Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By Ray Routhier firstname.lastname@example.org
Chevy Woods is a democratic rapper.
From left, Miller, Khalifa and Woods will be joined by Kendrick Lamar and Chiddy Bang at the “Under the Influence of Music” show at Scarborough Downs.
The up-and-coming MC originally started performing as Kev The Hustla. But the soft-spoken native of Pittsburgh decided that wasn't the best name, or image, for him to portray.
So he held a contest on Twitter that let his fans pick his new name.
He gave them some choices, including Chevy, a childhood nickname, and Woods, his actual last name. (A rapper using his real name -- now that's an innovative concept.) The combination stuck.
"I'm not sure how that started, but guys around the neighborhood always called me Chevy," said Woods, who says he has never owned a Chevy car or truck in his life. "So I thought this name would be better for me, better for business."
Apparently, he's right. Woods, 29, is now performing with rapper Wiz Khalifa on his "Under the Influence of Music" tour, which makes a stop in Maine on Tuesday at the Scarborough Downs racetrack.
The show will be the first in the new "Music at the Track" series at Scarborough Downs. Promoter Alex Gray, who has organized the successful Bangor Waterfront Pavilion outdoor concerts for several years, got approval from the Scarborough Town Council earlier this year to hold up to five concerts this year at the race track.
So far, three shows have been scheduled in the series. The other two are a daylong hard rock festival called Oxxfest on Aug. 10, and classic rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top on Sept. 7.
With five acts on the bill -- Khalifa and Woods are joined by Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar and Chiddy Bang -- Woods, 29, says the shows have been running three hours or more.
Khalifa and Woods played Portland last year, at an outdoor concert on the waterfront. They first hooked up when they were both living and recording in Pittsburgh. In fact, with the exception of Lamar, who hails from Compton, Calif., all of the acts on the bill are Pennsylvania-based.
Woods says the fact that he and the other rappers on the tour are friends helps make the traveling easier and the performances a little more lively.
"It's fun, because those guys are my friends, not just people the record label threw together for a tour," said Woods. "There's a lot of camaraderie backstage, so I think it helps you put on a good show."
Khalifa is the best-known of the tour's lineup, as he has had hit singles including "Black and Yellow" (which hit No. 1) and "Say, Yeah." His latest album, "Rolling Papers," debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart last year, and he was named Best New Artist at the BET Awards in June 2011.
Miller also had a No. 1 album last year with "Blue Slide Park." Lamar's 2011 album, "Section 8.0," was released exclusively through iTunes and became one of the top digital hip-hop releases of the year. Chiddy Bang is an alternative hip-hop group.
Tuesday's show will be a good test to see if Scarborough Downs can handle parking and traffic issues that come with big concerts, and if residents can handle the noise.
Last year, another promoter held a concert at the track by country music star Brad Paisley, and that show brought some noise complaints. To prevent similar complaints this year, Gray has hired a sound engineering firm to help monitor the sound levels. The show will also go no later than 10:30 p.m., he said.
Gray said the success of outdoor concerts in Bangor and around the country -- coupled with the fact there is no major outdoor concert series in Greater Portland other than free shows at L.L. Bean in Freeport -- convinced him to try this series.
He decided to book the "Under the Influence of Music" tour in Scarborough as opposed to Bangor because of summertime demographics.
"If UMaine were in session, it would make more sense to play Bangor," he said. "But with classes out, it makes the most sense to play southern Maine, because that is where the largest share of young people are this time of year."
Gray said he couldn't say for sure yet if the series will continue next year.
"We would have to see how things go. There are so many moving parts on the municipal level and with the ownership of the track," he said. "So far, everyone has been a pleasure to work with, so I would say it is far more likely yes than no."
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: