Friday, January 2, 2015

Portland Vagabonds

Maine is full of vinyl records, it is true.  The VVers recently spent a long weekend in "The Pine Tree State" and for once, didn't put more than a token effort into seeking out record stores.  Even though our heroes were just there for the scenery and relaxation, in Portland the stores just seemed to magically appear everywhere!  Yeeeee!!!

It's a moose popping out of a record!
The trip began up the coast in Bar Harbor where Acadia National Park is located.  Not much up there in the vinyl department, but along the drive down Route 1, there was a strategic stop made in Brunswick where the VVers descended upon Bull Moose, one of several stores in this fantastic local chain.  They feature tons of new and used vinyl at really good prices and seeing as they are a  Blue Note 75th Anniversary authorized dealer, the VVers were compelled to buy a reissue, amongst other things.  Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage seemed like a good choice.  After a few listens, not much to say about the music other than "it's jazz alright!" 

While not technically vinyl, the air waves of Maine were also humming with good vibes.  On the drive back down Route 1 towards Portland, the VVers found WERU Community Radio which was playing fantastic reggae that morphed into some pretty interesting bluegrass.  Nice!

When the VVers made it to Portland, they checked out some live music at Blue which is on the main drag of Congress Street.  Whilst enjoying a night-cap they noticed a flyer for the bar's Sunday Vinyl Hour (actually it was their first ever Vinyl Hour).  Perfect; Sunday plans made.  The VVers found all sorts of other activities for the day and just made it to the tail end of the time.  Unfortunately, nobody but the VVers were there to groove to the tune-fest (the weather was quite nice; perhaps Portlanders [Portlandy-ites?] like to take advantage of that sort of thing?).  Luckily Blue's friendly bartender was into vinyl and not just a keen hand behind the bar.  With a dash of pride she was more than happy to share her eclectic vinyl collection with us while assisting in helping to slake the weary traveler thirst.  There was a distinct point during the conversation where she may have believed that the VVers made the trip to Portland for the sole purpose of seeking and writing about vinyl.  Yes, the VVers will write-off this trip as a business expense!

The Outfits - Just the Toe - 2013
While strolling along the edge of the historic Old Port district, this record was found at quirky local gift shop Pinecone + Chickadee.  Glow in the dark sleeve seven inch from a local band on translucent yellow/green vinyl?  Sure, what the hell.  The woman behind the counter couldn't really describe what it sounded like even though she said it was by her old band.  Real conversation went something like this:

  VVer #1 - Is it punk?
  Nice store lady - Wellllll...
  VV - Is it screaming at me or with me?
  NSL - Ummmmm...
  VV - Is it good?
  NSL - Sure, I guess.

Having given it the three minimum listens the VVers will concur that it is in fact music.  Giving it a fourth and fifth listen (for the purposes of the review) it can honestly be said that The Outfit sound somewhat like Patsy Cline being force-fed gravel by L7 recorded on scrappy gear.  Yay!

Last stop before zipping out of town was at a tiny basement bar, Maps, on the edge of the shopping district.  Really, the VVers didn't want their vacation to end and just wanted a happy hour drink before their flight home.  This bar (which was listed as a dive on some social media app, but was far from it) prominently featured records and a stellar turntable behind the bar.  Was this bar secretly modeled on the VVer's super-top-secret super-record-bar design?  Probably, since in addition there was a beautiful jukebox, warm atmosphere, great beverages, and a friendly tender of the bar.  After realizing what time it was and that there was a flight to catch, the VVers had to leave, but not before at least one send off song was played on the jukebox, as encouraged by the bartender.

A good way to end an unsuspecting "business" trip!

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