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.
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.