This piece was co-written by Alan Bennett and Taryn Lane
As snow gently cloaked the streets of Orono, wrapping the town in a cool and mystifying embrace, local students and town residents alike found solace inside the fastest-growing hotspot in town. Patrons came to The Family Dog on Friday, Jan. 29, for three things: beer, music and a cause.
This was the second tap takeover at The Family Dog, this time featuring a spread of beers by Rising Tide Brewing Co., a Portland, Maine-based brewery. Featured beers included a coffee porter, American pale ale and a barrel-aged barley wine ale, among others. A portion of the proceeds from draft and food sales go toward purchasing a canoe for Orono Youth paddling programs through Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization (MaCKRO).
“I have a good relationship with Bob at The Family Dog, and he and I got together and kind of spurred this idea of having a brewery come in and take over his draft lines, and then have the proceeds from that event go to charity,” Kate Putnoky, an associate with Mariner Beverages — a distributor of Rising Tide beers — said at the event. “And because Rising Tide has a close relationship with boating and the mariner lifestyle, we thought it might be fun to pair up with the canoe organization.”
“We focused on Rising Tide because they have so many different things, seasonal offerings, special offerings that we could offer here and not anywhere else,” Putnoky said.
The event began at 6 p.m. and ran until 11 p.m., but the main event of the night, a three-hour set of solo music by University of Maine student, Lucas Roy, began at 8 p.m.
Roy, a fourth-year finance and accounting student, has been performing since he was 16, when he realized he could sing. Since then, he’s performed with his band, The Middle Men, all over the state, as a solo act at local restaurants and as a member of Mainely Voices, the co-ed a cappella group on campus. In addition to singing, Roy plays bass and acoustic guitar.
He’s even competed in the preliminary rounds of American Idol.
This is the second tap takeover event at The Family Dog at which Roy has performed, but Roy said the crowd at the Rising Tide takeover surpassed his expectations.
“Last time, it was real slow to begin with. There were probably three tables full, 10 people or so. As the night progressed, more of my friends came . . . but this is more crowded than it was last time,” Roy said.
Roy and his group The Middle Men began with $800 worth of equipment — an investment that has since grown to over $10,000. Aside from his group, Roy began performing in restaurants at age 17 with the Middle Men, and began performing locally at the Roost in Orono. The Family Dog performance was challenging to land, according to Roy. He credits Dave Coffe, the general manager from The Roost, for getting him the tap takeover gig at The Family Dog.
“One day I just was feeling, I guess, motivated and I just walked in [to The Family Dog] and I was just like, ‘Hey, I’m a part of a band . . . and I heard you do shows’,” Roy said.
According to Roy, The Family Dog owner, Bob Cutler, was skeptical about Roy’s credentials during their first interaction. “Then Dave [Coffe] walked in [while Roy was speaking to Cutler], and I had played a show at The Roost with my band, and [Coffe] was like, ‘Oh, when are you playing at The Roost next?’ So it kind of worked out perfectly.”
Roy doesn’t like to limit himself to certain genres; he plays everything from classic rock to modern hits.
“I like to appreciate all music,” Roy said. “I play it by ear; it’s really what the crowd wants.”
The crowd gets bigger with each show Roy performs. Between his many gigs at the Roost, The Family Dog and various other locations, Roy is gaining a following beyond his initial friend group.
“I just feel like I have more people that support me now. I’ve always had friends who supported me and always came to my shows . . . Now I have a consistent 20 or 30 people who show up,” Roy said.
The restaurant line stretched to the door as Roy opened his show with The Lumineers’, “Ho Hey,” to a cheerful crowd in support of local music, local business and local charity.
“I think it’s great to be in Orono because there’s such a strong youth community,” Putnoky said. “It’s more exciting to get younger people excited about Maine companies and kind of spread the news.”