Festival to bring free music to Portland

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PORTLAND — Filling the city with sound is the goal of the annual Make Music Portland festival, which will have its fifth anniversary next week.

Held every year on the summer solstice, musicians – ranging from full-fledged bands to soloists – will display their talent at a variety of both public and private locations around the city.

This year’s concerts, all of which are free and open to the public, will run from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. June 21 and will include 80 different artists playing at venues from Deering Oaks Park to Longfellow Square.

“The idea is to bring free music to spots all over the city,” said Catherine Tanous, a founder of the event.

Make Music Portland is part of a larger, global event called Make Music Day, she said, which takes place in more than 700 cities and 120 countries around the world.

This year’s festival takes place on a Wednesday, and a full schedule can be found at the event website, makemusicportland.org.

“Being in the middle of the week is new for us, but we’re hoping that a lot of people still come out to listen,” Tanous said.

In addition to the wide variety of live music available, there will also be a number of kid-friendly events, such as harmonica lessons, a ukulele jam session, a hand drumming circle and a contra dance.

Along with Make Music Portland, other local organizations have also stepped up to take part this year.

A full schedule of performances curated by the 317 Main Community Music Center, a Yarmouth nonprofit, will take place at Post Office Plaza. The Friends of Fort Sumner Park are also hosting a sunset concert at the East End Park.

The friends’ group is encouraging attendees to bring a picnic supper while they enjoy a performance by Peter Blackstone and friends. The concert is set to start at about 6:15 p.m.

“We want Portlanders to be able to enjoy the local talent all around them and, at the same time, we want local music makers to have a chance to show off their stuff,” said Max Mogensen, another event founder.

“We’ve been really pleased by the response we’ve gotten from both the public and musicians over the years,” he added. “Ever year our visibility and reach seems to grow.”

Mogensen said Make Music Portland organizers provide very little guidance to musicians, other than reminding them the festival is a family-oriented event.

“We really want musicians to be free to express themselves. The main point of the event is to make noise, and we invite and even encourage people to be as zany, expressive, loud or unorthodox as they like,” he said.

Each individual set throughout the day usually runs for about 45 minutes to an hour, Mogensen said.

“After that, a new performer typically takes over the venue. However, performers often sign up for multiple spots at different venues around town and many play for several hours throughout the day.”

Mogensen said there are “always a few standouts; often young musicians that blow Catherine and me away. Seeing returning musicians and discovering the talented new ones is probably my favorite part of the event.”

Mogensen said Make Music Portland will have more private venues hosting performances than ever before, including b.good, Cool as a Moose, The Thirsty Pig, Ri Ra, The Porthole, and Andy’s Old Port Pub.

“The mission of our event is rooted in community,” Mogensen said. “To that end, we would love for people to come join us on June 21.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

The Make Music Portland festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary with concerts spread all over the city on June 21.

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