More than six months after COVID-19 hit Maine, the music scene is still shut down. Will it ever return, and what will it be like? Press Herald arts reporter Bob Keyes and music writer Aimsel Ponti lead a discussion about the future of live music with singer-songwriter Samuel James, State Theatre general manager Lauren Wayne, and Maine Music Alliance executive director Scott Mohler.

Samuel James is an award-winning singer/songwriter as well as a world-touring musician and storyteller. For more than a decade he has performed extensively throughout the United States as well as more than 20 other countries, back when you could do that kind of thing. James is also a staff writer for and his long-standing column ‘Racisms’ can be found monthly in Mainer Magazine and on their website.

Lauren Wayne is the General Manager of Crobo LLC which owns and operates the State Theatre and the recently closed Port City Music Hall, as well as serving as the director and buyer for the State Theatre summer concert series at Thompson’s Point.   In 2019, Lauren and her team hosted more than 250 concerts in Portland. In 2010, she oversaw the complete renovation of the historic State Theatre and, with the help of the best staff in the business, has steered the venue into becoming one of the most active and successful music venues in New England.   The State Theatre was ranked by Pollstar as 2019’s #24 club in the world according to ticket sales.

In addition to co-founding Maine Music Alliance, Scott Mohler is also a musician and booking agent based in Peaks Island, ME. He has been active in the industry as a professional for 5 years while running Eminence Arts. Eminence Arts has worked with many of the best known bands in New England and currently represents Rustic Overtones, Jaw Gems, Hayley Jane, and many more. As a musician, he has been fortunate enough to play with most everyone in town at one point or another.  He has a passion for Maines music scene and is honored to have role in preserving and protecting what we have all worked so hard to build during this difficult time.

Bob Keyes writes about the visual and performing arts for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He appreciates that his job requires him to visit museums and attend plays and concerts across Maine, and most enjoys interviewing artists in their studios. He’s a New Englander by birth, and has lived in Maine off and on, most recently since 2002. He lives in Berwick with his wife and son.

Aimsel Ponti Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a music journalist and content producer at the Portland Press Herald. She started as a freelancer in 2003 and has been full-time since 2011. Her weekly Face the Music column has been running in the Press Herald magazine section since August of 2003. Aimsel also does artist interviews, show reviews, event previews, and food reviews for the Press Herald. For the past five years, Aimsel has hosted Music from 207, the local music show on 98.9 WCLZ, which airs at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Additionally, she has been appearing monthly for the past five years on the Newscenter Maine show 207, where she previews upcoming live music performances.

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