Monday, March 29, 2010

An interview with Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits

By Henry Garfield

"Second verse: same as the first."

There'll be a kind of hush all over Bangor on Friday night, when Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone -- known even to his mother as "Herman" of Herman's Hermits -- comes to Hollywood Slots for a show of songs you only think you've forgotten.

"We’ve got 20 records that were hits in America, and we do all of those," Noone said, when I spoke with him by phone a week before the Bangor show. "Then we do some parodies of ourselves and things like that; we’ll do some Johnny Cash, and the Monkees, maybe some Tom Jones. We know about 300 songs. We don’t really have a set list, so we don’t know exactly what we’re going to do."

Noone was in Schenectady, New York, on a bill with the Grass Roots and Davey Jones, and spoke to me between the sound check and the show.

"We call it the 'Who’s still alive?' tour," Noone quipped, in the same Manchester accent heard on the vinyl records you can still find in the dollar bin at Wild Rufus or Bull Moose. "We don't get underwear thrown at us any more; now they're throwing hip replacements at us."

Few people realize how young Herman's Hermits were when they hit it big in the early 1960s with goofy, happy songs like "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat?" and "I'm Henry VIII, I Am." By 1965 they had already toured the U.S. and released an American "Best Of" album. When I showed the cover to a younger colleague in the office, she exclaimed, "My God! They're twelve years old."

Close. Noone was 16 when the Hermits had their first hit. By 18 he was a star. "It was fun. The people in all the other bands were about seven or eight years older than us. They were friendly and nice to us, and gentlemanly, and gave us plenty of nudging. You know, the Hermits used to go home to their mum and dad’s houses. I was living with my grandparents back then. It was easier to sneak girls into my room with my grandparents. They were always asleep by eight o’clock, you know what I mean?"

Noone said the group's appeal stemmed from its traditional approach. "All the other bands in England were trying to sing in American accents. We used our own accents, like they did in the old British music halls."

The original Hermits disbanded in the early 1970s, and Noone went on to other ventures, including acting in the Broadway production of The Pirates of Penzance that starred the great Linda Ronstadt. He's done television, theater and film, and currently performs upwards of 150 shows a year in the United States, east Asia and England. Between the shows in Schenectady and Bangor, he'll be in Munich, Germany for a series of appearances.
His audience today is between the ages of 20 and 60. "It's quite amazing. We do have quite a big following of people who realize that it’s 50% comedy and 50% music. We’re not out there singing 'Come and get it, baby.' We don’t have any songs like that. Our songs are romance and comedy."

Herman's Hermits played Bangor on that first American tour in 1965, part of the British Invasion that followed hard on the heels of the Beatles. Noone doesn't recall the venue. "It was 45 years ago," he said, as though the thought surprised him.

"And you were very young," I said.

"I'm still very young," he replied.

Catch the show at Hollywood Slots on Friday, April 2, at 9 pm.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's Happening This Weekend...

It's finally spring! Spend the weekend celebrating...

Bangor Y Spring Fair
March 26 - 28
Bangor Auditorium
The 34th Annual Spring Fair offers an indoor carnival with rides, games, and delicious food for all ages. Proceeds support programs for children and families in the greater Bangor area. Friday: 11am - 8pm. Saturday: 10am - 8pm. Sunday: 10am - 4pm. $5 ages 13 and up; $3 for ages 1-12. Free for children younger than one.

Agribusiness Trade Show
March 12 - 28
Presque Isle Forum
This year's show, Growing Our Roots to the Future, will include new trends in local agriculture, new and antique farm equipment, and agricultural demonstrations. Friday: 4 - 8pm. Saturday: 10am - 8pm. Sunday: 10am - 2pm. $3.

The Pops: Beatles Night
March 27
Collins Center for the Arts, Orono
Imagine the Beatles playing in a concert with a symphony orchestra. Classical Mystery Tour has been a hit with both critics and fans. The show presents some 30 Beatles tunes sung, played, and performed exactly as they are written. 8 pm.

March 27
The Grand, Ellsworth
Live from the Met presents a new production of Ambroise Thomas'Hamlet. $22 adults; $20 seniors; $15 children. 1 pm

Maine Maple Sunday
March 28
Join Maine's maple producers as they open their doors to their sugarhouses. Here is your chance to see how maple sap is turned into syrup and sample their goods. Visit the website for more info and a list of participating sugarhouses.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Private Tour: Backyard Farm

One of our regular features in Maine Ahead is called Private Tour. Each month our writer, Hank Garfield, and our photographer, Leslie Bowman, head behind the scenes of a Maine business and share what they find with the rest of us. April's Private Tour is Backyard Farms -- the year-round tomato farm in Madison, Maine. Check out the photos taken by Leslie and her son, Brice Bowman-Laberge, below.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's Happening This Weekend...

March is shaping up to be a pretty stellar month weather wise. Get out there and enjoy it!

25th Annual Bangor Boating & Marine Show
March 19 - 21
Bangor Civic Center
Boats, boats, and more boats! Two buildings filled with fishing craft, pontoon party boats, sailboats, canoes, and kayaks. The perfect cure for the winter blues. Friday: 2-8 pm. Saturday: 10 am-8 pm. Sunday: 11 am-4 pm. $5.

Alice in Wonderland: Penquis Valley High School Senior Play
March 19 - 20
Wingler Auditorium, Milo
Don't miss this classic story performed by the Class of 2010! 7 pm. $5.

End of Winter Native American Gathering
March 20
Sebasticook Valley Community Center
Say goodbye to winter and welcome spring with Native American drummers, dancers, and food. 10 am-4 pm.

Curtis on Tour
March 20
Rockport Opera House
Each season Curtis on Tour brings the extraordinary artistry of the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music to audiences nationwide, with tomorrow' sleading musicians performing alongside celebrated alumni and faculty. 7 pm.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Take a trip around the solar system...for real!

By Melanie Brooks

On my trip up to Aroostook County I tried to spy each planet in the Maine Solar System Model. I didn't see them all, for some are REALLY tiny. I actually passed Saturn before turning the car around -- those planets can really sneak up on you!

The Maine Solar System Model is the the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the Solar System in the world. From Houlton to Presque Isle, all 9 planets (this was before Pluto was re-categorized as a moon...) are built to scale by various groups of people in the county. The project was officially finished in 2003, and the planets have fared exceptionally well over the years, despite the winter weather.

So the next time you take the drive up Route 1, see if you can find all the planets. You can find a guide, description, and photos of the creation of all the planets here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maine Maple

By Melanie Brooks

On the way back home from Fort Kent, Sidekick Shane and I decided to stop in to get some maple cotton candy at Bradbury Maple Farm in Bridgewater. It was a little out of our way but so worth it!

The farm taps about 3,000 maple trees and the sap was flowing! One of the owners had an ice tray all set up to let visitors sample maple sugar taffy -- something I had never tried before. It was awesome. All you do is press your popsicle stick to the end of the line of syrup until it sticks, and roll the stick to gather the hardening syrup on the end like a lollipop. Then -- you eat it! Not so great for the teeth but a nice treat for your tastebuds.

We picked up a jar of maple butter, a half-pint of syurp, and a bag of cotton candy. If you have never had maple cotton candy before you are really missing out. It's the nectar of the gods. Shane likes to put maple butter in his coffee, but I like spreading it on whole grain toast.

The owners sell and ship their goods across the country -- so you know it's good. Maine Maple Sunday is coming up in two weeks. But don't wait until then to head to this quaint maple farm. They have tours the last two weekends of the month. Check them out here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What's Happeing This Weekend...

Melanie is enjoying a long weekend in Aroostook are you going to spend your weekend? Here are some ideas:

72nd Annual Eastern Maine Sportsmen's Show
March 12 - 14
UMaine Field House, Orono
Come check out over 150 vendors ranging from sporting goods dealers to hunting and fishing guides. It's a great place to see the latest hunting, fishing, and outdoor products.

Men Who Cook Benefit Dinner
March 13
Deer Isle-Stonington High School Gym
Come out for an evening of good food, lively music and family fun.Men of all ages will showcase their favorite recipes or their new creations, working individually or in teams. After sampling dishes, diners will cast their ballots for best overall dish, best dessert, and best presentation. 5:30 pm. Tickets $15; $5 for children. 6 years and under eat free.

Bath Blarney Days
March 11-17
The City of Ships will become the City of the Irish in honor of St. Patrick's Day! Events include a fun run, parade, live Irish music, and more all week long.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Trip up North

By Melanie Brooks

I'm on the road for the rest of the week. This morning, Leslie and I drove down to Penobscot (near Blue Hill) to meet with Paul Birdsall, owner of Horsepower Farms. It was a beautiful day to be outside and take a tour of this organic farm.

By 1pm I was on the road north. With my trusty sidekick, Shane, we're spending some time in Aroostook County. We spied a sign on I-95 that said "Mount Katahdin Scenic View" and we had to pull over -- even though we had to hike our way up to the top of the overlook (the road is only open from May to October).

I had never seen Mt. Katahdin covered in snow. It was gorgeous!

After our photo shoot we hit the road heading for Blaine where we met with Gregg and Wayne Garrison who own and operate Double G Farms. Gregg was named the 2009 Young Farmer of the Year and we stopped in to learn about what it takes to run a successful potato farm in northern Maine. We had a great time!

Tomorrow is a new day chalk full of interviews at Northern Maine Community College, the Maine Potato Board, and the Caribou office of the RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program). I'm going to need a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The winner of the Junie B. Jones giveaway is....

Faith McQuatters! Her book report on The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo was an A+ and won her four free tickets to see Junie B. Jones live on stage in Camden this Saturday. Congrats! Read her winning report below...

Here he comes! The heroic knight has arrived to save the land, win the heart of the fair maiden, and bring peace to the kingdom! With him he carries courage, truth, and ... a needle?

The Tale of Despereaux
is the classic story of the knight and the princess with an unexpected twist of the tail. When a kingdom's beloved queen dies of shock after a rat falls into her soup, the distraught king banishes rats, and soup, from the land. The kingdom is filled with sadness and a never-ending rainstorm takes to the gray sky. Only one brave knight can set things right: Despereaux -- the big eared, big hearted mouse who is in love with the sweet and beautiful princess.

Despereaux is not like other mice. He doesn't cower, eat paper, or fear humans. In fact, he greatly wishes to be the knight to save the land and win the heart of the king's daughter before the rats invade. But will his courage and faith be enough? Find out in The Tale of Despereaux!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What's Happening This Weekend...

Welcome to March! The mild weather and lack of snow sure isn't typical...but Maine weather never is. Here's a list of fun things to do this weekend to help usher in Spring.

CAN-AM Sled Dog Race

March 6
Main Street, Fort Kent
There might not be snow in Bangor, but northern Maine is a different story. The 18th annual international race features men, women, and dogs alike from Canada, the U.S., and other countries for a 250-mile race.

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles
March 6
The Grand, Ellsworth
Centered on the vocals of Sarah Borges, this eclectic group gathers inspiration from both punk rock and country music. Their original beats are sure to get your feet tapping. 7:30 pm. Tickets $13 in advance, $15 at the door.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 6
Maine Discovery Museum, Bangor
Help celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday week with a weekend of silly fun. Saturday @ 11 am - Make a Hat and get your face painted like the Cat; 1 pm - Pin the Hoo on Hooville Game; 1:30 pm - More face painting; 2 pm - Make "Oobleck!"; 3:30 pm - Green Eggs Science & snacks; 4 pm - Storytime with favorite Seuss stories.

Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny
March 7
Collins Center for the Arts, Orono
Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia will perform this double-bill adaptation of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd's beloved bedtime classics. Appropriate for ages 2-8. Two shows, 11 am and 2 pm. $17.

DBR & The New Clef Coalition
March 7
Rockport Opera House
Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) combines funk, rock, hip-hop, and classical music to create his own fresh sound. Described as the "hip-hop Mozart," DBR delivers an unforgettable performance. 2:30 pm. $25 adults, $8 children.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Junie B. Jones Giveaway!

Junie B. Jones is the new millennium's equivalent of Ramona Quimby. Author Barbara Park features outspoken, precocious, lovable Junie B. Jones in a series of books about new friends, new glasses, the annual kickball tournament, and other various first-grade angst-ridden situations. She writes all of her adventures in her “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal.”

While the Junie B. Books are GREAT, the musical is FANTASTIC! And you can see Junie B. Jones live in Camden performed by the renowned New York City equity actor theatre group, Theatreworks USA. After a brief New York City-area tour in spring 2004, Junie B. Jones premiered Off-Broadway in July 2004, and is now one of Theatreworks USA’s most popular productions, touring nationally each year. The show was nominated in 2006 for the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and Choreography.

Do you know a Junie B. fan who would love to see this show...for FREE? I bet you do! The lovely people at the Camden Opera House have given us FOUR FREE TICKETS to give away for the show on Saturday, March 13th at 3 pm.

Here's how to win:

Write up a short (under 200 words please) book report on your favorite book to read when you were a child. Or, if you ARE a child, a book report on your favorite book. While you won't be graded on your spelling and grammar, please do your best as the winning report will be published on this blog.

This assignment is due MONDAY, March 8th at the end of the school day (5 pm). The winner will be announced Tuesday morning.

Email your assignment to with JUNIE B. JONES in the subject line. All entries will be read and the winner chosen based on the craftsmanship of their report.

Good Luck!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maine Restaurant Week

Have you heard about Maine Restaurant Week? Probably not if you live in the Bangor area, which is too bad because it's a really cool program. This is the second year of the statewide event that helps to promote people like you and me to get out there and try your local restaurants. Participating restaurants showcase their signature dishes on specially priced, three-course, prix fixe menus priced at $20.10, $30.10 or $40.10. Some restaurants are serving $15.10 lunches.

Most of the 2010 participating restaurants are in the Portland area, but there are some in the Bangor metro area. For a full listing, click here. Below are some local area establishments you can check out from March 1 to the 10th.

$ = $20.20
$$ = $30.10
$$$ = $40.10

$ Anglers Restaurant in Hampden, Newport, and Searsport
$ Brevetto Restaurant in Camden
$ Cafe Miranda in Rockland
$ Cappy's Chowder House in Camden
$ Dysart's Restaurant in Bangor
$ in Rockland
$ Lily Bistro in Rockland
$ Sea Dog Brewing Company in Bangor

$$ Hartstone Inn in Camden
$$ Paolina's Way in Camden
$$ Thistles Restaurant in Bangor

$$$ Natalie's in Camden