Halfway up the coast of Maine on route 1 is the sleeping town of Belfast. It wakes up between memorial day and labor day as tourists flock to “Vacationland”. For one day in the spring, Belfast hosts the All Roads Music Festival which features all Maine acts of varying genres and quality. My business mind questions why the town neglected to fully wake up for this event. My music mind is excited to hear some new acts.
We checked into an Airbnb five minutes from downtown the night before to catch a dance performance in the nearby town of Camden. A friend’s daughter was doing a recital in the company of 60 other dancers age 4 through 60+ and it was phenomenal. The next morning we dove headfirst into the All Roads Music Fest.
Driving into town… is this the right town? Yes, so it seems. We stop at an old movie theater showing Deadpool 2 and ask inside, “Where’s the music?” The box office was at another venue, the largest, uptown which served as the site for the final large act later in the day. Five venues total hosted acts from 1 pm through midnight all across the very walkable town. Tickets secured, VIP upgrade in place (which got us a T-shirt and access to the closing party), programs in hand, we start plotting the day.
The top referred act was Dan Blakeslee and we had plenty of time to catch his 30-minute folk/ country set at the local American Legion hall. He is funny and was a perfect start to the day. I also noticed he designs great posters for his shows and others. We wandered up and down the main drag across all the venues including a church, the movie theater, and a small room behind the main venue. While the scheduling (and hunger) prevented us from seeing everything, we liked what we saw and gave ourselves permission to skip around.
Sadly I missed some interesting acts including Breakfast Cowboy who was listed as, “a Portland-based mess that specializes in hollered silliness and unhinged melodic slop.” I also missed Capture The Sun listed as an instrumental progressive metal band. What we did catch was memorable even if not something we’d repeat.
The two standout performances for me were Micromassé and Weakened Friends. The first is an instrumental lounge trio and the second is a “fuzz rock” band. Micromassé’s combination of Hammond organ, guitar, and drums plus funky, jazzy, jams highlighted a welcomed focus and professionalism. Later in the night, was the punk-inspired, high energy Weakened Friends. Guitarist/singer, bassist, and drummer kicked out exciting tunes that stood out from each other. They are great musicians, looked like they had a blast, and were professional, humble, and a lot of fun to watch.
The night ended with The Mallett Brothers Band joined by Jon Fishman. I can’t remember the last time I saw him setup his own drum kit. The Phish drummer played a smaller kit (and wasn’t wearing any donuts) but fit in perfectly and showed his chops. It is amazing how brightly he shines amongst these younger musicians. The band is great and they looked like they had lots of fun although I can’t figure out why they had so many guitars.
As far as festivals go, it was smooth, diverse, accessible, and quite enjoyable. I truly hope the town catches on and opens themselves up more. Though it isn’t tourist season yet, and they possibly don’t need any extra money (or hassle), feeling them embrace this event was the only thing missing.0 likes