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Music Interview: Bryan Bruchman + Portland, ME

Bryan Bruchman is the busiest person we know. His duties include events manager at the SPACE Gallery, freelance photographer, blogger/editor at HillyTown.com, co-founder of Portland Pins and guitarist for the band Marie Stella (whose ep Trust is out June 12th, stream it here). A Brooklyn transplant (via NJ), Bruchman’s whirlwind creative energy and inventiveness ingratiated him within the burgeoning Portland, Maine arts scene almost immediately upon arrival; we’re lucky to even catch a moment of his time as he answers our questions about his adoptive city.

What should we know before we go to Portland?
Portland’s more than just the peninsula, and Maine is MUCH more than just Portland. Take some time and explore beyond the tourist sights that the duck tour shows you.
Who are your local musical heroes?
For the indie scene, Cult Maze (and the bands that mutated into/preceded it) seems to be a landmark, with a lot of local acts being inspired by or somehow connected to them. Phantom Buffalo are also a personal favorite and a long-standing band on the scene – my website, http://hillytown.com, is named for one of their singles. Though the local metal scene seems to hurt for show attendance at times, we’re lucky to have Ocean here, who are actually a pretty big name in the rest of the world. Ray LaMontagne, though not from Portland but rather Lewiston, about 45 minutes away, is hugely popular.
MarieStellaWhat local bands or musicians should we be listening out for?
Theodore Treehouse and Foam Castles are two new and very buzzy bands around town. Lady Lamb The Beekeeper has made a huge impact over the past year and is just starting to break out regionally and possibly nationally. Brenda (good luck googling them) are on a roll this summer with big festival shows alongside the likes of Wilco and the Flaming Lips.

What are your favorite music venues and where should we eat and drink around there?
SPACE Gallery (sure, I work there, but if a different venue was my favorite I would have tried to get a job there instead) for the best local and national indie acts. Port City Music Hall for the mid-range national acts of all sorts (indie, jam band, hip-hop). The Apohadion for the smaller, weirder stuff – it’s a DIY venue that doesn’t spread the word too far about their shows. Bayside Bowl is about to open and will be a full-service 10-lane bowling alley with a bar, restaurant, and live music venue. I’ve got high hopes for that one!

Any local music festivals or events we should put on our calendar?
Portland itself doesn’t have many large music festivals: the annual Old Port Fest caters more to the beer-drinking, cover and folk band vibe than other original or indie/rock music. PICNIC is a new arts and music festival that features an eclectic mix of locals and national acts on a small stage in the midst of a craft fair with tons of vendors. Within a few hours drive you also have Nateva (in Oxford Hills) which hosts the Flaming Lips and other indie heavy-hitters in the midst of a lot of jammier acts, plus KahBang (in Bangor) which returns for it’s second fest this year. The lineup for that one so far includes a range of acts from the Gay Blades to Biz Markie and OK Go.

SPACE Gallery, from the SPACE Gallery Flickr

SPACE Gallery, from the SPACE Gallery Flickr

Is there a ” Portland sound”? Or is there a community/scene vibe in the city?
There seem to be a few pockets of bands that gravitate towards certain sounds. The “indie” bands lean more towards jangly guitar-based songwriting (as opposed to dancier styles popular in other places), and the more traditional rock bands seem to have heavy Beatles fixations.
What’s your perfect night out in Portland?
Dinner at Nosh or the Blue Spoon (best burgers in town!), a show at SPACE Gallery, stopping in at Slainte or Geno’s to see what they’ve got going on, a slice of pizza from Otto (preferably their bacon and mashed potato or pulled pork and pineapple specials), then drinks at the Snug or Awful Annie’s on the way home.
Any other things that are a must see and do in Portland?
The Eastern Prom is not to be missed. Sunrise, sunset, or any time in between, it’s an amazing sight to look out over Casco Bay at the islands.
What is your favorite city/venue to play on the road and what place has the craziest fans?
It’s been a while since I’ve been on tour, but of course I always love going back to Union Hall in Brooklyn or the Delancey in Manhattan. Always lots of friends to come out and party all night. If you’re looking for (good, fun, partying – not chasing you down in the street with a knife, because I’ve seen that too) crazy, then Ann Arbor is the place. Those kids know how to have fun.  

What’s the best roadside food you’ve found?
Nothing beats the taco trucks in Austin. My favorite is found in a gas station parking lot about 15 minutes outside downtown. Amazing.
551 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101- (207) 553-2227
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Blue Spoon
89 Congress Street, Portland, ME‎ – (207) 773-1116‎
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SPACE Gallery
538 Congress Street, Portland, ME‎ – (207) 828-5600‎
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