Rita: It’s a sure sign of global warming when it’s almost sixty degrees on Christmas day! Lolita: That must be a typo. In your case it’s more like global worming. Your body is shaped like a big planet, your face looks like an atlas, and you are slimy and reptilian. Rita: I had a rough year. Lolita: Some people had great years and that’s what our Question of the Month addresses. Looking back on 2015, what band or individual artist (outside of your own act) excelled the most in their field? Or if you like, who was the MVP? And why? Let’s start off by asking the King of Calypso Cadences SHANTY DAN VITALE (Bim Skala Bim): Well, Dave Minehan continues to amaze me. Fitting into The Mats and touring, gelling so seamlessly with that band. Touring also with The Neighborhoods and helping so many bands make great records in his wonderful studio Wooly Mammoth. The Mats are what we Replacement fans call them; also Placemats. Now he just needs to get The Mats into his studio to record a new record. Long overdue. *** HARVEY WHARFIELD aka BILL HATHAWAY (x-WZLX/ WCGY): I would give a thumbs up to the former Johanna Wild front man Jon Butcher and his tribute LP to Jimi. My hat is off to Jon for rocking all these years! *** TOM HALTER (Either Orchestra/ Mariachi Internacionale): Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan because they played such a great concert in Albuquerque at The Mariachi Spectacular in July. *** SAX GORDON BEADLE (Bluesman Extraordinaire): To me Toni Lynn Washington is MVP everywhere! *** ALAN HENDRY (Crooked Mirror/ Bubba Loaf/ Charley Don’t Surf): I really like Trick Wallace and Trusty Sidekick. I love the lyrics. Lead vocals are gritty and powerful. I love the mix of instrumentation, with acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, and steel guitar. The band members of Natalie Flanagan’s band are in Trusty Sidekick as well. This adds a touch of Americana to Trusty Sidekick’s fun loving gritty rock! Just a fun band to listen to! *** LELAND STEIN (The Regent Theatre): The Dennis Brennan Band – Boston’s answer to Graham Parker/ Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen with some Leonard Cohen and Dylan mixed in. Dennis Brennan is no doubt the Godfather of Boston roots rock. His Wednesday night residency at the 88-capacity Lizard Lounge in Cambridge is legendary and a must for Boston music insiders and outsiders. Backed by the phenomenal double electric guitar tandem of Duke Levine and Kevin Barry (The J. Geils Band), Richard Gates on bass, and Billy Beard (Face To Face) on drums, one can hear hard rock, blues, r&b, jazz, folk, reggae, and more – all in two energizing sets of electrifying music in an extraordinarily intimate club setting. Look for the Dennis Brennan Band’s much-anticipated release early in 2016.
NEWS FOR THE NEW YEAR
MUCK AND THE MIRES had great gigs in 2015 in Italy, Spain and Japan. The tour bus refuels for their 2016 European tour. Dates include The Muster Raving Loony Fest in Barcelona at the end of April. *** JAY SCHEFFLER (10 Foot Polecats) also sings in THE ELECTRIC SINNERS and the band has finished an album and will be releasing it on vinyl in the Spring. The working title is Cryptic Ambiance and the music is crazy psychedelic doom rock. Think Pink Floyd meets Black Sabbath. *** JAMIE SHALER (Jamie Shaler On Vacation/ Angry Young Bees) released his Christmas Chills CD in 2008. Since then CHRIS YOUNKEN, also a monster guitarist, has made videos of seven of the songs on the release. Check out the latest, “O Holy Night,” relating to the Apollo 8 flight that circled the moon in 1968. Included are cool NASA photos and that’s the Angry Young Bee himself giving you his best Huntley Brinkley impersonation too. *** Check out UKULELE NOIR with TIM MANN. Tim also plays in the The Cars’ Greg Hawkes Ukulele Trio and he has a new album out called Chasing Dreams. *** GREG HAWKES (The Cars/ The Greg Hawkes Ukulele Trio) sat in with The Motels at Johnny D’s. *** This year is the 25th Anniversary for PARKER WHEELER’s Blues Party up at The Grog in Newburyport. *** BIM SKALA BIM is putting out another record this year. The band recorded it with engineer Dave Minehan (The Neighborhoods) at Wooly Mammoth Studios. *** ROGER MILLER‘s (Mission of Burma) 1988 solo LP, Roger Miller, is being re-released by Feeding Tube Records. In ’88, French band Forced Exposure invited Roger to create an LP. Their only instructions were that it had to be recorded on a four track cassette deck and had to consist principally of guitars, with no keyboards or percussion. The New York Times review said Miller’s release was “the experiment avante-garde LP of the week.” *** Happy birthday to HATTIE BARRETT who is SHOR’TY BILLUPS‘ partner in crime. Shor’ty may be the oldest blues artist still performing on the scene regularly. *** WGBH’s A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with BRIAN O’DONOVAN returned for it’s 13th season with performances in Boston, Worcester, New Bedford and Rockport. Brian was born in Ireland but has been local for 30 years. Many other New England based artists were involved too. *** Last month’s celebration of the most famous Jew with JEWMONGOUS at Club Passim on Christmas Eve was the usual night of non-kosher comedy songs featuring ex-Rockapella and TV’s Carmen Sandiego star SEAN ALTMAN. Sean tells us he owns a puck once scored by Bruin Phil Esposito, and his dad is a 40-year UMASS/Lowell physics professor. The Boston Globe once said his show “combines the tunefulness of The Beatles and the spot on wit of Tom Lehrer. We’ll say it in English. He reminds us a bit of Allen Sherman (“Hello Muddah Hello Faddah”). *** CHARLIE ABEL once owned Harper’s Ferry, which is now The Brighton Music Hall. Currently, he’s in charge of Somerville’s new music venue Thunder Road. Charlie tells us he will be booking national and local blues and other acts in 2016. *** Guitarist extraordinaire TOM GUERRA in the studio working on the followup to his 2014 release All of the Above. This cat can play! *** Plan ahead this spring for the New England Music Awards at the Blue Ocean Music Hall on Salisbury Beach, MA. Great club right on the ocean. Lolita: We were on the nominating committee until they found out you were fudging the ballots. Rita: And the only band’s on your list were the ones that didn’t have a restraining order out on you. Lolita: This sounds like a good time to go back to our Question of the Month about artists excelling in their field before you get us into even more trouble.
MORE MVP ACTS
JODY MOORE (The Jody Moore Band/ Freddie & the Romantics): Crap I wanted to answer this question so bad but living on the Cape may as well be living on Venus. I don’t know the local scene anymore but I do know that Natalie Flanagan, Emily Grogan, Liz Borden, and Mary Lou Lord are still cranking out great music. *** CARL BIANCUCCI (Classic Ruins): Locals Mercury On Mars were non-stop this year in the studio and onstage (including a stellar performance at the Rumble). Looking forward to their antics in 2016. *** CHANCE LANGTON (Comedian, musician, social activist): There is nobody compared to me. That’s the answer I would have give when I was an ego maniacal 24-year-old who became friends with Roy Buchanan. He said I was a prophet and that I was the next Leonard Cohen. But, all I can think of now, is the reality, as Paul McCarney put it –”Will you still need me? Will you still feed me? When I’m 64?” I have mellowed and have been humbled, but I will not be denied. For me, the MVP of Boston comedians is Bob Seibel. He died of brain cancer this past summer. Bob was 70-years-old. But as the years went by, he morphed from a journeyman comedian to one of the best comedians in the USA. One night, Bob and I did a fundraiser near Dartmouth, MA. He convulsed the audience the moment he got on stage, and he did an hour of material without even breathing and the crowd was devastated in laughter. Bob could have done another hour. He reminds me of the great jazz saxophone player Cannonball Adderley and his work on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. Bob went with the flow and he was unpredictable. Like Cannonball, he had a marvelous dimension of joy on stage. Bob channeled comedy the way not many ever could. He deserves to be in the all time Comedy Hall of Fame. Another great achievement is the documentary Call Me Lucky directed by Bobcat Goldwaithe about the heroic journey of Boston’s great cynical political genius Barry Crimmins. He performed at Johnny D’s in Somerville last month with another Boston great Mike Donovan. *** SHIKABOO BOSTON (r&b vocalist extraordinaire): The artist that has improved the most is Russell Watts. I witnessed his growth first hand! I met Russell at a jam in Acton, MA. At the time he stated that he sung at karaoke bars. I asked him to learn three blues songs and come to a live blues jam. He did come out and once he opened his mouth the crowd was captivated. At the end of the set many people asked him to join their bands. At the time he did not have much of a repertoire. Today he has over 100 songs that are not limited to blues. He also sings jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul. When you hear his voice you instantly think of Motown or Gospel. He does have a church background and you can hear it in every note he sings. Russell has also learned how to direct bands and his stage presence has improved dramatically. Today he sings live at many venues and has been featured with a lot of bands. I predict some awards in the near future and look forward to his continued success. *** JOEY AMMO (Billy Benner and Alan Ferix): The artist that stands out to me is Jack White. I love his blues influence and distinct writing. *** ERIN HARPE (Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers/ Lovewhip): I’d have to say the artist I’ve noticed excelling in their field the most this year (besides us!) is Gracie Curran. She’s been touring all over the country like crazy since she’s moved to Memphis, she’s gotten nominated for a Boston Music Award, and she did a great job when she recently shared the stage with Buddy Guy in Chicago, even getting him a shot of whiskey during the performance! It was really cool seeing another band coming out of the Boston blues scene getting out there on the national scene in a big way. Even though she’s not living in Boston any more she’s still a Boston girl and we’re all rooting for her. Rita: I’m rooting we get back to what’s happening on the local music scene. Lolita: Put down the pom-poms and let’s get back to business.
NEW OLD STUFF
JOANNE CODI‘s Codi Entertainment presents on TV Bands of Brothers. This ground breaking web-based pilot series will be produced in early spring, on location, in Boston. Casting will begin in late January. Joanne also brings us the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camps loaded with rock ’n’ roll gods. *** R.I.P. CHET ROONEY owner of legendary local punk club Chet’s Last Call. Chet was 61 and died suddenly in the second week of last month. His support of local music was mythical. Tontileo is considering renting out the old location for a Chetstock three day festival. He was a great guy. The location of the mythical disco ball that hung at Chet’s is currently being investigated. *** Guitar phenom BROOKS YOUNG in the studio doing a country song his grandpa once recorded, Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings.” His mom is battling cancer and he thought it would be a great way to honor her and to raise $ for Dana Farber. It is his first attempt to record something other than rock or the blues. The song will be released the first friday in January. Brooks is hot off a recent gig at The Flying Monkey in Plymouth, NH, with Clapton and Dave Matthews Band pedal steel vet Robert Randolph. *** RYSE just finished recording their second single “We Will Burn That Bridge When We Get To It” that will be released early in the year. Drummer SHANE LAMM is the son of Axminster pounder Mike Lamm and the apple certainly didn’t fall too far from the tree. This metal band is also working on a music video and plan on starting work on a new five-song EP in the beginning of March. *** BOB MARGOLIN (The Muddy Waters Band) has a new release on Vizztone Records called My Road. It contains a bunch of great songs he wrote and is not the usual Chicago blues one would expect from this local legend. Did you know that Brookline vet Margolin can be seen in Scorcese’s The Last Waltz playing with Muddy? Vizztone Records is owned by ROSY ROSENBLATT (Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers/ D.K’s Full House). *** ’80s rip roaring garage rockers THE VELCRO PEASANTS are now known as THE PEASANTS and have a new CD out called Big Sunny Day. Current members are PETE CASSANI (Bill Close/ The Freeze/ The Outlets), STEVE HART (Give/ The Outlets/ Claymore), and PAUL KOCHANSKI (Swinging Steaks). *** ROBIN LANE (…& the Chartbusters) has a charity called Songbird Sings – Healing Trauma One Song at A Time. Fun Chartbusters fact: Their song “When Things Go Wrong” was the 11th video shown on MTV when the station first went on the air. *** There’s a new five-piece reggae/rock band on the rise in the Worcester area. THE WICKED MEN is MASON VINCENT’s (The Happy Campers) latest venture. *** THE BRIGANDS are scheduled to ply the pirates at the 4th Annual Salty Ball in Manchester, CT, on January 6th. The Brigands have a left handed acoustic guitarist, a guy playing a white fiddle, a bassist, and a drummer playing only a tom. Dressed in kerchiefs, pirate hats and clothes, their catalog is full of pirate songs. *** The Regent Theatre in Somerville is deep into the planning stages of their 100th Anniversary (2016) and a slew of special events on stage and on screen including Johnny Winter’s birthday February 24th – The Johnny Winter All-Star Band live together with the Boston Premiere of the brand-new JW feature documentary: Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty! His band includes a bunch of local artists including JAY STOLLMAN and PAUL NELSON from Connecticut and JAMES MONTGOMERY from Rhode Island. The actual 100th anniversary date is Sunday, April 24th where the theatre will attempt to recreate the Regent’s opening night from 1916 when they present the same Mary Pickford silent film (with live piano accompaniment) that played on opening night a century ago – “Rags” – a newly restored, digitized print created especially for them by the Mary Pickford Foundation. The employees will all be dressed in late-Victorian period garb, so it’s sure to be crazy fun and a memorable night. *** BRUCE MARSHALL (The Bruce Marshall Group) has a new acoustic trio on the North Shore and N.H. called Marshall-Farrell-Gerard. Bruce fronted The Clue and played with Marshall Tucker’s Toy Caldwell. Chuck Farrell is also with N.H.’s The Nor’easters, and Dave Gerard fronted Truffle for over 30 years and is a legend in the Seacoast, NH area. *** Connecticut’s badass guitarist PAUL NELSON and his band are releasing Badass Generation on February 5th. Rock ’n’ roll the way it was meant to be played. *** TOKYO TRAMPS are currently working on its seventh album. Mixing is almost done. Bassist/vocalist YUKIKO FUJII tells us it will sound like Jimi Hendrix meets the Meters, Fats Domino meets Elmore James. It’s going to be a funky, bluesy, rootsy, and rockin’ album! The release date is in early 2016. *** MARY LOU LORD‘s 16 year old daughter ANNABELLE LORD-PATEY is nearing completion of her debut folk/pop album. Lolita: Remember last Feb. when Mary Lou released “My Buddy Valentine” about Buddy Holly, on Valentine’s Day? Rita: I really liked her Backstreet Angel album from last year too. If you weren’t such a satanic person who never leaves her bedroom, that song could have been written about YOU. Nevermind. Back to the gossip. PLATE O’ SHRIMP is getting together again after 25 years and will be opening for BIM SKALA BIM at one of the last gigs at Johnny D’s. Donny Jones is still on keys and Angelo still sings. He worked as Prince’s cameraman for many years too. *** THE DUPONT BROTHERS, folk band from Vermont, are reuniting at Passim’s the first week of Janary after many years of being geographically separated. Blood harmonies, great songwriting, and red hot finger-picking guitar work are what to expect. *** KENNE HIGHLAND tells us that 2016 will include reunions of The Gizmos, The Korps, and Johnny And The Jumper Cables that will happen with all living original members. Rita: I think it would be even more interesting if all the dead members had cameos too. Lolita: As long as Kenne wears a kilt and no underwear I’ll be all set. Let’s get back to the final answers to the Question of the Month before you start decomposing.
FINAL EXCELLING ANSWERS
ILANA KATZ KATZ (Blues and Appalachian fiddler/ singer/ songwriter/ novelist/ visual artist): One of the most gifted artists and kind human beings I have ever met is the great Diane Blue. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does. In 2015, her star blossomed further with three noteworthy events: She put out a new record Blues in my Soul and it is truly one of the best this year. That, in and of itself, is a lot of work, but she also started a record label, Regina Royale Records. The other record on that label, at this point, is Toni Lynn Washington’s wonderful new release. Both of those titles are rising on the Living Blues Charts, which doesn’t surprise me. Also, Diane recently became an official member of Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. She has been singing with them for many years, and is in the process of recording on her fourth record with the band. It is always a great joy to experience her performances alongside Ronnie and the band. In addition to all of this, Diane continues to lead her own band, and be incredibly supportive of many musicians and non-musicians alike. In full disclosure I must say how very excited I am to be releasing my next record on the Regina Royale label. I know there is so much more to come for Diane who puts every bit of heart and soul into every note she sings or plays on her harmonica, as if it is her last. That, to me, is the mark of a true artist. *** TONTILEO LIPSHITZ (famous scenester): Having had some difficulty getting around lately I don’t makes shows as often as I would like. The band I most hated to miss in 2015 has to be The Beachcombovers. I have their disc, that is true, but ya’ll know nothing beats live music or the excitement of a show. Surf gods willing, I’ll be able to make it out to a Beachcombovers show when they get their boards out of storage in a few months. *** YUKIKO FUJII (Tokyo Tramps): I would like to mention Shor’ty Billups as the most hard-working blues legend. He is 83 years young, he has been playing blues for nearly 70 years, with artists Wilson Pickett and many others! He appears in blues festivals, bars and events throughout the New England. Lately, our local live music scene is getting tougher. He now co-owns Chili Head BBQ in West Bridgewater, MA, to keep the blues alive! *** ART TIPALDI (Blues Music Magazine): As for a local band I’d have to give the nod to Sugar Ray & the Bluetones. This is a band that continues to play some of the finest traditional blues in the world. each talented member has garnered accolades throughout the blues world. and we are so very lucky to have them continually showing up at various venues in this area. Rita: That’s it. Now I can go back to bed and get ready for next month and Groundhog’s Day.Lolita: You do remind me of a pig and I’m hoping this year Cupid won’t miss your heart with his arrow on Valentine’s day. Keep the faith people, see you next issue!
Adam Roth (Del Fuegoes/ Dennis Leary)