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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: June 12, 2017

Portland native Keelan Donovan is on a roll — and rolling into town

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
631272 Keelan Donovan

Singer-songwriter Keelan Donovan Photo courtesy of the artist

Singer-songwriter and Portland native Keelan Donovan is on quite a roll lately, and it all started this time last year when he signed with Big Yellow Dog Music.

More on that in a moment. Donovan just released a six-song EP, and there’s a Tuesday night show at St. Lawrence Arts Center to mark the occasion. He’s got a warm, dulcet voice and puts pens to paper well in songs like “Undertow.” “Tides turn and the waters change/Days go by, and it’s all the same/Feels like all I do is coast, but I know, I know I felt like this before/My heart sings to the ocean floor, too dark to find my way.”

He also nails it with “In Arms Reach.” “This isn’t your hopeless ending/If you’re wondering where you are ’cause you wandered way too far, you’re safe with me if you’re in arm’s reach.” The song is a gorgeous slow to mid-tempo love letter. The tune is on full rotation on SiriusXM The Pulse, as is the next one I’ll mention. “Love of Mine” has an anthemic feel to it. “I hear you calling me home and I feel you pulling me close and I need you to be patient with me now, I’m coming home.” Donovan’s vocals really soar in this one and the song has a grand scale to it. In other words, two thumbs up. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Spotify featured in on a recent “New Music Friday” playlist.

Take a listen to “In Arms Reach”

And Donovan’s roll doesn’t end there. His song “My Old Habits” is a single, recorded by artist Lucie Silvas who’s on tour as we speak with Chris Stapleton, and Donovan’s songs have been featured numerous times on the TV show “Nashville.”

Now getting back to Big Yellow Dog Music. It’s an independent music publishing and artist development company based in Nashville (where Donovan has lived since 2010). Its catalog includes songs performed by Meghan Trainor, Lady Antebellum, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Michael Buble, Florida Georgia Line and several other big names. The company also helps songs get placed in television and films. But what does this mean exactly? I asked Donovan to spell it out. “This essentially means that I write and produce songs for a living. Whether it be for me (as an artist), another artist, or TV and film, I go into the studio every day and crank out a tune. I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to create art with the people I look up to most.” Not too shabby.

So, there are many things that can happen if you head up the hill on Tuesday. First off, you’ll catch a performance by Donovan that will likely be fantastic. You can purchase a copy of the EP, and I’m 100 percent certain Donovan will sign it for you. And you can high-five Donovan to congratulate him on all the cool stuff that’s happening with him. Can’t make the show? The EP is on iTunes and Spotify.

Keelan Donovan EP Release Show

7 p.m. Tuesday, June 20. St. Lawrence Arts, 76 Congress St., Portland, $15 in advance, $22 at the door.


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