Rock musician MikelParis set up his camera and audio equipment inside the Maine Historical Society’s library Tuesday, then turned to a staffer for help.

“Madam librarian? Can you shoosh me, kinda loud?” Paris said to Jamie Rice, library services director for the historical society. Then Paris stepped in front of his video camera and said, “Hi, I’m MikelParis,” followed by Rice’s emphatic “shoosh.” Paris finished his video intro by whispering, “Welcome to TuneTrek.”

Paris, who trademarks his name as one word and plays keyboards for the indie rock band O.A.R., sought the quiet of the historical society’s Brown Library on Congress Street in Portland for the latest installment of his video travel series. While other rock stars might sleep on the bus the afternoon before a gig, Paris likes to seek out historic sites in the cities where O.A.R. plays and record five-minute videos for his website. The band was scheduled to play Portland’s State Theatre Tuesday night.

An avid history buff, Paris began doing “TuneTrek” videos about two years ago and so far has made 29. He’s filmed at the historic reptile house of the Cincinnati Zoo, at an old jail in St. Augustine, Florida, and at the first B&O Railroad yard in Maryland. He hopes to get the series picked up by a cable TV network, maybe History or Discovery. The five-minute videos combine travel, history and music.

Paris has two main reasons for creating the series. He loves history, and he doesn’t want to squander the opportunities touring provides him.

“I just realized a couple years ago I was getting complacent about visiting the cities we toured, so this motivates me to get out of the hotel room and off the bus,” Paris said, standing in the library’s reading room. “This way, I get to visit some really cool places. This is great today because I’ve never done one in a library.”


Paris, a native of Manchester, Connecticut, arrived in Portland Tuesday morning with the other members of O.A.R. He walked alone from the State Theatre to the library around 11:30 a.m. He had a bag of camera and audio equipment strapped to his chest, and his Fender acoustic guitar strapped to his back.

His “TuneTrek” episodes include a tour of the historic site Paris has picked, some narration and an original song.

The film shoot began with Paris getting a tour of another historical society property, the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, next door to the library. Steve Bromage, the historical society’s executive director, took Paris through the house, which was the family home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Using a Pentax camera, Paris filmed the tour of the parlor, dining room and bedrooms that the public can see. He asked to see the attic and basement as well.

“That old wallpaper in the attic was cool, and I like seeing parts of the house that haven’t been restored,” Paris said.

In the Brown Library, built in 1907, Paris toured the main reading room, the stacks of books up on the mezzanine, the second floor exhibit room, and the book storage areas. He admired the movable shelves in the “early imprint” storage area, which are moved with a hand crank.


“We could have automated shelves, but we don’t want to be too high-tech,” Rice said.

“No, your early imprints probably wouldn’t like that,” answered Paris.

Paris picked the historical society’s campus as his “TuneTrek” spot because it is close to where the band’s concert is and he likes old buildings. He said he’ll take the footage he shot, including his tour, interviews and two songs performed in the library, and edit it down to about five minutes, which he hopes to post to his website in January.

When it came to the music portion of his “TuneTrek,” Paris put his camera and audio recorder on tripods in the middle of the library’s reading room, then measured the spot where he would stand. He built a stand-in for himself out of a music stand, cardboard, a white T-shirt and a silver skull mask. Once he had his makeshift mannequin in focus, he moved it out of the way and took it’s place.

Paris filmed himself singing two original songs, “Change” and “Good to Go.” He accompanied himself on guitar, holding it face up and playing it with a combination of strumming the strings and drumming on the wood.

The first song he did is about change, globally and personally, while the second is about seeing someone for the first time and creating a back story for that person in your mind. He’ll look at the footage later and decide which song to use in the video, but he seemed to be leaning toward “Change.”

“Every time you read a book, it changes you,” Paris said. “Every time you go to a new place, like this, it changes you.”

To see some of the “TuneTrek” videos, go to


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