As we near the end of 2021, I find myself feeling immense gratitude for many members of the Maine music community. To the reopening of places like the State Theatre to all of the streaming shows and new music that happened this year, my glass and ticket stub jar are way more than half full.

Honestly, I’m still worried about COVID-19, especially with the number of cases and hospitalizations I read about nearly every day. But that fear doesn’t preclude the joy I feel about other things that have happened in 2021, especially when it comes to music. So as I get ready to sit down next week with plenty of mashed potatoes, stuffing and a booster shot, I’m taking a few moments to give thanks.

Please join me in looking back while you think about some of your own favorite musical moments. Maybe you’re a hardcore Pete Kilpatrick or When Particles Collide fan who streamed the heck out of their shows. Perhaps you made donations during streamed performances from places like the Camden Opera House or Cadenza in Freeport. Did one of your favorite Maine artists put out new music? Maybe you made your way to Bull Moose and picked up a copy. One thing’s for sure, there was plenty to be happy about on the music front. Here’s my gratitude list.

Thank you to singer-songwriter Sara Hallie Richardson for the Feb. 19 performance at The Halo at Thompson’s Point of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album. I had bought my spouse Tracy and I two of just 24 tickets to see  Richardson and her band. We had our own loveseat, as did 11 other parties, and we were well spaced out. This was my first live show of the pandemic and to say it was surreal is a mother of an understatement. Wearing my “Blue” album cover face mask and basking in the beauty of the gorgeous, cavernous space that had been created and magnificently lit, I felt lucky to be there. Richardson, accompanied by pianist Emmett Harrity, bassist Rob Gerry, guitarist Evan Haines and drummer (and husband) Dustin LeVasseur, did sublime justice to the album from “All I Want” to “The Last Time I Saw Richard.”

Thank you to Genevieve Stokes, who released her EP “Swimming Lessons” on March 5 and told me all about it during an interview. The EP is on the storied Atlantic Records label, and as I sit here now in November, the track “Surface Tension” has more than 3.5 million streams on Spotify. and the video has racked up more than 200,000 views on YouTube. She’s an extraordinary talent who is just getting started in what will hopefully be a long, successful career. Remember her name.

Tyler Arnold, Colin Winsor and Owen Conforte at Portland Lobster Company on May 9. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Thank you to Portland Lobster Company for bringing back your live, local music series out on your deck. I hit it in early May for a show from Owen Conforte and had a heck of a good time. Shows ran all summer long, seven days a week and well into September.

Thank you to Love By Numb3rs and Aura for the June 18 show that had me crying on stage introducing the band and reuniting with many friends and members of the local music community. I’ll never forget that night.

Thank you to Vinegar Hill Music Theatre in Arundel and pianist George Winston for helping me have an epic birthday night on July 2. Wow. Just wow. I texted my brother Tom a few clips of the show, and he was super jealous. As the baby of the family, this pleased me immensely.

Thank you to Ken Bell and Portland House of Music along with funk act Gina & The Red Eye Flight Crew for the July 5 reopening show. Gina Alibrio and her band tore the roof off the joint that night. They’re still finding parts of it out on Temple Street.

A message on the State Theatre marquee in Portland during the pandemic. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Thank you to Lauren Wayne and her staff for never giving up and reopening Thompson’s Point with a bang on July 30 for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Ditto for the Aug. 27 Brandi Carlile show which ended up being one of the most incredible live music nights of my entire life. And while I’m at it, thanks to Wayne and company for reopening the State Theatre in September with a fantastic show from Melissa Etheridge.

Thank you to Stone Mountain Arts Center for quietly doing your thing all these months with shows, expanded dining options and your second-to-none hospitality. Dar Williams was sensational on Oct. 1 and Paula Cole knocked everyone’s socks off on Nov 13. And I’m still full from Carol Noonan’s chicken pot pie.

Thank you to One Longfellow Square for hanging in there and reopening the second weekend of October with shows from Maine folk singer Jonathan Edwards as well as singer songwriters Patty Larkin and Jonatha Brooke. I went to the Brooke show, and although historically I tend to sit in the back of the room by the door in a corner, this time I got there early and sat right the heck up in the front row.

Thank you to every venue in the state that I didn’t officially mention. I see you Blue, Sun Tiki Studios, The Grand, The Strand, Chocolate Church Arts Center, Saco River Theater, Space Gallery, The Dance Hall, Merrill Auditorium and every other tiny and huge stage in Maine. You all matter. So very much.

Thank you to every artist in Maine who released new music. This list is not even close to being all-inclusive but it’s a decent start: Kate Beever, Laurie Jones, Dave Gutter, Hiss & Chambers, Rustic Overtones, Owen Conforte, Love By Numb3rs, Roan Yellowthorn, Stray Bikes, King Kyote, Mallett Brothers Band, Bait Bag, Weakened Friends, Dominic Lavoie, An Overnight Low, Alice Limoges, Stephanie Atkins, Oshima Brothers, Jim Baumer, Andrew LaVogue, Lynn Deeves, Halley Elwell, GoldenOak, Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems. Muddy Ruckus, Weakened Friends, Crystal Canyon, Dustin Saucier, Monique Barrett, Renee Coolbrith, Joel Thetford, Buck T. Edwards, Tom DiMenna, Hannah Harleen, Dilly Dilly, Xander Nelson, Habyll, Lynda Mandolyn, Gentle Temper, Jennifer Porter, Gumby Liars, We Demand Parachutes, Zeme Libre, Terry Duddy & Friends, Jacob McCurdy, Midnight Breakfast, Stephanie Atkins, Modern Clarion, SeepeopleS, Now is Now, Tim Winchester and Lucas Roy. Off the top of my head …

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