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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 News Center Maine TV show “207” to talk of course.

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Posted: January 21, 2015

Wild Child, Pearl and the Beard at One Longfellow Square in Portland on Thursday

Written by: Aimsel Ponti

This week’s column is brought to you in part by the numbers 2, 1 and 10. This is because you can catch two fantastic bands in one night at the same venue for 10 bucks. In college, it took me three tries to pass algebra, so this kind of math makes me light up with a 100-watt grin.

Ever heard of Pearl and The Beard? The trio is Jocelyn MacKenzie, Emily Hope Price and Jeremy Styles. They all sing, and there is a cello, guitars, keys, bells and percussion. They’ve played here several times, but I’ve yet to see them live and had only listened to a couple of songs. Up until now. Now I’m all-in and can’t get enough.

I can easily state that 11 or so months from now when I’m thinking about my favorite songs of 2015, Pearl and The Beard’s new one “You” will make the short list. The song is on the group’s forthcoming album “Beast,” and it’s a fuzzy love song with MacKenzie and Styles each taking lead on a verse. The drums are pounding, the electric guitar’s on fire and the bass is a-thumpin’ like mad. “Can you hear me?” is asked a few times during the tune, and in my head I’m yelling back at the top of my lungs “Damn right I can!” as I push away from my desk and contemplate a fast-paced interpretive dance around the newsroom. “You” is anthemic, scorching hot, fun and musically perfect. But don’t think Pearl and The Beard has only one good song. Au contraire. I listened to the 2011 album “Killing the Darlings” and was immediately smitten with the gorgeous, harmony-rich “Reverend,” the claptastic, gospelesque “Douglas Douglass” and the charming, honey-sweet “Swimming.”

As for the name, here’s what I heard from the Pearl and The Beard camp: “Band names quite often come from throwing spaghetti on a wall to see what sticks. Two aurally complimentary words, symmetrical in appearance, seemed to do the trick.”

Hear Pearl and the Beard

Wild Child is the other band on the bill at One Longfellow, and they also just so happen to be fantastic. They’re a six-piece indie band out of Austin, Texas, that have been playing their brew of folk, pop and gypsy melodies with violin, ukulele, cello, piano, bass, banjo and horns since 2010. I ventured over to and was greeted with the video for “Rillo Talk.” The clip made me a little dizzy, but the music was scintillating and at times downright dreamy, with Kelsey Wilson on lead vocals. “Crazy Bird” is awash with whistling and with Alexander Beggins trading vocals with Wilson. The song drew me like a headphoned moth to a flame, and I for sure will be listening to the rest of the album “The Runaround” post haste.

Wild Child with Pearl and The Beard. 8 p.m. Thursday. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland. $10

ANOTHER THURSDAY NIGHT option for you involves a bit of a drive, to Brownfield, but think of it as the gold at the end of the rainbow. From the sunny shores of Venice, California, comes an eight-member collective that blends old bluegrass with gospel, prewar blues and New Orleans-style swing. The Dustbowl Revival’s latest record is “Carry Me Home,” and I paid it several visits over the past couple of weeks. The album is 44 minutes and 35 seconds of solid gold.

“Josephine” is a swanky, jazzy number with speakeasy-era horns and both male and female vocals. I am tempted to clone myself a la “Orphan Black” so I can go to this show and the one at One Longfellow Square on the same night. After listening to “John the Revelator,” this feeling is even stronger. “Who dat calling? John the Revelator!” repeats the so-awesome-I-can’t-even-deal-with-it song. Hey Dustbowl Revival, please come back.

Dustbowl Revival. 8 p.m. Thursday. Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield. Free; reservations required. Donation of dog food, bleach, detergent or hardwood pellets for the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter suggested.

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