Maine has, at the moment, somewhere around 150 breweries. This is fantastic news if you’re a fan of craft beers and love to socialize, because as you know if you’ve driven by a brewery lately, especially on the weekends, the joints are often jumping with huge crowds and food trucks. They’re also often jumping for another reason: Live music!

I’m too embarrassed to share with you that kind of beer I drink on the semi-rare occasion that I drink it at all. But I have had a number of really fun experiences seeing local bands doing their thing at breweries. Heck even my dog Odie had a blast running around inside the giant tent at Funky Bow in Lyman while Americana duo Muddy Ruckus entertained the masses a couple of years ago.

But how do the bands that play at these makeshift music venues feel about these gigs? To answer that question I put social media to work. Within a few hours I had several emails waiting for me and without exception, every act said they loved playing breweries. First, though, a suggestion: One of the best ways to keep up with who is playing where and when is to follow all of the local bands you love on Facebook and also follow your favorite breweries. Both tend to do very good jobs spreading the word about upcoming shows and events.

Toby McAllister playing at Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston with his nephew, Logan, looking on. Photo by Robin Lovelette.

Toby McAllister (from Sparks The Rescue) said he loved playing breweries because the atmosphere is always different than a regular pub or restaurant. “It’s always like they put a little more thought into the vibe,” he said.  McAllister has been playing solo brewery gigs for about two years and he said that tips are usually great because “people are happy to be there.” McAllister will be playing at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at Baxter Brewing in Lewiston and at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at Gritty McDuff’s in Auburn.

 

Scott Morgan (left) and Jenny Lou Drew (right) play on the deck at Liberty Craft Brewing in Liberty. Photo by Angus Webster

Jenny Lou Drew and her husband, guitarist Scott Morgan, perform at five breweries. “People go to enjoy each other’s company. New brews, food truck offerings and local music are all a part of the experiences,” she said. Drew also pointed out another key element. “There are rarely TVs plastered all over a brewery, but rather games and fire pits. The atmosphere is often geared toward a quality time with friends.” Typically Drew and Morgan will play a mix of originals and creative renditions of covers, depending on the crowd.

Drew agreed that the tips are good. “In my experience I’ve found the brewery crowd to be quite generous and eager to buy our music and merch too,” she said. Lastly, Drew explained that breweries have been creating space for live local music in places where there isn’t an abundance of smaller music venues. “Many of them recognize the value of live music in drawing new crowds to their rooms and creating a memorable experience for patrons. We’re starting to see touring acts billed at breweries and I think that’s a sign that brew pubs are becoming synonymous with live music,” she said.

Catch Jenny Lou Drew and Scott Morgan at Allagash Brewing in Portland from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 11 and at Oxbow Brewing Co.in Newcastle from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 18.

El Grande at Gneiss Brewing Company in October 2018. Photo by Chuck Campbell

Portland-based ska band El Grande also praised brewery gigs. Trumpet player Betsy Caron said that breweries are some of the more unique and exciting venues. “Often, breweries are all-ages, giving us a chance to perform for a younger audience and sometimes even their pets.” she said, adding that it’s rewarding to work with breweries because it gives Mainers and tourists an opportunity to enjoy both beer and music. El Grande will be part of the 6th anniversary party from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 12 at Gneiss Brewing Company in Limerick. It’s the band’s third year playing the event, and this year is extra special. “We’re also releasing our collaboration beer with Gneiss that same day. It’s called The Contender after one of the songs off our new album and it’s a Mexican-style lager,” said Caron.

The Youngerbloods at Bigelow Brewing in Skowhegan. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Soul, funk and R&B band The Youngerbloods have played at a number of breweries over the past few years. Singer Mama Meg said her favorite part is witnessing the relationship between farmers and brewers and how they work together to preserve seasonal tastes like rhubarb, dandelion and blueberry. Their next show is from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Bigelow Brewing Company in Skowhegan, where they’ll be playing originals and classic Memphis soul covers. Drummer and vocalist Marcus Kaplan raved about playing there. “It’s like playing a garden party. The turnouts are always amazing and it’s a real joyous, community vibe,” Kaplan said.

Other upcoming brewery shows:

The Dapper Gents from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 at Stars and Stripes Brewing Company in Freeport.
Mitch Alden at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at Sebago Brewing Company in Gorham.
Darlin’ Corey from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Fall Flannel Fest at Maine Beer Company in Freeport.
Black Cat Road at 8 p.m. Oct. 18 at Maine Craft Distilling in Portland.
Tom DiMenna at 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at Definitive Brewing Company in Portland.

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