We may be past the shortest day of the year, but in terms of nightlife, Maine is still in the depths of winter. Snow is falling, parking bans are in effect, and hibernation is the new activity of choice.
With one notable exception: The Stowaways' weekly residency at Empire is showing no signs of seasonal affective disorder.
Composed of an all-star cast of Maine musicians, the Stowaways exist as an organized group solely in their Monday night meetings. Featuring Matt Shipman on guitar, Joe Walsh on mandolin, Ron Cody on banjo, Steve Roy on bass, and Erica Brown on fiddle, the group often shifts to incorporate other local talent or visiting musicians.
The atmosphere at the Empire night is casual, allowing friends in the bluegrass scene to chat over the music while enjoying their $2 Schlitzes. The Stowaways' approach to playing is similarly relaxed. The musicians joke with each other behind the communal microphones, and at one point Brown zoned out while people-watching and almost missed her vocal cue.
It is her voice, and Joe Walsh's, that really make the Stowaways a must-see act. The two have a no-frills approach to performing that hardly matches their voices — which never once venture off key. If you turned your back, you would swear you were listening to a well-produced recording.
Considering the renown each member receives individually, the lack of a cover charge, and prevalence of drink specials make Mondays at Empire the perfect way to lift the seasonal funk, while staying friendly to the winter wallet.
: New England Music News
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