As we get ready to send 2018 packing, I look back at a year that was, in many ways, acutely challenging but also immensely satisfying, at least when it came to local music. So to close out the year on a fun and positive note, I reached out to our wondrous local music community and asked artists to share what’s in store for 2019. The responses were fantastic – so fantastic, in fact, that I can’t mention them all. But know this: We are incredibly lucky to live in a state where you can hear live, local music seven nights a week and where there’s so many extraordinarily talented musicians. Some have been at it for years, even decades, and some are just spreading their wings. Mad respect for all of them from where I sit.
So what’s cooking for 2019? I’m going to offer up longer updates on two acts and then serve up some quick hits from the responses I received. I’ll start with Dead Gowns. They’re the indie-folk trio of guitarist and vocalist Geneviève Beaudoin, bassist Luke Kallock and drummer Ivan Drangus. They’ve only been at it for a year (if that), but they sure are onto something with the five-song EP “New Spine,” released this summer. They’ve got sort of a dreamy alt-country thing going on that’s anchored by Beaudoin’s full-of-longing vocals.
Take a listen to “Catie”
As for 2019, they’re starting things off on an incredibly interesting note. “Through January and early February, we’ll be working with Space Gallery and director Sean Mewshaw on a production of Sam Shepard’s ‘True West.’ Dead Gowns will perform as a pre-show lounge act, in addition to playing a live score that we’ve composed for the play” explained Beaudoin. She added that they’ll be hiding out in Deer Isle for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to work on compositions. “We’re thinking Tom Waits meets spaghetti Westerns meets a little Lucinda Williams.” Along with that project, the band hopes to perform around the Northeast as much as possible while writing and making demos for a full-length record they hope to record by early 2020.
Now onto another fairly new act that I fell madly in love with over the past year or so. SnugHouse is another fantastic indie-folk act, and the band’s comprised of Nikhil Dasgupta, Alex Millan, Rosie Borden, Laura Pauline and recent addition Sam Kyzivat. SnugHouse released the EP “Like Water” in October with the poignant piano ballad “Glass” and bright, flirtatious “Firefly.” The band’s 2019 game plan includes trying to grow its following in cities around New England and beyond. “The first half of 2019 will be peppered with shows all across the Northeast, so we can eventually start calling cities like Boston, New York and Burlington our homes away from home, if all goes well,” said Dasgupta, adding that SnugHouse is also hoping to put together a two to three week tour this summer. In terms of new material, Dasgupta told me that the band plans to record a more DIY live version of “Like Water,” because the first version didn’t take into consideration how the songs would translate live. “Unsurprisingly, the arrangement we play live turned out to be very different from the ones on the recording, and those versions have earned a special place in our heart and we feel they’re definitely different enough to warrant new recordings.” I say, bring it on! SnugHouse also hopes to get cracking on a full-length album that will include writing contributions from every member of the band.
Now for a lightning round of 2019 previews:
Singer-songwriter Jenny Van West will embark on her first tour of the Pacific Northwest in February and then head to Europe for some dates in July. She’ll also be performing at SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, Texas, and Americanafest in Nashville, Tennessee. Other highlights include releasing her latest album, “Happiness to Burn,” on vinyl, working on new material and working with recent immigrants by offering free guitar classes and helping them find instruments.
Rock musician Rob Duquette will hit the road in 2019 with shows in New Orleans, Boulder and Los Angeles, among other spots, including local shows at Chocolate Church in Bath, Frontier in Brunswick and One Longfellow Square in Portland. He’ll also be teaming up with musician and producer Jonathan Wyman to record a kids album. Duquette told me it will be called “Kind Kids,” and it will feature the songs he plays during his kids program, which teaches kids specific skills on how to be kind.
Drew Wyman shared with me that his rock band Thanks To Gravity has recorded its first new material in a decade. It will be performing at Portland House of Music in April. Thanks To Gravity originally formed at University of New Hampshire and released its debut album in 1991. The band signed with Capitol Records in 1996, and the label released one album. Thanks To Gravity also got to tour with Sinead O’Connor around this same time. (Wow!) These days, they’re the trio of Wyman, Sean Daniels and Andy Happel, and they’ll be heading back into the studio to record about a half dozen additional new songs this winter.
Soul, funk and R&B band The Youngerbloods will be recording its first EP. Drummer Marcus Kaplan told me the band is also planning to throw a 1970s themed adult prom and will also be presenting its fourth annual Soul Revue show. There’s also another show in the works. Kaplan’s Marcusblue Productions has put together an all-star band with members of Rustic Overtones, The Youngerbloods, Stolen Mojo and Fifth Freedom. They’ll be playing a show in 2019 called Color My World, a tribute to the band Chicago that will benefit Preble Street.
Afrobeat, reggae, ska and funk band Zeme Libre is currently working on its third album in as many years. Keys, horns, vocalist and band manager David Butts told me it expects to release it in the spring. “We’re excited to still be writing that we believe is fantabulous music.” He also said the band hopes to play more festivals and higher profile venues, like Aura, where it opened for The English Beat.
Blues act Tumbledown Saints have a show at Portland House of Music on Jan. 18. Singer and harmonica player Todd Regoulinsky also told me that the band will be recording its first EP and hopes to release it in the spring. As for the summer, Tumbledown Saints is hoping to play as many festival gigs as possible with its eyes on Maine Blues Festival and North Atlantic Blues Festival, among others.
Rock duo When Particles Collide (Sasha Alcott and Chris Viner) plans to begin using the Patreon crowdfunding platform to support their music. Alcott explained that members will get access to one exclusive track per month, along with tour video compilations and personal essays about life on the road, among other perks depending on the level of support. They’ll also continue to live the van life on the Unstoppable Tour with over 200 shows planned all over the U.S. and Canada. Fans can also expect some new videos and band merchandise.