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.

Hunter to Attend Second Annual Dead Tribute Jan. 24 in Lewiston

LEWISTON – Bald Hill, those surprisingly hep purveyors of blues-infected newgrass, folk rock and Americana, will present the second annual All Dead Revue here at the She Doesn’t Like Guthrie’s Restaurant & Café on Friday night, Jan. 24.

This Grateful Dead tribute show (All Dead inclusive of their covers, songs performed by the Jerry Garcia Band and other offshoots) will start promptly at 8 p.m. — maybe sooner, as the line-up and set list are jam-packed. Be sure to arrive early so as to avail yourself of Guthrie’s signature burritos, panini, craft brews and fine wines.

While New Gloucester-based Bald Hill will preside on 24 January, several special guests will participate — in order to execute the wide-ranging, sure-to-be-crowd-pleasing set list (whose contents nevertheless remains a closely guarded secret). Those performers include multi-instrumentalists Mike Conant and Ted McHugh, in addition to very special guest: Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, whose bodily presence left this mortal coil in September 2019, but whose astral presence will participate next Friday night in the form of a microphone stand positioned stage left.

“We’re excited to have Mr. Hunter participating,” BH mandolinist Ben DeTroy said. “We nearly landed Jerry – in the form of an XLR cable. But he’s attending the Senate impeachment hearings instead, as an angel on the shoulder of Justice Roberts. Apparently.”

Bald Hill sets routinely include Grateful Dead covers (the band’s next gig: a return to Gritty’s McDuff’s Brewing Co. in Auburn, on March 7) but its presentation of the All Dead Revue is a natural outgrowth of the band’s own roots. BH started out as a bluegrass band, and while there will be plenty of rockin’ Dead interpretations Jan. 24, some may be surprised to learn just how much bluegrass and other traditional genres similarly influenced The Grateful Dead.

Jerry Garcia started out as a banjo player in a bluegrass lineup (a role he reprised in the ‘70s bluegrass “super group” Old & In the Way), and the Dead routinely covered bluegrass and otherwise traditional tunes — even if they became more famous later as “Dead tunes”. Think Pig in a Pen or Cold Rain & Snow. The band’s very first single (from their debut, self-titled 1967 album) was Sitting on Top of the World, a song made famous by bluegrass legend Doc Watson (but first recorded by the Mississippi Sheiks in 1930). Many Grateful Dead originals also make allusions to classic folk tunes. Deal, for example, incorporates themes and phrases found in Sam and Kirk McGee’s Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down, while the classic Casey Jones riffs off The Ballad of Casey Jones, a song that describes a real-life train wreck that happened in 1900.

Casey Jones didn’t start out as a song,” Hunter told Rolling Stone in 2015. “It just suddenly popped into my mind: ‘driving that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones, you better watch your speed…’ I just wrote that down and I went on to whatever else I was doing, and some time later I came across it and thought, ‘That’s the germ of a pretty good song.’ ”

Jam-packed August and September on tap for Bald Hill

The baroque concert venue upstairs at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — The late-summer show dates keep piling up for Bald Hill, those surprisingly hep purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk rock and Americana. So go get your calendars (or whip out the ol’ iCal-equipped smartphone) and make a note of this:

• Saturday, Aug. 17: BH will play the New Gloucester Fair with a two-hour show beginning at 10 a.m. and featuring old friend/special guest Mike Conant on fiddle, banjo and guitar. The Fair itself, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will take place at the New Gloucester Fairgrounds on Bald Hill Road, making it the first time NG-based Bald Hill has ever played a proper gig ON Bald Hill.

• Sunday, Aug. 25: The band will head east to Rockport for a 7 p.m. date at the Samoset Resort. This is technically a private party but it will take place in the resort’s very public, main bar area downstairs. Mid-coast BH peeps and all revelers pure of heart are encouraged to stop by, say hello and join the festivities.

• Saturday, Aug. 31: Bald Hill returns to the Fore River Brewing Co. in South Portland for its annual, late-summer gig in the brewery’s expansive beer garden. Once and future “Friend of the Band” Ted McHugh will again preside. Show time is 6 p.m. We recommend the East Yard pale ale.

Thursday, Sept. 12: It’s confirmed: Bald Hill will be the featured performer upstairs in the concert hall during a special evening of music at the Gendron Franco Center on Cedar Street in Lewiston. For those unfamiliar, the Franco is housed in the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church, which has been converted into a Franco-American cultural hub. Join BH for an Open House reception at 6 p.m., followed by a move upstairs — into the beautifully ornate concert hall — for an hour of music beginning at 7:30 p.m.

BH returns to The Contented Sole, July 26

BRISTOL — Attention Mid-Coast Peeps: Bald Hill, those surprisingly hip purveyors of blues-inflected newgrass, folk rock and Americana, will make their triumphant return to The Contented Sole in Bristol on Friday night, July 26.

A month later, New Gloucester-based BH will head to Rockport for a date at the Samoset Resort, Aug. 25.

The Contented Sole might be the most picturesque eatery in a state chock full of them. Situated entirely on a pier that extends well into the still waters of New Harbor, The Sole is THE place to spend a Friday night in July. The food is sublime (try the fish tacos), the craft beer selection extensive.

The band will play 6-9 p.m. We hope to see y’all there.

Summer 2019 has been a busy one for Bald Hill, comprised mainly of private parties. The Contented Sole date signals a return to the public sphere. In addition to the Samoset gig, BH will headline the New Gloucester Fair on Aug. 17. This is truly a home game for the band, all six members of which reside in beautiful New Gloucester. Indeed, the Fairgrounds are located on Bald Hill Road!

Stay tuned to this space for show times on Aug. 17, as we hope to see y’all there, as well.

BH at MCD in Portland, April 19

Attention Portland-area and otherwise south-lying peeps: Bald Hill will bring its surprisingly hep brand of blues-inflected newgrass, folk rock and Americana to Maine Craft Distilling on Friday evening April 19. Showtime is 7-10 p.m.

If y’all have visited MCD before, you know what a warmly post-industrial-yet-cosmopolitan space they’ve created there on Washington Street, which has become ground zero for the city’s freshest new restaurants and bars. If you haven’t been there before, we recommend the Queequeg with soda & lime.

After a crazy fall, culminating with its first annual All Dead Review and third annual New Gloucester Christmas Concert, NG-based Bald Hill hibernated for much of January and February, practicing new material and participating in various side projects. The April 19 show will prove the band’s 2019 spring awakening prior to a glut of performances slated May, June, July and August. Watch this space (and sign up for notifications!) to stay abreast of upcoming show dates.

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.

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.

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.

IMG_4304

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

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