Category Archives: community

Ozere Live at Next Generation Theater (finding anyplace at home)

 On this enchanted evening the stage was illuminated by much more than a few dim lights, but by a band of merry storytellers who through a whimsical mastery filled the atmosphere with a Celtic flair not regularly found within the confines of the genre. A pleasant mix of Celtic overtones combined with delicate sounds blending middle eastern interpretations alongside some wonderfully melodic resonances shows what a daring band can accomplish with musicians who have a multi-varied background flexing their musical muscles. Some of the autobiographical tales speak gently of experiences not soon forgotten and some are skillfully improvised melodies rooted firmly in the imaginations of the mind. Songwriting can be a tricky thing, but Ozere has accomplished it to a Celtic science. Band leader Jessica Deutach conveyed to me that her classical background has given her the freedom to experiment with instrumentation leaning towards a folkish sound, yet incorporating other flavors together for a most unique experience. Her honesty exposes her spirit within her songs and the instrumentals are fresh and lively including an array of instruments taking the spotlight. Their latest CD, “Finding Anyplace” explores these characteristics and has indeed found itself anyplace it may be. 

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Penobscot Theatre Presents “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” (food, truth, and the complexities of love…Italian style)

   Once in a great while, a true love will be born out of soulmates who find each other. Happy is the person who walks the earth and finds true love. And as the bible teaches us, we shall cleave to that love, even forsaking all others…as it should be. A frightening prospect for those who harbor some doubts or insecurities. Yet, a manifestation of the truest adoration for those who toss themselves in with all of their heart, mind, soul, and spirit. This tall tale of love, unfettered emotion, and cuisine all together determines a destiny and a journey of unrequited love, sacrifice, and false adoration…perhaps even a little insanity. The long list of losers, leches, and leavers is unleashed within the confines of the heart of a woman. Her sincerity and vulnerability are the forces behind her openness and expression. During her conversation with us as she prepares a three course dinner with wine like any self respecting Italian, she is perpetually interrupted at inopportune times by her well meaning mother whose eye for her happiness and future is forever on the horizon. There were actually moments when I truly believed she was speaking only to me in a one on one conversation.  Her past rested within a kitchen drawer full of souvenirs from past errors in judgement reminding her that the clock was ticking. That and advice from friends whose opinions, thoughts, and comparisons were of no avail to her problem. Her kitchen skills were only matched by the size of her heart. Could there ever really be a true love in her life?

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Knapp’s Music Center (a downtown milestone)

When a monolithic event occurs, many times a memorial of sorts is erected, a standing ovation to its own accomplishments. It may be a statue, a building wing named after its benefactor, or a simple park bench. However, there are times when the icon speaks for itself. Such is the longstanding reign of Knapp’s Music Center. It has kept music alive in the area since 1952 with the avid learning of musical instruments through lessons, sold sheet music in its many varied forms to aid those who wish to mimic the original masters, and repaired countless instruments to their natural and original clarity. Nearly the oldest standing monumental store open to the public in the greater downtown area of its time. Dan, the owner, operator, and master repairman has given us insight into his humble beginnings. It had originally opened as merely a sales store to grant those promising musicians access to the sound of their choice. Knapp’s had simply expanded into repair once an assistant or apprentice had made his way into this world of music. Then after parting ways, Dan took on the mantle of repair in a self taught and not so easy task of learning every instruments ailment like a musical doctor. And since then he has maintained this outlet to the public at large. There are many choices to be made here. One can take lessons, purchase instruments, or simply have an old friend repaired and come back to life at the hands of its shopkeeper. A true monument to the business world of endurance.

Penobscot Theatre Company Presents “Paper Maker” by Monica Wood

 In a small city somewhere between somewhere and nowhere lies a paper mill in distress. However, this finely tuned business has come to a clash with it’s life’s blood…the workers, whose very hands are the heart of the industry in which it runs. It appears that management ,  ownership, and the many hands that keep it in motion disagree on some of the more integral portions that will ultimately decide if money or survival will triumph. The company itself exists as a benefactor for the working class and a sense of pride for the captains of industry. Eventually, the executive sees for himself just how this growing animosity between them truly affects the very existence of these people. They no longer merely remain the hands and feet propelling paper through the machines, they are now living beings suffering as a result of disagreement with no compromise in sight. When they meet entirely by accident, or unless providence moved its mighty hand, offering both parties, even within the bitter battle of a strike, an odd form of compassion grows from both sides remembering the forgotten workers who held the mill together. Delving deeper we see an inner quadrangle of personal difficulties begin to heal as a father and daughter come to see love perhaps for the first time, and the loss of a beloved wife to a loving husband enters into acceptance as his remaining days with her become more important than the strike and the prideful arrogance ensued against the industrial machine, even building her an arc to show his love for her. An endearing story unleashing ones truest feelings in the midst of crisis when we are all called to see what is most important in our lives.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Penobscot Theatre Company Presents “Lumberjacks in Love” (they’re lumberjacks and they’re ok)

fscn1061_1668    Prepare yourself for a collision between Monty Python’s Flying Circus and modern day vaudeville in the midst of a time space continuum with a tumult of emotion peppered with fear of commitment throughout. A wonderful production skillfully prepared with the typical lumberjack testosterone flowing not so freely at times, and yet love conquering the hearts of even the most confirmed woodsmen. Lyrics and music compliment the sincere acting abilities as well as the amazing dance routines popping out at the most opportune times with laughter in abundance tailing the whole play. These “Shanty Boys” who have become “Lumberjacks in Love” being touched by the “Winds of Morning” are nothing more than a “Buncha Naked Lumberjacks” followed by a “Little Black Raincloud” with one of them hoping that “Someday I Will Be Clean” during a “Bachelors Prayer” understands “I only Have a little Time” and that “I Think I’m in Love with the Kid” waiting once again for “The Winds of Morning” knowing full well “It Would Be Enough For Me” even though a “Little Dress” leads to “Stupid, Stupid Love” becoming “Shanty in the Pines” making for “Happy Lumberjacks” who now know for sure that “It Would Be Enough for Me” in reprisal mode. Primo singing, dancing, and spirituous music are a complete recipe for a great play. So chop down trees, eat your lunch, and go to the lavatory.

Written by John D’Alessandrofscn1069_1671

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Maine Military Supply, Inc. (safety and education as your best weapon)

rscn1020_1622   Our world has changed. We’ve come a long way from leaving our doors unlocked when we lay down our heads at night. It’s become a world of security systems, codes, neighborhood watches, and rottweilers. And yet, bad things still happen. We’re practically forced to take advanced measures to protect our loved ones, and the things we’ve worked so hard for to merely have them taken away by some miscreants who simply won’t abide by the laws of the land. One step further would be to exercise our second amendment constitutional right to bear arms. Nothing is without responsibility, and learning how to use, maintain, and correctly fire a firearm is key to that understanding. Fortunately we have in our midst a most responsible institution in Maine Military Supply located in Holden Maine. fscn0983_1628  In our conversation with owner, Frank Spizuoco, we discovered the stores origins from humble beginnings, growing into a place which serves its community in every facet of the business they are in. In fact, sales and statistics strongly indicate that gun sales have not only increased, but are shared by people of all walks of life including women where even manufacturers have begun creating designs for guns catering to that population in colors and styles and ease of operation. All the while Maine Military has kept education, caution, and safety as a precursor to gun ownership. Our instructor, Tim, who was more than gracious to us with valuable knowledge and step by step instructions as to the mechanics, viable shooting details, and maintenance of the weapon exercised patience and ability to novices such as ourselves. His verbal and hands on instruction quickly built our confidence in handling and executing proper shooting. fscn1000_1644 Maine Military Supply provides a safe firing range, all the products you would ever need, and a weapon specifically suggested to meet your requirements. Whether for hunting, protection, or enjoyment, Maine Military soars above and beyond your expectations.

fscn1018_1660   Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

The Penobscot Theatre Company Presents “Oliver” (you want some more?, you got it…)

fscn0399_1414   Many variations have sprung from classic stories, both from a comedic angle as well as as a more, shall we say artistic side of life (the latter not always a winner). However, when a jewel such as Oliver is presented to us in its truest form with a large side helping of flawlessness, and its ever recognized and loved musical numbers, then we have a wonderful marriage of ability and paramount standard that combines the grace in which the classic story was intended to portray. It caters to our nostalgic memories and ignites the entertainment all over again (not to mention the audience singing along with them). The actors gave life to these amazing characters with their own unique acting flair, composing facial expressions and virtual heartfelt feelings for their counterparts with heart, mind, and soul most definitely intermingled within their world. rscn0415_1419The ever quite mobile stage setting, highly versatile as it was, maneuvered about very well to accommodate its transitory setting. The Artful Dodger brilliantly played by Andrew Barrett, grants us the need to see him in his truest form as the lying, cheating, thieving, wretch that he is with a handful of street class and a heart of gold. Fagin, masterfully portrayed by Dominick Varney, not only gave us exactly what we expected to see in this low life faceless criminal lurking in the shadows, but a mastermind of the miscreant underworld, yet as a thief in real life stealing the show with his prancing, daunting eyes, and glaring teeth perfectly. Ben Layman as Mr. Bumble, is not only a wonderfully versatile actor, but has the uncanny ability to make you believe he is a different person no matter how many charterers he dons the stage with. And his jolly articulation along with his own facial variations are priceless. Brianne Beck’s dazzling vocals and poignant sincerity spilled all over the stage and onto the spectators as her character, Nancy, whose heart was drawn to the miserable Bill Sykes (frighteningly played by the extremely believable Neil E. Graham) without seeing the goodness in her own heart  drowning in her own self worthlessness had become embroiled in a life of corruption. The vocals were launched into the stratosphere with triumphant success and everyone’s heart was most definitely flourishing onstage. A legendary story brought to life once again by the Penobscot Theatre Company. Did you say you wanted some more? Come and get it!

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro