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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: July 8, 2015

Stone Mountain’s Carol Noonan plays Thursday with her talented friends Kevin Barry and Duke Levine

Carol Noonan plays with Duke Levine and Kevin Barry on Thursday on her home stage at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield. Photo credit: David Griffin

Carol Noonan plays with Duke Levine and Kevin Barry on Thursday on her home stage at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield. Photo credit: David Griffin

Do you remember when specific music came into your life? When it had such an impact that it rendered you speechless and all you wanted to do was sit back and listen?

Four score and about a zillion years ago, during my college radio days in Keene, New Hampshire, this exact thing happened. The radio experience at WKNH was a never-ending voyage of musical discovery, and one of the voices I was introduced to during those extraordinary years was Carol Noonan’s.

It was 1993, and a CD arrived from the folk-rock band Knots and Crosses. Intrigued, I grabbed it and shut myself in our production studio for a listening session. At the first sound of Noonan’s voice, I was blown away. Four songs in, the song “Come Undone” came on. To this day, I still come undone when I hear it. There’s a catch in Noonan’s voice that resonates with emotion.

When the a cappella “How Can I Live at the Top of a Mountain” came through the speakers, I knew I would be a fan for life.

But the universe had other plans for Knots and Crosses. They didn’t survive being signed and, soon after, dropped by Island Records. Thankfully, Noonan carried, on and the Carol Noonan Band released “The Only Witness” and “Noonan Building & Wrecking.”

In 1998, she released the solo record “Absolution.” By then, I was living in Portland and knew that Noonan was a Mainer.

The album’s second track is “Till I See You Again,” and it still stings and burns with that gorgeous voice.

Noonan and her husband, Jeff Flagg, opened the Stone Mountain Arts Center six years ago in Brownfield. It was born out of the timber-frame barn built as a workshop for Flagg. Noonan used to sneak in there when he wasn’t around and sing her heart out. When she realized how good the acoustics were, an idea was born.

Today, the Stone Mountain Arts Center is a revered locale for music fans and performers alike. With about 200 seats, tiny white lights around the stage windows and a constant flow of nationally touring acts of many genres, the intimate venue seems like it’s always been there.

Noonan has since released a number of albums, including “Waltzing for Dreamers,” “As Tears Go By,” “Somebody’s Darling” and “Big Iron.” She also put out two holiday albums, with some of my favorite original holiday songs. At present, Noonan is working on a new record called “Raven Girl,” and you can count on this fan keeping you updated on it.

This brings us to Thursday night. Every once in a blue moon, Noonan takes to her own stage and puts on a show with her two best buds, Kevin Barry and Duke Levine. Barry plays the lap steel and Levine the electric guitar. They are both clearly from planets other than this one, as their skills are out of this world.

Levine is all over many albums, including ones by Jonatha Brooke, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Aimee Mann, Bill Morrissey, Ellis Paul, Peter Wolf and Lee Ann Womack, to name just a few from a long list. Barry’s credits include playing on albums by Paula Cole, Peter Wolf, Ellis Paul, Kris Delmhorst and Susan Tedeschi. So imagine, if you will, how much those timber rafters are going to shake and sway with the powerful sound of Noonan, Barry and Levine.

I’ll be honest – the last time I heard Carol Noonan sing in that building was about three years ago. It was a holiday show and the song was “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It brought me to tears. She’s that good.

What’s more, the trio’s show is a benefit for the Mountain Top Music Center, a community music school in Conway, New Hampshire. Its mission is to enrich lives and build community with inspiring music education and opportunities to perform and listen.

If you haven’t been to the Stone Mountain Arts Center and/or if you’ve never heard Noonan and the boys perform live, do yourself a huge favor and take the drive. It’s somewhat of a long and winding road to get to Brownfield, but it will be so very worth it.

Carol Noonan, Kevin Barry and Duke Levine, 8 p.m. Thursday, The Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield, $20.

More upcoming live music

Eric Church with The Lone Bellow
6 p.m. Thursday. Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, 1 Railroad St., Bangor, $25.75 to $74.75.
During the past decade, he’s released four albums that have produced a huge string of hits on country music charts. Grammy winner Eric Church is coming to Bangor and you’ll likely hear “How ‘Bout You,” “Two Pink Lines,” “Guys Like Me,” “Cold One” and “Raise ‘Em Up” among others. A Brooklyn, New York-based band, The Lone Bellow has been making their own splash since their debut record in 2013. Their latest is “Then Came the Morning” released earlier this year.

Hot Tuna
8 p.m. Thursday. Jonathan’s, 92 Bourne Lane, Ogunquit, $60 in advance, $65 day of show. tickets.
As a side project of Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna was formed in 1969 by bassist Jack Cassidy and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. All these years later, they’re still a staple of the folk-rock scene with a sound that ventures into blues and bluegrass. Hot Tuna is known for getting it done live in riveting fashion and this performance will be an acoustic duo one.

Don Campbell: An Evening of Dan Fogelberg Music
8 p.m. Saturday. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $25 in advance, $30 day of show.
A familiar name in Maine, singer-songwriter Don Campbell resides both here and in Nashville. He’s released a dozen CDs including the 23-song, 2-disc collection “Kites To Fly: Celebrating The Music of Dan Fogelberg.” Fogelberg spent the last years of his life in Deer Isle, Maine, where he died in 2007 at the age of 56. Hit hits include “Longer,” “Run for the Roses” and the iconic “Same Old Lang Syne.”

The North Atlantic Blues Festival
Saturday and Sunday. Public Landing, 275 Main St., Rockland, $30 for one day, $55 for weekend pass.
As it turns out, blue is the new black, at least in Rockland this weekend. The North Atlantic Blues Festival comes to town featuring two days of national and regional blues acts. This year’s line up includes Roberto Morbioli, Dexter Allen, James Cotton, Marcia Ball, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers and many more.

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