The Maine Academy of Modern Music, the non-profit Portland-based school for young pop, rock and hip hop musicians, will open on Wednesday afternoon it’s newest year-round, full-time school, located at 15 Main St. in downtown Machias.
The grand opening is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, with a ribbon cutting at the new facility, followed by a reception at Skywalker’s Bar & Grille at 86 Main St, with a show featuring live performances by local bands, including a group of Washington County teens that attended the Academy’s 2013 summer rock camp in Machias.
MAMM, as it’s popularly known, offers lessons in performance, recording and songwriting, as well as venues for young musicians to play in and networking opportunities. Its flagship Portland school and programming has attracted hundreds of young musicians since it started in 2007, and since 2008, MAMM has offered summer rock camps in Machias and Bar Harbor.
MAMM founder Jeff Shaw, a Machias native, said his experiences growing up in Washington County inspired him to start the organization in the first place.
“The original concept for MAMM grew out of my experiences growing up in Down East Maine. I always thought our communities would benefit from having a centralized network for musicians, educators, and students,” said Shaw. “Now that we have been able to build a strong foundation for our school in southern Maine, I am very excited to bring year round music education programming to Washington County this fall.”
MAMM Machias will be led by Kelly Bryand, a 2004 graduate of Berklee College of Music, a veteran instructor for MAMM, and also a Machias native. Bryand’s mother, Sandi Bryand, owner of Bags O’ Rags Thrift Store in Machias, donated the space for the new school.
“When [Kelly and I] were discussing his leaving our operation down [in Portland] to move back to Machias, he said, ‘We should just open one up here,’ since he was already doing the summer camps,” said Shaw. “As it turned out, his mom is very active in the community and very supportive of kids, and she had a few buildings that might be a good fit. She jumped at it. It’s worked out beautifully.”
Kelly Bryand hopes the new year-round facility will help fill a gap in programming available to creative young people in Down East communities.
“Working with MAMM in Portland was such a great experience. I thought it would be great to have something like MAMM Down East,” said Bryand. “There’s nothing like that here, and yet there are plenty of aspiring young musicians, and adults, who might want to take advantage of a deeper knowledge of music theory and the business of being a musician.”
MAMM Machias will offer a similar range of classes as are already offered in Portland, with the added offering of programs designed for at-risk rural youth in Washington and Hancock Counties.
“Especially as we move towards providing support for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity or be able to afford it, I think it could be a great contribution to the community,” said Bryand.