Posted: March 2, 2016
6 New England music venues worth the road trip
Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Up Next: Bhutanese experimental guitarist Tashi Dorji performs at Space on Saturday
STONE MOUNTAIN ARTS CENTER
WHERE: 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield
YEAR OPENED: 2006
PHONE: 207- 935-7292
CAPACITY: 200 (seated)
MILES FROM DOWNTOWN PORTLAND: 49
FOOD & DRINK: Beer and wine, and a full dinner menu. Cash only for food and drinks.
WHY IT'S WORTH THE TRIP: Despite being a bit off the beaten path, fans flock to Stone Mountain because it's a true listening room. It's
become a favorite venue for huge acts like Joan Armatrading, Lyle Lovett, Indigo Girls, Robert Cray, Lucinda Williams, Keb' Mo and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
The barn is gorgeous, the acoustics are first-rate and the food is sumptuous.
Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
SHALIN LIU PERFORMANCE CENTER
WHERE: 37 Main St., Rockport, Massachusetts
YEAR OPENED: 2010
PHONE: (978) 546-7391
CAPACITY: 330 fixed theater seats
MILES FROM DOWNTOWN PORTLAND: 111
FOOD & DRINK: Snacks include cookies, nuts, chips, candy, cheese and fruit, water, sodas and more. Beer and wine are available, with the
occasional specialty cocktail drink available during select summer shows.
WHY IT'S WORTH THE TRIP: The space is gorgeous with comfortable theater seats, polished wood and stone features, and the backdrop of the
stage is the Atlantic Ocean. Rockport is a tiny but terrific coastal town on the tip of Cape Ann with quaint shops and a surprisingly wide range of food
options in a compact downtown area. Past performers include Shawn Colvin, Peter Wolf and many classical acts.
Photos by Robert Benson
WHERE: 47 Palmer St., Cambridge, Massachusetts
YEAR OPENED: 1958
PHONE: (617) 492-7679
CAPACITY: 200 (seated)
MILES FROM DOWNTOWN PORTLAND: 112
FOOD & DRINK: The Kitchen at Club Passim is open for lunch and dinner during shows for ticket holders. Beer and wine. Menu includes
appetizers, burgers,salads, pasta and desserts.
WHY IT'S WORTH THE TRIP: Tucked in an alley in the heart of Harvard Square, Club Passim is a true piece of Cambridge history. Joan Baez
played there. Bob Dylan played there. And thousands of others have filled the cozy, below-ground space with song after song. On average, Passim hosts
about 400 shows a year.
Photos by Aimsel Ponti. Photo of Sarah Blacker by Scotten W. Jones
THE MUSIC HALL
WHERE: 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, New Hampshire
YEAR OPENED: 1988
PHONE: (603) 436-2400
MILES FROM DOWNTOWN PORTLAND: 54
FOOD & DRINK: Snacks like popcorn, candy, cookies and ice cream; full bar.
WHY IT'S WORTH THE TRIP: Situated in the artsy metropolis of Portsmouth, The Music Hall is a mid-size theater housed in a building
that's more than 100 years old and has the charm, character and architecture to prove it. Previous performers include Brandi Carlile, Melissa Etheridge.
Al Green and Wynton Marsalis.
Photos by David J. Murray
IRON HORSE MUSIC HALL
WHERE: 20 Center St., Northampton, Massachusetts
YEAR OPENED: 1979
PHONE: (413) 586-8686
CAPACITY: 170 (tables and some standing/dancing room depending on the show)
MILES FROM DOWNTOWN PORTLAND: 183 to 215 (depending on the route)
FOOD & DRINK: Full bar, food menu includes hummus platter, wings, fried calamari, burgers, burritos and more
WHY IT'S WORTH THE TRIP: Northampton is a snappy little city in western Massachusetts with a fabulous downtown lined with funky shops
and restaurants.Over the years, the Iron Horse has hosted Tori Amos, Beck, Jeff Buckley, Aimee Mann, Cowboy Junkies, Wilco, Tracy Chapman, The Avett
Brothers, Tegan and Sara, and The National, among many others. It's a two-level intimate space that's a little rough around the edges but deeply steeped
in musical history.
TUPELO MUSIC HALL
WHERE: 2 Young Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire
YEAR OPENED: 2004
PHONE: (603) 437-5100
CAPACITY: 160 to 240 (depending on chair configuration)
MILES FROM DOWNTOWN PORTLAND: 104
FOOD & DRINK: Bring-your-own beer and wine (no hard alcohol, $3 per person BYOB fee is collected at the door for those partaking). Purple
Puffin catering is on-premise and offers several sandwiches, small plates, salads, soup and desserts along with coffee, tea, soda and other non-alcoholic
WHY IT'S WORTH THE TRIP: It's within an easy distance for music fans in Maine. The performance space is part of a rambling old house, and
it's a snug,welcoming place. If you arrive early, there are several comfortable rooms off the lobby to plunk down in before the show to enjoy food and
drinks. Acts who have graced the Tupelo stage include English Beat, Suzanne Vega, George Winston and The Church.
Photos by Jerry
A music venue can enhance the live show experience, with sweeping architecture, sumptuous food or a sense history on the stage. There’s no shortage of New England venues that would fit the bill. Here are six small- to medium-sized spots that are worth the drive from Greater Portland. These venues in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts were chosen for their ambiance, sound and dedication to quality live music. Loyal fans will see their favorite acts just about anywhere, but when the show is in a special venue, the experience is all the more memorable.
There’s a line from Rachael Yamagata’s song “Miles on a Car,” that applies not only to a person’s love for another, but the love for music itself. “Baby, it’s just miles on a car/just miles on a car. I only need a map of where you are/there’ll never be a place that is too far.” So gas up, grab some tickets, hit the road and see a concert.