Mention Maine’s music scene to anyone who isn’t from here, or to anyone who’s never checked out a local gig, and the image that will most likely pop into their heads is one of the stereotypical bearded singer/songwriter. Or maybe some faceless (though probably still bearded) Phish-inspired jam band, or a bunch of washboard-toting Mumford disciples. And yes, acts like that certainly are a part of the local musical landscape.

But, as those of us who do live here and do make the effort to get out and see a show now and again know, Maine’s music scene is astoundingly diverse. There’s a lot more to this scene than just “generic boy (or girl) with guitar.” We’ve got indie, hip-hop, punk, reggae, country, folk, jazz and just about any other musical subgenre one could want. In fact, Maine’s music scene has so much talent on display, it can be a little intimidating, especially when trying to decide where to begin.

That’s where the “Greetings From Area Code 207” series comes in. Over the years, it’s served as a reliable snapshot of what’s happening in the scene, and has always made for an excellent jumping-off point for the curious newbie. The newest edition, Volume 9, offers up 33 tracks spread over two CDs, 16 of those tracks previously unreleased. And, once again, it offers up a fairly comprehensive overview of the current state of Maine’s thriving local music community.

As one would expect, veterans of the scene (and of the 207 series) are well represented. Zach Jones offers up the exuberant and hook-filled “Say Good Night,” Spencer Albee and Dark Hollow Bottling Company deliver a fun, infectious shout-along number in the form of “Where’d My Money Go?,” and Anna Lombard joins Dave Gutter and Rustic Overtones for a gorgeous duet on the dreamy, country-tinged “The Stranger.” Amy Allen is as charming as always on “Heart Of Gold,” and Spose is his usual hilarious self, backed by Paranoid Social Club on “Automatic.” They’re all terrific, and all live up to the quality we’ve come to expect from artists who’ve been honing their craft here in Maine for years.

But what really makes “Greetings … Volume 9” something special is the striking material from some newer acts, many making their 207 debuts.

When Particles Collide rock righteously on the boot-stomping “Ego,” with singer/guitarist Sasha Alcott belting it out as only she can on top of simple but effective buzz-saw riffs.


“Girl’s Got Money” by the Kurt Baker Band combines the best attributes of Cheap Trick, Graham Parker and the Cars into what may be the catchiest track on the entire compilation, complete with hand-claps, a bit of new-wave keyboard and a chorus that will be stuck in your head for days.

The piano-based ballad “Breakdown” features smooth harmonies and an emotional vocal from Michael O, and fans of Beck should definitely check out “(Meet Me In Your) Helicopter” from A Severe Joy. Those who yearn for the glory days of college radio will find a lot to like about Serious Rooms, whose track “The Answers” will put you in the same headspace as your favorite XTC and early R.E.M. records.

On a sprawling double CD featuring one great performance after another, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But, if forced to choose, “Ghostland” by The Ghost of Paul Revere would be a top contender. A delicate country-folk ballad, the soaring harmonies and the emotive lead vocal pack an emotional wallop that’s one of the most powerful moments on the whole collection. If you’ve not yet checked out the band’s “Believe” album, you definitely need to add that one to your collection.

It’s impossible to describe every track on “Greetings From Area Code 207 – Volume 9” in 500 words or less. And no compilation can be truly comprehensive (check out Lorem Ipsum Recordings’ excellent “From Lorem, With Love” sampler series to get a feel for the underground indie scene, and check out recent releases from Ogre and Whitcomb for a taste of Portland’s vibrant metal scene).

But, needless to say, there’s not a bad cut on this album. And there’s plenty of unreleased material here that makes it a worthwhile purchase for even the most completist Maine music fan.

Also, as with past volumes in the 207 series, 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this comp will go to the St. Lawrence Arts Center. The CD is on sale exclusively at all Bull Moose stores and at for the bargain price of $11.97. And, for the month of March, when you buy a copy of “Greetings…Volume 9,” you’ll get a free copy of Volume 8 and a sampler of music from volumes 1-7 (while supplies last). Let’s review: multiple CDs’ worth of outstanding Maine music, for a super-cheap price, and all the money goes to a great charity? Why are you not running to buy this right now?

Rick Johnson is a freelance writer and radio host from Westbrook. He can be reached at:

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