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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at and a music writer for and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the WCHS TV show “207” to talk of course.

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Posted: July 31, 2017

Between the big summer shows, make sure to squeeze in some local music

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters Photo courtesy of the artist

Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters
Photo courtesy of the artist

Well, hello there, August. You showed up before I was really ready for you. It seems like I was just making friends with June, but here we are. The summer’s been fantastic so far on the live music front, and it continues this week. I’ve hand-picked some local shows from some of my favorite acts who either call Maine home or, in the case of Eric Bettencourt, are here for the summer. It’s easy to forget about the local scene during the summer because these are the months that huge bands tend to tour the most, and I’ve seen several of these shows myself. But let’s also keep the locals in our sights because they really are making great music, and as an added bonus, won’t break your bank. I’ll see you out there.

Order yourself a Stella and a hand slab and park yourself in a good spot in Slab’s roomy patio area. Before too long, your toe will start tapping on its own accord, your head will start bobbing and you might find yourself moved by the spirit to dance like the “Day-O” scene from “Beetlejuice.” And you’ll have horn player Marc Chillemi and the rest of Primo Cubano to blame. They’re a five-piece act that’s all about playing son, bolero, salsa, cha cha cha and other Cuban dance music. So maybe you’ll need a mojito to go with that Stella. Either way, these fellas are all first-rate musicians, and Primo Cubano is muy excellente.

Primo Cubano Photo courtesy of the artist

Primo Cubano
Photo courtesy of the artist

Primo Cubano

7 p.m. Thursday. Slab Sicilian Street Food, 25 Preble St., Portland, free. On Facebook

March of last year is when I first discovered and wrote about Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters, and I’m pleased to report that 16 months later, I still adore their music and am thrilled that they’ll be making their first appearance at One Longfellow Square, as headliners no less. To bring you up to speed, Damon’s on guitar and lead vocals, Francesca Martelle plays mandolin, violin and sings harmonies and Megan Martelle also plays violin and sings harmonies. Their debut EP was 2014’s sacred-to-me “Harbinger,” and I still play several of its tracks all the time on my “Music from 207” radio show on WCLZ because songs like “Micmac Cinderella” and “Cedars,” with their indie-folk alchemy, never get old. Even right now, I’m in the throes of discovering a gorgeous song they released last December called “Advent Wreath.” Dig these lyrics: “But when you’d come home with me we’d walk into the trees/We’d hunt for princess pine underneath our feet/And we’d take it home to put into the advent wreath.” So poetic, so lovely. But what’s happening now with the band? I zapped an email off to Daman and she promptly replied, telling me that they’ll be recording a full-length album at the end of September and we can expect its release to be in the early part of 2018. “It will be a collection of songs we’ve honed this last year that have a surprising theme of grappling with the idea of home being sometimes transitory, sometimes caught between urban and rural environments, and found often with those we hold dear,” said Daman. She added that she and the sisters are very happy to be playing with The Western Den and Honeysuckle. “They’re both incredible bands from Boston that have bigger followings than us and have such inspiring music. I think the whole night could be magical. We haven’t played at OLS before, but really enjoy the change up of a sit-down venue where the listeners are there for the music.”

Take a listen to “Micmac Cinderella”

Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters with The Western Den and Honeysuckle

8 p.m. Friday. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $12 in advance, $15 day of show.

Singer-songwriter Eric Bettencourt moved to Austin, Texas, a couple of years ago but makes a trip back here every summer and plays a bunch of shows and gets his fill of sea air. I’ve been a fan of his raspy voice and songwriting skills for several years, thanks to albums like “Secret Songs For Secret People” and “An Underwater Dream.” He’ll be out on the deck at Portland Lobster Company on Saturday night, and having just been there a few weeks ago, I can report that the beer is cold and the joint is typically pretty packed. So expect to rub shoulders with strangers while you kick back those fried clams and lobster rolls, but know that you’ll be hearing some mighty fine tunes while you do this. I Facebook stalked Eric to get the skinny on who will be playing with him at this gig, and he told me it would be drummer Harley Smith, guitarist Richard Corson and Pete Genova on bass.

Eric Bettencourt Photo courtesy of the artist

Eric Bettencourt
Photo courtesy of the artist

Eric Bettencourt & Friends

7 p.m. Saturday. Portland Lobster Company, 180 Commercial St., Portland, no cover.




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