Bald Hill

New Gloucester Newgrass

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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 www.BaldHillband.com 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 newyorker.com. 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 (www.guthriesplace.com) 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.”

 

 

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

 

BH releases spring dates, new recordings

2016.03.05 grittys b&w

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — Bald Hill has announced a raft of new show dates for April, May and June. It has also stocked this here website with a new set of recordings demonstrating the band’s surprisingly hip purveyance of blues-inflected newgrass, rock and folk.

To hear these new aural offerings, visit the SOUND & VISION page (via the tab above).

Upcoming show dates include:

  • Saturday night, April 2, at Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Company, located on the corner of Main and Court streets in downtown Auburn (8-11 p.m.);
  • Friday night, April 15, at She Doesn’t Like Guthrie’s Restaurant & Café, across the Might Androscoggin in Lewiston (8-10 p.m.);
  • Saturday night, May 21, when Bald Hill is back at Gritty’s in Auburn (8-11 p.m.); and
  • Thursday night, June 9, when BH will preside at a barn party host by Chandler House B&B, located at 337 Intervale Road, just north of New Gloucester Village (5-9 p.m.)

The band is particularly pleased to entertain at Chandler House on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. Many locals already know what a gracious, architecturally interesting addition this establishment has been to the New Gloucester community. If you don’t, come and check it out. There’s no better place to stash your relatives when they come to visit — and this barn is world class.

On June 17, Bald Hill will also play a return engagement at a private party in our hometown of New Gloucester.  You can’t come — or rather, we’ll leave it to our hosts to invite you. But do be advised: The band does play private parties and is now accepting bookings for the summer. Act now while supplies last (see CONTACT tab above to get in touch). And do follow us here or like us on Facebook to stay fully abreast of all things Bald Hill, including updates and additions to the show schedule.

One more thing before we go: As the band is continually evolving — adding new songs and genres to the repertoire — it’s ever more complicated to answer this most-central question, “So, what do you guys play?” We get this all the time, and it’s a reasonable line of inquiry for anyone considering a night out with Bald Hill.

In the past, we have described ourselves as “those surprisingly hip purveyors of blue-inflected newgrass, rock and folk.” That’s accurate, but somewhat flip. To be more concrete, we sometimes share recent set lists (scroll down a bit to find one of those). What’s more, we post here at baldhillband.com our new recordings as they are generated.

But we recently came across a not-unfamiliar term that would appear to sum up our sound quite neatly, cleanly and succinctly: “Americana”. To further edify the matter, here’s an eloquent and apt definition of Americana, courtesy of noted Weskid, academic and journalist Carlo Rotella: “high-gloss corporate country’s earthier foil and partner, which embraces not only folk traditions but also vintage commercial styles drawn magpie-fashion from bygone eras.”

So, if you’re into that, do come out and join us this spring.

 

 

 

 

Bald Hill to appear Friday, Jan. 29 at Guthries

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LEWISTON, Maine — Bald Hill, the surprisingly hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass and folk, returns to one of the band’s favorite venues this Friday night with an 8 p.m. show here at Guthries on Middle Street.

The full name of this wonderful club is She Doesn’t Like Guthries Restaurant & Café (www.guthriesplace.com) , but this is to quibble over labels. Guthries is the coolest music venue in Lewiston and it may well be the coziest, most welcoming room in all of Maine. If you’ve not yet experienced the vibe here, think “oversized living room”, complete with couches, superior food and some of the region’s finest craft brews on tap.

The eclectic acts that frequent Guthries have the stage and bill all to themselves. In other words, no opening acts. So be on time this Friday night, Jan. 29, starting at 8 p.m. Bald Hill will entertain with nearly a full set of new material, including several Maine-centric tunes y’all are sure to enjoy.

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