Mumbles headline Strawberry Moon festival June 20-21-22

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — Pocket Full of Mumbles, those increasingly percussive purveyors of smart twang and Scarborough Fair-caliber harmonies, will return to Pineland Farms June 20, 21 and 22 to play the annual Strawberry Moon Celebration here at the former Gillespie Farms.

Show times and picking hours are identical: 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Parking is free here at the expansive and idyllic Pineland Farms, located at 752 Mayall Road in New Gloucester.

Come June, all sensible Mainers make time for at least one pick-your-own strawberry outing. Strawberry Moon takes the experience up a notch, or two, by providing a grassy commons area where visitors can sit back and soak up the sun, avail themselves of food-truck and craft beer/beverage vendors, and listen to the dulcet, alt-country tones of Pocket Full of Mumbles.

“Don’t forget the goats,” says Mumbles bassist and fiddler Mike Conant. “There are always animals to pet and tractors to climb. It’s a pretty great family event. The ultimate yard party, though I don’t know that I’ve ever attended a yard party with a strawberry shortcake station.”

Entry to Strawberry Moon, inclusive of parking, is just $6 per person. Folks have the option of putting their ticket price toward their respective pick-your-own strawberry purchases, at checkout. Or just spread out on a blanket, or at a picnic table, and enjoy a beverage, inventive comestibles and live music. Children under 2 are free. 

Pocket Full of Mumbles have headlined the Strawberry Moon festival each year since 2021. The band considers this event the unofficial kickoff to its busy summer season. The Mumbles will play Side by Each Brewing Co. in Auburn on Saturday night, July 20. It will return to the Topsham Fair on Aug. 7. For more gig and band information, visit www.PocketFullOfMumbles.com

Mumbles return to Side By Each Saturday night, Dec. 30

AUBURN, Maine — Pocket Full of Mumbles, those expert purveyors of smart alt-country twang, are back at Side By Each on Saturday night, Dec. 30, just in time to prepare one’s groove for 2024. Show time at the popular Minot Avenue brewing company & eatery is 7 p.m. 

Pocket Full of Mumbles debuted in 2017 as a Simon & Garfunkel tribute act, featuring  close harmonies and largely acoustic instrumentation from fiddler/bassist Mike Conant and guitarist Hal Phillips. Early in the pandemic, they added Tim Howie on pedal steel, Telecaster and banjo, lending amplification and twang to their portfolio of S&G and original songs. 

With a variety of guest drummers and soloists, the Mumbles today complement those originals with canny selections from Son Volt, CSN, Neil Young, Cracker, vintage Jackson Browne, fIREhOSE and Bob Mould, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Ryan Adams, James Taylor, Liz Phair and The Band. PFOM last appeared at Side By Each in June 2023. 

The lovely and talented Nancy Durham will join PFOM on percussion Dec. 30. The Mumbles will also debut their newly dedicated “Telecaster Set”, featuring Mr. Howie on his vintage, case-less Fender which, while it appears to be held together with chewing gum and baling wire, really hums.

Beer tip: Side By Each remains one of Maine’s most innovative and skilled brewing operations. If you like a brown ale — good examples of which are notoriously hard to find in North America — check out SBE’s Fat Charlie the Archangel. 

Mumbles back at SBE Friday, June 9; Sebago Days July 15 & Topsham Fair Aug. 9

Pocket Full of Mumbles, Maine’s favorite purveyors of eclectic, crowd-pleasing twang, will return to Side By Each Brewing Co. in Auburn this Friday night, June 9. Showtime is 7-10 p.m.

Pocket Full of Mumbles debuted in 2017 as a Simon & Garfunkel tribute act, featuring close harmonies and largely acoustic instrumentation from fiddler/bassist Mike Conant and guitarist Hal Phillips. Early in the pandemic, they added Tim Howie on pedal steel, Telecaster and banjo, lending amplification and twang to their portfolio of S&G and original tunes.

With a variety of guest soloists (the lovely and talented Nancy Durham will sit in on the drums this Friday), the Mumbles do indeed stock each set with eclectic crowd pleasers. On June 9, expect newly worked up selections from Warren Zevon, the Grateful Dead and Son Volt, to go along with heapin’ helpings of originals, CSNY, Chris Stapleton, vintage Jackson Browne, Bob Mould, The Dillards, Ryan Adams, James Taylor, Liz Phair and Tom Petty.

Later this month, the Mumbles will play in residence at the annual Strawberry Festival, a three-day, pick-your-own extravaganza scheduled for June 22-23-24 at Pineland Farms on the Mayall Road in Gray. As it has done the last three Junes, PFOM will preside from its flatbed stage Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4-7 p.m. The band will also play the Sebago Days festival on July 15 (2 p.m.), and the Topsham Fair Aug. 9 (11 a.m.), so mark your calendars.

Mumbles Make Side By Each Debut Saturday Night, May 6

Pocket Full of Mumbles, Maine’s favorite purveyors of smart twang, has emerged from winter hibernation straight into show season. The three-piece will make its 2023 debut at Side By Each Brewing Co. in Auburn this Saturday night, May 6, with a return engagement scheduled for Friday June 9. Each show will run 6-9 p.m.

Pocket Full of Mumbles debuted in 2017 as a Simon & Garfunkel tribute act, featuring close harmonies and largely acoustic instrumentation from fiddler/bassist Mike Conant and guitarist Hal Phillips. Early in the pandemic, they added Tim Howie on pedal steel, Telecaster and banjo, lending amplification and twang to their portfolio of S&G and original songs. With a variety of guest drummers and soloists (Bald Hill mando player Ben DeTroy will sit in June 9), the Mumbles stock each set with selections from Son Volt, CSN, Neil Young, Cracker, vintage Jackson Browne, fIREhOSE and Bob Mould, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Ryan Adams, James Taylor, Liz Phair and The Band.

Later in June, the Mumbles will again play in residence at the annual Strawberry Festival, a three-day, pick-your-own extravaganza held June 24-25-26 at Pineland Farms on the Mayall Road in Gray. The event has grown a great deal through the years: What had been a quiet, 1-day, pick-your-own affair has matured into a three-day family-friendly blowout complete with food trucks, craft brew vendors, farm equipment (for climbing) and, of course

PFOM to play Strawberry Moon forever (actually, just June 24-26)

NEW GLOUCESTER — Pocket Full of Mumbles will make their public 2021 debut June 24-26 as part of the Strawberry Moon Celebration here at idyllic Gillespie Farm, the Pineland Farm location on Mayall Road. South/Central Maine’s favorite alt-country interpreters of Simon & Garfunkel, Son Volt and Jackson Browne will preside Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4-7 p.m.

Strawberry Moon has become a highlight of the pick-your-own strawberry season north of Portland. The three-day event, hosted at 752 Mayall Road in New Gloucester, features live music but also food trucks, cash bar, dessert tables, horse-drawn carriage rides and special moonlit picking hours. For more information, visit Gillespie’s Facebook page or call the Farm at (207) 657-2877.

But don’t overthink it: Just drop by, harvest a few quarts of delicious strawberries from the rich Maine soil, listen to the music, have a beverage and, if you need more strawberries, come back the next day and do it all again. Strawberry season in Maine is like life: All too short. So don’t miss out.

The members of Pocket Full of Mumbles (PFOM) are greatly looking forward to this engagement, as the last 15 months have been very tough on musical acts in Maine and around the world. The band looks forward to communing again with its massive, devoted fan base (known as “The Mumble Core”) and riding what feels like a significant wave of pent-up demand for live music.

Indeed, for PFOM, the Strawberry Moon event is only the first public event of 2021. The band has already played several private parties and looks forward to many more. Anyone interested in booking such an event should reach out at booking@pocketfullofmumbles.com.

“I don’t think it’s clear to anyone, at this stage of the pandemic, just how practical it is to play traditional shows inside,” said PFOM fiddler/guitarist Mike Conant. “It’s starting to happen, but unknowns remain: from the perspective of host venues, from the folks who might attend, and bands providing the music. We in Pocket Full of Mumbles are all vaccinated and ready to play anywhere. But we understand why clubs, fans and bands might feel differently.

“We’ve always played private parties because we love the casual vibe, the requests, the intimacy. And today, in 2021, they’re certainly an excellent way around all those concerns, especially when they’re held outside.”

What ever happened to that guy who robbed the liquor store?

We often tell audiences that a particular tune we perform (and recently recorded, see below), “Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.”, contains perhaps the most unlikely Paul Simon lyric ever written down. Give a listen and pay special attention to the third verse… The notion that effete, petit Paul Simon would ever knock over a liquor store, or commit a violent felony of any kind, is patently absurd. The same could be said of Art Garfunkel, who is taller but no less the sensitive, urbane sophisticate.

No one claims this or any S&G song is explicitly autobiographical, but this unlikely outlaw theme is one that Simon & Garfunkel must have fancied because they resurrect and amplify it on their very next album with the song, “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me”.

In an earlier blog (from July 2018, see below), we remark on the fact that S&G’s debut album, Wednesday Morning 3 a.m., was something of a dud. Indeed, Simon’s next batch of spare folk tunes didn’t thrill the executives at Columbia Records, and so he fucked off to England, with Kathy (she of the song), to concentrate on becoming the next Bob Dylan. It wasn’t until producer Tom Wilson rocked up the single, “Sounds of Silence” (in post production), that S&G would reform. Indeed, this new Byrds-inspired version would go straight to #1, which led Simon, Garfunkel and Wilson to affix more orchestration to many of the remaining songs on this second album, the now iconic Sounds of Silence.

One of those cuts, “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me”, doesn’t merely harken back to the criminal storyline detailed in the previous album’s title cut; it reprises nearly the entire lyric and updates the story.

In the wistful original, our antihero narrator has committed a crime, broken the law… In the middle of the night, his girlfriend asleep at his side, he wonders aloud (amid rich harmonies) what fate the dawn will bring.

Artists will sometimes refer back to previous lyrics, dropping little references or inside jokes to the listener. But with “Somewhere” we find something quite different: Simon deploys the original “Wednesday Morning” lyric to create a brand new song. A newly inserted chorus spells out next steps: I’ve got to creep down the alleyway, fly down the highway

These urgent new lyrics and tone reveal that our unlikely felon has resolved to go on the lam — Before they come and get me I’ll be gone! Somewhere, where they can’t find me…

It’s not clear, but it seems his girlfriend may have woken up in time to hear all this. One can imagine her surprise: That this poetic, nebbish (a nice Jewish boy?) has A) robbed a liquor store; and B) now intends to elude the long arm of justice like some turtle-necked, scarf-wearing Clyde Barrow. It’s all a bit grandiose but it does lead us to wonder (and further consult the S&G songbook) as to whatever happened to that guy…

PFOM back at Guthries April 5, 8 p.m.

Pocket Full of Mumbles returns to the stage April 5, for an 8-10 p.m. set at everyone’s favorite oversized, burrito-serving, craft beer-pulling living room, the She Doesn’t Like Guthrie’s Restaurant & Café, in Lewiston.

The duo comprising Pocket Full of Mumbles (PFOM), Mike Conant and Hal Phillips, formed in 2017 as an acoustic homage to the harmonies and hyper-literate songwriting of Simon & Garfunkel. Twenty-eighteen saw PFOM expand the brief to include the similarly stellar talents of Jay Farrar, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Neil Young and, at the risk of paled comparisons, Conant and Phillips themselves. Expect a sampling of all this on April 5.

If the primary inspirations for PFOM were Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, its secondary influence has been the seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, the fertile collaboration of Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Indeed, PFOM nearly named themselves The Belleville Boys, after these two native sons Belleville, Illinois, where, incidentally, Conant was also born (his father had been based at nearby Scott Air Force Base).

The long-term goal of PFOM is to present a complete evening of live music: a two-man acoustic set followed by a second featuring full-band treatment of like material — to further demonstrate the remarkable versatility and power of top-drawer songwriting. Re-animating the Uncle Tupelo sound is PFOM’s hope for Set II.

Farrar and Tweedy would dissolve Uncle Tupelo amid not insignificant rancor in 1994, almost immediately following this club show in St. Louis. It’s an amazing performance at the peak of their powers when apparently — according to an oral history recently published in Rolling Stone — the two band principals were not speaking to each other.

Farrar would soon form his own band, Son Volt, further advancing the alt-country genre; the landmark album Trace (1996) at first gave the impression that perhaps he was the true genius behind Uncle Tupelo. Tweedy quickly complicated that assessment with the album Being There (1996), the second effort from what would become the prolific, indie super-group Wilco.