May 28, 2018
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Local Bluegrass band’s start a ‘cliche’

By Emily Burnham, BDN Staff

So much of music has a lot of mythology built up around it. There’s the garage band that toils away, surrounded by paint cans and old tires. The folk singer who sings on street corners and at coffee shops until get ting discovered. Most of the time, the reality is pretty different from the stereotype. But in the case of local bluegrass band Raw Chicken, it actually did what the archetypal bluegrass band does.

“Yeah, we really were sitting around on a porch, picking and grinning,” said Ben Moors, guitarist for the six-piece bluegrass collective. “I know it’s a cliche, but that’s really how it started.”

Raw Chicken grew out of a group of friends who dig bluegrass, and who hung out at a bar. The Riverfront Pub in Old Town, to be exact. Ben Moors, his brother Chad, who plays mandolin, and fiddle player and vocalist Luke Duplessis had been trying their hand at playing traditional bluegrass songs together.

“This past summer, the Riverfront told us we could play on the back deck,” said Moors. “They couldn’t pay us, but we could play all night. It was a really informal thing, but it grew from there.”

The Moors brothers and Duplessis soon attracted the interest of guitarist Scott Samiya, harmonica player Scott Ouellette, second mandolin player Ryan McDougall and drummer Justus Magee. Before long, their informal jam session was turning into a real band — one that has garnered them a small but growing fan base in Greater Bangor. It has also cemented their reputation as a live act, scoring them regular shows at places such as the Mainely Brews in Waterville, The Bear Brew Pub in Orono, their beloved Riverfront Pub in Old Town, and the Whig and Courier Pub in downtown Bangor, where the band will play at 9 tonight.

The Moors brothers started playing bluegrass while both were teenagers growing up in Old Town. An initial interest in the Grateful Dead led them to discover Old And In The Way, Jerry Garcia’s bluegrass project, which in turn led them to more traditional bluegrass.

“We took lessons from a guy named Bruce Smith who lived in Bradley,” said Moors. “He was in a band called North Star, and he was always rumored to be one of the best bluegrass musicians in the state. He really taught us the basic, traditional bluegrass style.”

Raw Chicken plays a number of classic old-timey songs, including “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” and “Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.” They also give the bluegrass treatment to some classic new-timey songs, including pieces from The Doors and indie-rock powerhouse the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

“It’s really fun to do a traditional bluegrass take on a contemporary song,” said Moors. “Ryan always keeps us rooted in a real traditional sound, but we all have really diverse interests, so it makes it interesting.”

Sound engineer Eric Matthews has recorded most of the band’s shows, so in lieu of recording a studio album, Raw Chicken hopes to eventually release a compilation of live tracks.

“We’re really a live band, so I think a live album make more sense,” said Moors. “We still try to keep it as informal as possible. We’re very ragtag.”

Raw Chicken will play starting at 9 tonight at the Whig and Courier Pub in downtown Bangor. The show is 21 plus. For more information, look for the band’s official group on Facebook.

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