I’ve always been a music geek.

For as long as I can remember, I would obsess over the Billboard Hot 100 and memorize discographies of my favorite bands like sports fans do with athletes. Every dollar I had went toward a new album or single. When I was old enough, I would road-trip with my friends to see the likes of U2, the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart.

When I became a reporter, I was given what felt like the keys to heaven: the pop music beat. For the better part of a decade, I interviewed artists, reviewed concerts and CDs, and created memories that will forever be etched into my brain: Celebrating at the 60th birthday party of AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson on a yacht; listening to Melissa Etheridge sing my baby daughter a lullaby; listening in awe as legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler waxed tales of recording with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan.

But the most satisfying feeling came from writing about local musicians. Some of them went on to bigger things, most of them didn’t. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was knowing that they cared deeply about their craft, and that people in the community supported them.

My love for local music hasn’t abated. And in Maine, it’s as vibrant as any I’ve seen. On any given night, you can listen to folk, hard rock, heavy metal, hip-hop, pop, big band, jazz, country, alt-country, alt-rock and everything in between.

This week’s cover story is about 50 Cent, who is performing Sunday at the Lewiston Colisee. We chose 50 for the cover not just because he’s a big name, but because his choice of venue is indicative of a growing audience for rap in the state.

In fact, a rapper from Wells, Spose, recently blew up in a big way by landing a national record deal and watching his single “I’m Awesome” hit the Billboard Top 40. Spose’s set was the most well-attended and most anticipated show at last week’s Old Port Festival. And he started off as just another kid with dreams performing in small clubs around Maine.

I’m going to issue a challenge to readers this week: I want everyone to check out a band or solo artist that they have never heard before, either by picking up a CD at Bull Moose (the best independent record store chain anywhere) or, better yet, by going to a live show.

They may not be any good. But, on the other hand, they may be the next big thing. And whatever the outcome, you’ll be supporting the local music scene and helping someone chase their dream.

 

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

[email protected]