December 12, 2013

Making Noise: Lots of choices on same night and all of them are good

Patty Larkin, Eleanor Friedberger and ‘A Fine Winter’s Night’ present multi-faceted musical options.

By Aimsel Ponti
News Assistant

The term “positive stress” has always puzzled me. I mean come on, how can stress be positive? But now, thanks to three shows happening on the same night, I get it. I am indeed stressed, but in a positive way, about which show to catch.

click image to enlarge

Patty Larkin will bring her terrific voice and new songs from “Still Green” to her show at One Longfellow Square in Portland on Friday.

Jana Leon photo


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 on The Newsroom Sessions video page.

The choices are Patty Larkin, Eleanor Friedberger and “A Fine Winter’s Night” (although there’s another chance to see these four musicians). And since I stopped eating sugar, I can’t pop a roll of Spree as I listen to music by all of these acts and make a decision. What? Candy helps me think; or at least it used to. But here’s the sweet part (pun intended): Whatever show I end up at – and I’m thinking I may be able to catch two in the same night due to staggered start times – I am guaranteed a musically fulfilling night.

Along with The Cowboy Junkies’ “The Caution Horses,” we listened to Patty Larkin’s “Live in the Square” over Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve been a fan of Larkin’s since the late ’80s and have seen her a number of times over the years. She always puts on a fantastic show, because she’s a terrific singer, crazy-good songwriter, phenomenal guitarist and is charming and funny.

Her latest album is called “Still Green” and it’s yet another example of why Larkin has been a well respected singer-songwriter since she released her debut “Step Into the Light” in 1985.

A dozen records later, she is still at the top of her game. It was love at first listen with “Still Green.”

The opening track, “Best of Intentions,” shows off Larkin’s lyrical mastery sublimely: “The man in the hallway is cleaning up grief/The faithful will always fall back on belief/I wish there was something I could believe to belong/The best of intentions all get up and leave before long.” And then the cello comes in and I am done for.

“It Could Be Worse” also kills me. Larkin’s vocals rip my heart apart. I love that. Before I have a chance to collect myself, “Soon As I’m Better” starts and now I’m really in trouble. Larkin’s acoustic guitar and Catherine Bent’s cello are to blame. The words don’t help my cause one bit: “Soon as I’m better/We’ll be humming/Some little ditty, some little poem.”

Clocking in at under two minutes, “New Hotel” is another feather in Larkin’s much-plumed hat. It’s a bittersweet slice of life that doesn’t need much time to be effective and memorable.

I bow to Patty Larkin. I first discovered her during my radio days at Keene State College and album after album, she continues to be a favorite. Never seen her live? Just go. Trust me.

Patty Larkin. 8 p.m. Friday. One Longfellow Square. 181 State St., Portland. $25 in advance; $30 day of show.

NEXT UP IS Eleanor Friedberger, the singer-songwriter from indie-rock band The Fiery Furnaces. She’s on the road in support of her second solo album, “Personal Record,” and is making a stop in Portland. Friedberger is a seriously cool cat and she lets us know it – and hear it – over the course of a dozen songs.

“Echo or Encore” is my favorite at the moment. “The silence with noise, with your song and your voice/ I adore you as before, your echo or your encore,” sings Friedberger with a clear, alto voice.

Eleanor Friedberger. 9 p.m. Friday. Port City Music Hall. 504 Congress St., Portland. $10 in advance; $12 day of show. 18-plus.

ONE MORE SHOW to go. This show’s got the magnetic pull of two duos to pull you toward it: Boston-based Matt & Shannon Heaton and Vermont-based Lissa Schneckenburger and Corey Dimario are bringing their blend of traditional folk and original carols to warm you up more than a drive-through hot cocoa and three pairs of Smart Wool socks.

You’ll hear voices, guitar, bouzouki, Irish flute, accordion, fiddle and double bass. Their show is called “Fine Winter’s Night” and the duo of duos are celebrating the season with a musical cocktail of songs you’ll know and songs you’ll come to know and love. Go here: and here:

Matt and Shannon Heaton and Lissa Schneckenburger and Corey Dimario. 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Strand. 345 Main St., Rockland. $15.

And here’s another chance to catch this show!

7 p.m. Wednesday. Acoustic Artisans. 594 Congress St., Portland. $20.

Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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