Even if he wasn’t booked to play the All Roads Music Festival in Belfast, the Maine rapper Spose would still be going. As a fan.
“It’s really the only festival of its kind, where you can see so many Maine musicians in one place,” said Spose, whose real name is Ryan Peters. “I’d go up even if I wasn’t playing, just to see everybody. It’s always a great time.”
Now in its fifth year, the All Roads Music Festival will be held Friday and Saturday at six venues in the midcoast city of Belfast, featuring some 35 performances and more than 125 Maine musicians. The festival kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall with Kenya Hall, Paranoid Social Club, Spose and God.Damn.Chan.
On Saturday, performances start shortly after noon and last until after midnight. They include some well-known Maine bands and solo acts, including The Mallett Brothers Band, Rustic Overtones, The Ballroom Thieves, Covered in Bees, Jacob Augustine and many others. Venues include The Colonial Theatre, Waterfall Arts, American Legion Hall, The First Church in Belfast, The Bazz and Three Tides & Marshall Wharf Brewing.
The festival was started by Joshua Gass and Meg Shorette, who also created a Bangor-based nonprofit group a few years ago called Launchpad to help nurture the state’s creative economy. So as part of that effort, they decided to start a music festival for Maine artists. Other music festivals or summer festivals in Maine have included nationally known acts with local ones thrown in.
But with All Roads, the Maine bands are the headliners.
“We didn’t want to do something with a national headliner. We wanted this to focus on Maine,” said Shorette, who also books bands for the Portland venue Port City Music Hall.
“The music scene is so deep and diverse here, it makes it easy,” to do a festival like All Roads, Gass said.
Belfast, two hours of north of Portland, was selected as the location because it’s a picturesque, vacation destination city with a strong arts community, and members of the Belfast Creative Coalition had reached out to Gass and Shorette about doing a music festival there.
Maine musicians who play the festival say it’s a great chance to see their fellow Maine acts, something they don’t always get to do.
“It’s really nice to see old friends, and also to find new bands to listen to,” said Martin Earley of The Ballroom Thieves. “The first time we saw Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters was at a festival, and we fell in love with them.”
Earley grew up in Winterport, near Bangor, and has seen the state’s music scene change and grow dramatically in the past decade or two. He and his bandmates had been based in Boston for a while, but now all live in Maine. And since Maine has an extensive network of studio and recording professionals, it’s easy to work on new music here. The band has been working on a new album, with horn and harp parts, and much of the recording has been done at Hear Studios in Camden.
Earley said The Ballroom Thieves will play a range of their rock/folk music at All Roads, including some of the pieces they’re working on for a new album.
The genres of bands playing the festival are all over the map, from folk and acoustic music to soul, rap, punk and funk. The festival is a chance to see the wide range of musicians working in Maine, including some you might not have seen before, like the Portland pop punk band Crunchcoat, or rock singer JanaeSound, a St. Louis native who moved to Maine a few years ago. Or maybe you’ve been meaning to check out the “atmospheric folk” sound of Sibylline, a Portland group formerly known as Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters.
Some of the other bands or artists playing include Borderlines, Cadaverette, Katie Matzell, Johnny Cremains, Max Garcia Conover, Sarah Violette, Mouth Washington and John Hughes Radio. For a full list of bands playing and the complete schedule, go to the festival’s website, allroadsmusicfest.org.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, 12:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Various Belfast venues, including The Colonial Theatre, Waterfall Arts, American Legion Hall, The First Church in Belfast, The Bazz and Three Tides & Marshall Wharf Brewing
HOW MUCH: $20 for Friday, $25 for Saturday, $40 for both days, $55 VIP