Waldo County-based couple Bub and Meg Fournier tossed around the idea of opening a live music venue for years. They always referred to it in the hypothetical, though — not enough money, we’re too busy, and where could we do it? It’s hard to make a go of it for a music venue around here, outside of Portland. At least if you want to showcase original bands and not run a bar that has live music.
“We don’t want to run a bar. We want to run a year-round music venue,” said Louisiana-bred Meg Fournier, 25. “We want to see local bands and bands from other places play their own stuff, and not deal with alcohol or anything like that. It sounds kind of cliche, but we want it to be about the music.”
2009 is the magic year for the Fourniers, as the right spot and the right time became available to make their dream a reality. This weekend, Roots and Tendrils, located at 2 Cross St., right off Main Street in downtown Belfast, will open with a bang. Starting at 8 tonight, Dead End Armory of Portland, Barn Burning of Providence, R.I., and Uke of Spaces Corners of Belfast will play the first-ever show at the live music venue-slash-local arts-and-crafts store.
The timing couldn’t be better, though the rate at which things moved forced Bub and Meg to scramble to get things together.
“We had about a month to get the whole thing ready,” said Bub Fournier, 33, a former student at Unity College who finished school at University of Maine at Farmington a few years ago. “We definitely wanted to get it up and running before the tourist season really kicked in, so that left us with a month to prepare. But we knew we wanted this place.”
Though the spot holds a maximum of only 100 standing people, it’s a sunny, roomy-but-cozy old house with a brand-new stage and a big storefront window looking out onto the bustling Belfast downtown. The Fourniers tossed around the idea of opening their proposed venue in Waterville and Bangor before deciding finally on Belfast. They live in the Waldo County town of Jackson, so the proximity was a factor — but so was the fact that Belfast is, at least in this columnist’s humble opinion, probably the coolest small town in Maine.
“It’s a great town with a lot of stuff going on, as far as arts and culture go,” said Bub Fournier. “There’s a real sense of community here. And it’s halfway in between Portland and the rest of Maine, and it’s pretty close to Canada too. We’re hoping some Canadian bands will be interested in making a tour stop here, in between Halifax or Montreal and Boston or Providence.”
Roots and Tendrils will showcase live music three to four nights a week, and during the day Tuesday through Sunday it will showcase handmade items from Maine artists and artisans. A short list includes stationery from Sock Monkey Cards out of Cape Elizabeth, wallets and clutches from One Woman Studio in Ellsworth, hats and aprons from AnabelFuzz out of Bar Harbor, and cards and stationery from Love Dog Card Co., based right in Belfast.
“We’re both pretty big on the DIY [do-it-yourself] element. This whole thing is DIY,” said Meg Fournier. “My hope is that the store will be the other leg that keeps this thing afloat. I don’t know if we could survive as just a music venue.”
The Fourniers are busy booking the rest of the summer season, with shows set for Portland-based bands the Rattlesnakes and Honeyclouds, as well as a handful of bands from the Boston area and from Minnesota. And, of course, there’s the wealth of talent right in Belfast, from Uke of Spaces Corners to Full Contact Kitty to Rotundo Sealeg. Eventually, the Fourniers would like to show films and have events besides music. But first things first.
“In the end, we just want to see more live music in this part of the state,” said Meg Fournier. “There are bands, and there are people. We just need a place to do it. So if we can provide that, then we’re totally on board.”
Admission for Friday’s show is $10. For a schedule of shows and for booking information, visit www.rootsandtendrils.com.