LIVE REVIEWS:May 2010

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LIVE REVIEWS MAY 2010

LiveGregHawkes301.jpg

THE GREG HAWKES UKELELE TRIO,

CASEY DESMOND

The Magic Room, Brighton, MA
4/3/10

As I walk up the
stairs I’m thinking, it’s so appropriate that this eclectic presentation
is happening in the Magic Room: it’s got a great sound system, overhead
projection light show, and intimate setting make it the most unique
place to see a performance today. Casey Desmond is a very talented woman;
her fantastic voice and superior songwriting are the focal points of
her performance, and the great guitar work of Taylor Barefoot and the
vibrant vocals of second singer Cassandra Milone make their set sparkle
song after song. Melodies in “Hot Bot” and “Chilly Allston”
are majestic sounding with somewhat of an orchestral feel behind them;
almost like Brahms fronting Queen and/or Genesis. Tonight’s setup:
no bass or drums with Casey playing percussion with her left hand on
the keyboards ala Ray Manzark is intellectual art rock at its best and
the packed room really enjoys this jazzy vibe in a rock ’n’ roll
environment.

Headliner
Greg Hawkes (the Cars) comes on and performs Beatles, Cars, and original
songs with his latest project that includes just three ukeleles! How’s
THAT for avant? Hearing “Eleanor Rigby” and “Strawberry Fields
Forever” played this way really knocks me out: the psychedelic feeling
and spaciness of “Strawberry Fields” captured by only twelve strings
is remarkable. And when Duran Duran producer Anthony Resta comes out
of the audience and does an improv/spoken word piece that includes his
own poetry, and is backed by Greg and Casey, this on-the-spot creativity
seems quite appropriate for the night. An intriguing show. A very different
drama.
(AJ Wachtel)

WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY
OF BROKEN TOYS,
THE STEAMY BOHEMIANS,
ANDY O’FEISH,
DEZRAM THE STRANGE,

TITLER, MARY DOLAN
,
and more

Jerkus Circus
AS220, Providence, RI
3/20/10

Jerkus Circus is about
140 minutes in a variety show format with elements of vaudeville, burlesque
and carny sideshow performed, this evening, in a jam-packed sidewalk-level
room full of uncomfortable fold-out chairs. To highlight: Mary Dolan
does a novel turn impersonating a foul-mouthed octogenarian with some
tossed-off quips about her own impending death that get some of the
biggest laughs of the night. A series of performances by Walter Sickert
& the Army of Broken Toys—featuring Americana and roots music,
and songs that seem cracked around the edges—are somewhat akin to
the Pet Sounds orchestra plopped down into the rough and ready world
of E.C. Segar’s Popeye. Solo performer Titler is a man in an evening
gown, with a tooth-brush mustache, whose catchy novelty “UFO Song”
is the outstanding number of the evening, itself worth the price of
admission. Most notable of the carny sideshow acts is Dezrah the Strange,
who combines a hoary card trick with a full-fledged psychic surgery. The
revolutionary Andy O’Feish does a self-deprecating Jack Benny schtick.
Only he does it naked. There are also mock-profound poetry recitals,
and plenty of tasteful but tumescence-inducing burlesque numbers. The
two hostesses, aka the Steamy Bohemians, keep the evening lively with their
schtick which features some cute running gags, one featuring the memorably
quotable line “I’ll cut a bitch’. They also perform a series of appealing
novelty song numbers, of which the show-closer “Sextown” is the
cleverest. I’ve sat through and, on occasion, hosted literally hundreds
of these types of shows, and as far as I could tell, a good time was
had by all—and certainly by me. (Francis DiMenno)

MR. CURT ENSEMBLE,
BONNIE GORDON,

THEA HOPKINS,
BIRD MANCINI,
ANDY HOLLINGER,
GLENN WILLIAMS,

DOCTOR X
and more

Across Their
Universe Record Release Party

Johnny D’s,
Somerville, MA

4/13/10

I have great interest in coming to this release party because 22 years ago I put out Boston Does the Beatles, with more than 30 local artists contributing, and I can’t wait to see how this next generation of local artists interpret the Beatles—and I am not disappointed. Nineteen local bands get onstage and tear the club off its foundations. The place has a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters and from the beginning when Doctor X does “Across The Universe” the energy of the club keeps increasing. “Honey Pie” by multi-instrumentalist Glenn Williams on uke, is stunning in a nouveau-vaudevillian way and is typical of some of the B-side hits that were chosen to be interpreted. “Long Long Long,” “Blue Jay Way,” and “Within You Without You” are some of the other lesser-known Beatles compositions that are covered extremely well. I notice that the Beatles songs picked and being performed don’t stick to one era of the Fab Four’s collective career, but are chosen from the early: “You Can't Do That”, the middle: “Eleanor Rigby”, and the end: “Don’t Let Me Down” (done by a red-hot Bird Mancini). And the artists also do these songs in two ways: totally interpreted differently than the original, like Mr. Curt Ensemble’s “Not A Second Time” with that great “no, no, no, no, no, no, no” created by the ever-avante Mr. Curt, to more deliberate straight covers of their songs like “Yesterday” by Margaux. Both types go over great with the cheering people. Thea Hopkin’s acoustic version of “Fixing A Hole” led by her great vocals also is a standout. This night is a lot of fun and I’m grinning from beginning to end from the impressive line-ups I’m watching pay homage to the mop-tops. The only thing missing tonight is Yoko Ono screaming “Give Peace A Chance.” Relying on public transportation causes me to exit early. Apologies to those who came on later. (AJ Wachtel)

THE RICECOOKERS,
HANGOVER BLACK

The Times, Boston,
MA
4/2/10

Hangover Black is a
familiar sight to me, as a band and a result of too much Guinness. They’re
first up and lead singer Ron’s voice, at some times gravelly, at all
times loud, leads the charge, with the rest of the band following close
behind. The song “Bottle of Whiskey and a Loaded Gun” gives you
an idea of what these guys are all about, but there’s a lot more to
this mix of rock and punk music than a few too many beers. “Lady Killer
Blues” tells a story of love lost that we can all relate to, and the
crowd responds, getting within a few feet of the stage and at times
joining in with the music. The band recently added a new drummer, and
hopefully this will be the last obstacle to a CD, because I’m eager
to grab a brew and throw this on.

The
Ricecookers end the night. It’s their last show at the Times, and
I for one am glad I’m here to catch it. Their music, a blend of J-Pop
and rock, is a much faster pace than Hangover Black, and the audience
is just as into it, making the evening one to remember. Vocalist Tomomi
Hirosi commands the attention of all in the modestly-sized bar, and
as I look around, I see only a few folks not dancing to songs like “Alone”
and “I.” When the set ends, the crowd loudly clamors for an encore,
a request that the Ricecookers gratefully oblige. Needless to say, when
the CDs are passed around, I’m one of the first to grab one. (Max Bowen)


MICHELLE LEWIS
Church, Boston, MA

3/22/10

It’s a welcome change
to attend a show with a mellow music atmosphere as opposed to the loud
drunken den of stupidity in which has become all too familiar around
town these days. As I walk into Church, Michelle Lewis is just taking
the stage in front of a rather decent-sized audience for a cold Monday
night. Opening with “Broken” from her new EP of the same name, I’m
impressed with the clarity of her voice which blends beautifully
with her guitar. It’s one of those rare performances where you can
close your eyes and imagine you’re listening the CD. “Caroline”
and “This Time Around” from her debut album
This
Time Around
follow and are
wonderfully accented by cello player Aaron Fried. More standouts from
this nine-song set are “Midnight” and “Lonely Life” in which
Lewis performs sans cello. I must say as well, that Michelle takes the
time to genuinely thank her audience after the applause between each
song. It’s no wonder she has such a dedicated following at each of
her performances. The somber “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” from the
Broken
EP ends the evening and once again, we are kindly thanked for coming
out on such a dreary evening. It’s nice to know that we as fans are
respected rather than expected.
(Rob Watts)

ROY SLUDGE
TRIO

Atwoods, Cambridge,
MA
3/30/10

Refering to himself
only as “Roy Sludge” tonight, the singer from the Coachmen sets
up with a new band. Roy’s voice is so deep, on some notes the foundation
of Atwood’s shakes as Roy’s voice rumbles out of the house PA system.
He’s has got a voice so low that he makes Johnny Cash sound like a
soprano and it’s awesome. As an added bonus tonight, the band has
lap steel virtuoso, Kevin Barry sitting in, which enhances Roy’s traditional
country western feel. Normally the Coachmen, Roy’s other band, will
feature Jerry Lewis on guitar, who is outstanding and pretty much untouchable
in the Stray Cats/Reverend Horton Heat rockabilly idiom but filling
in tonight is Duke Levine, who is no slouch himself. While I like the
Coachmen with Jerry, it is great to see Duke and Kevin rip up jams in
tunes like “Folsom Prison Blues” and the “Nitro Express.” What
a fun show—I’m glad I caught it! (Kier Byrnes)



WILLIE ALEXANDER & THE
RAZDANS,
FLY AMERO,
SARAH SLIFER & JOHN ROCKWELL,
HOOGLIO BASTISTO,

LINDA AMERO,
THE TIDE,
ALLEN ESTES,
BARBARA & DAVE KOEN

Gloucester High School
Auditorium, Gloucester, MA
4/10/10

This is the second
night of a benefit to replace the seats of Newell Stadium. After all,
the three-time champion Gloucester football team, the Fighting Fishermen,
need a functioning stadium to play home games.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist
Barbara Koen starts off the night with her husband, Dave, backing her
on electric guitar. She swings into KC & the Sunshine Band’s “Get
Down Tonight” and offers that the song forced its way out of her guitar.
Barbara is a pretty woman who resembles Stevie Nicks with streaks in
her hair, flowing red scarf, black dress, and red and black cowboys
boots. Her own thoughtful songs contain beautiful swirling melodies
and personal lyrics. Her last tune has no name, but it makes her think
of Gloucester. It’s about stopping all the rushing around. Oh, and
by the way—Barbara can normally be seen rushing around the Dress Code—Gloucester’s
favorite second-hand clothing store.

I
met Allen Estes at a party last year so I was looking forward to seeing
how this ruggedly handsome man is as a performer. I learn from his introduction
that he’s been a soap opera star and has co-written songs with Tammy
Wynette and Shania Twain. Wooo. He starts playing and… double wooo…
we’re talking top of the line delivery here. The guy sings, talks,
and plays with clarity and confidence—and it’s all him—nothing
put on—no façade. His acoustic guitar is crisp sounding. His voice
is clear, manly, and full of emotional range. His songs are all of exceptional
quality. “Beautiful Stranger” gets applause before he even starts
playing—and afterwards I can see why. He co-wrote a touching song
with Frank Tedesco that has become the official song of Gloucester about
missing fishermen. He ends with a song written with his son about the
universal language of music. It’s a peaceful song with a beautiful
message.

The
Tide (the Baird brothers Gordon and Jock, and Dave Koen) is up next
with mostly Beatle covers done to the T. Excellent singing by all and
the boys stay faithful to the feel and arrangements of the fab four.
They end with the Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown”—a
fun talented group.

Next
Linda Amero breaks from her emcee duties to wow the crowd with a spot-on
karaoke version of Connie Francis’ “Where the Boys Are,” claiming
that that’s what she was all about when she attended this very high
school back in the late ’60s.

Linda’s
next introduction has me scratchin’ my head trying to understand the
background of the next performer. He’s Hooglio Bastisto (Rick Gadbois),
a singing comic character—sort of a ragtag Elvis, who is full of jokes
in every word that comes out of his foreign mouth. He’s from Flustuania—the
first country ever to exist. His guitar is plastered with shreds with
what looks like black duct tape. A little tambourine is taped to one
of his shoes. He only plays a couple of numbers because the set-up for
the songs is his act—talking about his family relationships and the
twins he dated. He gets everyone laughing—a good break from the serious
music on display tonight.

Then
it’s Sarah Slifer and John Rockwell who start with “I Wanna Sing
That Rock ’n’ Roll” in a folk style leaning toward Celtic. They
have a nice feel—easy going and warm. The two harmonize well together
in a relaxed and professional way. Sarah sings sincerely with a pure
alto. John physically reminds me of Will Ferrell from
Saturday
Night Live
but there’s no
kooky tendencies here. Okay, John does claim to have written a little
ditty called “Across the Universe” but I’m sure I’ve heard this
tune on a Beatles record. They also cover “What’s So Funny About
Peace Love and Understanding.”

The
emcee’s brother, Fly Amero, is next, and because I’m an outsider,
I question if he got this gig because of the family connection or because
he looks like Dennis Hopper. But then I hear that he’s the current
guitarist for major hit makers Orleans! He’s a graduate of Gloucester
high and makes references to it. After his cover of Van Morrison’s
“Into the Mystic” I’m not convinced this guy is all that impressive.
By the time he submerges himself into a couple of blues numbers, sounding
somewhere between Ray Charles and Duane Allman, I’m totally blown
away. Talk about a total turn around of opinion! He plays guitar lefty
but leaves it strung for a righty—he plays everything upside-down.
Fly adds percussion to the songs by tapping the guitar body and gently
ends one song with both his thumbs lightly hammering on the low E string.
He later tells me that he was told those are his girl-attracting moves.

Headlining
the show tonight is Willie Alexander & the Razdans—another new
formation for Willie to let fly in whatever direction it wants. This
one is headed towards rock/jazz fusion. The Razdans are father and son
sax-blowing duo that easily jumps between improvisation and playing
the written parts—depending on what is called for. David “Doc”
Vincent is behind the drums driving them like a Billy Cobhan. Willie’s
left piano hand holds down the fort with the persistent root notes finely
distorting the fat bottom. Willie’s right hand offers the twinkles
ala Jerry Lee Lewis, which is a great match for the dueling saxophones.
They deliver a little of everything—tunes with lyrics by Vincent Ferrini
to the classics “Let’s Go to the Rat” and “Mass Ave.” The
new fusion material wins me over the most tonight because it fits the
group well.

Gotta
mention that Will Hunt does a great job on the sound tonight. And that
I hope they raised enough money to replace the bleachers in Newell Stadium.
(T Max)



BELLOWS, HOLY SHEET,
DIANA
JOY,
WHOREPAINT

AS220, Providence,
RI
4/4/10

I waltz into AS220
just as Whorepaint begins their set. The guitarist is Hillary from Sweet
Thieves and the singer is from Made In Mexico. I’m not sure who the
drummer is but she rules. I believe this is their first show, yet you
wouldn’t know it. Trance inducing hypnotic noise rock with Marlene
Dietrich’s ghost on the mic. The set ends far too soon. I want more!

Next
up is Diana Joy. She plays mostly a solo set, with some kind of pirate
joining her for the last two numbers. I’m not sure if the word “songs”
would do her justice. With mostly backing tracks via a laptop behind
her voice, she brings to mind performance artist singers like Irene
Moon, Naomi Elizabeth, Laurie Anderson, and Nina Hagen. Very cool stuff,
amazing set.

Holy
Sheet tears up the floor next. A drummer, two keyboardists, and a singer
dressed in something pulled from the trash writhing around on the floor
screaming words you can barely understand. This is Providence, not L.A.,
hell yeah! This is the scene that defines the city, young, dirty, and
loud. Take that, society!

Bellows
ends the night not with a wimper, but with a roar. A Lightning Bolt-Hella
style drummer joined by a sax player and tuba player create an effects
aided cacophony reminiscent of John Zorn’s Naked City or some Sonny
Sharrock projects. “Out there” only begins to describe the wonderful
rainbow they create in your mind. (Eric Baylies)

THE GILDED SPLINTERS,
SUMMER
VILLAINS

Lizard Lounge, Cambridge,
MA
3/26/10

The Summer Villains
are on stage as I walk into the Lizard Lounge. The crowd is tight but
I grab a beer and squeeze in through the crowd and land a fine spot
up front. The band launches into a whirlwind set, playing such country-esque
ballads as “Let’s Drink,” “There’ll be Time For Crying In
Hell,” and my favorite, “You’re Right But Fuck You.” The
band, evoking such great chemistry and comeraderie on stage, has no
problem taking the audience along for the ride as they mix badass trucking
music with eclectic folk rock and good old rock ’n’ roll party music.

The
Gilded Splinters waste no time and jump in where the Summer Villains
leave off, keeping the party rocking and the spirits high. The music
has a Neil Young country vibe and it goes over well with the crowd.
A small but lively group of dancers accumulates in front of the stage.
There are a few spilled drinks but nobody seems to care. They are entranced
by Josh Buckley, lead singer of the Gilded Splinters. He’s got an
amazing voice and an arsenal of well-written songs to show it off. The
band spurring on the crowd with tight grooves and melodic harmonies
is the frosting on the cake. It’s a great night of music and people
are feeling it. I’m glad to be here.
(Kier Byrnes)



MIND YETI, LA OTRACINA,
GUNSLINGERS,

GHOST BOX ORCHESTRA

Butcher
Shop, Allston, MA
4/7/10

This is not exactly
the same type of butcher shop I worked at, but if you looked hard enough,
you would see the blood was human, not animal. Ghost Box Orchestra opens
the party with a terrific set. They are like Sonic Youth at times, but
if you listen hard, and I do, you hear lots of other stuff going on,
from Leslie West type runs ala “Theme From An Imaginary Western”
to psyche, noise, surf, and fado. A really fantastic Boston band to
watch for.

Gunslingers
play next but I won’t go into detail because they are not local. They
are from France and are awesome. Look them up.

La
Otracina follows. The drummer-singer used to play in one of my favorite
Boston math rock bands, the National Blue. This band is less Rush and
Battles and more Blue Cheer and Hawkwind. They rock so hard they made
the ceiling sweat. Thank goodness it’s water and not blood. I saw
them (and Gunslingers) the night before at AS220 in Providence and it
was so good I had to witness it again.

Mind
Yeti ends the night with what I think is an all improv set with a fairly
big band. Acid Mothers Temple and Can are recalled in my mind. It’s
so crowded at this point, I can not tell how many of people are playing
in the band, but it seems like a cast of thousands. What a night! This
is one of the best shows I have seen in years, and I play or go to about
150 or so a year.
(Eric Baylies)

 

We get a lot of
calls and emails from bands requesting coverage of their live shows.
Please be advised that shows are never assigned for review. Noise writers
cover what they choose to attend. It’s logistically impossible for
us to honor or acknowledge these requests. The Noise has always had
its ears close to the ground in Greater Boston. If you’re doing something
even remotely exceptional, we’ll be the first to tell the world. If
you’re horrible, same thing.

 

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