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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: August 12, 2015

There’s still time to catch some relaxed (and FREE) summer music concerts in a Maine park

Written by: Ray Routhier
Raging Brass Reggae performs at Congress Square Park in Portland.

Raging Brass Reggae performs at Congress Square Park in Portland.

Not every outdoor concert has to be an ear-splitting, bone-crushing, wallet-emptying experience.

Sure, big outdoor concerts and festivals can be a lot of fun. But sometimes you want to enjoy music in the great outdoors without having to fight for a place to stand, or wait in line, or buy a pricey ticket.

Maybe you’d like to enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch while listening to live music in a picturesque park somewhere. Well, there are still plenty of chances to do that in Maine this summer.

There are several free summer music series, in park-like settings, around southern Maine. And over the last few weeks of summer there are a dozen or more scheduled.

Below is a list of some of these, from Kittery to Bath and points in between. All of those listed are free.

Aug. 13: Primo Cubano

7 p.m., Fort Allen Park, Eastern Promenade at Morning Street, Portland; easternpromenade.org
The views of Casco Bay from the grassy Eastern Promenade hillside are spectacular, and make a perfect setting for the Summer Community Concert Series organized by Friends of Eastern Promenade. Various food trucks are known to park on the street while people spread out blankets on the hill. Primo Cubano, well known around Portland, play an infectious blend of Cuban and Latin beats that are sure to get people dancing on the hill. Upcoming shows in this series include The Renovators (bluesy rock) on Aug. 20 and Zeme Libre (Afro/reggae/funk) on Aug. 27.

Aug. 15: The Amazing Jumbo Circus Peanuts

6:30 p.m., Hope Hobbs Gazebo, 331 Harbor Road, Wells. jumbocircuspeanuts.com; wellstown.org
People are invited to bring their own blankets and folding chairs, but there are also plenty of park benches to sit on too. Based in Portsmouth, N.H., The Amazing Jumbo Circus Peanuts are a 12-piece New Orleans-style band blending pop, funk, swing and rock. Other concerts coming up in this series include The Corona Brothers (Caribbean beach music) on Aug. 22 and New Legacy Swing Band on Aug. 29.

Aug. 15: Jen Chapin

6 p.m., Waterfront Park, 61 Commercial St., Bath; chocolatechurch.com
This show is part of the Summer Saturdays series presented by The Chocolate Church Arts Center, in a city-owned park on the Kennebec River. Chapin is a folk artist from a musical family: Her father was folk singer and activist Harry Chapin. Upcoming shows in this series include Love to Burn (roots rock) on Aug. 22 and String Tide (folk and bluegrass) on Aug. 29.

Aug. 18: The Sixties Invasion

6:30 p.m., Frisbee Common, 120 Rogers Road, Kittery; kitterycommunitycenter.org
Bring blankets or beach chairs to this show, part of the Kittery Recreation Concerts on the Common series. In case of rain, the show can be moved inside the community center. The band will play 60s music ranging from Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan, as well as some music and trivia from 60s TV shows. This is the last show of the summer in this series.

Aug. 19: Backlash

6 p.m., Town Mall, Maine Street and Park Row, Brunswick; brunswickdowntown.org
Browse the shops or grab a bite in downtown Brunswick before heading to the Mall (the town green) for this show, part of the Music on the Mall concert series. Backlash plays classic rock, Southern rock, blues and oldies. The last show of the summer in this series will be North of Nashville (country) on Aug. 26.

Aug. 20: Amarantos Quartet

7-9 p.m., Congress Square Park, Congress and High streets, Portland; congresssquarepark.org
This event is described by organizers Friends of Congress Square Park as a melding of “the picnic and classical music.” So you can munch from your picnic basket, sitting on tables and chairs in the square, while the Amarantos Quartet plays. The string quartet, based in Portland, plays new music and original arrangements. The members have all played a wide variety of other forms of music, including rock, pop, and folk.

Aug. 28: Cuddle Magic

6-8 p.m., Congress Square Park, Congress and High streets, Portland; congresssquarepark.org
This free show is co-sponsored by Friends of Congress Square Park and Space Gallery in Portland. Cuddle Magic is a Brooklyn, New York “songwriting collective” that has collaborated with a wide range of artists, from Beyonce and Amanda Palmer to Rubblebucket and Fred Frith.

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