Live Reviews


Me & Thee Coffeehouse,

Marblehead, MA                        


Quoting from his bio: “At the core of it all, his personality—sunny naivety meets gritty wisdom—is what sets Jesse Terry apart.” That description really nails it right from the beginning of his show when he lightly greets us with “Thanks y’all” then rolls into his believing in the good times, “Let the Blue Skies Go to Your Head”—what’s not in the title is the first word—”Don’t.” He follows it up with “Don’t Let Me Fall For You” from his newest CD, Stay Here With Me. He says the song was written just before he got married, So I guess his wish was not granted. He admits that it is a total honor to be playing me & thee for the first time, then sings his song about being a troubadour, “The Runner.” There is no rest for the runner—Jesse has toured the world. He straps a capo on the neck of his guitar and proceeds to promote (unintentionally) the ‘zine you’re holding in your hand—with his song “Noise.” It’s really about his grandma’s sweet voice—everything else is just noise. He ends his short entertaining set with a tune that recently was played on TV—”Stay With Me”—and it rocks as far as folk songs go.

Sugar Hill recording artist Liz Longley made her name in Boston, graduating Berklee College of Music and taking home top prizes in the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Competition, the International Acoustic Music Awards, and the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. She’s a very pretty blonde with bright red lipstick—but it’s not all about looks as she cranks a wallop of a voice to decorate a trunkful of songs, mostly about her personal life. She’s wearing black frame eyeglasses tonight because her contacts don’t agree with a stye. I think I prefer her with specs. The performance begins with the upbeat “I’m Alive”— her reaction to breaking up with a long-time boyfriend. She rolls with “Outta My Head” from her brand spankin’ new CD, saying she’d rather have the person she singing about in front of her and not stuck in her head. She’s living in Nashville now and jokingly states that the city closed down when they were hit with a quarter inch of snow. She enjoys relaxing with life and expresses that in “Take Your Time,” backed with some nice fingerpicking on her beautiful Collings sunburst acoustic. She has a high quality soft bottom to her voice and is splendidly melodic on the high end. She tells us she’s influenced by Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison before she lays out a medley of “Moon Dance” and “Summertime” complete with some healthy scatting. She takes a stab at hip hop with the funny “Dough for Dough” about selling Girl Scout cookies. Then she gets soulful on us with a “song sandwich” that wraps Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You” around her own “You Got That Way.” Jesse Terry gets invited up to play guitar on the encore of the Irish traditional “The Water is Wide,” with the two of them splitting verses. Visiting my home away from home pays off one more time.  (T Max)

COZY COVERS                      

(opening for BOOKER T. JONES)

Larcom Theatre, Beverly, MA


North Shore acoustic duo Cozy Covers plays classic folk/ funk/ soul/ modern R&B and they open up to a full house that is here for the legendary Booker T. Jones from Booker T & the MG’s. I really dig Sarah Seminski’s powerful and passionate vocals and the solid finger-picking and strumming chordal acoustic guitar playing from Eric Reardon – sorta like Janis Joplin doing a minimal acoustic set accompanied by a guitar. Not so long ago, Sarah used to front the full band Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket, and tonight’s music is great. From covering Sam Cooke to Richard Thompson to an occasional original folk tune to a short medley of songs from Abbey Road side two; their set and stage presence is very enjoyable. The surprisingly clear sound system in this great old theater is like the icing on the cake throughout the night. Cosy Covers is a good choice to open for the man who invented Memphis soul, Booker T, who plays a long set of hits and covers including “Green Onions,” “Time Is Tight,” Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights Big City,” Stephen Stills’ “Love The One You’re With,” and Prince’s “Purple Rain” – another great night at a great venue.         (A.J. Wachtel)


(opening for DRIFTWOOD)

@ Me & Thee Coffeehouse,

Marblehead, MA                         


Host Tony Toledo introduces the relatively young Laney Jones as having a voice that combines lemon, molasses, gin, and gun powder… and although that may bring to mind more of a Janis Joplin-type, Laney has plenty of friendly presence and a beautiful voice reminiscent of Maria Muldaur. Matthew Tonner accompanies Laney on acoustic guitar while she’s claws at the banjo and occasionally gives the harmonica a rousing toot. On “Devil Down” the pair bang out the beat—Laney flies off into a banjo solo while hundreds of toes tap.  They brew up some back mountain hillbilly folk and soak it a shot of class.  Laney and Matthew play a tune that they wouldn’t normally, but it was requested before the set—”When You’re Around” shows they are aiming to please. The two finish off with “Rockabye Sea”—elbows fly and everyone’s toes are tappin’ again. The adorable Laney has won the hearts of her audience.

Tonight Laney is opening for an acoustic band that doesn’t call New England its home. They hail from a land where Yankees play ball, so they are definitely not eligible for a review in The Noise, even if they can see Massachusetts from their kitchen window. I can’t tell you that Driftwood has the most amazing arrangements I’ve yet to hear come out of an acoustic band.  Although the four-piece (guitar, banjo, standup bass and violin, along with four vocals) is the acoustic equivalent of the English supergroup Yes, you didn’t hear it from me. Please don’t spread the word that Driftwood delivers an intense form of dynamics executed within each musical adventure, showcasing more precision than a triple-edge razor—and they do it all with (super) natural virtuoso abilities. I won’t add that their instinctive physical movement inspire multiple silhouette designs that bring pleasure to my visual sense. So Driftwood—go back to the land of Woody Allen, Norman Rockwell, Billy Joel, Eugene O’Neill and May West—there ain’t no talent in New York compared to New England.     (T Max—born in Brooklyn)


The Spot Underground,

Providence, RI


Little did I expect to be heading to a punk show at venue more well known for servicing the ears of local hippies. Walking into the Spot is like entering that local art store filled with the work of local artists and designs that make your head spin, except there is a bar and two stages. I head to the back area where the entertainment is taking place and notice that this place seem even less likely to hold a show where denim jackets, piercings, tattoos and raw music is meant to be played. 

After what seems like twenty minutes of sound check by Paid Vacation, the lights go down and the band starts off with a roar and doesn’t let up.  These punks from Billerica play a style of rockabilly/ hardcore crossover that gets the five people in the room bobbing their heads in sync, including myself. The first song has me in stitches as it is about the cartoon character Johnny Bravo. The lead singer swings to the beat and sings with a tone that reminds one of an Elvis and Johnny Rotten secret love child. As the music continues, so does the energy which is all one can ask of a punk show. Not to say these guys aren’t great musicians—they are, but live punk music is definitely not about who is the best soloist. The music screams late ’70s punk in the vein of the Sex Pistols and The Misfits, who they cover with grace, but the vocals are straight ’50s. This combo leads to an exciting set filled with energy, fun and plenty of sarcasm. Seems that is the common language of punks—self-depreciating humor with a sarcastic overtone. After their set I head outside and have a chance to chat with the singer and guitarist who turn out to be some of the nicest guys in the world and I wish them the best of luck.

After a beer and a smoke, Negative Nixon is ready to play. Walking to the back almost scared me because it sounds like a horror is happening. To be clear. I mean this as a compliment. As I round the corner and see what is happening on stage it isn’t as shocking. Three burly and bearded men with more tattoos than I thought possible are making such an incredible noise. After hearing this assault on the senses within thirty seconds the song is over and in a flash, five more songs are played. There’s a certain art to the thirty second song, but Negative Nixon makes it fun and intense. From there name to the jokes being told on stage, there is a strong sense of irony that pervades. The band includes one quip about how they haven’t been booed off yet. Clearly, they aren’t going to be. Their energy and stage presence keeps the show interesting. After a while the songs start to blend together into one noisy mess. Maybe that is their intention or because of the tight schedule of the show. Like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. What we do know is that these lumberjacks know how to make a show fun even when it all sounds like noise.  (Connor Prendergast)


(opening for Cris Williamson)

Me & Thee Coffeehouse,

Marblehead, MA                        


I saw Birdsong At Morning (Alan Williams) once before at last year’s Beatles Benefit. He was the best of the lot, showing great poise and confidence—rolling out a wonderful solo version of “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Tonight the room is full and I am impressed with headliner Cris Williamson’s drawing power—even my neighbor Katie from Gloucester shows up at Me & Thee for this one. Alan Williams is a soloist performing as Birdsongs At Morning. His band with the same name goes as far as to incorporate a string quartet at times. Birdson At Morning has impressive, artistically packaged CDs for sale tonight. Alan starts his show with a tune dedicated to a long-standing romance. Although he has only been married three or four years, he has lived with his wife and musical parter, Darleen Wilson, for 20 years. He strums softly and sings away from the mic, which adds extra natural reverb to the mix. He precisely fingerpicks “Mountain Side” about his grandmother’s secrets and continues with “Softly, Like an Amen,” which totally encompasses the feeling of his entire performance. His wife Darleen has helped his career greatly while working with Patty Larkin, Bill Morrisey, and Katie Curtis to me just a few. He ends his set with the gentle rocker, “Prodigal Soul,” which can be seen and heard on YouTube with the full band. He mentions how much of an honor it is for him to open for Cris Williamson, who was featured in the now out-of-print book titled How to Make and Sell Your Own Records by Dianne Rappaport.

After the break Cris Williamson, the voice a movement that has come to be known as “women’s music,” stands before her large and devoted following. She is a supremely wise, wonderful, and talented woman who knows exactly how to communicate with subtilties that are thoughtful, kind, humorous and generous. Another profoundly joyous night at Me & Thee.       (T Max)

We get a lot of calls and emails from bands requesting coverage of their live performances. Please be advised that shows are never assigned for review at The Noise. Writers cover the shows that 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.

Send recordings that you’d like reviewed to The Noise, PO Box 353, Gloucester, MA 01931.

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