Charlie Gaylord’s Cornmeal Records and radio station WBLM — in association with Maine Magazine and Shipyard Brewing — have given us yet another reason to love and appreciate our local musicians with the latest “Greetings from Area Code” compilation.

We’re up to volume eight with this collection, and it was 10 years ago this month that the first one saw the light of day. Sales have raised $100,000 for the St. Lawrence Arts Center over the years, and this latest offering should set that number on fire.

With 31 tracks on two CDs, “Greetings Volume 08″ delivers a brilliant cross-section of local rock, folk, hip-hop, singer-songwriter, alternative and alt/country. And in usual Gaylord fashion, there’s a crush of previously unreleased songs that make this already shiny treasure trove of music shine even brighter.

Disc one has album tracks from Brenda, Amy Allen, Nick Curran and The Lowlifes, The Toughcats, Phantom Buffalo, Holy Boys Danger Club, Jason Spooner, Travis James Humphrey, Grand Hotel and The Loblolly Boy.

The bonus stuff begins on a sky-high note with a live version of “You Are the Best Thing” from Ray LaMontagne with Rustic Overtones, recorded at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Stellar.

Rapper Spose packs a clever, addictive punch with “Pop Song,” an autobiographical look at his life since hitting it big with “I’m Awesome” last winter. Other previously unreleased treasures come from Sara Cox, Jon Nolan, Steve Jones and The Lucid.

The second disc is no less fantastic, with studio, live and never-before-heard songs from Welterweight, Spouse, Rustic Overtones, Coming Grass, Marie Stella, The Boneheads, Space Versus Speed, Gypsy Tailwind, Cindy Bullens, Pete Morse, Darien Brahms, Eric Bettencourt, Paranoid Social Club, The Leftovers and Slaid Cleaves.

I’d love to single out every performer, but here is a handful before space runs out.

First off, in case you’ve either been living in a cave or stuck in line at Trader Joe’s and haven’t heard, Anna Lombard is singing with Gypsy Tailwind. “Greetings” has a live version of “Turn of Events,” recorded at quite possibly the best CD-release show I’ve been to — June 2008 at Port City Music Hall.

I’d also like to give props to Darien Brahms for “Something to Be Said,” a crafty little song with plenty of swagger. Spouse contributes “Chicago,” shaken and stirred with country seasoning. Paranoid Social Club’s “Greetings” song is “White Trash,” with Thommy rapping against a chorus of the two-word-song title chant. It’s habit-forming fun strewn with sharp observations.

Then there’s “Lonely is Better,” from Marie Stella’s CD “Trust.” Marie Stella could very well be Portland’s answer to Belly. I love this band and this song.

Thank you, Charlie, for championing the “Greetings” series, for raising funds for the St. Lawrence and for wrapping your arms around the local musicians who bring more to the vibrancy and artistic essence of this city than I could even begin to measure.

Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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