My Podcast Debut. Eeek.

•November 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’m going to be on Blog Talk Radio tonight, talking about my horror poetry collection, Whispers From the Apocalypse. The second hour of the podcast will feature James Ward Kirk, Mary Genevieve Fortier, David Schütz II, Dona Fox and Krista Clark Grabowski!

Many moons ago, I had a metal radio show at a college station, but otherwise I haven’t been ‘on the air’ for about 20 years. I just hope I don’t sound like an idiot!

Here’s the link to the podcast tonight.

Slow ride…take it easy. Why you should consider setting that first draft aside. Part One: The Novella

•November 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Originally posted on Glenn Rolfe Scribbles Madness:

This year has been busy. I released my first novel, finished and sold my first two novellas, re-wrote 55-60% of a novel I thought was finished, and put out my first collection of short stories. Also, in the last two months, I finished the first drafts of another new novella and a novel I started last year. Seems like a lot to some, but I’m a slow poke to some of the scribblers I roll with. So, where am I going with all of this? Where is the slow down?

There was recently a little Confession Session between myself and some writing friends of mine. We talked about our pace. Our speed, our need to create and release. We discussed our process a bit. How long we waited, if we waited, to start our first edits/re-writes on a just finished piece. For some, the answer was immediately. For others, myself included, it…

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Interview with Mongrel

•July 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Mongrel is a hard rock/punk/metal band out of New England. These guys put on a great live show!

MONGREL PRINT FILE1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mongrel’s had a pretty long history. Tell us!

Adam Savage (guitar): I started the band back in 2003 with the goal of having an aggressive rock based band that could draw on different styles / influences, where not every song would have the same sound/style. A good song is a good song regardless. For the first seven years of the band we had a few different male singers, as well as various bassists/drummers, but in 2010 we got really lucky and my friend Jess helped us out by filling in for what was to be a few shows and it worked out so well that she joined full-time and it’s been amazing since. Hoagie (drums) joined us in 2012 and Blue Mike (bass) joined us in early 2013. Over the years, we’ve opened for a lot of cool bands including Korn, GWAR, Danzig, Godsmack, Lacuna Coil, Sepultura, Misfits, Otep, FEAR, Halestorm, Mindless Self Indulgence, Butcher Babies, Sick Puppies, etc. We’ve gotten to work with some great companies with endorsements/sponsorships (including Marshall Amps, Monster Cable, Seymour Duncan, Artist Series Guitars, In Tune Guitar Picks, etc) and even been in magazines here in the US (Metal Edge, Revolver) and in the UK (Terrorizer, Big Cheese, Vive Le Rock, Devolution). Since Jess joined the band we’d put out 1 full length CD (Reclamation – 2012/2013) and two EPs (The New Breed of Old School -2010, Declamation – 2011) leading into this year. This year with our new CD “Evolution” we had the opportunity to work with some amazing people thanks to our friends/fans who supported our kickstarter campaign. Jim Foster (Thy Will Be Done, Sully Erna, Nullset) recorded us, Dave Fortman (Slipknot, Otep, Evanescence, Godsmack, Soil, Snot, American Head Charge) mixed the cd and mastering was done by Howie Weinberg (Metallica, Pantera, Soundgarden, Nirvana, The Cult, etc) so it’s been an amazing and exciting time for us with getting these opportunities.

Who are your favorite bands?

Adam:  Guns N’ Roses, Pearl Jam, Dead Boys, Nine Inch Nails, The Bronx, Amen, American Head Charge, Black Flag, Misfits, Public Enemy, Slipknot, The Doors, etc.

Jessica Sierra (singer):   Sepultura, Soulfly, The Doors, 40 Below Summer

Mike “Hoagie” Hogan (drums):  Metallica, Death, Slayer, Shadows Fall. Sepultura

Michael “Blue” Ariza (bass):  A Day to Remember, Cold, Moving Mountains

What drew you to music initially?

Adam:  Seeing Slash play in early Guns N’ Roses videos made me realize that this was something I needed to do.

Jessica:  My father and Uncle David…they played all the time and I started singing. They realized at 5 I had talent and would record our sessions…It took off from there

Hoagie: I played in high school marching bands and began listening to music at a young age. The beat always hooked me in.

Blue:  Around high school my friend picked up a guitar and I was just starting to fully pay attention to music like bands and composers and was heavily listening to Blink 182 and Jack off Jill, so I picked a bass wanting to play along with and try out the whole music making thing together.

What’s in the works for Mongrel?

Adam:  Right now we’re trying to keep getting the word out about the new cd “Evolution” and the recently released music video for the track “Oxygen Mask” from it. We’ve got at least a couple more videos for tracks from the cd in the works as well as writing new material as well for the next (eventual) cd.  Other than that, just continuing to play shows, make new friends and fans and see where it all takes us.

How would you describe Mongrel?

Blue:  A legitimate looking band with a tight sound and knows what what they’re doing, but of course don’t forget we’re crowd pleasing *winks snaps fingers, and points *

Hoagie:  Family  with a great vibe/chemistry, catchy songs, fan appreciation, and the  ability to play a show to people who have never heard us and get them hooked to want to hear more. That’s the best feeling.

Jessica:  Fierce. In your face. Driven.

Adam:  I think it’s what the name says, it’s a hybrid beast that takes it’s own form drawing from our influences, personalities, and the very real connection with the listeners/audience.  As far as what it sounds like?  What would happen if you had Janis and Otep’s love child fronting Motorhead doing a Gn’R/Metallica/Misfits tribute – it’s something like that.

What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened onstage?

Blue:  For me I was trying to do a 360 and I fell down but I never missed a note. For the whole band as a funniest thing, we had this one fan (Anders) that brought the fun. She would throw toilet paper so I covered my bass with it during a song and in between Jess covered herself with it, and she also threw panties and bras –  needless to say we kept those on us the whole set. It was grand!

Hoagie:   My funniest experience in Mongrel is one when I split my hand open with my snare and Jess called the whole crowd up on stage to see all the blood. The other is when my bass drum head broke and Jess’ brother taped it with duct tape and I was still able to play the rest of the set.

Jessica:  Blue Mike falling down…. no I’m kidding. I fell backwards off stage and landed on my ass. I kept singing…Most memorable…Anders and the toilet paper

Adam:  The toilet papering and bra/panties tossing from Anders (RIP) was always classic!  One I thought was pretty funny was this all ages show we did at this basement punk club where Jess had on some jeans that were falling apart a bit so towards the end of the our set when I had a section I didn’t play on I hulk-hogan-ed half of her pants off. She was a bit in shock but dying laughing and played the rest of the set missing most of her pants. LOL.

What are some of your influences – musical and non musical?

Jessica:   The previously mentioned bands… what drives me…The fans…my life. The feeling and the desire to share a piece of myself with the world.

Hoagie:  The bands mentioned before and the feeling you get when you play live and the crowd participation is there. There is no feeling in the world like when you’re playing.

Blue:   Video games, friends/family, and other bands.

Adam:  All sorts of bands from local to national to international ones, social and political issues, and just life experiences – my own and those around me.  Music is my therapy and how I deal with the frustrations of the world so my desire to express ideas, connect with an audience, and maybe help or inspire change in the world even if it’s only one person is influential in what I want to do with Mongrel.

You guys put on a great live show. I love the ‘No Gods/No Masters’ mantra. How did that start?

Adam:  Thank you! That’s always what we strive to do!   “No Gods, No Masters” was actually one of the first songs ever done with Mongrel back when it started. It’s at its core a self-empowerment anthem about not blindly following orders or dogma, about thinking for yourself, and standing up to those who wrongly tell you what to do or how to be. I think that’s one of the key messages in our songs and it really just became a great anthem for us. The swear-a-long chorus is just a great bonus for getting the crowd involved and participating as part of the cathartic release of a live show.

What shows do you have coming up soon?

Adam:  You can catch us July 26th at Uncle Eddie’s in Salisbury MA,   August 8th at Club Texas in Auburn ME,  August 16th at the Palladium in Worcester MA with Powerman 5000, Hed(PE), and Eyes Set to Kill,  September 13th at Mad Bob’s in Manchester NH, and October 8th at the Worcester Palladium with Butcher Babies.

Mongrel – aggressive rock/punk/metal

http://mongrelband.com
http://facebook.com/mongrelofficial
http://twitter.com/mongrelband
http://reverbnation.com/mongrelband
http://mongrel.bandcamp.com
http://youtube.com/adamMONGREL
http://soundcloud.com/mongrelband
http://instagram.com/mongrelband

Spotlight on Milly’s Tavern

•July 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

Tell us a little bit about Milly’s history.

Ever since Milly’s Tavern first opened their doors in January 2002, they have provided their customers with some of the best beer in New England, while holding the title of being the only brewery in Manchester, New Hampshire. In addition to their 12 beers on draft and a great food menu, Milly’s has become the best place to see live music in the area!   As many as 17 bands play here every week, with live performances on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and more live music on Sundays!

 

Milly’s seems to do a little bit of everything … brewery, live music, food. How did you get there?

Originally, Milly’s only featured shows on Friday and Saturday nights, but it soon became clear that this was not enough. Due to an increase in demand from both their customers and bands wanting to perform, Milly’s has recently increased their booking to include Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and, when possible, Saturday afternoon shows. And, as if that wasn’t enough live music, Milly’s has occasional Monday shows as well. The beer is our staple. We’re the only brewery in the largest market in the state. Our brewmaster and brew crew are dedicated craftsmen who, through a process of rigorous quality- assurance, produce some of the most unique beers in all the world. The food has come a long way, evolving with trends but staying true to our pub atmosphere

 

What are some of your more popular events?

We were recently voted as the number one slam poetry/ spoken word venue by Bloody Good Writing Magazine for our weekly slam die or die poetry events. Our musical lineup during the week is very diverse, from Manchester’s number one funk band on Tuesdays to our local music spotlight show on Saturday nights. There is always something going on

 

Craft beer and breweries are gaining popularity. How did you get started with that? And what are your thoughts on that trend – good or bad?

I think it’s great. Brewers are becoming more daring and playing with flavors never used in the past. The hop-head movement and the sour beers, like Lambecs and Berlinerweisse, are making a comeback. These are all good for the industry and people are getting away from the mass-produced swill which dominates the market as a whole.

 

 

 

What are some of the highlights of the last year?

Our benefits for various causes; the Marathon bombing, breast cancer, Wounded Warrior. Our first try at making our Maple Bacon Porter. A simple/complex record release was a pretty wild night, with a lot of local musicians coming together to celebrate the success of a peer.

 

Your menu is yum. Talk food for a sec.

We are a pub; the vast majority of things on our menu are covered in cheese and bacon or deep fried. We like doing crazy things like our Monster Burger (a triple decker with a grilled cheese separating two eight ounce burgers with 9 pieces of bacon) or the Volcano Burger (a bacon cheeseburger on a bed of fires covered with chili espinaca and shredded cheese. We bake the whole thing in the oven)

 

Favorite quote?

Twas a woman who drove me to drink. I never had the courtesy to thank her. -W.C Fields

 

You are definitely one of the types of businesses our city radio wants to support; local, community-driven. You seem very dedicated to supporting local artists and musicians, including metal. We in turn support that. So tell our readers about some of your upcoming events.

We’re a family-owned business, and we treat everyone one who walks in the door like family. We have a great community of artists who love playing here because of how accommodating we are, from speed metal to comedians, power slop to hip-hop. Everyone loves playing the room. We have some great acts coming up, like Doug Stanhope on Oct. 18th, the December Downfall on 12/6, and James Montgomery on 12/13.

 

Chris Mansfield

Manager

Interview with Ari Lehman of First Jason

•July 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Interview with Ari Lehman of First Jason

 

First Jason’s ARI LEHMAN has the unique honor of having played Jason Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th movie (1980). With over 20 years’ experience as a professional musician and recording artist, Ari created FIRST JASON specifically for horror fans, especially the fans of Jason Voorhees and “Friday the 13th”, and gave Jason Voorhees a musical voice. First Jason recently returned to Maine to take part in Horrorfest 2013 at Club Texas, in Auburn, Maine. After putting on a killer show (literally), Ari chatted with me for a bit. I saved it for Halloween, of course, because Halloween, horror movies and metal are a pretty awesome combination …

 

Horrorfest is an annual thing?

 

It has become something that we’re definitely very excited to be doing every year. We did one last year … no, we did one in May. So it’s become biannual. We’re gonna do one every month (laughs). First Jason is very excited to have performed here at Club Texas in Auburn, Maine. It’s always great energy. There’s a lot of love of metal in this region, the bands and the fans. Everybody’s just very excited and very enthusiastic. Encouragement is always appreciated. It’s pretty awesome.

 

So tell me about the piano-guitar thing … is there a name for it?

 

I call it The Electric Machete, just to be funny. Some people call it the keychete or keytarchete. Basically, what it is, it’s an analog synth that’s been duct-taped to a big sword prop, which I put a guitar strap on. It’s custom. It’s totally unique. We put it through guitar effects. What it is, is a keyboardist who was always jealous of the guitarists said “I wanna do that.” It’s so much fun to be able to perform and have that immediacy with the audience. When keyboardists play the keyboard on a stand it seems in some way they’re blocked from the audience. I’ve seen different things. There’s a band I love from Chicago and that guy, the keyboardist, he plays so that the keys are actually facing the audience, so he’s kind leaning over it. There’s a great band called Blue Felix from Minnesota, from Minneapolis. That guy plays on a stand that rotates around so he can actually spin. And Fishbone used to do that. You know, I just said, “Darn it all, just put it on something.” The way that came about is that the bassist from a great band called Macabre, which is a death metal band from Chicago, their bassist, who’s known as Nefarious affectionately, he is a great friend of ours. He was kind of a bit of a mentor to me at one point when he was on a hiatus from Macabre. He just kept saying “You gotta bring a keyboard in in some way.” He’s on my first album. It was basically done almost as a joke that I duct-taped it to a cosplay sword, or Manga sword. It’s developed in terms of the sound. I’ve gotten advice from guitar players and bass players and keyboardists, and developed the sound as much as possible. I play it through a Gallien-Krueger bass amp with four 10-inch speakers, so that makes it a lot of fun.

 

 

How did First Jason get started?

 

I’ve been a musician all along. Even when I was on the set of Friday the 13th, at age 14 in 1979, I was a musician already. I was already studying jazz piano at that time. I ended up getting into reggae/world-beat touring. I was on that thing in the 90s when that was big and fun. So I was part of that, and I got to go to West Africa. I was fascinated with that music. I wanted to learn African music and reggae music and Latin music. I ended up having my own band, which was a world beat project. But I was seeing some limitations there. And then, I was living in New York City with my wife and what happened was 9/11. The next day, we were together working as Red Cross volunteers, and it was like, whoa, nobody really wanted to hear my new take on Arabic music and north African this and that. Everyone was kind of limiting their love of world music. When they were out partying, that was the last thing they wanted to think about. They just kinda wanted to party and have a good time and put that all out of their minds. I moved to Chicago. One day someone sent me an email saying, “Did you sign this photo?’ And it was a photo of me as little Jason Vorhees. And I was totally unaware that anyone would want me to sign a photo. So I said “No, I didn’t sign the photo.” And he said “Well, I just bought this for $50 on eBay.” And I was like ‘”What???” Someone had been signing my autograph. So we got to the bottom of that. And eventually one thing led to another and I said, “Well, why don’t I become a part of this autograph-horror convention thing?” And that’s what led to me realizing these horror fans are into metal and punk. Back when I was at NYU, I listened to bands like Bad Brains, 24-7 Spyz, and Living Color. Later on, I was like, “Well, I think I should go in that direction.” At first, First Jason was doing a lot of covers. Misfits songs, Danzig songs, that kind of thing. And it was really Chuck (Nefarious from Macabre) who kinda said, “You don’t need to do that. Do your own songs. You got this skill; apply that.” And by creating that guitar and streamlining, we got a sound, eventually. One thing that I’m very grateful for; I’m probably benefiting from the indulgence of the fans, because I was little Jason.

 

 

You have something unique you can do, might as well go with it …

 

Absolutely. I would do it no matter what. Because I’ve been at conventions where some kid shows up and they’re just so thrilled to meet me. And as a performer, I always know that we should be where anybody’s willing to hear us. If someone’s willing to hear us, then I’m there. But it was a happy accident, perhaps. The fans indulged me and gave me time to get my sound together. I’m always eternally grateful for them. But I didn’t take that for granted … I kicked my own ass. If you go and you see Gojiira, or if you go and see Sepultura, which I’ve done, or you go and see Dimmu Borgir, Testament, Cradle of Filth … it’s just facemelting. You see these bands and you start going ‘Wow’ just at the virtuosity of it. I just said “Fuck, I wanna try doing that.” I didn’t know I would end up doing it as a duo and have a metal duo … (laughs)

 

 

All sorts of firsts going on here …

 

Yeah, it’s true. You know what it is with the metal duo thing … I’ve been advised, “Hey, stick with the duo because it shows off the pyrotechnics of the band, of playing bass and singing.” And then with Ryan, it’s also a great thing that he’s in the band -Ryan Adomaitis, the drummer- because he’s a very visual drummer. People love to watch him play drums, which is a great thing for me. Honestly, I like to really focus on the music, and I’m playing bass and singing and playing keytar at the same time, and I’m pretty absorbed with that, so it’s great if there’s other things to look at. We’re very happy now, because we’re coming out with our second album, called Heed My Warning. But I think that even the name of that album gives you a clue that we’re still kinda coming up with what we’re really gonna drop, and what we’re really going to expand to. I’m happy with the way it sounds.

 

Keep up with First Jason on their official Facebook Page or through the First Jason website. You can also order their first CD, Jason is Watching, on the site, along with some pretty cool and unique merch (like Jason’s Slasher Sauce hot sauce). But if you missed the chance to see First Jason at Horrorfest, don’t worry … Jason always comes back!!

Maine Author Gary Sprague

•July 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

Tell our readers about your work

I’ve written four novels: Children of Mother Earth, about a man who leaves his wife and business to live in a modern-day commune in the White Mountains of New Hampshire; Bobby’s House, which tells the story of what happens in a nice neighborhood when a drug-dealing biker moves in; The Auctioneer, about a small-town handyman and auctioneer dealing with a cheating wife and a knack for rubbing people the wrong way; and my latest, Rock Star, which is about a retired rock star living a quiet life in Maine who is reluctantly drawn back into the spotlight.

I’ve published three books of Maine humor. About fifteen years ago, I wrote a fictional letter from a guy in Maine to his brother in Florida, written in heavy Maine dialect. I did it to get a laugh from my sister, who lives in Florida but grew up here. I ended up writing a series of letters and saving them in a file. Then, in 2011, I decided to publish them as Lettahs From Maine. I’ve since followed that up with Mowa Lettahs From Maine and Lettahs to Celebrities.

I also write short stories. In 2010,  I began submitting my stories to literary magazines. For the first couple of months, all I got were rejection letters. Then, in one week, I had three of my stories accepted for publication. In fact, my first novel, Children of Mother Earth, is an extension of my first published short story. Over the past four years, I’ve had fourteen of my short stories published. I don’t write as many short stories now because I’ve been focused on writing novels, but I hope to write a few this year.

On top of all that, I write home improvement articles for Demand Media Studios, and my articles have appeared online at eHow, SFGate, and ModernMom. I’m also a home expert writer for Redbeacon, and I write a monthly guest column for my local newspaper, The Sanford News.

What was the first book you ever read that you really really loved?

Way, way back, when I was seven or eight, my father bought me What Happened at Midnight, Book 10 in the Hardy Boys series. It was the greatest thing in the world, better than television or movies. I begged my father for another Hardy Boys book, and eventually ended up reading over fifty of them. The Hardy Boys books are really responsible for my lifelong love of reading.

The first book that ever really stuck with me, that I can still remember a great deal of, was J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit. I read it in junior high, those years when our minds and bodies are changing, hormones are churning, and everything is absorbed with a heightened sense of awareness. The Hobbit is actually on the list of books I hope to read this year.

Who are your favorite authors now and why?

My tastes tend to be pretty mainstream. Stephen King, of course. I think it’s a law in Maine that everyone list Stephen King as a favorite author. I didn’t like him, at first. I tried to read The Shining when I was in sixth grade and it really scared me. I discovered that I am definitely not a fan of horror. Or science fiction, for that matter. But I really like his books now. I think I sometimes enjoy his blue-collar settings and writing style more than I enjoy the stories. The Dead Zone is my favorite of his books, and I’ve read most of them. I still haven’t finished The Shining, and can’t foresee a day when I will.

Another Maine author that I love is Richard Russo, for much the same reason that I enjoy Stephen King. Russo is great at describing regular people living in blue-collar towns. His novel Nobody’s Fool was one of my favorites. I just wish he was as prolific as Stephen King.

I’ve recently read a couple of books by Carl Hiaason that I really enjoyed. Very witty. I’ve always liked John Grisham. He may be the best at writing a good, fast-paced story. And I have to mention J.K. Rowling, because the Harry Potter books are among the best ever written. My wife and I are reading the first one to our seven-year-old son and he loves it almost as much as we do. I’ve also read her recent book written under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym and it was pretty good.

Mark Twain is a favorite, with a wit that me and nearly every other writer of the past hundred and fifty years would love to have. I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn almost every summer.

How have you progressed as an author?

I feel that I’ve improved a great deal as an author. Before writing Children of Mother Earth, I wrote three short novels that should really be destroyed. If anyone ever wanted to embarrass me, they could publish those novels. And honestly, I can see the improvement in my writing from when I wrote Children of Mother Earth to my newest, Rock Star. Like Elmore Leonard, I think I’m getting better at leaving out the parts that people skip.

What do you feel are the strong points in your work?

A writer friend once told me that my stories and writing style are reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen songs because I am very good at creating interesting stories about ordinary people.  I’d never thought of it that way, and I took it as a huge compliment. There’s no fantasy or science fiction in my stories. I write about ordinary, small town people, and I think I develop the characters and settings quite well. Also, I’m pretty good at writing humor, whether writing an entire book of it or sprinkling it throughout a novel. So I would say those are my strengths.

Outline or wing it?

I never outline. I rarely begin writing a short story or novel knowing how it will end, or even in which direction it will go. I had an idea of how Bobby’s House would end, and I have an idea of how the novel I’m currently working on will end. But as I write, I’m constantly finding new characters or storylines that I hadn’t even considered ten pages before. It’s very fun, and very exciting. I do write notes so I can keep track of names, characters, backgrounds, etc., but that’s as far as it goes. For me, the story really does take on a life of its own, and I think most writers know what I’m talking about when I say that. I come up with an idea, usually a setting or a situation, and I just feel it out for about ten to twenty pages, kind of like sticking out your tongue to taste a new food. Once I begin to get a feel for the characters and story, I really dive in, and it’s exciting to see what happens along the way. So there’s a long answer to a short question.

What do you feel are the pros and cons of different publishing arenas – self pub vs indie vs mainstream?

Because I’ve only self-published, I don’t know much about mainstream publishing. I think that even if you go through a publishing house, you still need to network and market yourself. The benefit of having a publisher, I think, is that most tasks are taken care of for you – editing, cover art, etc. – which leaves you with more time to write. One thing I like about self-publishing is that I am in control of everything, including the cover art. But on the other hand, handling every aspect of publishing a book is time consuming, time that could be better spent writing. So I guess each individual writer just has to decide what works better for him or her.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever heard?

Find your own voice and write what you know about.

What do you think about being a writer in Maine?

I think it’s a great place to be a writer.

During the summer, the beauty of Maine is inspiring. And the winter is so bleak and dismal that there really is nothing else to do but write.

It can be both challenging and exciting to be a writer in Maine, because there are so many great writers here. In fact, our state may be best known not for its natural beauty, but for being home to the world‘s most famous author. Several years ago, I was in London, trying to explain to a group of Brits where in the United States I lived. As soon as I mentioned Maine, they nodded excitedly and said, “Oh, that’s where Stephen King lives.”

What are you working on now?

A novel about a Maine man who goes on a week-long hunting trip, during which he begins having doubts about his marriage. While he is away, his wife wins the lottery. I’d love to tell you how it ends, but I really don’t know yet.

Gary Sprague can be found on Amazon, facebook, Twitter, and Blogspot.

The Green Store

•July 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The Green Store in Belfast, Maine, is a small business that not only supports but specializes in sustainable, eco-friendly products.

 

 

 

 

History of The Green Store

green store

The Green Store started in 1993. Ellie explains the story of the store’s beginnings. “It was a poker game and somewhat drunken conversation between two married couples about what Belfast needed that it didn’t have, basically, a general store for the 21st century! Each of us contributed our own individual interest areas: solar and wind energy, alternative and holistic health, handmade paper and one-of-a-kind books and gifts, and durable, practical everyday items that were necessary, reusable, and functioned well. We scraped together a bit of money from friends and family and opened our doors knowing next to nothing about what we were doing. Six weeks later, we had sold through the inventory, and closed for two weeks to catch our breath and figure out how to run the business going forward. Over the years, we’ve had wonderful support from our community near and far, and also some amazing timing, such as the Y2K freak-out at the end of the millennium, the state and federal incentives toward energy efficiency and off-grid production, and the ongoing dialogue and attention paid to environmental impact and concerns that Maine has become characterized by.”

The Green Store has been in place since long before the green movement took root. “When we first opened in 1993,” Ellie says, “We were really on the front of the wave. Over the years, there have been many products that we first introduced to our community, carried for several years, and then stopped carrying because sales had slowed. This is because large stores such as Home Depot or Walmart had picked them up, and we no longer had to try to compete by selling items that can be found in many places. A success! Of course, we would have preferred not to see those products end up in large chain stores that have no concern for the wages being paid or the environmental impact of how a product is being produced. Our store is committed to fair trade principles and low environmental impact in production, materials used, and packaging. But that is a whole other story…”

On Being Green

“Sustainability is an issue we just can’t set aside,” Ellie says. “Although there has been a rapid rise in awareness and change in habits, led in large part by our children, we still live in a gluttonously consumerist society. The rate at which we purchase, consume, and throw away the stuff in our lives is absolutely shocking. Our entire culture is built upon consumption. It fuels our economy, defines our values, and drives our habits from birth onward. Although some things are changing on larger scales, such as paperless processes, fuel economy in heating, lighting, and transportation, the growth of the organic food industry, etc., we are still painfully far from getting at the root of the problem, which really is about our core human values and the consciousness we bring to the way we coexist on the planet. It really is the unfortunate and undeserved legacy we leave to our children, and it may not be soon enough to avert disaster.”

“With a mission to promote personal and planetary well-being, we provide simple, practical ways to make a positive difference.”

Slowly but surely, the values the Green Store holds, of sustainability and eco-responsibility, are spreading. “Certainly, ‘green’ has become a household word and a public concern, and this is wonderful,” Ellie continues. “We continue to always try to be among the first places that folks see or learn about the latest thing. We are continually on the lookout, and always responding whenever a customer tells us about something they may have seen somewhere else.”

The store gives back to the community as much as it can, and you’ll often find tips on sustainability on their facebook page. Ellie offers a few pointers. “Start at the beginning of the recycling triangle. Reduce: How much stuff do you really need? And if you do need it, what will become of it when you are done with it? Reuse: There are a dozen uses for a torn T-shirt, or a chipped cup, or the bag you picked up at the store. Recycle: Consider whether you will be able to recycle everything you buy or pick up. Styrofoam? No. Plastic? Perhaps, but every bit of plastic we produce is a poison in the waste stream. If you really must have it, buy products that are made from natural materials, with low environmental impact in their production, that are packaged minimally, and that are practical and durable in quality so that they will serve their function for a long time to come. Learn about the simplest solutions to everyday issues, such as cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, or packaging food in reusable glass or reused plastic bags, or composting your food waste rather than adding it to the waste stream. Reconsider your consumer habits. We didn’t always used to think that we needed a designated diaper bag, or a new backpack every year, or a TV or a handful of plastic pens in every room in the house, or a new vinyl shower curtain and bath mats every spring.”

What You’ll Find At The Green Store

The Green Store has, well, pretty much everything. Ellie runs down a sample of some of their inventory. “Kitchen compost buckets, palm oil candles, glass water bottles, recycled milk jugs, indoor/outdoor rugs, respun T-shirt scrap yarn SolMate socks, Bioshield oil finishes, American-made earthenware pickling crocks, fair trade alpaca sweaters, composting toilets, 10-stage water filters, baby slings, wraps, and cloth diapers, Vornado space heaters and humidifiers, recycled and tree-free greeting cards, and of course, our bumper stickers!”

You can find some unique and unusual items at The Green Store. Their inventory also includes plastic bag dryers, self-installed toilet bidets, beeswax impregnated muslin food wrap, ear candles, poly-whey floor finish from the by-product of producing Cabot cheese, milk paint, bamboo cutlery sets for lunch on the go, cooperative work-together-to-win board games, firestarters made from stub ends of church candles, and more. The Green Store also carries household items. “We carry a large selection of kitchen accessories and necessities, primarily made of wood, natural fibers, or stainless steel. We have many choices of non-toxic cleaning and laundry products. We carry energy efficient lighting, including CFLs and LED lightbulbs. We offer beautiful and inexpensive Japanese rice paper globes and lanyards. We also have several lines of natural paints and finishes, as well as flooring and area rugs.”

Events at the Green Store

The store holds occasional events. “As a small business in a small community, we have to keep our focus local. The events we hold at the store are generally about local issues we support, such as land conservation, animal and wildlife welfare, or local culture and art. We will be celebrating Earth Day on May 3 by having a weekend event to benefit the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance, by donating 10% of our sales to them for the weekend. They will be there to talk about their organization and sign up members.”

On Belfast and Maine

“I am proud to live in Maine, which I consider to be one of the more conscious places to live,” Ellie says. “And Belfast has been a fantastic community for our business. Although this community and the surrounding towns only number about 13,000 people, our business has thrived.” “Belfast has very salt-of-the-earth, blue collar roots. It is also a low-income county in Maine, so when the back-to-the-land movement was coming north in the 70’s and 80’s, land here was cheap and many of us came and stayed. There is a huge food and farming tradition here, evidenced by the Belfast COOP, as well as a plethora of craftspeople and artists. As always, luck has blessed us, too. We were fortunate to have made a decision to have the Route 1 bypass built, rather than having busy traffic through the downtown. Many people opposed that.

We had two different referendums to keep large box stores out of town, and narrowly avoided having Walmart here.

“Many people were disappointed when the box stores didn’t get to build in Belfast. When the credit card company came to town in the 90’s, there was fear that we were going to be bought out by an opportunistic industry. Perhaps, but we got 4,000 good-paying, clean jobs, and the empty asbestos-laden chicken plant on the waterfront was torn down along with rows of derelict buildings.

“Today, due in large part to the activism of many small business owners and a forward-looking city government, Belfast has a thriving downtown that supports numerous excellent restaurants, an active arts community, unique shops and venues, and many great events. Belfast is a destination for vacations, as well as a place for people -young families through older retirees- to come and stay.”

“Being a small business is an opportunity to be a change agent in your community,” Ellie says. “I am very active in our downtown association, which supports green spaces, the arts, cultural events and music, and a high quality of life for the people who live here. I have the opportunity to make decisions myself and to know that I am engaged in a right livelihood all the way down the chain, from where, how, and by whom it was produced, to how it is packaged, to how it got here, to how we display and sell it, to what people know about it when they buy it. And every dollar that is spent in my small business in my town recirculates for the good of my community at least ten times more. It’s awesome.”

We think so too.

Follow the Green Store on facebook or their website, or stop into the store at 71 Main Street, Belfast, ME 04915

 
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