For seven years now there’s been a springtime music festival in downtown Belfast — an event highly anticipated by music lovers from around the state. For the past two years, it’s been known as the All Roads Music Festival, a day-long celebration of bands from Maine, New England and Atlantic Canada organized by Launchpad, the Bangor-based arts nonprofit. And this year’s event, set for this Saturday, May 21, shines a spotlight on an array of Maine bands, from up and comers to standard-bearers of the scene.
What can you expect? Here’s my guide to the festival. I’ve never missed a year!
Bands perform at five different venues in downtown Belfast, including the Belfast Free Library, Waterfall Arts, the Colonial Theatre, the First Church and the American Legion Hall, with a late night after party set for Three Tides on the Waterfront. All venues are within walking distance of one another, though Waterfall Arts is a ten minute walk from the Colonial Theater and the American Legion Hall.
THE BIG NAMES:
The bands and artists that are among the biggest in the state that are playing this year include returning favorites rapper Spose (9:45 p.m., Legion Hall) and songwriter Spencer Albee (8:15 p.m., Library), as well as new additions including folk quartet the Ghost of Paul Revere (6:30 p.m., Legion Hall), and Maine legends Rustic Overtones (10 p.m., Legion Hall) — who will also participate in a panel discussion about their band’s legacy in the state (2:30 p.m., Colonial).
Are you a rocker? If so, this is the place for you. Take you pick of a who’s who of bands both loud and funky, riff-y and groovy. Bands include Bangor’s Wait (1:15 p.m., First Church), Portland’s Leveret (1:45 p.m., Waterfall), Portland’s Push/Shove (Library, 2 p.m.), Bangor-via-New Hampshire’s When Particles Collide (2:15 p.m., First Church), Portland’s Five Of The Eyes (2:30 p.m., Legion Hall), Portland’s Buddusky (2:45 p.m., Waterfall), Portland’s Whale Oil (4:45 p.m., Waterfall), Portland-via-Boston’s Weakened Friends (5:30 p.m., Legion Hall), Bangor’s They Called Me Legion (5:45 p.m., Waterfall), Portland’s Vaughn (6:45 p.m. Waterfall) and Portland’s Cool Tara (7:45 p.m., Waterfall).
In addition to the aforementioned Ghost of Paul Revere, there are a number of Americana-style bands set for All Roads. If you like things acoustic and/or folky, and/or featuring at least one fiddle or mandolin, you have lots of to choose from. Bands including Portland’s The Ghosts of Johnson City (1:30 p.m., Legion Hall), Farmington’s Goldenoak (3 p.m., Library), Belfast’s Sugarbush (4 p.m., Library), Bangor’s Chris Ross and the North (4:30 p.m., Legion Hall), Massachusetts’ Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters (6 p.m., Library), and New Brunswick’s Tomato/Tomato (7 p.m., Library). There’s also the Maine Songwriter’s Circle, which helps to kick off the day at 11:45 a.m. at the Colonial Theatre, and features songwriters including Spencer Albee, Caleb Orion, Trisha Mason, Sara Hallie Richardson, Renee Coolbrith and Dustin Saucier.
The groovies? Jesus, Emily, you can come up with a better header than that. If you’re somewhere in between liking your guitars distorted and your guitars unplugged, try one of these bands on for size, like New Hampshire’s Zeme Libre (12:30 p.m., Legion Hall), Portland’s Dominic and the Lucid (3:15 p.m., First Church), Portland’s SeePeoples (Legion Hall, 3:30 p.m.), Portland’s KGFREEZE (3:45 p.m., Waterfall), Portland’s Jeff Beam (5 p.m., Library), and Portland’s Armies (7:30 p.m.m Legion Hall), as well as the aforementioned Rustic Overtones, Spencer Albee and Spose.
THE TECHNICAL DETAILS:
Right now, you can buy tickets for just $20 for the regular pass, or $30 for the VIP pass which includes the special opening night party featuring Wyld Lyfe and Fenimore at Waterfall Arts on Friday night and the after party at Three Tides on Saturday featuring the Jon King Band, online via allroadsmusicfest.org. On the day of the festival, regular passes are $25 and VIP passes are $35, and they are available to purchase or pickup at the box office, next to Belfast City Hall on High Street in downtown Belfast.
I love this festival because it’s spring, it’s Maine, it’s Belfast, and it’s a really fun and inexpensive way to enjoy a lot of music and a lot of cool people all on one day. You should definitely go.