Friday, November 7, 2008

Syndicate19 Drummer Wins Maine, Heads for Massachusetts

Leigh Leavitt, 28, of Wells, will be representing Maine in the Guitar Center’s Drum Off competition in Natick, MA on November 11th.
Leavitt is one of 4,000 drummers across the country that began competing this past September at Guitar Center stores nationwide. He is now one of the 214 contestants competing at a district level at 24 locations. The Guitar Center’s Drum-Off Champion will be crowned next January after 2 more rounds of competition – regional and grand finals.
Each contestant performs on a 5-piece acoustic drum kit complete with hardware, cymbals, cowbell and throne. The only personal pieces of gear each contestant can use are their own drumsticks, bass pedal, drum throne and snare drum.
Those who saw Leavitt playing at the South Portland store preliminaries and store finals a few weeks ago could witness his diverse and powerful drum solos. With only 5 minutes to set up and 3 minutes to perform, Leavitt had the audience’s attention captured from the second his drumsticks hit the drums. In Natick, MA, Leavitt will perform another 3 minutes solo.
Born in Hawaii, but raised in Northern Maine to New Hmpshire, Leavitt began playing drums at the age of 14. His father Jay Leavitt taught him how to play drums, inspired and encouraged him in every step. His practicing and persistence paid off within a few years when he joined a few different local bands such as Sanguinus Feminae (NH), Mourningside (MA), Psyren (ME), and a Boston hardcore punk band Toxic Narcotic for a very short time.
Leavitt’s friends call him Affable Maverick not without a reason. It is common to see him with vivid zebra contacts, a mohawk or a shaved head on a regular basis. His over spilling individuality and creativity makes him stand out of the crowd. The musician’s drumming style is a mix of metal, funk, jazz and progressive. His influences are Terry Bozzio, Dennis Chambers, Mike Portnoy, Danny Carrey, and a few more.
Now the South Portland store Drum Off winner is a full time drummer for a local Southern Maine (Wells) band called Syndicate19. Leavitt and his band mates Paul Chase, Randy Runnels and Mike Tomasini can be seen playing at some local venues on a regular basis. You can find their schedule and also watch Leavitt’s solo videos on
The Drum Off grand finals winner will walk away with a prize package that includes $25,000 Cash, $2,000 Guitar Center Shopping Spree, a write up in Modern Drummer magazine, Monster Energy Drink Endorsement Deal and a lot of different drum equipment with a total prize value of $45,000.
Previous Drum Off winners have gone on to enjoy successful music careers, record albums and tour the world with noteworthy artists. Drum Off Champion 2002, Cora Coleman, is currently performing with legendary recording artist Prince. Eric Moore II, Drum Off 2003 Champion, has also achieved notoriety by performing with psychedelic funk band Sly and the Family Stone as well as singer Bobby Brown.
This article was submitted by Vaida Lowell, freelance journalist.
Caption: Leigh Leavitt plays at the Guitar Center’s Drum Off competition, South Portland store finals. (Bridgett Owen-Chase)

East Impresses the Nation

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Reporter
East may be a relatively new local Chinese restaurant, but it has already garnered national recognition. This visually stunning Wells restaurant, which opened in June, recently received notice that it ranked among the 100 best Chinese restaurants in the US according to Chinese Restaurant News (CRN). CRN, based out of San Francisco, distributes its monthly magazine to over 43,000 restaurants, and September’s cover featured East’s proud owner Ri Teng Li standing in front of his business.
“I am very excited,” commented Li. “We are the first Chinese restaurant in Maine history to win this honor. Usually it’s only the restaurants in California and New York and places with large Chinatowns.”
CRN sends undercover diners to its subscriber restaurants to secretly evaluate the restaurant in 8 categories: décor and atmosphere, exterior, interior, cleanliness, sanitation, service, food, and server. East received a perfect score in every category, earning a 100% rating in the comprehensive 172-point undercover evaluation.
Asked about CRN’s evaluation process, Mr. Li said, “the food quality is very important, and I think they were particularly impressed with the décor.”
In addition to gracing the cover of CRN’s magazine and receiving a framed award to display in his restaurant, Mr. Li has been invited to CRN’s convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in January, where he will find out exactly which number ranking East received within the top 100 Chinese restaurants.
More information is available at CRN’s website:
Caption: The proud owner of East Restaurant, Ri Teng Li, standing in front of his business. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Maine Bureau of Veterans Services Seeking

By Larry Favinger
Staff Reporter
Veterans who have served their country since the beginning of World War II and received the Purple Heart and former prisoners of war or their surviving families are eligible for Maine’s Silver Star Honorable Service Medal.
The Maine Bureau of Veterans Services has awarded nearly 550 medals but there are many who deserve the medal who are not known, Peter Ogden, director of Veterans Services, said.
Ogden said he has a lit of 435 names of people who could qualify for the state award.
“They’re looking for people who have been missed,” Janet Hooke of North Berwick, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 87 who is aiding in the search in southern York County, said. She said many lists have been gone over looking for veterans to honor, including those with Purple Heart license plates.
One veteran who qualifies but has not yet been honored was found in North Berwick.
Ogden said formal awards ceremonies are being scheduled “in local communities whenever possible” throughout the state as it is often difficult for veterans to get to Augusta. The next ceremony will be held in Farmington. Gov. John Baldacci attends the ceremonies if possible.
The Silver Star Medal was first awarded to Maine veterans in August of 2006. It came into being with the legislature and financial support of Gov. Balducci along with the 122nd Legislature that gave the authority to the director of the Bureau of Veterans’ Services to strike medals, coins and certificates to honor Maine’s veterans.
Ogden said at this time only living veterans with the Purple Heart are eligible but the families of former POW’s who have died are to be honored because of the “life changing event” of having a loved one captured. “Their lives were a lot harder because of that,” Ogden said, noting that many families had situations to deal with for years after their family member returned.
Ogden said the bureau “loves people who help us” get the word out but approval of the award comes from his office
Info and application forms are available online or by calling the Bureau of Veterans Services at (207) 626-4464 or by contacting Hooke at (207) 676-9409.
Caption: Maine’s Silver Star Honorable Service Medal. (Courtesy photo)