A solo departure for Dominic Lavoie, in a year of big events

2012 has certainly been a productive year for Dominic Lavoie, a Madawaska native and a staple of the Portland music scene. He got married. He played a bunch of shows earlier this year with his longtime band, Dominic and the Lucid. One of his songs became one of the most well-known and recognizable pieces of music to come out of Maine in, well, ever. And just two weeks ago, he released his first solo album, “ShaShaSha,” a work in progress for nearly two years that’s now finally seeing the light of day. If nothing else, 2012 won’t be easily forgettable.

“It all just kind of worked out in a really beautiful way,” said Lavoie. “It was time to take a small break from the Lucid, and I’d been working on the songs that became ‘ShaShaSha.’ It was a perfect time to refocus and try something new, and it’s been such a fun experience. I’ve really been able to let my creativity go unchecked and, experiment.”

Though “ShaShaSha” contains some of the sunshine-filled melodies and bouncy pop sensibility that is the hallmark of Lavoie’s work with the Lucid, it takes a left turn towards a more psychedelic side, bringing to mind everything from Lavoie’s personal hero, Brian Wilson, to contemporary mind-expanders like Animal Collective or Black Moth Super Rainbow. Lavoie recorded the album entirely on his own over the course of a year and a half, playing most of the instruments himself, layering harmonies over accordions, organs, acoustic guitars and sparse, simple drumming. There’s a warm, campfire kind of feel to many of the songs, like “Bookshelf” or “AAW,” though the driving “Clocks of Man” could be a forgotten Elephant 6 track, and the off-kilter rendition of the Beatles “If I Needed Someone” breathes a little fresh air into a pop classic.

Lavoie played a CD release concert at One Longfellow Square in late October, and assembled a group of some of his favorite Portland musicians, including Dan Capaldi, Johnny Venom, Pete Genova, Kyle Gervais and Scott Mohler. Instead of mass-producing copies of “ShaShaSha,” he and his wife made up 200 hand-printed woodblock limited editions, which can be purchased by contacting Lavoie directly at shashashamusic@gmail.com. Once the 200 copies are gone, that’s it. And that’s when Lavoie will put the album up online for anyone to listen to – though in the next month he hopes to put video of the CD release show up on YouTube.

“I kind of like that it’s something special and personal for me and for fans,” he said.

In addition to “ShaShaSha,” Lavoie had the distinction of having one of his songs covered by a multitude of Portland’s many musicians – “Be In Love,” off his album “Season of the Sun.” The cover version was made into a video for the Playing For Change Foundation, facilitated by the Maine Academy for Modern Music, an organization that teaches young people to play and write music. A small sampling of the artists featured include Sara Cox, Emelia Dahlin, Zach Jones, Kenya Hall, Amanda Gervasi, Roy Davis, Sara Hallie Richardson, Anna Lombard, Ryan Zoidis, the Fogcutters Big Band, Dave Gutter, Spencer Albee, Kyle Gervais, Eric Bettencourt, The Mallett Brothers Band, and many MAMM students and instructors. It’s already received more than 25,000 views on YouTube.

“I really was honored to have my song chosen, and I can’t think of a better way to showcase Portland to the world than what they did,” said Lavoie. “It was really an amazing thing to happen. I was kind of blown away by it.”

Now that “ShaShaSha” is out and he’s had the chance to try a few new things, Lavoie is looking forward to regrouping with the Lucid and releasing some new material. He’s got another show featuring the music from his new album set for Jan. 11 at the Big Easy, with Forget, Forget and For Morning. And he’s getting ready to take part in the 10th annual Beatles Night, a yearly event organized by his friend Spencer Albee, showcasing Portland musicians playing Beatles songs. That’s set for Saturday, Nov. 24 at the State Theatre.

“That’s always a ton of fun. And who doesn’t love the Beatles?” said Lavoie.

For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/dominicandthelucid.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a UMaine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.