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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at MaineToday.com and a music writer for MaineToday.com 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 Mainetoday.com. 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 about...music of course.

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Posted: February 24, 2017

‘Loud and proud’ young ladies make their voices heard at Girls Rock!

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Musician Elsie Howland. Photos by Francois Gagne Commercial Photography

Musician Elsie Howland.
Photos by Francois Gagne Commercial Photography

For the ninth consecutive year, the Maine Academy of Modern Music presents Girls Rock!, and MAMM’s executive director and founder, Jeff Shaw, says it will be the biggest one yet with 23 acts performing.

The event purposefully coincides with Women’s History Month and is a celebration of girls’ involvement in music. It’s also an absolutely fantastic showcase of their talent.

“Women have always had a voice in rock and roll, and we are proud to be able to offer a stage on which so many local girls and young women can have a chance to be heard singing the songs of other influential women in music, as well as performing their own original music for their community,” Shaw said. “When we started MAMM nearly 10 years ago, it was very boy-centric, which is another reason we felt a ‘Girls Rock’ event was necessary.”

Singer Emma Ivy from the band Yard Sail

Singer Emma Ivy from the band Yard Sail

I also chatted with 16-year-old Cheverus High School sophomore and singer Emma Ivy from the band Yard Sail. Yard Sail is Emma and four of her friends: Zoe Gagne, Eve Gagne, Esme Howland and Skyler Cummings. They formed five years go, and this is their fifth Girls Rock! performance. “For me, the Girls Rock! show is a night of empowerment. Yard Sail is MAMM’s first all-girl band, and when we can get up there and proudly talk about that at Girls Rock!, it feels so great,” Emma said. “With the political state of everything right now, I think that it is so important to have a night to literally have the voices of girls heard at this show. I went to the Women’s March in Augusta with two of my bandmates and that energy of being loud and proud goes so well with the show.”

I also asked Ivy if she thinks boys have it easier than girls in the music world, and she answered without hesitation. “I think that boys do have it easier as musicians because there is that stigma around women that they are delicate and ‘can’t rip it up like men can.’ Every single girl performing at the Girls Rock! show can prove that stigma wrong, and for people to see that is so important.”

singer-songwriter and pianist Genevieve Curtis. Curtis is also a memberof the band Space Haven. Photo by Francois Gagne Commercial Photography

Singer-songwriter and pianist Genevieve Curtis. Curtis is also a member of the band Space Haven

New to this year’s Girls Rock! show will be performances by the Mammoth Rock Chorus, the Mammoth Brass Band and some all-boy bands — with a very specific catch. The boys have to play at least one song written or made famous by a woman, and Shaw said we can expect to hear some Janis Joplin and Pat Benatar tunes, which is, of course, entirely awesome.

All told, more than 80 kids will be setting foot on the Port City stage, including eight all-girl bands. You’ll hear a mix of covers and originals, ranging from alternative and classic rock to folk and avant-garde. Yours truly will be the proud host for the second year in a row, and I can’t wait for you all to see and hear these incredible young musicians do their thing.

Girls Rock!

5:30 p.m. Friday. Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland, $12 in advance, $15 day of show, $20 preferred seating, all ages. portcitymusichall.com


Mark Baumer in Providence, RI. October 2016. Photo courtesy of the Baumer family

Mark Baumer in Providence, RI. October 2016.
Photo courtesy of the Baumer family

By now, most of you have likely heard about 33-year-old activist, writer, performance artist, librarian and Greely High School graduate Mark Baumer. Baumer was in the midst of a barefoot trek across the country to raise awareness about climate change when he was struck and killed by an SUV in Florida on Jan. 21.

Baumer, who at the time was living in Providence, Rhode Island, had been walking since Oct. 13. His accident and the important work he was doing made national news.

A few days ago, his father, Jim Baumer, reached out to let me know about a very special event happening at the SPACE Gallery. He and his wife, Mary, have set up the Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund with the goal of continuing their son’s legacy and passion for the environment, community-based issues and underserved populations in greater Providence.

To help raise money for this fund, the Baumers hooked up with musician Nat Baldwin (Dirty Projectors), who is bringing together some Providence-based acts for the show at SPACE, which will include members of Deer Tick, Lingua Ignota and Seascape Landscape. Baldwin himself will play a solo set, and as he’s on the brink of a music sabbatical, it could be the last time to see him live for the foreseeable future.

Some poets and other friends of Baumer’s will also be there doing some readings. If you can’t make it to the event but would like to make a donation to the fund, head here: gofundme.com/themarkbaumersustainabilityfund. Incredibly, as I write this, the fund is nearing $15,000 of its 50K goal. Somewhere out there, Mark Baumer is smiling about this — and still walking.

March Forth

8:30 p.m. Saturday. SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland, $10 suggested donation. space538.org

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