BANGOR, Maine — Maximum Blue, a Bangor-based trio of fiddle, bass and guitar, will hold a CD release party at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Next Generation Theater, 39 Center St., in Brewer.
The group is made up of Max Silverstein, 16, on fiddle, his father, Jeffrey Silverstein, on guitar, both of Bangor, and Nancy Merrill of Clifton on bass. The new CD, entitled “Grounded,” is the group’s fifth recording but the first to be recorded professionally.
“The others were recorded either live or in the basement,” Jeffrey Silverstein, a well-known local criminal defense attorney, said Wednesday. “These are traditional tunes [on the new CD] we’ve been working on for about a year.”
The all-instrumental album includes “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz,” “Big Sandy River” and “Cherokee Shuffle.”
Max, who is an accomplished fiddle player for his age, and his dad have been playing together publicly since he was 10 at events in and around Bangor. Merrill joined them two years ago.
Bluegrass and what is often called “roots music” is not on most Bangor High School students’ list of musical favorites. Max hopes to make it his career.
“When I was younger, I’d go to festivals with dad because he was into it,” the teen said on a recent Sunday afternoon while preparing to play at Paddy Murphy’s restaurant during brunch. “Now I love playing it. I just love the sound.”
His father tells a slightly different story.
“I kind of pushed him into this in first grade,” Jeffrey Silverstein said Wednesday. “He wasn’t psyched on it. I said, ‘This is the way it is in the Silverstein family. We all play a musical instrument.’ Within a year or two he started doing pretty well at the fiddle side of things.
“He continued to progress, so when he was about 10, I took him to the Maine Fiddle Camp kicking and screaming, figuratively,” the elder Silverstein continued. “When we go there, he said, ‘I’m here now but I’m not coming back.’ The next day, he was having a blast. From that point on, he’s never looked back.”
He did have to look south to find a teacher who could help him improve playing the fiddle rather than focus on classical music played on the violin. The summer he left middle school, Max started taking lessons from Lauren Rioux in Yarmouth. Rioux grew up in Machias and graduated from the University of Southern Maine. She said that Max is an unusual musician for his age.
“Max has an insatiable appetite for playing music, learning new tunes, and techniques on his fiddle,” she said Thursday in an email. “His talent and his work ethic, combined with this amazing attitude is creating a very solid musician at a very young age.
“What’s most impressive about Max is that he improves constantly,” she continued. “He hasn’t plateaued. It’s exciting to see him play and hear how he has grown from week to week, performance after performance.”
Through Rioux, Max has met a group of nationally known bluegrass players who are expanding the genre, according to Jeffrey Silverstein. One of those is Rushad Eggleston, a California-based cellist, who has invited Max to share the stage with him in New York and Portland.
Max said hopes to attend college at East Tennessee State University to study roots music. He has applied to be one 16 young string players under the age of 22 to take part in an educational program next spring at the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia. While there, students receive six days of hands-on instruction in playing, songwriting and ensemble work, according to information on the festival website. The seminar culminates in a performance featuring students’ compositions and arrangements.
Jeffrey Silverstein jokes that his son hasn’t kicked him out of the band yet, but he can see that day coming.
“He’s bypassing me in terms of musical ability,” he said. “I can offer a lot. He hasn’t yet found another ‘Steady Eddie,’ but that day is just around the corner. Soon, he’ll find a younger person just a little more fluent and I’ll step aside. Now, I’m along for ride and thrilled to be part of it.”
For information on the CD release party, call 989-7100 or visit maximumblueband.com. Admission is $7.