DALLAS PLANTATION – Fans young and old came from around Maine and New England to hear the iconic rock band Foreigner play a mountainside venue for a good cause.
Nobody was more pleased than Brenda Bernard, 43, of Dixfield. Bernard and her daughter, Chelsea, 15, who sat stage left as the band famous for its rock anthems “Cold as Ice” and “Hot Blooded” serenaded the crowd estimated at about 3,000 people.
“We are a family of music lovers anyway and I’ve always loved Foreigner,” said Brenda Bernard, who had never seen the band live before but won stage-side seats in a Sun Journal contest. “So this is just a great way to spend the day as a family.” Bernard’s son and husband also joined her for the outing but had to sit with the rest of the crowd.
Vienna dairy farmer Ed Bean sure didn’t seem to mind the cheap seats. Bean said he left his brother and father to work on the family farm Sunday but did do most of his work early that morning so he could get to Rangeley to see the show. Bean said he’s been a fan since the band first made the scene in the late 1970s.
“I’m going to miss the night’s milking,” Bean said. “What better place to rock than right in the mountains of Maine.”
The band opened to a cheering crowd on its feet playing “Double Vision” and proceeded to play for nearly 90 minutes, finishing up as the sun sank into the foothills. Thunderstorms dodged around the region Sunday but never hit the mountain.
Even though 19-year-old Ashley Morton had scribbled on her arm, “Journey’s better,” referencing another 80s pop band, Foreigner band mates still gladly signed a CD jacket for her during a VIP reception at Saddleback’s base lodge. Morton said her dad, Joey Morton, bought her and her friend Alyson White, 18, tickets because he thought Foreigner was her favorite band. “He doesn’t know,” she said. “But they are really good, too.”
Joey Morton said the band brought back memories for him too because their song “Waiting” was a big one for him and his wife. “I pretty much courted her to that,” said Joey Morton, a Rangeley native, who said he met his wife one summer when she was vacationing in town with her family from Florida.
Joey Morton said younger people seemed to be more and more interested in bands from his generation. “Have you tried listening to any of the stuff they are listening to?” he said. “It’s not surprising.”
The show was held as a fundraiser for the Rangeley Region Health Center and band member Tom Gimble helped arrange the show because he had ties to Rangeley, also as a summer visitor. Patti Butler of Lewiston, who helped organize the show for the health center, said the turnout was great and the weather couldn’t be beat. How much the show made for the center was not immediately available Sunday as all receipts had not been tallied, Butler said.
Foreigner kicked off their encore by saluting the Saddleback crowd with Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop,” a tribute to drummer Jason Bonham’s father, the late John Henry Bonham of Led Zeppelin.
Locals said the show was a big boost to the local economy as local lodging was sold out and restaurants were busy in an already busy season. Saddleback alone had about 82 staffers working, according to John Cannizaro the ski resort’s director of planning and events. On a typical Sunday in the summer only about 40 people would be working and only if they had some event planned, Cannizaro said.
Bob Wentworth, the owner of the IGA grocery store in Rangeley, said his business had been busy all weekend and he believes much of it was from visiting fans of the band. But Wentworth took the day off himself to go to the show. He said he wasn’t necessarily a fan of the band but it was a big event in town and the cause was a good one so he wanted to support it.
Especially thrilled to have the band in town was local rocker Tom Danforth, the lead singer for the Tom Ball Band. Danforth, also a physical education teacher at Rangeley Lakes Regional School, and his band warmed up for the rockers and got to use their big stage and sound system, too. It was every bar band’s dream come true an elated Danforth said after his set. “It was a lot less work to set up,” Danforth said. Usually his band is its own roadies, he said. But the experience on a big stage in front of a big crowd couldn’t be beat, Danforth said.
“Especially when you’ve been playing in a bar band all your life,” he said.