My blog / email writing about life in Maine with family while running an independent music company has become a quarterly event it seems.
Simply because I write about our life and we spend so much time living there’s not much time left for writing.
But hopefully this makes each edition of my tales that much more interesting.
Summer in Maine is a time for being outside.
So I switch from the torture machine at the Y:
To the torture machine I use outside:
The biggest problem with the switch is a simple matter of gravity.
I use clip-in bike shoes and when you stop riding on the bike at the Y….
You just stop. The bike is on a stand. No problem.
My first ride this summer outside – I forgot about gravity.
At the end of the first big hill on my route I stopped for a break and a quick drink.
Forgot to unclip my shoes because I hadn’t thought about that all winter.
For those of you old enough to remember “Laugh-In” I looked exactly like the guy on the tricycle – who stopped and fell right over.
It was a slow-motion kind of moment – where you think “Oh oh….”.
You realize you’re going to fall over….you can’t do anything about it….even as it seems to take forever.
Landed on a rather sizeable rock.
Ouch that hurt.
Think I might have even cracked a rib or two.
But it only hurt to cough….for about three weeks.
I’ve had a great summer of riding….hopefully we’ll have a nice autumn and I can keep it up. Great changing leaves on my ride as fall comes.
I’ll take photos.
In the meantime – we made the most of our local lake swimming hole.
Usually a late afternoon stop:
Maine has unique events that we can’t seem to get enough of.
Different farms open up their premises for visits.
Our first visit this summer was to the Glendarragh Lavender Farm.
26 acres along the St. George River and it’s chock full of different varieties of lavender:
I suspect it has the nicest aroma of any farm anywhere.
Our friends Lorrie and Patrick Costigan started growing lavender in 2007. Their drying barn on the property dates back to 1790.
In 2009 – they made it easy for us to get all the different kind of lavender products we could want – they opened a lavender store on Main St. in Camden.
It’s so nice to have a unique shop in town that has no duplicate anywhere. The magic of a small town in Midcoast Maine is we’re too small for most retail chains so walking down main street is like taking a stroll in the 1950’s or 60’s. Independent, interesting stores.
Such a pleasure.
Check out Glendarragh at www.mainelavenderstore.com
Our next farm stop was for wild Maine blueberries.
Every year on Maine Farm Day we head to our favorite blueberry farm to pick some berries and buy some extras.
I never remember the name….but I always recognize the sign:
We didn’t pick this year because it was raining….but they had been busy:
This basket didn’t last long in our hands:
Summer is also baseball time.
We’re big Portland Sea Dogs fans (Red Sox Double AA Team).
A great stadium with a “green monster” wall the exact size of the one at Fenway and a perfect place to spend a few incredibly inexpensive hours:
This particularly night was one of their “fireworks” evenings and after a very tense, close game – alas they lost. Unfortunately the Sea Dogs after a great season last year are mirroring their big brother team in last place this season.
But a true baseball fan – especially the New England variety – isn’t so hooked on success – it’s the game we enjoy.
The Sea Dogs always do a great fireworks show:
Mid-summer – it’s time for the “Lobster Festival”!
Music, carnival rides, crafts and a kid who’s discovered the joys of the “bungee jump ride”.
This year he did a flip for the first time:
Mom and dad prefer the Ferris wheel:
Always love the view – take notice of the second big tent:
The object of the “Lobster Fest” is of course Maine lobsters.
They serve a lot of them over the five days of the festival.
All in that big tent.
We visited on Sunday – the last day of the festival.
Here’s the count of lobsters served up to the point we were there and the latest batch coming out of the biggest lobster cooker anywhere:
It’s also been a wonderful year for music.
Remember the old commercial for that weird “hair” company?
Where the guy in the commercial says “I’m not only the CEO – I’m also a customer”
Well that pretty much describes me.
I run an independent music company.
Because I love music.
Especially singer-songwriters – that’s what our company is all about.
It all starts with the songs.
Ever had a difficult time buying presents for your significant other?
From my own experience – it’s tough.
There’s nothing like working extra hard to get something I think my wife will love….and then get the….”Oh that’s nice…..interesting…..what made you think of that?”
It never even gets out of the box, hangs around the living room for about six months and then straight into a closet or drawer – never to be seen again.
I solved that problem
With tickets for her favorite artists in concert.
A triple win.
She loves the present and the artist – I love the artist – and get to go along to the show.
This summer she finally got the payoffs for her Valentine’s Day present and her birthday present.
Our 5th time seeing this guy together – nothing like a little “Steamroller Blues”:
Is there a better song than this?
We decided that this tour with a number of new songs from his new album was even better than the last time he came through Portland – how can a couple of Red Sox fans not love “Angels Of Fenway”:
A couple weeks later – it was the second payoff.
This time we had to travel to Boston and use some public transportation – the Green Line to Fenway Park:
Good news – bad news.
The good news – it was hard to get tickets – but we got in – and we were delighted – even though we were basically in the last row:
The bad news…..how is it that the largest guy in the stadium has the seat in front of me….and decides to stand up for the entire concert:
But no matter – it was a great night.
Can’t beat those songs – we love the “Piano Man”:
Speaking of songs.
That’s what Mishara Music specializes in.
I learned a long time ago that there are millions of great singers and musicians….but without great songs it’s basically a karaoke music world.
So we look for and sign great writers.
The challenge then for an indie music company – is how to connect the artists we have with the people that might love their music.
Love our radio play – but radio can’t play everything we have.
So we also love our steams on Spotify, Pandora etc and plays on Soundcloud.
But sometimes it’s best to go direct to our fans.
The best way to do that is give songs away – with no conditions.
Amazon has been a great partner in that.
In a number of different ways.
We’ve had six free song album samplers:
We’ve just recently starting doing individual song “sixpacks”:
Here’s our brand new “sixpack”:\
How do they do?
Through Amazon – Mishara Music has given away somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,300,000 free songs.
Feedback has been wonderful from the people that have downloaded free songs.
Here’s a sampling of the response:
Because of the response – more and more people keep downloading.
In the last week (Amazon changes the ranking hourly) I noticed at one point we had twelve positions on the Amazon Top 100 Free Album Chart:
And a few days later noticed that the songs from the latest “sixpack” were all inside the Top 30:
Here’s some links.
This link takes you to the Mishara digital page on Amazon – there are over 70 free song downloads there:
Wanna hear the music first?
All of the albums have YouTube Listening links – you can listen all the way through – just search YouTube for the artist and album name.
For example – here’s the YouTube Listening Channel for our latest release by Cass Dillon “Oregon Road”
Click on “Playlists” and you get a link that will play all the way through:
All our music is also on Soundcloud.
Here’s the two latest “sixpacks” as playlists on Soundcloud – just click on the link and start listening:
So it’s been a great music summer but today as I write this – is the first day of school here in Maine.
So we’ve been working hard to squeeze every last second of fun out of summer.
It was a very good weather summer here in Maine but it did rain from time to time.
A rainy day on a weekend?
A great day to head to the movies to see “Minions”
Of course – a new Minion was in order after the movie.
Had to be seat-belted in of course – Ethan is very insistent in that:
We had to have a “bring your Minion to work day”.
First he went to work with Kim at her office:
Then he took over my computer:
But maybe best of all – don’t know how he hasn’t had one for his first 9 years….Ethan finally got his first Pez:
The highlight of the summer is always the one week a year we get invited to join Kim’s Dad and Stepmother in the house they have for a week at Long Beach Island in New Jersey.
As soon as we arrive it’s off to the beach for Kim for her first beach walk:
I usually work during the mornings and head to join the family at the beach in the afternoon.
Beach and water? Check (I actually prefer swimming to hanging on the sand)
Umbrella? Check (I’m not a sun person)
Book? (The # 1 most important item for me on vacation) Check.
Ok, got everything I need:
We actually get up early every year and head to the beach to try and catch some sunrise photos.
Wasn’t the only one up early this year:
This past week was the Union County Fair.
I think we saw just about every parent we know with school age kids on the midway this year.
Ethan discovered the “YoYo” ride this year….over and over and over again:
The highlight of the fair for me is my annual caramel apple:
Three last photos for this post.
Yesterday was one last early morning walk on a Maine beach for Kim before school starts and signifies the change of season – even though it’s still officially summer for a while longer and we’ve got some fun things planned.
Beach walks are essential for her well being, No surprise when she gets photos like this:
As the sun starts to travel southward in the sky and our days in Maine are rapidly getting shorter – it’s a good time to post the opposite photo from Long Beach Island….this time the sun setting over the mainland….we spotted the sunset coming fast and actually ran as fast as we could to catch the last rays:
Isn’t that the way this summer has been?
It’s been the fastest summer I remember and it seems like we need to race to slow down…to appreciate what we have.
Especially when we look at the “real” world – it seems that the clowns have escaped from the Funhouse and we’re left watching them being covered 24 hours a day – day in day out.
Seems like this is where we need to build walls:
(Look at the pictures, read what you want, download what interests you – but whatever you do….make sure you read the Presidential story at the end of the post. It’s mindblowing).
Now that it’s Spring officially I’m writing a blog about winter.
If you don’t live in New England you might have heard in a news report somewhere that we’ve had a bit of snow and some colder than usual temperatures.
As we all know the news media is always looking for something to fill their 24 hours news feed.
So they played up winter a bit.
As far as I’m concerned it’s simply my annual “Winter Conditioning Program”.
It did work a bit better than usual this year.
These past few months I’ve been able to utilize my conditioning program almost every other day.
Here’s what the weekly forecast looked like most every week – a day and a half without snow:
We have a double front driveway, a long back driveway and a deck that runs the length of the house that all need to be cleared of snow – plus some assorted sidewalks.
The back deck tends to build up in storms because of drifting and everything up there has to be lifted over the railing.
Can’t get a snow blower up there so it’s all by hand.
After I clear around us – I help four of our neighbors in the cul-du-sac for various reasons – out of town, young children, elderly etc – and then over to my mother-in-law’s house.
First thing – gotta charge my iPod.
Second – always fun to see how much new snow we got:
Then it’s time to work.
I mix it up.
Sometimes it’s a bit chilly.
Luckily Valentine’s Day is a heartwarming kind of day….because this is what we woke up to that morning:
But we have fun as well.
This year we built Ethan a snow cave / tunnel. (With a mini snowman on a beam to watch over it):
And it’s not just us – lots of people come out for fun in winter in Maine.
Our favorite winter event is the National Toboggan Championships held every year in Camden.
(Note I took this photo of the sign two years ago….this year they didn’t put up the Toboggan banner on the sign….they couldn’t get to it because of the snow:
This year it warmed up for the festivities:
Here are the rules – I love the part by the blue arrow: “No exposed skin except face. Face-masks and properly fitted ski helmets are recommended”. I wonder who they were thinking needed the reminder – this is Maine afterall?
The track is an old – fashioned wooden chute that’s ice coated.
It’s not long but it’s fast:
This was not a great run time – gotta get into the 8 second range to get into the finals:
Gettin’ four people on a flimsy wooden toboggan that travels 30+ mph is a challenge. The person at the back has no clue what’s going on – they’re just hangin’ on off the edge for dear life:
My team didn’t get registered in time this year so I sat this one out.
Whadda do if you’re not racing?
Eat of course.
Lots of nice folks haul out tents / shacks / trailers and hang out all day in really cold weather serving up some really good food.
Of course anything hot tastes great when it’s 5 degrees outside:
I made a major discovery this year.
I’m always on the hunt for the holy grail of fish chowder (way better than clam chowder) and this year I found it.
The trailer doesn’t look like much (and they got a lot of ribbing about the “Ice Cold Drinks” sign) but this innocent location had the best fish chowder I’ve ever had!!!!!
OHMIGOSH it was good:
Check out their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/debsdiner
But be forewarned – if you look at the page – it’s all about the things she’s making in the kitchen in the diner and it might make you jump in the car / board a train / hop on a jet to come visit – even in the middle of winter.
You’ve been warned.
Back to the races.
The racers take them very seriously…..
…..they come from all over with very fancy toboggans…..
…..maybe because they’re the coolest trophies ever…..
…..but as a racer checks the scoreboard…..you notice that many of the the team uniforms are unique…..
…..and some of the people cheering them on are strangely dressed…..
…..we do have fun in Maine in winter..
It’s also a great way to celebrate a notable birthday – with a sense of humor and a sweatshirt (that’s Deb on the right) that about 20 different people were wearing:
The toboggan races are also a great place to show off some toys.
I’ve heard it said that boys especially never really grow up – it’s just that the size of their toys get bigger.
Pretty hard to dispute that when it’s captured in photos.
I think I probably had a toy like this when I was a kid:
Meanwhile in the midst of all this fun there’s actually been some beehive type activity at Mishara Music and all the sudden there’s a bunch of new Spring releases coming.
Three to start – Cass Dillon, Dave Morrison and a new Amazon sampler:
(The previous five have had over 1,800,000 free song downloads)
Here’s the Amazon download link:
Here’s a list of artists (in order on the sampler): Barnaby Bright, Cass Dillon, Meggan Waltman, Chris Ross, Ken Yates, Connor Garvey, Dave Morrison, Peter Bradley Adams, Clarensau, Gabriel Mann, Merlowe & The Dry Tear.
Some notes about the songs.
“Just The Same” by Barnaby Bright starts off the sampler – a track from their upcoming new album (first in two years) and to my ears it’s simply the best adult love song I’ve ever heard. If that wasn’t enough from them we’ve included a live version of “Made Up Of” from the last album which includes a cellist in the performance. You cannot tell it’s a live performance until the applause at the end.
New Mishara Music artist Cass Dillon debuts with a song titled “Friends”. The title says it all – friends are everything in life. The melody will stay in your head for days at a time….luckily you’ll be happy about that. More about Cass to follow.
“Rain” by Meggan Waltman is a song that’s haunted me for years. Meggan recorded and played me the song a number of years ago….and then completely disappeared.
I couldn’t find her anywhere. Phone disconnected, no longer at that address and not a hint of her on social media.
Then out of the blue she calls.
Turns out she went to Japan for a few years.
That’s one way to disappear – travel to the other side of the world.
We quietly released her EP “Nomad” in 2014 and now with this track on the sampler a lot more people will discover her.
The song is the essence of a dark rainy day – I may hate days like that but I love the song.
(And a side note here – the female singers on Mishara Music – Meggan, Kat Maslich, Sally Caggiano from Clarensau and Becky Bliss from Barnaby Bright are among the best & purest singers / voices I’ve ever heard. One of these days I’d like nothing better than to have a concert featuring just them. Even though I could get in for free – I’d pay to see it.)
Speaking of Clarensau – “Dance With Me” – the lead track from their 2nd Mishara album “This One’s For You” is as great a modern “first dance” wedding song as you’re ever gonna hear. Need one? Or know someone that does? This song is special.
Besides the three new albums coming right away….and the new Barnaby Bright coming right afterwards….there’s a new Chris Ross album – 3 years in the making.
Chris – with a great new band – is finishing the album – which will be titled “Young Once” in the studio as I type.
Prepare to be astonished.
In the meantime – before the band hit the studio – Chris recorded an acoustic teaser track “Drunk Women” for the new sampler.
As you might expect from Chris – the story is much deeper than that title suggests.
How do you handle a call from the “ex” who needs a ride at 2am?
You’ll also find a new acoustic version of his lyrical masterpiece from the last album “Your America” on the sampler.
Ken Yates also has a couple tunes on the sampler – from his “twenty-three” album – including the song “The One That Got Away” that won him the 2014 Ontario Arts Council Songwriting Award in his native Canada.
As we just passed St. Patrick’s Day how could we not include Connor Garvey’s classic “Irish Song” from his live “Before The Meteors” album. It answers the question of how a seemingly Irish lad through and through (his hair is THAT red) does not know a single Irish song to play on St. Patrick’s Day.
To match the playful Connor we’ve also included the stunning “Tattered Shirt” from the studio companion album to the live release “Meteors And Beating Hearts”.
What you may notice at this point…..these are some of our all time favorite songs from the label.
We’re giving them away.
The more we get people to hear our music the better off we’ll be.
It’s not so important to sell a track here or a tune there….it is important to build the audience for the music we love.
If do that – it will enable all of us to keep on making music.
Ever watch tv? Are you a fan of “Modern Family”?
Turns out the music composer for the show and a whole bunch of others is a gentleman named Gabriel Mann.
Two of his singer-songwriter albums are on Mishara. Check out “This Feeling”. You’ll understand why he’s in such demand.
The last track in order on the sampler is from a friend of the label – Danny Owen – who’s band Merlowe & The Dry Tear offers up “Table For One” – with a sound not quite like anything else.
Hmmm, what didn’t I mention.
Two more artists.
Peter Bradley Adams – the artist that helped start Mishara Music gives us a very popular track from his Mishara album “Between Us” – “I May Not Let Go” and from his new album “The Mighty Storm” – that he independently released – a song titled “Hey Believers”. There’s no one like Peter.
Lastly I come to Dave Morrison.
Two tracks on the sampler from his new album “Poetry Rocks”.
Why is it called “Poetry Rocks”?
Because Dave is a poet.
Let me back up a bit.
I met Dave here in Maine a number of years ago and we became friends.
I didn’t know he was a poet.
I hate poetry.
Anyday back in my old school days that we had to study poetry was a hard day for me.
Poetry just didn’t work for me.
So one day Dave mentions “Hey, I’ve got a new book coming out and I’m doing a poetry reading can you drop by?”
So I’m stuck.
He’s my friend and of course I say yes.
With every intention of dropping in….making sure he sees me and then sneaking out as fast as possible.
Did I mention I hate poetry?
I was the last one to leave.
Like nothing I’d ever heard before.
Dave knows how people feel about poetry.
That high school kind of poetry.
That’s not Dave.
Turns out he’s released 10 poetry books.
He’s been featured a number of times on “The Writers’s Almanac” – the Garrison Keillor daily feature on NPR.
But Dave was also a guitar player in a band for years and years.
He was toying around with the idea of combining his two skills.
I encouraged him and the album “Poetry Rocks” (release date is April 14th) is unlike anything else:
On a more serious side is “Patricia Alone After 14 Years”
Mis-titled on the sampler – I left out the word “alone” – Dave said “Don’t worry about it”.
That’s the kind of guy he is.
Curious to know more? Read on. (But if I’d known his take on # 13 I would have re-evaluated this deal – they’re absolutely not!):
Here’s a link to a free download – no email or registration required (ever from Mishara Music):
The other new artist I mentioned was Cass Dillon.
His EP is “Oregon Road”:
The friend I’ve known longer than any other in the music business – Marc Nathan – called me up and said something like “I’ve been looking for the perfect artist for Mishara Music for years and finally found him. His name is Cass Dillon and you’re perfect for each other”.
He sent me the music.
I made a cd and put it in my car.
Cars are the best place for listening. Most cars have great sound and it’s about the only place these days you get alone time to listen.
But I didn’t have any driving plans for a bit – so it didn’t get heard right away.
Until my wife’s car had to go into the shop for a checkup.
My job of course – so she takes my car.
As she came in the door that night she didn’t say “Hi Honey”.
Didn’t kiss me on the cheek.
Didn’t pass “Go” and collect $200.
She said “WHAT IS THE CD IN YOUR CAR? It’s GREAT!”
Now you know the secret.
Our test marketing – even when it’s unintentional.
“Oregon Road” releases on Mishara Music April 7th.
Thinkin’ you’d like to know more about Cass?
You can hear “Friends” by Cass Dillon right this very second – and download it as well.
Here ya go:
Some odds and ends about winter that I didn’t cover above.
In spite of the cold and snow it can be incredibly beautiful.
The harbor is always a sight – winter or summer:
The sky against the whiteness of the snow just shines in color (thanks to my wife for these photos).
Lots of people I’ve met over the years have met various US President’s and there are some wonderful stories that’ll I’ll share the next time we meet up in person.
Though if we do meet up in person – this is the story to remember.
Don’t forget to shake my hand.
Ahhh, time for a history lesson.
Abraham Lincoln used to visit his generals and the troops during the Civil War.
Here’s a very famous photo of him visiting Gen George McClellan and his generals in October 1862 after the battle of Antietam (the Union name / the Confederacy called it Sharpsburg):
July 7, 1862 — President Lincoln and military party leave Washington on the Ariel to visit General McClellan and the Army of the Potomac at Harrison’s Landing at Berkeley Plantation.
July 8, 1862 — Lincoln arrives at Harrison’s Landing at 6:00p.m. He then reviews McClellans’ Army by corps and divisions until 9:00p.m.
July 9, 1862 — Lincoln talks with officers of the Army about military problems and records the results in a memorandum. He then leaves on the Ariel for the return trip to Washington.
Now here’s a note from the records of the Minnesota National Guard:
July 9, 1862- President Abraham Lincoln visits the 1st Minnesota, camped at Harrison’s Landing
This is important because?
Earlier this year we went to visit my Uncle Gene.
One of the few remaining veterans from the World War II battles of the Pacific.
He was a Marine and is one of those brave individuals who stormed the beaches of Saipan, Tarawa etc.
The stories – you can’t imagine.
My son Ethan is 9 and they hadn’t seen each other for a few years and it was a great reunion.
Here’s Ethan showing Uncle Gene how he uses his Kindle:
My favorite Uncle Gene story is not about WWII – it’s about the Civil War.
My grandfather (a WWI vet) back in the 1930’s when Gene was Ethan’s age used to visit the old solder’s home in Minneapolis and bring some of the vets home for dinner.
One day he brought the oldest vet in the home – Mr. Carpenter – to dinner as Uncle Gene tells the story.
When he walked in the door Mr. Carpenter walked up to Gene and my father Dave (who was a year older than Gene) and said:
“Shake the hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln”.
He told the story of hanging out one day with the troops….no fighting at the moment although the lines weren’t that far apart….and they saw a “tall drink of water” walking down the road with a tall hat on.
They yelled at him “Hey buddy get your head down before the rebs shoot it off”.
As the “tall drink of water” got closer they realized it was Abraham Lincoln.
Mr. Carpenter says they lined up all the troops and President Lincoln walked down the line shaking hands.
Let’s put this in perspective.
Ethan and I obviously have shaken my Uncle’s hand many, many times.
That puts us 3 handshakes away from Abraham Lincoln.
If you shake my hand the next time we see each other – that makes you – in 2015 – 150 years after Lincoln’s death – 4 handshakes away from him.
I find that astonishing.
But even more so.
Ethan will be 59 years old in 2065.
200 hundred years after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and he’ll be only 3 handshakes away from him.
Anyone shaking his hand will still only be 4 handshakes away.
A fifth of a century later.
I love history.
Welcome to Spring.
PS Wishful thinking: