Go and do

WHAT: concert by GrooveLily trio

WHO: presented by L/A Arts

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7

WHERE: Franco-American Heritage Center, Cedar Street, Lewiston

TICKETS: $24 and $19, reserved seating; tickets may be purchased online at www.laarts.org or call 782-7228

‘It’s weird and it’s working’

GrooveLily trio will kick off L/A Arts’ concert season with its unique mix of music genres and theater

If there is such a thing as Broadway rock, then GrooveLily has the sound nailed.

It’s a little pop, a little rock, a little jazz, a touch of classical and a lot of theater. But members of the New York trio no longer pay attention to music industry labels and have found a successful niche that makes them and their audiences happy.

“It’s weird and it’s working,” said Brendan Milburn, keyboard player for the group. “People seem to be gravitating toward it.”

GrooveLily will bring its unique blend of musical talents to the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston Friday, Nov. 7, as the opening performance of the 2008-2009 L/A Arts concert season.

Milburn deftly plays keyboard; his wife, Valerie Vigoda, vibrantly breathes through her electric violin; and longtime friend Gene Lewin polishes the sound with his percussion. All three sing lead at times and provide harmony vocals in turn. Milburn described Vigoda’s melodic voice as “a stick of melted butter across a happy pancake.”

Milburn explained that for years, between 1994 and 2004, band members tried to get signed by a recording label by writing songs that they thought would sell or be popular.

“We were getting burned out,” said Milburn during a recent telephone interview from Pittsburgh, where he was awaiting the premiere of the group’s musical, “Long Story Short.”

“We started to stop caring and just started playing the music that made us happy. The second we did that, we got signed.”

The band’s course took a turn when Vigoda played for a stint in 2000 with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra just to pay the bills. The powerful and full sound of orchestral rock appealed to the band.

“We just thought, hey, we could do that,” said Milburn.

All three band members had musical training. Vigoda received classical training at Princeton University, Milburn holds a graduate degree from NYU in musical theater, and Lewin earned his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

The three musicians began writing what they call theatrical power-pop. They got their big break in 2004 with “Striking 12,” an interwoven story of a man on New Year’s Eve in New York and Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Little Match Girl.” Since then, the commissions have kept coming, and the acting stage has become an integral part of their musical stage.

Asked if they miss the days of hitting the road as a pop rock band, Milburn answered yes and no. “We like it all,” he said. “But now it’s no longer necessary to climb into the van and do 150 shows a year just to pay the rent. Now we can do these shows because we want to, and it’s no longer our only way to make a living. Now there’s so much more joy in our music.”

The Lewiston performance is one of only two scheduled in New England this month. The trio heads briefly out to California, then back to New York for the winter.

Milburn said that the Lewiston audience can expect two 45-minutes sets that showcase pieces from “Striking 12,” “Sleeping Beauty Wakes” and some of their old stuff that they still like playing. For new listeners curious about GrooveLily, songs from the band’s 2003 “Are We There Yet?” album exemplify its innovative blend of music with striking lyrics and melodies. The trio’s Web site, www.groovelily.com, offers a generous sampling of performances and song releases.


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