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If you haven’t already heard of Gillian French, well … it’s just a matter of time.

The Maine author’s latest offering is “The Missing Season.” It is her fourth YA novel – her previous works are “Grit,” “The Door to January” and “The Lies They Tell” – and one for which she will likely receive levels of acclaim similar to (if not greater than) those achieved by those earlier books.

It’s a wonderful piece of work, one that once again demonstrates French’s taut prose and storytelling acumen.

(Editor’s note: Check out our full review of “The Missing Season” elsewhere on the site.)

Ahead of the release of “The Missing Season,” French was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions from The Maine Edge. The author shares thoughts regarding the craft of writing, her process and – of course – her new book.

BELFAST – Maine’s many musical roads are once again converging on the midcoast.

The All Roads Music Festival is returning to Belfast on May 17 and 18, bringing one of the state’s largest collections of Maine-based musical talent into one place for two jam-packed days of sonic celebration. Spread across five different venues, All Roads is playing host to over 30 acts and something like 150 individual musicians. It’s a scene unlike any other in the state – one fully and utterly devoted to putting forward a cross-section of what Maine’s music scene has to offer.

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.

For tickets, a full schedule or more information about the festival, visit the All Roads website at www.allroadsmusicfest.org.

Wednesday, 08 May 2019 11:20

Celebrating four decades of The Dogs!

Written by Mike Dow

One of Maine’s most enduring musical ensembles is celebrating a milestone this year as The Dogs commemorate 40 years as a band by recording new music for the first time since the late 1980s.

Meanwhile, The Dogs’ concert schedule is busier today than it has been in years, thanks in part to the three most recent members to join the band.

The Dogs’ lineup in 2019 features the band’s two founding members – lead guitarist Curt Bruton and drummer Buddy Adams – along with bassist and business manager Walter Stanley, guitarist and vocalist Rich Stacey and vocalist Cheryl Oliver, the first female member of The Dogs in the 40-year history of the band.

Wednesday, 01 May 2019 10:01

Previewing the cinematic summer: 19 for 2019

Written by Allen Adams

We begin this now-annual tradition as we always do: with the caveat that it seems a bit silly to be writing a summer movie preview so far in advance of summer.

Still, Hollywood has undeniably extended the season, turning the beginning of May into our summer starting point, so if we’re going to catalog the blockbusters, then this is where we start.

Although if we’re going to be real about it, the biggest movie of the year has already happened – “Avengers: Endgame” just had the biggest box office opening ever, clocking well over a billion dollars worldwide.

(Note: You can check out my review right in this very edition. If you’re reading this in print, you passed it on the way here.)

But while the biggest may have already landed, there’s still plenty to be excited about.

2018 has plenty of what we’ve come to expect from blockbuster season – plenty of sequels and a bunch of remake/reboot-type offerings and some superheroes, along with animated fare, a smattering of comedies, some kiddie flicks and maybe a horror picture or two. It’s not like we don’t know how it works.

Honestly, there’s a LOT of what we’ve seen before. But hey – familiarity isn’t always a bad thing. Let’s have a look at what the summer of 2019 has to offer.

(Please note: this not a list of the 19 best films, but rather an attempt at a representative sample of what’s coming. There are movies that I expect to enjoy that aren’t here and movies I expect to actively dislike that are. Still, it looks like there’s something for everyone.)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 12:19

Independent Bookstore Day marks fifth year

Written by Allen Adams

A celebration of independent bookstores is marking its fifth year.

Independent Bookstore Day (or Indie Bookstore Day) began life in 2014 as California Bookstore Day before expanding into a more nationally-oriented event the following year.

IBD lands on the last Saturday in April – April 27 this year. It’s a time when many bookstores will feature special items, author signings and other events as they participate in the festivities and embrace the joys of the indie bookseller. You can find out more at www.indiebookstoreday.com.

If Independent Bookstore Day seems reminiscent of last weekend’s Record Store Day, there’s a very good reason for that. The initial California celebration was actually inspired by the ongoing success displayed by Record Store Day.

In honor of Independent Bookstore Day – and independent bookstores everywhere – we thought it appropriate to chat with some of the folks at Downtown Bangor’s beloved bookstore The Briar Patch about what draws someone to the book business, what a bookstore can mean to a community and even a reading recommendation or two.

Briar Patch owner Gibran Graham and bookseller Abby Rice were kind enough to answer a few questions ahead of the celebration – The Briar Patch will have a number of IBD-exclusive items on hand from 10 a.m. on – and share with us some of their thoughts.

(Please note: The Briar Patch is only one of the many quality independent bookstores that are scattered all over our state, each of which possessed of its own unique character and a similar devotion to the business of the printed page.)

BREWER – One of the region’s entertainment mainstays is turning 10.

Improv comedy troupe The Focus Group is marking its 10-year anniversary with a celebratory performance. “Our Big Dumb Decade” will take place on April 19 at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer – the longtime home of the group. The show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $5.

The show will feature members of the group both past and present, as well as a number of special guests who have shared the stage with the Focus Group at various times over the past decade.

(Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, the writer of this story – and this note – is a founding member of The Focus Group. He is also not even a little bit sorry to be taking advantage of his position to promote this auspicious anniversary.)

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 12:22

Mainers making musical magic

Written by Mike Dow

Chalk it up to Maine’s long winters, or the fact that much of our state is rural in nature, but there seems to be an unusually high percentage of extraordinarily talented musicians in our state.

You’ll find them literally everywhere - from Stockholm to South Portland – populating each town, city and village in between. Some are doctors, bankers and lawyers; some work on the farm, teach in our schools or work at the supermarket; some rely solely on music to pay all of the bills.

They each possess a distinct set of skills usually honed from a young age that were sometimes (but not always) inspired by a family member, a friend or simply a passion to learn.

I reached out to six acclaimed Maine-based musicians all over the state to discover who they are, what they do, why they do it, and how it makes them feel. I asked them all the same questions (more or less) but got a wide array of responses.

In recent years, Bangor and beer have become synonymous. The region has become a legitimate hotbed for interesting and talented beermakers. The craft beer explosion has been a remarkable thing to watch as more and more passionate brewers decide to try and bring their sudsy dreams to fruition.

Leaving aside the economic impact – which is undeniably significant – it’s just great to know that there are places all over where you can find and enjoy an exceptional beer. We’re up to our ears in options from breweries large and small. No matter what your taste might be, you’ll be able to find something to suit your particular palate at an area brewery.

And since National Beer Day is coming right up, we thought it might be nice to take a moment and celebrate beer in general and Bangor-area beer in particular.

What’s National Beer Day, you ask?

National Beer Day is what we like to call an “unofficial” holiday. Sure, it isn’t acknowledged on any federal calendar, but that doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Look at some of the other “holidays” that share the same month. April Fools’ Day? Not an official holiday, but who doesn’t love pulling a harmless prank or two? We sure do love it here at The Maine Edge. And what about Earth Day? Again, not official, but who would argue against its importance and/or legitimacy?

So it is with National Beer Day (and New Beer’s Eve, of course). Is it silly? Of course it is. Still, there’s something to be said for a day set aside to celebrate something that so many of us enjoy. Beer is a part of our national consciousness in a way that few other consumables are.

Think about the huge variety of beer you see when you go to the grocery store or visit your local watering hole. Think about the utter ubiquity of beer commercials on our television airwaves. Think about the rapidly-growing contingent of small craft breweries offering their own unique takes on the classic beverage. Think about the multitude of homebrewers making their own beers in their own homes – a throwback to those Prohibition days, only without the fear of reprisal and with the assistance of dedicated outlets such as our own Central Street Farmhouse.

Beer has become an American institution. So why not set aside a day to celebrate? Tip back a tall cold one on April 7, my friends. Heck, if I had my druthers, I’d make it a whole week, because really, is a single day enough? Let’s remember that there was a time, not so long ago, when you couldn’t just stroll into your favorite pub and order a pint. It’s a freedom that we’re privileged to have.

As for why it is April 7…

One of the many, many things for which The Maine Edge is renowned is its uncanny ability to get exclusive interviews with literary figures who are notoriously reclusive and/or glacially productive. This publication – specifically its lead literary critic (and the writer of this story) – has managed to get some of the 20th century’s most difficult to pin down authors.

Considering the paucity of in-depth communication with these figures, it seems appropriate that we (I) compile and share some of the highlights of our interviews. As such, we’re I’m) sharing interviews from previous years with brilliant and famous writers such as Thomas Pynchon, George R.R. Martin and Cormac McCarthy – interviews in which we (I) engaged as an intellectual equal with some true giants of the written word.

Each of these interviews is an achievement in its own right, but together they are a phenomenal feat, combining first-rate investigative skills, literary theoretical brilliance and a poetic pen.

So please, enjoy some of our (my) finest work.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 12:27

Play ball! A 2019 MLB Preview

Written by Allen Adams

It might be hard to believe, considering how much snow we’ve seen recently, but spring is here. Whatever the weather says, the truth is that baseball season is just around the corner! Spring training is coming to a conclusion – we’re on the verge of seeing games that count!

There’s plenty to be excited about in 2019. The biggest contracts in the history of the game have been signed. The stars are poised to pick up where they left off; reigning MVPs (Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich) and Cy Young winners (Blake Snell and Jacob deGrom) and Rookies of the Year (Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto) are all ready to get back to work. Meanwhile, new faces like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez are almost here. Plus, there are the names that we don’t know well (or at all) yet, but who will capture our attention before the season is through.

There are going to be a lot of home runs and a lot of strikeouts. There will be stars who perform to expectations and unknowns who shock the world. There will be delightful highs and unfortunate lows. There’s no way to say for certain what will go down on the field in 2019.

But let’s give it a go anyway.

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