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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: November 28, 2017

Support Maine bands by giving the gift of local music

Written by: Aimsel Ponti

As far as I’m concerned, every month is the perfect month to celebrate Maine music, but it’s especially fun in December because the holidays give us the perfect reason not only to celebrate local music but also to gift it to the music fans in our lives.

Before I launch into my suggestions in this unofficial gift guide, let me take a moment to remind everyone how hard so many of our local acts work. Many of them hold down multiple jobs, and consistent sleep is a luxury. Many have to sacrifice going to see shows, spending time with their families and having any semblance of a normal social life so that they have time to practice, hold band meetings, work on bookings and social media strategies, write songs and keep the machinery of being a viable band going. It never ends.

Sometimes the house is packed for their gigs; other times, not so much. But most of the musicians I know in Maine are relentless in their pursuit to create and share the art that is their music.

That said, here are three gift ideas for your consideration:

1. BUY THEM MUSIC. Most bands have CDs (The Ghost of Paul Revere’s new album, for example, is “Monarch”); some also have vinyl, and a few occasionally put limited runs on cassettes. Bull Moose carries a lot of local music, but often the best place to find it is at live shows. You can also purchase and download plenty of local music at sites like Bandcamp and iTunes. So maybe an iTunes gift card with the strong suggestion that it be used for local music is just the thing for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list.

Cover art for "Monarch," the new album from The Ghost of Paul Revere Image courtesy of the band

Cover art for “Monarch,” the new album from The Ghost of Paul Revere
Image courtesy of the band

2. BUY THEM OTHER SWAG. Many bands have all sorts of it available online and at their shows. I adore my Fogcutters knit cap immensely and am hoping Santa brings me a Weakened Friends T-shirt for Christmas. And often there are stickers, buttons and various other items that not only help keep the lights on for the bands but also help to spread the word about them. The Mallett Brothers Band deer patch is pretty much the coolest patch I’ve ever seen.

mallett merch collage3. BRING YOUR FRIEND TO A SHOW. Make them a homemade “night out” gift certificate and bring them to see a local band you know they love or one you think they’ll dig. Some of Portland’s local music hot spots include Empire, Blue, One Longfellow Square, Space Gallery, Portland House of Music, Bayside Bowl, Andy’s Old Port Pub and Port City Music Hall. But it’s not just Portland. Local shows happen all over the state, of course, at places like Frontier in Brunswick; BAE (Bangor Arts Exchange); Lenny’s, Live at 212 and The Frog & Turtle, all in Westbrook; Elements in Biddeford; Johnson Hall in Gardiner; She Doesn’t Like Guthries in Lewiston; Fire House Grill in Auburn; Slate’s in Hallowell; The Chocolate Church in Bath; Suds Pub in Bethel; and Eureka Hall in Stockholm, to name a few. Figure out what show to hit, and then buy your friend’s ticket or pay their cover, and if it’s a free show at a place like Bayside Bowl or Blue, see if there’s a tip jar and throw dough in from you and your pal.

4. BONUS SUGGESTION for everyone who gives a damn about local music: When you’re out seeing a local band, even if you don’t have the cash to buy that shirt or 7-inch, at the very least tell the musicians how good they were. Tell them how much their music matters to you. Sign up for their mailing list. And if you see the drummer from that band you love in line at Hannaford or that singer from that other band working at a venue, tell them you dig them. They love to hear it, and doing so takes minimal effort. Can you imagine living in Maine without all of these spectacular musicians who call this state home? I certainly can’t. Santa Claus brings many things to many people, but I’m not sure he remembers every year to take care of our musicians. That’s up to us.

Image courtesy of Weakened Friends

Image courtesy of Weakened Friends

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