September 26, 2013

Making Noise: New music by Bettencourt and Richardson may move you

By Aimsel Ponti aponti@pressherald.com
News Assistant

Hello music fans. All in all, things are pretty good. The air is getting crisp, our favorite batch of bearded boys is in the playoffs, and some of my favorite local musicians are doing all sorts of awesome things.

click image to enlarge

Eric Bettencourt is putting the finishing touches on a new record, and he’ll play at The Hive in Kennebunk with Sara Hallie Richardson on Oct. 3.

Phillip Rogers photo

TURN YOUR RADIO DIAL to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top live music picks for the week with the Captain and Celeste.

Let me begin with Eric Bettencourt. The news from his camp is that he is recording and he says in his newsletter that it's the best material he's ever written. He wrote most of the tunes while in Austin, Texas, last winter, and before he heads south again in the coming weeks, he's hoping to put a bow on the new music.

Before I tell you where you come in, let me take a moment to rave properly about Bettencourt. He's got three key things going for him, and the combination makes for one of the most impressive singer-songwriters we've got around here. First off, his singing voice has the kind of rasp to it that makes you want to keep listening. Secondly, he's an accomplished guitarist. Thirdly, this chap knows how to write songs and to do justice to ones written by others.

Go to eric-bettencourt.com/music and have your own private listening party. Check out "Smile" and "Dying" from "Secret Songs for Secret People." Then check out the three songs on his "This Big House" EP. Finally, listen to what he does with songs by the likes of David Mallett and Jimi Hendrix on "Weightless Embrace."

If you believe in his music as much as I do, perhaps you'd be willing to crack open your wallet, even just a little bit, and toss some love to Bettencourt's Pledge Music campaign. Every dollar will go toward completing the new record. Essentially, you'll be pre-ordering the new album and that, my friends, is awesome. Interested? Head to pledgemusic.com/projects/ericbettencourt.

One more thing: Before Bettencourt flies the coop, he's got a show coming up in Kennebunk with Sara Hallie Richardson.

Eric Bettencourt and Sara Hallie Richardson. 8 p.m. Oct. 3. The Hive, 84 Main St., Kennebunk. $10; thehivekennebunk.com

SPEAKING OF Sara Hallie Richardson, last Thursday morning I was at my desk doing my thing here at the Press Herald when all of a sudden the sky opened up and a bolt of musical lightning hit me. I have yet to recover and have no plan to do so anytime soon.

The bolt came in the form of a Facebook post on Richardson's music page. The post contained a video to a song she wrote called "Green Gables." The recording -- and video -- features Richardson on vocals and guitar with a string quartet. It was arranged by cellist Hannah Schroeder. The rest of the quartet are violinists Lauren Hastings and Meg McIntrye and Bryan Brash on viola.

Schroeder created the project under the name Bowhunter and you can learn more at bowhuntermusic.com and also check out the "Green Gables" clip.

Back to the lightning bolt. I put on my headphones, clicked on the video that Richardson posted and sat back to listen and watch. My eyes welled up and my heart burst open. There are few moments that equal the gratitude I feel when music has that effect on me. Know what I mean?

"Green Gables" could be interpreted as a spellbinding sojourn into the dark yet spiritual corners of loss, as evidenced by the opening lines: "Had a dream you came to visit me, dressed in white you came peacefully. Your face was lit by candlelight as you talked to me about the afterlife." And yet, it also could be about the kind of loss that comes when a relationship ends: "You taught me to sing a different song, so I let you in but you stayed too long."

Either way, the song is mesmerizing, with the synthesis of Richardson's lovely soprano and the gorgeous, emotive strings that sometimes are played in long strokes and other times in short plucks.

By the way, the clip's director, Dylan Verner, captured the moment on film in a visually stunning way.

When it was over, I posted my "I'm awestruck" type of comments and noticed that all over the place, the reaction was similar. Anyone who had watched the clip was struck as profoundly as I was. The song and video are really that good.

Here's hoping Richardson includes it on her next record, which should be hatched in the not so distant future. Amen to that.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

aponti@pressherald.com

 

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