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Waterfront Concerts Reaches 10-Year Deal With City Of Bangor

A.J. Higgins
Maine Public
Alex Gray

Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray has reached a 10-year agreement with the city of Bangor to continue to stage music events next to the Penobscot River.

After nearly a year of negotiations, the Bangor City Council unanimously approved the agreement, despite some concerns over the length of the contract and high volume levels.

Bangor businessman and council member Dan Tremble said he believes that the future of the city’s downtown is closely tied to the continued growth of the venue.

“They’ve been a tremendous asset to the city, the Waterfront Concerts,” he said.

Tremble said he did have reservations about the length of the 10-year deal, but he said that’s how negotiations work.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of things in here that Waterfront Concerts are not happy with and so, it’s probably a great contract in that case,” he said.

Tremble and other other 8 members unamimously voted to approve the arrangement, which gives the city a bigger cut of ticket sales and mandates a minimum of 10 shows per year.

It also attempts to address a major issue that has lingered over the past six years of operation — residents complaining about volume levels from the shows, depending on the artists involved and on weather conditions.

David Blethen, who lives a little more than a mile from the pavilion, told members of the council that in evaluating volume levels onstage, city officials should consider which volumes are assigned to specific frequencies, particularly those in the bass frequency range.

“I would love to be involved with a consultant who’s looking at sound issues and sort of raise the whole question about the whole range of frequencies,” he said.

Gray told members of the Council that he had actually already taken steps to address stage volume levels, but that the implementation of a new speaker array sound system has been delayed during negotiations with the city.

“We have the bulk of the array system here but because of the held agreement we weren’t able to implement it,” he said. “It’s sitting in our warehouse in Hermon and the towers are half constructed.”

In May, the city of Portland declined Gray’s bid for a 10-year contract at the city’s Maine State Pier, saying city officials wanted to be free to explore permanent development options at the 7-acre pier. Only two months earlier, Gray had been charged by Portland police with misdemeanor domestic violence assault.

The concert promoter is still facing court action on those charges, but Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci said it hasn’t affected the negotiations over the new contract.

“That whole situation is unfortunate and I expect that he will take responsibility for his actions,” he said. “Our experience with him as a business enterprise has been excellent.”

As part of the city’s agreement with Waterfront Concerts, Gray will step up monitoring of stage volume and assign penalties for violations of that policy.

This story was originally published Sept. 27, 2017 at 1:32 p.m. ET.