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The Ballroom Thieves (w/ Opener Griffin William Sherry) Stole Hearts at The State Theatre [Photos]

The Ballroom Thieves and opening act Griffin William Sherry treated everyone at The State Theatre to an evening of phenomenal music. Photos by Hannah Jenkins.

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It would have been difficult for anyone in the crowd, which I’m boldly guessing was made almost exclusively of Mainers, not to feel a sense of pride Friday night. The Ballroom Thieves and opening act Griffin William Sherry, who are either from or currently reside in the state, treated everyone to an evening of phenomenal music.

Griffin William Sherry took to the stage with just his powerful voice and guitar. He delivered a selection of new songs and hits from his years with his well-known-and-loved band, The Ghost of Paul Revere, who announced their Goodbye (their farewell album) earlier this year after an impressive eleven-year run. During a particularly quiet moment between songs, as everyone waited excitedly for the next number, a fan shouted, “That was good!”

A simple statement – but said with such sincerity that Sherry needed to thank him for the best thing he’s ever had yelled at him on stage. It could have been said after every song, though, with just as much truth. But to get the correct effect, you must imagine it being said with widening eyes, an abundance of enthusiasm and a few too many “os.” While Sherry was more than capable of keeping the energy up all by himself, it was taken to a stompin’ new level when he brought out a few mates to assist with a handful of songs at the end of his set.

Next up was The Ballroom Thieves, fronted by Martin Earley and Callie Peters, a newly married couple. They took turns leading songs while the other supplied the backing harmony. They played a handful of tracks off their fourth and most recent album, Clouds, including “Worldender,” “In the Morning,” and “I Lose.” Plenty of older favorites were also included, notably their opening number, “Canary,” from their 2016 album Deadeye, which features a captivating cello solo by Peters. It was a wonderful introduction to what was to come that evening.

Both Earley and Peters had a calm command of the stage as they danced all around, expertly holding everyone’s attention as they bounced from one song to the next. Sherry was ushered back out, to much applause, to join them for a very well-received “Wolf” off their 2015 album A Wolf in the Doorway.

Despite being admittedly not the biggest Christmas fanatic, Callie was kind enough to spread some Christmas cheer during the encore with her rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which was sweet enough even to warm the hearts of those who relate more to Scrooge than Santa. To close the show on a high note, they covered Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever.” And with Earley and Peters gazing lovingly at each other throughout the song, it was clear they had been singing to each other all evening as much as they had been singing to us in the crowd.

Folk

Morning Bear Reveals Latest Single “A Simple Understanding”

John Runnels unveils the revival of his indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of new single, “A Simple Understanding”.

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Morning Bear

Denver raised and now Copenhagen based singer/songwriter John Runnels unveils the revival of his orchestral indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of a deeply personal and emotionally charged single, “A Simple Understanding.” Marking the band’s return after a six-year hiatus, Morning Bear’s latest offering provides an intimate glimpse into the mind of its creator, navigating through the profound challenges of loss, resilience, and self-discovery.

Characterised by highly dynamic compositions, Morning Bear’s music weaves together the calm and delicate stylings reminiscent of artists like Bon Iver and Jose Gonzalez, while embracing the complexity and depth akin to the Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens. Featuring soaring vocals and unconventional arrangements, including cello, violin, piano, and more, Morning Bear crafts a textured landscape behind pop-influenced hooks.

The catalyst for Morning Bear’s resurgence lies in the transformative journey of band leader John Runnels, who, after facing a series of devastating events and losses, found solace and inspiration amid the chaos. The global pandemic, the loss of three close friends in separate tragedies, a severe injury, and battles with anxiety and depression marked a period of uncertainty for Runnels, but he emerged stronger and more resilient.

“A Simple Understanding”, a continuation of the first releases from Morning Bear after a long hiatus, showcases Runnels in an intimate and vulnerable performance, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. Released at the time of year where it is most difficult for mental health, John recorded this in a single, live take during a rainstorm in a small garage in a village outside of Andover, UK, and the song captures the raw emotion of Runnels’ struggles and experiences. The lyrics delve into themes of self-loathing and finding hope in the darkest moments of life.

He says “People are often their own worst critic. ‘A Simple Understanding’ speaks to the self-loathing you feel when you have hit rock bottom. How do we find something to hold onto when we’re in the darkest points of our lives?

Morning Bear invites audiences to join them, to embrace vulnerability and share the power of music to heal and connect. With echoes of early Bon Iver in its acoustic performance, ‘A Simple Understanding’ is a brutally honest and delicately executed piece of songwriting that is sure to resonate with listeners, John Runnels bears all in this captivating and emotionally charged offering that sticks.

Morning Bear "A Simple Understanding" single artwork

Morning Bear “A Simple Understanding” single artwork

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Country

Frank Viele Releases His Brand New Single “Sleepless Nights Alone”

Singer-songwriter Frank Viele has released his brand new single “Sleepless Nights Alone” from his upcoming ‘The Trouble With Desire’ album.

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Frank Viele, photo by Donato Biceglia
Frank Viele, photo by Donato Biceglia

Milford, CT native and current Hamden, CT resident Frank Viele is prepping to release a brand new album entitled The Trouble With Desire, which is set to exhibit the musician’s exceptional storytelling and strong roots in a wide range of genres from heartland rock and blues to folk and country.

To further introduce the project, Viele returns today with his newest cut from the forthcoming LP, “Sleepless Nights Alone,” along with an accompanying lyric video.

2023 was a big year for Frank Viele, as he became the first Connecticut artist to win the prestigious award for ‘Act of The Year’ at the 2023 New England Music Awards. Viele thus follows in the footsteps of previous award winners, including Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Dwight & Nicole, Ryan Montbleau, Air Traffic Controller, Sarah Barrios, Deer Tick, Lori McKenna, Martin Sexton, Liz Longley, Chris Trapper, Adam Ezra Group, The Mallet Brothers, and more.

Earlier this year, Viele shared another new single entitled “Mountains We Can Climb.” Previously, 2023 found him sharing an additional handful of singles — “Hearts We Left Behind,” “The Trouble With Desire,” “Claws,” and “Trying To Raise A Man” — which were recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. This is the town that launched the careers of legends such as Aretha Franklin, The Allman Brothers, and Wilson Pickett. It is also the place where The Rolling Stones recorded “Wild Horses” and which boasts the roots of modern greats such as Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and The Alabama Shakes.

Received with glowing reviews, these four songs made their way onto outlets across the industry, including American Songwriter, Boston’s Country 102.5, and NPR. He additionally toured nationally as both a headline act and also as a support act for rock legend John Waite, Season 9 American Idol winner Lee DeWyze, and folk rock troubadour Jeffrey Gaines.

Frank Viele’s newest single, “Sleepless Nights Alone,” is out now via all DSPs. Stay tuned for more information on his forthcoming full-length LP, arriving later this year.

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Alternative/Rock

Lovin’ Life Music Fest Drops First Year Lineup

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in North Carolina.

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Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024
Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s first-ever installment will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. The star-studded lineup includes headline sets from Post Malone, Noah Kahan, and Stevie Nicks. From headliners alone, we can tell this festival has something for everyone.

The festival will showcase many popular acts spanning various genres and generations. Supporting acts include Maggie Rogers, Dominic Fike, The Fray, The Chainsmokers, Quinn XCII, Mt. Joy, Young the Giant, and NC’s DaBaby and The Avett Brothers. There will also be a local stage to highlight Charlotte’s own artists throughout the weekend. This is one of the most stacked lineups we’ve seen for the 2024 festival season.

Tickets to Lovin’ Life are on sale now! Grab them while you can; this is sure to be an epic weekend!

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

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