! Music festival returns after two-year hiatus

May 9, 2022
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BELFAST – A beloved keystone of Maine’s musical landscape is back.

The All Roads Music Festival is making its return to Belfast, bringing together scores of Maine musicians in celebration of the state’s vibrant music scene. The festival takes place over two days – May 20 and 21 – and features some of the very best that Maine has to offer. Unfolding across four different venues, All Roads promises to be a great time for any music lover. Tickets and more information can be obtained at the festival’s website at www.allroadsmusicfest.org.

The previous All Roads – the fifth in all – took place back in 2019. The circumstances of the pandemic meant that both the 2020 and 2021 incarnations of the festival were cancelled. Now, we’re just days away from the return here in 2022.

And as per usual, it’s a hell of a bill.

There are bands and artists familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Maine’s current scene. We’re talking Lady Lamb, The Mallett Brothers Band, Dave Gutter, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – talented, inventive musicians bringing their immense gifts together as part of the full-on sonic celebration that is All Roads.

There will be music from across all genres – whatever you like, you’re almost certainly going to be able to find it on one festival stage or another. In addition, All Roads is playing host to the always-wildly-successful Maine Songwriters Circle, where a group of talented songwriters get together and share a little of their collected collective wisdom.

Now, this isn’t to say that EVERY act is from Maine – there are some outliers here and there – but the reality is that even those that are “from away” are very much in keeping with the spirit of camaraderie that marks this event. It’s a spirit that is even more apparent in the can-do attitude of getting back to business after two years.

Meg Shorette is the Executive Director of Launchpad, the arts incubation nonprofit behind the All Roads Music Festival (where she serves as Festival Director). She is also one of the greatest champions of Maine music to be found anywhere in the state. She has devoted huge amounts of time and energy – both professionally and personally – toward celebrating the robust and varied scene. From early days promoting small shows in gallery spaces to the massive undertaking that is All Roads (and a lot more stuff along the way – far more than I have space to convey), she has been a crucial part in the growth and evolution of the arts in general and music specifically, whether it’s been in Bangor, Portland or seemingly everywhere in-between.

Shorette was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the latest iteration of All Roads, what people can expect … and what it means to be back.

The Maine Edge: How does it feel to be back at it after two years?

Meg Shorette: In a lot of ways this year feels like we're planning year 1 all over again. So much has changed in not only Belfast but in the Maine music scene since our last Festival in 2019. When we started looking at what the comeback would be this year, there was a lot of thought put into how to take All Roads into 2022 responsibility and successfully. It feels great to be back!

TME: What were some of the obstacles you faced in ramping back up after the long hiatus?

MS: I think for us the biggest obstacles we faced were reshaping and working the event in ways that made sense for 2022. Some venues we'd used previously aren't options any longer and it's caused us to try new formats this year, like adding the outdoor stage. 

TME: How long did the organization process take this time around? Talk about a few of the ways in which putting things together was different in 2022.

MS: It always takes the year to reflect on the event after it has ended and to begin outlining what we're thinking for the upcoming year. The real heavy listing, programming and outreach tends to happen six months out from festival weekend. 

TME: What – if any – changes should people expect with this latest iteration of All Roads?

MS: A lot of acts that have been on the lineup over the course of our run since 2016 aren't on this year's stages because they're out on tour again – finally – or making up rescheduled shows from COVID cancellations this spring. It's created a lot of space on the lineup for acts that haven't played All Roads before or even formed during the past two years. I think it'll be exciting to see so many new artists and bands performing all weekend. 

TME: How did musicians react to the news that All Roads was coming back? How about music lovers?

MS: Artists were excited, and the energy we have going into this year really seems strong from music lovers. All Roads is one of the first events of the year in terms of music festivals, so it positions us to kick off what I think will be a summer packed with music. 

TME: Obviously, you’re stoked for every act, but are there any that you’re particularly looking forward to seeing?

MS: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers is a great band that, while not from Maine (North Carolina), has that attitude and presence on stage that I think makes so many Maine artists incredibly fun to watch live. Every year I love the Maine Songwriters Circle!

TME: What advice would you give someone who is attending All Roads for the first time?
This year our venue footprint is tighter so there is less need to walk too far from venue to venue. We program 30-minute "showcase" slots so that festival goers can spend 10-15 minutes with one band and still have time to move on and catch the last 10-15 minutes at another venue. With over 30 performances over the weekend, I suggest checking out the full lineup and highlighting "must-see" acts before arriving in Belfast. 

TME: How has the city of Belfast reacted to the festival’s return?

MS: Belfast has always been incredible to work with. We feel support from the venues we work with all the way to the Chamber of Commerce. It's a really special place. 

TME: Can you speak to the general importance of a festival like All Roads, both to Launchpad and to the state’s music scene writ large?

MS: All Roads really tries to highlight as many artists as we can from all genres and levels in the short time we have on our one weekend a year. It's important to me that we are not only an event for the artists who are performing this year, but artists who simply want to attend as festivalgoers. There aren't a lot of opportunities like this where 150-plus musicians come together at the same time to experience and support each other.

On a normal Saturday night, musicians are off playing gigs across the state or even country.  This Festival brings so many talented, creative people together and it's a pleasure to be able to watch that. I think festival goers feel that energy as well, and for our nonprofit's mission; this event really hits so many of our goals. It's become a really personal project for me and others on our team. 

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I should probably confess at this point that I am not a particularly big music fan. It doesn’t have the same resonance for me as it does for so many people. Trust me when I say that I am aware that this is very much a “me” problem – I’m not here to yuck on anyone’s yum, particularly when I’m pretty sure that I’m the one in the wrong here.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the importance of events like All Roads. Regardless of my own personal feelings with regard to music, the fact that the All Roads Music Festival exists – especially after the many trials and tribulations of the past two years – is a massive boon. This festival’s return is an artistic and cultural triumph, the sort of event that puts on display just how vast and varied and beautifully resilient our wider creative community is.

I grew up in this area. And as a younger person, I would often bemoan what I perceived to be a lack of entertainment options. Too often, I and my friends would find ourselves simply wandering aimlessly, too bored to do anything and too antsy to go home. The idea that events like this one would not only exist, but be abundantly accessible to me, was foreign. Encountering so many people who have invested of themselves into the creative community – people devoted to shining the spotlight on the arts in all their forms – makes me proud.

Don’t get me wrong – organizations like the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Penobscot Theatre Company and Robinson Ballet are OGs, lifting up the creative community for decades. But now, there are so many incredible folks doing incredible things in the realms of music and theatre and visual art and what have you. Hell, just look at a place like the Bangor Arts Exchange – a venue where outfits like the BSO and Launchpad can headquarter while also hosting a wide variety of performances ranging from bands to cabarets to plays to improv shows to … well, whatever you like. Opportunities abound now in a way that they never did a generation ago … and we have people like Meg Shorette to thank for it.

As someone who considers himself a celebrant of the arts in his own small way, I tip my cap to Shorette and her fellow organizers, as well as the volunteers who help keep the myriad plates spinning and, of course, the musicians, who absolutely deserve this opportunity to showcase themselves and what they do to the greater public.

The past couple of years have been difficult for everyone. The thought that we are finally starting to see a path to bringing this sort of joyful noise back into our lives is a buoyant one; the opportunity to dance or sing along or simply sit and listen is one that was denied many of us for a long time. It’s going to feel good to get back into the swing of things.

Ultimately, the best part about embracing the arts here in Maine is the simple fact that most of the time, the arts will embrace you back.

See you at All Roads.

Schedule of Events

FRIDAY, MAY 20

Steamboat Landing

Muskeg – 5:15 p.m.

Tiger Bomb – 6:15 p.m.

Lady Lamb – 7:15

Opening Party (Three Tides)

Just Milk [DJ + Live Set] – 9:00 p.m.

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SATURDAY, MAY 21

The Bazz

Speak All Evil Podcast: Live! – 1:15 p.m.

Midnight Breakfast – 2:30 p.m.

Cody Jayne – 3:45 p.m.

Sullen Eyes – 5:00 p.m.

Rosie Borden – 6:15 p.m.

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The Church Stage

Spaced – 1:30 p.m.

Dustin Saucier – 2:45 p.m.

Bensbeendead. – 4:00 p.m.

Crystal Canyon – 5:15 p.m.

Love By Numbers – 6:30 p.m.

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The Colonial

2022 Maine Songwriters’ Circle – noon

They Called Me Legion – 2:00 p.m.

Drive By Todd – 3:15 p.m.

Brzowski & C$Burns – 4:30 p.m.

Capisic – 5:45 p.m.

Sunny War – 7:00 p.m.

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Steamboat Landing

Festival Flow Yoga – 11:00 p.m.

Thunderheart Lion – 1:00 p.m.

Ogre – 2:15 p.m.

Felecia Cruz (Featuring Marco Soulo + Ill By Instinct) – 3:30 p.m.

Midwestern Medicine – 4:45 p.m.

Dave Gutter and Le Bacon – 6:00 p.m.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 May 2022 11:10

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