So it’s the old standbys of line dancing, country karaoke, and a pair of DJs (one of whom is WPOR morning personality Jon Shannon) that are the standards for Austin’s. Seems the crowds really only like the “people’s music” if it’s made by a superstar.
Leo Cloutier of the Lewiston-based combo Roadhouse says his band’s “big three” venues are the Harmony Hall BYOB dance hotspot in North Yarmouth, Crystal Falls in Chelsea, and the Silver Spur (formerly the Nickelodeon) in Mechanic Falls.
And it turns out those kinds of places — the “bottle halls” — are, in fact the best places around here to find country. But if you’re not into hiking to the hinterlands, from time to time Roadhouse come to Portland, like Saturday night at the Maplewood Dance Center, almost across the street from Austin’s. Maplewood also has regular Friday-night line-dance lessons for $10, for those who want to kick up their heels in boots, sneakers, clogs, or whatever fits your foot.
Charlie Gaylord of Diesel Doug and the Long Haul Truckers, who also hosts “Greetings from Area Code 207” on WCLZ, says Diesel Doug have played just once in the past year, at their CD-release party (though they’re getting national press thanks to an upcoming Entertainment Weekly column by Stephen King).
“Maine has a tradition of country music,” Gaylord says, but notes anybody who wants to make it big, like the Don Campbell Band, has to spend at least some time outside the state.
And though here, country is not as much “a way of life” as in the Midwest or the South, Gaylord says, “Maine has a lot of country music fans.”
Sure enough, we’re out here, a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll.
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Jeff Inglis: firstname.lastname@example.org