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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 18, 2018

Celebrate the longest day of the year with free music all over Portland

Written by: Aimsel Ponti

For the sixth consecutive year, the parks of downtown Portland and a few other centrally located spots will be very much alive with the sound of local music. Make Music Portland is the local version of worldwide celebration of music that began in France in 1982. Make Music Day happens in more than 800 cites in 120 countries, and it’s always on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. This year, that’s Thursday.

Not only will you hear some wonderful tunes, there’s something kind of, well, profound about knowing that all over the world people will be doing the same exact thing. I’ve long thought music is one of the great uniters, especially when its performed live. Whether it’s hearing a cover band in a dusty bar or being among 60,000 people in a stadium, live music has the power to transcend everything else that’s going on in one’s life and in the world, even if it’s for one three-minute song. So let me tell you more about Make Music Portland, and why I’ll be making it a point to make my way to some of the performances. What’s more, there are several participatory events that you’re welcome to try, including shower singing.

The music starts at 10 a.m. and lasts all the way to 8 p.m. Here is a list of Make Music Portland performance spots in alphabetical order: Andy’s Old Port Pub, Bell Buoy Park, Congress Square Park, First Parish Church Memorial Garden, Fort Allen Park, Harbor View Memorial Park, Lincoln Park, Lobsterman Park, Longfellow Square, Monument Square, Post Office Park, Rising Tide Brewing Co., Standpipe Park and the Porthole Restaurant & Pub. Don’t want to have to remember all that? Download the free Make Music Day app for the complete schedule.

The list of performers participating in Make Music Portland is a long one. Some of these acts I’m familiar with, and others are new to me, but half the fun is the voyage of musical discovery. To whet your appetite, here are some of the acts you can catch throughout the morning, afternoon and early evening: The Montsweagers, Bellatrix, Casco Bay Tummlers, Karina Lily, Little Monk, Sassquatch, Stan Davis, Prides Corner Pickers, Jenny Jumpstart, Sparxsea, Tom Emerson, Those Electric Nights, The Side Chick Syndicate, Love Cemetery and the Maine Marimba Ensemble. Sparxsea, for example, has just released her debut album and the song “Zen” is absolutely gorgeous and haunting. She’ll be in Monument Square at 5 p.m. Then there’s the singer-songwriter Tom Emerson and his nifty songs “They Don’t Know Love” and “Weather Withstanding.” He’ll be playing in Longfellow Square at 6 p.m. Also, if you haven’t heard the Maine Marimba Ensemble, Make Music Day is as good a time as any to check them out. They’ll be at Rising Tide on Fox Street from 4 to 7 p.m.

Finally, permit me to give a proper shout-out to some of the participatory, family-friendly events of Make Music Portland because frankly they sound awesome.

1. The Instrument Building Garden, 10 a.m. to noon at Post Office Park (Exchange and Middle streets). Kids will make their own instruments using arts and crafts materials.

2. Shower Singing, noon to 1 p.m. in Lobsterman Park (Middle and Temple). A claw-foot tub and shower with curtain will be set up with a sound system around it, and you’ll be able to hop inside and belt out your favorite tune. This is the life goal you didn’t know you had until now.

3. Harmonica lessons and jam session, 3-4:30 p.m. at Post Office Park. Hohner, an instrument maker, has donated 100 harmonicas, which will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Admit it, you’ve always wanted to play a harmonica, so here’s your chance to live that dream.

4. Ukulele jam, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Post Office Park. Bring your uke and have at it! The jam will led by The Flukes, and all are welcome, even if you’re a beginner.

5. Bucket drumming circle, 7-8 p.m. Lobsterman Park. Buckets will be provided along with the tempo. All you need to bring is your sensational rhythm.

Let’s throw our support behind Make Music Portland. Tell your friends and make a plan. Dash out at lunch, sneak out for a coffee break, hit some of it after work or go all-in and take the day off. You just might discover your new favorite act, and you might just find yourself inspired to finally pick up an instrument yourself. “Live music is better,” said Neil Young. I’ll second that. Whose with me?

Make Music Portland

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, various locations in downtown Portland, free.


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