Remembering Tom Rowe Concert May 10th in Auburn

14 April 2014
Tom Rowe

Tom Rowe

This year’s annual show paying tribute to the life of Dave’s dad, Tom Rowe, will feature a special a performance by Maine’s favorite new-vaudeville performer Randy Judkins. Also signed on to sing and play is midcoast denizen Chuck Kruger, author of New England musical classics like “Windy and Warm, ” “Back to Maine,” “Good Time Jones,” and “Happy Sam.”

The show’s usual lineup of Maine’s best musical suspects – Dave Rowe, Schooner Fare, The Squid Jiggers and Denny Breau – will also perform. The emcee, once again, The Humble Farmer, a.k.a. Robert Skoglund. His bone-dry deliver takes a minute to sink in, but its worth the wait.

As always, each performer is donating their time. All proceeds will go to the Jack McPhillips Memorial Fund to help those who find themselves between the cracks of other agencies.

What: The annual Remembering Tom Rowe Concert to benefit the Jack McPhillips Memorial Fund

Where: First Universalist Church, 169 Pleasant St Auburn, ME 04210

When: Saturday May 10 at 7:30 p.m.

How much: $25

Tickets: Get them online HERE.

The Squid Jiggers

The Squid Jiggers




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Be a part of the live record

5 February 2014
be a part of the The Squid Jiggers' live record!

Be a part of the The Squid Jiggers’ live record!


WHAT: The Squid Jiggers are recording a live album and they want YOU to be part of it!

WHERE: The Freeport Theater of Awesome at 5 Depot Street in Freeport Maine. (207) 675-4000

WHEN: March 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $12/$15


Dave and Troy are taking over the Freeport Theater of Awesome for two nights on St. Patrick’s Day weekend to record a live album. They need your voice to make it complete.  Everyone who buys a ticket will receive a coupon good for a free copy of the record when it comes out later in the year. Get your tickets here. Don’t delay. The Freeport Theater of Awesome is a wonderful, intimate venue (great for sing alongs) but seating is limited. This will sell out. This is The Squid Jiggers’ ONLY Paddy’s Day performances.

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Everyone can — and should — sing!

5 February 2014

I have had a number of people ask for the text of the homily I delivered yesterday during the annual music service at The First Universalist Church Unitarian Universalist of Auburn, Maine. Here it is in its entirety.

seegerHow many times have I heard: “I couldn’t carry a tune if it was strapped to me.” “You don’t want to hear me sing.”Or “I can’t (or don’t) sing.”? There are many variations on this theme, but the net result is always the same. For one reason or another, every person who utters one of these phrases has been told (or convinced themself) to give up singing. I often hear such things when I encourage people to join the church choir. I’m just waiting for someone to quote Jarod Kintz from his book “Who Moved My Choose?: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change by Deciding to Let Indecision Into Your Life.” He wrote: “I only sing in the shower. I would join a choir, but I don’t think my bathtub can hold that many people.”

It’s only been in the last 500 years or so in western culture, and mostly in the last 100 years, since the invention of recorded music, that the line between audience and performer has crept into our social consciousness. As a matter of fact, I’ve been told that most extant aboriginal cultures use the same word to mean “to sing” as “to dance.”

Our ancestors would not have been without music, and before the radio, before the phonograph, if you wanted music it was performed live, and nearly everyone was a musician of some sort or another. They would gather around fires or in kitchens with voices and instruments and some lubricating beverages to play, sing, and dance. It was fun, it drew people together, it passed long winter nights, it celebrated weddings and births, and remembered departed souls.

Sea chanteys were invented and sung by sailors to synchronize hard work on ships, like the pulling of ropes, or spinning the capstan, before the machinery existed to automate those jobs. When we sing these songs now, we tend to clap in the places when the work would have happened.

We’ll roll the old chariot along, we’ll roll the old chariot along, we’ll roll the old chariot, and we’ll all hang on behind.

The songs were infectious enough that the men would sing them after the work was done during the mugup below or in the pub onshore. They’d make up more verses, sometimes very humorous verses. I still sing some of those old songs in pubs, and people still sing along.

Today’s music service theme is our church’s mission: “Rooted in the sacred and strengthened by our diversity, we equip ourselves to minister through the transformative power of Love.” We recently lost a man who lived out a similar ministry. Rooted in the sacred and strengthened by the diversity of the entire human race, Pete Seeger equipped himself with banjo and voice to minister to us all through the transformative power of Love. Pete’s voice fell silent last week. He entertained us and got us singing for most of his 94 years. He gave us the gift of timeless songs: “Where have all the flowers gone, Long time passing, where have all the flowers gone, Long time ago…” He gave us questions to ponder: “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” He called us to arms and told us to peacefully go forth and sing to change the world: “Well I have a hammer, and I have a bell, and I have a song to sing all over this land. It’s the hammer of justice, it’s the bell of freedom, it’s a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.”

Wendy Schuman asked Pete his views on religion. He said: “I feel most spiritual when I’m out in the woods. I feel part of nature. Or looking up at the stars. I was an atheist. Now I say, it’s all according to your definition of God. According to my definition of God, I’m not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes I’m looking at God. Whenever I’m listening to something I’m listening to God.

I’ve had preachers of the gospel, Presbyterians and Methodists, saying, “Pete, I feel that you are a very spiritual person.” And maybe I am. I feel strongly that I’m trying to raise people’s spirits to get together.” That’s exactly what he did when he got people to sing together.

That’s what I try to do. In some ways, Pete gave me my career. He was the archetype. He set an example which I and countless others hold up now. It’s the reason I am the choir director at this church. It’s the reason I write songs and feel compelled to shout them out. It’s the reason I remind people they can sing—they should sing. We all should sing. It’s the reason I sing old songs which are worth remembering and handing down again and again like prized family possessions.

The voice is the only instrument we all can play, the only instrument that is hidden inside of each one of us, the only truly organic instrument. When we are born, the first thing we do after taking our first breath is to make a sound with our voice—our innate instrument. The cry of a newborn baby is music, just as the twitter of birds, the rumble of thunder, the babble of a brook, or the silence of the dawn. Every sound—every vibration moving through the air which meets the ear is music. The sound of a mother’s voice to her baby is music. The purr of a cat in your lap is music. So is the slam of a door or the whistle, clickety-clack, and rumble of a train. All music.

In 1952 Composer, John Cage, wrote 4’33”. It’s a piano piece in which the performer takes the stage, sits at the piano and proceeds, stop watch in hand, to not play the piano for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, at which point he closes the piano cover and exits the stage. Many people have mistakenly thought that the piece is about silence. It’s not. According to Cage, the music is the sounds of the audience: occasional coughs and sneezes, shifting in seats, the rattle of someone retrieving an item from a pocket, and so forth. The point is every sound is music, and if we accept the premise, then every voice sings.

Singing feels good. It’s good for us. It releases endorphins in the body. It makes us healthy and happy.

Let’s try something together. Let’s all take a slow, deep breath together, hold it for a couple of seconds and then slowly let it out by humming. This is not a recital, there is no wrong way to do this, so please just try it.

Did you feel that? That feeling of calm come over your entire body? That was a release of endorphins. It’s actually good for you. Laughing actually does the same thing (laughter is singing—it’s music).

OK, I admit it, some days I don’t feel like singing. Sometimes I don’t want to “go to work.” I don’t want to get in my car, drive to a pub, set up my equipment, and sing and play guitar. It’s a job after all. But after a few songs, after the audience starts to smile, clap, sing, and dance, I start to get into it. I start to become energized by the music, and suddenly I realize: I love this. I love doing this. I love making music, but most of all I love watching and hearing all those people singing timeless songs with me. And that is what places me in the great circle with countless other singers, the great circle that includes Pete Seeger; Woody Guthrie; Joan Baez; John, Paul, George, and Ringo; John Denver; my own father; and innumerable others who have stood on stage or in kitchens or in churches like this and encouraged a room full of people to join their voices together.

Stephen Sondheim said, “If I cannot fly, let me sing.” I certainly agree. When I sing, I feel like I am soaring. My troubles cannot follow me when I sing. It’s a true escape, but it’s an escape best shared. The shower is a wonderful place to sing, but that’s just the warmup. Be free with your breath, your voice, your music. Share it and feel the rewards it brings. Invite friends and family to your kitchen, tell them to bring guitars and fiddles, and start doing what we are wired at birth to do. Let’s start today, in this room, with our music service. Let’s enjoy the musical offerings this morning, and let them be the catalyst for a musical-spiritual experience.

Gangai Victor founder of the Indian Christian Blog, wrote: “It’s easy to sing the song, but to pray the lyrics from deep within… that’s worship!”

Let us worship.


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Pete Seeger may be dead but ‘He Ain’t Gone’

4 February 2014

In the back of Pete Seeger’s book “How to Play the 5-String Banjo” are handwritten notes. Pete added a few post scripts, things he forgot to mention in the original edition. One of the things he included was his address. I wrote to him when I was 15.

And he wrote back.

I’d asked him for some advice. I wanted to know how I could cut the end of my banjo neck off, add three extra frets (like Pete’s custom banjo) and then glue the end back on.

In his reply, he wisely urged me no to try such a thing. It would take a professional luthier to get it right. I was disappointed at the time. But looking back now, it sounds like mighty good advice.

I still have the letter. I’ve kept it with me all these years. It’s just a short note, banged out on a typewriter and hand signed. But it meant Pete was real and, for a few minutes, he knew my name thought about me, personally.

The other night, when I got the news he was gone, I got out a live record he recorded with Arlo Guthrie called “Precious Friend.” I put it on the platter and set the tone arm down on at the start of side two. At that point, Arlo and his band have left the stage. Pete’s out there alone. It’s quiet for a moment, save the pops on the vinyl. Then Pete starts to sing.

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, thought far off hymn
That hails the new creation.

Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

The the record went around. I opened my gray file cabinet and found the manila folder with Pete’s letter. I knew right where it was. I opened the envelope, graced with a 25-year-old postmark. I read his advice and listened to him sing.

It was too much. Sadness overwhelmed me, but not for long, as I realized I was singing along with him.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

I was crying, but I couldn’t keep from singing. That’s what Pete always wanted. It’s what he worked for. He wanted us to sing, together. He wanted us to not be able to keep ourselves from singing. He knew that lifting our voices also lifts our spirits.

There, at my desk in the light of a reading lamp, it was like he was thinking about me again, just for a moment. It was like he was answering a letter from my heart. Instead of telling me not to cut my banjo in half, he just said, “sing.”

And that’s what I did.

Pete may be dead. But I don’t think he’s gone. He’s out there. Wherever people are singing — all alone in the dark or hand-in-hand on a barricade — he’s with them. He’s waving his arms, trying to get them to sing louder and in harmony. They’ll feel better and stronger, if they do.


"He Ain't Gone" -- a song for Pete Seeger

“He Ain’t Gone” — a song for Pete Seeger

P.S. By the way, I finally got my long neck banjo. The pot is from a Vega tubaphone, made in Boston in the 1920s. The lengthy neck was crafted by my friend Carter Ruff at Subterranean Music Works in Bath a couple years ago.

Here’s a big thank you to the my partner in The Squid JiggersDave Rowe, for stopping by with his guitar and singing this new song with me. A bigger thanks goes out to members of the Calamari Choir (Eric, JimJeff, Bailey, Simon, Connie and Stace) who showed up at my house with just a few hours notice to sing this song for Pete. Thanks to Leslie for reminding us to smile. Last, but not least, thanks Kris for running the second camera.

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‘Hearth and Fire’ be ours tonight

10 December 2013

‘Hearth and Fire’ © 1980 Gordon Bok, BMI / Recorded on the Bok, Muir, and Trickett album “Water Over Stone.”

Gordon Bok wrote this as more of a Thanksgiving song, but with its images of wind in bare birch trees, wine, song, fire, we think it sounds good any night of the Holiday season.

You can get the original version by Bok, Muir and Trickett at Folk-Legacy Records. You can get Gordon Bok’s songbook “One to Sing, One to Haul,” which includes this tune, at Timberhead Music.

May “peace and warmth be yours tonight wherever you may bide.”



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‘The Stranger’ in Gray

3 December 2013

By Steve Libby
Gray Maine 1981

The Memorial Day procession to the cemetery here gets smaller every year. But in Gray there’s a special meaning to the day and a special feeling, a feeling that began in the early days of the Civil War in a little white farmhouse on Colley Hill overlooking this little village.

Amos and Sarah Colley lived there, as they had since their marriage. And when the telegram was delivered, that day in September, 1862, they were grief-stricken. Their son, Lt. Charles H. Colley, had been killed. On receipt of sufficient funds for preparation of the body, for a plain pine coffin and for shipping costs, the message read, the corpse would be returned to Gray. The money was sent.

Some 3,500 men had been killed or wounded at Cedar Mountain during the Shanadoah Valley campaign. Eight thousand Union troops, including Company B, 10th Maine Volunteers, attacked 20,000 Confederates. Many, like Lt. Colley, were rushed to Alexandria Hospital. There, on Sept. 20, 1862, Colley died. In due course a coffin arrived at the railhead and began it tortuous trip by horse-cart up Colley Hill to the home of Amos and Sarah Colley. But when the coffin was opened, the body was not that of Charles Coley, but of a completely uniformed Confederate soldier.

The stalwart Colleys and their friends and neighbors quickly agreed that this young man, enemy soldier though he was, would be buried in the Gray cemetery with full honors. So moved were the members of the Ladies Relief Corps of the G. A. R. that they promised to maintain the grave, including annual decoration with flag and flowers. The Stranger was buried and eventually a white stone erected reading thusly:


A Soldier of the late war
died 1862
Erected by the Ladies of Gray

For more than a century, every Memorial Day, the grave of The Stranger in Gray has born a flag and flowers. Some times it was difficult to find a Confederate flag, so the Stars and Stripes was substitued; often people from the village came to place a geranium, or some wild flowers, by the stone. A few weeks after The Stranger had been buried, another coffin arrived for the Colleys. There was no mistake this time. Sarah and Amos followed their son’s coffin to the cemetery and buried him about 30 paces from The Stranger.

And so on this Memorial Day, as during the past 113 years, people will come and visit, leaving mementos and remembering. Ladies of the American Legion Auxiliary, who some years ago replaced the diminishing ranks of the aging members of the Relief Corps, will take charge of the flags; other will bring flowers. Some will merely come to watch the small ceremony directly across from the exit of the Maine Turnpike, with its speeding thousands passing by each day. There’s be an easy way to find the grave of The Stranger in Gray. For flying proudly above his grave will be a flag of the Confederate States of America and as long as the elements allow it to retain its colors, this Battle Flag will wave in this Maine graveyard as a tribute to The Stranger.

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Squids nominated for best house band

23 October 2013
The Squid Jiggers have been nominated as best house band by the Portland Phoenix.

The Squid Jiggers have been nominated as best house band by the Portland Phoenix.

We’ve played a regular Wednesday night gig at Bull Feeney’s on Fore Street in Portland for more than three years now. The regulars, we know by name. We know their favorite songs. We always play them. The tourists come, have a good time, then they go. We wave and say, “come back soon.” The bartenders know Dave likes bacon and swiss on his burger. Everybody knows that’s my motorcycle parked out front.

No Squid Jigger has ever called out sick. Not once.

Looks like all that singing and playing is finally paying off.

The good folks over at the Portland Phoenix have nominated us for Best House Band in their annual readers music poll.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we won? I mean, we don’t really care. We’re not in this for awards. But wouldn’t it be fabulous if a folk duo, like The Squid Jiggers, walked away with the gold?

We need your help to make it happen. We’re up against some seriously stiff competition. Vote early. Vote often. You can vote as often as you like. So, what are you waiting for?





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Dave’s got a brand new (bass in his) bag

9 October 2013

Long known for playing his father’s trademark Steinberger bass guitar resembling a space-aged canoe paddle, Dave has added a brand new bass to his arsenal. It’s Ned Steinberger’s newest bass design, the Radius.

Meticulously crafted in the Czech Republic, the CR5 RADIUS Bass Guitar embodies a breadth of experience, insight, and design brilliance which only Ned Steinberger can bring to the creation of a new classic.

His approach to the RADIUS, as with every new instrument, was to re-explore each facet of a bass guitar, leading to innovations such as the Fusion neck, the Diradial body design, the NS tuning system, and the NS/EMG pickup system.

However, what makes this instrument most remarkable is its seamless integration of feature, form and function. The sensuous lines of the RADIUS are balanced and refreshing, which is exactly how it feels to hold and to play it. Most of all, the RADIUS is, by design, the most sonically dynamic, versatile and exciting bass available today.

Fretted or fretless, the CR Radius Bass Guitar is available in Amber Satin, Natural Satin, or Charcoal Satin finishes.

Tom Rowe and his bass.

Tom Rowe and his bass.


Fear not, fans of the old bass. Dave still loves it. He cherishes it, in fact. And he’ll still be playing it from time to time.


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Squids on a Three Day Tour

24 July 2013

From Portland, Maine to Sykesville, Maryland to Vernon, New Jersey to Plymouth, Massachusetts and back to Portland playing three fabulous folk shows. A big thank you to Paul Demmitt for the concert footage and the audiences for singing so well.

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Saltwater Celtic Music Festival

14 July 2013

saltwater celtic music fesivalAs part of the fabulous Saltwater Celtic Music Festival at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, Maine, The Squid Jiggers will play a concert at the Maine Maritime Museum’s lovely Long Reach Hall Friday night July 19 in Bath, Maine.

The show will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10/$15 for this event.


MMM’s current exhibition, “That Flaunting Rag!: Maine’s Maritime War Against the Confederacy” sheds some light on the more obscure parts of the war against the Confederate sea raiders, which played out in an era of clicking telegraphs as a maritime chess game of espionage, long distance sleuthing, and diplomatic double-entendres.

The ‘Battle of Portland Harbor’ is also featured, in which the explosion of the highjacked Federal Revenue Cutter Caleb Cushing stymied only the most obvious attempt of Confederate agents to exploit the vulnerabilities of Maine’s long coastline, easily penetrated from Canadian refuge.

The shows also gets into Maine’s shipbuilding contributions to the war effort, including the Bath-built ’90-day gunboat’ USS Katahdin, whose lengthy service on the lower Mississippi included the interception of a herd of Texas cattle intended for Confederate troops; less black and white (or blue and gray) was the intriguing complication of the Union blockade for Maine shipping interests, which had long cultivated profitable relationships within Southern port cities.

Come to the museum for the great exhibits and stay for The Squid Jiggers show. You’ll be glad you did.


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