Singer-songwriter Emma Ivy was 12 years old when she first felt the thrill of playing live at the Old Port Festival in Portland, which drew thousands of people each year.

“I felt like I was rock star,” said Ivy, 21, about performing with the student band Yard Sail. “It was definitely the biggest crowd we’d ever played for.”

Ivy, along with dozens of other Maine musicians, will get the chance to feel the thrill of playing to a festival crowd again on Sunday. That’s when the new Resurgam Music and Arts Festival is scheduled to be held at Thompson’s Point in Portland.

Maine Academy of Modern Music is organizing the new festival, partly to make up for the void left when the Old Port Festival ended its 46-year-run in 2019, but also to create a Portland event focused more sharply on the city’s thriving arts and culture scene, including musicians of all ages, said MAMM executive director and founder Jeff Shaw. MAMM had sponsored a stage at the Old Port Festival for many years.

Dave Gutter will perform at the Resurgam Music and Arts Festival. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Old Port Festival was created in the 1970s to draw people to that area of the city and make them aware of its restaurants and shops. But the Old Port today is arguably Maine’s hippest and most desirable dining and shopping destination, so festival organizers decided the event had outlived its usefulness.

While the Old Port Festival over the years brought in a few national musical acts, along with carnival-type rides, Resurgam will focus on local musicians, performers, crafters and food vendors, said Shaw. The festival Sunday will feature more than 60 musical acts or performance groups on six stages – five outdoors and one indoor venue. Of those, about 30 acts will include MAMM students, either in groups or as solo performers, and some MAMM faculty. The other half will represent a wide variety of Maine performers, from young musicians trying to build careers to veterans who have played all around the world. There will also be stages for performers of international music and for some non-musical performances, including readings and a hula hooper.

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The festival kicks off at noon with one of the most beloved features of the Old Port Festival, a parade featuring the towering puppets of Portland’s Shoestring Theater. Find a complete list of performers at maineacademyofmodernmusic.org.

Nance Parker, director of the Shoestring Theater, organizes the parade before the last Old Port Festival in 2019. Parker and the parade will be part of the new Resurgam festival on Sunday. Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

The festival’s name comes from the Portland city motto, adopted in 1832, which means “I shall rise again” in Latin. The city has risen from the ashes, literally, more than once – after being bombarded by the British Navy in 1775 and after a devastating fire in 1866. Shaw said he thought “resurgam” also would have special meaning right now, as we all look to get back to a more normal daily life after more than two years of COVID, including by celebrating arts and culture together.

“I think it’s a necessity for Portland to have something like this, where so much local talent will get a chance to be seen,” said King Kyote, whose real name is Jon King and who will play Resurgam’s rock stage Sunday. “There aren’t too many Maine music festivals so it’s killer we can get something going like this in Portland.”

King was seen by audiences across the country this spring when he represented Maine on NBC’s “American Song Contest.” Another well-known Maine musician playing at Resurgam is Dave Gutter who has had a 25-year career as a singer, songwriter and musician, best known as the frontman of the popular Maine band Rustic Overtones. Jeff Beam, a singer-songwriter who has toured the U.S. and Canada and manages the music venue One Longfellow Square, will perform on the rock stage.

Maine musician Jon King – who performs as King Kyote – was on NBC’s “American Song Contest” in March and will be at the Resurgam Music and Arts Festival on Sunday. Photo by Jukebooth Productions

Ivy is among the younger musicians who are not MAMM students and will play her original songs on guitar, accompanied by a drummer, on the festival’s outdoor acoustic stage. She is a product of MAMM programs and played the Old Port Festival four times as a MAMM student. Raised in Portland, she’s currently a student at New York University and, in 2020, released an album, “Aphid.” Other young or up-and-coming Maine artists performing at the festival include soul, jazz and R&B singer Angelikah Fahray and the Portland Conservatory Jazz Ensemble.

The six stages will be spread out at Thompson’s Point, a privately owned, 30-acre arts, entertainment, retail and events complex on the Fore River. The MAMM stage will be on the field by the water where the State Theatre hosts large concerts in the summer, while the community stage – featuring Portland Youth Dance and hula hooper Nettie Loops, among others – will be nearby under a giant train shed roof, where an ice skating rink is located in winter.

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The international stage will be located outside of the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine building, while the outdoor acoustic stage will be on the patio of the Rosemont Market and Wine Bar. The rock stage will be in the beer garden outside the event building known as Brick South, where crafters and other makers will sell their wares inside. Another acoustic stage will be inside Stroudwater Distillery.

Thompson’s Point in Portland – seen here hosting Guster in 2019 – will be the site of the new Resurgam Music and Arts Festival on Sunday. Photo by Matt Cosby

Besides the various stages, there will also be a children’s activity area featuring the Portland Public Library’s Bookmobile and printmaking.

The international music stage features musicians from around the world, based in Maine, performing a wide variety of music. Bondeko features members who are Albanian, Guinean and French, for instance. The Burnurwurbskek Singers represent many of Maine’s Wabanaki people, performing traditional songs. The Maine Marimba Ensemble draws inspiration from the traditional and contemporary music of Zimbabwe.

Batimbo United is a group of about 10 Portland-based drummers from the African nation of Burundi who have performed around the state and the U.S. and appeared at the inaugural gala for Gov. Janet Mills in 2019. Most group members knew each other growing up in Burundi and have been playing together as a group in Portland since about 2016. The group wears flowing robes in the colors of Burundi’s flag – red, white and green – and put on an energetic, fast-paced show. One big crowd-pleasing moment is when they play while balancing barrel-sized drums on their heads.

“When we met up here and decided to stay in America, we decided to do this to keep our culture alive,” said Yves Karubu, 40, one of the members. “We need to keep doing this so our kids will not forget.”


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