Fans cheer at the end of Mumford & Sons’ first song during the Gentlemen of the Road tour at the Eastern Prom in Portland in 2012. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

If you’re a live music lover, it’s easy to slip into full-on despair over how the pandemic has impacted our ability to go to shows. All the ticket refunds in the world can’t replace the roar of the crowd and those thrilling moments when the artist first takes the stage.

Missing the daylights out of the live music experience and having a little concert-related fun aren’t, however, mutually exclusive. To help bring a little levity to an otherwise sad situation, consider recreating a little live music magic in your own backyard. You’ll want to have your favorite live album ready to blast and might we suggest a few other elements: Have a lighter on hand and hold it up during one of the slower songs, have someone in your household who is taller than you obstruct your view for a song or two, spill beer or some other liquid on yourself at least once, shoot a few blurry cell phone photos or jittery video clips of your antics and sing, yell, clap, dance and cheer with joy.

But do not, under any circumstances, yell out “Free Bird.” You’re better than that.

Who would have ever thought we’d be in this situation? Entire tours have been canceled, venues and artists are reeling and many of us live music fans are hanging by a thread. The day will come when it’s safe to gather, safe to see live music and safe to high-five the person next to you because the band just played your favorite song. Until then, let’s keep things in perspective and stay positive while we ride this thing out. Together.


Four of Maine’s biggest outdoor music venues are Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row in Westbrook, Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor and Savage Oakes Vineyard & Winery in Union.

At all of these venues, all summer shows are either canceled, postponed or are still pending with the hopes of rescheduled dates that will keep tickets in the hands of fans.

Did you have tickets to the canceled Norah Jones with Mavis Staples show at Thompson’s Point on July 22? Instead, watch Jones’s “2007 Live from Austin, TX” DVD, which is on YouTube. There’s also a fantastic documentary called “Mavis!” with all sorts of interviews and decades worth of live performance clips from the legend.

Maybe you had plans to see Nickelback with Stone Temple Pilots on July 15 at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion. Fear not, even a cursory glance on YouTube revealed a ton of live performance footage to tide you over until Nickelback is able to tour again and there are a few hilarious satirical clips about the polarizing rock band. We aren’t here to judge. Like what you like without apology!

Savage Oakes Vineyard & Winery has Blues Traveler on its schedule for Aug. 15, but it’s only a matter of time before it’s officially canceled. You can still support the winery by placing a curbside pickup order at They’re also able to ship to several states, if you’re unable to make it to Maine this summer because of the coronavirus. Surely a bottle of Twilight red will help ease the pain.

It’s also worth mentioning that the multi-day Ossipee Valley Music Festival in Hiram that happens every July has been postponed until next year. Same goes for the annual North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, which was also scheduled to take place next month. The Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival happens every June and August in Litchfield. At present, the June one is canceled and they’re in a holding pattern for the end of August.


Public parks and spaces all over Maine host summer concert series, including Fort Allen Park on Portland’s Eastern Promenade, Mill Creek Park in South Portland and Waterfront Park and City Park in Bath, all of which have canceled their summer music series. It’s likely the same story statewide, but be sure to check the websites and Facebook pages of your favorite public summer spots, as some may be able to present shows for smaller crowds.

But most of these spaces are still open to the public, so you can hang out there this summer if you practice social distancing. Portland’s Eastern Prom often has a handful of food trucks on any given day,  like Falafel Mafia and Mr. Tuna. Pack a picnic or hit a food truck and plunk yourself down for an hours-long lounge session and listen to some local music while you sun yourself.

Left to right, Max Caitlin, Colin Winsor and Ryan Haliburton of Ryan Haliburton and the Stills perform at Portland Lobster Company in Portland in 2017. Joel Page/Staff Photographer)


Restaurants, bars and breweries offer a huge array of different stages that local musicians play all summer long, and here’s where it gets tricky.

Smaller gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed this summer starting on June 1. But will establishments, event organizers and performers feel comfortable putting on shows? Would you feel comfortable going to one as a fan? Both of these questions are riddled with gray area variables, though for some, things seem pretty clear.

Portland pizza restaurant Slab typically has a robust summer music series on its patio, but for now it’s been shelved, so place a gigantic order and livestream a show from When Particles Collide, a Maine rock duo who has played the venue and continue to stream shows from their Facebook page.

At the moment, it’s not clear whether Portland Lobster Company will be able to have live music on its deck. But you can get a lobster roll to go and listen to Jason Spooner or Pete Kilpatrick at home, as they both have played there countless times over the past several summers.

From the safety (and social distance) of one’s own car is another option. Jimmy the Greek’s in Old Orchard Beach has been offering that experience for the past few weeks and will continue to do so. Wednesday through Sunday, you can park in the lot in a measured out spot and hear live music while you eat takeout from the restaurant.

Think of any place you’ve ever seen local music outside in Maine and consider supporting that business, and also heading to your favorite band’s website to buy music and merchandise.

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