A couple of weeks ago, we played Porchfest, here in Portland, Maine’s Deering Center neighborhood. It was a blast, and a good time was had by all. One of the people we met there was Lorenzo, who hosts WMPG‘s Podcast Open Mic show.
Lorenzo actually caught us over two nights – I think perhaps because he was intrigued with the idea of interviewing some genuine buskers. Or maybe he just didn’t have anything better to do. Who knows.
Anyway, he caught us one night in the Old Port, in our usual spot on Wharf Alley, and originally, that was his plan for the end of it. But evidently, some of the audio didn’t come out too well, so he decided to come down the next week and catch us again to pick up the content needed to fill out the show.
We got a text from him, asking where we were, an explained the situation, and a few minutes later, in he walked.
The best part is Lorenzo managed to record a good portion of our set at Amigo’s that night, and put that together with the material he got from our busking sets the week before – and the stuff from Amigo’s is pretty amazing. The crowd reaction alone was some that, as a musician, I’ve never experienced. People really enjoyed the show, an we had a great time playing.
Beyond that, it’s the only live material that we’ve gotten recorded to date.
For most of the summer, we’ve been setting up on Friday and Saturday nights down on Wharf St., in Portland’s Old Port, busking from about 10pm until the bars close – and last Friday was no different. It had been raining hard all day, though, and we weren’t sure we were going to get to play. But by around 10, the rain had cleared off and it turned into a rather nice evening, so we packed our gear and headed down to the Old Port to play a few sets.
Now, usually, we’re competing against the live band that’s playing at Amigo’s, where they have an awesome outdoor patio and feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights. On this night, though, the rain apparently scared off whichever band was supposed to play, because when we rolled up at 10 to set up in the alley, the place was silent. Nothing happenin’ at all.
We talked briefly with the door man at back, who confirmed that the band had not shown up and there was no live music at Amigo’s that night.
So, sensing an opportunity, I grabbed my guitar case and went up to the front door. The door man took one look at me and said, hey, you guys playing here tonight?
“We sure are,” I said. “Is the manager around?”
Yeah, somewhere, he said. You’ll find her.
And find her I did, behind the bar. I ordered a beer. As she place the ice-cold brew in front of me, I said, hey, I hear your band tonight didn’t show. Would it be okay if we played here?
She looked me up and down and said, who are you?
I told her that we’re a band called Plague Dad, and she might’ve heard us because we’ve been busking pretty much every Friday night out front of her joint for the last couple of months, and drawing a pretty good crowd, too. I explained that we had our own PA, our own mics, and that we were ready to go. All we need is a small space to set up in.
She thought about it for a moment and said, eh, never heard of you. I think we’re good, but thanks for stopping by.
Thankfully, though, three of the servers who working there that night were standing near by and heard the conversation.
Alanna White, who also happens to be the Head Chef at the East Ender, piped right up: Did you say Plague Dad, she said? I said yeah, that’s us, and we were hoping to fill in if here tonight if nothing else is going on.
I’ve heard you guys, she said, out there busking every Friday – you guys are awesome!
Alanna turned to the manager and said, hey, these guys are great – you’ve got to let them play here tonight. They’d be perfect, and people will love them.
And so, based on that particularly credible personal testimony, the manager gave us the go-ahead. I can’t pay you, she said, but you can play for tips.
Good enough. We grabbed our gear – a Roland Street Cube Ex, two mics, two mic stands, my guitar and mandolin, and Mig’s percussion rig – and set up in the corner of the patio.
Fifteen minutes later, we were underway, and an hour later the place was packed and people were rockin’ out and having a great time.
We set up our case for tips, just like we were busking out in the alley, and people must have liked what they heard, because they were extraordinarily generous that night. We also sold four records – which you can pick up here at Bandcamp, if you’re so inclined.
We did manage did to get a few pictures that night – one’s posted above – but more importantly, Lorenzo, who who host’s WMPG‘s Podcast Open Mic show, was in the house and managed to record pretty darn near the whole set for his show. Word is, it’s gonna be go live soon, and we’ll post the link as soon as we get it.
And with any luck, we’ll be back at Amigo’s soon to do another show.
We just got the word: we’ll be playing Porchfest this year in Portland’s Deering Center neighborhood: Sunday, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m. at 68 Brentwood St.
This year is the 7th Annual Porchfest, and the event has taken on a life of its own: 60 artists performing on the front porches of houses throughout the neighborhood. This year’s event promises to be the biggest and best yet.
Porchfest is a neighborhood event, and it runs on the power of the people who support it. The organizers are still looking for volunteers to help out. Shifts as a Porchfest Ambassador are only an hour long and anyone who signs up to help out gets an exclusive Porchfest t-shirt. You can sign up here.