I truly love working with local acts and this week’s column is a double pleasure in that I recently chatted with a band that’s very new to me: a Maine-based group called Gunther Brown.  Brown has two CDs out at the moment: “Good Nights for Daydreams” and “North Wind.” Frontman Pete Dubuc (lead vocals and acoustic guitar) was reached at his South Portland home and was more than happy to chat about his group, their music, and what’s been happening with them lately. I began by asking him when the band came into being?

Dubuc: It was 2008 when we first started working on stuff and really since then, it’s just me and Derek Mills, the drummer, who have lasted this long.

Q: I’ve enjoyed listening to your two albums. I began with your 2014 release titled “Good Nights for Daydreams” and really enjoyed it, it’s a nice slice of Americana.
Dubuc: Thanks.

Q: I enjoyed the fact that the placement of the 10 tracks favored a diversity of tempos, styles and emotions, the track-to-track variety was spot-on.
Dubuc: Yeah, it’s such a funny thing to think about because we’re recording right now, we’re finishing up a new album,  and we’re kind of at the point where I’m starting to think about that stuff. We’re going back and forth on how we think the songs should be ordered. It’s all about tempo, arrangements and themes and that kind of stuff. It’s one of the under-appreciated parts of putting the whole package together.

Q: And speaking of packaging, your second album from 2016, “North Wind”, showed a decided maturation of songwriting with more challenging styles, rhythms and several flashes of a rock edge on a couple of the 10 tracks. It showed a lot of growth, musically speaking, in those two years, you guys really got it together for that album.

Dubuc: Well, it was just a natural progression, I guess. Maybe after that first one you start feeling a little more license to say some things — at first you’re a little more structured, a little more intimidated, but “Good Nights and Daydreams” was well-receive by the people we were able to get it out to and so I think that gives you more confidence to put the next foot out.


Q: Well, in the 50 years I’ve been doing this I’ve always enjoyed it when bands push the edges of their envelopes and grow musically, and that’s certainly the case with Gunther Brown so far.
Dubuc: Thanks.

Q: Now, just out of curiosity, do you guys tour a lot outside of this area?
Dubuc: Well, “North Wind” was released in Europe, so we had the opportunity to tour there, so we went and played in the Netherlands and did a little tour over there.

Q: Hey, that’s cool.  Some international exposure for the band is always good. Congratulations! And speaking of the band, I have an observation. On the first two CDs there are four members mentioned and pictured but in a recent email you listed six.
Dubuc: Yeah, we’re a six-piece now. When we got back from the Netherlands and our tour over there, Chris (Plumstead) who was our guitarist before, just felt that he was the age where that kind of stuff was a bit much and so he bowed out when we got back. Chris was a big part of what we did, so that led us to a bit of a hiatus while we tried to figure out exactly how, or it, we were going to go forward from there.

Q: Now, “North Wind” came out in 2016?
Dubuc: It came out in early 2016, so by the time this new album that we’re working on comes out in February, it’s going to be a little over four years since that previous record, and two of those years were just spent kind of sitting on the shelf because we had some line-up things that needed to happen.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the new members that joined Derek Mills, Mark McDonough and you? One of the names you listed is Joe Bloom.
Dubuc: He joined up with us right after we recorded “North Wind,” he played the harmonica on “Norridgewock” and went to Europe with us. He’s like a Swiss Army knife (chuckle).  He plays some harp, some keys, guitar, sings, he can do pretty much anything, and on the new record he’s written three of the songs. More recently we added Greg Kline (guitar and vocals) and then Drew Wyman joined us on bass probably four months ago, so we’ve been polishing up the full catalogue with the new guys on board and hitting the stride, for sure. So things are going really, really great right now as a six-piece and the music that we’ve been recording is, I think, going to be really, really good.

Q: How does this new music compare to your first two releases?
Dubuc: I think the new stuff, instrumentation, and arrangement-wise, is going to go back toward “Good Nights for Daydreams” a little more. It’s a little more on the country/rootsy/ twangy side and a little less of the sort of rock instrumentation on it. On “Good Nights for Daydreams” we just went into the studio, set up and were all in the same room and just tracked it live, so that’s how we’re doing this new record, too. We’ve done it all live together and there’s really something excellent about getting all that stuff live, and we’re taking the vocals live, as well. For the six of us to be in the same space playing these songs and capturing the performance, that’s what I really wanted to get back for this one. So in a lot of ways it’s going to be more like “Good Nights” than it is “North Wind.” I think, perhaps, thematically it might be continuing the progression from “North Wind.” There’s a little meat, there’s a little substance, for people that want to pick up on it.

Q: Well, on to the show at Madison. Have you performed at the Somerset Abbey before?
Dubuc: Yeah, we have, we’ve been there a couple of times, actually. We really love what they’re doing there. The communities in that area really need it because it offers an exposure to the arts that people can get without having to drive forever. I think the accessibility thing is just so important for the smaller areas, I grew up in Strong and there was nothing like it there, so I understand just the benefit of having that so close by, it’s really, really a great thing.

Q: Is there anything, Pete, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Dubuc: To the people who come to the show, we’re going to have fun and expect that they will, too.  This music thing is just an opportunity for us to share some thoughts, share some ideas and have fun. I hope that last one there.  The “have fun” part,  is not forgotten! (www.guntherbrown.com)

Lucky Clark has spent 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

filed under: