Aimsel Ponti writes all things music for and regularly contributes to 207. Recently she's been on a musical journey, experimenting with new sounds, which led her to Alsarah & The Nubatones, who have a show in Portland this month. 

That's just one of four suggestions in this month's must-see concert picks... 

2nd Annual Music Video Portland Awards

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 10.

WHERE: One Longfellow Square, Portland.

HOW MUCH: $8 in advance, $10 at the door.


WHY GO: Music Video Portland is conceived and produced by HOT TRASH: Portland!, a community music and culture blog supporting local music and film in Portland, Maine. Created by HOT TRASH proprietor Victoria Karol, Music Video Portland carries on the locally-focused legacy of the wildly successful MVA awards established by Victoria in North Carolina, now in their 10th year. Nominees include KGFREEZE, Jamie Colpoys, Crystal Canyon, Dead Gowns, Shameek The God, The Very Reverend, Sarah Violette, Forget Forget, Tiger Bomb, Twin Grizzly, John Hughes Radio, last year’s winner Bri Lane (she won for Interstellar Lady)and more.

Alsarah & The Nubatones presented by Portland Ovations

WHEN: Thursday, January 17th

WHERE: Port City Music Hall, Portland

HOW MUCH: $25 general admission standing room, $35 general admission seated, $45 general admission preferred seating


WHY GO: Alsarah is a Sudanese born singer-songwriter and enthomusicologist (study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it). In the United States, she sang in several world music choirs and attended high school at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School. She studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, where she wrote her senior thesis on Sudanese Zār music. After graduating in 2004 she moved to New York City and began singing professionally in Arabic. Alsarah formed Alsarah and the Nubatones in 2010, with her sister, Nahid, on backing vocals as well as other musicians. They released their debut recording, Soukura EP, in 2014, followed by the full-length album Silt later the same year. They have toured Hungary, Portugal, France, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Sweden, and Lithuania.

Alsarah & the Nubatones were born out of many dinner conversations between alsarah and rami el aasser about nubian ‘songs of return’, modern migration patterns and the cultural exchanges between sudan and egypt. A common love for the richness of pentatonic sounds, and shared migration experiences, expanded the conversation to include armenian – american oud player haig manouki- an and french born togo raised bass player mawuena kodjovi. Under the leadership of alsarah, the brooklyn based group’s sound grew into what they have dubbed as ‘east – african retro-pop’. Since their first show in october of 2011, the group has performed nationally and internationally at many prestigious festivals and venues. With audiences varying in age and ethnicity, the nubatones has proven over and over that soul crosses all cultural and linguistic barriers.

Portland Symphony Orchestra a PSO Pops! presents Women Rock

WHEN: Saturday, January 19 and Sunday January 20.

WHERE: Merrill Auditorium

HOW MUCH: $25 to $83


WHY GO: WOMEN ROCK features the music of Carole King, Holly Knight, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Pat Benatar, Minnie Riperton, Heart and Carly Simon and honors these powerful female rockers and songwriters who changed rock and roll forever. Soloists include 2017 Grammy Award Nominee singer/songwriter Cassidy Catanzaro, star of A Night with Janis Joplin Katrina Rose Dideriksen and the Broadway, TV and Jazz vocal star Shayna Steele who most recently starred in Hairspray Live on NBC.

Some of the songs they’ll be playing are Piece of my Heart, Dancing in the Street, So Far Away, Upon the Roof, You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, I Feel the Earth Move, Flashdance…What a Feeling, Lovin’ You, Freeway of Love), Love is a Battlefield, Hit Me With Your Best Shot), Love Rock N’ Roll), These Dreams, Simply the Best and Proud Mary.


WHEN: Wednesday, January 23

WHERE: Port City Music Hall, Portland

HOW MUCH: $18 in advance, $20 day of show, $30 preferred seating


WHY GO: Lissie is a singer-songwriter out of Rock Island, Illinois. Her latest record is “Castles” released in March of last year. Real name is Elisabeth Corrin Maurus. Her debut EP was released in 2009 followed by the full-length “Catching a Tiger” in 2010 and “Back to Forever” in 2013 and “My Wild West” in 2016. Love her voice, there’s a huskiness to it. I’m still getting to know her music but she’s a well-established artist and I’ve loved everything I’ve heard including her fantastic cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”