Let me first welcome May by wishing these randomly selected musicians and one famous housekeeper a very happy birthday. They were all born during the first week of May, and I salute them: Ray Parker Jr. (Who you gonna call?), Lily Allen, Engelbert Humperdinck, Lesley Gore, Christopher “Oh, the canvas can do miracles” Cross, Tammy Wynette and, last but not least, Ann. B. Davis (as in Alice).

On the local front, please join me in wishing our very own Zach Jones (Saturday) and Darien Brahms (Sunday) happy birthdays as well. In between all the cake and candles, I’ve got six — that’s right, six — shows to tell you about, and they all can set your world on fire if you let them.


Three days of local live music are going down at Empire starting tonight, and all proceeds will fund a new local music TV show. I don’t have much in the way of details about the show, but I can tell you that the lineups for all three nights are fantastic. Thursday night it’s Sly-Chi, Holy Boys Danger Club and Run. Come back Friday for Lost on Liftoff, Grand Hotel and Sophomore Beat. On Saturday, it’s Pete Kilpatrick, Zach Jones and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Be there one night or pick up a three-day pass. Cool.

Shipyard Presents: Live + Local. 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. Call 879-8988 for ticket information.


When I heard that Trevor Hall was chosen by MTV as one of the 20 emerging artists for 2010 in its “Subway Fresh Buzz” campaign, I wasn’t impressed because I haven’t cared about MTV since Martha Quinn left. However, upon listening to Hall’s songs “Unity,” “31 Flavors” and especially “Lime Tree” at www.myspace.com/trevorhall, I realized that maybe, just maybe, those people at MTV know what they’re talking about.

Hall released his debut self-titled album on the Vanguard label last year and has logged about a zillion road miles with Matisyahu, Colbie Caillat, and Michael Franti and Spearhead. After this current string of solo spring dates, he’ll join Jimmy Cliff on tour come July. Hall’s no stranger to the road — his touring days started at age 17. For a South Carolina-born Californian who is still only 23, Hall’s voice and music have got it going on in a huge way with reggae influences and social awareness to spare.

Trevor Hall. 9 p.m. Saturday. The Asylum, 121 Center St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. Tickets available at Bull Moose locations.


Long before he was a member of Headstart, Kevin Kennie was part of Shufflin’ Tremble, a local band that called it quits in 2000. During its seven-year stint, Shufflin’ Tremble saw more than 20 musicians come and go, and most of them went on to either join or form a drove of other bands including As Fast As, Rustic Overtones, Paranoid Social Club, Headstart, Trailor, Stars Look Down, Jetsetter and Apocalypse Brass Band. And so here we are, 10 years later, and the Shufflin’ Tremble gang is jonesin’ for a reunion and will be traveling from California, New York and all over New England to be here for two shows this weekend at the Big Easy. I say, welcome back.

Shufflin’ Tremble. 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Big Easy, 55 Market St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. Tickets $8 at Bull Moose music stores; $10 at the door.


Beat Circus is back in town, having released its latest CD, “Boy From Black Mountain,” last fall. This one’s the second part of Brian Carpenter’s “Weird American Gothic” trilogy, and it won the Independent Music Award for best alt-country album in 2009. Carpenter sings and plays harmonica, accordion, trumpet, harmonium and piano. I know, what a slacker. The rest of the band is on viola, saw, vocals, electric guitar, banjo, trombone, tuba, double bass, acoustic guitar and drums.

Upon dropping in at www.beatcircus.net and hearing “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” I wanted to paint my face, learn how to juggle something and either join the circus or hop a train. The album’s title track is a six-minute sojourn into a fascinating fable with gladdening strings, satiating brass and an olio of instrumental passageways into the Beat Circus imagination.

The evening will also be cause c?bre for Brooklyn-based La Strada, which will be unveiling its new CD, “New Home.” Guitars and drums will coalesce with cello, violin and accordion, and wondrous sounds will ensue. Venture over to www.myspace.com/lastradanyc and don’t be in a hurry to go anywhere because you’ve just got to listen to the infectious “Wash on By,” the textured with sunlight (and horns) “My New Home,” the kaleidoscopic “Starling” and the could-have-been-on-the-“Juno”-soundtrack “Loved You All Along.”

Rocklander Matt Rock will also be on hand with his accordion. He just spent the last two years in Europe touring with the sailing circus troupe Compagnie Aquanaut. Listen to him do his thing at www.myspace.com/slimstif.

Beat Circus with La Strada and Matt Rock. 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland. Ages 18 and older. $8; tickets at Bull Moose music stores and at www.brownpapertickets.com.


Singer-songwriter/pianist Rachel Efron is — technically — one of ours. She may call Berkeley, Calif., home, but she was born in Boston and grew up in Cape Elizabeth.

Efron’s second album, “4AM,” was released last summer, and I had a fine time taking in her gorgeous jazzy songs at www.myspace.com/rachelefron. “Crescent Moon” is slow like honey with enchanting imagery. “I could show you these maple trees naked in the cold, and I would give to you green and blue stories I have told,” Efron sings.

Co-headlining the show is Mainer Audrey Ryan. I first got wind of Ryan in 2007 by way of the CD “Dishes & Pills.” It’s teeming with the experimental, quirky sounds of guitar, keyboard, accordion and whatever else was within Ryan’s capable reach. The tracks “People” and “Later Alligator” are among my favorites to come out of Maine over the past few years. Last year she released “I Know, I Know,” and I know I need to get a copy because after hearing several samples online, I know I am digging it big time.

Rachel Efron and Audrey Ryan. 8 p.m. Saturday. One Longfellow Square, Portland. $12 in advance; $15 at the door. 761-1757; www.onelongfellowsquare.com.


Marco Benevento is a Brooklyn-based pianist (I wonder if he knows La Strada?) and he’s about to release his third album, “Between the Needles & Nightfall.” His Wednesday show at Space will be a trio performance along with his bass player Reed Mathis and drummer Andrew Barr.

I typically refrain from handing out praise for an artist’s Web site, but I can’t help myself after seeing www.marcobenevento.com/home.html with its nifty record player and wandering spraypaint can. It’s a perfect setting to hear Benevento’s scintillating composition “Call Home.”

You’ll also hear several other songs and demos, and by the time you tear yourself away from the site, the spell will be well cast and a dreamy, thoughtful smile will be bestowed upon your face. I found “Seems So Long Nancy” to draw me in the most with its curious affection.

Space also invites you to partake in a muy especial Cinco de Mayo cocktail hour hosted by Portland ensemble Treeyo, featuring drummer DJ Moore, keyboardists Tyler Quist and Hassan Muhamed, and Stu Mahan on bass.

Marco Benevento Trio with Treeyo. 8 p.m. Wednesday. Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland. Ages 18 and older. $10 advance tickets at Bull Moose locations and www.brownpapertickets.com; $12 at the door.


Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

[email protected]


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