Last Thursday I had the pleasure of checking out a Barstuards’ practice. Their practice space, like the heart of this band, is located in the center of downtown Bangor. Perhaps no other Bangor band has worked so hard to bring energetic, live, original music to the good people of our town for so many years. In fact, a rather large photo of the boys adorns one of the walls at one of downtown’s most successful bars, Paddy Murphy’s.
In my estimation, the thing that makes these boys such a popular act in central Maine is their ability to blend musical precision and individual subtleties with familiar lyrical themes and chord progressions. While discussing their experience in the band and my personal impressions we all decided that the Barstuards are like a Christmas present. You know you’re going to get something good, you just don’t know exactly what it’s going to be until you open it up!
I had the privilege of listening in as the boys worked out a new number, Rhyme over Reason. The drums were thumping, the guitar rhythms pulsing and the vocals growling with insistence. But once again, there was something special that sets this band apart from their contemporaries. Each time they ran the song the following lyrics jumped out at me: “She quoted my favorite poets, Shane MacGowan, Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski.” Such specificity is what brings a listener back for more. In another song the detailed refrain “Kerosine and Copper Mines” immediate brings the listener our of their modern life and into an American past with palpable nostalgia.
So if you’re looking to have a good time, stomp your boots and listen to some playful and detailed lyrics, check out the Barstuards soon. And if you feel like a road trip, I’ll see you next time they play The Rack at Sugarloaf.