First-ever Portland version of Waking Windows Music & Arts Festival set for Oct. 10

Jeff Beam; photo by Clara Rice

Jeff Beam; photo by Clara Rice

For the past five years, the town of Winooski, Vermont has been home to one of the coolest music festivals in the Northeast: Waking Windows, a carefully curated day of diverse, independent music, visual and literary arts and comedy in small-to-medium-sized venues throughout the town’s downtown area. Much like the Belfast Free Range Music Festival and the All Roads Music Festival, also in Belfast, it provides festival-goers with a unique opportunity to see a lot of great, lesser-known bands in one fun day.

This past May, after playing the fifth annual Waking Windows, Portland musician Jeff Beam was telling Waking Windows organizers Paddy Reagan and Nick Mavodones how impressed he was with the festival as a whole.

“While we were backstage eating cheesy pasta and listening to Delicate Steve on the festival’s main stage, I lamented to them about how there was nothing remotely similar happening in Portland,” said Beam. “We decided right then and there it was an idea worth pursuing, and we went for it.”

A mere five months later, Waking Windows Portland will makes its debut on Saturday, Oct. 10, with more than 60 bands, writers and comedians in nine venues across downtown Portland. While the complete schedule is too jam-packed to list in full here, it’s suffice to say that Beam, Mavodones and Reagan were busy bees this summer.

“Multiple shows within a close walking distance is key to the fest’s identity and success,” said Beam. “There’s a palpable excitement present about having so many talented acts showcased within a short period of time and space.”
Venues include Portland live music staples like Empire, Portland House of Music and Events, the Asylum Downstairs, Blue, the Space Gallery and Local Sprouts, all of which are on Congress Street except Asylum and Portland HOME, which are less than two blocks away. It also includes less-common venues such as the teensy-weensy bar the Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, local favorite Tandem Coffee, and an outdoor venue in Congress Square Park.


The lineup features a number of Portland bands, mostly operating within the rock, indie and psychedelic ouevres, including local favorites like Sunset Hearts, Leveret, Foam Castles, KGFREEZE, Butcher Boy, Armies, Altered Gee, Lisa/Liza, Micromasse, S.S. Cretins, Conjjecture, Paper Castles, Murcielago, and of course, Jeff Beam himself. There’s also Maine, New England and New York bands, like Mainers Greg Jamie and Jacob Augustine, New Hampshire’s Nat Baldwin, Rhode Island’s Ravi Shavi, Vermont’s Lowell Thompson, Madaila, Swale and Maryse Smith, and Alpenglow and Guerilla Toss of New York.

“Historically, there’s been a lot of Portland/Burlington crossover at the various Waking Windows festivals,” said Beam. “Though most of the festival’s lineup features Maine bands, there’s a healthy section of New England represented, as well as New York City and beyond.”

Also featured at the festival will be a Literary Crawl, organized by Nat Baldwin and featuring a wide array of writers and poets from all over the region, from eastern Maine writers like Gregory Howard, Michele Christle and Henry Finch, to Portland writers like Catie Hannigan, to writers like Tim Horvath, Otessa Moshfegh and many more from New York, Pennsylvania and beyond; sessions are set for noon, 1 and 2 p.m.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a huge lineup of stand up comedy from 3 to 5 p.m. at Blue, featuring local comics like Annie Russell, Connor McGrath, Hilary Boone, Will Green, Kendall Farrell, Aharon Williams, Josh Star and Tim Hofmann.

“I think the scope of the local bands featured is a strength of the festival. It skews towards psych/indie/rock/underground, but I think there’s something for everyone,” said Beam. “If it goes well this year, we’ll be back bigger and better next year, too.”

Advance tickets for Waking Windows Portland are $20; visit for a full lineup.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. 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. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine.