Street harassment: Why do men do it, and what can alleviate it?

Hey girl, what's your name?” you hear a gravely voice call out.

 

The voice comes from a middle aged man pushing 50, who passes through the small alleyway where the building’s tenants keep their trash bins — a dark narrow space, regrettably adjacent to the entrance of your downtown apartment. You can tell he’s staring at you. While you offer a polite, yet timid smile, keeping your stare straight and firm, you hope he gets the message: “I don’t feel like talking to you. …” But he doesn't. That would be too easy.

You look like you could use some fun, you're sexy as fuck,” he calls out again. “I asked you, what's your name?”

 Stop Telling Women To Smile

By this point you’re shaking, fumbling with your keys, and desperate to slam the door of your apartment firmly behind you. Eventually your silence and frightened expression finally conveys that you’re not interested, and the man tromps off, but not before defeatedly exclaiming, “Whatever, you’re ugly anyway.”

You reflect on the ugly encounter, particularly the man’s demanding inquiry: “What’s your name girl?”

 

It’s not a question most women want to, or feel obligated to, answer while walking home on Tuesday trash night after a 12-hour shift at work. Or while taking an evening stroll. Or grabbing a midday latte in the Old Port. Or really at any time at all. But it’s this kind of confrontation that many women inevitably face, simply for being out in public. And just because the weather’s turning colder, doesn’t mean sexual harassment in Portland takes the rest of the year off.

 

An encounter with a sexual harasser on the streets of Portland is undeniably creepy, upsetting, scary, and at the very least, plain annoying. There’s no need for debates or disputes: Women don’t appreciate unsolicited advances, gawking or what’s touted by some as “compliments.” Do men really expect to score dates by addressing a stranger as “baby,” and objectifying as soon as eyes lock for the first time? You’d be hard pressed to find a woman who’s found their sweet soulmate, or even a decent date, from a street-side display of male bravado concealed in the guise of “dishing out compliments.” The tempting, kneejerk reaction for many women that suffer through incidents of sexual harassment is to swear off all men as disgusting pigs. It’s tough to apply the #NotAllMen argument here, but on a case by case basis, it’s important to consider.

 

Because the purpose of this article is, not by any means to demonize Portland's male population or gender shame, but an attempt to explore the root causes of street harassment, and reject the claim that “boys will be boys,” and the problem lies in how provocatively women dress in public. How backwards is that? Instead this article will examine what it truly means to be sexually harassed. What are the psychological effects of such incidents? What should a women do after an uncomfortable street encounter to feel safe? And will there ever be a time where women and non-binary people don’t have to shape their actions around the uncontrollable desires of men, and have this discussion at all?

What is street harassment?

It should be understood that every woman and man have their own levels of comfort, tolerance and sense of humor during encounters with strangers. Everyone has their own definition of when the line from flirting to textbook sexually harassing behavior has been crossed.

 

The Sexual Assault Response Serves of Southern Maine (SARSSM) defines sexual harassment as “any unwelcome requests for sexual favors, unwelcome advances, groping and any other verbal or nonverbal conduct of a sexual nature.” Harassment of a sexual nature can be labeled under two existing federal definitions; "quid pro quo" and "hostile environment.” Sexual street harassment fits into the “hostile environment” category, with the harasser making a public environment like a sidewalk, store, parking garage, etc., intimidating and uncomfortable. The term "street harassment" can also include homophobic, racist and transphobic slurs, as well as persistent whistling, staring and leering. It's important to note that the majority of victims of street harassment are either people of color or those in the LGBT community, according to statistics from the Stop Street Harassment Organization.

Why do men do it?

As frustrating and scary dealing with inappropriate behavior from a complete stranger can be, there must be a reason, a motive. Despite the feelings of disgust and fear women might experience after being objectified by a stranger, many often wonder what their harasser’s intentions were. We do live in a world where people say things just for the sake of saying them, perhaps in an attempt to maintain some social dominance, but are there any other reasons? A number of males that live in Portland were asked about cat-calling, and why they think it’s so pervasive.

 

Q: Why do you think some men feel it necessary to catcall or sexually harass women in public/on the streets?

A:

• “Because they feel as if they need to assert themselves to have a presence to someone who captures their attention.”

Testosterone deficiency.”

I think men cat-call in order to feel powerful and in control of women. I think there is zero sexual intention behind it.”

I figure it's kind of like how people feel empowered after saying awful things on the Internet that they would never say in real life. There are no consequences. They have no investment in that person so they say what's really on their minds.”

It's just a weird time we live in where I feel like in this country we are really striving towards equality, but around every door there is belittlement: Brock Turners, sexism, catcalling, and men hushing women because 'we don't know what we are talking about.’"

I believe it’s to show dominance. Generally men in groups are bigger assholes than an individual man. It can also be seen as 'cool' being the bad guy.”

I'd blame it on the probability that they don't understand how it affects women, and the fact that they were probably raised in a culture that promotes macho behavior. It's basically a public display of dominance.”

Women can’t just 'suck it up'

 

But can’t women just “suck it up,” and learn how to take a compliment? That’s what many women have to hear, either from their friends, family, or the perpetrators themselves, in the wake of a degrading and frightful street encounter. But in fact, statistics from the Stop Street Harassment Organization show that only 3 percent of women that experience street harassment take it as a compliment.

 

While I’ve heard the argument that street harassment is actually a compliment – you know, because we’re supposed to be flattered that strange men are screaming at us about our asses – it’s really a super-insidious form of sexism. Because not only do perfect strangers think that it’s appropriate to be sexual toward any woman they want, but street harassment is also predicated on the idea that you’re allowed to say anything to women that you want – anytime, anywhere,” wrote Jessica Valenti, author of He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut … and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.

 

There are usually no bruises, blood, or physical boundaries broken during these encounters, but instead harsh words and anxious tensions. As a result, many women attempt to brush these experiences off. Some are even brave enough to bite back against a harasser by saying “go fuck yourself.” However, on top of feeling unsafe in the moment, an experience with street harassment can also have long-term, negative ramifications for a woman. Getting catcalled or harassed on the streets can change a woman's attitude on whether or not they choose to leave their home after dark, it could deter them from taking a shorter route home from work strictly out of fear of being accosted. According to a study done by Cornell University and Hollaback, 85 percent of their 5,000 women-strong sample size said that they take a different route home to avoid street harassment. Repeated interactions can dismantle a woman’s level of confidence and even lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide. It's not just annoying, it's psychologically damaging. The point is, it shouldn't be this way. Women should not feel like they have some unspoken curfew, or some obligation to constantly be the subject of desire and scrutiny by strange men.

 

Suggested by the opinions conveyed earlier from various males in the Portland area, there's an obvious recurring theme of male dominance and power over women in these harassment situations. Susan Fineran, a professor of women and gender studies at the University of Southern Maine, explains from her years of research, why street sexual harassment occurs.

 

Mostly from what I have seen is, it's just men who think treating women in this manner is okay,” Fineran said. “So it's sexist behavior or homophobic behavior if the women don't respond to the harassment (in other words ignore the men catcalling them) and the men start calling them lesbians. There may be some uninformed men who think women like this behavior, but I can't imagine after all of the publicity of some high profile sexual harassment cases in the workplace that men would think street harassment is okay.”

 

Street harassment is difficult to identify and punish because the effects of it haven’t been studied extensively past workplace or peer-to-peer encounters. What is known anecdotally, is that these occurrences make women feel helpless and uncomfortable. Most of the time this leads to women feeling unsafe in their own community which, with valid reason, can evolve into fear, anger and frustration, furthering fueling mistrust and misunderstanding between the sexes.

I think for women who need to be outside commuting to work in public areas that after a while it takes its toll on them,” said Fineran. “They may end up changing how they travel places if they know there's a group of men who harass them regularly, or that no matter where they walk, run, that they get harassed when on the street. They may stop going certain places or doing certain things ... in other words women's movement becomes restricted by street harassment.”

One of the most confusing/troubling aspects of street harassment is what women can realistically do about it after it happens.

 

Most of the time, it's not the words or the tone that pushes the situation to become alarming, but the vulnerability, intent, and the possible escalation of what could happen next. Nobody knows what a strange male is capable of. Street harassment can, and does lead to further violence and abuse.

 

Checking in at the Portland Police Department with Lt. James Sweatt yielded this information: More than 100 cases of street harassment have been logged in Portland this past year. However, this number is likely to be higher because it's unknown how many incidents occur and don’t get called in. Some women don’t feel comfortable sharing their story, and so many cases go unreported. Sometimes women are even hesitant to share their experience on social media because of the pervasiveness of “victim blaming,” in today's culture. This may be one of the reasons why the local Facebook page, Calling Out Street Harassment in Portland Maine, has been dormant since April. Women feel like reporting their incidents won’t lead to any conclusive outcomes, and might results in further vitriol slung at them online by meninists.

 

However, the cases that were reported in Portland often did result in postive and meaningful outcomes.

 

In May 2014, my best friend and I were sexually assaulted verbally by a taxi cab driver outside of a prominent restaurant in the West End of Portland,” explained a female Portland resident who wishes to remain anonymous.

 

It was one of the worst experiences of harassment that I have ever witnessed or been a part of,” she said. “The incident led to court hearings and eventually after a few months, the cab driver was suspended and fined. About a year later the taxi cab business was defunct. I would never wish this type of experience on anyone. And I am so very proud of all of the humans that supported us and rallied with us to ensure that this man was punished for his actions.”

 

“Yes, I have been harassed on the streets of Portland since then and yes, I still feel the need to be on guard. Not nearly as severe, but in the end, you still feel that you are now an inanimate object solely there for the purpose of someone else's objectification and not the living human being with emotions that you truly are. In general, as a woman I feel that confronting said offender in a non-violent manner needs to be done more often. Don't ignore it. Don't shrug it off. And most of all never let anyone tell you it doesn't matter.”

What can be done?

 

There are some existing global and national websites that have done a terrific job in calling out the cat-callers. “HollaBack!” was inspired after the Puerto Rican Festival in New York, where hundreds of women were groped by men a decade ago. “Stop Telling Women to Smile” is an art series that addresses gender based street harassment in cities.

 

Some public transportation providers have websites where women can post pictures of their harassers on the page of the bus or train company to alert authorities and fellow passengers. Although Portland's Metro system doesn't have a section dedicated to perp photos, their website is openly available for complaints against other passengers. It may seem sometimes pointless, but taking such action has resulted and sometimes will result in arrests for sexual assault if the person is still on the bus and can be apprehended.

 

Sexual harassment in public could be labeled under Maine Law as disorderly conduct, which is classified as a class E crime, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.

 

Fineran suggests taking pictures or videos of the perpetrators and posting them on social media.

 

Colbert and Jon Stewart have covered these behaviors on their shows and there are a lot of YouTube videos demonstrating this behavior where women record men and then ask them why they felt they could harass a stranger on the street in this way,” Fineran said. “Most of the men have no explanation and/or become angry at the surprise confrontation.Realistically, there isn't much women can do other than continually speak out against it and get articles out on how it is boorish, sexist, unwanted behavior that women hate.”

 

  • Published in Features

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.


petite jacqueline.jpg

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.

bingas wings.jpg

 

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

caiolas brunch.png

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.”

IMG 0302

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.”

IMG 0297

 

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.

IMG 0358

 

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.

IMG 0229

 

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.

IMG 0219

 

“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.

IMG 0255

 

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 |

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.

8 Days: Ballroom dancing in the square, Memphis May Fire and the Road to the Wild Woods Fest

THURSDAY, May 19

 

Joel Thetford at Blue | This poetic, Texas bred acoustic singer/songwriter has had a humbling learning experience since he moved to Maine and released his debut album last September at the Portland House of Music. Local purveyors and musicians alike have been diggin’ his unpretentious songs of tough times and heartbreak influenced by Southern classical country. Since his debut EP, Here I Go, Joel Thetford has been working with local talent, playing multiple venues, spinning his record on local radio-shows and, more recently, working with a label company down in Nashville for a potential collaboration. Thetford’s a great example of what raw, honest, hard work and talent can bring to your life if you keep honing your craft. “Not holding back and not being afraid to put yourself out there is something you learn as you go,” said Thetford. “I’ve learned it’s not always about just strumming and singing. You have to let your songs breath and you have to deliver the emotion that comes with the story you're telling.” | FREE | 7:00pm | Blue, 650 Congress St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/ |

 

The Barr Brothers with Arc Iris | Simple, yet beautiful. Wooly. Like a warm blanket. Hushed Americana. Rich. Calm. Dreamlike. Welcoming. Melodic. Pure. Melancholic. These are the words others have used to describe the work of this foursome of sci-folk, mysterious roots artists from Montreal. The Barr Brothers will be inducing pleasant visions with the gritty, yet ethereal rock band Arc Iris. You’re not going to want to miss Arc Iris’s rare visit to Portland. According to these four rockers from Providence, their band is a “mix of everything you love and hate, culminating in something breathtaking and indescribable.” | $20 | 8:00pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com |

 

 

FRIDAY, May 20

 

Ballroom dancing, outside in the square | Even if you’ve made an awkward fool out of yourself, on every dance floor you’ve stepped on, this event’s still for you! The instructors at Ballroom Dance Portland will make it easy for you to learn classic styles like Rumba, Cha Cha, Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango. Come shuffle your feet in the aesthetic urban space of Congress Square Park, for the first outdoor dance of the season! “It's a romantic, fun and sociable event,” said Polina Kirillova, one of the instructors and organizers. “It’s easy to start dancing and enjoying it right away. You can meet new people, get some exercise and dance to popular tunes. Ballroom could be done to any music and we certainly would use new popular tunes you hear on the radio as well as oldies.” | FREE | 6:00pm | 699 Congress St., Portland | http://congresssquarepark.org/ |

 

Pardon Me, Dead | You got me. The title's a pun. Or rather a play off the names of two of Maine’s premier tribute bands: Pardon Me, Doug and The Maine Dead Project (they channel the energy and sound of Phish, and the Grateful Dead, respectively). Both of these powerhouse acts have an outstanding catalog of iconic songs to choose from, and they perform them masterfully, learning something new with each play-through. “Our music evolves with each phrase and the moment we’re in; it breathes within all of us, including those not on stage,” said Benny St. Clair from Pardon Me Doug. “After more than 90 shows together we’ve evolved as musicians and more importantly, friends.” Speaking of friends, there are other big acts booked for this show too, including: the Jason Spooner band, The Raging Brass Reggae, and John Popper from Blues Traveler. If you’re willing to dish out $100, you get access to a VIP lobster dinner with Popper. | $30 | 8:00pm | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland | http://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com |

 

New Hampshire’s Scissorfight comes to town | Back in the day, Scissorfight was making waves in New England’s heavy rock scene, with a lot of screaming, droning, unrelentless drumming, havoc wreaking riffs and all around eardrum rupturing. Then the band went dark, disappearing for six years or so. But yeah, you guessed it: They’re back with a vengeance, a new line up, a re-tooled version of the band and a fresh, yet still murderous attitude. They’ll be laying down “mudhole stomping” versions of their past hits, along with some fully jacked up new stuff. Experience these pure rockers, as they start a new chapter and perform stories of the demons they left in the White Mountains, alongside Murcielago from Portland and White Dynomite from Massachusetts. | $12 | 9:00pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/ |

 

 

SATURDAY, May 21

 

Asylum’s Spring Collection 2016 | If you’re like me, you’re surprised: Asylum sells stuff? Apparently you can buy all the things that you love in an unconventional spot during Asylum’s Spring Collection. That is, if all the things that you love in life are comics, records, toys and collectibles. If you’re not in the mood for shopping for old oddities, or collecting records with Mark Curdo, then walk up to Congress Street and people watch a typical Portland experience: a peaceful protest. This week, the topic of the rally is Monsanto and all their nefarious GMO projects. | $2 | 10:00am to 6:00pm | Asylum, 121 Center St., Portland | http://www.portlandasylum.com/ |

 

MECA Open House | Are you tempted to ignore the advice of some of your peers, trust your heart, and become an art student? If so, you might as well choose the best art school in the state: the Maine College of Art. Or rather, they have to choose you, but you know what I mean. This daylong open house, will satisfy your curiosity and answer some questions you may have about an art degree in general, during extensive tours, art workshops, and a portfolio review session. You know what they say, right? Do what you love and the money will follow. | FREE | 10:30am to 4:00pm | 522 Congress St., Portland | https://www.meca.edu/ |

 

MJ’s spring patio opens up | If you somehow haven’t experienced this place yet, take the short walk from Monument Square and slip into this home away from home. I don’t know about you, but a home isn’t a home unless it’s got a bottle of Vinho Verde in it. There’s a reason the people of Portland have voted MJ’s as having the best wine list, during our Best Of Contest. Their international list of red, white, and sparkling wines is exhaustive and now you can finally sample some of their best, outside on their atmospheric spring patio. There will also be some live music and fresh strawberries for party-goers to enjoy. | $15 | 12:00pm to 4:00pm | 1 City Center, Portland | http://www.onecitywines.com/ |

 

 

SUNDAY, May 22

 

An abundance of rock offerings at Geno’s | Chase away the doldrums, the lazy vibes and the impending stress that a Sunday evening can create with some unabashedly wholesome, and wildly creative rock-n-roll. Here’s the crazy lineup that will keep the club booming all night long: the darkwave metal trio from Austin, Texas, Troller, the prog rock, horror influenced, Dust Witch, the experimental stylist, Teal Child, the apocalyptically surreal, Tom Hamill, and the downright strange Korovyov.  

| FREE | 9:00pm | 625 Congress St., Portland | https://www.facebook.com/Genos-Rock-Club-106415422773796/ |

 

 

MONDAY, May 23

 

Represent: Networking for people of color | We live in Maine. It’s a state known for being the oldest and whitest in the nation. But it’s important we recognize, highlight and celebrate the growing amounts of diversity we have in our community. This networking event does just that, and introduces to the outside community many non-white professional players in Maine’s working landscape. Organizers at the Treehouse Institute, Chanel Lewis and Pious Ali, have carved out a space that focuses on people of color, but invites everyone to enjoy. “With Maine being majority white, we thought it necessary to create an intentional space for professionals of color to meet and network with other POC,” said Lewis. “Furthermore, we encourage people to attend to promote inclusion in this dynamic and diverse community and economy.” | FREE | 5:00pm to 7:00pm | Rising Tide Brewing Company, 103 Fox St., Portland | http://www.risingtidebrewing.com/ |

 

 

TUESDAY, May 24

 

Memphis May Fire with some hard-rockin’ locals | This group of five, Dallas based, intensely driven rockers are ready to get inside the heads of the audience members. I say that, because for metalcore musicians, these guys write pretty damn relatable lyrics. As they should, Memphis May Fire rocks on about life's struggles, dealing with loss, loneliness, tarnished relationships and the confusion brought on by a degrading identity. The hairs on your arms will stand up, and you may even tear up when these aggressive, yet melodic musicians take the stage. Local acts are joining them to round out the night: thrash masters The Great North, the hungry youngins of The Restless Atlantic and the heartfelt five-piece Too Late the Hero. “At our shows you can expect a wild time,” said bass player Jack Stolz from Too Late the Hero. “People flying everywhere. Collisions on and off stage, bad jokes, good riffs and some massive loud rock and roll. We're going to play songs from every release, so old fans, and new fans alike can bang their heads with us.” | $20 | 7:30pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com |

 

Tsula and the Sad Boys with Rigor Samsa | The Under the Influence showcase continues to dedicate showtime to some talented local acts, this time with the newly formed Tsula, and the Sad Boys and Rigor Samsa. Self described as the “lovechild of melody and chaos,” Tsula and the Sad Boys, combines Tsula’s impressive vocal and songwriting abilities, with Jimmy Dority’s guitar skills, Cormac Brown on bass and Jesse Gertz’s drumming for an energetic and classically influenced performance. All of these musicians have years of experience in other bands, so they’re right at home on stage. The heavy rock, post rock, stoner riff, shoegaze, psychedelic, whatever-you-want-to-label-them outfit, Rigor Samsa will play next and are incredibly excited to be there. “The whole Under the Influence series let's a lot of original bands show their fans and fans-to-be where their influences come from,” said John Nels Blanchette of Rigor Samsa. “Having been to quite a few of these shows in the Tuesday night series I can honestly say it's one of the best series in town that Portland has been sleeping on.  We at Rigor Samsa have never been shy about playing covers.” | $5 | 9:00pm | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland | https://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com/ |

 

 

WEDNESDAY, May 25

 

Maine’s Harm Reduction Conference | It’s sad fact, but we live in a state that’s tightly wound in the deadly grip of heroin and other opiates and drugs. There’s never been a more pivotal time where education needs to increase and the stigma needs to decrease, surrounding drug abuse issues and recovery. This conference (4 years in the running), strives to enhance our understanding of the connection between social structure, stigma and drug use, provide practical knowledge, skills and attitudes around the provision of drug related health care services and educate on new and controversial harm reduction strategies. Become a civil servant, and join this learning-focused conference so that you may help others and possibly yourself. | FREE | 8:30am to 3:00pm | 51 Westminster St., Lewiston | https://www.mainehealthequity.org/ |

 

Class warfare during the film “High Rise” | Wouldn’t it be interesting if the impoverished, the middle class, the wealthy and the aristocracy were all placed on a literal battlefield to fight through their dissenting opinions and social issues? Imagine if all the socio-economic classes were placed in an ultra-modern high-rise apartment building? Fans of the classic J.G. Ballard novel, already know what I’m talking about. Now you get to see that harrowing, all-too-relevant, dystopian tale of class warfare on a film, that’s being praised for arresting imagery, disturbing violence, chaotic energy and an entrancing pace. You’ll follow Tom Hiddleston (aka Loki from the Avengers) as the social strata begins to crumble around him. | $8 | 7:30pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/ |

 

THURSDAY, May 26

 

Viva’s Summer Fun Ball | Viva and her neo-jazz group, the Reinforcements know how to throw a party. By bridging the gaps between hip-hop, pop, jazz, funk, big band sound and orchestral elegances, Viva can heal souls through music. Fall in love with her sweet voice, contagious laughter and undeniable sense of rhythm and groove, when she ushers in the moment we’ve been waiting months for: the start of the summer season. Like the forecast next month, the air in here is bound to heat up! | $12 | 8:00pm | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland | http://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com |

 

The Road to Wild Woods | Want to win two free tickets to the sustainable, art and music extravaganza, The Wild Woods Festival? Of course, you do, the tickets are $125. Well if you come crawl out of your living room, and up the stair at Empire, you’ll get a taste of the music that’s going to be offered at the hippy camp-out concert, and a chance to win tickets there. The gypsy dubtronica sensation Govinda will be there alongside, electronic funk artists Gater, the rule-breaking Orchestrobe, and the cosmic bass riders, Zoo Logic. "Zoo Logic is not a 'what' but a 'where,’” said one half of Zoo Logic Austin Rogers. “... a place that we can go and let go of everything happening in our outside lives, where we can do literally whatever we want, and however we want" The other half of Zoo Logic, Jeff Blair, offered this description of their act’s complex sound: “We are an amalgamation of our backgrounds, my melodic, ambient, and hip hop style sounds and his colder, metallic, and traditional electronic dance music can come together in interesting ways for sure.” | $10 | 10:00pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://portlandempire.com/ |

Subscribe to this RSS feed