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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: August 27, 2018

The Ghost of Paul Revere creates a festival of friends

Written by: Ray Routhier

The members of The Ghost of Paul Revere have been touring just about nonstop this year, a year that started with an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show in January.

Being on the road so much, the three Portland-based musicians – and big music fans – don’t always get to see their favorite bands perform. That’s partly why they decided to bring back Ghostland, what started in 2014 as a festival at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick and, this year, is a six-band showcase scheduled for Saturday at Thompson’s Point in Portland. Ghost of Paul Revere will be the headliners, joined on the bill by Shovels & Rope, The Ballroom Thieves, Max Garcia Conover, Sibylline and the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra.

“We wanted the focus to be local music and music we love,” said Griffin Sherry, who plays guitar in The Ghost of Paul Revere. “Most of these bands are friends of ours.”

Here’s “Montreal” from The Ghost of Paul Revere’s latest album “Monarch”:

Shovels & Rope,  a South Carolina folk/Americana duo comprised of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, is the only band on the bill without a strong Maine connection. The members of Ghost met them at Mountain Jam, a music festival in the Catskills in New York state.

Here’s the Shovels & Rope video for “I Know”:

Sherry said he and his bandmates first met The Ballroom Thieves, a rock/folk group currently based in Maine, a few years ago while playing a gig in Biddeford.

Here’s “Only Lonely” by The Ballroom Thieves:

Sibylline is a Portland-based atmospheric folk band, formerly known as Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters. Conover, known for modern folk, is also based in Portland.

The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra is run by Portland musician Kevin Oates, another friend of the band.

Sherry said he and his bandmates are glad to be giving a live gig opportunity to the youngsters in the orchestra, mostly aged 12 to 17. They’ll be sharing the stage with professional musicians and playing before thousands of people.

“It’s not the kind of opportunity I had in middle school, and to us it’s super important that young musicians have that kind of opportunity,” said Sherry, 30. “They get to use their (string) instruments in a way that’s not purely classical, and they get the rush of a live concert.”

The three core members of The Ghost of Paul Revere – Sherry, Sean McCarthy on bass and Max Davis on banjo – all started young too. They grew up together in Hollis and Buxton, went to school together, played in bands with each other and sang in the chorus together.

For Ghostland, the band will be joined by other musicians for their set, on harmonica, cello, piano and fiddle.

In their early 20s, Sherry, McCarthy and Davis began performing around Portland and formed a band. Though none had grown up on bluegrass or old-timey folk, they found that their harmonies and acoustic instruments just carried them in that direction. They call their music “holler folk,” a nod to the “field holler” singing of slaves, field workers and prison chain gangs.

They had been playing around Portland for about five years when, in 2016, Chicago-based booking agent Joshua Knight heard and then signed them. In 2017, they released the album “Monarch,” mastered in Portland by Adam Ayan, a mastering engineer whose Grammy-winning clients include Lady Antebellum, Sarah McLachlan and Reba McEntire.

They closed out 2017 with a couple sold-out shows at Port City Music Hall in Portland, then opened 2018 with an appearance on the TBS late-night show “Conan” hosted by Conan O’Brien. The band had played festivals around the country, but that was their first national TV appearance.

The band flew to Los Angeles and got to the studio around 8 a.m. for sound checks. They hung around to do some video run-throughs and basically waited around until 5:15 p.m., when they were introduced and performed their song. While waiting, they did get to talk to O’Brien. Sherry was impressed when O’Brien said he was familiar with the model of Sherry’s guitar, made by Bourgeois Guitars in Lewiston.

“I had a couple very good conversations with him. He was super polite and really interested in music,” Sherry said about O’Brien.

The band has been touring in the South and West this summer, playing at some major festivals, including the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta, along with Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and David Byrne, and BottleRock in Napa Valley, California, with Bruno Mars and The Killers.

After Ghostland, the band will head out on the road again. In the fall, they’ll perform at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium with Old Crow Medicine Show. They’re scheduled to play the Austin City Limits festival in Texas in October, where Paul McCartney and Metallica are also on the bill.

Right now, though, the band is focused on making Ghostland a success – for them, for fans and for their musical friends.

GHOSTLAND FEATURING THE GHOST OF PAUL REVERE

WHERE: Thompson’s Point, Portland
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday, gates open at 4 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $35 in advance, $40 day of show
INFO: statetheatreportland.com
WHAT ELSE: Other performers include Shovels & Rope, The Ballroom Thieves, Max Garcia Conover, Sibylline, Maine Youth Rock Orchestra.

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