Year 16 for Belfast fest

New Year’s revels ahead

By Dagney C. Ernest | Dec 26, 2012
Photo by: Jeffrey R. Mabee New Year’s By The Bay lives up to its name, as a bonfire is lit at midnight at Belfast’s waterfront pier.

Belfast — The new year requires a sendoff for the old, and the Midcoast’s all-ages, chem-free choice for 16 years now has been New Year’s By The Bay. The annual multi-venue celebration is set for Monday, Dec. 31 downtown and around Belfast.

Free family fun

While NYBB 2013 will feature many favorite performers and events, there are, as always, a few new wrinkles. Times are tight, so there are a few more free activities for families to start out the celebration. The Colonial Theatre, 163 High St., will cap its year-long 100th anniversary by hosting free stage performances geared to the youngsters.

“The stage in Dreamland will be great for the four performances with kids down front and interaction,” said NYBB organizer and new City Councilwoman Mary Mortier.

From 2 to 2:30 p.m., Maine magician Conjuring Carroll will amaze with his interactive magic and illusions. From 2:40 to 3:25 p.m., local mime and musician Scot Cannon, host of "WERU Family Radio Hour," will entertain. Carroll will return with his son Ezekiel as Maine-ly Balloons from 3:30 to 4 p.m.; and musician/storyteller Jennifer Armstrong, who produces “Wonderful Women of Waldo County” and “I Can Be Me” on local cable channel BCTV2, will offer songs, stories and music for the younger set.

Also free this year are the horse and wagon rides, which will run from 3 to 9 p.m. — with a dinner break for the horses — departing from Church Street near Spring. And a longtime free family option continues just a bit out of town on Route 3, where the Belfast Curling Club holds its annual open house and demos from 3 to 5 p.m.

New Year’s By The Bay basics

The celebration really gets going at 5 p.m., when live performances and events begin all around town. All New Year's By The Bay venues are chem-free and most are located within walking distance of each other. Admission buttons, which admit wearers to all events, cost $18; $5 for K-12 students; and free for those younger than 5. Buttons are available for online purchase through PayPal through Sunday, Dec. 30 at and can be picked up through 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve at the NYBB 2013 HQ — Parent Gallery, 92 Main St. at the traffic light. Also available online is the complete schedule of events in printable brochure format (events are subject to change), and the brochures, which break down the schedule by time and venue, can be found at a variety of locations around town.

Beginning Monday afternoon, buttons also may be purchased at most of the performance venues. All seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are subject to occupancy rules; some sites have limited occupancy. Unless otherwise noted, performances last 45 minutes.

Dancing feet, take note

New Year’s By The Bay’s two dance venues will be hoppin’ from 5 p.m. on. Dancers also will get a workout climbing the Commercial Street hill between The Boathouse, located at its waterfront foot, up to the second-floor First Church parish hall on Spring Street, between Church and Court streets, and back again. Think of it as pleasant penance for those holiday sweets.

Captain Obvious gets the ball rolling at 5 p.m. at the Boathouse with classic rock and blues. The new band of well-honed performers features Matt Ellis, Tom Joseph, Eric Sanders and Jeff Smith will play until 7 p.m.

OdLaW — yes, that is Waldo backwards — serves up well-seasoned rock, soul, Americana and more at the First Church parish hall from 7 to 8:45 p.m.

• Local faves The Hips will play their upbeat original tunes and tasty covers from the '80s, '90s and ‘00s from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Boathouse.

• When it comes to Belfast ensembles, you can’t get much more local than the Willy Kelly Band. Kelly and cohorts will play blues, swing and R&B dance tunes from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. at the First Church parish hall.

• Wrapping up the year by playing from 10 p.m. to midnight, the Bad Daddys promise to dance, prance and romance the blues at the Boathouse.

A big year for poetry

• The city will install its latest Poet Laureate, Ellen Sander, in the traditional pass-the-gold-cape ceremony beginning 6 p.m. at The Playhouse at 109 High St., one of, if not the, smallest venues so arrive early for a seat. There will be readings by some of Belfast’s many poets and a fond farewell to outgoing Poet Laureate Jacob Fricke.

• From 7 to 9:15 p.m., words and wit will be flying as The Playhouse hosts a poetry slam, the spoken word performance form Fricke helped make locally popular during his tenure.

“I feel like I’ve had a productive term, even if a slightly truncated one,” said Fricke, who was appointed to the honorary post by the city council in April 2010.

Fricke said while he hasn’t gotten through his long list of “things that ought to be done,” he is pleased to have seen a reconfiguration of the annual Belfast Poetry Festival and the re-introduction of poetry slams. The latter look to become regularly recurring events in the coming year. Fricke will continue to be part of the poetry festival, as have the city’s other former poet laureates. As for the choice of Sander as the next Belfast Poet Laureate, he is very enthusiastic.

“Ellen is great! It’s very exciting, her amazing amount and range of experiences, which will bring oh so much perspective to the job. She has some really interesting ideas,” Fricke said.

A little variety on the side

New Year’s By The Bay is known for its diverse musical offerings, but there are some other performing arts going on as well.

Scot Cannon does gigs as a singer/songwriter, but he also is an award-winning mime. He will ply both trades at 5 p.m. at the Colonial.

• The dancing this year will be done by attendees, with one exception. Helena Melone, who teaches at Belfast Dance Studio, will perform Middle Eastern and fusion dance from 9:30 to 10 p.m. at The Playhouse.

• The visual, and comic, arts are represented every year by P.J. Carter, who will draw personal caricatures from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in her usual spot on the first floor of First Baptist Church, 95 High St.

A musical feast indeed

Folk, traditional, jazz and manouche, New Year’s By The Bay has a varied menu of musical treats. A number of the acts play two or three sets, so savvy attendees who plan out their evenings can enjoy multiple musical courses.

• Female a cappella purveyors Ellacapella from Hancock County are among the performers starting things off right at 5 p.m. in the sanctuary of First Church UCC, 8 Court St. They will do a second set there at 7 p.m.

• Also playing sets at 5 and 7 p.m. will be the ever popular Blue Hill Brass, swinging their way through multiple genres at First Baptist Church.

• Local string jammers Belfast Bay Fiddlers will play contra dance tunes at 5 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Church, 37 Miller St.

• Perennial performer Lincoln Blake will apply his jazzmeister skills to the saxophone at 5 p.m. at the Belfast Co-op, 123 High St.

Shana Hanson, performing with special guest Kathleen O’Connor, promises a set of songs and stories from the land at 5 p.m. in the Abbott Room of Belfast Free Library, 106 High St. At 8 p.m., Hanson will do a solo set of Eastern European folk music at the Co-op.

Jennifer Armstrong offers a set of songs, stories and music at 6 p.m. at the Colonial.

• Also at 6 p.m., George Lirakis will offer the first of two consecutive sets of Irish sea chanteys at the Belfast Co-op.

• Another pair of consecutive sets will begin at 6 p.m. the Unitarian Universalist Church, as Curlew fills the sanctuary with traditional Irish instrumental music. The band features Tamora Golz; David, Nathaniel and Abraham Stimson; and Darryn Peterson.

Castlebay, Maine’s own treasure trove of traditional music, will perform Celtic songs at 6 and 8 p.m. in the Abbott Room.

• Traditional music of another ilk will be performed by Maine bluegrass stars the Katahdin Valley Boys, playing at 6, 9 and 11 p.m. in the First Church sanctuary.

• Another three-setter in yet another lively musical tradition will be performed by the Ameranouche trio, heating up the First Baptist Church with hot gypsy jazz at 6, 9 and 11 p.m.

• A Midcoast trio of musicians, headed up by Camden singer/songwriter and guitarist David Dodson, will offer original songs from the funny to the profound at 7 and 9 p.m. in the Abbott Room. Dodson will be accompanied by Mike Nickerson and Mac Ferris.

• New to the NYBB lineup this year is the Leaky Boots Jug Band, featuring familiar faces and a repertoire that ranges from acoustic blues and bluegrass to the Grateful Dead. Leaky Boots plays 8 and 10 p.m. at the First Baptist Church.

• Maine’s traditional folk Gawler Family will enliven the evening with sets at 8 and 10 p.m. in the First Church sanctuary.

Hawk Henries is one of NYBB’s perennial performers, providing a contemplative respite during the high-energy evening. He will tell Native American stories and play his handcrafted flutes at 8 and 10 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

• Respected local pianist and vocalist Ann Delaney will perform jazz and standards with her Quartet at 9 and 11 p.m. at the UU Church.

• Wrapping up the night with jazz and blues, Shades of Blue will play two consecutive sets starting at 1 p.m. in the Abbott Room. Shades of Blue features Juliane Gardner, Christopher Poulin and Ezra Rugg.

Fueling the fire

To keep up with this much fun, one must indulge in some tasty treats, and New Year’s By The Bay has made sure a variety of food options will be available. Food is not included with the buttons, so stick a few bills in your pocket to approach the new year well fed. New Year's By The Bay food vendors may be identified by yellow and purple vendor flags.

• The Unitarian Universalist Church will serve up a variety of homemade soups and stews, breads and desserts plus hot and cold drinks from 5 to 8 p.m.

• First Baptist Church will offer homemade beef stew, chili, barbecue beans and turkey soup plus hot drinks, doughnuts, cookies and bars from 5 to 11 p.m.

• The annual New Year's Eve Breakfast will take place at the First Church parish hall on Spring Street, where eggs, bacon, sausage, homefries and more will be served from 9 p.m. to midnight. Earlier in the evening, First Church will offer snacks and drinks.

• Our Town Belfast will provide hot drinks, bottled water and snacks at The Boathouse from 6 p.m. to midnight.

• Commercial eateries signed up to be chem-free New Year's By The Bay food venues include Belfast Co-op Café, open to 9 p.m.; Alexia's Pizza, noon to 9 p.m.; and Bay Wrap, open 4 to 9 p.m.

And speaking of fire …

• Everyone, even those without buttons, can be a New Year’s By The Bay performer by joining the Drum & Rattle Corps for the eighth annual procession from the downtown traffic light to the waterfront. To be a part of sending out 2012 in cacophonous fashion, be at the light by 11:50 p.m. with din-making things like drums, pots and pans, tin cans and noisemakers.

• When the Ragged Mountain Ski and Snowboard Club’s racing clock, taken in hand by the crew of BCTV2, “strikes” midnight, the 10th annual Bonfire By The Bay will conclude NYBB and 2012 at the waterfront pier.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or

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