10Qs with Mel Stone

Photo by Eric Schnare

Portland musician Mel Stone has been in the studio working on her latest release, Fragments, which is due out in November.  She released the EP Coney for Bandcamp’s Transgender Law Center nonprofit event in August (it’s available now as a permanent fundraiser for the organization).  Learn more about Mel at melstone.co and on Twitter.


  • Where were you Born?
    I was born in Pomona, CA, which gives me the perfect icebreaker if I ever meet Tom Waits.
  • What brought you to Portland?
    My family moved from Southern California to Winslow when I was fifteen, and fell in love with Portland. It’s been my home off-and-on for the last decade.
  • What was your most memorable gig?
    Years ago, I had the chance to play at set at the Rainbow on Sunset Strip. Taught me a lot about expectations in professional music.
  • What was your worst gig?
    Back in 2006, I was doing a tour of the South, and my manager at the time had told me I had booked a show in Charleston, SC. I get there, and it was a full-fledged fine dining restaurant. Apparently, there was a huge mix-up, but I started to play anyway. Two songs into depressing acoustic music, the few patrons there were visibly uncomfortable, so I packed it up and left.
  • What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
    If I had to pick an artist, I’d say Elliott Smith. From composition to lyrics to skill, his music has been a tremendous inspiration, influence on my work and my interest in writing music. Many artists in that melancholy-pop-folk zone are big influences.
  • What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
    My capo! I love this thing
  • Any advice for a musician starting out?
    Practice and write every single day. Every little bit helps move you forward and refines your skills.
  • What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
    I absolutely love ABBA and Phish and I feel no guilt about it.
  • What was the first album/recording you owned?
    My mom wouldn’t let me listen to popular music as a kid, but for some reason, Weird Al was allowed, so my very first record was Weird Al Yankovic in 3-D. As a teenager, when my dad tried to get me into the classics, he gave me a copy of Revolver, Ziggy, and The Cars’ Greatest Hits.
  • What are you listening to at the moment?
    A.W.’s Runaway has been blasting in my car at least once a day. I’ve also been on this early Leonard Cohen kick for the last few weeks, and really getting into Nada Surf, particularly Let Go.
  • What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
    Phish’s IT in Limestone. I was seventeen and the experience changed my life.


Photo by Eric Schnare

10Qs with Sigrid Harmon of The Asthmatic

Photo by Knack Factory

The Asthmatic is the nom de plume of Sigrid Harmon, who has been performing around Portland since 2013.  In addition to her main project, she recently joined Thomas Shadis (aka Father Spatter) of The Doug Quaids for a short collaboration. After playing three times as 4 Star China Taste, they disbanded, but not before recording and releasing six songs on an album called What Happens in The Dark.

  • Where were you born?
    I was born in Boston, MA.
  • What brought you to Portland?
    I relocated here in 2008 with my parents, I was still in elementary school.
  • Do you have a day job and, if so, what is it?
    My day job is writing music, as I’ve just graduated from high school. If anyone’s got a music-related job they’d like to hire me for, I’m all ears.
  • What was your most memorable gig?
    The most memorable gig was when I played with my band at the time, Metal Sideburns, at Zero Station… It was wall to wall kids and teens because we’d made it under 18. Portland’s filled to the brim with 21+ venues, so we took over Zero Station for the night just for the kids.
  • What was your worst gig?
    The worst gig was at Yankee Lanes with Metal Sideburns. No one was there, we didn’t know our stuff at all, and there was a smoke machine at the far end of the place. It barely puffed out any smoke, and when it did it would evaporate when it got 10 feet in front of us.
  • What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
    Bjork’s Vespertine is a masterpiece… I want to reach that level.
  • What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
    I create my backing tracks ahead of time when it comes to performing, as I want to focus more on my voice and the acting side of it. I can go without any sort of equipment… except my albuterol. I can walk in a place and just do an a cappella set because my voice is loud… I may be The Asthmatic, but I’ve got pipes.
  • Any advice for a musician starting out?
    Advice? Check out bands you’ve never heard of before, talk to people at gigs, don’t leave before a show is over. That’s rude, and the other bands and/or the venue won’t want to book you again.
  • What was the origin behind your name?
    I’m called The Asthmatic because I AM an asthmatic. I was born with chronic lung disease.
  • What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
    I listen to “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops I Did It Again” by Britney Spears on repeat… a lot.
  • What was the first album/recording you owned?
    The first LP I ever bought was T. Rex’s The Slider. It’s stuck with me to this day.
  • What are you listening to at the moment?
    I’ve been listening to a lot of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Plasmatics, Angel Haze, Lady Sovereign, t.A.T.u., The Wipers, The Cigarettes (UK), MC Lyte, The Lady of Rage, Lydia Lunch, Daisy Chainsaw, and Diamanda Galas.
  • What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
    On June, 24th of 2016 I saw Sleep at the State Theater… You could feel the sound vibrating your bones. I was at the front, and one of the security guys had bottles of water near him. He’d walk up and down in a line pouring water in everyone’s mouths. The show was wet, I remember a lot of sweat.

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10Qs with Nick Perry of Nick Perry’s Brass Tax


Nick Perry is the leader of the eponymous Nick Perry’s Brass Tax.  The band released their debut album, Revisionist History, earlier this year.  Nick is also a former member of Emerson and Thoreau and All Moving Parts and an occasional contributor to this site, having reviewed several area concerts.  You can learn more about the band at nickperrysbrasstax.bandcamp.com or facebook.com/nickperrysbrasstax.

Brass ToysWhere were you born?
Rumford Hospital (I think)

What brought you to Portland?
USM. And the crippling debt is what kept me here.

Do you have a day job and, if so, what is it?
Bernstein Shur Sawyer and Nelson law firm (I’m a stage 4 lackey).

What was your most memorable gig?
November of 2012 with The Sidescrollers, buying Hacksaw Jim Duggan a drink and talking in-depth with him about Survivor Series ‘90 (The Hulkamaniacs vs. The Natural Disasters) and ’91.

August of 2014 with Pokelogan at Amigos where some dude was getting yanked behind our bass amp.

What was your worst gig?
Playing a show with Emerson and Thoreau way back when. A craft fair at a middle school. An old woman actually said the words “turn that racket down” to us.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
All of the generic answers (Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Zeppelin), Syd Barrett’s “The Madcap Laughs”, Big Star, Ween, “Roxy & Elsewhere”, “Rust in Peace”…wait, did you only want one answer?

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My guitar strap. I ain’t playing sitting down (I’m looking at you, Robert Fripp).

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Don’t be lazy. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t waste other people’s time by writing crappy music. Make it count.

What was the origin behind your band name?
I wanted a name that would fit comfortably in a grange hall or in a bingo parlor. I’ve always held myself to a high standard.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I’m a big fan of Marco Rubio’s first album “Crossin’ the Rubicon” featuring Miami Sound Machine.  I’ve been known to rock out to Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, as gross as that is to admit.

What was the first album/recording you owned?
This is a fuzzy memory. It was either the Wayne’s World soundtrack that I got a BJ’s Wholesale in Auburn or Tom Jones Greatest Hits

Brass Tax I

What are you listening to at the moment?
“Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs” and Prokofiev’s first three piano concerti have filled my last couple of hours.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
I saw Joe Walsh at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom last summer. Joe Walsh is the coolest son of a bitch of all time. Do you know how hard it is to become a full-time member of The Eagles and not lose one ounce of credibility? God bless you, Joe.

The Return Of Our Musician Database

When this site launched in 2010, one of the key features was a local music database.  The information had been culled from personal knowledge, user submissions, defunct sites, show listings, and many other sources.  Eventually, the original tool used to build the database no longer functioned and the information fell out of date.

Today we’re happy to announce that the database is back!  With almost 500 listings, it’s by far the most comprehensive listing of Maine-connected artists.  Does that mean the work is done?  No, not at all.  We need your help to keep the list growing!  If you see someone missing or information that needs to be updated, feel free to fill out our contact form.  Additionally, we have a queue of more artists to be added soon!

The list is meant to be a bit curated and we try to look for bands and performers who have made an impact; someone who has played shows in Maine in established or known DIY venues, released albums, played festivals, or received media attention.  Please be aware this list can never cover all musicians in the state.  There may be gaps in genres, time periods, and more, but we’ll do our best to continue building out this frequently requested resource.

Launch Database

Our Review: Vanessa Carlton at Asylum

vanessa-carlton-libermanDecember 5, 2015 – Entering Asylum to see Vanessa Carlton, I honestly wasn’t sure if I knew exactly what to expect. I knew the show was 21+, that my sister always brought out my inner 14 year-old belting out her music when she played White Houses on road trips, and that every time I heard the opening chords forA Thousand Miles, I wanted to cover my ears to prevent them from getting such a catchy riff stuck in them for weeks on end. Vanessa Carlton has always represented singer-songwriter pop for me. Sure, ear candy, but the kind that your grandma gave you in the little plastic wrappings to keep you quiet while shopping. The kind that you don’t admit that you secretly love, but always gives you that nostalgic warmth when you encounter it. Not necessarily the kind you get excited about, however. Before heading downtown that evening, my surprised roommate said to me, “Well, she certainly is talented,” which I shrugged off as I shut the door.

It has to be said that I underestimated Ms. Carlton completely. As I came in with four friends trailing behind me hoping to have this memory as a joke for later, Carousel was playing. I immediately came out with, “Oh, I forgot how many songs I actually know and like by her.” Going into her next song, “Tall Tales for Spring,” I was given chills. I began to notice the room, which was the most intimate seating I’d ever seen at Asylum. Everyone was quiet, listening intently. The movement of the music was powerful and reminded me of the soundtrack to The Snowman, the late ’80s animated silent film. I surprised myself as I teared up during the breakdown.

Before “White Houses,” Carlton’s storytelling really began to shape the movement of the entire performance. Her personality was genuine and her narrative about her brother’s trauma from the song’s popularity while he was in high school made you love her even more. Hearing the violin (played by Cartlon’s longtime dreamy collaborator, Skye Steele) open this tune just set the stage for the magic to come. Carlton’s featherweight fingers began to swell into the familiar melody, willing the audience to chime in with the third instrument of the composition: the echoing whispers of the lyrics surrounding the room. What a powerful unforgettable moment.

The rest of the set surrounded the newest material by Carlton and Steele, entitled: Liberman, named for her late grandfather’s surname at birth. Before entering into this part of the performance, Carlton explained “Liberman… Lives in it’s own space… a more euphoric territory.” Carlton’s folklore of the album as she moved through it song to song were told as vivid memories that the audience could adopt as their own to set the stage for the music. Her vocals were even more rich and etherial than I remember from her recordings.

My favorite song off the album that was performed was “House of Seven Swords,” named for a tarot deck. Before the song, Carlton explained, “It really showed me how we are each a sword, with two sides to each of our blades. This song is about courage and making choices about your character.” This completely resonated with my mid-twentysomething-year-old self. It began with a cathedral music type intro with the violin bellowing it’s power as her butterfly-on-glass voice sang, “Nobody can tell us how to build our house of seven swords,” in that flutter we all know and secretly love.

This new album mixes some of the same emotionally-entrenched, painterly lyrics, with the classical sound of her piano and Steele’s violin, with a more modern twist. A touch of electronic loops, light reverb and a consistent bass drum beat at a more dimensional shape to the new material. It’s Vanessa Carlton all grown up. She’s a vivacious person, a well-rounded performer, a storyteller, and a true artist in how she thinks about every part of her work and her collaboration, not only with Steele, but with the audience as well.

I didn’t cover my ears or escaped when “A Thousand Miles” was played after the loudest cheers in the room all night ended an elaborate story about how Carlton left ballet, and wrote the song. Instead I danced and sang the whole thing, then I escaped for a moment to contemplate, while she played her “Pretend we left the stage already and came back for an encore” finale: “The Marching Horn,” dedicated to those who have lost someone close to them.

Some graffiti in the building read, “What did you do to end patriarchy today?” I left with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I saw the wonderful woman, Vanessa Carlton grace our beautiful city with her moving performance. And I am so grateful.


  • Carousel
  • Tall Tales for Spring
  • White Houses
  • Take It Easy
  • Willow
  • House of Seven Swords
  • Operator
  • Blue Pool
  • Nothing Where Something Used to Be
  • Sinners in the Sea
  • A Thousand Miles
  • Hear the Bells
  • The Marching Horn

Please note: We received free admission in exchange for this review.

Who was Johnny Fountain?

Photo by Stephen Quirk, May 2009

This past Monday, Portland suffered a huge loss in the peaceful passing of our bright light and good friend, Johnny Fountain. You may remember him from his stunning performance at Arootsakoostik South this past summer, or his small, equally-powerful performance during the first night The Couch returned to Empire. Maybe you were his friend and made memories with him going on outdoor adventures, playing music, and spreading kindness and love through fun and lighthearted jokes. Maybe he was your bartender at the old Empire before it reopened. Maybe he walked you safely to your car, or saved you from getting creepily hit on. Maybe he introduced you to the love of your life. Maybe you loved him. Maybe, like me, you first saw him perform with the Panda Bandits on an amazingly fun night. Maybe you used to hear him play overhead at the First Friday Artwalk in the early days. Maybe you read his brave and honest Facebook posts about his ongoing battle with cancer. Maybe you attended a fundraiser to help him on his journey. Maybe you are just a friend of a friend who is grieving. In any case, if you have any involvement with the vibrantly rich music scene in our town, you have felt Jonny’s presence. While he’s passed beyond the rainbow bridge, you will probably still feel it in all of those that knew him, who will continue on in his legacy.

For those wanting to pay their respects, there will be a Songs and Stories Memorial for loved ones at Empire on Sunday, December 13 from 4-7PM*.

*Correction: It was previously stated that the Songs and Stories Memorial  would occur from 1-4PM instead of 4-7pm.