Paul Woodfin is egg-static as he sits in his egg-lectic office in the basement of Bar Harbor’s municipal building. Nearly two years ago, the 43-year-old former printer indulged his egg-centricities and founded a magazine called EGG, hoping he would not wind up with yolk all over his Web page.
There are times (like now) when Woodfin wonders if he made a mistake in selecting the name for his free quarterly publication on the music scene in Maine. But there are other days when the whole name thing is utterly amusing, such as the time he received e-mail from a 13-year-old named Bryan who sought information for his debate class on why chickens should lay square eggs.
“Initially we went through 50 possibilities, most of them somehow related to music,” he explains, trying to lay to rest the name thing once and for all. “But they all seemed very obvious and somewhat limiting. A few of my nutty friends came up with the name, EGG. It has nothing to do with music really. But I suppose you could read into it birth and new beginnings.”
Friends, family and fans now send Woodfin colorful marble eggs. They line the shelves of his makeshift office and rest in a paper egg carton on his workspace — large sheets of plywood laid across wooden saw horses. He lists himself on the magazine’s masthead as “The Egghead” and receives mail both for and against the moniker.
Although he owned and operated a Southwest Harbor printing business for nine years, music is his soul. Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Woodfin holds a degree in music composition from Hunter College in New York City. As a child, he spent his summers in Maine, then took up permanent residence about 17 years ago.
“Hearing about music events in Maine and connecting with other musicians around the state is not always easy,” Woodfin wrote in the magazine’s premiere issue in the spring of 1996. “If only there were some means of collecting news about all the different kinds of music and then distributing it so that it was really available to all who were interested …
“We’re presenting what can grow to become a resource to refer to and draw upon, a forum for all who wish to say something about just music and a heading under which to say it. The need for new headings (sections) will become obvious. Current ones may fade. The shape of EGG will continue to change.”
The shape of the magazine has changed in subtle and dramatic ways since its inception. It has shrunk from a high of 60 pages to 32 in the current issue, reduced publication from six to four issues a year, but has switched to a higher-quality paper and a glossy cover. Its content has expanded to include articles on film, arts funding, humor, new technologies, poetry, as well as the history of musical instruments and the way they are constructed today.
Woodfin also has abandoned the design technique of putting type in unusual shapes such as obelisks and eggs and varying typefaces for a more conventional layout and design. He also has moved the events calendar from the magazine to the Web site so it can be updated more frequently.
“Since this issue [Winter 97/98] is our first glossy cover,” he says, “we’re trying to redesign the whole look. The first few issues had a real underground feel to them. … We’d like to expand to be more of a cultural magazine that people like to look to for news about not just music, but the whole cultural scene statewide.”
EGG’s most recent issue brings Woodfin closer to that goal. It includes luthier (maker of stringed instruments) John Martovich of Portland, Maine-born jazz guitarist Rob Eberhard Young, cellist David Darling, and the discovery of an ancient bone flute believed to be between 43,000 and 82,000 years old.
Columns by regular contributors included subjects as diverse as digital versatile disc technology, Porta Potty protocol at the Phish concert last summer in Aroostook County, Ellsworth’s Grand Auditorium, and the staying power of the English band Duran Duran. Marty Meltz, film critic for Portland’s daily newspaper, contributed a column on why sex and violence dominate the American film industry and poet Betsy Fecto paid tribute to B.B. King in verse.
Steve Lea briefly reviewed 10 to 15 CDs produced by Maine-based and noteworthy New England performers. And a fellow calling himself Dr. Vibes designed a trivia test for those who remember when LPs came in stereo and mono.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 copies of the magazine are distributed each month through 300 locations statewide by Portland News Co. Drop-off points include the obvious chain book, music and video stores (Borders Books, Music and Cafes; Strawberries; B. Dalton’s; Blockbuster Video; etc.) as well as specialty stores like the Grasshopper Shops, college bookstores, and restaurants like Pat’s Pizza in Orono. Woodfin also mails out 200 issues per month to paid subscribers and the media.
However, one way people are learning about EGG is from its Web site. The site gets 600 to 800 hits a month, according to Woodfin. While the Web pages don’t yet include every article from the magazine, they do include Lea’s reviews, Woodfin’s commentaries, the events calendar and a bulletin board. One recent posting sought a guitarist for a band.
“I’m thrilled with the versatility of the Web site,” he said. “The room for growth is endless. We can update it continually, unlike the magazine, which is why we moved the calendar to the Web page. We get e-mail from Spain, Hawaii, Arizona, Wisconsin, New York, as well as inside the state.”
Woodfin’s biggest obstacle in not artistic, however, it’s monetary. EGG is still operating in the red, according to the publisher. While ad rates range from $65 for a quarter page to $500 for the back cover, he still has not met his goal of having advertisers pay the bulk of publishing costs so the magazine can continue sans a cover price.
“However, with each issue we get a little closer to the cost of the magazine being covered entirely by advertising,” he observes. “I’ve been putting in less and less of a percentage of the cost with each subsequent issue. This last one was close to being in the black.”
While the magazine has covered musical styles from classical to folk to the many categories that cover rock, it has not yet devoted any ink to Maine’s most popular music genre — country. Woodfin hopes to correct that with the spring issue, due out in mid-March, which he anticipates will be 48 pages.
Woodfin’s own musical performances have been on hold since last year’s Virgo Fest, where he played guitar with The Herd. “We were a great on-again/off-again band,” he said, laughing. “We practiced a lot to get ready for the festival and we were fairly decent, but we never really got back together after it was over. Then our drummer moved to Germany, so I’m going in more of a jazz direction now.”
The publisher spends his free time with his wife, Mary, and their two children, Adam, 12, and Paige, 8. They live in Bar Harbor.
EGG’s e-mail address is EGG@acadia.net. The magazine’s e-mail address is http://www.eggmuzine.com. For verbal contact, call 288-8EGG (8344).