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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: August 5, 2015

Sly Chi celebrates 15 Years and Carte Blanche serves up gypsy jazz

Portland’s own Sly-Chi is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a show Saturday at Portland House and Music. Photo by Matt Cosby

Portland’s own Sly-Chi is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a show Saturday at Portland House and Music. Photo by Matt Cosby

August is upon us and with it, a month of live music offerings to spin your spurs and motivate you to get out there.

I’ve picked two shows – one is the 15th anniversary celebration of a Portland band; the other is my favorite jazz act out of New York City. You can thank me later.

For my funk-soul brothers and sisters, Sly Chi is celebrating 15 years as a band, and the party is on Saturday night in Portland. They’re bringing back some old members and a slew of guests plan to join in a sweaty, soulful, sensational night.

The band formed after a bunch of like-minded chaps started getting together at a place called The Basement in the Old Port back in 2000. Soon after, they started a Tuesday night gig at The Big Easy that lasted for seven years. They’ve released three albums over the years: “Wave Sound,” “The Space” and “Seven in the Shadows.”

The lineup has changed a little bit since the inception of Sly Chi, and at present they’re a seven-piece funk and soul band that somehow manages to have two guys named Tyler in it – one plays keys and the other sax. There’s also a trumpet player, a bassist, a drummer and a guitarist, and two of those chaps also sing.

A little over two years ago, Andi Fawcett joined the band, and I’ve been a fan since first hearing her sing with the long-gone band Relish 15 years ago. So the merging of Fawcett’s voice with an already crazy-talented band is the quintessential match made in musical heaven.

Congratulations Sly Chi! May you live long and prosper, and may you continue to make people – and their feet – over-the-moon happy with your music.

Sly Chi, 9 p.m. Saturday, Portland House of Music & Events, 25 Temple St., Portland, $8, 21-plus.


Carte Blanche, a Brooklyn-based jazz band, plays two local shows this weekend.  Copyright Jonsar Studios 2014

Carte Blanche, a Brooklyn-based jazz band, plays two local shows this weekend. Copyright Jonsar Studios 2014

ONE OF THE MUSICAL highlights of last summer was a show by jazz band Carte Blanche. They’re out of Brooklyn, New York, but band leader and accordion player Kate Dunphy is from Portland and her mother, Betsy, got in touch about the show. (Moms rule!)

CB is back from playing a party for Gwyneth Paltrow at her house in the Hamptons and a Saudi Arabian princess caught a CB gig the other night in Manhattan.

Carte Blanche is a six-piece ensemble who are into vintage standards and classic French, Latin and American jazz standards from the ’20s through the ’40s. They also have some terrific originals.

Vocalist Cristina Kaminis has the kind of voice you want to keep listening to – colorful and bright. She also sings several tunes en Francais, which are tres bien, to say the very least.

The Carte Blanche lineup includes accordion, violin, guitar, bass and percussion. They’re a first-rate act that put on a fabulous show last summer, and I expect nothing less than that this time.

If you can’t make it to the Saturday night show at Acoustic Artisans, fear not, you can also catch Carte Blanche on the lawn overlooking Crescent Beach when they perform at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday as part of its Jazz on the Lawn series.

Watch Carte Blanche

For more on the band, head to They’re truly spectacular and wear vintage outfits to further transport you back to the American Golden Age of Jazz or a Paris cafe at midnight circa 1925.

At present Carte Blanche has two CDs out and hope to head back into the studio this winter. Yeah!

Carte Blanche, 8 p.m. Saturday, Acoustic Artisans, 594 Congress St., 2nd floor, Portland, $20.

5:30 p.m. Sunday, Inn by the Sea, 40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, free. Rain date is Monday.

More upcoming live music

Mary Fahl
8 p.m. Saturday. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $25 in advance, $30 day of show.
She’s the former lead singer of the early 90s band The October Project and she’s continued to propel her solo career forward thanks to a voice as powerful and stirring as you’ll ever hear. Mary Fahl’s latest album is “Love and Gravity” and she’s also known for an incredible re-interpration of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album.
Mac DeMarco
8 p.m. Wednesday. State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland, $25 in advance, $30 say of show.
He’s a Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with three solo albums and enough popularity that the show had to be moved from Port City Music Hall to The State Theatre. Mac DeMarco’s latest record, “Salad Days” is home to the single “Passing Out Pieces” and the song is heavy with a funky organ and DeMarco’s trippy vocals.
Joe Bonamassa
6 p.m. Wednesday. Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, 1 Railroad St., Bangor, $71 to $101.
Blues and rock musician Joe Bonamassa is on the road this summer with a stop in Bangor to celebrate the blues. The Three Kings Tour pays homage to blues legendary Kings; Albert, Freddie and of course B.B.
The Grant Gordy Quartet
8 p.m. Wednesday. Acoustic Artisans, 594 Congress St., 2nd Floor, Portland, $20.
With Alex Hargreaves on violin, Dominick Leslie on mandolin, Ian Hutchinson on bass and Grant Gordy on guitar, The Grant Gordy Quartet is a Brooklyn, New York-based acoustic folk and jazz act. Gordy was part of the legendary David Grisman’s quintet for six years.

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