Causes unite longtime OOB band

ORCHARD BEACH – An Old Orchard Beach-based band is celebrating its 20th anniversary together by raising money for a good cause.

Members of Beyond Reason will perform at One Longfellow Square on Saturday, Jan. 19 in Portland, with proceeds being donated to the Preble Street Resource Center.

This is far from the first time the rock, folk and blues band has done a fundraiser. Throughout its two-decade tenure, the band has performed benefits for multiple causes, including the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, Peabody House, Ryan White Foundation, and Acid Rain Retirement Fund.

The band’s guitarist and co-founder, Greg Kidd, believes that their interest in causes stems organically from their love of music.

"We all have the feeling that we’ll play for free because we love playing music," Kidd said. "If someone approaches us with a cause that fits our beliefs as a group, it’s just who we are and what we do."

Kidd, who owns an environmental training business in Old Orchard Beach called North East Water & Wastewater Training Associates, says the idea for doing the show as a benefit came from a friend who works for Preble Street. He says that they were all struck by the things they were told about the center.

"A lot of the people are there because of mental illness," Kidd said.

He also added that his daughter volunteers at the soup kitchen and was another source of inspiration for doing the fundraiser.

"They told me that with every dollar they raise, they can buy six pounds of food," Kidd said. "Both Preble Street and One Longfellow were great and easy to work with in doing this benefit."

However, this benefit would most likely not be taking place if it weren’t for some technical difficulties during a CD release show in September for their fourth album, "The Blue Room."

"One of the power amps that powers the main speakers kept cutting in and out," Kidd said. "So part of the night the audience was treated to feedback from the monitors."

Because of the sound issues, One Longfellow offered to give Beyond Reason another night at the venue, without the fee for renting the space.

Kidd sees the venue as one of the best in Portland.

"It’s very professional, and a wonderful setup to see a show," he said. "It’s a real performance venue."

Beyond Reason, whose members range in ages from their late 40s to mid 50s, came together in 1992. Kidd had placed an ad seeking a singer/songwriter to accompany him on guitar, and was successful in finding vocalist Steve Leighton, who was also actively looking for a guitarist.

"We met, connected musically, and have been playing together ever since," Kidd said.
They released their first album, "World For You," in 1993 with part of the proceeds donated to the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition. Kidd and Leighton also produced and sang a re-write of a Temptations song, "Get Ready," for the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s march on Washington.

"Leighton’s voice was blasting over the steps down there in Washington, D.C.," Kidd said.

From the start, Kidd and Leighton brought their influences to the table.

Leighton was influenced heavily by Rush, while Kidd and bassist Steve Mead tapped progressive rock bands such as Yes. Kidd also has an ongoing interest in Celtic and English folk rock, which shows in some of his guitar arrangements.

Kidd said that with each song and record he and Leighton wrote, they brought out different things stylistically.

The band has maintained the same lineup since 1995, with Mead, drummer Roland Krueger and pianist Tom Coolidge. Leighton had been performing for the Portland Players, with lead roles in both "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," and worked with Mead and Krueger, who played in the pit band for those performances.

Their second album, which was self-titled, was released in 1995 and took a more acoustic pop-rock approach, with a single called "Afterlife Café" receiving airplay on local radio. It was also, according to Kidd, nearly picked up by a Nashville publisher looking for singles for an unnamed country artist. After the release of the more blues oriented EP, "Stompin’ the Blues: Vol.1," in 1996, they began a recording hiatus of nearly 15 years, but continued to play a few concerts every year.

Kidd cited time, jobs and families as the main factors for the long break, but said they always had the itch to play. "The Blue Room," released in September, features re-recorded versions of the five songs from "Stompin’ the Blues," as well as five new tracks. Kidd said he was never happy with the original recordings, and the band recorded the new album with producer/engineer Mike McInnis at his MMPro studio in Portland.

Kidd says the band is already working on a new batch of songs for later this year.

"It’s just never stopped," Kidd said. "At the time, we didn’t realize how long it had been (since recording) until we looked back."

He stressed that a lot of bands just give up or get tired of one another, but they have continued to find the drive and inspiration to keep playing.

"Even though we all have jobs and families," he said, "we’re good friends, and we still enjoy playing together."