New Gloucester Newgrass

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Bald Hill returns to the stage! Will play Music for Mavis series in Turner, June 15

TURNER, Maine — Are you sitting down? Bald Hill will play a live and in-person performance here starting at 6:30-8 p.m. on June 15 2021.

The band will appear publicly for the first time in 15 months as part of the popular, long-running weekly series, Music for Mavis. The outdoor performance will take place at the Gazebo, on the town green fronting the Turner Public Library. This idyllic venue sits at the corner of Matthews Road and Route 117/Turner Center Road.

It’s been very long 15 months for anyone who enjoys live music. Bald Hill last played “out” on March 7, 2020 at Gritty McDuff’s in Auburn, and dared not even practice out of doors, in the same space, until August of 2020. Since that time, however, the band has done nothing but practice, in the open air, in various open-doored garages, even cavernous religious sanctuaries — shout out to the New Gloucester First Congregational Church!

Fully vaccinated and having fully integrated new bassist, Rod Pervier, Bald Hill is ready to update and confirm its established reputation as surprisingly hip purveyors of bluegrass/newgrass, blues-inflected folk-rock and Americana.

Music for Mavis is a Turner institution, a non-profit organization designed to bring music and the arts to “our rural communities”. The organizers provided Bald Hill the following information, to share with folks thinking of attending on June 15, or any show this summer:

“Masks are encouraged for entering and leaving the space and when donating, for safety and comfort of both you and your neighbors. If you feel vulnerable or compromised, please wear your mask the entire time. Please sit with the people you came with, otherwise establish and maintain at least a 6-foot distance to others. And please respectfully make your needs known. Please stay home and take care if you don’t feel well, or have possibly been exposed to the virus. No one may approach the band or the gazebo. There will be no rain venue and the music will likely carry on in the mist. For more information, call 207-754-0954.”

See here the Music for Mavis 2021 Summer Schedule, as of May 3:

May 25 – Mary Murphy (blues, jazz)

June 1 – Jodi and the Gang (Americana)

June 8 – Patrick Libby (rock/bluegrass)

June 15 – Bald Hill (bluegrass/newgrass, blues-inflected folk-rock and Americana)

June 22 – Marty Lang and Pip (jazz)

June 29 – Hurry Down Sunshine (folk)

July 4 – Pat Colwell and friends (tentative)

Stay tuned to this space for more Bald Hill news and show information re. what is sure to be a busy summer for music lovers across south/central Maine. Hope to see y’all in Turner on June 15.

BH Salutes Gig Site Turned Essential Service Provider

PORTLAND — It was only a year ago that Bald Hill, those surprisingly hip purveyors of blues inflected newgrass, folk and Americana, rocked the house at Maine Craft Distilling (MCD) for the first time. You know a gig is going well when the place is packed, which it was that April night — but also when the wait and bar staff have that frantic, slightly overburdened look in their eyes. It’s a sure sign the crowd is happy and our hosts are making money.

That evening seems a world away this April morning, and indeed it is. Bald Hill is not playing much music, not together, and the staff at MCD is probably wishing for steadier work.

During this strange and stressful time, we at BH wanted to send along our best wishes to the staffs at all the venues we wish we were playing this spring. We’ll be back with you so soon as we are able. In the meantime, we wanted to alert you to the good works now being undertaken by Maine Craft Distilling, which has cannily shifted its production from spirits to… hand sanitizer.

“Our customers and all Mainers are dealing with an unprecedented global pandemic, and it’s important for us to give back to our community and those in need,” the distillery’s founder and CEO Luke Davidson said in a statement. “We will keep producing the hand sanitizer as long as we need to.”

To assist with its new production line, the distillery has hired five new employees, who now work at the distiller’s Washington Avenue distillery and Public House in Portland. Customers have been visiting on a daily basis to pick up product — so we encourage all our Portland peeps to drop by. Davidson and MCD are also channeling donations to nonprofits serving Maine communities.

Manufactured in accordance with the World Health Organization’s formula, the MCD hand sanitizer consists of 80 percent denatured alcohol plus hydrogen peroxide and glycerin. It can be used in spray bottles or applied directly on hands. Davidson said it has produced more than 4,000 quarts of hand sanitizer in a matter of weeks, and raised more than $15,000 for several nonprofits.

Bravo.

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 (www.thecontentedsole.com), 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 www.BaldHillBand.com, 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 www.baldhillband.com.

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

 

 

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.

Still in the glow, Bald Hill returns to Gritty’s in Auburn on May 21

AUBURN, Maine — You never know what’s gonna happen when Bald Hill takes the stage.

The band returns here to Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Co., hard by the Mighty Androscoggin, on Saturday night, May 21. The music starts at 8 p.m.  But when the headliner is New Gloucester-based Bald Hill — those surprisingly hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk and Americana — expect the unexpected.

IMG_0591*Saturday night’s show, for example, will feature a pair of guest artists: blues harmonica virtuoso Mark Peterson and vocalist Emily Edwards.

The band returns to the Twin Cities on Friday night June 3, with an 8 p.m. show at She Doesn’t Like Guthries Restaurant & Café (show up and you might just hear some Prince). Another fun date — a barn party celebrating the 10th anniversary of New Gloucester’s charming Chandler House B&B — will take place on Thursday evening, June 9.

However, the most seismic, unpredictable Bald Hill event took place on May 14. The band had been lured out to Peaks Island in order to play a set and join in celebrating the birthday of drummer Kim Chasse. Kim has played in a number of bands over the years, and so a huge collection of fellow musicians and friends packed, then totally rocked the Lions Club in all-out, hootenanny fashion.

Halfway through Bald Hill’s set, Kim and BH lead singer Renée St. Jean — who’ve been an item for some time — excused themselves, ostensibly to mingle with all the family and friends who’d gathered on the island. When the set ended, Kim reemerged on stage in coat and tie. Then, as a saxophone belted out the familiar processional, Renée — also changed into formal dress — walked deliberately through the parting crowd with a bouquet of flowers in hand.

Yes, a surprise wedding! Of the hundreds in attendance, only the sax player, Mike Abbott, Kim and Renée knew of this grand design in advance. Bald Hill mando player and officer of the court Ben DeTroy was also in on the secret. He had to be: Ben married the happy couple at center stage. Newly betrothed and still formally clad, Kim and Renée rejoined the musicians on stage for two additional hours of rollicking performance.

A special shout-out is due drummer Tom Schipper, who sat in for Kim and unwittingly made this spectacular ruse possible.

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The happy couple, at center, poses for pictures while the music plays on.

On that Highway to Heaven, We’ll Fix Your Flat Tire, Merle

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Bald Hill was saddened to receive news of Merle Haggard’s passing this week. We plan an appropriate memorial when we next take the stage — Friday night, April 15, at She Doesn’t Like Guthries Restaurant & Café in Lewiston (8-10 p.m.). If we’re lucky, maybe Mike Conant or Ted McHugh will show up  to assist. In the meantime, see here a proper obit from the Old Gray Lady, and a different sort of tribute from Dwight Yoakam. Bald Hill lead singer Renée St. Jean suggested we merely reproduce the lyrics from one of her favorite bits of Haggard homage (and what Renée wants, Renée gets). See below, and have a listen here. Godspeed, Merle. We salute you and hope they got some of that Wild Turkey liquor beyond the grave.

 
“I’ll Fix Your Flat Tire, Merle”, Pure Prairie League

As I drove down on 65, I was cruisin’ down that old grapevine
Well, I must have been doin’ at least about 95
Well out there on the side of the road all broke down and
Who do you think was standin’ around
But the greatest country singer alive!

I’ll fix your flat tire, Merle
Don’t ya get your sweet country pickin’ fingers all covered with erl
Cause you’re a honky, I know, but Merle you got soul
And I’ll fix your flat tire Merle

Well I hear you had an adventurous youth, makin’ love in a telephone booth
And I even hear you did a little stretch in jail
But now you got a big ranch house with a bar
And eight, nine, ten of them fancy cars
And every other little check comin’ in the mail

I’ll fix your flat tire Merle
Don’t ya get your sweet country pickin’ fingers all covered with erl
Cause you’re a honky, I know, but Merle you got soul
And I’ll fix your flat tire Merle

Now I heard all them records ya did, makin’ fun of us long haired kids
And now ya know we don’t care what ya think… Merle,
If you’re gonna call the world your home
Ya know you’re gonna have to get out and get stoned
An’ it’s better with a joint than with a drink, I think

So I’ll fix your flat tire Merle
Don’t ya get your sweet country pickin’ fingers all covered with erl
Cause you’re a honky, I know, but Merle you got soul
And I’ll fix your flat tire Merle
So I’ll fix your flat tire Merle

 

Bald Hill to headline Feb. 28 ‘Cabin Fever Reliever’

 

BAND PHOTOGRAY, Maine — Bald Hill will perform on home turf, more or less, when it headlines the “Cabin Fever Reliever” fundraiser Saturday night, Feb. 28, at the American Legion Hall in Gray. The event, to benefit the Project Graduation effort at Gray-New Gloucester High School, will run from 7-11 p.m.

Tickets are $10 a head, $15 per couple. American Legion Post #86 is located at 15 Lewiston Road (aka, the combined routes 100/4/202), just north of Gray Center. Reserve tickets in advance by calling 207-232-2990, or emailing lsully1063@gmail.com

Project Graduation is an all-night, substance-free, chaperoned event held each year on graduation night — actually, through the night and into the next morning. Students vote on a destination of choice, and the entire high school community (students, parents and townsfolk) raises the requisite funds (over the course of several years) to make this fun, safe event happen, including transportation.

The Feb. 28 “Cabin Fever Reliever” fundraiser is an adult (21-and-over) event, and you know what that means: cash bar, in addition to snacks, raffles and door prizes. Plus music and dancing, of course, courtesy of New Gloucester-based Bald Hill.

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