The Fogcutters’ Big Band Syndrome show is in its fourth year and I am officially declaring it a Portland tradition. The Fogcutters, for the uninitiated, is a Portland-based big band with 13 horn players, a 5-piece rhythm section and the vocals of Megan Jo Wilson and Chas Lester. They’re led by John Maclaine and Brian Graham and the band is all about big band arrangements spanning almost 100 years.
You want funk? Rock? Jazz? Hip-hop? They play all that and more.
The Big Band Syndrome show is what happens when the Fogcutters invite seven local acts into their fold for one dazzling night of music. This year promises an exciting lineup. Each act plays two of their original songs that have been re-arranged big band style. I went to the last two Big Band Syndromes and they were incredible showcases of sheer talent and a celebration of the diversity of our local music scene.
I rang up Brian Graham and asked him to sum up this year’s show.
“I feel that this year the songs are the strongest that they’ve ever been. I feel like all the arrangements and all the songs are really powerful. It’s pretty exciting.”
Lady Essence. Photo courtesy Port City Photography
Joining the Fogcutters for their Big Band Syndrome show will be, clockwise from top, The Ghost of Paul Revere, Sorcha Cribben-Merrill, Eric Bettencourt and Lady Essence. Photo courtesy Port City Photography
Sorcha Cribben-Merrill. Photo courtesy Port City Photography
Frank Hopkins. Photo courtesy Port City Photography
The Ghost of Paul Revere.
Let’s take a look-see at the seven acts and then you can go buy your ticket.
The Ghost of Paul Revere is one of my favorite local acts of the past few years. Their “holler folk” sound is rich with three-part harmonies and they are all about folk, bluegrass and stomp-your-feet Americana.
Lady Essence is a mad-skilled rapper and after listening to several of her songs, it’s clear that the possibilities for her merger with big band music are awesomely endless.
Frank Hopkins is the lead singer from Line of Force and is a member of the Kenya Hall Band. He’s also a behind-the-scenes guy in the local scene as a sound engineer and is part of Eve of the Atom Records and Sweet Dream Recording. Vocally, think Tom Waits, which is a beautiful thing in my book.
Emilia Dahlin is a singer-songwriter with a love for acoustic roots and a voice steeped in vintage jazz. Her songs will make you think … and snap your fingers.
Eric Bettencourt is a Mainer and part-time Austin, Texas resident. He’s a prolific songwriter and excellent guitarist with a uniquely scratchy voice that is hard to tear your ears away from.
Tony McNaboe is a sensational soul singer who spent some time on the West Coast but is back home in Maine. I haven’t seen him perform in years and am extra excited about him being in the lineup.
Sorcha Cribben-Merrill is a singer-writer who fronts Sorcha & The Clearing. Her voice is downright beautiful and smooth and her songs pack a world of punch. She’ll be doing a swing tune and a slowed-down one.
Have yourself a very Foggy Friday, music fans. This is a show you don’t want to hear people talking about the next day because it will torment you for an entire year until the next show rolls around.
The Fogcutters present Big Band Syndrome Volume 4. 8 p.m. Friday. The State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland. statetheatreportland.com. $15 in advance, $20 day of show.