FRANK HOPKINS Photo courtesy of Tom Kasprzak/MAMM
>> Last Sunday, a fire destroyed the home and practice studio of Frank Hopkins and Carla Delaney, leaving the couple uninsured and without most of their belongings. It’s been rather miraculous to see the outpouring of local artists, musicians, and friends lend them a hand, though, as an Indiegogo campaign set up to help them cleared its $5,000 goal in less than 48 hours. Hopkins is a longstanding fixture in Portland music. He plays in the R&B group Kenya Hall Band and fronts his own funk-rock outfit Line of Force, works as a sound engineer and stagehand at Port City Music Hall and the State Theatre, and records his own projects among artists’ like the Fogcutters in his home. And he also penned “Understand,” a tune selected by the Maine Academy of Modern Music to be covered by dozens of Maine artists to promote the local chapter of Playing for Change, a nonprofit organization that provides musical equipment to disadvantaged children across the state. That’ll be made into a video by September, and this week’s proceedings will surely give it a ton of additional resonance. As unfortunate a circumstance as this is, it’s encouraging to see the artistic community show its strength. Look up “Frank and Carla’s Fire Fund” via Indiegogo if you’d like to contribute.
>> In sadder news: Matt Robinson, the drummer of the prodigious pop punk band the Taxis, who were top dogs in the turn-of-the-century Portland scene despite being mere teenagers, passed away last week. He was 31.
>> Attention local musicians: if traveling to unknown vistas with greater frequency, a/k/a touring harder, is one of your 2014 resolutions, then listen up. A new venture called Gig Swap Maine — an offshoot of the Dirigimus Collective — provides an infrastructure to make it easier to trade shows with out-of-state bands, thus assisting your life’s projects and bringing some new faces to town. It’s free, currently accessible as a Facebook group (facebook.com/gigswapmaine), and with a little community dedication, could become a serious resource by the summer.
>> Cover-art illustrators aren’t typically observed when the album they’ve ornamented receives a music review, but Jan-Michael Barlow’s work on Sunrunner’s brilliant prog-metal album Time in Stone, which we waxed glowingly on in last week’s issue, is worthy of exception. Its tableau of an amethyst-caped manchild standing, bamboo staff in hand, at the foot of a mossed-over piazza of Mayan and Gothic architecture makes an appropriately trip-inducing portal to the fantasy-rock contained within. Great work.