10Qs with Sigrid Harmon of The Asthmatic

Photo by Knack Factory

The Asthmatic is the nom de plume of Sigrid Harmon, who has been performing around Portland since 2013.  In addition to her main project, she recently joined Thomas Shadis (aka Father Spatter) of The Doug Quaids for a short collaboration. After playing three times as 4 Star China Taste, they disbanded, but not before recording and releasing six songs on an album called What Happens in The Dark.

  • Where were you born?
    I was born in Boston, MA.
  • What brought you to Portland?
    I relocated here in 2008 with my parents, I was still in elementary school.
  • Do you have a day job and, if so, what is it?
    My day job is writing music, as I’ve just graduated from high school. If anyone’s got a music-related job they’d like to hire me for, I’m all ears.
  • What was your most memorable gig?
    The most memorable gig was when I played with my band at the time, Metal Sideburns, at Zero Station… It was wall to wall kids and teens because we’d made it under 18. Portland’s filled to the brim with 21+ venues, so we took over Zero Station for the night just for the kids.
  • What was your worst gig?
    The worst gig was at Yankee Lanes with Metal Sideburns. No one was there, we didn’t know our stuff at all, and there was a smoke machine at the far end of the place. It barely puffed out any smoke, and when it did it would evaporate when it got 10 feet in front of us.
  • What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
    Bjork’s Vespertine is a masterpiece… I want to reach that level.
  • What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
    I create my backing tracks ahead of time when it comes to performing, as I want to focus more on my voice and the acting side of it. I can go without any sort of equipment… except my albuterol. I can walk in a place and just do an a cappella set because my voice is loud… I may be The Asthmatic, but I’ve got pipes.
  • Any advice for a musician starting out?
    Advice? Check out bands you’ve never heard of before, talk to people at gigs, don’t leave before a show is over. That’s rude, and the other bands and/or the venue won’t want to book you again.
  • What was the origin behind your name?
    I’m called The Asthmatic because I AM an asthmatic. I was born with chronic lung disease.
  • What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
    I listen to “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops I Did It Again” by Britney Spears on repeat… a lot.
  • What was the first album/recording you owned?
    The first LP I ever bought was T. Rex’s The Slider. It’s stuck with me to this day.
  • What are you listening to at the moment?
    I’ve been listening to a lot of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Plasmatics, Angel Haze, Lady Sovereign, t.A.T.u., The Wipers, The Cigarettes (UK), MC Lyte, The Lady of Rage, Lydia Lunch, Daisy Chainsaw, and Diamanda Galas.
  • What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
    On June, 24th of 2016 I saw Sleep at the State Theater… You could feel the sound vibrating your bones. I was at the front, and one of the security guys had bottles of water near him. He’d walk up and down in a line pouring water in everyone’s mouths. The show was wet, I remember a lot of sweat.

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10Qs with Nick Perry of Nick Perry’s Brass Tax


Nick Perry is the leader of the eponymous Nick Perry’s Brass Tax.  The band released their debut album, Revisionist History, earlier this year.  Nick is also a former member of Emerson and Thoreau and All Moving Parts and an occasional contributor to this site, having reviewed several area concerts.  You can learn more about the band at nickperrysbrasstax.bandcamp.com or facebook.com/nickperrysbrasstax.

Brass ToysWhere were you born?
Rumford Hospital (I think)

What brought you to Portland?
USM. And the crippling debt is what kept me here.

Do you have a day job and, if so, what is it?
Bernstein Shur Sawyer and Nelson law firm (I’m a stage 4 lackey).

What was your most memorable gig?
November of 2012 with The Sidescrollers, buying Hacksaw Jim Duggan a drink and talking in-depth with him about Survivor Series ‘90 (The Hulkamaniacs vs. The Natural Disasters) and ’91.

August of 2014 with Pokelogan at Amigos where some dude was getting yanked behind our bass amp.

What was your worst gig?
Playing a show with Emerson and Thoreau way back when. A craft fair at a middle school. An old woman actually said the words “turn that racket down” to us.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
All of the generic answers (Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Zeppelin), Syd Barrett’s “The Madcap Laughs”, Big Star, Ween, “Roxy & Elsewhere”, “Rust in Peace”…wait, did you only want one answer?

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My guitar strap. I ain’t playing sitting down (I’m looking at you, Robert Fripp).

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Don’t be lazy. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t waste other people’s time by writing crappy music. Make it count.

What was the origin behind your band name?
I wanted a name that would fit comfortably in a grange hall or in a bingo parlor. I’ve always held myself to a high standard.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I’m a big fan of Marco Rubio’s first album “Crossin’ the Rubicon” featuring Miami Sound Machine.  I’ve been known to rock out to Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, as gross as that is to admit.

What was the first album/recording you owned?
This is a fuzzy memory. It was either the Wayne’s World soundtrack that I got a BJ’s Wholesale in Auburn or Tom Jones Greatest Hits

Brass Tax I

What are you listening to at the moment?
“Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs” and Prokofiev’s first three piano concerti have filled my last couple of hours.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
I saw Joe Walsh at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom last summer. Joe Walsh is the coolest son of a bitch of all time. Do you know how hard it is to become a full-time member of The Eagles and not lose one ounce of credibility? God bless you, Joe.

Who was Johnny Fountain?

Photo by Stephen Quirk, May 2009

This past Monday, Portland suffered a huge loss in the peaceful passing of our bright light and good friend, Johnny Fountain. You may remember him from his stunning performance at Arootsakoostik South this past summer, or his small, equally-powerful performance during the first night The Couch returned to Empire. Maybe you were his friend and made memories with him going on outdoor adventures, playing music, and spreading kindness and love through fun and lighthearted jokes. Maybe he was your bartender at the old Empire before it reopened. Maybe he walked you safely to your car, or saved you from getting creepily hit on. Maybe he introduced you to the love of your life. Maybe you loved him. Maybe, like me, you first saw him perform with the Panda Bandits on an amazingly fun night. Maybe you used to hear him play overhead at the First Friday Artwalk in the early days. Maybe you read his brave and honest Facebook posts about his ongoing battle with cancer. Maybe you attended a fundraiser to help him on his journey. Maybe you are just a friend of a friend who is grieving. In any case, if you have any involvement with the vibrantly rich music scene in our town, you have felt Jonny’s presence. While he’s passed beyond the rainbow bridge, you will probably still feel it in all of those that knew him, who will continue on in his legacy.

For those wanting to pay their respects, there will be a Songs and Stories Memorial for loved ones at Empire on Sunday, December 13 from 4-7PM*.

*Correction: It was previously stated that the Songs and Stories Memorial  would occur from 1-4PM instead of 4-7pm.

The State of Maine Music

The state of how music is reported and discussed in Maine has been morphing as of late.

Sam Pfeifle, who wrote about local music for The Portland Phoenix from 2001 to 2014, is no longer with the long-running weekly publication.  The Phoenix was purchased by the owners of The Portland Daily Sun, while team members from The Phoenix and the owners of Boston’s Dig started a new publication, Dig Portland. That publication was promptly shut down by the new owners of The Phoenix.  Sam’s thirteen-year backlog of reviews are no longer on The Phoenix’s site but, thankfully, Sam has launched Portland’s Best Albums to slowly re-release many of those reviews.

Newz by the Nunz has called several sites its home, but it’s most recently landed at Knack Factory.  The column, written by local musician Holly Nunan, typically features a list of music-related events happening around town.  Newz by the Nunz started out as a regular feature in Dispatch Magazine and moved to MaineToday.com (archive) before finding its current home.  Holly is also a regular on WCSH6’s Morning Report covering much of the same territory and the current host of local music radio show Music from 207 (itself an offshoot of a show started by Charlie Gaylord, who now hosts Greetings From Area Code 207 on WBLM).

Speaking of Dispatch Magazine, the once music-focused publication has morphed into something of a lifestyle magazine, though they still feature album reviews.  For a about a year, Dispatch and their parent company, kNow Media, ran Maine.fm, a streaming radio station featuring all Maine music.  The station’s site was hacked in 2011 and seemed to never really make a comeback.  The magazine took a step away from the music scene shortly thereafter.  Dispatch and kNow were founded by “SuperFrank” Copsidas, former manager of James Brown.  A music publishing company, Intrigue Music, is yet another venture started by Copsidas, who has a background in the radio business.

The blog Hilly Town slowed publication when its creator, Bryan Bruchman, relocated back to Brooklyn.  There’s talk of the site coming back, but we’re not 100% sure in what form.  Will it contain show listings, concert photos, show reviews, and late-night grub recommendations like it did once before?  The site relaunched in 2015 with show listings and reviews, presumably with the help of new contributors.

A few others of note: 

  • Emily Burnham’s Culture Shock (Bangor Daily News) and Aimsel Ponti’s Face the Music (Maine Today) are two other music columns.  Both cover a mix of local and established artists, area events, and the occasional album review.
  • The Bollard has a long running series of album and live show reviews.
  • For coverage of the heavier side of music in Portland, there’s Post Mortem.
  • While not technically a news site, The Portland Music Foundation became part of Creative Portland late in 2014 and have yet to announce how that collaboration will manifest itself.

Did we forget any other sources for local music news?  Let us know in the comments.