Bald Hill

New Gloucester Newgrass

Author: Hal Phillips (page 2 of 3)

BH Returns to Guthries Friday Night, with Special Guest Christie Ray

LEWISTON, Maine — Bald Hill, those surprisingly hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk/rock and Americana, return to She Doesn’t Like Guthrie’s Restaurant & Café on Friday night, with a special guest in tow.

New Gloucester-based Bald Hill will welcome fellow resident Christie Ray to the stage tomorrow night. This will be the Guthrie’s debut for Ms. Ray, who will play alongside BH and perform several of her own, original tunes.

Showtime on Dec. 15 is 8 p.m., and festivities wrap up promptly at 10 p.m. So arrive early and avail yourself of a local brew, one of Guthrie’s signature burritos, and enjoy the song stylings of New Gloucester’s finest.

Mark you calendars as well for Bald Hill’s Dec. 29 show at Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Company, across the Mighty Androscoggin River in Auburn. BH will welcome another special guest for that first-Friday-post-Christmas show: fiddler, banjo artist and yet another New Gloucesterite in good standing, Mike Conant.

Bald Hill to perform Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Saturday night at Gritty’s

AUBURN, Maine — Actually, Bald Hill will not be doing any such thing. That was a just a cynical bit of click-bait. The person responsible for that headline has been sacked. 

While you’re here: Be advised that Bald Hill, those surprisingly hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk rock and Americana, will play a live show on Nov. 18 — a triumphant return to Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Co., home to the Twin Cities’ finest pub fare and craft beers. Doors are open all day long; the band goes on at 8 p.m.

Saturday night’s engagement kicks off a busy holiday season for the New Gloucester-based Bald Hill [none of whom, so far as we know, have anything against Samuel Barber or the music he so deftly wrought from romantic structures and post-Straussian chromaticism]. Several band members will participate in the second annual holiday extravaganza, A New Gloucester Christmas, on Dec. 2 in the stunning-but-serene sanctuary of the NG First Congregational Church. A potluck dinner is planned for 5:30 p.m.; the concert begins at 7 p.m.

What’s more:

  • Bald Hill will return to She Doesn’t Like Guthries Restaurant & Café on Friday night, Dec. 15, in Lewiston.
  • The band plays another date back across the mighty Androscoggin River, at Gritty’s, on Friday night, Dec. 29.
  • [To be clear: Not a single  Samuel Barber opus will be undertaken during any of these shows.]

That said, in preparation for the long winter to come, Bald Hill has restocked its set list with new material from the likes of The Devil Makes Three, Billy Bragg & Wilco, The Jayhawks, Steely Dan, John Lincoln Wright, Robert Earl Keen and none other than BH mandolin/fiddle artist Ben DeTroy, known in Maine bluegrass circles as “The Samuel Barber of South/Central Maine”. 

BH follows guerilla-style gig with traditional New Harbor date, Aug. 3

The Contented Sole in New Harbor, site of two Bald Hill shows in August.

NEW HARBOR, Maine — Bald Hill, those surprisingly hip purveyors of swingin’ blues-inflected newgrass and Americana, will resume that high-spirited purveyance (following a brief summer hiatus) Thursday, Aug. 3, here at The Contented Sole.

On a warm summer evening, few places on God’s green earth provide a more picturesque setting (or better eating) than TCS (, where a restaurant, bar & pier don’t so much sit beside New Harbor as unfurl onto it. New Gloucester-based Bald Hill will perform there from 6-9 p.m.

The band will return to The Contented Sole Aug. 24, for a return engagement. Showtime will again be 6 p.m.

After a busy winter and spring, Bald Hill took much of June and July to work on new material and do what Mainers are entitled to do come summer: remove the mittens and recreate. But there was one musical engagement for which there was no promotion here at, and therein lies a tale worth telling.

BH percussion master Kim Chasse hails from Millinocket, some 75 minutes north of Bangor, deep in the unspoilt Maine landscape, so it’s not surprising that Bald Hill was invited to spend a weekend of down time there, in mid June, relaxing at Kitty’s Lake House. A great time — including some truly epic jams — was had by all.

But Saturday night brought a twist.

At the drummer’s behest and direction, Bald Hill — half in the bag but always up for a challenge — decamped for The Blue Ox, a Main Street bar owned by a childhood friend of Chasse’s. “He doesn’t know we’re coming,” explained Chasse, who had something specific in mind: a pop-up acoustic show, a musical flash mob right there in downtown Millinocket.

The band simply showed up, surreptitiously (via the back alley, to a spot on the porch Chasse had scouted), and started playing. It’s not clear exactly why, but there was a uniquely infectious, carefree energy to the band’s performance that night.

After a song or two, patrons inside The Blue Ox started drinking it in. First they poked their heads onto the porch. Then they started streaming out to join  this… this happening. Soon the piped-in bar music was turned off and there were 30-40 folks enjoying an impromptu 90-minute show (cover-free).

It was quite something: part performance, part performance art, part musical installation… Indeed, it occurred to some BH members afterward the band may have stumbled upon a new calling, i.e. showing up unannounced at bars and restaurants (or perhaps private homes) for guerilla-style gigs. If you’d like to book such a show, or perhaps spring one on a friend or loved one, feel free to contact the band via

On the porch at The Blue Ox in Millinocket, June 17, 2017.



Bald Hill to unveil The Americana Sessions, Vol. I, at Guthries May 5

Session Americana, the inspiration for Bald Hill’s Americana Sessions: Vol. I, on display Friday night at Guthries in Lewiston.

LEWISTON, Maine — Bald Hill, those deceptively hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk rock and Americana, will wade hip-deep into the avant-garde Friday night when the sextet returns to the  She Doesn’t Like Guthries Restaurant & Café. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Guthries, located here at 115 Middle St., is just about the coziest music venue in Maine. It’s basically an oversized living room kitted out with a bar, great food and live music. Indeed, this intimate setting is part of the inspiration for Friday’s unconventional performance — to be delivered seated, in shape of a half-moon, around a single condenser microphone.

“Several of us experienced this approach as audience members when we saw Session Americana at One Longfellow Square last month in Portland,” said Bald Hill mandolin player and fiddler Ben DeTroy, Esq. “There were tons of people up there on stage, all of them arrayed around a small, round table. At first, it was a bit disorienting — but it sounded great. We came to dig the casual vibe and you could tell the musicians felt the same way. That’s what we’re going for Friday, and Guthries is pretty much tailor made for it.”

In a move as accurate as it is derivative, Bald Hill has dubbed the May 5 show The Americana Sessions: Vol. I.

“Our bassist, the inimitable Todd Burrowes, may have said it best,” DeTroy added. “He made the point that we always practice in some manner of circle or half-circle. We’re all sitting down, we’re all looking at each other, and it’s in that context that we often produce some of our best sounds. Why not try to bring that to a performance?”


Cabin-Fever Reliever: BH to rock Gritty’s Saturday night


AUBURN, Maine — Okay, so there’s a bit of snow forecast for Saturday. And yes, by then it will be April.

However, not going out that Saturday night — NOT coming to see Bald Hill lay down its surprisingly hip purveyance of blues-inflected newgrass, folk and Americana — would be like giving up.

Don’t let the meteorologists win.

Come on out to Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Co. here in Auburn — on the banks of the Mighty Androscoggin — and let Bald Hill entertain you this Saturday night, April 1, starting at 8 p.m.

Don’t worry about the snow. The forecast calls for the storm to have well passed by show time. Even if it hasn’t, you can throw your car in the garage across the street! That’s right: Park it in these luxurious, covered confines and leave your dual scraper/snow brush at home.

Did we mention that parking in this municipal garage — positioned directly across from Gritty’s, with entrances on both Main Street and Mechanics Row — is free? Well, it is.

So come on down, park for nothin’, have a pint and listen to a couple sets of Bald Hill takes on John Prine, Van Morrison, Nancy Sinatra, Gillian Welch, Prince, Clapton, Richard Thompson, the Seldom Scene, the Dead, Hank Williams, Youngbloods, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Son Volt, Credence, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Loretta Lynn and even a timely homage to that Handsome Brown-Eyed Man, the dearly departed Chuck Berry.

Feb. 11: BH to build a wall we can be proud of…

AUBURN, Maine — Bald Hill, those surprisingly hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk rock and Americana, will welcome a pair of guest artists Saturday night with the intention of blowing the lid off  Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Co. Doors open at lunch and stay open all day/night; the band will preside starting at 8 p.m.

With the addition guest guitarist Frank Fotusky and keyboardist Matthew Detroy, Bald Hill plans to build a veritable wall of sound on the banks of the Mighty Androscoggin. Longtime followers of the band may well recognize Matthew as the brother of BH mando savant Ben Detroy. Rumor has it there will be several more Detroys in the audience Saturday night. So you’ve been warned…

Fotusky, nationally renowned for his stellar Piedmont blues stylings, is no stranger to Bald Hill, having sat in on several occasions, including an early January gig across the river at Guthries, in Lewiston. We were fortunate to capture some rich content from that performance. Check out the Sound & Vision page here at to see the videos, all of which feature Frank holding forth.

That was essentially an acoustic show, mind you. Frank will be playing a lot of electric on Saturday night and we’ll all be plugged in beside him. With the full drum kit and Matthew on organ (filling all the cracks), we will indeed build a wall — one Phil Spector would be proud of. And don’t worry: It’s all paid for in advance!

Quick reminder: This Feb. 11 gig is the first of several coming up this spring. Come out and see Bald Hill:



Spontaneity ain’t dead: Catch BH tonight at Guthries


Let’s put the “news” right up front: Bald Hill, those surprisingly hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk rock and Americana, will return to the warm & cozy confines of the She Doesn’t Like Guthries Restaurant & Café tonight, in The Lew. That’s right, tonight — Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. The show runs 8-10 p.m. but join us there early and soothe the wintry soul with a cup of tea, maybe some crafty brews, and definitely a signature burrito.

Incidentally, BH will welcome at least one special guest this evening — guitarist Frank Fotusky, he of our friends at Yellow Sun Wreckers, but he of a piedmont blues aesthetic all his own. Check out more about Frank here, and when you arrive tonight, compliment him on that bolo tie… There might well be ANOTHER special guest tonight, so don’t miss out.

We’re also pleased to report that Gritty McDuff’s, just across the mighty Androscoggin from Lewiston, in Auburn, has invited Bald Hill back for another three-gig run this spring. Mark these dates down in your preferred calendar medium: Feb. 11, April 1, May 20. These are all Saturday nights, and we look forward to seeing you at least once there at Gritty’s before school lets out.

Bald Hill would like to close this communication (it’s great that we can have these little chats) with a word about Dylan. Yeah, he of leopard-skin pill-box hats, idiot winds and the 2016 Nobel laureate for literature. We play a lot of Dylan tunes. Hell, most everyone does. And so it struck us as right and proper that the Swedes might recognize someone like Bobby for his many decades of artistic output, which, while it might strike some as something beneath “literature”, fits mighty well when we consider the oral, bardic tradition. Think Homer.

In these uncertain times, one in which Cleon would feel very much at home, Dylan’s work hits home all the more. For a summation of those complicated feelings and themes, check out Patti Smith’s tribute performance at the Nobel ceremony, an event Dylan (never leaving character) chose to skip. Don’t make that mistake. Her performance of “Hard Rain” could not have been more moving, timely and humbling.

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall


Bald Hill to play “A New Gloucester Christmas” Friday, Dec. 16

‘Tis the season and Bald Hill will celebrate it Friday night Dec. 16, with a holiday concert at the First Congregational Church of New Gloucester. “A New Gloucester Christmas” will start at 7 p.m. Admission is free but a donation of $10 is suggested, with all proceeds going to charity.xmas-concert

“A New Gloucester Christmas” is the brainchild of Jim Gallant, the New Gloucester-based singer, songwriter and finger-style guitarist. His vision was a holiday concert featuring performers entirely from his hometown. Naturally, he approached NG-based Bald Hill, but also our former comrade in strings, fiddler Mike Conant, now of Backwoods Road.

What to expect on the 16th? There will be sing-alongs for those eager to belt out some classics, but the diverse set list will feature a wide assortment of delights: traditional carols, at least one medieval carol, some cool takes on modern standards from Elvis and Eartha Kitt, an original from Mr. Gallant, Christmas readings, special guests on vocals and cello, and lots of good cheer.

Y’all should come. For more information, contact the First Congo Church at 926-4310. Otherwise, tell all your friends and we’ll see everyone there.

Bald Hill at Guthrie’s Friday, Sept. 23 — Welch Appreciation Night

guthries-poster-9-23-16Rare is the Bald Hill set that doesn’t include a Gillian Welch tune, and so, while alerting our huge following to Friday’s show at Guthrie’s, we also wanted to be sure and direct you to this great profile of Welch at We didn’t know she was from L.A. (the other one), for example — a fact that didn’t exactly endear her to cred evaluators in the Americana and bluegrass scenes. They were probably just pissed she did what she does, what they’d like to do, so very well despite having grown up in Lotus Land AND attended Boston’s oh-so-boho Berklee School of Music. In any case, check it out.

Meantime, after a summer hiatus, Bald Hill will indeed return to the She Doesn’t Like Guthrie’s Café and Restaurant ( this Friday, Sept. 23, in the beating heart of downtown Lewiston. Doors open earlier (check out the Burrito du Jour, or maybe the Dust Bowl Soup) but the show itself will run from 8-10 p.m. Come on down!

Farewell, Dr. Ralph, for a little while …

Ralph Stanley (left) and brother Carter, who passed away in 1966.

Ralph Stanley (left) and brother Carter,  who passed away in 1966.

In a year that has witnessed the loss of so many important musical influences, we thought it only right to properly mourn the passing of Ralph Stanley, he of the inimitable Stanley Brothers, who, along with Bill Monroe, more or less invented the bluegrass sound. It’s often assumed that because bluegrass draws so heavily on traditional mountain, gospel and folk genres — which date back to the early days of the 20th century — bluegrass is equally archaic. Not so. As this informative obituary in The New Yorker elucidates, Monroe and the Stanleys (who performed as the Clinch Mountain Boys until Carter’s death some 50 years ago) birthed bluegrass (about the same time rock ‘n’ roll got birthed) by larding the old-time “string band” sound with propulsive three-fingered banjo and Lester Flatt-style guitar.

While the rest is history, Dr. Ralph (so named on account of his honorary degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.) never stopped fostering and curating the future of bluegrass. The Stanley Brothers (the de facto name of Ralph’s band, even after Carter’s death) would eventually launch the careers of Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Larry Sparks, Charlie Sizemore and the recently departed James King. A track the Stanleys made famous in the 1950s, “Man of Constant Sorrow”, headlined the soundtrack for O Brother Where Art Thou?, the 2000 Coen Brothers film that introduced bluegrass to a wider audience than perhaps anything ever has. And yes, that was Ralph singing “O Death” on the same album.

Bald Hill resident Ben DeTroy, the band’s most committed bluegrass fan/practitioner, marked Stanley’s passing last Saturday night — at the Big Moose Inn, just north of Millinocket on the road to Katahdin — with a stirring rendition of “The Fields Have Turned Brown”. We may well work up another Stanley Bros. tune for Bald Hill’s back-to-back shows next week:

We leave you with a sigh of resignation over the loss of yet another musical icon (Merle, Bowie, Prince), but with the satisfaction of having seen the elder Stanley in the flesh — most recently in 2011, at One Longfellow Square in Portland. [Ben reports having seen him twice in the late ‘70s at the Hills of Home Festival, an event Stanley held/headlined annually in southwestern Virginia. “A real cultural jolt,” Ben recalls. “The crowd, especially the old-timers loved it when Ralph played the claw hammer and long-time fiddler Curly Ray Cline was the real deal: a gnomish ball of fire who charmed everyone while hopping around and sawing maniacally — in a way you’d expect Rumpelstiltskin to do it.”]

We leave you with a few words from The Good Doctor himself. He didn’t utter these words that night in Portland, but he’s pretty durned famous for having said them enough during the shows he played over the course of seven decades: “Giving applause to a bluegrass musician is like making love to an old maid,” he’d tell his audiences. “You just can’t hardly overdo it.”



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