Archive for Maine Music


Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Ringer

February 2018

Back by popular demand, Sacred Heart Church in Auburn is bringing back CABARET NIGHT in celebration of its on-going parish-wide pipe organ fundraising campaign which is nearing its first milestone goal.

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Mark the date:  Saturday, February 3rd at 7 PM for the second annual fun-filled musical variety show for all ages, once again being hosted by guest entertainer Louis Philippe.

CABARET NIGHT is just one of many events the parish has undertaken as part of the overall fundraising drive launched in 2015 to help purchase, refurbish and install a 1954 Casavant Opus 2277 Pipe Organ which, through a donation to the parish, was acquired from the Sisters of Notre Dame in Toledo, Ohio.

The secondary goal of the Sister Elizabeth Platt Pipe Organ Fund for Sacred Heart Church is to provide education and training programs to parish organists, choirs and cantors, as well as subsidized organ lessons for deserving and talented young people.

Thanks to the generosity and enthusiastic support of parishioners, volunteers and the community at large, the parish is close to reaching its primary goal for the organ installation sometime this year, according to Carol DeRoy, Fundraising Committee Member and Cabaret Night Production Coordinator.

I believe that this endeavor has brought our community closer together in sharing a mutual dream,” DeRoy said, acknowledging the many gifts made in recognition of family and friends or in memory of loved ones.

Committee Member Roland Bergeron, in charge of Finance, agrees.  This project has lifted us up, and brought unity among our parishioners,” Bergeron stated, adding: “We are prayerfully grateful to be much closer to our goal in getting the pipe organ installed and creating beautiful sacred music for generations to come.”

At age 86, Sister Elizabeth Platt, C.O.C., currently serves as Pastoral Associate, and has dedicated over 30 years of service to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in religious education and the RCIA Program.  A period of her life she often speaks about with great fondness is her years of ministry teaching children to sing the parts of the Mass.  She also worked with the Boys’ Choir in Boston before coming to Maine.

Pam Vaillancourt, a familiar talent from the L-A area, began singing in the church choir since her elementary school days. She’s now Music Director at Sacred Heart Church (since 1994), a well-known advocate of music and ministry, and will once again serve as Stage Manager for this year’s event in addition to performing duets with Louis Philippe (Patsy Cline medley and a gospel medley).

“After our first Cabaret Night, there was so much positive feedback that we knew we had to do it again,” Vaillancourt noted.  “The cast and volunteers have worked really hard in bringing this show to our stage and much closer to our goal.  I hope that everyone who came to last year’s sell-out Cabaret Night will come back and see this one.”

This year’s line-up of diverse acts—guaranteed to entertain everyone— includes:  Ben Daigneault, Emma Daigneault, Rabbi Sruli Dredsner and his wife Lisa Mayer, The Noddin Boys (Lee and Bruce),  Philippian Troubadours (Dick Dubois, Bruce Geoffroy, Jim McConnell, Bob Morin and Conrad Vaillancourt), “Mr. Ray” (Ray Marchessault), Magician Mark Vaillancourt, Alana Gagnon and Pam Vaillancourt.

The Sacred Heart Parish Hall is in the basement of the church, located at the corner of Minot and Western Avenues in Auburn.  Tickets are $12/adults and $6/students.  FMI, contact the IHM office at 782-8096.



By Popular Demand, “CONNIE FRANCIS SHOW” Returns To Franco Center

Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2017 by Ringer

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Thanksgiving Weekend 2017

Back by popular demand, “The Connie Francis Show,” as it is often referred to, is coming back to the Gendron Franco Center for the third year in row.

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS, Louis Philippe’s musical tribute to America’s sweetheart, will be center stage for one show only, a 2 PM Matinee on Sunday, November 26th when the widely-popular, infectious and sentimental hits of Connie Francis will once again fill the air.

With the same original cast that sold out the Center’s 400-seat Performance Hall in 2015, AMONG MY SOUVENIRS features the dreamy, bouncy, trademark Connie Francis hits that are embedded in the hearts of America’s teen culture from the 50s and 60s:  Who’s Sorry Now, Where The Boys Are, V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, Lipstick On Your Collar, I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter, Stupid Cupid, Follow The Boys, Among My Souvenirs and many more.

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS is a multi-media presentation created in 1994 by Louis Philippe’s Reindeer Theatre Company in Westbrook. The songs are performed live (singing along is encouraged), while nostalgic images are projected on big-screen, and a narration of the star’s life, career and personal struggles provides more sentimental trivia and interesting biographical history.

 “This is a chance to reminisce and re-connect with friends and re-live some powerful memories of the late 50s and 60s.  It is truly one of the most moving and fun shows Reindeer Theatre Company ever staged” said Philippe.

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS will also include a few French songs which Philippe discovered in the singer’s well-noted portfolio of foreign recordings in Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, German and Irish.

Krista LeBeau Johnson of Westbrook has been the star of the show since it was reincarnated in 2013.  “Krista has an incredible appealing stage persona much like Connie’s and she easily captures the iconic Francis trademarks—her powerful and mesmerizing vocal delivery of infectious pop melodies and schmaltzy lyrics that all combine for a supreme night of nostalgia,” Philippe stated.

In addition to Music Director Philippe on piano, the back-up combo includes Bruce LeBeau of Westbrook on bass, Marc Mailhot of Westbrook on drums, Tom O’Donnell of Farmington on guitar (the original guitarist from the 1994 revue).  Narration is handled by Maureen Knott LeBeau of Westbrook.

The touring production has been hosted by public venues, service organizations, non-profit groups, and church and hospital fundraisers.  “We’re always open to bringing the show to more venues, particularly for worthy fundraising events,” Philippe said.  Interested individuals or groups can call 207-857-9002.

The Gendron Franco Center is located at 46 Cedar St., Lewiston.  All seats are $18, reserved, and can be obtained by calling the Box Office at 207 689-2000, or visiting online.



Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , on April 21, 2017 by Ringer

April 2017

Why Social Media is Dead for Musicians and Performing Artists

Thommy Kane is a Portland-based rapper/hip-hop artist formerly known as POVERTY.  He is also an actor, record producer, poet and entrepreneur…and a friend of mine.

“As a hip hop artist, I have been mulling over which social media platform is the best to get music out there. After several months of research I have come to the conclusion that none of them are, anymore.

In the early days of Myspace, Social media was a new thing. The excitement brought people to it in droves and it was a hot bed for entertainers. Dane Cook even made a comedy career off of his Myspace following that made him the highest paid stand-up comic in the world at the time. YouTube and Facebook coming in around mid-2000’s, also made tons of people famous. Singers like Justin Beiber became the world’s next Michael Jackson, solely off of Youtube popularity alone. However, with constant evolving technology making high quality music, and videos, cheap and easy to make, the music market became flooded. It has gotten to the point where just about anybody can make some form of music now at a decent quality for a very inexpensive cost. A lot of fans became artists, and buyers became sellers. The over-saturation of music and videos resulted in a massive pouring of people self-promoting down the feeds of everybody’s twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Then, in a response to match the demand of self-promoting artists, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram began charging artists to get exposure, the same way they charge Subway to market a $5 foot-long.

So, people who don’t do music, who artists are targeting as fans, are not only being pelted with youtube and soundcloud links all day long from every artist under the sun, but now they also have to sit and see forced content in their newsfeed that reads “sponsored” over it. Where the fan of music once clicked on an occasional link to check out some struggling artist’s music, they are now so overwhelmed and annoyed with all the spam, they simply don’t bother anymore. Just like most people won’t even bother to read this article. Not to mention, that every DJ, artist, band, singer, beat producer, painter, photographer, website designer, travel blogger, food blogger, dancer, graphic designer, video director, youtuber, comedian, actor, model and tattoo artist is trying to promote themselves. In other words, everyone has adopted the same logic that they could build a business for themselves on social media by marketing themselves. What this has resulted in is everybody plugging and promoting themselves without taking any time to look at what others are promoting.

What also occurred, is websites like Facebook, have drifted far away from being a social media site, now acting more as a news aggregate and self-promotion engine. The entire landscape of social media has changed. The online world has become so weighed down by a myriad of people selling something, that the small few people who aren’t selling anything have become simply exhausted. Where it used to only be big corporations jockeying for your attention, now it’s all of them and half of the people you know online.

Facebook had artists spending years building a Facebook fan page for themselves, and now they charge the artist money to reach their own fan base. Twitter is basically a place where people follow people who are already famous. So for the struggling artist, good luck with that. Also, Twitter won’t allow you to upload songs or videos without limiting its duration. Instagram is exactly the same as twitter in both cases. Snapchat won’t let you do anything accept snap a pic or shoot a 10 second video and share it. Hardly the platform for promoting music. Soundcloud is predominantly swarmed with other struggling artists promoting to other struggling artists. The only way to gain the attention of regular people on their site is to chart, which you need thousands and thousands of fans already to achieve. Unless of course you plug your Soundcloud on other Social Media sites, which I have already explained is useless. Youtube on the other hand is another nightmare all together. The average person looks at a YouTube video with a few hundred to a couple thousand views and immediately dismisses it. Nobody wants to support something they don’t already see others supporting, and this remains a factor with Soundcloud plays as well.

Which is why now, there are dozens of websites that will help you pay for fake plays and views. However, what good is a fake play or view, if it doesn’t directly convert into a real fan? Lastly, don’t even get me started on email marketing. Nobody wants spam in their emails.

So I began doing some research as to just where people do go for new music. I know there are still die-hard fans of music who are interested in discovering new music right? They’re must be some place they go, right? Wrong.

There is no one place, app or website anyone goes for new music anymore. In fact, what my research has revealed, is that the vast majority of music listeners discover music nowadays in video games, commercials and believe it or not, radio. Radio, something we all thought would die 10 years ago, is still very much alive. Occasionally, some people stumble upon you because of a viral video, hear something they liked on a Pandora playlist, or simply discover artists who are trending. However, the question then becomes, just how does an artist do any of these things?

Well, first of all, you can’t “make” a viral video. It either happens or it don’t. With regards to Pandora, it is next to impossible to get included in their playlist without being a signed artist. There are ways, but it’s a major pain in the ass. As far as getting on the radio, you simply cannot do that without major money and a major radio promoter who can get that accomplished for you. You may be able to get on local radio, or some local college stations, but that’s about it. And, you will never be in rotation on the station, without some rep from Interscope Records making it happen with Clear Channel. As far as placements in video games, movies, and commercials, the only way to achieve that as an artist is to have a publishing deal with someone like EMI or BMI. However, publishing companies will almost never do a deal with an unsigned artist, unless of course you write or produce songs for somebody else who is signed.

Some even argue that if you just go outside to promote your music and do shows, it could have a much better effective reach than online. What people fail to realize though, is that nobody goes to shows to go see artists they never heard of. If you are willing to perform for free in front a few strangers you could develop a fan or two, but even for super talented artists, this doesn’t result in significant growth.

What has happened is that only artists with serious amounts of wealth behind them are making any noise. Most record deals happening these days are simply insiders helping out other insiders. Very rarely will you hear a story like “Russ” (who is fucking dope af btw) come up, just from building their own organic online following.

Just recently I did a test with online social media advertisement. I spent $30 on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram just to see the results. Keep in mind I targeted people who specifically like hip hop and similar interests. Facebook, after claiming I could reach a minimum of 18,000 people, was the least effective. My $30 got me 5 likes on my fan page, 800 views on my video and 2 comments. My $30 ad on twitter resulted in 4 reposts, 8 likes and only 1 new follower. My $30 on Youtube got me 4,000 views (which was pretty good), but only 16 likes, and zero new subscribers or comments. In fact, I think a vast majority of the views were counted solely from the ad playing for 5 seconds before another video. Instagram did the best though. My $30 on Instagram got me 3,000 views on a video, 118 hearts, 8 comments and 17 new followers. The results of this test run got me thinking.

If any artist out there is backed by major money, like record label money, you could easily make someone a star for about roughly $50,000. However, what I hear from people every day, is how tired they are of mainstream music. I hear people say things like “the Industry shoves stuff down our throats, etc,) Well, unfortunately the game is completely designed for that to be the case again. In the 90’s, the music business had all the power. If an artist was going to make it he needed big label money. We just went through a fifteen year span where that was no longer the case. Just about anyone could get online and blow up. I even remember when the rapper “Benefit” was downloaded over one million times off Napster. Unfortunately, the fifteen year grace period of independent artists has come to almost a screeching halt.

As a fan of music, the bad side to all of this is you will, once again, only know about music that big money put in front of you. The good side though, is that you will longer need to swim through a barrage of struggling artists promoting their links, considering that only big money will be able to afford to put it in front of you. As an artist on the other hand, we are stuck in a major state of limbo. You need views, plays, streams and likes to get record deals, but you need record deal money now to get views, plays, streams and likes. So, if you’re a fan of someone’s music, it’s incredibly important to follow and subscribe on all platforms. Its extremely important to share, view, like or engage with their content. Its also important for the artist to engage back and show respect for that level of support. The intimate relationship between artist and fan is one of the only remaining combative measures we can take anymore to fight against big money.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m just going to keep climbing up that wall of adversity. I’m going to continue showing love to my pre-existing fan base and welcome any new fans who trickle in with open arms. It’s a process though and not likely to result in a huge rapid growth. Though I truly believe that if music is truly good, nothing can stop it from spreading. Therefore, I obviously have more work to do. They say that 100 fans on the internet can turn into a million overnight if so much as one stroke of luck occurs. Well, considering I am not backed by a millionaire, I guess that’s all I can hope for. Keep on keeping on, playa.”


–Thommy Kane

Maine Musician’s Music Video Makes Strong Case in Independent Music Awards

Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , on March 26, 2017 by Ringer

Across The Fine Line

John Milazzo2

March 2017

John Milazzo of Auburn is a singer, songwriter, studio engineer and music producer who has been involved in music projects on one level or another for decades.  Even while maintaining an active law practice, he kept his musical aspirations and achievements alive—in hopes of crafting that next big hit, supporting other artists with their worthy goals, or simply creating and sharing beautiful original songs with friends and family.

Recently, John C. Milazzo Jr., Esq, retired as general counsel and chief deputy director for the Maine Public Employees Retirement System…and he’s not missing a beat!

Last year he wrote and recorded (and why not? He built his own full-service state-of-the-art professional recording studio in his home…and did I mention he is retired now?) a social commentary called Across The Fine Line, a soul-searching reflection of cultural, political and humanitarian hot topics that are prevalent in American society.

The music is a crisp and tasty dose of contemporary easy-listening/pop, the lyrics are poignant and deliberate, and the production (mixing and mastering) is superb—all a testament to the man’s ability to proficiently blend his technical skills and creative gifts.

Just a few weeks ago, Milazzo received an email invitation to submit his song for consideration by the Independent Music Awards, a global competition for established artists & rising stars, producers, indie labels and visual artists.  IMAS is described as a unique music discovery and vetting platform that helps exceptional independent artists get the opportunities they need and deserve.

This year’s focus is on social action music videos.  The only problem was that, although John had been working on the video for a few days, it was not finished. So, with literally only hours before submission deadline, and with no video production experience, the undaunted producer took the bull by the horns, immediately digested his iMovie software and created a stunning video just in the nick of time.

“I created this video because I believed that the song’s message would be better understood and further enhanced by pairing it with visual content.” Milazzo said.

“I wanted to bring the viewer into a world where there’s a lot of bad things going on and make the case that we need to reflect on our words, actions and choices and stop crossing the line before it’s too late,” said the songwriter.

Initial response to the music video validate Milazzo’s three-fold design:  To present universally-relevant content that nobody could disagree with; In a strong video presentation appropriate for general audiences; That especially did not presuppose judgment or blame.

“What’s interesting is that nobody’s reacting in a partisan way,” Milazzo noted.  “Everyone that’s watched it said it’s made them think.” 

Encouraged by his accomplishment, Milazzo describes his creation as “a little pebble dropped in a big pond.”  And he is hoping his work will have a rippling impact that’s positive, provocative and motivating. To help reach that goal, he has pledged to donate any profits from his song to charitable causes.

“I’m not a particularly spiritual person,” he said, “but man, this thing is bigger than me.”  He envisions the possibility of churches, schools, any type of groups, using the music video as a tool to prompt discussions and explore changes and solutions to some of the issues that are prevalent in today’s current events.


–Louis Philippe

To view the music video, click here:  Across The Fine Line

For more info on John’s studio work, click here:  AudioDigitalRecordingStudio

For more info on IMAS, including how to register as a fan and vote, click here:  Independent Music Awards


Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , on February 8, 2017 by Ringer
BANDING TOGETHER FOR NICK KNOWLTON—Planning is underway for a fundraising gala celebration to beat the band—and to help the popular singer beat his recent diagnosis of esophageal cancer—Sunday, March 12, at the Lewiston Ramada Inn starting at 1 PM. The event will feature an array of musical luminaries that have been part of L-A’s historic music scene. The Planning Committee includes, seated (l-r): Brie Knowlton, Nicholas Jr., Krista Knowlton and Elaine Poulin; standing (l-r): Gini Haines, Doug Haines, Louis Philippe, Pete Nadeau, Debbie Morin, Bill Moraldo, Denny Breau, Ed Boucher, Jeannie Martin, Bette Sanborn, Joline ten Eyck and Danny DiBiase.

BANDING TOGETHER FOR NICK KNOWLTON—Planning is underway for a fundraising gala celebration to beat the band—and to help the popular singer beat his recent diagnosis of esophageal cancer—Sunday, March 12, at the Lewiston Ramada Inn starting at 1 PM. The event will feature an array of musical luminaries that have been part of L-A’s historic music scene. The Planning Committee includes, seated (l-r): Brie Knowlton, Nicholas Jr., Krista Knowlton and Elaine Poulin; standing (l-r): Gini Haines, Doug Haines, Louis Philippe, Pete Nadeau, Debbie Morin, Bill Maroldo, Denny Breau, Ed Boucher, Jeannie Martin, Bette Sanborn, Joline ten Eyck and Danny DiBiase.

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February 2017

A fundraising gala for widely-acclaimed popular singer Nick Knowlton is being planned by friends and family upon hearing of his recent diagnosis of esophageal cancer.

BANDING TOGETHER FOR NICK is set for Sunday, March 12, at the Lewiston Ramada Inn, where Knowlton has performed for many years with bands and as a DJ, and where many of his talented musical friends throughout his five decades of performing will be converging from across the country to take to the stage and pay tribute to the local legend…and to help raise money for hospital and medical expenses.

Since the late 80s, Bette Sanborn has been singing in local bands including the popular Good & Plenty Band at the Ramada, where Knowlton also worked with many groups.  In 1996, Knowlton created “The Nick & Bette Show” and there developed an instant bond and long-lasting friendship.

Today, Sanborn continues to guide the hospitality and entertainment offerings at the Ramada as Dining Room Manager and is looking forward to “a big, big event.”

“Nick being a champion for causes he strongly believes in is remarkable,” said Sanborn.  “This is going to  be an outpouring of musicians and friends who want to give back to Nick after all he has done for so many in the community.”

Ed Boucher, who managed Knowlton’s early bands and whose EAB Recording productions catapulted the local singer to regional and national status, sees the event as a way to help a friend known for his community outreach in his own time of need—in a big way.

BANDING TOGETHER FOR NICK is an opportunity for generations of loyal music fans who have helped shape the L-A music scene to reconnect and share memories with the great bands that Nick fronted and they followed—Terry & The Telstars, White Fluff, Poorboy, Katahdin, Katfish, and others.

“Expect the unexpected,” the producer resounded, “When old friends throw a celebration like this, magic happens, memories are made and it shows that when we band together we can make a difference and everybody has a great time.”

Boucher is advising folks to get their tickets early because he predicts a sellout event. “Nick knows everyone and everyone knows Nick,” he explained.

A star-studded parade of musicians and singers who have all contributed to the rich narrative of L-A’s music scene since the 60s will join the many friends, family and fans expected to make this event an unforgettable milestone gathering.

Among the bands scheduled to perform is Terry & The Telstars, with its original members (Knowlton in front on vocals, Danny Caron on drums, Pete Nadeau on keyboards, and Terry McCarthy on guitar).

Caron, who is flying up from Wilmington, NC, is very much looking forward to an historic reunion.  The band got back together for a PAL HOP Reunion in 2010 and reportedly enjoyed it so much they decided to continue performing for several more events, he reported.

Caron credits the good Lord for putting together four 14-year-olds from Lewiston, Maine, all with a dream of becoming rock stars, and launching them on an incredible musical and spiritual journey called Terry & The Telstars.  The rest is history that continues to be made.

Caron expressed his humility and amazement that people still enjoy the aura that Terry & The Telstars created years ago.  “Everybody re-lives part of their past when they come to events like this.  Here we go one more time with the boys, Nick,” the drummer youthfully exclaimed.

Among the bands scheduled to play are:  Denny Breau & Friends, The Girls of L-A, Good ‘N Plenty, and of course Terry & The Telstars.  Performers include:  Billy Belskis, Roger Blais, Ed Boucher, Ron Bouffard, Danny Caron, Frank Coffin, Danny DiBiase, Bonnie Edwards, Bob Elie, Kathy Haley, Shawna Haley, Malinda Liberte, Jeannie Martin, Moe McKenna, Arthur Melendy, Debbie Morin, Paul Murphy, Pete Nadeau, Louis Philippe, Bette Sanborn, Laurie Sidelinger, Mike Willette, Jeff Wright and more.

Bill “BC” Cloutier and Dave Dean, long-time radio personalities in Central Maine, will share the emcee duties.

The doors open at 1 PM. Tickets are $15 and are available online at, or by calling the Androscoggin Colisée box office at 783-2009.

Shortly after his diagnosis last December, an online fundraising effort was launched to help with inevitable financial burdens.  At this writing, almost half of the $50,000 goal has been reached.  Donations can be made at


–Louis Philippe

Reindeer Presents Summertime Tribute to Connie Francis

Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2016 by Ringer

KristaConnie3August 2016

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS—Reindeer Group’s summertime tribute to America’s Sweetheart, Connie Francis—comes to the McAuley Performing Arts Center on Sunday, August 7th at 2 PM, for a concert to benefit Mercy Hospital’s employee assistance fund, “Angels Among Us.”

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS was originally presented by Reindeer Theatre Company at the Warren Memorial Library in 1994.  Last year, Music Director Louis Philippe who created the nostalgic multi-media tribute, revived the show in 2015, this time starring popular Westbrook-Windham singer Krista LeBeau Johnson.  The response to a series of local shows was tremendous, ending with a historic sell-out performance at the Franco Center in Lewiston.

“Krista is a ringer for Connie Francis,” said Philippe, who “discovered” the singer in the choir at St. Anthony Church in Westbrook.  “She captures all the smooth, powerful and schmaltzy elements of Connie’s iconic parade of hits that dominated the pop charts of the late 50s and 60s and still produce tons of memories and fun today.”

Among Connie Francis’ signature songs featured in the show:  My Happiness, Stupid Cupid, Don’t Break The Heart that Loves You So, VACATION, Frankie, Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool, Who’s Sorry Now, Follow The Boys, Lipstick On Your Collar and more.  “Who can sit through highlights of Connie’s life story and not get a rush of wholesome goosebumps when they hear ‘Where The Boys Are’ or ‘Among My Souvenirs?’” Philippe noted.

Backing Miss Johnson will be the Connie Francis quartet with Music Director Louis Philippe on keyboards; Tom O’Donnell, a member of the original 1994 pit, on guitar; Bruce LeBeau on bass, and Marc Mailhot on drums.

The cast also includes Maureen Knott LeBeau who narrates highlights of Connie Francis’ life, career and personal struggles.  An entertaining visual backdrop provides iconic images and nostalgic videos that add to the show’s emotional and sentimental appeal.

McAuley Performing Arts Center is located at 631 Stevens Ave., Portland.  General seating admission is $15/advance, $20/day of the show.  For tickets and reservations, call Reindeer Group at 207 857 9002 or email

Proceeds from this event will benefit the ANGELS AMONG US Fund, an emergency relief fund that provides financial assistance to Mercy Hospital employees during times of unusual hardship.



Posted in Archive Press Releases with tags , , , , , on May 1, 2015 by Ringer
Natalie Zelensky, Assistant Professor of Music at Colby College

Natalie Zelensky, Assistant Professor of Music at Colby College

May, 2015

BRAVO to Colby College Assistant Professor Natalie Zelensky for her creative and inspiring approach to music and learning!

Since coming to Colby in 2012 with a Ph.D. in Music Studies from Northwestern University, Professor Zelensky developed an array of out-of-the-box music courses that cross curriculum and make music fun, innovative nourishing. Courses titled “From Rockabilly Kings to Lady Gaga: A History of Rock and Roll;” “Exploring Music and Gender;” and “Introduction to World Music” have helped established her teaching style and has drawn interest campus-wide.

But it’s her course titled “Music as Culture: Introduction to Ethnomusicology” that has become wildly popular with music majors and non-music majors alike. Ethnomusicology broadly bundles cultural and interdisciplinary elements of music and explores how music engages the arts, religious belief, philosophy, society, etc. It can be a study of any period of history or global location, but what makes Zelensky’s course particularly unique is its convergence with Maine’s Franco-American Music.

The students of MU222/Maine’s Musical Soundscapes: The Ethnography of Maine learn ethnographic field methods and conduct interviews at sites that make up the rich tapestry of Maine’s soundscape.

Students are paired up to plan and conquer the tasks of conducting interviews, writing treatments, creating storyboards and then presenting their findings in the form of a documentary film.

“I’ve learned that making a documentary is very difficult, said Mardene Haskell, a sophomore from Holderness NH, Sophomore. “You are not only filming an interview…you are telling a story and attempting to represent someone to the best of your ability.”

Mardene’s biggest challenge was working with the editing software but “I love learning about things that I wouldn’t otherwise know unless I put myself out there, and take classes that I know nothing about. Colby has given me the opportunity to do that.”

“I am proud to say that I know much more about my state, Franco-American history, as well as the history of Maine,” she recanted, noting “Maine is a unique, amazing place that will always have a huge place in my heart.”

Mike Boardman, a sophomore from Pelham, NH and Cameron Price, a freshman from Rutland, VT were co-directors of their film project.

“It has been a very learn-as-you-go process for us,” said Boardman. “We think the interviews just got better each time and we became more comfortable with our consultant.”

But they also shared their challenges with the editing and trimming. “That has been quite a surprise, we thought it would be a little bit easier,” Boardman stated.

“We have both learned a lot about the Franco culture and the process to make a movie,” said Price, adding, “And we hope to pass along our perspective of that culture to those who see our film.”

“For us it has been a great experience working with our consultant,” the two concurred. “He always made jokes and had us laughing during the entire process. And we got to make a movie we wouldn’t have done on our own without the push of our teacher and Colby.”

[Editor’s Note: As the consultant for the Boardman-Price creation, I can attest to their highest level of respect and professional “star” treatment. They were so comfortable to share this journey with, and represented the project, the class and the College with a refreshing sense of purpose and pride.]

The collection of student documentaries will be shown to the public this Friday, May 8th at an event called Maine’s Musical Heritage, from 7-8:30 at Given Auditorium in the Bixler Building on the Colby Campus.

This year’s film subjects include: Jacynthe Blais Jacques, French instructor/Tutor and Director of Cultural and Language programs at The Franco Center in Lewiston; John Cote, guitarist, mandolin and fiddle player from Lewiston; Louis Philippe, singer/recording artist from Westbrook; Steve Muise, fiddler and teacher from Farmington; Accordeonist Leonel Ducas from Orrington; and Luc Duplussey.

The event is open to all students, faculty, staff and the interested public. Admission is free and a reception will follow.