It’s as if someone waved a magic wand and put together a fantasy local music show with some of my absolute favorite acts. Glinda, I thought you were still in Munchkinland, but apparently not because, wow. Not only that, said show will donate its proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.
This show truly has something for everyone. Modern string quartet? Check. Experimental/psychedelic awesomeness? Check. Hip-hop by Maine’s king of rap? Check. Eighties-inspired alternative rock? Check. Powerhouse vocals by one of the best singers you’ll ever hear? Check.
Weakened Friends, Spose, Bright Boy, Jeff Beam, Amarantos Quartet, Anna Lombard and others will be taking to the stage at Port City Music Hall Friday for one magical evening of music that you won’t want to miss a single second of.
Ryan Peters, better known as Spose, continues to be a one-man force of rapping nature. His fifth and latest album is “Why Am I So Happy?” home to the explosively fantastic jams “Thanks Obama,” “Alternative Radio,” “Gesundheit” and “Kanye Go.”
Spose is seemingly always working, and he’s also father to four of the cutest kids on the planet. His passion can’t be contained and his raps are so, so fine. Spose did reveal to me after some nudging on Facebook that, at present, he is working on his next album, which will see the light of day before the end of the year. He also divulged that he’s hitting the road in June for a national tour.
It’s all I can do to not form and appoint myself president of the Weakened Friends Fan Club. I just need a laminator for membership cards. The rock trio of singer/guitarist Sonia Sturino, bassist Annie Hoffman and drummer Cam Jones is my favorite thing to come out of Maine since The Holy Donut.
I’m obsessed with all six songs of last year’s “Crushed” EP because this band is tight, intense, raw yet polished, and Sturino’s vocals annihilate. I can’t get enough of songs like the heart-thumping “95,” the blistering “She’s So Cool” and the downright glorious fuzzy two minutes and 44 seconds that is “Stumble.”
Weakened Friends is gearing up for a tour that kicks off with this show and will take them through Austin for SXSW along with stops in Nashville, Chattanooga, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Asbury Park, Manhattan, Providence and Boston. They’ll be back in Maine for a Record Store Day performance at the Scarborough Bull Moose, and they’ll be releasing some new tunes on that very day. Countdown is on!
Here’s “95” by Weakened Friends
Jeff Beam’s “Is Believed to Have Been” was one of local music’s 2015 bright spots. He’s all about experimental pop music and listening to him can feel like you’re riding on a magic carpet through Candyland. “Clairvoyance” will transport you to one of NASA’s recently discovered planets, and “Revival Song” will bring you back to earth by passing through the northern lights and landing on a lily pad, where you’ll likely meet a talking toad who will offer you some jellybeans. But put your space helmet back on for “Cherryfield,” because it’s a nine-minute psychedelic trip, and you’ll love every second. Expect the unexpected when Beam takes the stage, he’s a trip.
Here’s Jeff Beam’s “Clairvoyance”
Sunset Hearts makes my ’80s synth-pop heart so happy. As I write this, their 2014 “Wwwindswept” album is in my ears. Oh, those glorious synths, how I love you so. “I’ll Play It Wrong” is a moody, angsty tune: “I told you everything you wanted to hear/You criticized me again,” sung by Casey McMurry with just the right amount of sorrow and longing. I still remember seeing Sunset Hearts open for The Psychedelic Furs in 2013 and being so struck by their sound that felt both familiar and brand-new.
Take a listen to “I’ll Play it Wrong” by Sunset Hearts
I’ve waxed poetic many times through the years about Anna Lombard, and I’ll continue to do so because her voice is tremendous and gorgeous, as evidenced by her 2013 album “Head Full of Bells” and previous work with Gypsy Tailwind. At the moment, Lombard’s singing with Dave Gutter in their band Armies. For this performance she’ll be backed by Andy Mead and Ryan Curless.
Here’s “All For You” recorded live at Anna Lombard’s “Head Full of Bells” CD release show at Port City Music Hall in 2013.
Bright Boy is Said Anwar Cato King, and although I couldn’t come up with much info on him, I did find a clip of him performing at The Knack Factory in Portland last year. The song had him singing in a kind of falsetto, accompanying himself with a electronic sound-producing gadget that threw out some cool beats. His vocals came down some in the second verse, and the song was all about a girl in jeans who he wanted to “get on my team.” Entirely fun, and I have no doubt Bright Boy will be just that at this show.
Listening to Amarantos Quartet will melt your heart, even if it’s made of granite. Lauren Hastings Genova (violin), Meg McIntyre (violin), Bryan Brash (viola) and Hannah Schroeder (cello) play so beautifully you’ll feel all the things, every last one of them, especially if you close your eyes and open your soul to the experience. And if you want to do it all over again, you can see them in their own show the next night at Mayo Street Arts.
So, there you have it, an unimaginably fantastic lineup of musical acts, all based in Maine and all coming together because they support the work of the ACLU of Maine, whose priorities include criminal justice reform, reproductive freedom, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights, voting rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech and religion and privacy.
8 p.m. Friday. Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland, $10 in advance, $15 day of show, $25 preferred seating, 18-plus. portcitymusichall.com