The Maine Music Awards Hall of Fame Show on Saturday in Portland will feature performances by honorees Ellis Paul, Don McLean, Dave Mallett and Howie Day.
When Ellis Paul was invited to play a show with some of Maine’s best-known and most successful musicians – including Don McLean, Howie Day and Dave Mallett – he thought it would be a lot of fun.
But then he heard the serious-sounding name of the event, the Maine Music Awards Hall of Fame Show.
“I still can’t get my head around that hall of fame thing. That sounds bigger than something I should be involved with,” said Paul, 49, from his home in Crozet, Virginia, near Charlottesville. “It sounds like a great night, a chance to be reminded that we are from this place with so many gifted musicians.”
Paul, a native of Presque Isle who has a national reputation as a contemporary folk artist, is one of the four honorees at Saturday’s show at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland (formerly the Cumberland County Civic Center).
The other honorees are McLean, Day and Mallett. Both Day and Mallett grew up in Maine, like Paul. McLean, best known for the classic pop song “American Pie,” has lived in Camden for some 20 years.
Also performing at the show will be well-known Maine artists Carol Noonan, Devonsquare and The Mallett Brothers Band, which includes Dave Mallett’s sons.
Despite the show’s name, there is no physical Maine Music Hall of Fame. The show was organized by Wayne Koss, a promoter who used to organize shows under the name “Maine Music Awards” in the 1980s. Koss said he’d like to do a similar show next year, and already has some other “inductees” in mind.
For fans, the show is a unique opportunity to see an array of successful Maine acts representing a wide range of styles.
McLean, 68, has the honor of closing the show, with a 45-minute set. The other three honorees will have sets of 25 to 35 minutes.
McLean burst onto the pop music scene with “American Pie” in 1971. The song uses the death of ’50s rocker Buddy Holly as an entry into exploring all sorts of themes of American life. The song continues to get air play on radio today.
With his soft voice and clear folk style, he also had hits with “Vincent” in 1972, and “Crying” in 1980.
McLean, who tours and records frequently, said he is working on a new album and may play some of his new songs in Portland. He said the new album’s songs revolve around a theme of “gardens as a place of refuge.”
“That was the lure of Maine to me, a place of refuge,” said McLean, who grew up near New York City. “That’s always been central to my character.”
Day, 33, is a Brewer native who had his first album released nationally while in his early 20s. He became a fixture on the indie rock scene and had hits with “She Says” and “Collide” about 10 years ago.
The fourth of the honorees is folk singer-songwriter Dave Mallett, 63. He left Maine in the 1980s for a while, and is probably much better known among musicians than American listening audiences. His songs have been recorded by scores of well-known artists, including Pete Seeger, Alison Krauss, John Denver and Arlo Guthrie. His “Garden Song” is regarded as an American folk classic.
Paul moved to Boston in the 1980s and helped spur a folk revival. He was based in that city for many years, and won 14 Boston Music Awards while recording some 18 albums.
Paul said he’s been trying to get back up to his native Presque Isle more often these days. He was there in May as the commencement speaker at the University of Maine-Presque Isle. He’s recorded children’s albums and is planning a children’s book, and says he’d like to do more school visits and workshops in Maine.
Paul said he feels like his home state has done a lot for him and he would like to give something back. He said that as a youngster he was a track star, and local people would raise money any time he needed help getting to a major track meet. He eventually won a track scholarship to Boston College.
“The place I’m from has been taking care of me all of my life,” Paul said.
Paul said he hopes that his visits might prompt young people to “follow the code in your DNA.”
“If their DNA is telling them to be novelist, or a comedian or painter, I tell them it’s OK to step off the path and follow that,” said Paul.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday ► July 12 ◄
WHERE: Cross Insurance Arena (formerly Cumberland County Civic Center), 45 Spring St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $39 to $69