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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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Arts & Entertainment with Aimsel Ponti
Posted: June 3, 2015

Irish music from Shannon Heaton, Clara Junken at Sonny’s & lots of Jazz

Shannon Heaton will play Irish flute and sing with a string quartet at One Longfellow Square in Portland on Saturday.

Shannon Heaton will play Irish flute and sing with a string quartet at One Longfellow Square in Portland on Saturday.

There’s something quite transformative and, well, magical about hearing an Irish flute. When it’s played well, the sound has a mystical quality you can envision gazing over the Cliffs of Moher or hunkered down on a rainy night in a 300-year-old Dublin pub for a night of local tunes.

The good stuff can be both playful and haunting and it doesn’t conjure visions of leprechauns and sugary cereal with green clovers. The good stuff is steeped in tradition with an ancient underpinning, yet is accessible and quite enjoyable here in modern times.

Boston-based flute player (and singer) Shannon Heaton gets this. When she plays – or for that matter – sings, the sound is bright and buoyant and emotionally stirring.

If her name rings a bell, perhaps you’ve heard of the duo Matt & Shannon Heaton. She and her guitarist/multi-instrumentalist husband Matt have released several records of updated and traditional Irish music.

Shannon’s latest musical project is called After the Morning. You’ll hear Heaton on vocals and flute backed by a string quartet. She explained in an email that they’ll be performing traditional and original ballads including a bunch of brand spanking new compositions. Heaton had in fact just finished up those arrangements on the day of our correspondence. Laura Cortese and Rachel Panitch will be on fiddle, Eve Boltax will play the viola and Valerie Thompson will play cello.

And although Heaton’s sound is deeply rooted in Irish tradition, there are also shades of Thai traditional music woven in, as Heaton lived in Suphanburi as a child. She also studied classical compositional techniques as a music student at Northwestern University and grew up with a steady diet of jazz and pop.

This promises to be a lively night of tunes and you might want to consider scooping up tickets. Sláinte!

Shannon Heaton and After the Morning, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $15 in advance, $20 day of show,

Clara Junken and her band will be playing the first Thursday of the month all summer at Sonny’s in Portland.

Clara Junken and her band will be playing the first Thursday of the month all summer at Sonny’s in Portland.

HEY NIGHT OWLS, check out this little slice of awesomeness. All summer long you can catch singer-songwriter/guitarist Clara Junken performing with her band at Sonny’s in the Old Port on the first Thursday of the month. Her band is drummer Aaron David Cloutier, guitarist John Edwards and bassist Adam Frederick. One can assume Junken and company will play some tunes from her first-rate debut solo record “Out To Sea,” among some well-chosen covers and other rabbits from their collective hats. Junken’s got it going on vocally, with clear, rich pipes, and lyrically, too, as you’ll hear when you hit Sonny’s for some kick-off-the-weekend tuneage. She also grabs your attention with her electric and acoustic guitars. The Facebook event page says it best: “We’re gonna bring it gritty, pretty and low and slow and then bump it up to wail when ya need it.”

Clara Junken, 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Sonny’s Restaurant and Bar, 83 Exchange St., Portland, no cover,

More local music: It’s all about jazz

Noah Haidu Trio
7:30 p.m. Friday, Congregational Church, 10 Church Lane, Phippsburg, $12, $6 students and children, free for under 8.
New York City-based acclaimed trio are staples of the Manhattan jazz scene and pianist Noah Haidu is the reason why. As both a player and composer, Haidu is known for the way in which he combines new ideas about rhythm and harmony with spontaneity, soul and swing. Hear it to believe it on Friday night.

Jazz at the Blue
6 p.m. Friday, Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland, no cover (pass the hat).
Tuck into the newly renovated Blue and spend the entire night hearing nothing but jazz. Expedition kicks things off at 6 p.m. followed by Ed Lucie at 8 and then Kendall Moore at 10 p.m. Expedition is s trio of piano, trumpet and bass offering up a mix of standards. Ed Lucie is a bassist out of Boston and a faculty member at the Berklee College of Music. Kendall Moore is a trombonist, composer and arranger out of Miami. What’s more, jazz is a regular thing on Friday night so keep an eye on the Blue website for the weekly lineup.

State Street Traditional Jazz Band
3 p.m. Sunday, Corner of Fore and Moulton streets, Portland, donations. 207-737-2839
This Sunday – and every Sunday afternoon this summer, plunk yourself down in The Old Port to hear a band that pays – and plays – homage to the authentic sounds of New Orleans at the turn of the last century. You’ll hear influences of The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Humphrey Brothers, Louis Armstrong and Kid Thomas Valentine.

The Jazz Workshop
8 p.m. Wednesday, One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $5.
Led by John Clark, Maine act The Jazz Workshop performs compositions from the likes of Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and the composers of the celebrated “Blue Note” period. You’ll hear bass, flute, sax, piano and drums from some of Maine’s finest players.

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