Any doubt that summer isn’t here will surely be quelled by the launch of the Alive at Five series at Monument Square in Portland. Gather one and all at 5 p.m. Thursday for performances by two local acts — the Eric Bettencourt Band and the Lucid. And just up the street a bit, the sweet sounds of renovation waft from the State Theater as we collectively wait in blissful anticipation for its reopening this fall.

Oh yes, it’s all happening. Now here’s a three-show sampling of live music this week: 

Cary Brothers has already achieved something that I will be permanently impressed by: He got a song on the venerated “Garden State” soundtrack — “Blue Eyes.”

That was back in 2004 and since then he’s kept plenty busy, touring with Liz Phair, the Fray and KT Tunstall, among others. He’s also the co-creator of the traveling music show known as the Hotel Cafe Tour, which has been going strong for four years.

In April, Brothers released his second full-length album, “Under Control.” Give a listen at

Greg Laswell has also accomplished something that I’ll always be thankful for — he did a brilliant cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” making a song that has tortured me since 1983 tolerable and even quite enjoyable. He is, however, far from being a one-hit cover wonder. Laswell’s fourth studio album, “Take a Bow,” was released in May. “Take Everything” (with Ingrid Michaelson) has been lighting up local airwaves, and the rest of the record is nothing to sneeze at either.

Greg Laswell and Cary Brothers with Harper Blynn. 9:30 p.m. Friday. Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. $12 in advance; $15 at the door. 

Local experimental rock will be provided courtesy of the Baltic Sea, one of three acts playing at Apohadion on Friday night. You’ll also hear from Hadoken out of Amherst, Mass. Sample the group’s ambient aura at I especially recommend the song “Stations.”

The third act for this show is Irepress out of Sharon, Mass. The group’s sound is an amalgam of electronic, dance and metal. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. Hear for yourself at

The Baltic Sea with Irepress and Hadoken. 8 p.m. Friday. Apohadion, 107 Hanover St., Portland. All ages. $5. 

Folk-rocker Kevin Welch is back at it, having released a solo effort after a long break. It’s called “A Patch of Blue Sky,” and I gave a listen at

Welch is a longtime veteran of the bluegrass and honky-tonk circuit, and he started recording his solo stuff in the early ’90s.

He’s been immersed — one way or another, through various collaborations and projects — in music ever since. “A Patch of Blue Sky” (Music Road Records), released earlier this year, is his first solo record in eight years.

Welch is a gritty poet, a keen observer and a man who likes to tell it like it is, and does so with a convincing, seasoned voice. “That’s How It Feels” really spun my spurs: “These days are filled with beauty, beauty and sadness/ With a taste on my tongue like deep red wine, I’m glad to know that I don’t know nothing/ That’s how it feels, in this heart of mine.”

Along with his performance on Saturday night, Welch will be leading a songwriter’s workshop on Sunday. FMI on that, call 756-5651.

Kevin Welch. 8 p.m. Saturday. Deertrees Theatre & Cultural Center, 156 Deertrees Road, Harrison. $20. 583-6747;

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

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