People deal with stress in different ways. Some throw themselves into work, some lie low and gather their family around them. But if you’re local musician and promoter Mike Billings, you do what comes best to you: You bring together all your musician, artist, culinary and dance friends, and you throw a big party for a good cause.
Billings’ younger brother, Randy, also a gifted musician and member of the longtime Maine Celtic band the Napper Tandies, was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in April. To show his love and support and to raise funds for Randy’s fight and for the American Cancer Foundation, Mike Billings has organized Bloom207, a two-day music, art and dance showcase. The event is set for Friday and Saturday, July 30 and 31, at the Union Street Brick Church in downtown Bangor.
“After the initial shock of it, I knew I had to do something,” said the elder Billings. “It’s a pretty scary thing, you know? There are so many questions that come up when you hear something like that about somebody you love. Once I kind of got my head around it, though, I definitely got to work.”
Like his other large events, such as the Bangor Meltdown in January 2009 and the Lover’s Leap event in May 2009, Billings envisioned lots of creative people all in one space. With previous events, he has found himself stretched thin in terms of resources — running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything together in time. This time, however, he found the help came to him.
“I don’t think there’s anybody out there that doesn’t at least know someone who has had cancer,” said Billings. “Everybody has a story. And I think that’s why this event connected with so many people so early on.”
The music was the easy part. Bloom207 attendees can look forward to bands like the Orono rockers Most Of Us Can Stand, the Portland-based Celtic rock band the Pubcrawlers, groovy Bangor alt-rockers Magnetic North, electro-rock band Ghost Safari, funk jam party band Mudseason and tuneful Bangor rockers Sam & Yuri. Special sets from Billings and from songwriter Joshua Mooers are also on the bill.
Then came the dancing and other performers, the food and the art. On Friday night, Bangor-based belly dance troupe Paradigm will perform a special piece called “A Summer Shanghai,” along with a performance from Sennyo, a local buugeng and hooping artist. Bangor Fusion will host a wine and cheese social in collaboration with Anne Marie’s Kitchen, organic purveyors Orizaba Farm, downtown Bangor restaurant Ipanema and Black Bear Brewery. DJ Corey Paradise and Mike Puleo will provide the soundtrack.
Throughout the weekend, an art show featuring a number of local artists will be displayed at the church. Photographer and artist Shanna Merola curated the event, which will showcase painters, sculptors, photographers and installation artists on special “art walls,” constructed by Billings and Merola.
“There aren’t a lot of places for local artists to display their work,” said Billings. “So, in addition to it being a fundraiser, it’s an outlet for all the amazing creative people we have in our community.”
Penobscot Nation drumming and dance group Sukulis is also set to perform, along with dance and drum workshops from Sukulis, Paragigm and Sennyo. Children’s music from Judy Fricke of Main Street Music Studios is scheduled, as are children’s art canvases. Performances from the Bangor-based Arts Royal School of Irish Dance are slated Saturday, in keeping with Randy Billings’ love of Irish culture. An open Irish music jam session will be offered at 2 p.m. Sunday at Geaghan’s Pub on Main Street in Bangor.
Keeping track of the long list of events and performers Billings has assembled is darn near impossible — you’ll just have to come to the event to see what Bangor has to offer.
“It’s a celebration pretty much,” said Billings. “We just want to celebrate all the awesome stuff Bangor and life in general has to offer. And we want to kick cancer’s butt.”
Bloom207 will run from 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 30; and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, July 31, at the Union Street Brick Church. The Red Cross will have information booths set up at the church. The event is for all ages, and admission is by donation with all proceeds going to benefit the American Cancer Foundation and Randy Billings’ fight against cancer.