Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Big Brass Sounds at the Herbert Hotel Friday, March 30th!

     Are you a fan of big brass sounds, like the music of Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears?  Starting at 7 p.m this Friday (March 30th, 2012), the elegant lobby of the Herbert Hotel will be transformed, once again, into a concert hall, this time for the many followers and new fans of Downeast Brass, a group of five men wearing tuxedos and playing gleaming brass instruments.

     Kingfield POPS is sponsoring the concert as a fundraiser as part of the ongoing effort to retain and to support music programs in the area schools.  As a career teacher, I have learned that, in every state, when funds become limited music programs are the first to be cut.  The loss impacts all students in the school, not merely those who are in the band.  Music is very important to giving students a total education, and the work accomplished by the Kingfield POPS to provide funds to purchase and to maintain instruments should be applauded.  We will have fun at this concert, and through their purchase of a ticket everyone who attends will assist in the effort to keep music programs alive and well in the area schools.

     A special treat is that members of the Mt. Abram High School band will also be here to guide concertgoers in hanging up their coats and in finding their seats.  These are the same wonderful young people who rocked the Herbert with a very lively and well-attended Christmas concert in early December. 

     We are making memories while making music at the Herbert.  Come for the music and stay for the ambiance.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Skiing and All That Sunshine!!

      Happiness for many of our long-time skiing guests is heading out to the slopes wearing a tee shirt, shorts, a headband and a smile.  Spring skiing.  And, they are enjoying that pleasure this week.

     I now hear their murmurs of "Oh, yeah," as they walk out of the lobby doors of the Herbert and they feel the balmy air instead of a blast of frigid wind.  They also like being able to ski rapidly down the slopes without being slowed by the weight of jackets, ski pants, heavy base layers, and hats.  No heavy packing, no bulging dufflebag to lug and no chance of frostbite.

     These are hardcore skiers who, throughout the winter, take every chance available to ski through days with temperatures as low as -20 or less with the windchill factor.  No matter how cold the day, they head out of the hotel early in order to catch the first lift, and they don't leave the mountain until the last run.  Nearly every skier who braves those bitterly cold days also speaks of spring skiing as being the ultimate ski experience.  Some rhapsodize about feeling the sun on their bare arms and legs as they fly rapidly down the trails.  Others tell me that there is no explaining the experience, because you just have to be there.

     My guests are happy.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SnoCross, Slalom and Socializing at the Herbert

          The Herbert was filled last weekend with an exuberant group of guests who socialized and shared their experiences around the fireplace on Friday and Saturday nights.  Some were entered in the East Coast SnoCross, others competed in the Banked Slalom and still others simply planned to enjoy snowshoeing or cross country skiing with Maine Huts and Trails.

          Anyone listening to the lively conversations going on in the hotel lobby, however, would have thought that this large group was made up of old friends of many different ages and with diverse interests who had chosen to hold their reunion at the Herbert Grand Hotel.  This phenomenon frequently occurs here.  People who seem to have nothing in common become instant friends as they sprawl comfortably on the couches, glass of wine or beer in hand, and find topics in common.

          Snowmobile racers, some as young as six years old, were excited about the East Coast SnoCross, which had returned to Maine after a five-year absence.  I listened to the parents of the younger racers and to the less young racers talk about the “skid maneuvers” they had seen and about the new moves that would make them stronger competitors.  I also just had to know how a six-year-old or an eight-year-child handles a snowmobile, and I received an education in that area.  The snowmobiles are size and speed appropriate for each youth age category.  And, of course, snowmobile racers of all ages suit up in uniforms containing such advanced technology that they would put the cartoon character Speed Racer to shame.

          My guests competing in the Banked Slalom snowboarding competition on Saturday and, if they made the cut, Sunday had their own war stories to tell.  As a rule, I find that snowboarders are pretty laidback when they talk to me at desk and when they sit around the lobby simply relaxing, but they are INTENSE when they talk about the Slalom.  Every one of them praised the Banked Slalom as a tough course that is the ultimate test of their speed, agility and endurance.  To a man (yes, all of our guests who were competing were male), they assured me that the course is tightly banked and “really gnarly.”  I believed them.  I know that I will never have the thrill of trying out that challenging course, but I enjoyed hearing about it!

          The conversations were fast and furious, and I learned a lot about the thrills and pitfalls of snowmobile racing and about taking on the Banked Slalom.  I also felt the warm glow of hearing the high-energy racers talk with the less-intense guests who were planning leisurely days snowshoeing and cross country skiing.  No one pulled attitude.  No one considered himself or herself a star.  All I heard was the wonderful sound of people sharing experiences.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Musical Magic at the Herbert

Stanley & Grimm Play the Herbert
     The Boardmans rocked the rafters with Celtic tunes at the Herbert on Friday as the crowd tapped their feet and clapped their hands to the lively music produced by the animated playing of the bass and the fiddle.  Standing in front of the beautiful oak-mantled fireplace, with soft lights framing the mirror above, the duo generated an energy that filled the room with sound and made me wonder about the many other musical performances and events that prior generations had experienced in this lovely building.  In this very room.

     Had Nordica, to whom a nearby museum is dedicated, ever thrilled an audience with her voice here?

      Did Dean Martin ever stop at the Herbert during one of his rumored trips to Maine and croon a few bars of "It's Amore"?

     How many other musical talents have formally or informally entertained area residents and visitors in the spacious lobby, which gives the impression of intimacy and immediacy but which can comfortably seat 120 guests?  The number amazes me, yet 120 people attended the Stanley & Grimm concert in October and all those who attended had the room to move to the music of another duo that strummed and fiddled out lively traditional Celtic songs.

     In December, we had the honor of hosting the Mt. Abram High School Band Christmas Concert, which filled the dining room and lobby with holiday music and brought the holiday spirit to everyone present.  The rooms were alive with the sound of music and hotel guests were charmed by the spirited performance of the band. 

     And, at the end of this month, on March 30th, Down East Brass will perform and the music should be sensational.   Another concert and another spirited evening at the Herbert.  The building will be alive with the sound of music, and the lobby will be filled with people who will join me in enjoying this very special place to be in Kingfield.  If these walls could talk, they would probably have a lot to tell.  For now, musical magic will continue to be made at the Herbert and I will keep poking around to learn as much as I can about the past performances that have graced this grand old place.