Maine’s state music artists thrived outside the Nashville limelight

Jun. 23—WESTBROOK, Maine — Nashville is region music’s wallet, the middle of the rhinestone-industrial complicated wherever hit documents are developed, stars created and money made by the hay wagonload.

But that city is not the definitive supply of the music’s coronary heart or soul.

That honor belongs to a great number of, significantly-flung American towns wherever authentic artists sing for a little something further than a paycheck. They toil away, in relative obscurity, mining the depths of human working experience in destinations like Bakersfield, California, Austin, Texas, and Westbrook, Maine.

That is in accordance to noted American audio historian and critic Peter Guralnick. His new e book “Seeking to Get Missing” chronicles Guralnick’s personalized pantheon of great American artists like Merle Haggard, Bill Monroe, Solomon Burke and Maine’s very own Dick Curless.

Guralnick will aid pay back tribute to Curless and other groundbreaking Maine nation audio artists onstage at Lenny’s Pub in Westbrook on Saturday night time.

The pub is the former dwelling of Celebration Information, exactly where a lot of of the state’s early state artists these kinds of as Curless, Al Hawkes, Hal Lone Pine, Betty Cody and Lenny Breau made some of their initial recordings, commencing in the 1950s. Nationally-renowned guitarist Monthly bill Krchen and Maine tunes heroes Memphis Lightning and Sean Mencher will also carry out.

“Maine experienced a state new music scene ahead of the Grand Ole Opry went on the air,” Guralnick claimed. “And the New England scene wasn’t just an aberration.”

Guralnick, who grew up in Massachusetts, is aware of what he is speaking about. He is the author of a definitive, two-quantity biography of Elvis Presley, as well as authoritative textbooks about singer Sam Cooke, bluesman Robert Johnson and famous Sunshine Documents founder Sam Phillips. In 1994, Guralnick gained a Grammy Award for his liner notes accompanying the album “Sam Cooke Are living at the Harlem Square Club.”

Guralnick dedicates around 80 pages in his hottest e book to Curless, covering his complete vocation, beginning with his prospect assembly with New England place audio star Yodeling Trim Clark close to 1949.

Curless’ father was one particular of Clark’s ingesting buddies. Immediately after hearing the son’s singing abilities, Clark took him beneath his wing. He got Curless a frequent slot on nearby radio as “The Tumbleweed Kid” when nevertheless a senior in large school.

In the early 1950s, Curless started off enjoying bass for Hal Lone Pine and his wife, Betty Cody who experienced a nationally syndicated radio exhibit broadcasting from WABI in Bangor. Their oldest son, Lenny Breau, generally appeared with them and would go on to turn out to be a person of the most influential jazz guitarists of all time. Another son, Denny Breau is still a effectively-highly regarded guitarist and songwriter in Maine.

“For Dick, it was like owning a full new prolonged loved ones,” Guralnick wrote.

Then Curless was drafted by the U.S. Military. While serving, he begun carrying out on Armed Forces Radio as the “Rice Paddy Ranger” in Korea.

Just after his Military stint, Curless came again to Maine and commenced his recording vocation with Al Hawkes at Function Data in Westbrook. Soon after an additional whole ten years of executing generally in New England, Curless experienced his breakthrough strike, the one he’s however mostly remembered for nowadays: “Tombstone Each individual Mile.”

Penned by WABI copywriter Dan Fulkerson, the track went to number 5 in 1965, warning potato-hauling truckers of an icy street in “up north in Maine that’s under no circumstances, at any time, ever found a smile.”

That track is anything most nation audio followers know about Curless, who died in 1994 at the age of 63. Guralnick stated he desires people today to understand Curless was a further, much more profound artist than his sole top 10 hit may suggest.

“I required the prospect to do justice to Dick, to generate about the breadth of his talent,” Guralnick said. “He’s genuinely the centerpiece of the book.”

Guralnick also chronicles the relaxation of Curless’ daily life and profession — which mirrored a truthful amount of particular and experienced struggle. It is really that uncompromising realness that proceeds to impress Guralnick currently.

“Dick was normally achieving out for the soul of the music,” he stated. “He insisted on the genuine information of human existence.”

And he did it typically in New England, outside the Nashville system.

Guitar wizard Invoice Kirchen is a floor-breaking musician who also labored outside the house the Nashville institution. Kirchen aided established the phase for the outlaw place movement of the 1970s with his very own band, Commander Cody and the Misplaced Planet Airmen. He then went on to engage in alongside the likes of Elvis Costello, John Lennon and Stevie Marvel.

He’s also a major Dick Curless lover, recording an album titled “Tombstone Every Mile.”

“When he listened to about Lenny’s staying where by Dick recorded, he obtained all excited and questioned if he could see where by it all took place,” claimed Bucky Mitchell, a former drummer and scheduling agent for Curless. “It snowballed from there.”

Kitchen area, Mitchell and Guralnick, who all go way back again, soon settled on a night time to show up in Westbrook alongside one another.

“It all just sort of fell into position,” Mitchell said.

Anticipating a huge crowd, Mitchell reported the clearly show will be held on a new stage, outdoor.

Bill Umbel, proprietor of Lenny’s, couldn’t be happier. Umbel sees the specific demonstrate as a continuation of Maine’s musical heritage — which is why he purchased the previous recording studio and turned it into a audio venue in the to start with spot.

“You will find a non secular relationship” he stated, noting that Memphis Lightning’s front person is only in his 20s. “We’re striving to cultivate the subsequent technology here.”

With Kirchen, Mencher and Memphis Lightning participating in on the bill, Guralnick stated he’s a minimal not sure of what his component will be, due to the fact he’s not a musician, but will assume of some thing.

“I don’t know particularly what I am likely to do or say. I just want to be there to rejoice the situation,” Guralnick reported. “And who would not want to appear to Maine in the summertime?”

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