Bangor Celtic Crossroads and Launchpad presents The Gothard Sisters Live at the Bangor Arts Exchange (they come in three’s)

The Celtic world is a far cry from the commercial availability splashed all over as far as the eye can see. It is a world placed in a most special genre, full of stories, legends, and folklore (perhaps even a few outrageous embellishments within some of those stories). And yet, those are the very tales in which we flock to hear, enriching an experience of honesty and musicianship. The Gothard Sisters were no exception to this rule. They fully encased the path on which they’ve taken. Their entertaining flair and delightful combination of musical instruments engaged an ever changing combination of sound and song. It was a wondrous sight to see siblings so given to their art and each other and it was very evident in their selections for the evening. Their latest album “Midnight Sun” and its title cut told us a truthful tale of the bright star not fully at rest at its dwindling time of the night. “Against the Grain” and its sorted explanation left us to look forward to the song rather than its humorous and complex analysis (only kidding). The evening followed up with additional songs of love, sailors, and fantasies. And of course the percussive wars between varied drums and their quick hearted pounding. This sisterly triumvirate of talent was a Celtic success.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

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Yankee Cobbler Shoe Repair (a fine art for the community)

   In a throwaway world where another whatever lies waiting in the wings to be bought again and again, the wondrous art of shoe cobbler extends it gracious almost lost art to the open community at large. This is one of the only cobblers who service such a challenge. Shoes are a great commodity if you adore certain ones. It basically brings a tear to the eye when their time has come to retire them if the are one of our favorite pair. And yet, to the rescue comes one of the oldest professions to relieve us of this impending sadness. Proprietor Jonathan D. Lambert heads such a workmanship to us and our foot apparel. In one of the oldest buildings in downtown bangor Maine he has offered his services for the past thirteen years with amazing results. Admittedly, Jonathan tells us that this breed of shoe repair is a most dying part of the business world and yet he has held on for a good portion of time. Part of the difficulty is finding those willing to learn such an apprenticeship. However, they have been an asset to the Bangor community and beyond. This was a start up business, born and raised here in Maine, Jonathan and his worthy machines fill the bill even though sometimes repairing them can be a challenge. Though there may not be a high calling for cobblers nowadays, this place holds steady, fast, and true, keeping this fine art open to the community.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Bangor Celtic Crossroads Presents Irish Harper Grainne Hambly and Scottish Harper William Jackson at The Bangor Arts Exchange

The evening was a well anticipated one. The chatter about the Harpers grew as some of the crowd wondered if they would play together or separately. Would it have been a case of dueling harps so to speak or could the cultures be intertwined and joined at the strings? There were numbers spent well in a solo effort on both shores as well as a well balanced marriage of the two ends of the isle joining in a most harmonious and melodic grace. The stories never cease to amaze. First of all, who would ever think that an instrumental could be a simple spark of an untold or a variably very told story which seems to be the case for every song. In a life lesson on the same subject it seems that some of the tunes are also tweaked by the artist who plays them at the time, adding and even subtracting bits and pieces of the the tune at their artistic discretion. The titles needed to be adjusted as well depending on the message the composer wished to express at the time. The musical endeavors were superior and masterfully performed. Clarity of the instrument had most certainly drawn the audiences attention due to the delicate nature of the instrument. Included within the musical parameters were the beloved concertina, the whistle, and the ever present bouzouki. They blended well as friendly accompaniment to the featured harp. The traditional aspect was never ignored, ever loved, and most of all respected by both musician and appreciator for hundreds of years past and to come.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Danny Harper/On the Edge (of greatness)

   Usually we endeavor to let an album stand for itself based on it content. In this instance there is so much more to encounter. Not only is this Danny Harper’s best album to date, but it’s content not only stands on music and lyrics alone. It has created a citadel of honesty to where one can find rest within the walls of the truth he sings from the heart. I had to listen to “On the Edge” twice in a row just to make sure I didn’t miss any of its deep rooted meanings. “The Real Deal” couldn’t have described the man better. He stands for what he stands for and that’s the end of the conversation. As a true archivist of the sound of country music,  its clean sound is preserved and spouted from the rooftops in its purest form on this album with no pussyfootin’ allowed. The recording is crystal clear and musically it dominates the nature of the style he wholeheartedly portrays. Lyrically it has massive strength with faith and honor as its brother and sister. The writing is musically tasteful with all of the proper twangs and strums in the right places. Undoubtedly the best album to come out in a long time (or at least since Danny’s last album). He’s on the edge…of greatness.

Written by John D’Alessanro

Photo by Susan D’Alessandro

Justin S. Walton/It Takes a Toll/Blood from a Stone (innovation at its best)

 Justin S. Walton is a multi talented songwriter, singer, musician, and musical innovator. In his solo projects he has expanded to playing all instrument himself as opposed to remaining with his basic instrument, the guitar with his band, Dreadnaught. I can say as a musician myself, that it is quite impressive to have creative control over the very sounds you hear within your head as you compose and eventually complete the song you ventured out to construct. He covers just about any genre you can imagine from the heavy hitting numbers to the the acoustic melodies and everywhere in between. The vocals seem to adapt to the style and strength of the songs as they flow freely and join together to complete his creations. The solo albums,” It Takes a Toll”, and “Blood from a Stone” are mutually complementary to each other. An excellent musical effort with innovation at its best at the helm.   

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Jethro Tull/Songs from the Wood/40th Anniversary Edition/The Country Set (with nothing from the kitchen, gutter, plenty of rhymes, and no divers)

   These box sets are truly an amazing find for fellow Tullians from the first to the present. I have adored and enjoyed everyone of them. The color book within the encompassing walls of this package is an eye opener. Hearing from the band mates is an extraordinary insight as to the inner workings of the band itself, Ian Anderson placed aside if we could just for a moment or two…maybe three. I had mentioned all of these sets were fantastic, and that is true, however, the “Songs from the Wood Edition” is the best one to date as far as the inner book is concerned. If you have read them all (and you should) as I have, you will truly experience the comradely of this wonderfully constructed band of blended styles coming together in unison as one solid musical machine. And each one of them has their own spark to add to what is known as Jethro Tull. The individual experiences are aptly expressed as the gentlemen they are. Certain disasters, memories of sleeping in an old studio, and fond thoughts about each other and what great musicians they are are a noted complimentary addition to the already renowned band. The live footage (two hours worth…a whole concert really) is a terrific surprise. In visual form or CD format, the music’s superiority is in leaps and bounds. Nothing from the kitchen nor gutter found here. Merely songs from the wood…

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Dail Dragonfly Martin/Native American flute (an atmosphere of peace)

 Dail Dragonfly Martin is a flutist of Native American music, artist of leather goods, and author of a most beautiful and intriguing book entitled “The Little Cabin in the Woods”. You will marvel at the story of a group of stuffed animals who reside in cabins in a most enchanted woods and every season holds adventures and surprises. Her CD’s “Coyote Moon” and “Destiny” among her many others, are a most wonderful collection of native American flute tunes which bring about a feeling of peace and serenity which remains with you long after the music is over. There are melodies which hold their recognizable lines and quite a bit of interesting improvisation, a most welcomed tool in this style of music. Dail is available for weddings and other social events and can be contacted at 207-627-4352 or info@freespirit-music.com 

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro