Tom Rowe memorial concert

Saturday night (so this really could be a post for May 12) we went to a folk concert in Lewiston ME.

On Friday Arlene forwarded me an email with the comment “this sounds like us.” It was originally from The Humble Farmer, a Maine Public Broadcasting radio personality. We’re on his email newsletter list. His show is on the air on Fridays, just about the time we’re far enough north that we can start getting the Portland MPBN station in the car. He had been asked to appear in (turned out, to be the MC of) a concert the next day which was in memory of Tom Rowe, a former member of the group Schooner Fare. The acts sounded good and we wanted to see Humble in person.

Lewiston is something like 20 miles from our house in Casco. It’s the second largest city in Maine (surprise! Everyone’s heard of Bangor, but it’s not as big as Lewiston). It’s right across the river from Auburn, so people often talk about Lewiston-Auburn. We had been there four or five times, maybe more, by now. The first two or three of them I got substantially lost. By the time of the balloon festival we were getting our bearings.

This time I got to the concert with only one wrong turn, corrected after one block going the wrong way. That was an auspicious start.

The concert was in the Franco-American Heritage Center. Check that site for a picture of the concert hall, a wonderful venue in a renovated church with beautiful stained glass windows.

I did get to shake hands with The Humble Farmer himself before the show and tell him that it was his e-mail that got us there.

The concert was a benefit for the Maine Cancer Foundation. Tom Rowe had died of cancer some three or four years ago, and his son Dave has been getting together musicians who played with him or were influenced by him to put on memorial concerts annually, This was the third.

One of the sets was by Denny Breau, possibly the best guitarist I’ve heard since Pat Donohue who plays on Garrison Keillor’s show. We didn’t recognize his name before the concert or we would have got one of his CDs as well as the Schooner Fare disk we picked up.

Schooner Fare was a folk trio mostly active in the ’80s, with a sound a lot like the Kingston Trio — good rich harmonies and tunes you could sing along to. Without Tom Rowe, there’s just a duo left. For this audience they were particularly heavy on songs about Maine. One was “you say you’re from the county, well I’m from the county too.” We were pleased that we’ve been hanging around Maine enough that we knew “the county” means Aroostook county, the largest county in Maine or in fact east of the Mississippi.

During the intermission there were crepes for sale downstairs. The people running the food were well organized and had plenty of food on hand, keeping the line moving so you didn’t have to wait. For just $1 per plate you got two (ok, small) crepes with whipped cream, really good and something you don’t find in a folk coffeehouse in the Boston area. The person behind me in line was speaking French to the guy serving them.

You can see Humble’s report of the concert (graphics-heavy! don’t do it on a dial-up line) here.

Maybe the best part of the whole thing was finding out that there are things worth going to in Lewiston, and that we can go there and get back in the evening. But the music was all good too!

One Response to “Tom Rowe memorial concert”

  1. Dave Rowe Says:

    Hi there–very nice review of our concert. Thanks so much for coming. News of my death is greatly exaggerated, however. Actually, the show is in memory of my dad Tom Rowe. He passed in Jan. 2004 and we miss him greatly. This concert is an annual and will happen again next year on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend. Hope you can make it!

    Best wishes,
    Dave Rowe