Two-day passes are SOLD OUT. All two-day passes include admission for an intimate performance at Oxbow Blending & Bottling in Portland on Friday, September 2, with The Ghost of Paul Revere and special guests The Wolff Sisters.
Any tickets purchased for New Years Eve 2021 at the State Theatre are now valid for admission to Ghostland at Thompson’s Point on 9/3/22.
Life constantly changes. It seesaws between hardship and triumph, loss and satisfaction, and heartbreak and love. No matter how much everything fluctuates, community flourishes at the center of existence. It binds and unites all of us. Music stitches together a strong community around The Ghost of Paul Revere. The Maine trio — Max Davis [vocals, banjo], Sean McCarthy [vocals, bass], and Griffin Sherry [vocals, guitar] — examine life’s ebbs and flows through a distinct and dynamic distillation of folk, bluegrass, rock, and alternative on their third full-length album, Good At Losing Everything.
In doing so, the band invites listeners to empathize as they holler along.
“Over the past few years, we’ve collectively endured many significant changes,” says Griffin. “When you’re writing music, it naturally morphs into what you’re doing. We were going through the same things without necessarily acknowledging it out loud, but the music writes itself along with life.”
“We always just wanted to be strong community members who create an excuse for people to come together, process, and share emotions,” agrees Max. “Those individuals who have supported us are growing all of the time. Our audience has given us a degree of freedom to grow. It’s liberating, because we’ve been able to take risks and evolve each time we go into the studio.”
Since forming in 2011, the band has created a following that has propelled them from a local to a national level, tallying 15 million total independent streams to date. After releasing the EP North in 2012, their signature style gradually progressed over the course of two full-length albums — Believe  and Monarch [2017| — and a pair of EPs — Field Notes, Vol. 1  and Field Notes, Vol. 2 . They also garnered acclaim from the likes of Billboard, Boston Globe, AXS, No Depression, Relix, and The Boot, who appropriately dubbed them, “not guite bluegrass, not quite country, not quite rock ‘n’ roll, but kind of all three combined.” Along the way, the band has performed alongside The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, The Revivalists, Bela Fleck, and The Infamous Stringdusters, sold out countless headlining gigs, and appeared at major festivals nationwide such as Newport Folk, Austin City Limits, WinterWonderGrass, BottleRock Napa, Shaky Knees, Okeechobee, and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. The boys also took home “Best in Maine” at the New England Music Awards twice, in 2015 and 2019. In 2019, their song, “Ballad Of The 20th Maine,” became the official State Ballad of Maine after being passed unanimously by the Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by Maine’s Governor, Janet Mills.
In 2014, they also began curating, booking, and hosting their very own festival, Ghostland. Rooted in a love for Maine’s music community, the festival has grown into one of the state’s largest festivals, drawing both local and national talent to the annual Labor Day Weekend event.
Throughout 2019, they worked on what would become Good At Losing Everything. While it would be their third record with engineer and producer Jonathan Wyman, it would be their first collaboration with friend, producer, and co-writer Spencer Albee. They also welcomed new members, drummer Chuck Gagne and instrumentalist Jackson Kincheloe, as well as pianist Ben Cosgrove, into the fold to record.
They demoed initial ideas at Albee’s home studio before moving into a local venue for a month. There, the band continuously played the new songs together on stage until each felt finished. By the time they entered the studio, they were firing on all cylinders.
“It was the first time we worked with a producer as we were writing a record,’ Sean states. “Since Spencer comes from a different background, he stretched our abilities to places we might’ve been uncomfortable to go to on our own. He gave us a much-needed outside perspective.”
“He’s an amazing songwriter with an incredible pop sensibility,” adds Max. “He was really helpful with fortifying the structure, so the music flows.”
Thematically, the songs directly addressed a myriad of emotions. Among many trials and tribulations, the passing of a close mutual friend weighed heavy on the musicians as they crafted Good At Losing Everything.
“A big part of this album is dealing with personal loss and moving forward,” admits Sean. “We lost our good buddy, Taylor, to cancer. Simultaneously, we were dealing with professional stresses and each going through our own difficulties.”
The first single, “Love At Your Convenience,’ illuminates the group’s progression. Fueled by shimmering piano, sweeping guitar, and uplifting harmonies, it takes off on a soaring and soulful chant — “My love ain’t here for your convenience, if the grass is greener, then be done with us” — punctuated by unrestrained rock ambition.
Meanwhile, the opener and title track “Good At Losing Everything” slips from strains of gospel choir and handclaps into rustling guitar, a steady beat, and hummable harmonica. A heartfelt dedication to Taylor, they dispense some hard-earned knowledge: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, my friend, you get good at losing everything.”
“As Taylor was fighting his battle, | was having very vivid dreams about his passing,” Griffin confesses. “I wrote about what it would be like to go to a friend’s funeral and how | needed to start coping with the feeling before | was in the situation.”
Originally composed on an old Casio keyboard, “Two-Hundred and Twenty-Six Days” hinges on warm reverb and an airy buzz as it blossoms into an “upbeat rhythm with somber lyrics,” according to Max. Then, there’s “Loneliness.” Stark vocals paint a vivid picture of “coping with depression when you’re living on your own,” as Griffin puts it.
Expanding the sonic palette, The Ghost of Paul Revere infuse string sections, looping, and mellotron into immersive interludes such as “28:27” and the outro “We Were Born Wild.”
“| started to experiment with looping and reversing tracks while on the road,” remarks Griffin. “I found elements already in our songs that melted together and created a landscape. We had never tried anything like that on a record before.”
“We began with just acoustic instruments and made this style we called, ‘Holler Folk,'” Sean adds. “Now, we re taking chances and doing things we wouldn’t have done six years ago. We’re hungry to create new things and challenge what we can do together.”
In the end, The Ghost of Paul Revere open up both thematically and musically on Good At Losing Everything. Through widening the creative palette, the sound expands and attracts an even bigger community, while bringing the inner circle closer than ever.
“We want to give listeners a whole experience,’ Max leaves off. “Hopefully, they find a little comfort in reflecting on their own lives when they hear us.”
“I went looking for peace,” says songwriter M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger about his new album Quietly Blowing It, out March 26, 2021, on Merge Records. “It’s not exactly a record about the state of the world—or my world—in 2020, but more a retrospective of the past five years of my life, painted in sort of impressionistic hues. Maybe I had the presence of mind when I was writing Quietly Blowing It to know that this was the time to go as deep as I needed to in order to make a record like this. And I got the time required in order to do that.” He pauses and laughs ruefully. “I got way more time than I needed, actually.”
Quietly Blowing It was written and arranged by Taylor in his home studio—his 8’ × 10’ sanctuary packed floor to ceiling with books, records, and old guitars—as he watched the chaotic world spin outside his window. “Writing became a daily routine,” he explains, “and that was a ballast for me. Having spent so much time on the road over the past ten years, where writing consistently with any kind of flow can be tricky, it felt refreshing. And being in my studio, which is both isolated from and totally connected to the life of my family, felt appropriate for these songs.”
Between March and June, Taylor wrote and recorded upwards of two dozen songs—in most cases playing all of the instruments himself—before winnowing the collection down and bringing them to the Hiss band. In July, the group of musicians, with Taylor in the production seat, went into Overdub Lane in Durham, NC, for a week, where they recorded Quietly Blowing It as an organic unit honed to a fine edge from their years together on the road. “We all needed to be making that music together,” he recalls. “We’ve all spent so many years traveling all over the world, but in that moment, it felt cathartic to be recording those particular songs with each other in our own small hometown.”
Throughout Quietly Blowing It, Taylor brings his keen eye to our “broken American moment”—as he first sang on Hiss Golden Messenger’s critically acclaimed, GRAMMY®-nominated Terms of Surrender (2019)—in ways that feel devastatingly intimate and human. Beginning with the wanderer’s lament of “Way Back in the Way Back,” with its rallying cry of “Up with the mountains, down with the system,” Taylor carries the listener on a musical journey that continually returns to themes of growing up, loss, obligation, and labor with piercing clarity, and his musical influences—including classic Southern soul and gospel, renegade country, and spiritual jazz—have never felt more genuine. Indeed, Quietly Blowing It is a distillation of the rolling Hiss Golden Messenger groove, from the rollicking, Allman-esque “The Great Mystifier” to the chiming falsetto soul of “It Will If We Let It,” to the smoky, shuffling title track with its bittersweet guitar assist from Nashville legend Buddy Miller. The album ends with soulful lead single “Sanctuary,” a song about trying to reconcile tragedy and joy, with references to John Prine (“Handsome Johnny had to go, child…”), economic disparity, and the redemptive quality of hope. Indeed, when he sings, “Feeling bad, feeling blue, can’t get out of my own mind; but I know how to sing about it,” it feels like the album’s spiritual thesis. Throughout Quietly Blowing It, Taylor reckons with the tumultuous present in wholly personal terms, encouraging listeners to do the same. “These songs always circle back to the things that I feel like I have a handle on and the things that I’m not proud of about myself. When I think of the phrase ‘quietly blowing it,’ I think of all the ways that I’ve misstepped, misused my gifts, miscommunicated. ‘Born on the level, quietly blowing it.’ That’s what’s on my mind there. Always fuckin’ up in little ways.”
Surrounding himself with a trusted cast of collaborators that includes Miller, songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov, songwriter and Tony Award–winning playwright Anaïs Mitchell, multi instrumentalist Josh Kaufman, Dawes’ brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, and his oldest musical confidant Scott Hirsch, Taylor has made his most audacious and hopeful work yet with Quietly Blowing It; it’s an album that speaks personal truth to this moment in which the old models of being feel broken and everything feels at stake. “I don’t know that the peace that I crave when I’m far from home exists, actually,” says Taylor. “It’s more complicated. I still don’t know what peace means for me, because I can be sitting on the couch watching a movie with my family and be completely tangled up in my head. But if I keep on doing my own personal work on myself—writing records like Quietly Blowing It—I have to think that I’m getting closer.”
It’s impossible not to hear freedom and excitement coursing through the veins of Marco Benevento’s new studio album, ‘Let It Slide.’ Produced by Leon Michels (The Arcs, Lee Fields), the record introduces a gritty, soulful edge to Benevento’s brand of high-octane keyboard wizardry—an uptempo, uplifting sound he playfully describes as “hot dance piano rock.” For all Benevento’s virtuosity on the keys though, the songs here are driven primarily by intoxicating grooves, with spare drums and minimalist bass lines underpinning infectious, intentionally lo-fi vocal hooks. The resulting vibe is a timeless one, filtering elements of vintage R&B and soul through modern indie rock and pop sensibilities and peppering it with the kind of adventurous improvisation that Benevento’s come to be celebrated for worldwide.
Acceptance is a recurring theme on the record, and Benevento’s songs often find themselves recognizing that contentment can come only once you’ve freed yourself from the chains of desire and regret. Upon close listen, one can find Benevento’s own personal philosophies subconsciously bubbling up throughout the songs. “You’ll feel better, I’ll just say / When you finally let it go,” he sings on the funky “Say It’s All The Same,” which features vocal contributions from bandmate Karina Rykman. The hazy “Solid Gold” celebrates the simple joy of being in the moment with someone you love, while the Lennon-esque “Lorraine” (co-written with Simone Felice) grapples with loss and change, and the anthemic “Send It On A Rocket” contemplates loneliness and connection.
Dubbed “one of the most talented keys players of our time” by CBS Radio, Benevento’s released six critically acclaimed solo albums over the last decade, performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall and Newport Jazz to Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and worked in the studio and on the road with the likes of Richard Swift (The Shins, The Arcs), Jon Brion (Spoon, Aimee Mann), A.C. Newman (The New Pornographers), and Simone Felice (The Felice Brothers, The Lumineers) among others. “It’s safe to say that no one sees the keyboard quite like Marco Benevento’s genre-blind mashup of indie rock, jazz and skewed improvisation,” the LA Times raved, while NPR said he combines “the thrust of rock, the questing of jazz and the experimental ecstasy of jam,” and Rolling Stone praised “the textures and colors available in his keyboards and arsenal of manipulated pedals and effects,” along with his “deceptively rich, catchy melodies and straight-ahead grooves.”
When you think of trendy musical scenes, Portland, Maine might not be first on your list. Yet the homespun, heartwarming music of family-oriented indie folk group GoldenOak provides evidence that the dense woods of the Pine Tree State might just be a better muse than the slick streets of New York and LA.
GoldenOak is driven by the songwriting and harmonies of the brother-sister duo Zak and Lena Kendall. After a bit of a recording hiatus and a shift in personnel, the group is back with an enchanting pair of songs. “River” and “Poet And The Painter” find this collective simultaneously building on previous strengths while also striking out in an interesting new direction.
Zak Kendall explains that he and his sister had a heart-to-heart about how the band should sound once some intra-band changes took place. “With the original lineup, we were very much a four-piece group. Everybody had similar roles in the band and there was not really much of a lead, per se. As the band evolved and those two bandmates left, Lena and I kind of sat down and said, ‘What we were doing is changing up, but what’s staying the same is our relationship to each other, our musical journey as siblings.’ I think with this music we’ve kind of settled into that role. We’ve learned to really understand and work with each other, write together more, bounce ideas off each other.”
The pair leaned into the family-oriented dynamic when they dove into the new material, recorded at Rustic Studios in Portland. “The new stuff is built around that relationship and particularly our vocals and our harmonies,” Zak says. “Like on ‘Poet And The Painter’, there’s no lead vocals on it. It’s us singing harmonies the whole time, kind of like Simon & Garfunkel’s early stuff. When I wrote ‘River’, I said to Lena, “I’m writing this song, but I want you to sing it.” That was the first time that I had written lyrics for Lena to sing. And so it really became the closest to a partnership that it’s ever been for us. We were really working closely together on this new stuff.”
Even as Zak and Lena found a new direction by honoring their musical bond, which they first started to form during campfire singalongs as youngsters, the new members of the band, bassist Mike Knowles and drummer Jackson Cromwell, also helped determine the sound of this single. Zak explains the process since the release of the band’s 2017 EP Foxgloves: “It’s been like a year-and-a-half or so since we released music. We were touring with a cellist and a trumpet player at the time. They were big focal points of a lot of our arrangements and a lot of our writing. When they left, we started playing with Mike and Jackson. And they started shaping the direction of what we were going to be putting out, because we wanted it to sound like our live set was sounding. It took a long period before we started working on new stuff because we were adjusting to having a new lineup and getting to know each other as musicians and bandmates. As we felt we were starting to click, we started working on a new stuff.”
Speaking of that new stuff, “River” manages to seamlessly connect two different pieces of music that Zak had been writing. The moody music, accompanying verses about how political shifts are mirrored by the changing seasons, segues into a more upbeat outro, connected by a gorgeous moment of brother and sister singing a cappella, “I’ve come to witness the things I can’t see.” Meanwhile, “Poet And The Painter” find the two in close-harmony throughout, but the shuffle of the rhythm section adds some momentum to the lyrical musings on the potency of nature.
In many ways, the themes of GoldenOak’s music are driven by their home base. “Maine is such an interesting place to be an artist,” Zak says. “It’s so remote in a lot of ways. And the landscape and the woods are so inspiring. People are often spread out, but there’s also this amazing artistic community, not only in Portland but also in the towns all over Maine.”
“Being in a place like Maine, we’re not surrounded by buildings. I think the art is very reflective of the landscape, the nature of Maine. As you walk through the woods, you never see the same thing twice. And I think that represents the Maine music scene in a perfect way.”
That music scene has thrown its arms around GoldenOak, and, in return, the band is helping to draw more attention to it with these excellent new songs. “The Portland music scene is so friendly and welcoming,” Zak says. “I think, unfortunately, a lot of music scenes get competitive by nature. But that’s something you just don’t find in Portland. There’s just a lot of fantastic people involved in it that kind of have that ‘Mainer’ attitude to help each other out and support each other.”