Aimsel: The anatomy of a music fan

February 6

Making Noise: Anatomy of a music lover

Aimsel Ponti traces the pathways of her passion for music.

By Aimsel Ponti
News Assistant

I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me “Wow, you must really love music” and have asked if it’s been a lifelong love. So I thought it was time to tell you my story of how it all began and evolved for a kid growing up in 1970s Massachusetts.

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LISTEN IN: Turn your radio dial to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top live music picks for the week with the Captain and Celeste.

CATCH LOCAL and national acts performing live at the Press Herald on The Newsroom Sessions video page.

Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Mass., my hometown, certainly gets some of the credit. I distinctly recall checking out a Monkees record and being a tiny tot cranking “Daydream Believer” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” with unfettered glee.

The back of the Ponti family wood-paneled station wagon is where I heard many FM radio hits way back when, including “Run Joey Run” by David Geddes, “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago, “Beth” by Kiss and “Garden Party” by Ricky Nelson. “Garden Party” still ranks among my all-time favorite songs.

I remember listening to Ike & Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” in our living room and thinking it was the greatest thing in the universe. A few years later, my parents were all about the Donna Summer double-album “Live and More,” and I will always adore “MacArthur Park,” despite not understanding why anyone would leave something as wonderful as a cake out in the rain.

When junior high rolled around, I happily jumped on the Journey and Asia bandwagons and by that point had the requisite boom box and ever-growing collection of cassettes.

But then one Sunday afternoon I went to a flea market in nearby North Reading, Mass., and made one of the most important purchases of my life: I paid $1 for a copy of The Rolling Stones album “Let It Bleed.” It remains, by far, my favorite Stones album and every song on it is spectacular. Ironically, my favorite is sung by Keith Richards. It just doesn’t get much better than “You Got the Silver.”

The Rolling Stones quickly led me to the person I consider my all-time favorite musician: David Bowie. “Let’s Dance” was my admission ticket and I worked my way backwards. At that same flea market I bought “Space Oddity” and over the next couple of years pretty much everything else by him I could get my hands on. My bedroom became a Bowie shrine and my collection of imports, picture discs and such is impressive.

During my early Bowie years is when I started down a path of musical discovery that would forever seal my fate as someone who needs music as much as air and food. Looking back, I don’t think I realized how good I had it living so close to Boston. First off, the access to record stores: I found many gems at Second Coming, Mystery Train, Nuggets Records and Rockit in Saugus.

Secondly, the concerts. It all began in the summer of 1984. My first show was The Go-Go’s on the Boston Common. I was there to see the opening act, INXS. Turns out INXS’s plane was delayed and they were a no-show, but I’d be lying if I said Belinda and company didn’t put on a fun show.

However, it was the second concert that really got things going for me. The Psychedelic Furs played at The Orpheum in downtown Boston. Talk Talk opened the show. Both bands were phenomenal. I still have the ticket stub.

Over the next several years I ventured back to Boston many times for The Smiths, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, New Order, Depeche Mode, INXS (finally) and many others. A friend even managed to get us front-row seats to see R.E.M. at The Wang Center. They were on the road supporting “Life’s Rich Pageant.” Suffice to say, I died at least nine times that night, such was the intensity and perfection of that show.

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Kate Schrock made an impression on Aimsel Ponti soon after Ponti moved to Portland in the mid-’90s.

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