Interview, Preview

WinterWonderGrass (CO) Preview: The Ghost of Paul Revere

By Kevin Alan Lamb

Can you recall the last time you followed the advice of a stranger, at a music festival, and discovered one of your favorite bands? I imagine most of you have, and if you haven’t, live a little. Join me in the Wayback Machine as we travel to Memorial Day 2016, when I saw about a girl to cover and attend my first Shoe Fest, in Manteno, IL. 

I was refueling back at camp when my neighbors insisted I join them to see their favorite band, who I had never heard of.  We had spent enough time together that weekend where I trusted their taste, and at the very least, the band had a great name. While I generally have a festival itinerary including sets I have a duty to cover, I stand by the reality that the magic happens when you let go of control, and see where the river takes you. This was no exception. On this particular occasion the river led me to The Ghost of Paul Revere.

It’s not every day you happen upon the “Best in Maine”, 1,100 miles away from its New England fishing wharves and seaports. Twice awarded this distinction at the New England Music Awards, their song “Ballad Of The 20th Maine” became the official State Ballad of Maine after being passed unanimously by the Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by Maine’s Governor, Janet Mills. 

AUGUSTA, ME – JUNE 7: Members of the Portland band Ghost of Paul Revere, from left: Griffin Sherry, Sean McCarthy and Max Davis, perform on Friday June 7, 2019 in Hall of Flags at Maine State House in Augusta. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer)

A previous conversation with Max Davis (Banjo, Vocals) revealed that The Ghost of Paul Revere symbolized a creative guide, or divine attendant who visited Griffin Sherry (Guitar, Vocals) in a dream while the two were at art school. The idea carried over when they formed the band, as it connected them to their New England Roots, “but also explores the concept of the messenger and how few can bring many together.”

WinterWonderGrass Tickets

We carry the music we love with us as a debt of gratitude for all the times it has carried us. We share it with those who leave meaningful imprints upon our life, with hope that together, we can look to, lean on, and sing these songs when we need them most. In love, in loss; during long hospital visits, joyful celebrations, waking up, working out, and traveling long distances with, away from, or to those we love.

It is this understanding, and embrace of building community through music which has carried their legend into the hearts, and homes of those they grow to and with. Since the last time these Maine-made men and I shared a bottle of whiskey following their performance in The Parliament Room (2018), they have performed alongside The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, Billy Strings, The Revivalists, Bela Fleck, The Infamous Stringdusters, and even made an appearance on Conan O’Brien (TBS). They’ve appeared at major festivals nationwide such as Newport Folk, Austin City Limits, WinterWonderGrass, BottleRock Napa, Shaky Knees, Okeechobee, and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. 

Since 2014, they have curated, booked, and hosted their very own festival, Ghostland. Rooted in a love for Maine’s music community, the festival has grown into one of the state’s largest festivals, drawing both local and national talent to the annual Labor Day Weekend event in Portland.

With previous visits to WinterWonderGrass in Colorado and Vermont, the Maine trio misses the connectivity of the road, and is eager to once more be engulfed within the community that congregates around this ceremony in Steamboat Springs. Drawn to the spirit of collaboration on the mountain, Griffin is looking forward to seeing The War and Treaty after being out to sea together a few years ago, along with the Trampled boys (Trampled By Turtles), who he knows play a mean game of table tennis. 

In addition to their set on Sunday, The Ghost of Paul Revere will be featured at GRASS AFTER DARK on Saturday along with Big Something and Yonder Mountain String Band.

“The magic pours into the community following the festival each night! Ride the gondola to Thunderhead Lodge, walk over to the Grand Ballroom or feel the local vibes downtown at Schmiggity’s.”

During winter months in Michigan I work out in the same hoodie each day. It is black, with white print which depicts a skeleton wearing a pirate hat, holding a banjo. Some may contend that this is The Ghost of Paul Revere; but I know it as something different: something that is born from the harsh conditions of darkness, cold nights, hard work, and the fervent tenacity it insists to endure. It is a reminder that no matter how treacherous the storm may grow, nor how isolated we may feel due to fear, pain, and struggle, music is the lighthouse and beacon calling each of us home. 

Here’s my conversation with Griffin Sherry ahead of The Ghost of Paul Revere’s next great adventure at WinterWonderGrass, in Steamboat Springs.  Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound. 

Members: Griffin Sherry (Guitar, Vocals), Max Davis (Banjo, Vocals), Sean McCarthy (Bass, Vocals)

Watch: Love At Your Convenience”

Listen: “After Many Miles”

What about WinterWonderGrass intrigues you most? 

Honestly, the greatest strength and draw of WWW is the community that congregates around it. Everyone is so invested in sharing the experience together, both musicians and ticket holders. I always get excited heading into wondergrass because I know I’m going to see some truly incredible collaborations and be with people who truly appreciate the experience as much as I do.  

If you’ve been before, what are a few distinct memories that stand out?

Playing on the main stage when it was -10 in Vermont certainly stands out, so does the Lindsey Lou & Billy Strings set in the bar that night. All of the late night sets are stand-outs, if you can remember them. 

Who on the bill have you played with before? 

We’ll be there with a whole bunch of friends this year. We’ve done shows with Trampled, Lucas, the Wood Brothers, Sierra, the McCourys, War and Treaty, and the Dwellers. We just met the Tejon Street Corner Thieves at a show at the Mission in Denver and loved their set. I always love when we get to play an event with so many musicians we are truly fans of.

Who on the bill are you friends with?

I know those Trampled boys play a mean game of table tennis, so I’m very excited to see them. We also got to know the War & Treaty crew well while we were out to sea together a couple years ago. Honestly, being from the Northern Northeast we don’t get to see a lot of our touring friends because when they do finally make it to our neck of the woods, we’re normally out on the road. So it’ll be fun to catch up with a lot of people on this line-up.

What about playing festivals feels different this time around? (2+ years into global pandemic)

We don’t allow ourselves much of an opportunity to head out into the crowds and catch a show, which is disappointing. But I hope this year at WWW, people will be sensible and safe and allow us the opportunity to share the weekend with them out in the world. 

Do you participate in winter sports? I broke my collarbone in two places the last time I went skiing, any wild stories if you do? 

Oof, that’s rough. None of us have ever broken bones skiing, I don’t think. We certainly all were dumb teenagers on the slopes at one time. I did have an extremely close call when I got an inner tube at a tube park going much too fast and was launched 20 feet into the air into the parking lot and almost landed on top of a shed. I wish I could say it was when I was young, but I had definitely stopped being carded at that point. We’re from Maine, so if you don’t do some type of winter sport, you’d be pretty bored most of the year. As far as mountain sports, Chuck is our resident skier, Max and I both snowboard. We still haven’t hit the slopes at Tahoe or Steamboat, so we are very excited to make that happen this year. 

What three things does the band have going on right now that you’re most stoked over? 

I think we’re all excited to be back out in the world playing shows and driving around the country again. I’ve loved being home the last few years, but I did truly miss traveling and performing. Secondly, we’re about to announce the lineup for Ghostland 2022, our festival we throw here in Portland. Having Deer Tick and Karina Rykman last year was a dream come true, and I feel the same about this year’s guests. We’re also fresh out of Dimension studio with Dan Cardinal and have a whole new bunch of songs that I think take what we’ve done traditionally in a very interesting and new direction.

“The Maine-grown, foot-stompin’ holler-folk trio create the type of music for which festivals are made.” — The Boston Globe

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