If you’ve listened to the “Rent” soundtrack, then you already know that there’s “no day but today.” But I’m sick of shoveling and freezing, so I’m going to look ahead at groovy musical things and take my mind off of the incessant windshield scraping, lower back pain, vision-blocking snowbanks and all around cranky pants.
I’ll start on Congress Street. One of my favorite little music joints is becoming a medium-sized one. Starting on Sunday, Blue, at 650A Congress St. in Portland, will be closed for three weeks to renovate. It’s doubling in size just in time for the club’s 10-year anniversary.
Meanwhile, back at my desk, a nifty new single from Amy & The Engine arrived. It’s called “Last Forever,” and the official release date is Valentine’s Day. Mainer-turned-Bostonian Amy Allen offers up oh-so-fine vocals, and the song will brighten the darkest, stormiest night, with backing vocals that resonate with retro ’60s sound. The track is just under four minutes of pure sunshine, as Allen and the band prance through the song with unfettered joy and certainly well-crafted musicianship. It’s pop gold, and I love it. Allen’s online headquarters is amyandtheengine.com.
There’s a fairly new Portland act called OHX with a just-released EP called “Places.” You can stream it on ohxmusic.com. I fired off a note to OHX head cheese Andrew Mead to get some intel on the band, as their website and Facebook pages are vague. Mead responded that the band’s lineup is indeed tricky because OHX is more of a “studio project” that he started after The Other Bones broke up. “I worked with a rotating cast of writers and musicians including Caleb Sweet, Eric Schnare, Darren Elder and John Burlock,” said Mead. Expect a show in April, along with another EP. “Places” is an experimental, electronic tempest of sounds. My current favorite song “Blades” features Trent Gay and Renee Coolbrith. I’m a longtime fan of Gay’s, dating back to his days in Stars Look Down. His vocals, along with Coolbriths, make for the kind of song that is one part roller coaster, one part fun house and one part haunted castle. It also has an exercise-inducing urgency to it that makes me want to chase after something … in the dark.
I’ll leave you with five warm and sunny visions to get us through the next few months.
1. Hanging with pals in Portland’s Monument Square for an Alive at Five concert.
2. Road trips to Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor.
3. Catching Cheap Trick with Peter Frampton and/or Weird Al on the Maine State Pier in Portland in June and July, respectively.
4. Packing up a blanket and pic-a-nic basket, Boo Boo, for an outdoor show on the Western Prom – or by a river or library or bandstand in one of the many Maine cities and towns that will offer outdoor concerts this summer.
5. Roaming from stage to stage to see local luminaries at the 2015 Old Port Festival.