I think I’m coming down with something. I’ve been hearing horns in my head and have been dreaming incessantly about an incredible show. There’s a big stage and tons of musicians, including eight to-die-for local acts.
Everyone is dressed up. The lights go down, the music starts and a theater full of people is swept up in a sea of horns and other instruments, while one by one, singers take the stage and what happens next is almost too good to be true. Yep, I am definitely coming down with something. I’ve got a bad case of Big Band Syndrome and there’s only one known cure: Going to the show on Friday night.
That’s right people. It’s time for Big Band Syndrome Vol. III at The State Theatre. The Fogcutters Big Band is more horn players than you can shake a stick at (18!) not to mention two superb vocalists. For Big Band Syndrome, The Fogcutters invite local singers to perform with them. Two of each artist’s songs are done up big band style and the end result, for the past two years anyway, has been the stuff of musical legend. This year promises to be nothing less than spectacular and they’ve got the lineup to prove it.
Many of these acts I’ve raved about in this column over the years and others I am darn well planning on raving about in coming months. I’m not sure what order they’ll be going on, but the good news is that it doesn’t matter because they are all so good. So get there on time! Ready? Loretta Allen (Other Bones), Dilly Dilly, Jason Spooner, Kenya Hall, Jaw Gems, Syn the Shaman (Trails), Sara Hallie Richardson and drum roll please … Lady Lamb the Beekeeper.
I CALLED ON Jason Spooner to get his take on what it’s like to have two of his songs, if I may make up a word, “Big-Band-i-fied.” “It’s been really interesting, those guys have been super collaborative and they’ve listened a lot to what my thoughts were,” he said. Spooner also said that he loved having The Fogcutters take the ball and run with it in terms of adding horn lines and a big outro to one of them. The singer-songwriter had zero hesitation when he got the call to participate and is thrilled and honored to the nth degree. I did, however, have to scold him for what he said next. “I’ve never considered myself a vocalist on the same level as many of the folks as they’ve chosen in the past.” I told Jason to get a grip on himself, because he’s a terrific singer. I’ll be proven right on Friday night.
BRIAN GRAHAM plays bari saxophone and is co-leader of The Fogcutters, and he told me that this year all the artists are even more excited than the band has ever experienced and they’ve been working together on a lot of songs. “You’re gonna see an artist come out and back up other artists; there’ll be a lot of intermingling.”
He also said there would be a couple of additional songs featuring extra guests, but he wouldn’t budge on telling me who they were. Ah yes, the element of surprise.
Graham also said that diversity is of huge importance. “We pride ourselves on having as many different genres as possible. The diversity makes the Portland music scene amazing.”
Another thing to look forward to, as if there aren’t already more than enough, is the addition of vocalist Megan Jo Wilson to The Fogcutters. “She has amazing talent,” said Graham. Haven’t heard MJW sing yet? All the more reason to be at this show, trust me on this!
This is the third year of Big Band Syndrome and the first year drew a crowd of 750. Last year that number grew to 1,200. I say let’s pack the State Theatre and make the entire building sway. Who’s with me? Get a preview of the incredible Fogcutters here:
Big Band Syndrome Vol. III. 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. The State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland. $15 in advance; $20 day of show; $10 students; statetheatreportland.com
I’VE ALSO GOT one more show for your consideration. Singer-songwriter Heather Maloney cast a spell on me. I was only going to listen to one or two songs to get a quick sense of her sound, but that didn’t work out so well. Why, you ask? Because she is such a skilled songwriter and wonderful singer I kept telling myself, “One more song, one more song and then I’ll stop.” I stopped at around a dozen songs because deadline was looming, but I could have kept right on listening. So stop eating baloney and go see Heather Maloney. Do that, and I’ll give up my career as a poet. Hear for yourself at heathermaloney.com.
Village Coffee House with Heather Maloney. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. New Gloucester Congregational Church, 19 Gloucester Hill Road. $10; 926-3260
Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at: