Growing up as outdoor enthusiasts in Maine, where the winters are extreme, may have helped prepare bandmembers of The Ghost of Paul Revere for the hardscrabble music business.
The trio ventured to the deep South to debut (live) a song with the lyrics, “Go straight to hell with your Rebel yell.” The members drove their tour van through snow, towing each other around on skis, during a music video. And soon they will play a show in Boston and another the next night in California.
“We can sleep when we’re dead,” bassist Sean McCarthy said.
McCarthy, banjo player Max Davis and acoustic guitarist Griffith Sherry have been best friends since they were toddlers. Their closeness is conducive to intricate vocal harmonies. While their instruments lead people to assume they are a bluegrass band, they are not. They play a blend of field hollers and rock ‘n’ roll.
In the northeasternmost state, “there’s lots to do in summer, but once it got dark you go inside, make a fire, bring out some instruments and see what happens. … We love stomping.”
Maine is cold, but it is a place of cool names and expressions. Lobsters are bugs and chowder is “chowdah.” In wintertime, you fish on the hardwater. The band made a name for itself at a saloon in “Pawtlan” called the Dogfish. And it made that video for the song “Little Bird” up apiece at Moosehead Lake.
“We picked up some fireworks and came up with some dance moves and just had a fun time roaming around in the woods,” McCarthy said. “We always keep in mind that Rule No. 1 is to have fun.”
It might be fun to have one hand on a bottle of Seagram’s 7 and another of a rope strapped to a motorized vehicle speeding through the woods. It’s also kind of crazy. So is going to Johnson City, Tennessee, and singing ““Ballad of the 20th Maine,” a song about a Civil War regiment.
“If we should die today, dream a dream of heaven;Take your Northern heart with you to the grave.Be proud and true you are a Union soldier;Stand fast, ye are the boys of Maine.”
“It’s not exactly where I expected to play the song,” McCarthy said. “But it was awesome. The people down there really took to it. Funny how much the Southern folks liked that song.”
It was received even better back home, where legislators unanimously voted in May to select the song as the official state ballad of Maine.
McCarthy said he and his bandmates are history buffs. The name The Ghost of Paul Revere came to Sherry in a dream, and he took on that persona during performances at the Dogfish Bar & Grille.
“The character would take over during performance,” McCarthy said. “Max and I joined and sang harmonies to get a free beer.”
In younger days, the three members each had different musical tastes.
“The culmination of all those things growing up into being exposed to this world that we’re a part of now was huge. We could take those influences from field-hollering stomp and use a guitar line that might have come from Zeppelin and harmonies that might have come from the Temptations.
“Knowing each other so well lends itself to have the ability to blend the vocals the way we do. It’s a very organic process.”
This summer, The Ghost of Paul Revere will perform for the first time in Europe. But before that is the aforementioned cross-country jaunt, playing a Wednesday night in Massachusetts, and Thursday in Mill Valley, California. It will perform as a quintet, with Chuck Gagne on drums and Benjamin Cosgrove on keys.
On Friday, June 21, the band debuts at the Crystal Bay Casino. Its only other Tahoe-area appearance was at WinterWonderGrass a couple of years ago. Reminder: this is not a bluegrass band, but the shows are a wicked hoot.
— Tim Parsons
The Ghost of Paul RevereWhen: 9 p.m. Friday, June 21
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Tickets: $15 in advance or $20 on the day of the show
ABOUT Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.
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