STRAND spotlight

The Strand is kicking off a new series of music documentary films with Big Easy Express, featuring the music of Mumford & Sons, Saturday, December 29 at 8pm.

Inspired by the popularity of a recent screening of “Searching for Sugar Man,” documenting the music of Mexican-American singer/songwriter Rodriguez, the Strand’s new film series will draw from a range of music genres.

Big Easy Express takes us cross-country with indie folk heroes Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Tennessee’s Old Crow Medicine Show, and Britain’s acclaimed Mumford & Sons: “3 bands, 6 cities, 1 train, and thousands of miles of track…” Renowned filmmaker Emmett Malloy (The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights) documents their cinematic musical journey as they board a vintage train in California, setting out for New Orleans, Louisiana on a “tour of dreams”.

Part road movie and part concert film, Big Easy Express bears witness to the birth of a new musical era. With poignancy and beauty, Malloy documents these incredible musicians as they ride the rails and wow the crowds, from Oakland… to New Orleans. So climb on board for a vibrant, raucous railway adventure. Filled with joyous crowds, late night laughter, endless music…and a train that was bound for glory.

The Strand’s music doc series continues January 18 with a screening of The Rolling Stones: Charlie is My Darling, Ireland 1965, with more films to be slated for Feb and March.

The Sweetback Sisters return to the Strand Theatre Friday, December 7 at 7:30pm, with their annual Country Christmas Sing-Along Spectacular. This wide-ranging program of holiday music includes well-loved Christmas carols and classic winter-themed songs along with lesser-known country gems. Lyric sheets are provided so that everyone can join in the singing.

All the songs are presented with the Sweetback Sisters' signature mix of harmony singing, rollicking telecaster and twin fiddling along with a healthy dose of holiday cheer. The Sweetbacks will bring along their brand-new, much-anticipated Christmas album, featuring many of the songs presented in the program.

“Sisters” Emily Miller and Zara Bode may not be blood relations, but their precise, family-style harmonies recall the best of country music from the Everlys to The Judds, as well as the spirited rockabilly energy of Wanda Jackson, one of the band’s role models. Like the artists they admire, the Sweetbacks are concerned with the traditional subjects of heartbreak, revenge, remorse and staying strong in the face of relationships gone wrong, albeit with a contemporary sensibility. “We’re a renegade retro band that mixes up country, swing and honky tonk,” explains Bode. “Sometimes what we deliver is straight out of the 50s; other times it’s BR549 meets The B52s.”

Sweetback Sisters have toured extensively since the release of their 2009 album Chicken Ain’t Chicken. Their new CD, Looking For A Fight showcases the band’s razor sharp musicianship, complex arrangements and growing confidence as songwriters.

Tickets: $12. General admission, all ages.

The Strand presents a special HD event, BARRYMORE, Saturday, November 17 at 2:30pm. Christopher Plummer stars in an unforgettable portrayal of legendary actor John Barrymore, a man of colossal talent and contradictions and one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of all time.

The year is 1942, what will be the final year of Barrymore's life. No longer a leading box office star, the film finds the actor reckoning with the ravages of his life of excess. He has rented a grand old theatre to rehearse for a backer’s audition to raise money for a revival of his 1920 Broadway triumph in Richard III. It leads him to look back on the highs and lows of his stunning career and remarkable life.

Backstage with Barrymore is a documentary film about the re-creation of an incredible piece of theatre history. Cameras were rolling as Plummer and the production team prepared Barrymore for the stage of Toronto’s Elgin Theatre. The film offers complete access to the entire process, interviews with the people responsible for this epic adventure in theatre and film, and includes interviews with Plummer’s favorite leading ladies: Julie Andrews, Helen Mirren and Zoe Caldwell.

Mary Black, widely regarded as Ireland’s premier female vocalist, performs live at the Strand Friday November 9 at 7:30pm, as part of a 10-city U.S. tour.

On her first visit to the U.S. in two years, Black will perform material from her newest album, Stories from Steeples, her first studio recording in six years, as well as many of the great songs that she has made popular throughout her career. Joining her is special guest Róisín O, a gifted young singer/songwriter who is one of the rising stars on Dublin’s vibrant pop music scene.

Black has been at the forefront of Irish music for more than 25 years, recording dozens of albums. Her breakthrough No Frontiers in 1989, featuring the haunting track “Columbus,” brought her rich, clear voice and gift for storytelling to the attention of U.S. audiences for the first time.

With her ear for emerging songwriters, Black has never hesitated to introduce a new talent, share a spotlight or credit as the impressive roster of singers, musicians and songwriters that populate her impressive catalog of recordings. Proof of that too is the billing accorded newcomer Róisín O, who has also supported dates with The Coronas, Imelda May, Brad Paisley and Robert Cray, recorded with Paul Brady.

Tickets: $45. The Strand’s Fall Live Concert Series, sponsored by Maine Magazine continues November 14 with Arlo Guthrie live. Tickets are on sale now. All seating is general admission.

Lead singer of the J. Geils Band, and solo rhythm and blues, soul, and rock and roll musician, Peter Wolf, plays the Strand Friday, October 26 at 8pm.

Known for hits like “Centerfold” and “Freeze Frame” as J. Geils Band lead singer for two decades, Wolf has also established himself as a solo artist, writing and recording since 2002 what many consider to be the best albums and songs of his career.

Rolling Stone magazine counts his album Sleepless among their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, "Wolf accomplishes a rare feat on this modern blues album: He sings about adult romance without sounding jaded. The former J. Geils Band singer testifies about true love in his soulful growl, with help from friends like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards." The magazine also included his most recent release Midnight Souvenirs in the 30 Best albums of 2010.

Wolf hails from the Bronx of the 1950s, where his music was heavily influenced by the sounds of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. His Harlem high school was near the Apollo Theatre, where weekly visits introduced him to Jackie Wilson, Dinah Washington, Otis Redding and James Brown, all sparking his early interest in blues and R&B.

Throughout his career, Wolf has collaborated with music legends, performing, recording and producing with the likes of Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Steve Earle, Kid Rock and Bruce Springsteen. In 2012, Wolf reunited with J. Geils Band members to perform with Aerosmith at Boston's Fenway Park.

Tickets: $32. The Strand’s Fall Live Concert Series, sponsored by Maine Magazine, also includes upcoming performances by Mary Black and Arlo Guthrie. Tickets for all shows are on sale now. All seating is general admission. For tickets and information visit or call (207) 594-0070 x 3.

Three American music icons, a legendary Irish songstress, and a rising indie music star all grace the stage of the Strand this fall as part of a live concert series: Ben Taylor October 6, Suzanne Vega October 12, Peter Wolf October 26, Mary Black November 9, and Arlo Guthrie November 14.

The series kicks off Saturday, with Ben Taylor’s (Oct 6) memorable melodies, immaculate acoustic guitar playing and insightful, honest lyrics. The son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, Taylor’s life was always centered on music, and he seamlessly merges the sounds and styles of rock, pop and folk. His latest album Listening, was released Aug 14 and is available as both CD and vinyl.

“Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation,” (Biography Magazine) Suzanne Vega (Oct 12) emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s when, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang what has been labeled contemporary folk or neo-folk songs of her own creation. 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of Vega's album Solitude Standing, featuring the songs Luka and Tom's Diner. She recently released the third installment in her series of acoustic CDs Close Up - States of Being.

American rhythm and blues, soul, and rock and roll musician Peter Wolf (Oct 26)  is perhaps best known for being the frontman and lead singer of The J. Geils Band, but Wolf is also an accomplished solo artist who since 2002 has written and recorded what many consider to be the best albums and songs of his career. Rolling Stone magazine counts his album Sleepless among their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and his most recent release Midnight Souvenirs in the 30 Best albums of 2010.

For the last quarter-century, singer Mary Black (Nov 9) has been a dominant presence in Irish music, both at home and abroad. She has shared stages, tv shows and recording studios with some of the most revered performers of her time. She has also played a frontline role in bringing Irish music, past and present, to an increasingly appreciative and ever-growing global audience.

Folk music icon, Arlo Guthrie (Nov 14) is a legendary artist who shares timeless stories and unforgettable classic songs as he carries on the Guthrie family legacy. With his singular voice as both a singer-songwriter and social commentator, he has maintained a dedicated fan base that spans the globe. Join Arlo in the Strand’s intimate concert venue for the Midcoast stop on his tour Here Comes the Kid: Celebrating Woody Guthrie's 100th Birthday!

Media sponsorship of the 2012 fall live concert series is provided by Maine magazine. Tickets are on sale now! All seating is general admission.

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