Resurgam Music Festival returns this weekend with music, art and more

There’s a lot to love about free concerts.

You don’t have to think about ticket prices or whether you can stay the entire trip. You don’t have to worry about whether this is your favorite genre. You just show up and see where the music takes you.

“Free shows are always special. It brings people together in such a sweet way,” said Sean Oshima of Maine’s Oshima Brothers. “It’s just one of the best things about it.”

Big Island to perform for free in front of thousands of people Sunday The 3rd Resurgam Music and Arts Festival. Events include a full day of free performances by Maine musicians, dancers and artists near the Ocean Gateway Marine Terminal on the east end of the Portland Harbor waterfront from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The event kicks off with a parade led by Portland’s Little Shoelace Theater and its giant puppets, and will feature approximately 50 performances by artists and musicians from across the state. There will be more than 30 performances by the festival’s organizer, the Maine Institute of Contemporary Music. Some of Maine’s professional music acts include: The Oshima Brothers, a pop and rock band that also headlines the festival; Muddy Ruckus, an American duo; Midnight Breakfast, an indie soul sextet; Rock Band Primrose; and the violin ensemble “Fiddler Three”.

The Oshima Brothers will perform at the Resurgam Music Festival on Sunday. Photo courtesy: Oshima Brothers

The festival is free thanks to sponsors and partners, including this year’s major sponsor Otto’s Pizza Restaurant. Jeff Shaw, executive director of MAMM, said the event was held on Sunday to take advantage of free parking throughout Portland. Event and concert stages will be in or near the Ocean Gate Marine Terminal building and surrounding outdoor areas, near the corner of Thames Street and Hancock Street.

MAMM launched Resurgam in 2022, in part to fill a void in the city’s arts and cultural life when the Old Port Festival ended in 2019 after 46 years. The Old Port Music Festival is also held in early June as a summer kickoff event, providing showcase opportunities for local musicians and artists, including many MAMM students.

The first Resurgam Festival was held at Thompson’s Point on the Fore River, just off Congress Street. But Shaw said MAMM hopes to move Resurgam to Portland’s Old Port to allow for more parking and better access.

Shaw said last year’s festival, held for the first time on the waterfront, attracted about 7,500 people, compared with 5,000 when it was held at Thompson’s Point. He said the convenient transportation and beautiful location, sandwiched between the historic brick buildings and harbor scenery of the Old Port, fit well with the festival’s mission. This year’s festival is also extended by one hour compared to last year, until 7 p.m.

“We hope this event celebrates the heart and soul of Portland, including its arts and children,” Shaw said. “It’s a great place for the community to come together.”

Resurgam is a showcase for young musicians (and some adult musicians) who have taken courses through MAMM or joined an orchestra guided by a MAMM instructor. Eleven-year-old Aleta Krajewski will be attending her third Resurgam music festival on Sunday, when she takes the stage with her punk rock band The Phreakers.

Krajewski is a sixth-grade student at Thornton Academy in Saco, where she sings and plays keyboards. She said the festival was a great opportunity to see what other MAMM ensembles were creating, and a rare opportunity for her ensemble to perform new music to a large and diverse audience.

“It’s always great because we get to share what we’re doing with a lot of people,” Krajewski said. “It’s really fun to play in front of so many different people.”

The festival’s name comes from the city of Portland’s motto, adopted in 1832, which is Latin for “I Will Rise Again.” Announcing the new festival in early 2022, Shaw said he thought “resurgam” would have special significance at that moment as everyone looks forward to returning to more normal daily life after more than two years of COVID-19, including celebrating the arts and Culture together.

The festival retains some of the traditions and elements of the Old Port Festival, including the Shoelace Theater parade and puppets, as well as multiple music stages, as well as food trucks and food vendors. But Resurgam also has many local arts or youth groups organizing demonstrations or family events.

Max Abraham walks through Moon Tide Park while performing with the band Corpus Chicanery at last year’s Resurgam Music Festival. Sean Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Some of these include: Maine Children’s Museum and Theater; Love Lab Studio, a children’s and community arts space; SailMaine, which will offer sailing tours; Portland Museum of Art; Hustle Dance Studio; Portland Youth Dance; and PA Palaver Music Center offers early childhood music classes.

In addition to music and dance performances, other performers include storyteller Mike Burns and professional hula hoop and circus artist Nettie Loops, presented by the Irish Heritage Center of Maine ). Space, a Portland arts and performance venue, will help kids create their own music videos and post them online.

Shaw said that while a full schedule of performances was not available as of press time, it will be posted on the festival website.

Founded by Sean Oshima and Jamie Oshima of Whitefield, Oshima Brothers has been playing professionally for six years and is well-known in Maine. But this will be the first time the orchestra has played Resurgam. In late June, the band will embark on a Northeast tour.

Sean Oshima says he’s been looking forward to playing Resurgam for months.

“It brings together musicians of all ages, people who have never been on a stage and people who have been on hundreds of stages,” Oshima said. “We get to celebrate and rock out on the water in Portland. It’s a summer’s dream come true.

Portland alternative rock band John Hughes Radio performs during the 2023 Resurgam Music and Arts Festival. Sean Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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