Every day going out to work with my good friend Don Campbell and the band is a good day at work. Over the 13 or so years that we’ve played together, we’ve shared many special moments together on stage. Last night was definitely one of them. Big thanks to Don for always trusting me to be his wing man, especially in moments like this One at Mill Creek Park in South Portland last night. Having Jonathan Edwards sit in for the back half of our set was amazing. Getting to back him up on his biggest hits? Priceless, and infinitely memorable. Thanks also to Jonathan for being so accommodating with the photo. Best complement of the night? He said to me after the show, “those were some great grooves back there!”
Reeling from a massive tear in my personal space/time continuum, this week I got the rare privilege to join truly one of my favorite bands, Thanks to Gravity, in preparation for their reunion concert on May 20th. In what might be the most flattering and humbling invite, my friends Andy, Drew, and Sean asked me to play percussion for this fantastically rare event. The meaningfulness of this reunion concert swirls at such a current, it’s hard to know when the “then” stops and the “now” starts.
After my graduation from high school, I moved from my hometown of Nantucket to the North Shore of Boston to attend college. My bandmate Billy Voss, fresh of our summer busking together on Nantucket, moved shortly thereafter to Boston proper to pursue his music career. Obviously, Billy’s gig offers were infinitely more interesting than Old and New Testament classes, and I joined him frequently to gig around the city. At the same time, just a bit north, Thanks to Gravity was cutting in to their craft and making fans and currents of their own in the process.
In the years that followed, Billy and I had to realize that we were just a few steps behind where Thanks to Gravity were treading. They frequented our island in the summers over a few years for shows, and last I looked, their 8×10 glossy photo was still hanging in the Muse. We were unable to succeed in the major mission to get a song placed on the latest AWARE records compilation that summer, but I’ll be damned when it was released, we saw TTG had the opening and closing track on the release! And, while we met and hung with all the cats that came through the island on their tours like Vertical Horizon, Dave Matthews Band, Edwin McCain, and countless others, we missed getting to hang with Thanks to Gravity. Now I know its because they all drank milk and went promptly to bed after shows.
After I left college due to excessive absences, my roommate Nate shared his love of TTG, as he’d grown up in New Hampshire, and still considers them the state’s greatest band. Nate just reminded me the other day of his original artwork that appeared on the cover of our college’s literary journal, IDIOM, entitled “Eating the Moon,” inspired by the TTG tune of the same name.
When I first met Andy Happel some 15 years ago, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to share a stage with his band, never mind have the friendship that this time has allowed. We’ve played countless shows together through the years with Don Campbell, Andy’s solo material, and now our band, Los Galactacos.
Somehow, I feel that I’ve been practicing for this show with Thanks to Gravity for 20+ years now.
Los Galactacos is thrilled to be engaging in a residency at Frontier in Brunswick once a month; every second Thursdsay.
Los Galactacos will be performing on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at Solo Italiano On Commercial Street in Portland. Please call ahead for reservations! Visit http://www.soloitalianorestaurant.com/ for details.
Please join the fellas (Andy Happel, Pete Witham, Drew Wyman) and I on Monday evenings for Mojito Monday Happy Hour at El Rayo in Scarborough, ME. We play music from the Americas, including Tex-Mex, Ranchera, Bossa Nova, Ol’ Time Country, Fiddle Tunes, Bluegrass, Jazz Standards, the Classic American Songbook, and more.
Los Galactacos plays Mojito Mondays
Monday Evenings from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
at El Rayo Taqueria
245 US-1, Scarborough, ME 04074
August 26th, 2016 | Portland Public Library Atrium, 5 Monument Way, Portland, ME
Irene Wanjiru was born in a small village on the slopes of Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano straddling the border between Kenya and Uganda. Irene has exhibited widely throughout Nairobi, and taught a workshop in wood carving for women at the National Museums of Kenya. She has been artist-in-residence for several summers at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in Rutland, Vermont, and is the 2015 artist-in-residence at the Spillway Fund in Southport, Maine.
Humans and animals both mythical and real interact in her art, inhabiting an imaginative, fecund world that is wholly African (the spirit and workaday worlds always just around the corner from each other), yet draws comparison to the surrealism of Max Ernst and the expressionism of Max Beckmann. Her work is at once dramatic and playful, revealing and life-affirming.