In the driver's seat: Deering High teen pursues racing ambition

Kyia Roussel plans to attend college in a couple of years, like several of her Deering High School classmates, but this 16-year-old is taking a more circuitous route.

She spends her Saturday nights racing her No. 42 car at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, pitting her skills against older, more experienced drivers in the Sports Series, the middle of three divisions that includes Wildcat and Pro.

“There are a few teenagers in Wildcat,” she said. “I’m the youngest in my division.”

Even though she just got her driver’s permit last spring, Roussel has been racing for years. She started on go-karts at age 5. Her grandfather, Charlie Roussel, brought her, sister Channary, and cousin Alexis to the track more than 10 years ago, to tempt them into a life most of the family had already embraced.

“He asked us if we wanted to try it,” Roussel recalled. “We all did, but I was the only one to show any real interest.”

For several years, Charlie coached her on the intricacies of the smaller vehicle and its correlation to the racecar. He cemented her interest with a family visit one day.

“I was 8 years old. My grandfather brought me to my uncle’s and showed me a car there. He asked ‘Want to jump in?’” she said. She began wondering why and received the classic grandfather non-answer.

“Just get in,” he said. Charlie’s larger plan began to dawn on her, and he started making payments on the car she now drives competitively.

“I always had a dream I’d drive racecars,” she said. “It’s very different from a go-kart, so much bigger. I wasn’t really sure what to think except ‘Oh my gosh — my dream has come true!”

Roussel says there are a couple of race fans at her high school, “but nobody that races.” The sport is suited to the individual, though, so being one-of-a-kind doesn’t seem to phase her in either emotional direction.

Roussel practices on Saturdays before the heat race (a split group to establish starting positions) and the feature race. Charlie passed away last year, but the lessons he shared with Kyia will always stick.

“He was my very best friend,” she said. “We did everything together. He taught me to always do my best at school. At the track, he taught me the basics and how to be better. He taught me to always have a goal, sort of like a finish line. He always repeated three things: be smooth, be persistent, and win the race if you can.”

She hopes to move to North Carolina after graduation and go to college in the heart of racing, “be a veterinarian and hopefully start a career down there, working with animals,” she says. She’s had this dream for a while, and confirmed her plans after a family visit there last year. In college, Roussel may not continue to race cars, but she says she will always be a fan.

 

Kyia Roussel’s gofundme page | http://www.gofundme.com/289d4gk

  • Published in Sports

Tangerine dreams: These beers burst with citrus flavor

Last week, we tasted succulent raspberry beers, many of which featured the vibrant taste of the berry, without too much sweetness. A tasting I  feared would end with cavities and an insulin drip ended with a big grin and a nice buzz. “Hey,” I thought tipsily, “Maybe there is something to these fruit beers.” Then I hiccuped and passed out. I was on to something, though. Fruit beers used to be sick parodies so doused in corn syrup and artificial flavors, they resembled the fruit only in name or color. A new batch of fruit beers has emerged that claims to blend fruit flavors more artfully, without excess sweetness. So, for the remainder of the month, we'll quench our thirst by tasting our way through the new crop of fruit beers. This week, I'm sipping tangerine-flavored beers.

 

Uinta Brewing Hop Nosh Tangerine IPA

Format Sampled: 12 oz can
ABV: 7.3 percent
Tasting Notes: Pours an orange/gold and raises a thin off-white head. Aroma has luscious hops, and bright, spicy orange peel. The first sip is thick and unctuous, almost oily with tangerine peel flavor. The bitter edge is reminiscent of citrus pith, perfectly synergizing with the citrus flavor of the hops. There is a tantalizingly brief, juicy-sweet flavor at the end, like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy morning. The tangerine is evident in the aroma, but is otherwise blended so skilfully, it merely communicates an impression of fresh citrus. It's subtle, juicy and completely delicious.

 

Horny Goat Brewing Tango Delta Tangerine IPA

Format Sampled: 16 oz can
ABV: 6.8 percent

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy copper with a rocky, white head. Aroma has pear, dried herbs and dried citrus peel. The initial taste is mouth-watering, with notes of freshly squeezed tangerine, peel, pith, and bitter seed. It's like eating an entire tangerine, peel and all. After the first taste impression, a ballet of subtle, bitter flavors dominate the experience. Are they hops? Are they the essential oils of the citrus? It's impossible to distinguish what is what, but the overall impression is that of a bitter orange, skillfully blended with hops that feature their own citrus flavors. Orange you glad I tried this one?

Green Flash Tangerine Soul-Style IPA

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped bottle
ABV: 6.5 percent
Tasting Notes: Pours a glowing, radiant orange-yellow with a puff of pure white head. Aroma is pure, fresh-squeezed citrus, with elements of peel, fruit and juice! The first sip marries the tartness of grapefruit with woody tannins, drying, bitter hops and a burst of sunny, delicious fruit juice. The vibrant flavor pops like summer fireworks, filled with brightness, then trails off in a long, bitter finish. The belch is pure orange juice! This is by far the bitterest, driest of the three, but it still manages to showcase the essential, sweet, juicy tangerine flavor.

Bite Sized Food News

Welcome to another food filled week in Portland! This week, the focus is all about restaurants reopening in new locations, like Petite Jacqueline and El Rayo, as well as the introduction of summer happy hours and brand new spots to try! A new food truck has rolled onto the scene serving Korean-Mexican cuisine, and gourmet meatballs are seemingly on the horizon courtesy of the Portland Meatball Company.


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Petite Jacqueline reopens on Market Street

Since January, there’s been a void in Portland for authentic French cuisine, because Petite Jacqueline closed their popular State Street location. However, just this weekend, Petite Jacqueline quietly reopened inside of the Portland Patisserie, which are both owned by Michelle and Steven Corry, who are also the co-owners of Five Fifty Five. Those that were a fan of their comforting French fare will not be disappointed, because menu favorites such as steak frites and the chocolate pot de creme will still be featured, according to Meredith Goad of the Portland Press Herald. To start, Petite Jacqueline will only be open five days per week, but seven days a week service is anticipated in the next week or two. As for Petite Jacqueline’s former spot? It currently lays empty, though Ocho Burrito is expected to open there in the near future.

El Rayo anticipates reopening new location on Free Street at the end of July

Another favorite spot in Portland is close to reopening. El Rayo closed their Portland location at the end of September, due to the developer having mixed-used plans for the property. As a result, there’s definitely been a shortage of delicious and filling tacos in Portland, but that all ends at the end of July. The new and improved El Rayo takes the spot of Paperie, a local stationary store. Expect a 40 seat raised deck, plentiful seating, and, as first reported by Kathleen Pierce of The Bangor Daily News, breakfast! Hungry patrons will be able to grab breakfast burritos, coffee, frittatas, and fresh fruit, making El Rayo a prominent player in the breakfast scene once they open. They'll likely dominate another market with their delicious tacos, burritos and breakfast fare.

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Binga’s adds Summer Happy Hour

Love wings at Binga’s Stadium? Now, there are more oppurtunities to love them, because their summer happy hour is back! Look for happy hour from 4-6 pm on weekdays, featuring $3 craft beers (including local favorites), $3 wine, $5 flights and mugs and a $5 food menu. If you can’t make it in for the summer happy hour, you can stop in for the Everyday Happy Hour from 9 p.m. to close, featuring $5 craft beer pints. After all, excuses are never necessary to enjoy great craft beer and wings that induce warm tummies and finger smackin.

Caiola’s switches hands to Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez, owners of Piccolo

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Rumors have been swirling for a few months, and this week, it’s official: Caiola’s in the West End has been handed over to Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez, of Piccolo fame. According to Meredith Goad of the Portland Press Herald, Caiola’s was owned by Lisa Vaccaro and chef of the restaurant, Abby Harmon before selling. Don’t expect to see dramatic changes being made, because Sansonetti and Lopez plan to keep Caiola’s exactly the way it is, original staff included. There will be gradual changes to the menu, but fans of Caiola’s will still be able to experience the restaurant that they know and love.

Portland Meatball Co. begins construction at former Pierre’s of Exchange Street

It feels like Portland already has everything, but another restaurant will fill an even more specific food niche. Portland Meatball Company's will proudly emerge on the scene. Construction on the new restaurant has finally begun, now that Pierre’s of Exchange Street has moved out, according to Portland Food Map. Details on the restaurant are slim, but expect seating for more than 30 customers and a bar with 12 seats. No word yet on when Portland Meatball Co. will be opening, but it will likely to become a safe haven for meat lovers.

Tacos Del Soul joins the Portland food truck fleet

There’s no such thing as too many food trucks, especially when the focus is Korean-Mexican cuisine, which is something Portland didn’t even know it needed, until now. Tacos Del Soul has been open since April but they’ve only been out since June, so the buzz is starting to grow around them as the weather gets warmer and summer begins. They can be found at the Eastern Prom on most days, serving bowls, burritos and other Korean-Mexican classics. They’ve already made an appearance at the 2016 Funjoy Fest on Munjoy Hill, and as they become more well known, will probably be seen all across Portland this summer.

Add some spice to spring with ginger beer

Commercial ginger ale and ginger beer make use of ginger root to create a refreshingly spicy bite. Despite the suggestive names, neither is actually fermented or alcoholic. I set out to find examples of actual beer, filled with fermented alcoholic glory, which incorporates the spicy flavor of ginger. Each of the beers below is a different style, unified only by their shared use of gingers as an adjunct. Try pairing them with spicy Thai or Chinese food, or any other cuisine that uses ginger to offset chili and soy flavors. Or, take advantage of the natural stomach settling property of ginger by enjoying it as an after-dinner drink!

 

Black Hog Brewing Ginga Ninja

Format Sampled: 12 oz can

ABV: 6.5 percent
Tasting Notes: Pours oak brown with a thin layer of tan head. Aroma is spicy and earthy, like a pile of hops, dried leaves and cinnamon. The initial flavor imparts a peculiar drying sensation, followed by a smooth layer of nutmeg, pepper, and a hint of ginger heat. Floral pine and citrus resins float seamlessly on top of the spicy base. The resinous hops, dark, potent spices and woody tannins are a beguiling and unique combination. I'd imagine this beer would go well with a little ginger cookie, or with sushi. The woody notes are completely distinctive. It's a beer fit for an Ent!

 

Peak Organic Ginger Saison

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped bottle

ABV: 4.7 percent

Tasting Notes: Pours greenish yellow with a thin layer of bone-white head. Aroma has sulfur, apple-cider vinegar and ginger. The initial flavor is light, as if all the funk is concentrated in the aroma. The flavor develops rapidly into a slinky, sweet maltiness, tinged with clove and citrus. The body is light and creamy. There's the light aroma and taste of the ginger, but no heat. The body is so light, and the ginger so fresh and so mild, that it's closer to a dry ginger-ale. I'll bet this would pair amazingly well with anything Asian, from sushi to fried rice!

 

Ballast Point Ginger Big Eye

Format Sampled: 22 oz capped bottle

ABV: 7.0 percent

Tasting Notes: Pours a clear copper with a thin layer of off-white foam. I can smell the citrus and pine aroma from a few feet away. A closer sniff reveals an enticing hint of hot ginger fumes too!  The initial flavor packs a wallop of ginger so fresh and so hot, sweat prickles my forehead. The burn of the ginger continues to develop for a moment, and seamlessly transitions into the pungent, bitter herbal flavor of fresh hops. The malt flavor is darkly sweet, and combines with the spicy hops and the hot ginger to evoke a slice of gingerbread. This beer would be an amazing digestive after a heavy meal!

Portland’s multicultural chorus speaks out against stereotypes

The Bengali poet and 1913 Nobel Laurette Rabindranath Tagore claimed: “Music is the purest form of art … therefore true poets … seek to express the universe in terms of music. The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside.”

As Andrew Kania writes in his gloss on the philosophy of music: “The central idea is that music’s expressiveness consists in the resemblance of its dynamic character to the dynamic character of various aspects of human beings undergoing emotions.” That is to say, music mirrors our reactions to our internal experiences. A sad song resembles something of our own physical expression of grief, like the tone and mood of weeping. In a way, such theories of music universalize certain human experiences and allow us to connect across differences.

This sense of connection is part of what is so compelling about Portland’s local, multicultural chorus, Pihcintu. A 17-year-old first generation Vietnamese-American member of the chorus named Cathy put it this way: “Singing is a very clear, strong way to express your feelings. … You can hear our message in the lyrics of the songs we sing. But you can also feel it throughout the melody.”

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Pihcintu is an all-female chorus, and Cathy is one of 32 members. With ages ranging from 10-23 years old, the singers come from seventeen different countries, including Cambodia, China, Congo, El Salvador, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Vietnam, the British West Indies, Zambia, and others. I spoke with five members (all of whom wished to withhold last names), and they often mentioned the power of music to bring together and forge connections within this diverse group, as well as between the chorus and the audience.

“We all have a different story,” Cathy went on to say. “Nothing is the same. We’re all diverse. … But at the same time, even though we’re all different, we’re all the same, too. And I like how we can communicate that with everyone though our songs.”

To be the same and to be different. One definitive characteristic of American culture is found in the robust diversity of a country founded on immigration in which there is nonetheless a deep sense of national identity. And yet, perhaps now more than ever as Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, continues to affirm his commitment to deport 11 million immigrants and build a wall on our southern border, we also seem to be a country with a profound case of cultural amnesia, forgetting that our similarities began with differences.

Pihcintu, while forging connection through singing, is also here to remind us of the importance of diversity. “The idea behind the chorus,” said Con Fullam, the founder and director of Pihcintu, “was basically to give kids their voices back. When you come to a foreign country, you literally lose your voice. … So the chorus is a way to give these kids their voices back.” And in doing so, Fullam hopes to remind us of “the incredible vitality and contribution that immigrants are bringing to this country.”

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Fullam founded Pihcintu in 2005. On average, the chorus sings for roughly 20,000 people a year, and they have performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, at the request of the United Nations high commission for refugees, and the United Nations Plaza in New York, among other notable venues. They have also performed with The Portland Symphony Orchestra and, more recently, they opened for the Maine Democratic Party convention. They practice once a week, at the Root Cellar on Washington Street, where I spoke with some of Pihcintu’s members.

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Twenty-two-year-old Nyawal, one of the Chorus’s longest standing members, has been with Pihcintu for almost 10 years. She is from Sudan, grew up in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, and came to the U.S. in 2001. When I asked her about her experience in the refugee camp, she recalled that, “The only source of food was from The United Nations. … You built your own house. When it comes to getting food, everybody goes to the same UN area.” She paused, and then said, “It was a long walk. There was a specific place where you get water, and everybody has to walk there every day.” She went on to enumerate some of the specifics: there wasn’t any electricity, there were very few cars, and during her entire childhood, she saw a doctor just one time. Yet recalling this, Nyawal smiled: “But that’s what I was used to,” she said. “It wasn’t traumatic at the time. I remember it as positive, to be honest with you.” 

Arriving in the U.S. in 2001 was a massive change for Nyawal, and she likened her experience as a young immigrant to that of being a translator: “Any young immigrant who comes, you are automatically put in the role of being a translator. … You learn to communicate very quickly.” I took her to mean a translator in the sense of interpreting language, but also in a sense that extends into the role of conveying something larger about her own culture and story. And as with truly conveying any story, this can often mean trying get one’s audience to rethink some of their assumptions. This is especially pressing when it comes to immigration, considering some of the more pernicious narrative tropes that circulate in the media, drawing connections between immigration and the threat of terrorism, or immigration and American unemployment, to name two of the more salient examples.

For Nyawal, Pihcintu has been instrumental in doing this. The music itself is a powerful mode of connecting with people, she explained, but Pihcintu also serves as a platform for the young women in the chorus to literally tell their stories and talk about their own experiences as immigrants. Last fall, Nyawal opened for Pihcintu at the United Nations in New York, speaking to over 3,000 people at an event called “Under One Sky.” On other occasions, she has opened for the chorus by speaking about her story and issues relevant to her experience. “We try to change stereotypes,” she said. Through music there is connection, and through this connection, Pihcintu opens up lines of communication for the young women in the chorus to talk about their own stories.

Fatimah, a 12-year-old member of Pihcintu, put it this way: “Singing interests people. It can lure them into what’s going on. It’s another way to attract them.” Fatimah is from Iraq, and moved to the U.S. when she was 6, in 2010. Her mom worked as a translator in Baghdad during the war. “It was kind of depressing back then,” Fatimah says, referring to the difficulties that confronted Fatimah and her mom. “It was kind of hard to work as a woman.” Fatimah didn’t learn English until she moved to the U.S., but now her English is immaculate, and as she talks, I can’t help but notice a level of understatement, an avoidance of hyperbole that seems strikingly mature for her age.

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For Fatimah, like Nyawal, music is a means to spread a message. When I asked her about this message, instead of explaining it to me directly, she asked me if I knew who Donald Trump was. I couldn’t help but smile. “My brother says that if he [Trump] gets elected, we might get kicked out of America, but my mom says that we’re citizens now. … So I don’t really know what’s going to happen. … But it’s kind of scary to think that he’s just manipulating people, and telling people that they should be afraid of us. But they don’t really know us. … It kind of scares me. What’s going to happen in my future? Where am I going to have to go?”

The juxtaposition between Trump’s message and the message Pihcintu has to offer is telling indeed: “When I sing with the girls,” Fatimah said, “…everybody is different. We all have these different characteristics, but we work together. … And people are astonished because they see all these happy girls who are different, but they’re always happy together.”

Through Pihcintu, Rocil hopes to convey a similar message. Her parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador before she was born, and their experience as immigrants has deeply informed the story Rocil would like to tell. “I want to destroy the stereotype that immigrants come here to steal jobs and money and welfare.” Rocil went on to describe how countries like Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador are rife with gang violence. To put some numbers to her point, according a recent article in the LA Times, “The national homicide rate in El Salvador is almost 116 per 100,000, more than 17 times the global average.” NPR has reported staggering rates of twenty murders a day in Honduras, and according to the United States Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Guatemala averages 96 murders per week.

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“People are getting killed and threatened and kidnapped, and they’re coming here to be safe, to escape all of that. And to go back means to die.” Rocil is 16 years old, her parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador to escape civil war, and she is acutely aware of the significance of November’s presidential election. “It’s hard right now with everything being so anti-immigration … especially with the presidential election.”

Recently, Rocil has been listening to a lot of musical soundtracks and her favorite among them, “Hamilton,” is a narrative about Alexander Hamilton’s life. Rocil takes comfort in the way the musical reminds us of an America built on and enriched by immigration. Reaching for the right word to describe a history of such diversity, Rocil paused, and I offered that perennial metaphor of a melting pot. She nodded, conceded too, that Pihcintu is also its own kind of melting pot — a shared identity forged through song but nonetheless composed of differences.

And yet, if Pihcintu is to serve as an analogy for something larger than the chorus itself, if we are to draw parallels between the eclectic array of voices in the choir uniting under one song and an American history that finds its most familiar metaphor in the idea of a melting pot, the underlying point is that no matter the context — whether in song or in public discourse — we must always make room for differences and the voices that represent those differences.

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The last woman I spoke with from the Chorus, Naumu, grew up in Uganda. She came to the U.S. when she was 8 years old. The transition, she said simply, was “very scary … I didn’t know the language. We had to fit in, and learn the language, and just start over.” When I asked her why her family came to the U.S., her simple and yet deeply significant answer was “war.” “It was hard,” she said, referring to her first couple of years in the US. But singing, being part of Pihcintu, has helped: “It’s a way to express yourself. … It’s such a great opportunity to be around people that are like you.” Of course, the wonderful irony of this is that in many ways these girls couldn’t be more different. They come from all over the world and vastly different cultural contexts. But through the act of singing and telling their own stories, the similarities and points of connection these young women share couldn’t be more apparent. “Everyone has a voice,” Naumu said. “And people shouldn’t be scared to use it, and help the people that are hidden in the dark come out and express themselves. They can do it through anything. Singing. Dancing. …” Naumu smiled, and stopped there, which is as good a place as any to start.               

Edwards and friends: Folk veteran receives assist with Tomorrow's Child

My introduction to Jonathan Edwards came courtesy of Paul Westerberg thanks to a cover of the former’s classic, “Sunshine,” on the soundtrack to the hit television series, Friends. Like most 10-year-olds hanging out in northern Maine, I was listening to the cassettes that I had in my possession from front to back, seeking out the hidden gems buried within that were unlikely to make it to radio. Westerberg’s version of “Sunshine” sounded familiar (likely due to it being a cover of a song I had unknowingly heard before) as well as having an undeniable melodic hook and tuneful appeal within its rocking arrangement. The writing, and energy apparent, made this song successful regardless of who was performing it.

Edwards’ latest record, Tomorrow’s Child, is a much more chilled out affair in all respects but the high quality of songwriting is still certainly on display. Produced by songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott, the album is a mix of originals and covers that acknowledge Edwards’ musical roots (the traditional “Mole in The Ground” and “Hard Times”) as well as his history both professionally (revisiting his own “Girl from The Canyon”) and personally.

The record opens with a version of Malcolm Holcombe’s “Down in the Woods” and features a clean arrangement filled with solid players and a group of background singers that help establish an inclusive vibe. It reminds me of Warren Zevon’s The Wind without the overwhelming attention to the subject of mortality. Edwards voice, slightly aged but still full of passion, is smooth and easy to listen to, placed firmly in the front and center of each mix.

With the selection of covers, as with previous albums, Edwards continues to show a knack for picking the right songs: tracks that he can comfortably make sound like they were meant for him to sing all along. The rendition of the title track, originally by Marcus Hummon, lifts the song to its full potential, thanks in no small part to the harmonies provided by Alison Krauss. Edwards' voice already carries the song, offering emotionally apt delivery of the lyrics as the accompaniment drops slightly in the prechoruses, but when Krauss enters it’s obvious why she was called upon. The two voices blend marvelously and provide one of the biggest highlights of the album.

“Girl from The Canyon” originally appeared on Edwards’ 1977 album Sailboat but the version here slows the tempo down, keeps instrumentation sparse and adds Vince Gill on harmonies for good measure. Gill also shows up on “Sandy Girl,” one of the album’s more upbeat and carefree numbers. Along with he and Krauss, Edwards is joined at various points on Tomorrow’s Child by Jerry Douglas, Shawn Colvin, his own daughter Grace Young and Portland’s own Joe Walsh, but never does it feel like the guest spots outshine the material. These are top-notch players and singers who were called upon for their skills, not their names.

The record closes with “Jonny’s Come Home,” a song dealing with the heavy subject of Edwards’ own adoption. It also details how he similarly had to give up his own daughter. I always dread songs with serious messages/dealing with personal subjects as they usually come across as hokey or heavy-handed but this track does a good job at telling its story while also providing an interesting composition. The words are extremely straightforward – “I never knew just who I was much less where I came from / I guess that’s just the way it is when you’re adopted young” are the opening lines – but there’s an unconventional strum build-up of a less-than-obvious chord during the choruses that adds an unsettling feeling to a song that otherwise faces its issues head-on in a hopeful manner. It’s a unique choice but also makes the song stand out that much more.

While there are jumps in mood between tracks throughout the album, this is a folk record and the proceedings are fairly low-key. There’s no wild energy on display or crazy left turns in style that will surprise listeners. These are skilled players putting satisfactory performances onto well-written songs. There is also an understanding of sequencing that helps keep a general level of interest up – “Mole in The Ground” is familiar and fun to sing-along to, “This Old Guitar” is custom built for toe-tapping, the mostly acapella “Hard Times” shifts gears, “Ain’t Got Time” offers an upbeat groove and cheerful chorus in the album’s final stretch.

Edwards and company have put together an impressive album featuring a team of stellar singers and players that will satisfy fans of the artist, fans of country/folk, and should appeal to a number of open-minded music fans in general. Tomorrow’s Child is the work of a singer/songwriter who knows exactly what he’s doing and has been around long enough to know how to get that across.

 

Jonathan Edwards plays the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield on Friday, May 27 at 8:00pm.

 

8 Days: International music sets, the Trail Running Festival and rock shows at the brewery

THURSDAY, May 26

 

The 2016 Maine Literary Awards | When the Maine Literary Awards started in 2011, only 70 works were submitted. Now, five years later, the competition has grown, and even more creative thinkers and talented writer have emerged out of the woodwork. This year, over 140 books were entered across award categories like: fiction, crime fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, children’s and many others. If you’re curious which local writer’s going to win the top prize(s), come to this ceremony. There will be a cash bar and opportunities to meet the authors and buy copies of their winning books. | $5 | 6:00pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://mainewriters.org/programs/maine-literary-awards/ |

 

El Malo at Sonny’s | Catch one of Portland’s favorite salsacore bands at Sonny’s this week, before they gear up for a weekend on the road in Burlington, Vt. Don’t know what salsacore is? According to the musicians in this six-piece collective, it’s a worldwide mix of dance music, from romantic danzons to hard funk-rock breakbeats, and anything in between that feels good. “I was in love with Afro Cuban percussion, and began El Malo to flip the traditional roles of the instruments, concentrate on darker key signatures, and play hard breakbeats and funk-rock when things really  lit up,” said the bandleader and percussionist Rion Hergenhan on the band’s inception in 2010. “The people that come through to our shows are really the fire for us.” Get some Latin jazz in your life, when El Malo provides the perfect ambiance for a restaurant like Sonny’s. | FREE | 9:30pm | Sonny’s, 83 Exchange St., Portland | https://soundcloud.com/elmalothebad |

 

 

FRIDAY, May 27

 

Dance outdoors to live Cuban music | For Wendy Edwards, the founder of PM Salsa, dancing to Spanish music is an inexpensive form of therapy, exercise, vacation and positive motivation. It’s easy to get caught up in the rhythm and energy of salsa dancing. She’s bringing her friends to Congress Square Park and invites the community to come learn a new art form and dance the night away to the grooves of Primo Cubano. Don’t be shy; friendly instructors will show you how to move your clumsy feet. “I think salsa music speaks to the soul, whether you speak Spanish or not. It's the rhythm and emotion of the music that draws you in,” said Edwards. “Learning to dance salsa is like finding that perfect wine to go with your favorite food. It allows you to feel the music and express yourself while still connecting with your partner. Will you learn to dance salsa in a day? No. But can you fall in love with it in a day? YES!” | FREE | 6:00pm | Congress Square Park, 599 Congress St., Portland | http://congresssquarepark.org/ |

 

Trevor Hall at Port City Music Hall | Trevor Hall’s not just another white dude, strumming an acoustic guitar. Well, he is, but unlike many, he’s found a unique, and mesmerising niche. You see, Hall’s latest album Kala, is not just an acoustic rock compilation with a tinge of reggae. Woven into the fabric of his sound is Sanskrit chanting and lyrical influences from his recent pilgrimage to India. With songs that echo with the names and teaching of ancients gods, and feature a powerful and universal message, Hall creates work that’s hard to emulate. Come see what inspiration this monk-like musician brought with him from the jungles of India and recorded in the mountains of Vermont. In the meantime, check out his meditative single, “To Zion,” a track with a beautiful lyrical core. Here’s Hall with more details. “For me, it doesn’t matter which culture you came from or what road you are walking on,” said Hall. “I believe we all will end up at the same house. We just need love to open the door.” | $15 | 7:00pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/ |

 

Legendary Paris-based composer and guitarist makes his Maine debut | Back in the '70s, when the composer, guitarist and trumpet player Rhys Chatham was making waves in the international music scene, he was already trailblazing. Some say that he’s altered the DNA of rock, by creating a completely new strain of music: no-wave, post-punk, avant-garde sounds that fused “overtone-drenched minimalism of '60s composers with the relentless, elemental fury of the Ramones.” Whatever it is, it’s damn good guitar playing. Over the decades he continued pioneering, and composed crazy live shows: guitar symphonies with up to 400 guitars. This time, the 63-year-old legend will just be playing a solo set, and then a trio set with his bassist Tim Dahl and drummer Kevin Shea.  | $20 | 8:00pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org |

 

Grammy award winning MYA, makes her Maine debut | If you’re like me and had a slight childhood crush on Mya back in the late '90s, then get yourself over to Empire, because this hugely famous, Grammy-winning artist will be there partying with us Portlanders. I hope you’re ready to rub shoulders with strangers, because the dance floor will surely be packed. People are stoked to hear this beautiful songstress, evoke some nostalgia with her pop, hip-hop and soul-esque hits. “She has been in the industry since the 90's and continues to release good music,” said DJ Gigi, who’ll be spinning tracks during the show. “Mya puts on a great show. Her shows are full of energy and I guarantee people will be on their feet.” | $25 | 9:00pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://portlandempire.com/ |

 

 

SATURDAY, May 28

 

Trail Running Festival at Pineland Farms | Run hard and eat heartily! Hundreds are expected to show up to the sprawling and picturesque pastoral campus of Pineland Farms, for a festival that features many intense races: 5k trail race, barefoot race, canicross (race with a dog), the 10 km race, the 25 km, the 50 km and the absolutely ridiculous 50-mile ultra race. If the thought of all that running is already making you nauseous, don’t worry; you don’t have to race, you can just eat. There will be plenty of barbecues, beer, potluck salads and desserts to enjoy, while you listen to old-timey music and watch the less lazy run by. | $5 | 10:00am | 25 Campus Drive, New Gloucester | http://www.pinelandtrails.com/ |

 

The Grand Re-Opening of Geary’s | For those that keep their finger on the pulse of any beer or brewery related news in the city, you’ll want to head over to Geary’s this week. They’ve just redone their indoor and outdoor space and are throwing a party to celebrate. Do you know what that means? Yes, another cultural excuse to get sloshed. “The old man on the block is hip again, and we can't wait to show off our new moves,” said Bethany O’Neil, from Geary’s Brewing. “Come out and enjoy food from Ziggy’s Food Truck and listen to music by Pete Kilpatrick.  Come take a tour, drink some ... heck, why not all, of our fantastic new beers on tap.” Bethany’s right. They sure do have a lot of good choices. But I recommend you slurp down their tried and true brew: the spicy, full bodied, summer ale. | FREE | 12:00pm | 38 Evergreen Drive, Portland | http://www.gearybrewing.com/ |

 

The return of CuLLu | CuLLu is what you get when a bunch of already established, talented musicians get together to perform a different genre, just for the heck of it. You’ll recognize some local faces when this group of 10 musicians and vocalists take the stage to perform their fun and sexy blend of female-driven reggae-pop. It’s been awhile since CuLLu’s made an appearance, so don’t miss their reunion show! | $10 | 8:00pm | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland | http://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com |

 

 

SUNDAY, May 29

 

Native Isles in the tasting room | Native Isles are new players to Portland’s music scene, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great, and funky as all hell. They’ve been playing shows here and there, but have just nailed residency status at Sonny’s on Exchange Street. Besides that, this unique, fusion four-piece, will be playing their first show in a brewery. In between groove sessions, order some beer, or head outside where the Cn Shawarma food truck will be parked and serving its delicious Mediterranean food. | VARIED | 1:00pm | Rising Tide, 103 Fox St., Portland | http://www.risingtidebrewing.com/ |

 

Big outdoor concert with Lake Street Dive | Kicking off the summer concert series on the new outdoor concert venue on Thompson’s Point, is Lake Street Dive, a band that conjures up a dance party with style and substance. This swagger filled four piece, fronted by powerhouse vocalist Rachael Price, does the whole pop-rock thing a little differently. They flow against the mainstream by fusing together '60s era rock, with classic pop styles, similar to that of the Beatles, the Beach Boys or the Supremes. But I also want to label them as a pop-stars, or a jazz troupe, or a melancholic folk group. I guess truly interesting musicians defy genres and keep it weird. The uncategorizable nature of their latest album, Side Pony, helps in conveying their simple, heartfelt message: be yourself. “ We like to write about our lives and real things but we always like music that makes you dance and lifts you up,” said lead singer Price. “And those things don’t need to be separate from one another. A sad song doesn’t need to be in a minor key and slow.”  | $40 | 6:00pm | Thompson’s Point, Portland | http://www.statetheatreportland.com |

 

 

MONDAY, May 30

 

The Third Annual Memorial Day Procession | It’s Memorial Day. Do you remember what you’re supposed to remember? In case you’ve just assumed this was a free-day off of work and school, the holiday was envisioned to honor the Americans that died during the various wars this country’s been embroiled in. Now, I’m not assuming you didn’t know that painfully obvious fact. Or that you don’t care about fallen soldiers. But do you actually know how the holiday is meant to be observed and the original traditions around it? Will you carry a silk poppy? Join local veterans, a black rider-less horse, Girl Scouts, neighborhood flower girls, bagpipers, City Councilors and local historian Herb Adams, for a somber, yet honorable parade through the cemetery. | FREE | 2:00pm | Evergreen Cemetery, Stevens Avenue, Portland | https://www.facebook.com/events/1010075675707620/ |

 

 

TUESDAY, May 31

 

Film screening: Trapped | Do you believe that a woman has the right to choose? Do you think it’s ridiculous that we’re still debating that? Yet, the argument rages on, and abortion is as hot of a topic as it was in the Roe vs. Wade days. Today, reproductive health clinics in the U.S. are struggling to stay open, while conservative state legislators threaten to cut funding. This year, the Supreme Court will essentially decide whether individual states can outlaw abortion. Take the time, to see the eye-opening documentary Trapped. Regardless of your persuasion, this unbiased piece of media will provide a valuable and important perspective on the issue.  | $8 | 7:30pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/events/trapped |

 

 

WEDNESDAY, June 1

 

The 14th Amendment: A Living Document | Speaking of Roe vs. Wade, here’s an event that’s aimed to make you better understand one of the most important documents in America’s history: the 14th Amendment. Adopted in 1868, the amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws. How has this old notion of liberty, shaped American life today? Nationally recognized, Ivy League scholars will break down this complex, and increasingly relevant, historical document. Learn something, will ya? | FREE | 5:30pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | https://www.portlandlibrary.com |

 

Just the motivation you need | Tricia Rose will make your muscles burn and your lungs scream for oxygen. She’s offering up her boot-camp, exercise classes free today, on the scenic expanse of lawn that makes up the Eastern Promenade. Amidst the wonderful view, you’ll work your ass off in the name of fitness. Run until you sweat. Swing a kettlebell around. Do something to jumpstart your heart-rate! Get motivated to stay healthy and active this summer, during this free workout session with like-minded people. | FREE | 7:00pm | Eastern Prom Park, Portland | http://tricia-rose.com/eastern-prom-bootcamp/ |

 

 

THURSDAY, June 2

 

Live rock and Banded Horn beer with mystery guests | Banded Horn Brewing is taking over the taps at PHOME, and filling them with delights like their award-winning, sharp, noble and spicy Pepperell Pilsener. Come for the beer, but stay for the amazing local music. Dustin Saucier and Renee Coolbrith will team up again for another Pretty Sad performance. The indie rock band, the Fellow Celebrants will be there, proving that well written music transcends taste, mood or the interference of industry. These cathartic rockers mold the dynamic and movement of their performance around a particular theme. “It’s loud, and then quiet,” explained Gabriel Lane, who plays vox guitar. “... And then enormous, and then quiet again. Each of our songs is a meditation on a theme — a journal entry from a grieving soldier, a tyrant’s speech to his conquered citizens, an encounter between two combatants, a sister’s plea to a brother descending into madness, a survivor’s reflections on anarchy following the failure and ruin of his city, to name a few.” | $8 | 8:00pm | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland | https://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com/ |

 

Possessed by Paul James | Possessed by Paul James is aptly named. This one-man-band creates music that has a way of sneaking inside you and nestling its soft violin-driven melodies, infectious rhythms and passion-filled vocals within your subconscious. Some call his performance a “life altering experience.” Armed with a violin, (sometimes a banjo) and a knack for musical storytelling, Paul James will hit you like a hurricane. Check out that track too. On Youtube. It’s called “Hurricane.” | $15 | 8:00pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com |

Maine's Supreme Court upholds PUC approval of Fryeburg water contract

After over three years of legal wrangling, the battle for Fryeburg's natural aquifers reached an apparent conclusion last Thursday, when Maine's highest court upheld the Public Utility Commission's approval of a long-term contract between Fryeburg Water Co. and Nestle Waters North America (operating locally as Poland Spring).

The length of the contract is 20 years, with the option for five five-year extensions.

Final arguments were heard in Maine Supreme Judicial Court on March 1. The appeal of the PUC's approval was initiated by Fryeburg property owner and Sweden resident Bruce Taylor and Washington-based Food & Water Watch back in February 2015.

Many of the contract's critics view the case as one where a multinational corporation seeks to use local resources at an unsustainable rate for massive profit.

Others believe Poland Spring and Nestle do have the environment and community interests in mind.

The 14-page decision said, "In sum, we discern no abuse of discretion or violation of a statutory or constitutional provision in the Commission's decision approving FWC's proposed agreement with NWNA, and therefore we affirm the decision," the court concluded.

The court spends several pages of its decision going over the background of the case. In 2012, the Fryeburg Water Co. sought PUC approval of an agreement with Nestle. The agreement pertained to the lease of a property and a pumping station, Nestle purchasing a minimum amount of water per year at the commission-approved rate from Fryeburg Water Co. The water company agreed to give Nestle exclusive use of Well 1 but retained the right to suspend that if necessary to maintain the water supply or to meet environmental regulations. Nestle also agreed to seek additional water sources outside the watershed to be used by the water company or its customers.

In October 2012, the PUC started its work. Taylor, Food and Water Watch, among others, became interveners. The final hearing was held in September 2013.The commission approved the contract in November of that year with a minor revision. Taylor appealed the PUC approval. The Judicial Court went on to refute his arguments, such as maintaining Fryeburg Water Co.'s charter doesn't give it the ability to enter into the contract.

"None of Taylor's interpretations is supported by the unambiguous language of the charter; the charter makes no mention of public customers, special terms, the removal of water, the bottling or reselling of water, or untreated or unsafe water," wrote the court.

Donna Woodward, who does public relations for Poland Spring out of its Fryeburg office, called the decision "great news for Fryeburg."

Mark Dubois, Poland Spring natural resource manager, said Thursday that the contract creates a stable source of income for Fryeburg Water Co., which helps to maintain stable rates for their customers. The minimum purchase per year is 75 million gallons. Dubois said Poland Spring isn't required to take that much but is required to pay for at least that much. He said that's to ensure that Fryeburg Water Co.'s income doesn't get too low.

"It gives them a base or a floor in the contract," said Dubois, adding that Poland Spring will pay the same rate for water as all the other users, and they also pay a lease payment of $12,000 per month for some infrastructure and land.

He said the contract makes clear the town would have protections if there was a problem like a water shortage. He said the new contract's safeguards are more clear.

"We would be first in line to be cut," said Dubois. "The contract codifies that ability to reduce or suspended Poland Spring's water withdrawal."

Typically, the average annual water withdrawal is less than half of the sustainable yield, which was predicted at 220 million gallons. Last year, they took 66 percent of that, said Dubois. Withdrawals are monitored by the town of Fryeburg and Fryeburg's independent hydrologists.

"We have been operating sustainably there (in Fryeburg) for 19 years and  for 170 years as a business brand here in Maine," said Dubois. "We're going to keep operating sustain-ably into the future ...  We are committed to Fryeburg."

Nisha Swinton, of Food and Water Watch — Maine, put a statement on her organization's Facebook page around noon on Thursday.

"Today's decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court paves the way for a private corporation to profit from a vital public resource for decades to come.

"The arrangement to sell off hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day to Poland Spring, a subsidiary of Néstle Waters North America, is a profound loss for Maine's citizens."

Firefighters and funding: Jetport exercise held against backdrop of spending, growth

Local firefighters carried stretchers and tended to mock patients Saturday during a full-scale training exercise simulating a mass-casualty incident at the Portland International Jetport.

The grim specter of a plane crash or other jetport disaster was the scenario.

The purpose: evaluating the handling of multiple patients, review of emergency operations center functions and establishment of a family center which "will be set up by the airlines in trying to reunite loved ones and family and friends if this really actually happened," explained Portland's Assistant Fire Chief Keith Gautreau.

The exercise, required by the Federal Aviation Administration, allowed firefighters to test the airport’s emergency plan and confirm that responders could cope with an aircraft emergency.

But the exercise was also a reminder of the pressure on Portland as the city hovers atop "best of" lists and the jetport continues to grow.

At the jetport's Air Rescue Station, three firefighters respond to incidents on the airfield, and that number can be supplemented with fire companies from town, Gautreau said.

In a bid for savings, the number of firefighters on shift at the station has been trimmed. "In the upcoming budget, the Jetport made a decision to drop to two people at the Air Rescue Station, they're still meeting the minimum FAA requirements," Gautreau said.

But nobody expects a retrenchment in the demand for public safety as Portland and its jetport experience increased visitation.

At the training site Saturday overlooking the jetport, Gautreau noted that the nationally acclaimed airport is due for growth.

"It has been growing for the past few years, and it looks like they will be expanding in the very near future," he said.

In mid-April, the Portland International Jetport announced that Southwest Airlines, on its third anniversary in Portland, had added a fourth daily flight for sale to Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport.

And recently, the Airports Council International (ACI) named Portland International Jetport 2015’s Best Airport in North America, according to its annual Airport Service Quality Awards. The airport also ranks globally in overall customer satisfaction for airports serving fewer than 2 million passengers, according to the council.

For the firefighters who staff the jetport's Air Rescue Station, and for the 250 in the fire department who protect the city, pressures of budgets and growth continue to be a reality. Firefighters have experienced a tumultuous three years involving budget scrutiny, a prolonged contract fight and disputes involving overtime spending.

The current fiscal year appears to be a period of relative calm.

"Right now we're pretty pleased with what the current budget is," Gautreau said.

The city's finance committee recommended a $16.86 million budget for the fire department in fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017). That's up from $16.65 million for the fiscal year now ending (2015-2016). The City Council approved its municipal budget on Monday.

Regarding a three-year lapse without a contract, Randy Billings reported in the Portland Press Herald in March, "Overtime spending by Portland municipal departments increased by more than $400,000 in 2015 – an 8 percent one-year jump – but city officials say a new fire department labor agreement could help reverse the growing costs."

Under the contract approved in March, employees working a 24-hour shift schedule are pared back in pay so that "any additional hours worked in any pay period up to twelve (12) hours shall be paid at the straight time pay rate," according to the agreement.

Concern over fire department spending stretches back at least four years. In June 2013, City Councilor Ed Suslovic, chair of the City Council’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee, raised concerns about department cost overruns, noting the fire department spent nearly $2 million on overtime during the 2012 fiscal year. An audit was conducted on the fire department, prompting reforms.

Meanwhile, contract negotiations languished between the 220 Portland firefighters represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 740 and the city.
The contract's approval earlier this year allowed the city to try to rein in overtime spending in the fire department.

More change appears to be on the horizon. With roughly $14.4 million in payroll, the fire department may be subject to a review of its 10 fire stations.

City Manager Jon Jennings, in his proposed budget, cited a plan for next fiscal year (starting in 2017) "to further modernize the department by evaluating our fire stations locations based on call volume."

German gose: A rule-breaking summer option

This week, we're wrapping up our three week tour of gose beers. These salty, sour, spicy beers are a challenge to many palates. First, we tasted some gose beers from the U.S., which were true to style, with strong salt and sour flavors.  Next, we tasted some gose that added fruit flavors to traditional gose ingredients. The fruit tempered the aggressive sourness and saltiness, creating a unique fusion of sweet and sour. This week, for last gose tasting, we're going to back to the ancestral home of gose beers: Germany.

Gose originated in 16th century in Goslar, Germany. Like many beers at the time, it fermented spontaneously, but that is where comparisons to other beers end. Unlike the other styles of beer for which Germany became known, the mix of microbiota that spontaneously fermented gose included bacteria that produce sour lactic acid. And, unlike many familiar German styles, like pilsner, bock, and hefeweizen, gose is not subject to the Reinheitsgebot. This ancient German beer purity law that limits beer to just three ingredients: barley, hops and water. The coriander and salt in gose are delicious violations of this rule. From its wild origin, to its rule-breaking flavor, gose has always challenged convention. Here's to breaking the rules!

 

Gasthaus & Gosenbrauerei Gose Bier

Format Sampled:11.2 oz capped bottle
ABV: 4.6 percent
Tasting Notes: Pours a sparkling yellow, with a wildly effervescent head. Aroma is fantastically savory, like a fresh loaf of warm, salted sourdough bread.  The initial flavor is oddly flaccid compared to the richly inviting aroma. It's got a pleasant, malty-pilsner taste on the tip of the tongue. The flavor rounds out as it warms though, and develops fascinating nuance. There's a floral, lemony character, fleeting as a cloud on a sunny day, and when I lick my lips, they are coated with a delicate, delicious layer of salt. What a strange feeling, to drink something that leaves behind the very flavor that makes you thirsty. The Gasthaus has a faintly acid flavor too, more the perception of a pucker than a real sourness. Though it start subtle, this beer has a lot going on!

 

Original Ritterguts Gose

Format Sampled: 25 oz capped bottle

ABV: 4.7 percent

Tasting Notes: Pours a pale bronze, with no head at all. Aroma is crisp and cider-like, acid and very fresh. Initial flavor is moderately sour, right off the bat. It's a refreshing level of sourness, like a good fresh limeade, or a sourball candy. The salt slides in right after the sour, subtle, but mouthwatering. The Ritterguts poses the same palate paradox: What does one do with a beverage both thirst-provoking and thirst quenching? The answer is obvious: keep drinking! After the salt and the sour, there's a nice, bright, citrus spice. It's not as lemony as the Gasthaus, and it's nearly missed after all the bolder initial flavors. Overall, the Ritterguts is a more forceful, less complex gose.

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