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December 26, 2016

Greeting from Maine – my new job, photos, fireworks, food & music.

by Marc Ratner

Greetings all,

As I don’t do new letters / posts / blogs often anymore – I’m so busy it’s hard to find the time to write….and you’re so busy….you don’t have the time to read them anyway – so each edition now contains more than a half a year’s worth of photos from life in Maine.

Not a bad thing.

Less writing – more photos.

Done well – it can be a simple life here in the further reaches of Maine…..for kids it’s much like growing up was back in the 60’s…..and that’s not a bad thing.

As one friend said….”We moved here so my daughter could be a kid longer”.

As you’ll see – much of what we did this year didn’t cost much money and was perfect for family life.

My holiday wish is that it could be this way for all the people – especially the children – in the world.

Let’s start off with the new job.

Still got the old one – managing partner of Mishara Music and that’s not going anywhere – love what I do.

More about Mishara later on.

But when you don’t have any spare time – it makes no sense to go after another job.

One that hardly pays and takes a whole lotta time.

The application process was unlike any I’ve ever had to go through before.

But no one ever accused me of having much sense.

So I ran for elected office.

Our small town on the Midcoast of Maine is run by a Select Board of five individuals. (Select Board is our name for what other places call City Council – the term which is used in larger cities.)

We have no Mayor – the five individuals are the heads of the government in our town.

My new job:


My new office:



As many of you might remember – I did public service for over 20 years in Los Angeles – working on a mountain search and rescue team.

This is just another version of that.

I don’t rescue individuals or small groups anymore – now I try to rescue everyone in town.

It’s fascinating, intricate, time consuming and impossible – even at this level.

But I love what I do.

The next time we chat – I’ll fill you in.

In other news – Maine had a spectacular summer. The weather was virtually perfect.

We stayed busy.

We went swimming at great swimming holes.

Norton’s Pond:


Barrett’s Cove:


We went camping.

Who needs another photo of a tent?

Not me. (Well – it’s in the backround.)

Here’s what’s important.

Essential camping supplies for the first thing in the morning:


Even more important.

If you’re the nerd detail equipment person like I am – it pays off when you put together a really great cooking situation.

Because then your amazing chef / wife can turn out french toast (with great local sausage and local strawberries and Maine wild blueberries) that’s as good or better than at home (and of course local maple syrup):


Even though we’re camping – I always come home weighing more than when I left.

We went to a wedding – where they bride and groom hired a local oyster farmer to cater appetizers….the freshest and most delicious oysters you’ve ever had (he had harvested them just that morning)….and he brought lots….you could eat as many as you wanted / could….and we did:


One late afternoon we hit one of our favorite lobster pounds for a snack:



Fresh Maine raspberries and strawberries from our local farmers:



Lest you think this is just all about eating…..we did go to the small local county fair.







Ok – more eating – fresh Maine blueberry pie:



I did hit my favorite music convention – the Non-Comm in Philadelphia!


Oh dear – more eating – we went out for cheesesteaks:



But seriously it wasn’t all fun and games and food.

Music obviously is a big part of our lives.

I’ll let you have my secret to great presents for a wife.

I noticed that I never got it right – guys aren’t good at buying gifts for woman (at least I’m not) – until I realized that concert tickets were the way to go.

We end up buying tickets for each other as presents.

I surprised her with tickets to see James Taylor at Fenway Park (Arghhh we got caught in traffic on the way down from Maine and missed his opener Jackson Browne (but it was okay – he and James did “Doctor My Eyes” as an encore – a song that I played a long time ago when I worked in radio):


She surprised me with tickets – to one of our favorites – Jerry Douglas (of Alison Krauss & Union Station fame) touring with the Earls Of Leicester – what a great night – it was like stepping into the past at the Boothbay Opera House:



Then it was time to surprise our son Ethan with tickets to see that Beatle guy at Fenway:


More fireworks:


My turn – the concert of the year for my wife – big points for me.

Adele at Boston Garden:


She says it was her favorite concert ever.

It was truly amazing.

At Mishara Music we’ve been working forever on a new Barnaby Bright album – finally due in 2017.


In the meantime we’ve been doing some unconventional marketing.

Giving songs away.

Our mission is to “build the audience” and everything else will take care of itself.

Our latest approach is a “free sixpack”.

Six of their best songs that you can download

You can listen to a mini playlist of the six tunes on Spotify:

In the USA you can download them for free at Amazon:

Internationally (and alternatively in the USA) you can listen and download the songs on Soundcloud:


The other project we’ve been spending some time on lately is the “Poetry Rocks” album by poet / guitarist Dave Morrison.

Dave Morrison Poetry Rocks - Letter Size

Dave is a published poet (11 books at last counting) and has been featured with a different poem each day for a week run at Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac”.

Here’s his poetry website:


Dave’s also a long time guitarist and after a bunch of people over the years suggested he combine his talents – he did.

It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard. His guitar playing is wonderful, his spoken voice is calm yet engaging but his stories are like no other.

No one….ever….sees the ending that’s coming.

We’ve taken three of the tracks from the album and made them free downloads – “Fly, “Sad Ancestors” and “Best Poem”.


You can listen to Dave’s full album on Spotify:

Download the three singles at Amazon:

Listen and download internationally (and also in the USA) on Soundcloud:

For me – listening to Dave late at night on a long drive in the car is the way to go.


Need more free music discovery? Check out the 7th Mishara Music free sampler on Amazon – 17 songs – 9 different artists – all free!


July 4th was fun in Camden – music on a bandstand in the harbor which led right into the fireworks – yup – more fireworks (does it seem like our lives are all about music, food and fireworks?):



Family life is always fun in Maine….although times are changing….I’ve noticed that our ten year old is starting to notice cars as we walk by….this one caught his eye this summer….oh oh….I don’t think I’m ready for this:



We also discovered a great small shop in Portland that has a backroom pinball setup – always my favorite game and now that joy is moving on to the next generation:



We got some nice hiking in as well.

Here’s Sears Island:



Up and down the hill at Sewall’s organic apple orchard:



As summer turned towards autumn – the 12th annual Camden International Film Festival had it’s best year ever. Here’s the staff that put it together:



The fest has become one of the leading documentary film festivals in the world….and my wife and I have found over the years that the best documentary films we’ve been seeing are better than any of  the commercial films pouring out of Hollywood.

Here’s CIFF’s website – lots to look at:


Here’s a wonderful example of what you can see at the festival.

You cannot believe that this movie was filmed over a bunch of years with absolutely no idea on how it would turn out. It literally will blow your mind….and you’ll walk away with a new respect for documentary films and the people that make them:

Even you have zero interest in mountaineering this will be one of the best movies you’ve ever seen.

Go find it at Netflix or Amazon or somewhere.

You’ll be glad you did.

Speaking of other art forms.

I love books. I love reading.

We have an outstanding town library.

Here’s three of my favorite books I’ve read just recently.


Read one – read them all!


All the sudden it’s getting a bit chilly and the leaves are turning.

Two of my favorite trees in town are at the library:



And on the town common:



As the angle of the sun changes in autumn it makes for some stunning sunsets early in the morning – both of these photographs are shown just as they were taken with no adjustments or coloring. This is what we saw:




Ah Halloween – always a favorite time in town.

Here’s this year’s doormen greeting you if you were to stop by the house:



The Friday after Thanksgiving this year – Livingston Taylor played a wonderful show at the Camden Opera House (love both Taylor brothers in concert – they’re totally different but equally entertaining):



And……then…..boom……it’s cold……just how we like it.

Here’s our coldest morning so far:


But it was toasty by the time I got in the car:



Jack Frost has painted some wonderful designs this year so far:



And as the year closes to an end – happy holidays to all – hope you enjoyed a small tour of a simple but fulfilling life in Maine…..(as always I need to mention that my wife Kim took many of the photos – the one’s you think are the really good ones)…..and know that we’ll be having fun this joyous season because – as always – the Peanuts Band is tuned up and ready to play great tunes through the holidays:


To the new year we go!

All the best,


PS If you want to listen to something different for a change – try this Soundcloud sampler from my friend John Baker’s new classical label – Affetto Records. It features a song from all of the first 8 albums the label has released – a wonderful collection of different styles and all eight tracks can be downloaded for free.


Marc Ratner

Mishara Music








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