Top Ten 2013

TopTen2013T MAX

TOP TEN Acts that got my musical excitement buds tingling

1. ZOE LEWIS hi-energy, yet personal, performance at me & thee (Marblehead MA) with Mark Chenervert on clarinet

2. CASPIAN at the Block, absolutely rockin’ the streets of Beverly MA

3. DARLINGSIDE (harmonies galore) with HEATHER MALONEY at me & thee (Marblehead)

4. PUTNAM SMITH cool and lovable at me & thee coffeehouse, Marblehead MA

5. ALLEN ESTES (best material in a set) with FABULOUS MUSTANGS opening at Larcom Theatre, Beverly MA

6. JULIE DOUGHERTY Christmas eve sing-along (this is an amazing event) at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem MA.

7. BIRD MANCINI at Cat in the Cradle (Byfield MA), Finns (Salem), private party (Roslindale MA), In a Pig’s Eye (Salem)—I guess anywhere—this duo is always on.

8. WILLIE ALEXANDER at T.T. the Bear’s (Cambridge MA) with Randy Black & the Heathcroppers backing him.  

9. MC3—Mr. Curt’s material sticks to your ribs— at Billy & Ruby’s backyard summer party, Roslindale MA

10. (three way tie)

THE HOLDOUTS at the Fountain Stage, Salem MA

LYNNE TAYLOR at the Firehouse, Newburyport MA

MACHINE 475 at Peabody Street Park, Salem MA


TOP TEN (plus three)

1. Artist of the Year: THE VITAL MIGHT

2. Album/EP of the Year: THE WEISSTRONAUTS

Control Is in Your Command: The Best of the Weisstronauts 1999-2012 

3. Song of the Year: “I Can’t Make You Happy”  BLACK AND GREY

4. Rock Artist of the Year: ABSINTHE ROSE

5. Pop/R&B Artist of the Year: FUTURE CARNIVORES

6. Americana Artist of the Year: MC4  

7. Folk Artist of the Year: IAN FITZGERALD

8. Metal/Hardcore Artist of the Year: TONY JONES & THE CRETIN 3

9. Punk Artist of the Year: MARS BONFIRE  

10. Singer Songwriter of the Year: IAN FITZGERALD

11. Female Vocalist of the Year: JULIE DOUGHERTY

12. Male Vocalist of the Year: KEVIN MACDONALD (The Kevin MacDonald Band) 

13. Producer of the Year: PETE WEISS


TOP TEN Things that happened to me and my band in Three Day Threshold, in 2013.

10. Got to meet some cool new people and play fun bars like Wachusett Mountain’s Coppertop Pub, The Plough & Stars in Cambridge, and The Rhumb Line in Gloucester

9.  Got to meet and work some rather interesting celebrities this year; Henry “The Fonz” Winkler, Stan Lee, George Takei

8.  Got to open for some cool national acts like Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Dick Dale.

7.  Got invited to play a solo singer/songwriters set at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

6. Actually performing at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville (still blows my mind).

5. Headlined some cool festivals like Mass Brewers Guild Summer Fest, Harpoon Brewery’s Summer Harpoon Fest and Virgo A GoGo Festival; meeting some really great people along the way.

4. Recorded some new tracks with engineers Andrew Kramer, Joe Pleiman and Sam Margolis. I have my fingers crossed that a new album will be in the works in 2014.

3. The Kier Byrnes Freedom Runners, a great group of running/beer drinking crazies, helped raise thousands of dollars for charity this year.

2. Got to play with some of the best musicians around; PJ Aspesi on drums, Jay DiBiasio on guitar, David Delaney of The Whiskey Boys on fiddle and Evan Gavry on just about everything else. Note: I am hoping 2014 brings me a bassist.

1. Celebrated my second anniversary with my wife, Amanda Lee and my son Aedan’s first birthday.


TOP TEN Reasons why I still live in Boston

* Peter Wolf at the Indian Ranch

* The Cowsills at their induction into the R.I. Music Hall of Fame and at Kowloon

* Bim Skala Bim AND Max Creek at their Rock and Blues Cruises in Boston Harbor

* The 10 Foot Polecats at Johnny D’s

* The James Montgomery Band’s CD release party at Sculler’s for “From Detroit To The Delta.” Michelle Wilson’s gig there also.

* Barrett Anderson’s CD release party at Atwoods for “The Long Fall” with Ron Levy on keys

* Charlie Farren’s CD release party at The Center for The Arts for “Tuesday”

* The Specials at The House of Blues

* 10 Years After/Edgar Winter/Rick Derringer at The Melody Tent

Honorable Reasons:

* Preacher Jack/The Tokyo Tramps/Kenne Highland Clan/ The Gravedancers at Geezer’s Garage at The Granite Rail

* Duppy Conquerors at Johnny D’s

* Ellie Buckland at Passim’s

* The Partial New Man reunion with Mark Jones/Tim Archibald/Bob Gay at Dick’s Last Resort


TOP TEN Things that belong in a 2013 New England music Top 10
In no particular order….
1. Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One – No local album packed as much of an emotional punch as Illuminator.  It still slays me every time I play it.  Sadly beautiful.
2.  Getting to guest DJ Adam Blye’s fantastic local music podcast, Mutiny on the Microphone.  Adam’s one of the true champions of the Boston music scene.
3.  Potty Mouth’s Hell Bent and Speedy Ortiz’s Major Arcana – It’s been a long time since a New England band I actually like got any national buzz.  This year, there were two!
4.  Danny from The Black Cheers making custom hand-drawn art from their awesome EP, The Cat, The Rat, The Bat, The Dog.  I got zombie cats!
5.  Petty Morals – Their song “Radio Action” seems like it hasn’t left my head all year, and their live show is a blast.
6.  The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Hometown Throwdown – What’s not to like about three great nights of music and getting to see a ton of your friends?
7.  Cradle to the Grave – Speak Easy was one of the best albums released all year, and there might not be a nicer group of people.
8.  Bucky Fereke & The Pony Express – Their shows are always a lot of fun, but my favorite was their benefit for the Lowell Humane Society.  Listening to stellar music while helping out animals?  Sign me up.  Bringing Whistle Jacket along was an added bonus.
9.  Shepherdess – I’m Saving Myself for Shepherdess is possibly the best record Hilken Mancini has been involved with, and that’s saying something.  Her work with Girls Rock Camp Boston is even more awesome.
10.  Pulling a day-night rock ’n’ roll doubleheader and getting to see The Ducky Boys, The Blue Bloods, Bryan McPherson, Jittery Jack, The Downbeat 5, and Barrence Whitfield & The Savages all in one wonderful day.


TOP TEN New England bands for 2013
10. Grooms – Boston alternative to the alternative
9. 28 Degrees Taurus – psyche dreams
8 Sunburned Hand of the Man – the music machine keeps rolling
7 .Lolita Black – metal for the masses
6. Aykroyd (Needy Visions) – raw power
5. Neptune – they make their own instruments and their own style of music
4. Cave Bears – the cheerful insanity of Nick Williams and friends
3. Guerilla Toss – everything in a blender and more
2. Cult N Leper – math rock psyche and pop wizardry
1. Onleyville Sound System – they will rock you


TOP TEN New England music

1. One Longfellow Square – venue

2. Putnam Smith’s “Cast Iron Pan” music video

3. Claire Scott’s rendition of “In the Bleak Midwinter” during the Yulegrass concert in Portland Maine. (she is probably 11 years old)

4. The birdies singing in my holly bushes by the bird feeder

5. Mike Block’s incredible ability with the cello and voice every time I’ve seen him

6. The Noise, of course!

7. Sara Willis, MPBN’s host of “In Tune by Ten”

8. Best clarinet, Brad Terry (from Bath Maine)

9. Seeing the Stowaways at the Empire Dine and Dance in Portland

10. Swan Island Music Festival (I’ve only seen the videos from it)


TOP TEN—Best photo in each issue of The Noise

Feb: CHELSEA BERRY, photo: Louise

March: MARY LOU LORD & BOB LEGER, photo: Ray Dollard

April: HEATHER MALONEY, (photo: unknown)

May: PETER MOORE & SARAH RABDAU, photo: Melissa Zeigler

June: ZOE LEWIS, photo: Deb Martin

July: KIMBO ROSE, photo: Jimmy Jensen

Sept: INGE BERGE, photo: Sheila Roberts Orlando

Oct: ALLEN ESTES, photo: Sheila Roberts Orlando

Nov: FRANC GRAHAM, photo: Liz Linder

Dec: WILLIE ALEXANDER, photo: David Cox


TOP TEN Sexy darlings (in pairs)…





3. RUBY BIRD (Bird Mancini)

DAN McGINN (Black Dog Brother)

4. KELLY KNAPP (the Darlings)

AUYON MUKHARJI (Darlingside)







8. CLARA WELLONS (Litehouse)





ROY SLUDGE (the Spurs)

TOP TEN of the 148 live shows I saw in 2013
Jan 19—Darkness at the Paradise
April 20— Steel Panther at Hampton Beach Casino
June 19—Imperial State Electric, Cocked & Loaded, Goddamn Dracual, and White Dynomite at Middle East Downstairs
Aug 25—Cheap Trick and Watts at Hampton Beach Casino
Aug 30—Queers and Dwarves at Church
Sept 1—Giuda and Kurt Baker at Radio
Sept 13—Uppercrust, John Powhida’s International Airport, and Parlor Bells at Oberon Theater
Sept 3—Kepi Ghoulie, Miss Chain & the Broken Heels, and Unnatural Axe at Charlie’s Kitchen
Oct 30—Sparks at Brighton at Music Hall
Dec 31—Patti Smith at Hynes Auditiorium

TOP TEN bands I saw for the first time in 2013

(in no particular order):
Ruby Rose Fox
The Nate Leavitt Band
Tan Vampires
The Easy Reasons
The Rotary Prophets
Brother Fight
People Skills
The Blind Owl Band
The Interrobang
Donkey Punch Jr.

TOP TEN Albums that captured my heart and mind
RABBIT RABBIT (Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias Bossi): RR Radio – Volume 1 – Twelve perfect art-rock tunes collected from one-month installments through their subscription service. Nothing can touch their ambitious inventiveness, whimsy, eclectic nature, and sheer prodigious talents. Must be the waters off the Cape.
STEPH BARRAK: Words to Break Your Heart – A new young talent whose debut album convinces me of an amazing musical future. Just that simple – great tunes, great singing, & playing. Pop-folk masterpiece, brilliantly produced by Mike Davidson.
Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer:  Child Ballads – Once again, another album of ultimate loveliness from Vermont’s flower-child, this time teaming up with folk troubadour Hamer to celebrate traditional English folk ballads. Hmmm, now I see her roots are showing.
RICK BERLIN: Demos – Two-CD home recordings that are fascinating for the breadth of subjects and emotive qualities. He is so masterly prolific. Through 40-plus years of local service, please sir, never stop making music! And certainly catch him live with The Nickel & Dime Band (whose appearance at JP Music Fest wearing dresses was most surreal moment of the the year).
BIRD MANCINI: Lounge – My fave wide-ranging duo shifts direction into bossa/cha-cha/groovy territory and creates more musical magic, still with many rockin’ flourishes and conviction. The pride of Roslindale!
PAULA COLE: Raven – What a gorgeous surprise. A world-class talent & Rockport’s pride releases best album of her career, addressing women’s issues and values in a soaring manifesto of art-pop and bravura singing. Guess she had to come home to better view the world.
GLENN JONES: My Garden State – Former leader of local psychedelic wizards, Cul de Sac, had been searching for a place where he could come up with something new. It is called “American-primitive-acoustic-alternative tunings for solo guitar and banjo.” I call it old-fashioned, brilliant, & haunting instrumentals.
JOEL CAGE:  Eponymous – Ruminations of Life, Love, and Longing. Nothing but extraordinary for this New Hampshire progressive folk-singer who sat on these tremendous varied tunes for years before hatching. Multi-layered virtuoso guitar and that gentle voice turn rarefied air into solid ground.
PATTY LARKIN:  Still Green – For years and years, the gold standard of contemporary folksters, she has never released an album short of brilliant. Here she muses on loss, aging, & memory in rich contemplative tracks about solitude and togetherness, open vistas and spiritual quests. Deeply attuned to the resonances of her many instruments w/meditative chords that ripple across acoustic and electric guitars.
MC3:  A Half Bubble Off Plumb – Mr. Curt has always delved into the esoteric, in both music and sentiment. With his mates, Clara Kebabian and Marty White, they have created delightful acoustic-pop that is commercial and radio friendly with heartfelt vocals and fun movement. A significant work, with Clara (also creating superb string arrangements) shining as a unique and important voice.

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