Monday, December 14, 2009

[dog] and [pony] dvd release show

Nick and Krister of [dog] and [pony] celebrated the release of their volume one dvd of local bands with a release show at SPACE this Saturday. They mixed up a lot of interesting musical combinations, including this performance by Aly Spalto (Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) and the Jacob Augustine Band covering Dilly Dilly's Hollerin' Man (from my favorite album of 2009- "Of Art and Intention")

Dilly Dilly has also announced the end of her 6 month hiatus from music and will be returning to the stage with Lady Lamb the Beekeeper on February 2nd at Port City Music Hall.

Jesse Pilgrim also played this Saturday, turning in my overall favorite set, as his band (the Bonfire) careened through their distorted folk punk. Alicia and I were also lucky enough to get Jesse down to the Red Telephone on Sunday for a set of solo songs. I'm hoping to get the Red Telephone archives online again in the near future, so hopefully you'll be able to hear some of those songs soon.

More exciting Eternal Otter Record announcements coming up...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Johnny Fountain's Farewell Show

Johnny Fountain is leaving Portland for the winter to trek out to California, explore the open road, and trace the roots of Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain. But he will entertain the crowds of Portland for one final night before his return this summer.

So, come down to the EMPIRE Dine & Dance from 6 to 10 pm tonight for an open mic event hosted by the legend himself. Johnny and his friends (possibly including Waisely Lighthead and Minnie Pistola of the Panda Bandits) will play for your enjoyment- all free of charge! Bring your guitar, rattle, or mandolin and join the fun!

[dog] and [pony] win best music video award for Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Our friends over at [dog] and [pony] took home an award last week for best music video at the Portland Phoenix Short Film Fest. Their video featured Lady Lamb the Beekeeper performing "Comet Flies Over the Underbelly" live at the Tower of Song Festival.

Check out an article about the award-winning video here. And then watch it over at the [dog] and [pony] site.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Want a free Lady Lamb the Beekeeper Live Track?

You can download (for free!) an epic 10-minute live take on Lady Lamb the Beekeeper's "The Nothing". The song is best known as the rap sandwiched in the middle of the drum-heavy "Pennylicks", but here it is stripped down to a banjo-driven ballad.

All you need to do to get your hands on this download is to take this Eternal Otter Records' Customer Survey. The whole thing takes less than a minute!

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper LIVE @ SPACE

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper will be headlining tonight at Space. It has been awhile since she has treated Portland to a live performance, so you should go see what new tricks she has up her sleeve. She will also be joined by the Mumlers, who have the trusted guarantee of rocking according to our friends over at the Pine Haven Collective. Should be a great night of music!

Tower of Song also continues this Friday at its new location across the street (aka the Building of Song). Head down to Congress Square during the Art Walk to hear music from Johnny Fountain, Lady Lamb the Beekeepeer.... and Portland Legend, Moses Atwood! Moses has been in Asheville for the last couple of years, but now he is back in Maine and we are extremely excited to be hosting his homecoming!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ghost Town

It's Halloween and there are plenty of places to go to show off your costume and hear some great music.

If you're looking for a great party with lots of high-class cover band action, you'll want to trick or treat down to SPACE. Darien Brahm will be performing as the Velvet Underground and Phantom Buffalo will be taking on Devo. There will also be performances by "The Fall", "The Cramps", and "The Misfits".

If you are looking for a Sci-Fi spin on your Halloween, Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia will take you on an intergalactic musical journey down at the EMPIRE.

Have a Haunted Halloween!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Building of Song Tonight

The Building of Song (formerly the Tower of Song) returns to Congress Square tonight from 5:30 to 8 pm. There will be live performances from the 5th floor of the Congress Building (above the State Theater) by Johnny Fountain, Hanifa Washington, and Dominic Lavoie. Enjoy the music, Enjoy the Art Walk!

Speaking of Art Walk- there are a couple of great shows going on that deserve your attention. First, at the Sylvia Kania Gallery you can go "Down the Rabbit Hole" with an exhibit of Alice in Wonderland inspired artwork. Then head over to SPACE Gallery and have the Pine Haven Collective draw a portrait of you for the very reasonable price of $20. It's gonna be a fun day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best of 2009 (Local Albums)

Now for the local albums of 2009. Although you would think that it would be difficult for a local scene to compete with the breadth of releases on the National Scale, I strongly believe that Portland is responsible for some of the greatest music in the world right now. I realize I might be biased but I've long been a lover of music and have lived in many different cities, and simply no place has ever compared to the talent and creativity of Portland. I would place at least half the following albums above my #1 national choice. Anyway, read what I think and please get your hands on anything that sparks your interest.

1. Of Art and Intention - Dilly Dilly

Dilly Dilly's debut LP reached new sonic and emotional heights only hinted at on her 2007 EP (Akidleadivy), and it became one of Portland's most talked about albums of the summer. Then Dilly abruptly called an indefinite hiatus on her music career. Thankfully she left us these 12 amazing songs- including new takes on Akidleadivy's "Doo Write" and "Rival" (now fleshed out by Alias' precise production), the anthemic "Come What May", the emotionally devastating but strangely uplifting "AlossAlone", and the interplanetary electro come-on "Alien Dance Queen". This album still doesn't exist in physical form, but can be downloaded for free (or by donation) at dillydillymusic . Let's hope this isn't the last we hear from Dilly Dilly.

2. Anna's Ghost - Anna's Ghost

Yes, I'm plugging a release from my own label, but I wouldn't have put this album out in the first place if I didn't think it was one of the best artistic statement of the year. Like many others, I was a big fan of Anna's Ghost debut EP, and this follow-up was well worth the wait. In a city full of great female vocalists (Aly Spaltro, Colleen Kinsella, Erin Davidson, Sontiago, etc), I think Gabrielle Raymond's vocal delivery might be the best and most underrated. Her voice can both wrap around your heart ("Magdalene") or rip out your spine ("Good Enough"). Of course, she is also joined by her dark lieutenants, Ian Riley on drums, Chris Moulton on guitar, and Jake Pike on bass. They alternately sound like a four-member death squad ("He is in the Walls") and a demented carnival of skeletons ("After the Snow"). Sometimes they just sound skeletal, like on the haunting closing track "Comeback" ("when you come back we'll all be dead..."). An album to take to your grave.

3. Candy, Cake and Ice Cream - Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia

After spending a year regaling our city with his brightly-colored ensemble of masterful musicians, Spencer Albee finally released this collection of absolutely perfect pop songs. This man has clearly studied the Kinks and the Beatles well, and it is simply amazing how many of the songs on this album immediately get stuck in your head: "The Way of the World", "Come Back Monday", "So Good", "Nobody Got Off Easy", and "Glad You Came Back Home" just to name a few. My only complaint is that live highlight "Opportunity Knocks" can't seem to reach its full potential in its studio form. But really, that's hardly reason to complain. In a just world these songs would be playing on radios (and iPods) across the country.

4. Worried Love - Chriss Sutherland

On his second solo album, Chriss Sutherland takes a sonic leap from the sparer folk rock of his debut (strange to call an album a debut since it was preceded by almost a dozen albums from Cerberus Shoal), and incorporates the electric guitar textures of Ron Harrity (who released this album through his Peapod Recordings), more fully embraces his Spanish influences ("El Tiengo", Volando Voy"), and gives us the closest thing we got this year to a Fire on Fire reunion ("Hey Justice"). At first, I wasn't sure if I entirely appreciated the change as I was a fan of the cohesive melancholy of Me in a "field". But this is a truly great album that perfectly showcases Chriss' songwriting, musicianship, collaborative ability, and skill at turning his influences into a singular vision. This album received a well deserved mention in the New York Times and should be heard by all serious fans of music.

5 + 6. Already Gone Pt. 1 + 2 - Big Blood

With a band as prolific as Big Blood it can almost seem like a slow year when they only release a Double Album (sold separately but as connected as the beautiful cover art implies). As always, the "phantom four-piece that performs only as a duo" make each album count. Caleb turns in two of his best songs in the BB catalog ("Well Water" and "So Old Again"). Meanwhile, Colleen proves herself to be one of the preeminent interpreters of alternative classics, performing two cover songs that easily outshine the original versions (Captain Beefheart's "Beatle Bones-n-Smoking Stones" and The Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary; her version of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" though good is a little too languid for my tastes). And less you balk at having to pay separately for both albums (although it's worth it for the art alone, especially at $5 a piece), you should know that the entire Big Blood catalog is available online for free. Go familiarize yourself with one of the greatest bands that has ever walked this strange planet.

7. For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen - Samuel James

The main problem with all three of Samuel James' albums is that none fully captures the force of his live performances. But how could they? There is just no way to perfectly translate his train engine stomp and incredible guitar work to a shiny plastic disc. Fortunately, the albums, particularly this latest, do a great job of presenting Mr. James as a first-rate storyteller. The album opens with "Bigger, Blacker, Ben" a hilarious sequel to "Big Black Ben" from his last disc. It's the kind of song that makes me wish more artists did sequels about their lyrical characters (perhaps Paul McCartney can do a song about Rocky Raccoon's son). Samuel James also continues the adventures of Sugar Smallhouse and pays homage to the titular women (this album also wins cover of the year). I just wish their was a bonus disc of the cover performances from his cd release show- I would love to hear Sontiago singing "Wooden Tombstone".

8. Pecos Bill is Dead - Jesse Pilgrim

This EP heralded the end of Pecos Bill and the emergence of Jesse Pilgrim as a true songwriter. His songs are short and sweet and cover all the essential topics: booze ("Whiskey"), injustice ("Trial & Error"), and death ("Lead Me Down"). He capitalized on the success of this self-released EP by gathering up a strong backing band, kicking off the Tower of Song Festival, and turning in one of the best [dog] and [pony] performances yet to be seen. I can't wait to hear what he comes up with for a full length. Pecos Bill is dead, long live Jesse Pilgrim!

9. Decension - Meghan Yates

Another one of Portland's great vocalists. Meghan Yates simply sings from an otherworldly place that I can only describe as delicate trembling thunder. In fact, her voice is so arresting that the lyrics often seem like they're being sung in some long lost tongue. But careful attention reveals the lyrical beauty of songs like "if the devil is 6" and "Lay Your Weary Head Down". However, the undeniable highlight is the vocal maelstrom of "Man of Sorrow". Seeing her perform this song at Slainte with the great Moses Atwood and her fiance (now husband) Mordecai was a truly memorable night.

10. Apsis - Dead Man's Clothes

The elaborate yet off kilter packaging of this album does a good job of summing up the music inside. Dead Man's Clothes meanders through a number of topics and sounds, taking in both overweight ghosts, rocking zombies, spaceships, and relationships. Not every track works, but overall this is a hell of a ride, both funny and rocking, and full of wonderful and often unique instrumentation. Lead singer, guitarist and saw player, Don Dumont, has recently reconfigured the group with the addition of TJ Metcalfe (formerly of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) on guitar and Ian Riley (Anna's Ghost) on bass, so I'm excited to hear what they come up with next.

Album that hasn't been released yet, but I'm sure will make the list:

Lady Lamb the Bee-Sides - Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Monday, September 28, 2009

Best of 2009 (National Albums)

Well, it's that time of year when National Publications start publishing their list of best albums of 2009 (and the decade) with 3 months left before New Year's Eve. Well, I'm impatient too- so here is my list of the best albums of 2009 (I'll do national releases today and local releases tomorrow):

1. Two Suns - Bat For Lashes

I thought Bat for Lashes' debut, Fur & Gold, was a good but uneven album with two amazing highlights- "Trophy" and "What's A Girl to Do." Two Suns manages to be much more consistent throughout, held together by a loose but effective theme of dual nature. I love when artists indulge in their dark sides and "Sirens Call" is a perfect ballad for a femme fatale. The guys from Yeasayer also bring their shamanic bass and drumming to songs like "Sleep Alone". But Two Suns truly earns it #1 placement on the strength of its bookends - opener "Glass", which sounds like the movie theme to an unmade Fantasy Epic. On the closer, "The Big Sleep", Natasha Khan holds her own with the godlike genius of the reclusive Scott Walker.

2. Preliminaires - Iggy Pop

Most people grimaced at the idea of Iggy Pop making a jazz album when information first leaked about this peculiar release. The truth is that Preliminaires is far more influenced by French Chanteuse, and Iggy Pop takes his place among the United Nations of gravel-voiced lotharios like Serge Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen. The songs also incorporate the sounds of New Orlean Jazz ("King of the Dogs" - a worthy sequel to "I'm Your Dog"), spoken word (Iggy Pop turned me onto French writer Michel Houellebecq through "A Machine for Loving" in which he quotes directly from the authors' novel "The Possibility of an Island"), and the token hard rocker ("Nice to be Dead"). Iggy Pop's best album since Lust for Life.

3. Actor - St. Vincent

A more accessible (and overall more satisfying) take on the Dirty Projectors off kilter beats and arresting female vocals. This is a fun and sonically interesting album, but its Annie Clark's ability to write immediately catchy but enigmatic lyrics that make this sophomore effort so winning. All the tracks are great but I particularly love "The Strangers", "Marrow", and "Laughing with a Mouth of Blood". Good year for second albums by female artists.

4. Merriweather Post Pavillion - Animal Collective

I've had a difficult relationship with Animal Collective- I usually love at least one song from each of their albums, but taken as a whole they are just too sonically relentless. In fact, up until Merriweather Post Pavillion, my favorite Animal Collective related release was Panda Bear's Person Pitch. However, Merriweather Post Pavillion manages to be both sonically adventurous and a great pop album (highlights including "Summertime Clothes", "Lion in a Coma", and "Brothers Sport"). I think it also helped that I first experienced the album on vinyl in manageable 3-song portions. The psychedelic optical illusion cover art is also best experienced in this large format.

5. Bitte Orca - The Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors is another band that often works best in small doses, but managed to pull off a great, cohesive album in 2009. They got off to a good start this year by collaborating with David Byrne on the kickoff song from Dark Was the Night (which would probably be my album of the year if I was including compilations). They then updated Talking Heads' epileptic funk for the 21st century with the incredible "Stillness is the Move". They also managed to rewrite "These Days" ("Two Doves") and create a future a capella classic (Cannibal Resource).

6. Down With Liberty... Up With Chains! - Chain & The Gang

I never heard of Ian Svenonius until my band, Panda Bandits, was invited to open for his latest project at SPACE. This "D.C. Legend" manages to be rocking, stylish, funny, and political in equal measure. But most of all, this is just plain fun music. My favorite is "Deathbed Confession"- a great concept, a great story, and a great chorus all rolled into one. In concert, Mr. Svenonius would stretch out the songs with long commentaries, observations, and witticisms, but the songs on the album still holdup without their in-the-moment preludes. Definitely my favorite new discovery of the year.

7. Tight Knit - Vetiver

So far Vetiver's best album has been last year's covers album, Thing of the Past. When Andy Cabic isn't interpreting other people's songs, his own songwriting can sometimes lack variety. But I can't complain too much when that style of writing creates so many awesome, laidback tunes, and he always manages to pull off at least one full blown classic (in this case, "Another Reason to Go"). The band is also consistently tight and Cabic has a killer voice. A great album to listen to while driving around and looking at the autumn foilage. Vetiver's show at SPACE in 2008 was a concert going hightlight, and I'm sad that they skipped Portland on their latest tour.

8. It's Not Me, It's You - Lily Allen

My guilty pleasure, I suppose. I've fucking loved Lily Allen ever since downloading "Smile" as iTunes free "Single of the Week". Perhaps its my innate love for rebellious girls and most things British, or just because Allen's songs are really catchy and fun. Sure, her lyrics are sometimes beyond terrible, but I can't resist the overall impact of "The Fear", "Everyone's At It", and "Fuck You". I also like that she believes God's favorite band is Creedence Clearwater Revival- a good guess.

9. Further Complications - Jarvis Cocker

Speaking of things British, the former lead singer of Pulp released his second solo album this year. I don't like it as much as his first (simply titled Jarvis) or pretty much anything he did with Pulp, but I love this man and can't be objective. All in all, I wasn't a fan of Steve Albini's production which buries one of my favorite voices in too much alternative rock sludge. But Mr. Cocker's famous wit is still there on songs like "Leftovers", "Fuckingsong", and the title track.

10. Veckatimest- Grizzly Bear

I'm still not sure if I've listened to this album enough to fully appreciate it. I didn't get into any of Grizzly Bear's previous releases (although I do like their contributions to Dark Was the Night), but this is an undeniably beautiful album. I also have the feeling that if I keep listening something will suddenly click into place and its full majesty will reveal itself to me. Don't disappoint me Grizzly Bear!

Album that hasn't been released yet, but will almost certainly make the list:

What Will We Be - Devendra Banhart

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Panda Bandits Photos

Sam Cousins, one of Portland's great photographers of the local music scene, took some great shots at the recent Panda Bandit performance at SPACE. There are also photos of Boxy and headliner, Chain and the Gang. You can see them all here.

Chain and the Gang is the latest project by D.C. punk legend, Ian Svenonius. Before this show I didn't know anything about him, but after his incendiary, hilarious, and just fucking rocking performance I am now a big fan. Definitely check out their album "Down with Liberty... up with Chains."

Panda Bandits will probably be going on hiatus for a few months, but you should expect a return in 2010.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The Panda Bandits return to SPACE Gallery tonight as the opening act for D.C. legend Ian Svenonius and his band Chain and the Gang.

There will be gun fights, flowers, feathers, mayhem, magic, singing saws, bird calls, and disco breakdowns. Don't miss this show!

Doors open at 8:30 pm and the show starts promptly at 9. You better be there or the Panda Bandits will hunt you down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anna's Ghost CD Release Show! Tonight!

Eternal Otter Records proudly announces the release of Anna's Ghost debut self-titled LP. The band will be performing live tonight at the EMPIRE with guests Dead Man's Clothes (with new band member, TJ Metcalfe, formerly of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) and EverySmithEver. The cover is only $3 and copies of the album will be on sale. In keeping with Eternal Otter Records' aesthetic of creating lovingly packaged albums, each CD case is but one piece of a giant splatter painted canvas. Consequently, the artwork on each package is unique, dark, and mysterious- like the music contained within.

The Portland Phoenix gave a great review of the album in this week's issue, writing, "The band have retained the dark carnival atmosphere of their debut [EP], but moved beyond it, developing a disturbed and disturbing indie rock that is both operatic and bare-bones, enchanting and repellent... they've created a sound that's so painfully close that you feel every note in your gut."

You won't be able to get any closer than the EMPIRE tonight, so I hope to see you there. You can read the full Phoenix review here.

The album is also currently available at iTunes and will be appearing shortly at Bullmoose and other local record stores.

Before the show, I also encourage you to check out Frock 'n' Roll at SPACE starting at 7 pm. Local fashion designers (including Pinecone + Chickadee, who exhibited at the Tower of Song Festival) will have their clothes modeled by some of our town's finest musicians, who will also perform. Acts scheduled to appear include Spencer & The School Spirit Mafia and Samuel James (both of whom have released excellent new albums in the past 2 months), and Eternal Otter Record's own Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (who I believe will be performing a song that was written specifically for the event).

Friday, September 4, 2009

First Friday Art Walk

Tower of Song it taking the day off- but there is plenty to do during this month's First Friday Art Walk.

As always, I recommend you that you check out Mr. Bryan Bruchman's definitive Portland blog, Hilly Town, for a list of suggestions.

I also believe that there will be a 15-piece steel drum band in Congress Square. So, look out for that!

Tower of Song will return in October at our temporary location in the Arcadia DesignWorks Studio.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Johnny Fountain & The Manes LIVE! TONIGHT!

Want to see a great show tonight?

Head down to the EMPIRE at 9 PM to catch Johnny Fountain & The Manes tearing it up on the upstairs stage. The cover is a recession-proof $2.

As an added bonus, you'll get to see a high concept music performance from Christian Cuff and Amanda Gervasi. Both are incredibly talented musicians, and they are also former lovers! They will go back and forth, trading 3-4 song sets, that chronicle their move to Portland and subsequent breakup. It will be way better than that Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston movie!

Hope to see you there!


Also, I have to mention that there was a great show at Slainte this Tuesday! The newly engaged Meghan Yates and Mordecai Rosenblatt started things off, capturing the room with Meghan's inimitable vocals backed by her guitar and Mordecai's jazzy bass. They both glowed with love throughout the entire set. They finished with an incredible version of "Man of Sorrow", my favorite cut from Meghan's new album, "Decension". For this a capella jam they were also joined by the one and only Moses Atwood, on leave from his hometown of Asheville.

Moses ended up taking the stage next to perform solo and then joined his band, Johnson's Crossroad, on dobro. A truly great performer who should never be missed during his all too infrequent trips to Portland. I hope he releases a new album soon! Check out his self-titled release from 2006 if you have never heard it, it's a real treat (and features Meghan on backing vocals).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper Nominated for New England Band of the Month - VOTE NOW!

Eternal Otter Records' own Lady Lamb the Beekeeper has been honored with a nomination from Deli Magazine for New England Band of the Month!

If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Aly Spaltro perform live, you know this is a well deserved recognition. Please go VOTE for her NOW -

She is in second place now, so let's move her up to first!

Although I was away from Portland this past weekend, from all accounts Lady Lamb the Beekeeper brought down the house at Samuel James' CD release- an event that was overflowing with talent and good times.

Be a part of spreading the word about one of our generation's finest talents- VOTE NOW!

Monday, August 17, 2009

What we've been up to...

Besides getting down as the Panda Bandits, we've been keeping busy through the summer here at Eternal Otter Records. A quick round-up:

Although fire code issues have temporarily shutdown the Tower of Song for the foreseeable future, the event lived on during August's Art Walk as the "Building of Song". Patric and Celeste of Arcadia Design Works were kind enough to host the event across the street in their 5th-floor studio. Tower of Song mainstays, Johnny Fountain and Aly Spaltro, both performed great sets, and the evening was topped off with guest Joshua Cristantiello improvising a song about the various pedestrians out on the street.

We all had a blast and the sound was great outside. Thanks again to Patric and Celeste for making this event possible!

We are still waiting to see if we can continue to host the Tower of Song in this new location. But regardless, we promise to keep bringing you interesting collisions of music and architecture.

Eternal Otter Records also recently concluded it's month of live programming at the York Harbor Reading Room. This series included a number of great, intimate performances by the likes of Johnny Fountain, Dominic Lavoie, Denise Dill, Granny Frost, Jesse Pilgrim, Over A Cardboard Sea, and Christian Cuff.

Last Sunday, Alicia and I also welcomed Dana Gross to perform live on our radio program, The Red Telephone. He played a great set and I hope to post a sample track as soon as I find a new music hosting website. In the meantime, I suggest you check him out during his regular Thursday gig at Blue- he is also often joined by Samuel James. The Red Telephone is on the air every other Sunday from 10 am to Noon. If you live in Portsmouth, just tune to 106.1 fm. If not, catch us online at

Panda Bandits, Ready?

After disappearing to the woods from the end of July to the beginning of August, Waisely "Scar" Lighthead and Marie "Minnie" Pistola returned as the Panda Bandits to Portland on Wednesday, August 12th.

The show was part of Bryan Bruchman's great series of free concerts taking place every Wednesday at SPACE Gallery in the month of August. You can find out more information at Bryan's always informative blog, Hilly Town.

The Panda Bandits first assembled in February to play a single song for the Johnny Cash Tribute Night (also at SPACE). Since then, we've been biding our time, waiting for the right moment to come back and play a full set. Therefore, we are very thankful to Bryan and SPACE for giving us this great opportunity to perform again.

The show kicked off with great sets from the always dependable Jesse Pilgrim and Boston-based Dan Wholey, who was accompanied by two women playing violin and slide guitar. He had a great voice and good songs and I hope he rolls through Portland again soon.

Then it was time for the Panda Bandits to come back. Besides Minnie and myself, the Panda Bandits include a roster of many of my favorite musicians, who I implore you to check out:

Johnny Fountain (of the Manes) played guitar for us and made sure I started singing at the right time.
Patrick Dennis (of Blaque Boose), in his enigmatic bear mask, kept the beat on bass.
Sontiago produced the beats for Alicia's "Mop Song", rapped on Johnny's song "Henry Ford Is Coming Back", and helped choreograph the mop dance.
Aly Spaltro (of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) played banjo and, for the first time on stage, electric bass.
Roy Ghim (of Bird in the Rafters) not only played a variety of percussion put also whipped out his Afri-can- a gerry-rigged oilcan that plays like a guitar.
We were also joined by Ian Riley (Anna's Ghost), Don Dumont (Dead Man's Clothes), Lori Dennis, Erin Enberg, and Jesse Pilgrim who all played a variety of instruments (hammers, singing saws, tambourines, flutes, bicycles, etc).

We will likely be returning to SPACE in late September, so be on the lookout for the Bandits. The good fellows at [dog] and [pony] were also there filming, so some footage or audio tracks might come out eventually. Their site is also always worth checking out.

There are also a number of great shows coming up, including Big Blood at the Aphodian tonight. The next Hilly Town Presents Off Stage at SPACE features the killer line-up of Phantom Computers (Phantom Buffalo + Computer at Sea), out-of-towners Happy Machine, and Dead End Armory. It's this Wednesday and it is free.

I will sadly miss the legendary cd release show of Samuel James' third full-length, but you should make a point of being there- Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Sontiago, Dana Gross, White Light, Micah Blue Smaldone, and many others will all be performing songs from the album. And, of course, the man himself will be playing, and he is one of this city's true entertainers.

Until next time.

-Waisely Lighthead

Friday, July 17, 2009

Heading down that dusty road

Eternal Otter Records is taking a little summer retreat starting tomorrow, but we will be making a triumphant return in August.

First, some important news. The Tower of Song is being temporarily shutdown, so that construction can begin on the building. We are currently negotiating to host the show in a studio across the street, but everything is up in the air at the moment. However, whatever ends up transpiring, you'll be hearing from us long after we're gone.

Second- People Take Warning! The Panda Bandits return to Portland on August 12th for their show at SPACE Gallery with Jesse Pilgrim. Your presence is required.

Until next time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper on World Tour

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper has started her world tour (of Maine) with S-Bot (formerly of Feel It Robot). You can follow their progress on twitter. It looks like they will be playing in Mexico today. Seems like as good a chance as any to hear Aly play "Mexico, ME" from Handsome Animals. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper will return to Portland on Saturday, August 11th to play at the Empire. She will be joined by labelmate Johnny Fountain & The Manes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

All aboard!

Happy Independence Day!

If you are planning on heading down to the Eastern Promenade early to get a good spot for the fireworks, I suggest that you first make your way down the the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and catch their 6:30 pm train. Rides are free (or by donation).

As an added bonus, Eternal Otter Records will be presenting a folk music show right on the train as it chugs on down to the promenade. This show will feature Jesse Pilgrim and Johnny Fountain trading old standards, children's songs, toe-tappers, and maybe cracking a few jokes.

This is also a little warm-up for a much larger train concert that we hope to put on sometime in September, and that will also include Over A Cardboard Sea & Samuel James.

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum is an indoor-outdoor museum interpreting Maine’s industrial history and technology primarily through its working two-foot gauge railroad. The Museum is open from 10am to 4 pm every day. Trains run on the hour from 11am to 4 pm. This weekend, the MNGRR will be running steam Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Birds flyin' high in the sky, you know how I feel. Sun in the sky, you know how I feel

It's the Friday of July (and the first day with sun in a week) and that means TOWER OF SONG IS BACK!!!

We'll be kicking things off from the top of the Schwartz Building with Mr. Johnny Fountain at 5 pm. After that we'll be playing host to four beautiful sirens- Aly Spaltro (Lady Lamb the Beekeeper), Denise Dill, Meghan Yates, and Amanda Gervasi. Bring your sunglasses.

I also have to announce somewhat sad news. Effective July 31st, 602 Congress Street is being vacated in order to allow for construction that will bring the building up to fire code. This means Tower of Song will temporarily be going on hiatus, but we are confident that we will be able to bring it back once the construction is complete (it is projected to be done in 2 to 3 months). But this is the last Tower of Song fix you'll be able to get this summer, so I hope to see you here.

Also, Eternal Otter Records is working on bringing you some other great events while Tower of Song takes its summer vacation. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chriss Sutherland & The Boy Who Spoke Clouds LIVE @ Buoy Gallery this Thursday 6/2

Completing the trilogy of Cerberus Shoal "Where Are They Now" blog posts- I'd like to point you to Chriss Sutherland's show at Buoy in Kittery tomorrow night. I've waxed poetic about Chriss Sutherland in this blog before- besides being the co-founder of Cerberus Shoal, he is also one of the driving forces behind Fire on Fire (just named by the Phoenix as the best band in Maine), and the creator of two amazing solo albums. Best of all, his shows are always full of surprises as he picks liberally from his solo career, FF tunes, and an assortment of great cover songs (I Shall Be Released, The Circle Will be Unbroken, Big Blood's Oh Country, Darlin' Cory). Alicia is convinced that he transports himself to some transcendental plane when he sings. I agree.

He will also be joined by his mate from Australia- The Boy Who Spoke Clouds. He's touring behind his debut solo release- apparently it was recorded on a camcorder microphone to a cheap sound card, but I would never have guessed it as he manages to create a dense, dreamlike atmosphere with his songs- filled with ominous hand clapping and restrained intensity that crashes forward like waves in the moonlight.

Check it out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dilly Dilly's MJ Tribute

following the big blood post, i would like to point you in the direction of another cerberus shoal alum- erin "dilly dilly" davidson. i already told you about her excellent debut solo LP, available for free at but i also wanted to show you a video of her michael jackson tribute- a cover of 'the man in the mirror'

in other michael jackson news, i have it on good authority that samuel james will be playing a cover of "billie jean" at Blue on thursday. I'll be there, you should come, too.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The "Complete" Big Blood Discography

Big Blood falls for a thousand years....

in the spring of 2005 i woke up from a mid-afternoon nap. i was living in chicago and my truest lover - alicia - was visiting me for the first time. she was in the corner of the room, in white pajamas, painting with water colors. a song was playing. there were children laughing, and the percussion of typewriter taps, and an ethereal voice floating through it all. i felt caught between this world and a strange and beautiful (but somewhat scary) netherworld. writing poetry on fingernails will never pass the time away.

the song was called THE DING. the band was CERBERUS SHOAL.

alicia had heard them on wfmu, but beyond that they were a mystery. it wasn't until 2 years later, when i was about to move to Maine, did i look over the liner notes of THE VIM AND VIGOR OF ALVARIUS B & CERBERUS SHOAL and discover that this enigmatic group was from south portland- and they had an email address.

i emailed co-founder chriss sutherland, told him how much i loved CERBERUS SHOAL (I had since tracked down a few more equally mindblowing albums from their extensive catalog), and was hoping to see them live when i got to portland. however, when chriss emailed me back i was disappointed to read that cerberus shoal had gone to 'sleep', but would be emerging in a new incarnation as FIRE ON FIRE.

nonetheless, the first thing i did when i got to portland was go to all our fine record stores and ask if they had any cerberus shoal albums. i finally ended up at time-lag records- they didn't have any cs records, but they pointed me to some beautifully packaged albums by a band called BIG BLOOD- a side project by Colleen Kinsella and Caleb Mulkerin, formerly of cs (+ their alter egos asian mae and rose philistine).

i bought it for the very reasonable price of $5 and jumped into my car to give it a listen. i was hooked from the beginning.

i could go on and on about the power of big blood's music- how it manages to be gloriously joyous while staring unflinchingly into darkness- but my words could never sum up its majesty. fortunately, caleb and colleen have been so kind to put their "complete" discography online (for free!). they are also amazingly prolific (9 albums in less than 3 years), so it might be hard to know where to start. I definitely suggest listening to the albums all the way through, but if you want a quick shot of big blood directly into the veins, let me recommend the following tracks:

1. the grove is hotter than an ocean's oven
2. so old again
3. she said nothing
4. she sells sanctuary
5. oh country

you can download the albums here.

i put "complete" in parentheses, because i am sure big blood has about four albums worth of unreleased material just sitting around. in fact, they just released a song called 'sick with information' on a fantastic new compilation called LEAVES OF LIFE, that you can purchase on iTunes (it also benefits a good cause). there are also great tracks by local heroes micah blue smaldone, cursillistas, arborea, and denise dill. there are also tracks by national acts like alela diane, larkin grimm, and devendra banhart. check it out!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper LIVE @ One Longfellow Square 6/25

Aly Spaltro played her first solo show as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper since parting ways with TJ Metcalfe on Thursday at One Longfellow Square.

Although Aly admitted to feeling lonely up on stage, she crafted a spellbinding performance that simultaneously dug deep into the past while pointing towards the future.

Highlights of the show included a mash up of two of her oldest songs "Lady Lamb" and "Spine in my Back", achieved through the use of a looping machine and cathartic drumming. She also played the Handsome Animals highlight Mane on its Lion- a song that she introduced as being perfect for a kindergartener to play tambourine on, but she had second thoughts when she came to the line "the run with its sweat, teens with their sex, the ocean with its wet".

The most startling revelation from the night was when she played a slow-downed version of The Nothing (the rap usually sandwiched into the middle of the marching band stomp of Penny Licks) on banjo. I cried.

She closed the show with a new song called Guatemala, again she had to make up for the absence of a bandmate by stretching herself across the stage from looping pedal, to korg, to drum kit.

Aly Spaltro's a one-women army now. She will open up and swallow you whole. But it will feel so nice upon your soul.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

one, two, three, four....

You have to do yourself a favor tomorrow and walk into a world of beauty. This summer has started with rain clouds and band break ups- but the sunshine is now waiting for your embrace.

The divine Ms. Aly Spaltro returns to One Longfellow Square on Thursday as the mystical Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. She has embarked on a solo adventure and wonder awaits all those graced by her visions. Expect looping stations, songs from "For Handsome Animals" that have never been played live (mane on its lion, perhaps?), and pulled heart strings that play a beautiful melody.

Then get prepared to take off your pants as Feel It Robot closes out the night.

It's time to sing in summer.

Take a bittersweet, beautiful look back at the past- courtesy of our friends from [dog] and [pony]:

Now embrace the future!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

dilly dilly's new album available for download!

The Cerberus Siren, Erin Davidson aka dilly dilly has released her much anticipated debut solo LP - Of Art and Intention. She is giving it away for free at, but make sure to donate a few bucks so she can work on bringing it out of the internet world and into this land of flesh and blood.

Alicia and I played A loss Alone on the Red Telephone today- one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time, and a fitting- if melancholy- song for Father's Day.

Seriously, get this album immediately. I guarantee you'll be singing Alien Dance Queen for the rest of the summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Maine Man in Chicago

So, Alicia and I went to visit friends and family in Chicago over the weekend. Unfortunately, I lost my camera on the plane and Alicia's camera battery died after she took her first picture- so I have nothing to illustrate this blog post.

Anyway, by coincidence, we happened to visit the Windy City on the same weekend as the Chicago Blues Festival, the largest free blues festival in the world. Samuel James, Portland bluesman extraordinare and Tower of Song alumni, also happened to be playing a set at the prestigious event on Saturday afternoon. So, with friends in tow (and a bottle of wine in our bag), we headed down to Grant Park to see one of our favorite musicians do his thing.

Even though I've seen Sam James perform live close to a dozen times, he never fails to do something to blow my mind (whether he plays a hambone cover of the Ramones' "The KKK Took My Baby Away", explains the origins of One-Eyed Katie, or reveals his love of Steven Seagal)- this time was certainly no exception. Sam James played a set that combined his great originals (Wooooo Rosa, Babydoll), masterful performances of legendary Blues standards (Son House's Death Letter), inventive covers (Leonard Cohen's Tonight Will Be Fine), with his humorous stage banter and a slow strip tease as the day grew hotter.

However, he saved his best, most mind-blowing feat for last with his final song- a cover of John Lee Hooker's Hobo Blues- that involved him playing his guitar practically as if it was a Yo-Yo, dropping it to his lap, then spinning it around, playing the resonator frame with his pick-adorned fingers, and dancing his slide up and down the frets. It truly had to be seen to be believed, but it was one of the most virtuoso (and fun!) guitar performances I've ever seen.

It's great to see incredible Maine musicians spreading their gospel outside our Northern State, and I hope to see more of our gifted citizens out on the road (just as long as they promise to come back).

Check out more of Sam James' music here. He also plays most Thursday nights at Blue.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three Shows Worth Your Time

Alicia and I are heading to Chicago on Thursday, and although we are looking forward to the trip, we will be bummed to miss 3 great shows taking place this weekend.

Tomorrow, Eternal Otter Records' own Johnny Fountain will be opening for This Way at the Empire Dine & Dance. He will be performing solo and will probably pull out some unexpected tunes.

On Friday, head over to SPACE for Tryst Haunt II- sure to be one of the best psychedelic experiences of the summer. Cursillistas will be releasing a limited edition vinyl version of their debut LP (their leader Matt is the force behind l'animaux tryst- who has been chronicling our local music scene on 7" vinyl singles for a few years now). Cursillistas will also be joined by Ian Paige's White Light- one of Tower of Song's first performers. Our friends from the Pine Haven Collective will be constructing their legendary "Shack" inside SPACE, so you can properly chillout and tune in.

You might as well just bring a sleeping bag and pitch tent in the Shack, because there is another great show at SPACE the following night. Bird in the Rafters will be releasing their debut record, Jet Lag, from peapod recordings. They will be joined by Winterpill and local favorites Seymour and Computer at Sea (who just took home an award for Best Electronic Act from the Portland Phoenix's Best Music Poll).

More information about the upcoming SPACE shows here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

News from Eternal Otter Records

It's been awhile since I rapped at ya- but that doesn't mean nothing has been happening down here at the Otters' Den.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper played an absolutely killer opening set at SPACE on May 30th. They have a number of shows coming up in late June, and I'm hoping to release some new recording from them by early Fall.

Johnny Fountain is also busy with shows this summer, including an opening set for Model Airplanes tonight at the Big Easy. He is also working on a new project with Anna's Ghost drummer, Ian Riley. Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more details about that soon.

Speaking of Anna's Ghost, their self-titled LP will be released on August 7th in both artfully-packaged physical form and via iTunes. They will be playing an Album Release show that night at the Empire. More information to come!

The Panda Bandits, who had their live debut at the Johnny Cash Night in February, are also planning a summer show (or two!). We also intend to invite Blaque Boose back up to Portland, after their great (but sorely under attended) show at the Sylvia Kania Gallery for the Tower of Song Fundraiser.

Tower of Song took a break in June, but will be back in July. We are planning what we hope will turn out to be a very special night of music- so we hope you wander down to Congress Square on the First Friday of July.

In the meantime, you can get your Tower of Song fix over at [dog] and [pony]- who have just debuted Episode 1 of their Tower of Song series from our May Festival. Check it out Here.

That's all for now.

Stay classy, Portland.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Portland Phoenix Best Music Poll Awards Show

Alicia, Johnny, and I were honored to be invited as guest presenters for the Portland Phoenix's Best Music Poll Awards Show at the Asylum on Wednesday, June 3rd.

Introduced as the creative force behind Tower of Song, we got to announce the nominees for Best Pop-Rock Act. We were also ecstatic to announce personal faves, Dominic & The Lucid, as the winner of the category. Dominic has been a great friend to Tower of Song, playing our December '08 show- a performance that significantly raised the profile of our little live music experiment. He also performed at our first Tower of Song fundraiser at Slainte. We love Dominic & the Lucid's Season of the Sun album from last year and look forward to future releases. They are truly deserving of their win.

Listen to Dominic & The Lucid here.

We would also like to extend particular congratulations to Computer at Sea for Best Electronic Act and Fire on Fire for Best Indie Act. We didn't agree with all the results, but we would like to thank the Phoenix for putting on a fun show that did a great job of bringing the music community together.

After the show, we also skipped on down to SPACE and saw an absolutely amazing (but way too short) set by Dilly Dilly. After blowing our minds with her mastery of ukulele, banjo, guitar, loop pedals, voice, and awesomeness, Dilly Dilly announced that she will be releasing her new album ...of art and intention on June 21st for free online. Be sure to check it out- it is awesome!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Great Show Tonight!

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and Phantom Buffalo- two of my favorite bands on this planet- are the opening acts at the Isobell CD release show taking place at SPACE tonight. Check it out. Tickets are $7.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


The Tower of Song Festival was Great! I've just spent the last few days basking in the glow of amazing music and a super fun day in Congress Square. These pictures should act as testament to the wonderful vibes of the day:

Thank you to all the bands and everybody who made this possible!

Going to see Leonard Cohen live in Boston tomorrow!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tower of Song Festival Tomorrow!

The Tower of Song Art & Music Festival takes place tomorrow starting at noon and ending at 8 pm. Everything you need to know about it can be found here.

Also check out great interviews and photos with the Festival musicians over at Hilly Town. And stop by the Sylvia Kania Gallery after the Festival for their Naked Gallery Art Party.

Get ready for the big show by heading over to the Empire tonight for the cd release of Dead Man's Clothes second album, Apsis. The Festival's Johnny Fountain & The Manes and Anna's Ghost will be opening.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Live on the Red Telephone #10: Over A Cardboard Sea

Over A Cardboard Sea performed Live on the Red Telephone last Sunday. Take a listen to a track from the show here, and be prepared to be transported back in time. Over A Cardboard Sea will be playing at the Tower of Song Festival in their full 9-member incarnation. They will also be selling copies of their new EP at the information table in Congress Square, and will be giving away mix CDs of their favorite vaudeville tunes! Be sure to come check that out on Saturday, May 23rd!

Tower of Song Fundraiser at Sylvia Kania Gallery Recap

Although the miserable weather last Saturday kept the crowds away from our final Tower of Song Fundraiser, it still turned out to be a great night of music. The Sylvia Kania Gallery was nice enough to host the event for us, and they will also be helping us with the Festival on the 23rd. Be sure to check out their Naked Gallery Event following the conclusion of Spencer & The School Spirit Mafia's headlining set Saturday night. That event starts around 8 pm, and provides the chance for you to paint on their bare gallery walls while DJs spin music to keep the creative vibes flowing. The Sylvia Kania Gallery is located at 148 High St.

The fundraiser kicked off with a great set by Jesse Pilgrim, who will also be appearing at the Festival. He played almost all the songs from his great EP, Pecos Bill is Dead, as well as a few new tunes and a cover of an Okkervil River song.

Next up was Blaque Boose from the Portsmouth, NH area- their set was a true revelation, starting off with a cover of a song from the cult classic "The Wicker Man" (go out and rent it today- but DO NOT get the Nic Cage remake!). The band is usually a 10-piece, but tonight they were "stripped down" to only 5 members. The music was still absolutely spellbinding, and I look forward to seeing them play again soon (possibly at Tower of Song).

The night closed out with Johnny Fountain and his tightly constructed songs and rambling storytelling.

If you weren't able to make it to the show, but still want to support the Festival, you can donate to Tower of Song here.

Jesse Pilgrim

Blaque Boose

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Over A Cardboard Sea Live on the Red Telephone Today!

Over A Cardboard Sea- Portland's favorite vaudeville revivalists- will be performing live on the Red Telephone this morning. The show starts at 10 am with a selection of pre-1950s songs. Over A Cardboard will start playing at 11 am. Tune in here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tower of Song Fundraiser Tonight!

Our final Tower of Song Fundraiser before the big festival takes place tonight. Jesse Pilgrim, Blaque Boose, Gabrielle Raymond (Anna's Ghost), and Johnny Fountain will all be playing down at the Sylvia Kania Gallery starting at 7 pm. The Gallery is located at 148 High Street. $5 Suggested Donation. Tower of Song T-shirts on sale! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Johnny Fountain & The Manes @ Empire Dine & Dance Tonight

Johnny Fountain & The Manes will be playing the downstairs of the Empire tonight. Check it out around 9 pm and then head upstairs for Clash of the Titans! It's Bowie vs. Bowie tonight with Ziggy Stardust facing off against the Thin White Duke. Sure to be a great night of music.

Also, I have to say that last week's Clash featuring Flight of the Conchords vs. Ween was awesome. It starred two Tower of Song alumni- Billy Libby (Seymour) played the Conchord's Jerome, while Mat Zaro pulled double-duty as both Dean AND Gene Ween. They were so well matched that the contest ended in a draw, and the whole crowd left happy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tower of Song on WMPG Today

Will & Johnny will be interviewed about the Tower of Song Festival today at 4 pm on WMPG's Liberation by Sound. Listen here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tower of Song - May 1st

The crowds were out in force for the First Friday of May. The weather was beautiful and it was a great day for Tower of Song. Check out this video of performances by Johnny Fountain & the Manes, Seymour, Dilly Dilly & Sontiago, and the Pondtrotters. And remember, the all-day Tower of Song Festival goes down Saturday, May 23rd. The outdoor event is free, but you can purchase exclusive tickets to the Tower performance space here.

Sorry about the weird audio glitches during the transitions... technology has been conspiring against me today...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tower of Song Tonight!

It's First Friday, and that means Tower of Song!

Tower of Song is almost always my favorite day of the month (which makes the rest of the month a long decline- thankfully I'll have the Festival on the 23rd to pick up my spirits).

As always, we have a great line-up tonight including Dilly Dilly & Sontiago- who have been nominated for Best Live Music Act in the Phoenix's Best Music Poll. We will also be joined by the excellent Seymour (featuring Billy Libby and Aren Sprinkle- nominated for best female vocalist), The Pondtrotters- a three-piece folk duo, and the always popular, Mr. Johnny Fountain!

Music and magic will be in the air above Congress Square from 5 - 8 pm.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tower of Song Fundraiser @ Slainte 4.26

Our first fundraiser show for the Tower of Song Festival last Sunday was a success!

We had a great crowd, especially considering Portland often turns into a ghost town on Sunday night. The show opened with Bird in the Rafters and their primal energy. All three of the members took turns at vocals over a bed of controlled mania. They also plugged one of their guitars into a book that had been converted into an amplifier- an invention created by Galen Richmond, who will be appearing as a vendor at the T.o.S. Festival on May 23rd.

Meghan Yates was the next to take the stage, and a hush fell over the crowd as she opened her performance with a mesmerizing song done a capella. Meghan is old friends with Moses Atwoods, Portland's prodigal son of Appalachian Folk who now lives in Asheville, and she sings on his highly recommended debut album. She also is constantly recording new stuff of her own, and I encourage you try to pick up some of her spell-binding work.

Dominic Lavoie was joined by a keyboardist (from the Lucid) and drummer (from the Manes) for another showcase of an incredible voice in an intimate space. He treated the crowd to a wonderful variety of song, including "She's Got A Soul"- a song originally written for the Empire's Valentine's Day Show, a "stoner version" of "Cease to Exist" from the Lucid's most recent album, and an awesome cover of David Bowie's "Oh! You Pretty Things".

The show closed out with Johnny Fountain & The Manes, who always bring the entertainment. Johnny was clearly enjoying himself as he strutted and strummed his way through songs like "88 Olds" and "Thought Machine". The Manes were also more than up to the challenge of some of the new songs added to the set. It was a wonderful night, full of friends, good vibes, and great music. And, hey, we even made a few extra bucks to help with the Festival.

Our second fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, May 16th at the Sylvia Kania Gallery. Line-up TBA.

All Photos courtesy of Hilly Town:

Bird in the Rafters

Meghan Yates

Dominic Lavoie

Johnny Fountain

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tower of Song Fundraiser Tonight @ Slainte

Come down to Slainte tonight for the first Tower of Song fundraiser!

Johnny Fountain & The Manes
Dominic Lavoie
Meghan Yates
Bird in the Rafters

$5 Suggested Donation. Music starts at 8 pm.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Johnny Fountain Live on WMPG

Johnny Fountain will be appearing live on WMPG's "Us Folk" this morning at 10 am! Tune in here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tower of Song Fundraiser & News from Eternal Otter Records

The first Tower of Song fundraiser in support of the May 23rd, Arts & Music Festival is taking place this coming Sunday at Slainte. The show will feature Eternal Otter Records' Johnny Fountain & The Manes, in addition to Dominic Lavoie, Bird in the Rafters, and Meghan Yates. The show starts at 8 pm and there is a $5 suggested donation. More information about the Tower of Song Festival can be found here.

The other bands on the Eternal Otter Records roster have also been keeping busy. Last Saturday, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper played an in-store show at Newbury Comics in South Portland for Record Store Day, an event celebrating independent record stores across the couuntry. Yesterday (420), Anna's Ghost appeared live at Slainte. The mixing for their debut LP has also been finished, and should be released by late Spring/early Summer.

The Otters have also released some old recordings from 2008. I'll be previewing some of those tracks in an upcoming post.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tower of Song Festival Line-Up Announced!!!

The line-up for The Tower of Song Festival taking place on Saturday, May 23rd is official (and spectacular). Click here for pictures and information on each of the performers.

NOON - 12:30: Jesse Pilgrim
12:35 - 1:05: Chriss Sutherland
1:10 - 1:40: Anna's Ghost
2:30 - 3:00: Samuel James
3:05 - 3:35: Over A Cardboard Sea
3:40 - 4:10: Dilly Dilly & Sontiago
5:00 - 5:55: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
6:00 - 6:55: Johnny Fountain & The Manes
7:00 - 8:00: Spencer & The School Spirit Mafia

The Portland Phoenix has also posted their nominations for their Best Music Poll. Several performers taking part in the Tower of Song Festival have been nominated, including Chriss Sutherland (Best Folk Act), Samuel James (Best Blues Act), Dilly Dilly (Best Female Vocalist, Best Live Act with Sontiago), Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (Best Female Vocalist, Best Indie Act, Best New Act), Spencer & The School Spirit Mafia (Best Male Vocalist, Best New Act). Also vote for these past Tower of Song performers: Dead End Armory (Best Album, Best Rock Act), Big Blood (Best Category-Defying Act), Dominic & The Lucid (Best Local Act, Best Male Vocalist, Best Pop-Rock Act), Phantom Buffalo (Best Local Act, Best Pop-Rock Act).

Go Here to Vote For Your Favorites.

More information on the Tower of Song Festival can be found here (including information on how to apply to be a vendor for the Arts Fair in Congress Square).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Port City Music Hall 4.15 - Portland Phoenix Best of '09

The Port City Music Hall hosted a sold out show on Wednesday, honoring the winners of the Portland Phoenix Best of '09 Readers' Poll. The night also featured some great live music, with Eternal Otter Records' own Lady Lamb the Beekeeper kicking off the night. It was great to watch them rock out in front of a huge audience, and I especially loved their electrified version of "Antique Shop". They ended the set with their new epic "You're Turning Violet, Violet Clementine" - you can watch some of that footage below (dig the smoke machine):

As for the awards portion of the night, Tower of Song was nominated for "Best Public Event", and we were announced as the category winner. However, this turned to out to be a mix up- we had, in fact, won an Editors' Choice Award for "Best Tribute to Leonard Cohen". Although we were a little disappointed at first, we're ultimately thankful for the very nice write-up, which you can read here.

The event ended with Spencer & The School Spirit Mafia, a color-coordinate ten person band, taking the stage with a cover of "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". They then sang, trumpeted, and jammed through a number of awesome songs that will apparently be released on an upcoming debut album. It was a great performance! And one more thing... they'll be headlining The Tower of Song Festival on May 23rd! The full line-up will be announced very soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tower of Song Festival Approved for Saturday, May 23rd!

Last Monday, Portland's City Council voted unanimously to approve the Tower of Song Festival! The event will take place on Saturday, May 23rd, of Memorial Day Weekend. The festival is in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Tower of Song Project, and will feature live music from noon to 8 pm. Nine bands are scheduled to perform, and we will be releasing the full line-up by the end of the week- it's going to be an amazing day of music.

The Tower of Song Festival will also play host to an Arts Fair in Congress Square, directly across from the Tower. As live music hovers and glides over the city, local artists and vendors will be selling their art, jewelery, clothing, records, and magical inventions. The event is completely free, so mosey on down to Congress Square on the 23rd for great music and awesome art.

We are currently accepting vendor applications for the Arts Fair. If you would like to participate, the forms can be downloaded at this general information page. The deadline for submission is Friday, May 1st.

Also, the Tower of Song Festival is a completely independent enterprise, receiving no business sponsorship, and started out of a love for music and Portland. However, putting on this festival isn't cheap, so if you would like to help contribute to this event, please consider donating here. If you don't have the cash to donate, but still want to help out, please email about our volunteer opportunities.

Long Live Tower of Song!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Live on the Red Telephone #9: Adriana Stimola

I first time I met Adriana Stimola was in Boston, through our mutual friend Ms. Phoebe Flower Gelfand. Adriana is a women of limitless charm, and I have fond memories of her playing the guitar on the roof of the apartment she shared with Phoebe. It had been a few years since I'd last seen her, so Alicia and I were thrilled when Adriana accepted our invitation to come up to Portland for a "whirlwind tour" of The Tower of Song and The Red Telephone.

We had a magnificent time gallivanting around Portland & Portsmouth with Adriana and her boyfriend, Ryan, and her performance on the Red Telephone was the perfect conclusion to a wonderful weekend. You can check out a sample song from the show here. Also, next time you are in Cambridge, be on the look out for Adriana- her music and personality is a pleasure to know.

More pictures from The Red Telephone here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tower of Song 4.3.09

Last Friday Tower of Song played host to its largest line-up of musicians yet. First, Johnny Fountain and Adriana Stimola (visiting from Cambridge, Mass) traded songs back and forth as the rain cascaded down the window panes. The few souls who chose to brave the elements were treated to the beautiful reverberations of this music as it rolled down the street to Monument Square.

Although the downpour kept many people off the streets, those who made it inside the comfort of the Tower were treated to an amazing performance by Big Blood that included the addition of a Bow Chime and Brendan of Visitations. Check out this video of their new song "Well Water" - an appropriate choice for a rainy day.

Christian Cuff also stopped by to treat us to a few songs before Lady Lamb the Beekeeper took the stage to close out the show. Continuing their streak of surprises, Lady Lamb's setlist included a mix of old favorites, unreleased tunes, and brand new songs. I'm really, really looking forward to their upcoming show at the Port City Music Hall.

Check out more pictures from Tower of Song here.

Johnny Fountain & Panda Bandits reviewed in The Noise

The Noise, a music journal based in Boston that occasionally branches out into other parts of New England, recently published a nice review of Johnny Fountain and the Panda Bandits regarding their performances at the Johnny Cash Night at SPACE. You can read the full review here (it's about halfway down the page) or just cut to the good stuff by reading the excerpt below:

"The first act of the evening is Johnny Fountain, who stands center stage with his acoustic-electric guitar and is flanked by a drummer and a stand-up bassist. They perform “A Boy Named Sue,” and I’m impressed. Not only does Fountain move his whole body as he gets into the rhythm of the song, but his voice is crisp and deep. The entire audience is engaged and singing along. Johnny keeps with the momentum of the tune pretty closely, but chooses to disrupt the exactness as he belts out the last line—instead of saying that he’ll name his son anything but Sue, he says “I’ll name him Sue, I don’t care.” This tears a rip in my heart and I long to hear the original lyrics. However, Fountain does do an outstanding job throughout the rest of the song so I am not too upset with him.

The second band worth reviewing here tonight is the Panda Bandits, who ironically are the second band to hit the stage. This nine-piece band is insanely energetic. They’ve got two hand drums on stage left, a tambourine and a bass on stage right, an acoustic electric guitar in the back of the stage, and then the lead singer at center stage. Their cover of “Drums” is a cultural experience in itself. They fill the room with the pounding of drums, the stomping of feet, and backup vocals from the whole band. The lead singer gets so into the lyrics that his face mirrors desperation and his body is like a fish gasping for water. I mean this in a great way—Cash’s lyrics are heart achingly troubled. The singer tells us they were an “imaginary” band until tonight. I vote for them to remain a “real” band."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Adriana Stimola Live on the Red Telephone Today

Tune in to the Red Telephone on 106.1 fm Portsmouth Community Radio this morning at 11 am to hear Adriana Stimola play live in our studios! Adriana is a singer-songwriter from Cambridge, Mass with a beautiful voice, a wonderful guitar, and magical words.

Before Adriana plays, Alicia and I will be spinning songs about Adventure on the High Seas from 10 am to 11 am.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tower of Song Tonight!

It's my favorite time of month- Portland's First Friday Art Walk & The Tower of Song! Even though the rain is miserable right now, I think we having an amazing show in store for this evening.

First of all, we'll have Big Blood! Caleb and Collen, the heart & soul of BB, have already welcomed us into Spring with their great show at the Meg Perry Center. Not only did that performance include a number of new transcendental songs, but also a cover of Missy Elliot's "Pussy Don't Fail Me Now" (sung by Caleb, of course). I've also been informed that they will bring a new version of Already Gone, the self-released CD-R they debuted at MPC, to Tower of Song (and it might even be a double album). So, it's a lot to look forward to- I'm pretty sure that Colleen's voice alone will be able to beat back these rain clouds.

I'm also jazzed to see what Lady Lamb the Beekeeper will do at Tower of Song considering how full of surprises their show at Slainte was on Tuesday. Not only did they debut an amazing new song, but they also played "Antique Shop" (from Samples for Handsome Animals) live for the first time, and performed "Until I am Bones" on autoharp. I'm still hoping that Aly will pull out her new singing saw at Tower of Song, but we'll have to wait and see.

Johnny Fountain has also been keeping busy, and on Wednesday he treated the patrons of Dogfish Grille to some new songs he's been working on. And frankly, I'm just excited to see my friend (and one of this month's featured musician) Adriana Stimola, who I haven't hung out with in over two years.

So, like I said, it's going to be a great night. I hope you'll wander down to Congress Square and listen to our songs of love. Music begins at 5 pm and ends at 8.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stuff to do today....

Don't forget to tune in to the Tower of Song interview today at 4 pm on WMPG's Liberation of Sound.

At 7 pm, roll down the Sylvia Kania Gallery for a "Creative Economy Mixer".

Then at 9 pm, you can head over to Slainte to see Lady Lamb the Beekeeper play live with Jesse Pilgrim (hopefully, he has a few copies left of his awesome Pecos Bill is Dead EP).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big Blood falls for a thousand years....

A must see show is taking place at the Meg Perry Center tonight featuring Big Blood, Uke of Spaces Corners, and Attar Cups. Big Blood is the phantom four-piece comprised of Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella (also of Fire on Fire) and their alter egos Rose Philistine and Asian Mae. Their music belongs to an alternate history of hypnotic Americana, and is truly deserving of the ultimate one-word critical analysis: "Timeless"

They recently played a few songs for 106.1 fm Portsmouth Community Radio, one of which you can listen to hear. Go. Listen. Now.

Now imagine that incredible music filling up the streets of Portland as we finally shed our winter scales and welcome the warmth of Spring. You won't have to imagine for long, because Big Blood is Tower of Song's next guest performer. As always, Tower of Song takes place over Congress Square during the first Friday of the month (in this case, April 3rd) from 5 to 8 pm. This month we will also be joined by Adriana Stimola (our first out-of-state performer!) and usual suspects Johnny Fountain and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper.

In other exciting Tower of Song news, Johnny, Alicia, and I will be appearing on WMPG for an interview about the project. The show is Liberation by Sound and we'll go on at 4 pm this coming Tuesday, March 31st. We'll also be playing a few songs by Tower of Song performers, past/present/future. So, stay tuned for that. Hopefully, we'll have even more big news concerning Tower of Song after April 6th, when the Portland City Council convenes to vote on a matter of great importance...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anna's Ghost @ Empire Dine & Dance 3.24.09

Eternal Otter Records is happy to announce the newest band to join its roster- Anna's Ghost. Founded by Gabrielle Raymond and Ian Riley in the twilight months of 2006, the duo released a self-titled EP of chain-rattling, storm-churning folk that the Portland Phoenix named one of the best EP's of 2007.

However, that was only the beginning for Anna's Ghost, as they now stalk this realm as a doom cabaret four-piece. On Tuesday, they brought the haunting sounds of revolution to the Empire. Ian led their forward march as if he was the military drummer for an undead army. Jake Pike soldiered beside him on bass. Chris Moulton, famed of the Cambiata, let loose on his guitar like it was a gatling gun. At the heart of this maelstrom stood Gabrielle's bellowing lungs and plaintive melodies.

Taking a step back from my more visceral similes, Anna's Ghost walks in the same tradition as those dark masters of the 80s that managed to find common ground between fear and pop- Joy Division, The Cure, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. However, the sound has been refined and made more organic by drawing on the influences of Neutral Milk Hotel and the wave of fractured indie-folk that followed in the wake of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Whereas Joy Division's gloom seemed to come from the Industrial despair of a city choking on its own dying factories, the sound of Anna's Ghost appears rooted in Maine's ever lurking wilderness, buried beneath a catacomb of ice. Perhaps for that reason, their songs also offer a greater sense of redemption. I have more faith in Spring than an economic stimulus package any day.

Anyway, you'll soon have an opportunity to hear Anna's Ghost for yourself as Eternal Otter Record's will be releasing their first full-length sometime this Spring. It's going to be great. I should know, I've been listening to it non-stop for the last 3 days.

In the meantime, you can still order a copy of their EP here.

"I walk the hills until they bleed into the sky/ and the trees are monster shadows in my mind/ My legs grow weary from never getting tired/ the cold is here, it's creeping in our eyes."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Live on the Red Telephone #8: Chriss Sutherland

I took in a trilogy of Chriss Sutherland performances last weekend- first at his CD release show for Worried Love at SPACE, then at Buoy- Kittery's cool new DIY (+BYOB) venue, and finally at the 106.1 fm Portsmouth Community Radio studio for a live performance on my show, The Red Telephone. The song selection changed considerably from each night, from his guest-heavy performance at SPACE, featuring his band mates from Fire on Fire and flamenco dancers to the stripped down affair that took place at Buoy.

For the Red Telephone show, Chriss played a number of songs from his first solo album, Me in a "field", as well as great covers by two legendary songwriters (one global, one local)- first Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" and then Big Blood's "Pretenders" aka "Oh County (Skin & Bones)". He also played one of my favorite songs from Worried Love, "My Mind Blues III", which you can listen to here.

Chriss continues his east coast tour through early April. We wish him well and look forward to his return to Maine!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chriss Sutherland CD release show

Chriss Sutherland has his CD release party at SPACE tonight for his brilliant new album, Worried Love. His debut solo album, Me in a "field", was one of my favorite releases from last year. This new set of songs moves away from his more straight-forward folk to embrace a more sprawling brand of idiosyncratic rock, and finds room to continue to explore his love of spanish words and music.

Chriss is also one of the founding member of the legendary Cerberus Shoal, who later rose from the ashes as Fire on Fire. I first heard Cerberus Shoal's epic "Ding" before I even moved to Maine via Alicia via New Jersey's WFMU. The sound was absolutely otherworldly, and it wasn't until I was packing up to move to Portland that I checked the liner notes and realized the band was from Maine. Of course, by that point they had already mutated into Fire on Fire- who released last year's best album, The Orchard.

So, Chriss is largely responsible for some of the greatest music I have ever heard, and you shouldn't miss this CD release show. But, if you do, I'm extremely happy to announce that you can catch him live on The Red Telephone. This show, hosted by Alicia and me, is from 10 am to noon this Sunday on Portsmouth Community Radio 106.1 fm. Chriss will go on at 11. You can listen live here.

Portland's excellent Peapod Recordings is responsible for releasing Worried Love.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Handsome Animals - Lady Lamb the Beekeeper Live @ SPACE 3.13

After taking a little break from playing live (with the exception of Tower of Song and a few guest appearances), Aly + TJ of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper returned on Friday the 13th for what might have been their best show to date. It was a good crowd at SPACE gallery, and Montreal-based band Shapes & Sizes got us sufficiently warmed up for the face melting, heart tugging music to come. The already climatic drumbeat stomp of former show closer "Penny Licks" provided the groundwork for a re-imagining of "The Nothing" - a deep cut from the self-released debut, The Tingly Circus. They then somehow managed to top themselves with a new song named for their miniature deer- "You're Turning Violet Clementine". It ended in sort of a gender-reversed White Stripes rock out with TJ pounding away at the drums while Aly shredded on the banjo.

This is the best band in Portland, and one of the best currently walking the earth. And don't take my word for it. Check out this post at the Pine Haven Collective. Or see Aly + TJ take the stage at the Port City Music Hall for the Portland Phoenix Best of 2009 Award Show on April 15th.

And, if you haven't already, head over to iTunes and get their album "Samples for Handsome Animals".