Stringing us along

Nationally known guitarists descend on Portland
By IAN PAIGE  |  August 29, 2007
insideindie_timeofrivers_no
CROWD PLEASER: Nonloc.

"Play by play: Being an annotated schedule of the guitary greatness on offer at the festival." By Christopher Gray.
Time of Rivers is a two-day, two-venue exploration of what your guitar teacher told you not to do. On Saturday, September 8, busloads of six-string troubadours will descend upon our city to play some “old-tyme tunes” or summon spirits through their effects pedals. The only rule for the festival is there’s a focus on the guitar being played in a “non-rock” format, but even that guideline is lovingly bent to accommodate the full-band psychedelia of local favorites like Fire on Fire.

They’ll be joined by other Maine artists with a taste for the unorthodox — Cursillistas, Arborea, and Micah Blue Smaldone, but the bulk of the festival roster, 19 musical acts in all, are coming from all over the country. The festival takes place at both The Soundpost and One Longfellow Square. The venues’ intimate environs guarantee some experimental cross-pollination of musical ideas. In short, these artists are at the top of their class and they’re all gathering here in a remarkably dense and rarely seen concentration of talent. Kids all over New England are planning their road trip mix-tapes in preparation for their epic journeys to check out the festival.

Time of Rivers coordinator Jason Gibbs sees the event as mutually beneficial for performers and audiences alike: “The festival benefits the artists by giving them the opportunity to see what other players are doing and to play for an appreciative and attentive audience.”

Time Of Rivers | September 8 & 9 | The Soundpost, 108 High St, second floor, Portland + One Longfellow Square, Portland | weekend pass $20; afternoon sets $5 each; evening sets $10 each | for reservations, e-mail sinewave23@aol.com
For Gibbs and co-conspirator Nemo Bidstrup, bringing these artists together is yet another extension of their contributions to the underground music scene in Portland. Gibbs has kept a low profile in the most recent period of his 15-year tenure in the city, to focus on acoustic guitar and banjo recordings, but Bidstrup remembers Gibbs behind the counter at Enterprise Records, dishing out the most out-there records in town. Back then, the 14-year-old Bidstrup was just beginning to fuel his appetite for the most psychedelic and experimental music you can find on vinyl.

That appetite grew so large, Bidstrup had to start Time-Lag Records, his own label that specializes in high-quality, pretty packaging vinyl releases of the cream of psychedelia past and present. The label’s niche success put little old Portland on the map, at least as far as the international underground music scene goes. Now that Bidstrup has opened a store above Strange Maine, and with Enterprise Records and the Soundpost right down the block, upper Congress Street is starting to look like an official destination for the experimentally inclined.

The Time of Rivers festival is an outgrowth of a pending Time-Lag release featuring solo guitar players selected by Gibbs. Since the two organizers were already in contact with most of the artists, it was easy to put together such a large lineup. “Most festivals of this kind are usually ‘Here’s a bunch of bands I like,’ but this one has more of a unified theme because of the compilation,” says Bidstrup.

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