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Arootsakoostic Field Report

Our friends in the band When Particles Collide (they played a recent HillyTown Presents show in Biddeford) checked out the Arootsakoostic Music Festival this weekend and were kind enough to share their thoughts and images from the experience with us on the site. Check it out below: words by Sasha Alcott and photos by Chris Viner.

We arrived just before 2pm at Thomas Park in New Sweden, Maine to a lovely rolling green hill with kids playing games and running around the field while the sounds of a well amplified acoustic guitar emanated from the Field stage.

Variety was the name of the game for this festival. Variety in the style of musical groups, in the food, and among audience members. Singer-songwriters, overdriven bass and guitar rockers, traditional Americana acoustic acts clustered around one condenser mic, electrified anthemic rock ‘n roll troubadours, experimental ambient sound-scape builders, and combinations thereof came together to keep the rain at bay and everyone happy and entertained. Tabouli salad with organic yogurt dressing, grilled red hot dogs and burgers or locally grown potatoes baked to perfection with bacon crumbles, chives and cheese were all available. Whether dancing, nodding their heads or stomping their feet, the audience of both young and old locals, southern Maine hipsters and crunchy families of Maine homesteaders all came together to celebrate. Aside from the music, the food and the beautiful location, it was obvious that the one thing that was the true glue of this festival, bringing everyone together and making the vibe so awesome was event organizer Travis Cyr.

Although we missed Mr. Cyr and his Strings of Calamity as well as several others due to the three hour drive from Bangor, we did get to enjoy many memorable sets. We arrived at the Thomas stage, a wonderful outdoor amphitheater decorated with hanging stars, a multi-paneled painted backdrop and freshly cut wild flowers as Line of Force were finishing their groovy set. They were followed by The Milkman’s Union. It was a pleasure to hear their carefully crafted, lyrically dense songs fill the park with a full and luscious sound. Amanda Gervasi and Jeff Beam reminded us that in the hands of a good songwriter, sometimes an acoustic guitar and a vocal melody are all you need to pull an audience in. I don’t know who’s idea it was to put Herbcraft along one of the many paths in the park, but we were lulled into the wooded area by their unique experimental sounds. The most bad-ass set, without question goes to Belfast’s Class Machine who rocked the Field Stage. Most bitter-sweet set goes to Wes Hartley and the Traveling Trees (video here), who played their final set together. I have seen them once before, but in such a wide open space, we were able to more fully take in the subtle choices of hear-felt vocals and driving rhythm. Saturday was my first chance to see The Lucid. Aside from the obvious strengths of this band; a harmony singing drummer, big anthem lyrics, and smooth guitar work, it was great to see creative and enthusiastic bass playing. Speaking of rock, who does punk-rock “Oy! Oy!” nestled into jam-like yet angular rock songs like Theodore Treehouse? Its hard not get pulled into their performance when it is so obvious that all four guys are having the time of their lives. We got a taste of the fiddle work of Tricky Britches when their fiddle player played a few songs with banjo and guitar player Putnam Smith. Good Stuff. Tricky Britches then thumped and twanged their way through an energetic set getting the audience whooping and hollering and on their feet. Spirit Family Reunion, while definitely getting the award for most creative hair-styling, also brought a wonderfully high level of professionalism and enthusiasm to the stage. With stand-up bass, percussion, guitar, banjo and washboard and group vocals they had us all singing along by their final song. To close out the day, with the sun making its gradual decent and lovely low angle light highlighting the beautiful scenery, we were introduced to the Toughcats. As they were about to go on, a friend of mine leaned over and sayed, “Just watch the drummer.” As if I would be able to do anything else for the next forty minutes?! Oh wait, maybe I did sing along to “Betty Davis Eyes” and “Shout it Out Loud.” Who knew three guys with a banjo, a dobro, a drum kit and a suitcase would be so talented and entertaining.

I will definitely be back next year, and will not make the mistake of missing the first couple of hours! Kudos Travis! And thank you. Check out the photos below!

You have a few chances to catch When Particles Collide this summer in Maine (and we certainly recommend that you do!):

Wednesday July 20th, Chummies, Ellsworth, ME
Friday July 22nd with Temperature of the Sun Rupanuni’s, Bar Harbor, ME
Saturday July 30th, Ipanema’s Bar and Grill, Bangor, ME
Saturday August 6th, Bayside Bowl, Portland ME
Friday September 30th, Bangor Rocks Portland, Slainte Wine Bar, Portland, ME