Live Reviews

Harbor Loop (outdoors),
Gloucester MA 

Gloucester’s Harbor Loop may fall in line behind Marblehead’s Crocker Park and the Salem Willows for pure asthetic outdoor concert-going, but tonight’s performance surpasses anything I’ve seen on those other stages. Running late, I arrive jumping off my bicycle the way Roy Roger’s would dismount Trigger, just as Allen Estes is plugging his big upcoming concert at the Larcom Theatre in Beverly, MA, on October 5.  He launches into a serious folk song about the seafaring dragger “Corinthian” that was cut in two by a 7600 ton freighter in 1949, killing six of the eleven crewmen. Allen strums his Martin DC-Aura acoustic guitar with his manly tattooed forearm throughout the tear-jerker while sideman Matty Levinworth takes on the waves with his flashy red fiddle. The next song, “Not With Your Hands,” is about Howard Blackburn who was stranded at sea in the midst of a winter storm and didn’t give up rowing his dory for five days, despite losing his fingers and half his thumbs to frostbite. I only now realize that this is Allen’s Souls of the Sea series that came from a musical play inspired by heroic stories of Gloucester fishermen. Matty switches over to a Parker Fly guitar (designed by Ken Parker—another Gloustonian) and shows how adapt he is with a different set of strings, picking out or sliding fluid solos. “Save the Wales” has Allen aggressively folk-jammin’ lines from his acoustic after singing the familiar refrain of “ooowee up she rises earlay in the mornin’.” 

I’m gonna have to get me to that October 5th show where fantastic Gloucester guitarist Dave Brown (ex-Billy Joel’s band) will be joining these two musical behemoths.    (T Max)


The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

Duck and Cover are similar to early Replacements and do a cool Julie Driscoll cover of “Stand Corrected.” These cats are from Somerville and their punk—as well as the next band Scrape’s sound—brings me back to the pure garage punk days of the ’80s. But I am here to hear old friend Rick Barton’s new gig with his bass- playing son Stephen in the band, too. Dave Deprest on guitars and vocals and Derek Louis on drums are young punks backing the master. This new band sounds at times like his old band, The Outlets (he was also a Dropkick Murphy for a while), and it’s a real pleasure to hear the menacing punk powerchords and lecturing vocals again. “Transition” is great. Powerful. Loud. Jangling guitars. Great rhythm section. It has it all as a hit. Rick dedicates “Wasted” to me and we both smirk. Ahh, the old days. Ahh, the new days. A lot of tattoos onstage and in the audience, too. Good music by all three bands.           (A.J. Wachtel)


Gallery 360 at Northeastern University, Boston MA 

In the heart of Northeastern University’s campus sits Gallery 360, an art gallery that today displays an epic collection of typewriters that were used by celebrities such as John Lennon, Orson Welles, Ray Bradbury, John Updike, and Joe DiMaggio.  Most students here have never seen a typewriter, much less used one before; so when six accountant-type looking people show up with their own typewriters, hammering out percussive melodies on the keys in the middle of the exhibit, a lot of student heads are turned. Turns out it’s The Boston Typewriter Orchestra; a musical group that is one part Blue Man Group, one part Stomp and one part white collared business executives. The band each bangs out rhythms on their own vintage typewriters, interspersed with office banter and the occasional sing-along. Stand out tunes include “Underwood Blues” and The Safari’s “Wipe Out.” The collection’s owner, Steve Soboroff, even sits in with the orchestra for a tune on a typewriter that Ernest Hemingway wrote “Old Man and the Sea” on. It’s a full house in the gallery and a night many of these students here won’t forget.        (Kier Byrnes)


Middle East Downstairs,Cambridge MA

If the idea of greatness building applies to rock ’n’ roll shows, and Muck & the Mires is the opening band…well, this show is probably gonna be more than my weak heart can take. In other words, where do you go from the top? Positive sign of just how stellar the line-up is tonight is the sizable crowd on hand for the first band (ya don’t see that often). Muck play like they’re the main event here, and the only suggestion that they aren’t is the tactful omission of “Hypnotic” and “Doreen” (I think to avoid blowing the other bands outta the water). Sneak peeks from the forthcoming new album are “3 Steps Closer” and “Don’t Write Her Off.”

This is only about the third time Downbeat 5 has played over the last twelve months—purposefully buying me time to put my formidable creativity to devising something new to write about them. Long, lonely months I’ve squandered! That’s right, I’ve got nothing but stale prose you’ve read a million times. Conversely, DB5 is anything but stale. If anything, they sound refreshed, recharged, and ready to kick you in the chops just to remind you they’re the best band in town! It’s the usual mix of memorable originals (“Climbing The Walls,” “My Way”) plus connoisseurs’ choice covers (“Get On Your Knees And Pray,” “Outcast”) performed by genuine talents (That’s Jen and JJ). And it doesn’t stop there! No! For one night only, filling in on bass is the nigh legendary BFace Rat (or Queer or Ghoulie or whatever he prefers). Whoa… I feel faint. Experiencing DB5 sycophant overload! 

Whew! Need a breather here. I sure hope Jittery Jack sucks, so I can take a break. Mmm? Goddamn it—they don’t suck! Point of fact, they’re a blast. I recognize T.T.’s manager Kevin Patey (frontman here) and of course guitar queen Miss Amy (always a good sign). They’re doing the rockabilly/ roots thing here. Lemme tell ya the great truth, which you’ll never hear from any of the other rock writers: In competent hands, this genre never gets tired. Why? Because in contrast, at any given moment, there are scads of ghastly metal or tuneless hardcore bands stinking up some venue somewhere. It may be “rawk” but it ain’t rock ’n’ roll, pal. Jittery Jack is definitely the real thing, with a helping of energy and fun to boot.

“It’s clobberin’ time!” Barrence Whitfield completely undermines my belief in evolution. If nature alone is responsible for developing a voice like Barrence’s in our species… then where’s mine?!? Don’t we all get one??? Listen, the last time I saw Barrence, the guy had me enjoying a Doors cover. Now that is a powerful man! It’s great to see him with a reformed Savages and great to see them in front of a large appreciative audience (doesn’t always happen, which is an injustice). No Doors stuff tonight, just the soul shoutin’ sounds of “Bip Bop Bip,” “Mama Get The Hammer” and brand new “Oscar Levant.” It’s a long satisfying set plus encores. Barrence really is a treasure and The Savages really do deserve all the gushing praise they’ve gotten. I’m exhausted!      (Frank Strom)


Indian Ranch, Webster MA

I already know this will be the best show I see this summer: a fitting end to a great season of music and I am not disappointed. This is a concert and motorcycle ride and benefit for CFMS Fund Foundation. Indian Ranch is a C&W venue and Wolf weaves his set list through almost two hours of blues, R&B and always a tinge of Americana. Highlights have to be the rollicking “Hard Driving Man,” the bluegrass version of “Love Stinks” and the rocking “Can’t Get Started.”  Other great cuts include “Homework,” “Give It To Me,” “Looking For Love,” and I especially liked at the end of the set when all of the band comes out a la John, Paul, George, and Ringo, lock arms, and bow together.  The country was there for “Asking For You,” “Cry One Moe Time,” and “Nothing But the Wheel.” Peter talked with everyone and during one song he got out into the audience to sing and for a few moments just sang privately with his mic over the P.A. to a middle aged woman in a wheelchair. “Don’t worry, I’m coming up to you, too!” he shouted mid-song to a far away crowd. During a Loretta Lynn song, he even sang the words “everyone know A.J.?” and looked at me as we smirked. How cool is this? “We are in the middle of recording” Wolf promises the eager crowd. And I can’t wait. Two hours of pure energy and showmanship and the best two guitarists, Duke Levine and Kevin Barry, in any band on the scene. Tom West on keys, Marty Ballou on electric and upright bass and Tom Ahry pounding are just what the doctor ordered tonight.   (A.J. Wachtel)


The Middle East, Cambridge MA

When I tell people that I am going to see The Fagettes tonight, I either get a chuckle or a concerned look.  After seeing this Cambridge/ Allston-based band so many times in the past year, I tend to forget how enticing, comical, and perhaps controversial their name can be. With that aside, the band’s music is as equally unforgettable as their moniker. 

The Fagettes play a fairly straight- forward, but endlessly enjoyable brand of rock ’n’ roll that is heavily inspired by ’60s garage rock and protopunk (think the garagiest, slimiest aspects of Velvet Underground), ’70s punk rock, and elements of power pop. In any case, the songs are of short to average length and are very immediate and catchy. Though they play this rougher breed of rock ‘n’ roll, the band is actually far from sloppy and they kick out each jam with a slick finesse that I rarely see among the garage punk crowd. As a die hard fan of the band, I love hearing both old favorites and some great up and coming tunes in this evening’s set. For Boston rock fans, I can’t recommend The Fagettes enough. Catch them live if you get a chance—shouldn’t be too hard since they play around this city often.   (Chris DeCarlo)


One Longfellow Square, Portland ME

Amy Black is what you could call a whole lotta woman. Bearing a slight resemblance to Trisha Yearwood, she opens the show all bright and brassy with an acoustic guitar and a voice that could fill church rafters. She plays a half dozen or so original Americana/bluesy tunes, and then blows the roof off with an a cappella version of “Shadow of Doubt”—a tune made famous by Bonnie Raitt. Though she has been a resident of the Northeast for quite a while, she retains an atmosphere of the southern preacher’s daughter. She has quite a set of pipes and could probably sing “The Star Spangled Banner” at a presidential inauguration, or least, the Super Bowl!

Eilen Jewell and her astounding band wrinkle the rug and rock the stage soon after Amy finishes. Eilen is not only the Queen of the Minor Key, but a queen of songwriting! Her catchy, rockin’ songs have clever lyrics, and could probably lure the most introverted and demure librarian to cut loose on a table top if given the chance. Jerry Miller is an electric drill of a guitar player, outdoing himself on the song “Shakin’ All Over,” with riffs interjected from “The Twilight Zone,” “Day Tripper,” “Paint it Black,” and other tunes my brain cells can’t process fast enough to recognize. Blazing bassist Johnny Sciascia is the quintessential hepcat of calling out, “One, two, a-one, two, three FO’,” and Jason Beek’s drumming is as hypnotic and pelting as a hurricane. Do not miss this band if they come to your town! Eilen has a warm-hearted, funny and adorable stage presence and is a first-rate singer. One Longfellow Square will probably have carpenters re-enforcing their stage tomorrow—due to beating it takes tonight!    (Kimmy Sophia Brown)


Rock and Blues Cruise, Boston Harbor, Boston, MA 

What can be better for a beautiful summer day than to cruise around Boston Harbor and listening to some of the area’s greatest jam bands as you enjoy one of the best places to see a concert in the summer? And there are so many boats in the harbor watching people dive into the water from a sixth floor outdoor board that we require a police and coast guard escort to safely pass the inner circle of vessels. Just wild!

Viral Sound, out of Providence, RI, and their electro/ funk/ jam/ rock, which I find jazzy at times, sets the mood for this superb event. I dig their tunes “Cloud,” “Sail Away,” and “Time Waits” each because they are interesting compositions that are played with passion and ability. These kids are great! At times I hear reggae and at times I hear the Dead and the way the music sounds so spontaneous is really captivating. They change tempos mid-song and I dig that too. I always love the Max Creek cruise each year and their improvised jams are just so well done. Listening to their covers of Paul Simon’s “Late In The Evening,” and Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” are just perfect. I also dig their originals “You’re The Only One” and “Louisianna Sun”—two tunes that showcase their incredible musicianship and experience. And the crowd knows most of the words to most of the songs too, which adds to the excitement. Like the Dead, they can play a 20 minute song and dazzle you with their creativity. What a blast!     (A.J. Wachtel)


Cape Ann Museum courtyard, Gloucester MA

I drive directly from recording in Haverhill (Project Sound) to the Cape Ann Museum courtyard to see the very attractive Marina Evans leading her two skilled sidemen (Joe Cordoza on bass, and Dave Brown on Dobro with a slide).  (Yeah, I’m a little late, needed to stop for farm-fresh veggies…) Marina is introducing “One of Two” and the sunny end-of-summer day couldn’t be more beautiful. This heathy and happy young woman reflects the beauty of the day—tall, tan, and blonde, wearing a long maroon, black and gold bohemian dress, and large dangling circle gold earrings—and she’s sweet on the ears—everything’s perfectly in tune. Her folk/jazz/rock tunes all fit together well—and her musicians know exactly how to enrich her songs. Dave’s Dobro echoes increasingly when ever he solos, and at one point he starts playing the echo against itself. Marina says of her self-penned “Dogtown”: “Debouturous things go on there, or are fabled to have gone  on there.”  The guy next to me says, “I need to hear more wrong notes,” and I know where he’s coming from, but the 60 or so people that line the outer rim of the cobblestone courtyard are loving Marina’s lively performance. She even comments on how nice it is to have an audience that is quiet and listening (hello pub gigs!). She ends with “Walk With Me,” saying it’s just right for a Friday night at cocktail hour. She smiles pretty, she does a natural little barefoot dance while she sings—why, she’s just like a playful cat, sometimes physically over-expressing herself, but always impressing her audience.   (T Max)


Passim, Cambridge MA  

There is a lot of good DNA onstage here. Ellie is the daughter of Andy Buckland who was in Bruce Marshall & The Clue and The Lyn LaPrad Band.And Isa’s parents are Celt/folk icons David Surette and Susie Burke. And it shows. Their music is similar to traditional string bands. They are inspired by Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. I can also hear elements of bluegrass, country and Americana along with the folk. I dig their voices and the way they play fiddles together too. Ellie’s songs “October” and “Wishing Well” really stand out as does Isa’s “Montville.” They also play a few traditional fiddle tunes that just knock me out.  Acoustic roots music at its best. Check them out soon!      (A.J. Wachtel)


Rhumb Line, Gloucester MA 

I arrive on my bike just in time for the Dave Sags Blues Party. His special guest tonight wowed them previously at Gloucester’s Blues Fest, so Dave got her to add her flair to his féte. And wow—this Lydia Warren is the prettiest thing I’ve seen on stage all year—can her talent possibly match her looks? Just as the band is deciding how to start I hear Lydia just say, “In F,” and the four-piece band is rollin’ out an instrumental. To Lydia’s left is bassist Dave Sags who runs the show every Thursday night at the Rhumb Line. To her right is guitarist Chris “Stonewall” Brown, and if I didn’t know better I’d think he was trying his hardest to impress his band member who is wearing a classy tight black dress, black hi-heels and a thin gold necklace lying on a bed of pure flesh. Sitting behind her is Forrest Frosty tappin’ the beats out. Dave spots someone getting up to leave and he quickly says “You can’t leave, We just started. The doors are locked!” Lydia jumps into the next song showing her vocal talents with “It’s My Own Fault.” She’s playing through a small Ampeg and Chris has this unique hi-fi-looking antique beige box. She’s crisp on the high-end like a soprano while Chris plays it gritty in the alto range. He flips his guitar behind his head for a solo and later uses his teeth on the strings just for the show. They all take turns with the lead vocals: Dave on “The Seventh Son,” Chris on “A Mountain of Love,” and Lydia taking on the majority of songs. She does this cute thing of sticking her tongue out slightly while emerged in her solos. Chis belts out the blues version of “I’m In the Mood for Love” which is kind obvious—and Lydia growls out the next one—”Come Into My Arms.” Is there something going on here? Maybe—but I’ve got to head out after their first set leaving photographer Ray Dollard to enjoy and document the eye candy.           (T Max)


Blues & Rock Cruise, Boston MA 

During the summer, these cruises are a great way to spend a couple of hours: cruising around Boston Harbor on a beautiful night, passing by the U.S.S Constitution, the end of a Logan Airport runway with planes continuously taking off and landing only a few hundred feet over your head, and motoring past a ton of fishing boats, nautical homes and other, larger ocean touring vessels. Opening up this afternoon’s three hour gig is Riki Rocksteady and Tommy Leonard. Appearing as a duo, without their usual band, their beautiful harmonies are what I first notice. These cats sing like they’re brothers: very instinctually and very enjoyable. I really dig their covers of Bob Marley’s “Put It On Me” and Jackie Wilson’s “Chain Gang.” It’s good stripped-down acoustic guitar ska and reggae with very good harmonies. And the crowd loves them. 

Up next, is the horn-driven sound of Superska, a powerful band full of some of Boston’s best veterans. They play mostly Skatalites covers, including their opener, “Beardsman” and closer, “Ball of Fire,” but they really entertain the packed boat of dancing dervishes with their calypso cadence version of Hugh Masakela’s “Grazing in the Grass”—“I can dig it, you can dig it, she can dig it,  we can dig it BABY!” Jon Ferry on trombone (Bim, Duppy Conquerors), Jon Vanderpool on tenor sax (Sun Jones, ex-Heavy Metal Horns), and  bassist Mark Ferranti (Bim) join Russ Robar and Patrick Faucher on trumpets, Mike Hartford on drums, Roland Shnippering on keys, and Shizz Mac on guitar and play a mostly-instrumental set of blazing brass danceable/ska music: and the deck is in motion! I notice a small  boat with two passengers doing their best to follow the fine live music chasing our stern. I also see two fishing rods tautly hanging off the sides of their racing canoe-sized ship as they do their best to keep up with our cruiser. I smile as I listen to the music and think of the fishermen. 

By the time Bim steps onstage, three people—two cute middle-aged blondes and a guy shooting a video—ask me if they can take a picture of the old Bim Skala Bim T-shirt I’m wearing, which is a first in all my many years of going to see bands. It also cracks me up. And by the time the group starts churning out the first of their long, 22-plus song set with three encores I am getting a little nervous. All of a sudden, half the audience, A LOT of people, are pogo-ing up and down along with the music; and all I can think of is Ernest Borgnine and Poseidon Adventure as the ship rocks. But as the music continues, my nightmare recedes. This band is still at the top of their game. “We’ve all been together for 10 or 11 albums,” lead singer Dan Vitale crows as he majestically waves and includes everyone else onstage. Two CDs are being celebrated tonight: Chet’s Last Call—all-original music, released in July, and Musical Biscuits—all covers, released in September. Highlights of the set are: “Summer Of Ska,” off the Chet’s CD, UB40’s “Present Arms” off Musical Biscuits, a bunch of oldies like “Jah Laundromat,” “Better Get Out Of Here,” and great ska versions of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage,” and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ “Shakin’ All Over,” where lead singer Dan Vitale’s brother Ted comes up to vocally join the party onstage. It just doesn’t get any better than this on a summer day in Boston.         (A.J. Wachtel)


Annisquam Yacht Club, Gloucester MA

I might hold the prize for attending a performance at the ne plus ultra of esoteric venues, to wit, the Annisquam Yacht Club. For those unfamiliar with the Bay State’s other cape, Annisquam is a village of Gloucester. The only reason I was able to gain admission to Pub Night at AYC is my father, with whom I share a name, belongs to said establishment. Anyhoo, the featured entertainer this evening is Charlee Bianchini, a local singer/songwriter who is essentially furnishing background music to al fresco diners. [It should be noted she is doing so under the tutelage of Gloucester eminento David Brown, so technically ’twas a “twin-guitar attack”; I ask David, who’s played the big time internationally, whether this was slumming; he responded by directing his gaze to the picture-postcard-perfect marinescape, betray-ing a hint of a grin, and uttering, “Nope.” Charlee, something of a jill-of-all-trades creatively, strums a set or two comprising her own compositions (e.g., “Unwanted Anchor,” “Can’t Be Without You”) and classics of the American songbook (“Country Roads,” “Across the Great Divide”). If you’d like to hear the chanteuse, your best course begins at  You might even be able to catch her (possibly with David Brown into the bargain) without having to don boat shoes.   (Commodore Swig McJigger)


The Hard Rock Café, Boston MA 

Alex plays energetic acoustic folk with an edge and he’s a good singer and performer. His passion is evident and he almost screams the lyrics at some points when he’s singing. He reminds me of Incubus.This is a good effect and he picks and strums along with his delivery resulting in a good opening set. Up next are The Stonefrets who are like Twisted Sister with real cool double guitar leads all over their songs—real arena rock and done real well too. “Time Bomb Renegade” off their new CD is powerful and typical of their music. The crowd really digs them. Up next is headliner Brian Bailey & the Changeup with his growling guitar. Their new single, “Monday Morning,” is a bit like Sublime/Kid Rock and it is loud and impressive too. Ash Berman’s vocals and guitar work meld well with Brian Bailey’s vocals and guitar. This is a band to watch. Don’t forget the earplugs! There are a lot of young chicks at this gig; how can this be a bad night?   (A.J. Wachtel)


Church, Boston MA 

While Joe’s cast of supporting Queers has rotated frequently over the past 15 years, Dangerous Dave has been as close to a regular as they come, so I’m sad to see he’s not on this tour. On the other hand, it’s great having Chris (ex-John Cougar Concentration Camp) back in the lineup (he was part of the ’98 or ’99 model Queers). Compared to some of the sprawling epics of the past, tonight’s set seems alarmingly brief (though it still probably clocks in at 45 minutes). Brevity aside, the set list is comprised of nothing but the best of Joe’s best material, which combined with a fine, tight, and energetic performance leaves absolutely no room for complaints. Only one tune from the most recent album (I could go for at least one more) and the rest (“Love Love Love,” “Like A Parasite,” “Live This Life,” “Webeloes,” etc.) are the classics. Joe keeps my faith alive! This is easily amongst the best Queers shows of the last decade.      (Frank Strom)


me&thee, Marblehead MA

Before the show I see Tony Toledo (the sometime-announcer at me&thee) showing off his impressive ink drawings on paper cups—wouldn’t be surprised to see them at Starbucks soon. Then I scoot through the mostly-filled room to find my seat in the second row of pews. The 43 year-old me&thee operates out of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead. Phillip Murphy’s friendly greeting is followed by a humorous acknowledgment of the fire exits by his evil, Yankees-loving, twin brother (I think I’ve figured out that HE is his evil twin—because I’ve yet to see the two of them in the room at the same time).  The casual/sexy—mussed up hair/ sideburns/ soul patch/rolled up sleeves/ jeans—Putnam Smith, hailing from a log cabin in Maine, is introduced and although there are a number of instruments in place on the stage, he is a one-man show. He starts “Succotash” on banjo and I immediately notice his interesting modern folk style—he kind of fades in and out with his finger pickin’ strums—leaving space for his lyrics to be heard—naturally forming a non-choreographed call-and-response with his voice and instrument. I’ll tag it “call ‘n’ strum.” He switches to guitar and harmonica to sing about how “The Stars Will Line Up Someday.” Then steps down to the piano to perform “Looking Up.”  He climbs back on stage, mandolin in hand, for a historic personage tale admiring “Emily Dickinson.” His new CD, Kitchen, Love…, has climbed to #14 on the National DJ chart—and it’s easy to hear why, with his political song, disguised as love song, disguised as a tune about his “Cast Iron Pan.”

I’d say Putnam is a hard act to follow, but the Maine/Texan, Slaid Cleaves (with the national media on his watch), steps up with a backup lead guitarist I recognize as the talented Malden, MA, resident, Duke Levine. Slaid knocks out the first few songs (“Horseshoe Lounge,” “Drinkin’ Days Are Over,” and “Still Fighting’ the War”) quickly with his weathered sandy vocal tone. His easygoing personality and friendly banter lends itself to success. “Without Her” may draw a tear or two (sadness is his specialty), but he perks us up with “Whim of Iron,” about his flaky Aunt Prudence’s shot at fame—she made it onto an episode of Charlie’s Angels that took place on a cruise ship, but was tossed overboard within the first five minutes of the show. Now while Slaid is jerking our emotions back and forth, Duke is wowing us with the tastiest of guitar solos. I’ve never heard a guitar sound so much like a steel guitar—lots of beautiful bending to complete chords that pull on our heartstrings. Slaid grew up in Southborough, Maine, and started his music career with the Magic Rats. His Texas pride song really does make me laugh—and after it states he once saw written on the wall of a Brooklyn bathroom stall—”I hate this part of Texas.” Duke’s old Telecaster through a Fender Vibrolux Reverb amp produces the kind of sound that every session man desires. And although Slaid is the master of sadness, he keeps proving that his wit is what makes his whole show work. He plugs WUMB saying the station totally propelled him from total obscurity to relative obscurity. Okay, his bid at yodeling may not reach his own high standards, but you’d never know it from the crowd’s response. Another super successful night for me&thee—I believe booker Kathy Sands-Boehmer is at the top of her field.  (T Max)


Record Release Party
Atwood’s, Cambridge MA 

What a band! It’s Barrett and his groovie Telecaster guitar with Ron Levy on organ, Per Hanson on drums and Jamie Hatch on four strings. And I get to enjoy two sets of their funk/ fusion/ blues music, too! The first set has guest vocalist Samantha Farrell up for a few songs and Barrett’s sister Emily Adair Anderson also jumps onstage to sing. Even Dennis Brennan from Push Push gets up with his harp for an R&B song or two, including Jimmy Reed’s Chicago South Side Shuffle “The Last Time.” I really dig the songs “Sons of Abraham” a funky Levy original, and The Meter’s classic “Cissy Strut.”  “Grin and Bear It,” “Tomorrow Morning,” and “Emma Lee” from the new CD really set me and the crowd on fire. This is cool music from a great band. I really dig the encore of Bo Diddley’s “Bo Diddley” and The J.Geils Band’s “Houseparty.” A great night.    (A.J. Wachtel)


Hard Rock Café Faneuil Hall, Boston, MA

This annual event is in its 12th year and tonight’s benefit is the first at The Hard Rock Café. The proceeds will fund and maintain a playground in Roxbury in honor of this hero who died on 9/11 and was married to the father of local artist Peter Hackel. From the git-go the joint is jumping. Like a local who’s who, the local celebs keep coming: James Montgomery, David Hull and Joe Pet from The Joe Perry Project, Jon Butcher, Hirsh Gardner and John Fannon (New England), Axminster Mike Lamm, Stu Kimball from Face to Face, Sandy Mac, George Leh, George McCann, Bruce Marshall, and Jon Vanderpool. Hearing Joe Pet playing drums for Jon Butcher is a real highlight. So is hearing Montgomery’s passion and power on The Stone’s “Miss You,” and Axminster Mike’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” is killer, too. A great event for a great cause. A somber night with a lot of great music.   (A.J. Wachtel)


Pinebank Field at Jamaica Pond,Jamaica Plain MA   

As our esteemed publisher/editor remembers so well, Jamaica Plain is an area of Boston filled with cosmic consciousness, community concerns, and grass roots energy. Thus, it is no surprise, select organizers and premier local sponsors present the third annual JP Music Fest, featuring twenty-two acts over seven hours. Oh my gosh—what a massive undertaking!—on a gorgeous day with two stages of non-stop music, local truck vendors, merch tables, live streaming courtesy of college radio, and a field filled with thousands of people! I meet dozens of friends and bask in the good vibrations of eleven groups steamrolling their way through their 20 minute sets (must admit, didn’t have ability to endure the complete show). No need for critique—just a wonderful potpourri of diverse entertainment. 

Who I see: The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library (one man/seven women—reminded me of Sparks); Merrie Amsterburg (lovely folk-rock trio—great voice—rare Dylan cover); Rick Berlin with the Nickel & Dime Band (yikes, they swap their usual suits for dresses—introduced by Oedipus!—kooky, positive, all-embracing); The Long Woods (new quartet—very English sounding a la The Smiths or The Cure); The Bethel A.M.E. Praise & Worship Team (gospel fervor and uplifting energy from 20 singers and musicians—only encore of the day!); Lars Vegas (neo-lounge with horns and vibes and quirky, ironic, wry ramblings from Tom Stenquist, oozing cool); Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One (really an acoustic quartet of Americana punk rock with an edge); Tallahassee (big beards à la ZZ Top, big alt-country sounds, bountiful energy—always heard about them, but never saw—a big bravo!); Kim Mayo (soul jazz R&B pop big-band revue—great voice on the ballads—dynamic presence); The Grownup Noise (longtime faves spinning out another winning set of progressive acoustic pop—more banjo, please!); and finally, Streight Angular (psycho grunge pop mayhem—the crowd loves their wackiness!) I leave totally satiated and can’t wait until next year. Major kudos to Rick Berlin, Kellie Cardone, Justin McCarthy, Charlie McEnerey, Shamus Moynihan, Ferris Mueller, Margie Nicoll, and Randace Rauscher-Moore for whipping up such a potent brew!          (Harry C. Tuniese)


One Longfellow Square, Portland ME

One Longfellow set up tables and chairs to create a cozy cabaret feeling. The place fills up with an enthusiastic crowd. Three men take the stage—Richard Sheppard, leading the group, a strongly built man who looks like he’s been playing guitar since he was a little boy; Jack Soref, a quick fingered guitarist with a gentle soul; and Michael Harrist, a young looking, yet extremely capable standup bassist.

The show is vigorous and hypnotic. Original tunes and standards flow into a kind of gypsy-manouche-lava of music. My husband and I are here after a long hard day, and we close our eyes and go into shamanic journeys of string ecstasy. The intense rhythms increase into a nearly supernatural journey, song after song. The band becomes more united, more intuitive, more joyful, more intense. There’s a break to sell CDs and go to the bathroom, then they come back for the second set.

Richard is an aggressive, percussive guitarist, his fingers are like little hammers; and the group is a small flock of birds, flying this way, that way, back again, far away, melding and separating like flocks of starlings settling in trees and changing their minds and settling again.

The music is like dark wood, dark red wine, smoky fires, and train-like. It is suddenly over. We emerge from our trance and our feet are six inches above the floor. We drive home and I wonder, was that a dream? Incredible!       (Kimmy Sophia Brown)


We get a lot of calls and emails from bands requesting coverage of their live shows. Please be advised that it’s logistically impossible for us to honor or acknowledge these requests. 


Live Reviews — 1 Comment

  1. T Max,

    We always appreciate the reviews of our shows at the me&thee! So glad that you discovered that there’s some terrific music being played outside of the bars and clubs in the area!