Summer in Midcoast Maine means the beach and music festivals and weekends devoted to fun things. This year, however, we don’t have to wait until warm weather arrives for a festival weekend.

Belfast, always a cauldron of creative celebration, is hosting the inaugural Belfast Free Range Music Festival; live music will flow from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, April 24 at a variety of downtown venues. In Rockland on Saturday, the Saltwater Film Society is hosting Surf Film Festival 2010 from 3 to 10 p.m. at the downtown Strand Theatre. Also, MeACT, the Maine Association of Community Theatres, is bringing its 13th annual One-Act Play Festival to Rockland’s Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education Saturday, while Waldoboro’s Waldo Theatre hosts a Conservation Film Festival; details on these are on the Backstage Pass and Screening Room pages. Read on here for details on the Belfast and Rockland fests … it looks like Sunday really will have to be a day of rest.

Belfast Free Range Music Festival

The inaugural Belfast Free Range Music Festival will offer live tunes by 25 bands and solo artists at six downtown Belfast venues, all within walking distance. The musicians are a mix of locals plus state, regional and national performers.

All-access passes are $20; general passes are $12 in advance and will be $15 on festival day. Passes are on sale online at; and at Wild Rufus, The Green Store, and Roots & Tendrils, all downtown.

Most of the festival schedule is offset just enough that one conceivably could take in some of nearly every set; each set runs 45 minutes to an hour. With this much variety and genre flexing, however, music lovers may want to sit back and enjoy – or get up and boogie. The venues are: Roots & Tendrils, 2 Cross St.; Colonial Theatre, 163 High St.; Waterfall Arts, 256 High St.; Åarhus Gallery, 50 Main St; Belfast Free Library, 106 High St.; and the American Legion Hall, 143 High St. Seating is limited, more some places than others.

Schedule of performers and shows

10:30 a.m.: Shana Barry will bring her Fofer Show to the Colonial to open the festival. Her imaginative tales, gentle guitar and ukulele playing and multi-colored furry Fofers and their gentle four-legged Peaceballs friends combine with projected animations to create a calming, fun treat for all ages.

11:30 a.m.: At the American Legion Hall, the Travis Lloyd Band from Unity will continue its gritty rock climb that began in 2008 and currently has singer/songwriter Lloyd, drummer Cody Tibbetts, pianist/organist Emily Newell, bassist Russ Lloyd and guitarist John Atwater working on a second album. Meanwhile, at Åarhus Gallery, Cinder Conk mixes riotous Balkan/Gypsy folk dance music and raucous Yiddish celebration anthems into a truly local blend. Band members include accordion activist Matt Rock and Xar of the Gypsy power trio Ameranouche.

Noon: Visual and performance art meet at Waterfall Arts Belfast in the guise of The Mahdi Army Orkestars, a free jazz/experimental music collaboration between well-known Maine artists Abby Shahn, Wally Warren and James Fangboner.

12:30 p.m.: Wesley Hartley and The Traveling Trees return to Roots & Tendrils after a winter concert and show of Hartley’s art work. The alt-country group is driven by Hartley’s Texas drawl and lyrics that walk a fine line between heartwarming and heartbreaking. Other band members include bassist Leslie Dean (also a former Dead End Armory member), Jon Donnell, Derek Renolds and SK Green.

12:45 p.m.: Luna Madidus, a recently renamed modern jazz ensemble of Midcoast musicians, will play at the Colonial Theatre. Formed in February 2009 by pianist and composer Tom Luther, the group includes Michael Whitehead, trumpet; Jeff Densmore, drums; Doug Kennedy, bass; and Kristen Burkholder, vocals.

1:30 p.m.: South China, from Biddeford, will bring its musical and literal marriage to Åarhus Gallery. Jeremy and Jerusha Robinson’s individual backgrounds in experimental rock and classical music combine in a sound that feels sparse and improvised, drawing listeners into an intimate world of Maine winters, bittersweet moments, subtle humor and strange dream imagery.

1:45 p.m.: Tree by Leaf singer/songwriter Garrett Soucy of Liberty joins forces with his Bible study cohorts to manifest the folk expressionism of Calvin and the Free Will Agents, performing at Waterfall Arts Belfast.

2 p.m.: Shawn Mercer & the Boondock Blues Band are making a name for themselves in Maine and the rest of New England. Having recently opened for the likes of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Shemekia Copeland, they bring their lively acoustic blues to the American Legion Hall.

2:30 p.m.: The local and cumbersomely named Uke of Spaces Corners is an experimental folk group that features Dan Beckman and Amy Moon  and often enlists friends and family to provide accompaniment and sonic flavor. They will perform at Roots & Tendrils.

2:45 p.m.: The local Free Seedlings band mixes generations and genres to present bluegrass, old-time and original songs. Both rooted in tradition and open to innovation, Jeff Lewis, Bennett Konesni and David Lewis will take the stage of the Colonial Theatre.

3 p.m.: Composer, new music improviser and performer Mary Anne Driscoll, a Waldo County jazz mainstay, will perform solo vocal interpretations of standards by Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Jules Styne; original piano compositions; and free improvisation at the Belfast Free Library.

3:30 p.m.: Northern Maine wonders Travis Cyr and The Strings Of Calamity will bring their “Acousta-Funky-Folk-Grass” to Åarhus Gallery. Their combination of vividly honest and poetic lyrics with aggressive, fast paced acoustic guitar work is known to break a lot of strings.

3:45 p.m.: Bangor’s Good Kids Sprouting Horns is a trio that started with Casio drum samples, borrowed keyboards and an acoustic guitar in a basement. Over the past few months, the group has moved well beyond these humble roots, as may be witnessed at Waterfall Arts Belfast.

4 p.m.: Col. Bruce & The Quark Alliance features Col. Bruce Hampton, who played poet/band manager Morris in “Sling Blade,” with Kris Dale (bass), Perry Osborn (guitar) and Duane Trucks (drums). They bring their distinctive blend of blues and jazz to the American Legion Hall.

4:30 p.m.: Rural Electric offers guitar-wielding fuzz folk from the backwoods of Waldo County. Roots & Tendrils will host this popular indie, folk, Americana and more combo. Rural Electric’s music deals with everything from love and politics to nature.

4:45 p.m.: David Wax’s circuitous journey to and from the back roads of Mexico has inspired The David Wax Museum’s lively fusion of traditional Mexican and American folk music. Expect Latin rhythms, call-and-response hollering, and donkey jawbone rattling at the Colonial Theatre.

5:45 p.m.: Unbunny is coming all the way from Seattle to play the Belfast Free Range Festival; Jarid del Deo and some of his rotating cast of backing players and collaborators will perform at Waterfall Arts. Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie recorded two songs on the Unbunny album “Black Strawberries” and also played piano on one.

6:15 p.m.: The Class Machine is the local power duo of lifelong rhythm section members of various bands, Nate Raleigh (bass/vox) and Cody Tibbetts (drums/guitar). They bring their less-is-more treatment of tenacious, gut punch songwriting to Roots & Tendrils.

6:30 p.m.: One of Portland’s best-kept secrets but not for long, young Aly Spaltro mixes whimsy, garage rock, drumline percussion, poetry, childlike wonder, and weary sadness into an immediately accessible but totally distinctive style. Spaltro will perform as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper at the Colonial.

7:30 p.m.: Headliners the Jazz Mandolin Project from Burlington, Vt., will take the American Legion Hall stage. Since the 1990s, Jamie Masefield’s Jazz Mandolin Project has been offering an entirely new concept of what the mandolin can do. For his Free Range Music Festival set, Masefield will be joined by Jon Fishman of Lincolnville, drummer and co-founder of Phish; and Peter Apfelbaum (keyboards, sax and percussion), who leads the Hieroglyphics and collaborates with musicians ranging from Don Cherry to Cecil Taylor. Also at 7:30 p.m., local singer/songwriter Caethua will offer songs that weave plaintive, emotionally resonant stories with field recordings and ambient soundscapes. Her new work, which includes partner Andy Neubauer on bass clarinet, will be showcased at Waterfall Arts Belfast.

8:15 p.m.: The ever-changing collective Tiger Saw has toured extensively on three continents and is known for playing unorthodox venues from beach bonfires to treetop sing-alongs, as well as basements and barrooms from coast to coast. They bring their DIY take on indie, soul, and rhythm and blues to Roots & Tendrils.

8:45 p.m.: Providence, R.I.’s Brown Bird is an original five-piece band that draws influence from country, blues and eastern European music. Harmonized voices and instruments carry David Lamb’s haunting lyrics on surging waves of Appalachian, gypsy and chantey music. Expect foot-stomping madness at the Colonial Theatre.

9:30 p.m.: Camden’s David Dodson is an extraordinary songwriter who writes and performs in all manner of American song styles including folk, jazz, blues and country. Dodson, who has shared the stage with Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Gordon Bok, Greg Brown, KD Lang, Bill Stains, The Persuasions, Joe Ely, Marcia Ball and Sha Na Na, will entertain at the American Legion Hall.

9:45 p.m.: Another West Coast performer in the festival is San Francisco’s Lazarus, which will play at Waterfall Arts. Begun as Trevor Montgomery’s post-Tarentel solo project, Lazarus currently explores musical depths with dense layers of drums, keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, glockenspiel and Montgomery’s shamanistic, gospel-inspired vocals. Montgomery also has played in The Drift, Papercuts and Castanets; and toured with Explosions in the Sky.

10:15 p.m.: The festival will wrap at Roots & Tendrils with a set by Gully. The Portland indie rock quartet has been a project in the making since 2005. In 2007, a solid lineup of musicians gelled and with it came the release of an impressive first EP titled, yes, “Six Songs By Gully.” Gully’s first full-length album is expected this spring.

For the schedule, more band information and other details about the festival, visit

Surf Film Fest 2010

The Saltwater Film Society’s Surf Film Fest 2010 will showcase some of the best new independent surf and ocean-based adventure films from around the world at the Strand Theatre at 345 Main St. in Rockland. In addition to the films, there will be prizes, giveaways, a Surf Art show and mid-festival reception, a visit from Maine’s own Grain Surf Boards in their vintage panel truck, and more.

There will be two sessions of films, one starting at 3 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m. Tickets for either session are $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for those younger than 18. Full festival passes are $14/$10. Advance tickets are available at the Strand Theatre by calling 594-0070 weekdays between noon and 4 p.m. or online at

The five films in the festival lineup, made by some of today’s most talented surf filmmakers, explore the beauty of the oceans and the deep connection and pull to the ocean that is so strong for so many people – and central to the experience of those who surf. Session I offers three films that run just under an hour each, and Session II will have a half-hour short and a feature length Maine premiere. Following is a schedule and synopses.

“Dear and Yonder: Daring Stories of Ladies United By the Sea” is a 2009 film from the United States created by Tiffany Campbell and Andria Lessler with principal cinematography by veteran filmmaker Thomas Campbell. This film tracks the unbridled progression of top professionals Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Coco Ho, Silvana Lima and Sofia Mulanovich as they immerse themselves in Indonesia’s green caves and aqua faces, but it also introduces many other up-and-coming and lesser-known female surfers and wahinis. The intimate documentary explores the spiritual side of surfing and the rich history of women’s contributions to the sport.

“Ishmael,” a 2003 U.S. film by Ben Keller, will be of special interest here as it chronicles the New England surfers who suffer the buffeting of the North Atlantic. Ten avid surfers from Maine and northern New England talk about the sensations of local surfing and the need to explore New England’s wintry seascapes, accompanied by some of the hardiest surfing in America. There is a small, dedicated and ever growing core group of people who patiently wait for the waves, no matter the season; this film proves there are fishermen who surf.

“Little Black Wheels,” a 2010 Australian film that is the latest from surfer and filmmaker Mick Waters, comes from more expected surfing grounds. It documents his family’s five-month surf road trip around Australia. Traveling with a 2-year-old, his pregnant wife, a dog and a camper van, life is stripped back to its basics. No boat charters, Internet swell predictions or expensive budgets were used in the making of this film. Featured are Dave “Rasta” Rastovich, Dain Thomas, Mick Hughes, Johnny Abegg, Antoine Cardonnet, Beau Young, Jimmy McMillan, Brett Schwartz, Ry Craike, Mark Healey, Dave Macaulay and Family, Kristian Spencer, Danny Wills, and a host of other underground surfers. This film also showcases Maine’s Grain Surfboards.

“Powers of Three,” a 2009 film from Ireland, will open Session II Saturday night. The West Coast of Ireland produces an unpredictable selection of waves with the scale, power and weight that can comfortably compete with what the rest of the world has to offer, and “Powers of Three” explores the burgeoning big-wave Irish surf scene by following three remarkable surfers. Fergal Smith, Tom Lowe and Mickey Smith are more than just athletes, they are artists driven by obsession, prepared to suffer and sacrifice in pursuit of their art. While they can surf almost anywhere, they have made it their purpose to surf in this magnificent (and potentially deadly) location. This is a stunningly beautiful film, filled with rich images of Ireland and its rugged coastline.

“180° South” will close the festival with its Maine premiere screening. The inspiring new film from director and surfer Chris Malloy and his collective at Woodshed Films documents the adventures of surfer and climber Jeff Johnson retracing the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard (rock climbing legend and founder of Ventura-based Patagonia) and Doug Tompkins, on which they drove, mountain climbed and surfed their way to Chilean Patagonia. Along the way, Johnson encounters big surf, snowy mountains, a dangerous ocean crossing, pulp mills, cowboys, dams and more on his way to climb Cerro Corcovado in Patagonia. He meets up in a rainy hut with Chouinard and Tompkins who, once driven purely by a love of climbing and surfing, now value above all the experience of raw nature and have come to Patagonia to help use their influence to help protect it. The film is a road trip movie, a historic document and an environmental call to arms, but mostly a meditation on what matters most in life — staying true to one’s own vision and values.

“180° South” will continue at the Strand through Thursday, April 29. Also on screen at the Strand during the festival will be the award-winning photography of professional surf photographer Nick Lavecchia, and attendees at the festival will have a chance to win an Alaia surfboard by Jon Wegener. The Alaia is a traditional handcrafted wooden finless surfboard that was used by the ancient Hawaiians. Wegener Surfboards now replicates and produces the Alaia in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the popularity of these unique boards is growing fast. This is a rare opportunity to win one of these boards.

In addition to featuring films about surfing and the ocean, Surf Film Fest 2010 will offer a Surf Art Show and opening at The In Between Gallery, located in-between Rock City Books & Coffee and the Black Parrot on Main Street. Portland’s Corduroy Boutique & Gallery will be installing a one-day-only gallery collection showcasing surf art from artists around the country.

The art will be up all day, and the opening reception will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in between the two film sessions. The exhibit will be a mix of photography, prints, paintings and mixed media. Some artists represented will be Jamie Watson, Ty Williams, Seamouse, Ryan Tatar, Nick Lavecchia, Luke Taffee, Tammi Snodgrass, John Culqui and Dan Tedeschi.

For more information about Surf Film Fest 2010, visit