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- 1 BARRENCE WHITFIELD & THE GRITS AND GROCERIES ORCHESTRA
- 2 THE DELTA GENERATORS
- 3 NICK ZAINO
- 4 BANDA DE GOMA
- 5 JON WATERMAN
- 6 CHARLIE FARREN
- 7 KATE EPPERS
- 8 PATRICK NELSON
- 9 THE CASCO BAY TUMMLERS
- 10 6 STAR GENERAL
- 11 SICK PILLS
- 12 CHANDLER TRAVIS PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
- 13 YANI BATTEAU & THE RODEO
- 14 ALASTAIR MOOCK’S PASTURES OF PLENTY
- 15 HEAVY METAL HORNS
- 16 BEST NOT BROKEN
- 17 THE GHOSTS OF JOHNSON CITY
- 18 DON WHITE & CHRISTINE LAVIN
- 19 RICK BERLIN & NICKEL & DIME BAND
- 20 WILLIE “LOCO” ALEXANDER & THE FISHEYE BROTHERS
- 21 ELIZABETH & BEN ANDERSON
- 22 THE OLIVES
- 23 Related
BARRENCE WHITFIELD & THE GRITS AND GROCERIES ORCHESTRA
THE DELTA GENERATORS
The Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA
It’s a cold February night on the waterfront in Fall River, Massachusetts, and the stony exterior of The Narrows’ Center for the Arts tells nothing of the happenings inside. The place is a true diamond in the rough in terms of local venues for the arts. Nestled in an old, abandoned mill building, inside, it is warm and welcoming – a direct contradiction to its exterior. The place is mellow, warm, and funky, being a fusion of art gallery/ concert venue, and an art shop. A truly unique place which has hosted both internationally iconic and local talent equally. Another perk, is that it is strictly BYOB, and yet somehow, rowdiness is never a problem here. The energy is great. Also, the acoustics are quite simply, awesome.
On this particular night, there is a highly impressive double billing rocking these old mill walls. The featured acts are The Delta Generators and Boston area music legend, Barrence Whitfield, which to my mind, are two of the Boston area’s best acts, and they definitely proceed to affirm my opinion. This night’s performances are nothing short of perfection and I suspect that each band has left indelible marks at The Narrows’ Center, delivering performances that tear up the stage in the best way possible. Simply put, they smoked it!
First up, blues rockers, The Delta Generators, opening with “Hand Me Down Blues.” Um, hello awesomeness! I count 14 songs on their set list, none of which disappoint. Front man, Craig Rawding, is delivering up soulful vocals, (at times having the feel of some of Eric Burdon’s early stuff), he really feels what he is singing and emotes it with ease. He also works one truly impressive blues harp. Backed by Rick O’Neal, whose finely tuned bass skills lend a deep, driving foundation to their sounds, Jeff Armstrong, a nice, strong, solid drumming presence, and last, but by no means, least, their phenomenally talented guitar player, Charlie O’Neal. WOW! Easy to forget that there are only four musicians playing, since their sound is so much fuller and so much bigger. The high points for me, are the powerful sounds of “Way Down,’’ “That Evil,” “Night of the Johnstown Flood,” “Get on the Horse,” Two Headed Snake,’ and their final song, “Shake Your Money Maker.” These guys are definitely all that, and more!
Next up, is the one – the only, Barrence Whitfield, who tonight, is accompanied by The Grits and Groceries Orchestra and their performance is tour de force. They open with “Mad House,” and the audience is immediately tweaked. Barrence’s charisma is both natural and electrifying, and utterly infectious, his presence is strongly animated both as he performs, and in between songs, as he interacts easily with the audience. He knows how to own the stage and this band is rocking it. These guys are TIGHT! The Delta Generators’, Charlie O’Neal is pulling double duty, filling in on guitar, and he plays now, as if everything he did so well in his opening performance, was simply an epic warm up to what he proceeds to do now. Robert Lyons delivers some insanely great tenor sax, whose sound pierces the atmosphere with mind boggling ease. Rare to hear sax of this quality. John Anthony plays one hell of a melodic bass also lending some nice backup vocals. Kemp Dunn on drums, easily equals the flawless talent of the rest of the band.
The Narrows’ is by no means, a dance venue, but tonight – no doubt in anticipation of what’s to come, they have moved seating to accommodate those who can’t help but heed Barrence’s call to “get up and shake your booties!” And dance, they do, myself included. It’s impossible to resist. I am feeling hard pressed to choose favorites, with a generous set list of 17 incredible songs, several of which have commanded well deserved standing ovations, but every show has its high points, and for me, those would be “Georgia Slide,” the almost trance inducing,“Chillin’,” the smoking hot, “Bloody Mary,” and an awesomely executed cover of Big Mama Thornton’s, “I Smell a Rat.”
What an unforgettable night here, at The Narrows’. I will definitely recall these performances fondly. Nights such as this one are rare. I do feel sorry for anyone who could not make it to this show, but I feel grateful that I was lucky enough to attend. I will be following tour dates for both bands closely, and I am recommending that others do the same. (R.J. Ouellette)
BANDA DE GOMA
Mashup at Moka, Cafe Moka, Lynn, MA
My first time going to Cafe Moka in Lynn, MA, and as I’m searching for the place on foot a tall gentleman with a grey beard points me the way as if he knows where I’m heading. I look up at the sign and he’s right! It’s the debut night of Mashup at Moka, a multiple singer/songwriter presentation consisting of 20-minute performances by each artist. There’s a friendly feel in this long L-shaped room with art hanging all along its length. The performance area is set up on the hardwood floor at the bend in the L. Host and booker of the Mashup, Patrick Nelson, starts the evening off with acoustic guitar and voice pumped through the P.A. system with an ample amount of reverb making the sound feel large and alive. I’ve seen Patrick before and his songs have stuck with me. He’s doubling as chef and perform tonight! “Do Re Mi” has a nice bounce to it and Patrick’s crisp guitar guitar playing gets the night off to a good start.
Up next is Kate Eppers on keys. She donning a green Ireland V-neck jersey reminding me that it’s St. Patty’s Day (I had my blinking plastic shamrock on earlier but misplaced it during the day). Kate tells us she was in Ireland six years ago and has a song inspired by the trip. This tune sounds like it could be part of an opera. She plays another that she says is a “Franken-song” because she pieced it together from music written at two totally different times. She’s a Disney Freak and her final song is a take on Frozen.
The lanky rock star Charlie Farren (Farrenheit) unexpectedly hops up next and boy does he put on a show. He’s a master rock performer and the new material he’s presenting solo tonight is clearly in the classic rock genre. The big reverb really adds to the imagination of a full band blasting out “My True Story,” “Always” (a beautiful ballad), “Don’t Believe Your Eyes” (sounding like “Livin’ on a Prayer”), and “Powers That Be.” Photographer Sheila Roberts Orlando leans over to me and says, “He’s so commanding!” She’s right. He’s always got a big smile for his audience and the percussive picking of his guitar practically takes the place of a drummer.
Jon Waterman can now claim that Charlie Farren opened for him and he won’t be lying! Jon has been a main stay in North Shore music and his wit and interesting character holds the attention of the Moka fans. He has a wonderful way of breaking into solos on his old acoustic where he slams chords and melody into one. With the kind of material that the Band would like to cover, Jon is comfortable knocking out a kind of American that was popular before the genre’s name existed. He ends with original tribute to Hughie Cannon, the composer of “(Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey” that ends with a verse of the popular old (1902) tune.
Pianist/ vocalist Lynn Taylor’s new duo, Banda de Goma, with Jason Novak on harp graces the stage next. It’s kinda bluesy and then it has a beatnik feel – no it’s kinda soulful. It’s all that and more wrapped up into a fun performance. Jason sing/speaks the lyric to “Back on Track” and the audience gets into clapping along. Lynn says she’s played this exact of piano years ago and loves it, then starts a tune from her latest solo CD. They end with Lynn strapping on her bass and the two sing “Lay me down right as rain.”
Nick Zaino presents himself as a classic folk singer/guitarist complete with harmonica hanging round his neck and mini tambourine strapped on his foot. Nick is a writer and he enjoys making words his focus on “I Can Live Through You.” He says he feels like a cowboy wearing an instrument on his foot that clinks like spurs. He’s the first performer of the night to take the reverb off the PA to give his lyric a definition that didn’t exist for some of the performers earlier in the night. In “Bruises” he uses light guitar notes to bring his lyrics of family violence center stage. He ends with “The Good News” a song a lot of people refer to as “the Bastard Song” and everyone tries to sing along.
I stick around more to talk to the host Patrick and I get introduce to the owner, Yakov Tseitlin – yes, he’s the tall man with the beard that knowingly guided me into Cafe Moka. And wouldn’t you know it – I’m in Lynn, MA and the musical mayor of the town walks in… yes Mr. Don White (see my other live review in this issue). I praise him for his recent performance in Marblehead and it brings a big smile to his face. A nice way to end a night. I leave feeling very fulfilled. (T Max)
THE CASCO BAY TUMMLERS
Port City Blue, Portland, ME
The great thing about living in Portland, Maine, is that I can drive away from my house and within 15 minutes I can find myself sitting in a venue listening to live music. The Casco Bay Tummlers, a Klezmer band, are appearing here in Blue on this Thursday night. About a dozen people are here when I show up and I am able to grab a table for myself close to the stage. The band is composed of clarinetist Steve Gruverman, percussionist Eric LaPerna, John Clark on stand-up bass, and visiting violinist, Sarah Mueller. I saw them a long time ago when a few more people were in the band. Tonight’s performance features no vocalist, it is an instrumental show. I’m awash with chills with the first mysterious tune – the klezmer clarinet is like nothing else. The tunes all long for something, the scale is wistful. In my head I see women wearing colorful scarves dancing – it’s almost like Persian belly dancing music. The musicians are talking about Dixieland klezmer music, Rastafarian klezmer music, any kind of klezmer music. They ask, “What do Rastafarians and Klezmer musicians have in common?” I suggest “Curly hair?” The band laughs. The songs are from the Balkans, from Turkey, from Jews emigrating to America. It’s a timeless kind of blues music, emanating from the enigmatic heart of Eastern Europe. If you’ve never heard it, treat yourself when you have the chance. The ancestors fill the room, invisible though they are. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)
6 STAR GENERAL
The Parlour, Providence, RI
Winter is winding down but it is still bitter cold as I brave the frozen tundra to ride my sled dogs to Providence to see two great bands for a 75orless records night. Where are all the sunny tundras? The Parlour is a nice place to play a show or see one. I just don’t like the paintings of giant Marshall amps on the rear of the stage. I think it makes the real amps look small and is distracting, it makes it cheesy if you videotape your set or take pictures, but hey, what do I know about sliced bread? 6 Star General have small amps but big sounds. Singer and bassist Mark is ever entertaining as a frontman, with asides, introductions,observations, and conversations between songs. 6 Star General have been winning hearts and minds with their blend of 90’s college rock and punky alternative for over a decade and they have this down to a sweet science. Well placed covers of Daniel Johnston, Grandaddy, and Camper Van Beethoven give you a glimpse of their influences. The night might have been running late, because their set seemed a bit short to me, but that’s rock and roll sometimes.
After a short break Sick Pills storm the stage, like well mannered Vikings. Singer/ guitar player Chris Evil has been playing around New England in Blood Moons and Chris Evil & the Taints for many a year. This band mixes his punk and garage influences with a bit more straight up rock ’n’ or roll. They do a cool version of “Goodbye Horses” from Silence of the Lambs, but rely mainly on their well crafted catchy punk nuggets. This is their first show in a couple of years with their old drummer, but they sound pretty well rehearsed. These two veteran bands of the Providence punk and whatever scene make the frostbite worthwhile. (Eric Baylies)
CHANDLER TRAVIS PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
YANI BATTEAU & THE RODEO
Johnny D’s (Closing Weekend), Somerville , MA
For so many many special years, Johnny D’s has been a mecca for disparate entertainment. Easily one of my fave rooms in the Boston area, it has championed national and local acts with a honest and healthy attitude towards its patrons and staff. With seating in close proximity to the stage, we always felt treated to an intimate showcasing of talent. But, this past weekend it all comes to a close after forty years of extended family effort. Another club bites the dust… such a goddamn shame!
Two bands that have dazzled at past shows return to a rousing welcome. First up, the singing banjo-queen Yani Batteau and her group spin out country-folk-bluegrass yarns with low-key humor and tight ensemble playing. Usually a trio, today she is sporting a larger outfit with drums, trombone, and backing singer. Song by song the admiration grows until the floor is filled with barn-dance stompin’. Only an encore will suffice… darn tootin’.
Next, the amazing, thrilling, grinning, crooning, lounge-(or is it bedtime?)-lizard – Mr. Chandler Travis and his Philharmonic Orchestra appear. Opening with “This is Home,” and then an ode to Somerville, he sends the crowd into overdrive. The club is packed wall-to-wall, people are bursting with laughter and love, dancing dervishes devoted to his care-free manner and wonderful pop tunes. No wonder his entertainment factor has been a perfect ten for umpteen years. He brings the owner Carla DeLellis on stage to rousing cheers and presents her with a gift of engraved chopsticks and the sly joker serenades her and the audience in a hyper-climax to this afternoon showcase. Sweet memories are made of this. (Harry C. Tuniese)
P.S. – I hear that this evening’s surprise entertainment was The J. Geils Band – after the sold-out Rickie Lee Jones show on Tuesday, that’s truly going out in style!
ALASTAIR MOOCK’S PASTURES OF PLENTY
Me & Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead, MA
Kids! There are kids with their kid voices filling up the pews of Me & Thee with a youthful din that can only be made by kids. I’m told that these are third graders from the Glover School in Marblehead and they are part of tonight’s show.
As soon as the lights go down the room hushes to a silence and Alastair Moock (guitar/ banjo/ vocals), Eric Royer (banjo/ vocals), Sean Staples (mandolin/ guitar/ vocals), Paul Kochanski (bass/ vocals) and the 10 year-old Fiddlin’ Quinn (fiddle/ vocals) set the stage like it’s their living room for the night. “Hard Travellin'” commences and country bluegrass bounce has those kids in the front row doing a heavy sway right and left. Alastair lets us know that his Pastures of Plenty has been kickin’ its heels for 20 years. The idea of the project is that each member brings in songs from American history and stories are told about each tune. The audience sets the music and a bit of history thrown in. Each member takes the lead vocal on their song and the rest follow along giving it a fresh semi-rehearsed feel. Even Quinn’s dad, Chris Eastburn, swaps places with Alastair to play along with some songs that Quinn sings. His young voice still untouched by puberty cuts through volume of the instruments easily, like on “Rocky Top Tennessee.” That’s followed by Dave Van Ronk’s slippery slidin’ “Baltimore.” One of the funniest songs of the night is “The Bright Side of Me,” a rolling Moock original that is sung from a kid’s perspective about looking on the positive side of their doings. Mr. Moock invites one of the third graders, his daughter Cleo, up to join him on vocals for a couple of tunes from the 2012 Grammy nominated Singing Our Way Through Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids. Cleo is one of these kids who battled through leukemia when she was five years old. They do “When I Get Bald” and “B-R-A-V-E” and the talent is obviously flowing in the Moock family. Sean Staples gets featured with his song “Joy Comes Back” and tells the story of how a video was made by one of those BRAVE kids singing this song. Next Elsa Moock (Cleo’s twin sister) is up leading “This Little Light of Mine.” Then the group of 17 third graders get their spotlight time singing “Glover School Song” and all the parents in the audience are standing with their iPhones recording the momentous occasion. Time for a well-earned coffee and treat break.
Fifteen minutes later the audience thins out with a lot of the parents escorting their star children home for bedtime. But the show is not over yet. Eric Royer picks an interesting song, “Pegging On,” about how a man who pegged shoes for a living in the mid-1800s was replace by a machine that could do the job faster. Quinn shows off his fiddlin’ skills with the classic “Orange Blossom Special.” And Alastair tells an intriguing story about how the song “Freight Train” was written by the 12-year-old Elizabeth “Libby” Cotten and by a strange set of circumstances, and a 25 year break from playing guitar, ended up performing her classic folk song at the Newport Folk Festival at the age of 80. Paul Kochanski executes the lead vocal on “I Just Destroyed the World” and surprisingly sounds a bit like Johnny Cash. Eric rolls into “Pastures of Plenty,” the groups one-chord theme song penned by Woody Gutherie. Then Sean claims the next composer must have been showing off with the TWO-CHORD “Take Me back to Tulsa” where Paul takes an extended bass solo. They see us off with “You Are My Sunshine” and “Good Night Irene.” (T Max)
HEAVY METAL HORNS
25th Anniversary Reunion
Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA
Tonight’s music is being played in front of a packed house and is sorta like Tower of Power meets Chicago, and I can feel the excitement in the air. The original rhythm section has come to the club from all over the place just to be at this gig. Peter Calo (Carly Simon Band) on guitar and vocals is from upper state New York. Drummer Jim Sturdevant journeyed up from PA. Pengbian Sang on bass trekked all the way from the Dominican Republic. With fellow founding member John Mathews singing and on keys joining the incredible horn section of Henley Douglas and John Vanderpool on saxes, John Ferry (Bim Skala Bim) tooting trombone and on vocals and Garrett Savluk on trumpet for a great night of brass and funk. The crowd is going nuts and getting louder and louder as the night proceeds. Check out their set list: Old Heavy Metal Horns tunes “Shake” and “99%” by Calo and “You Make Me Want To Rock” and “The Horns Are In The House” by Berklee legend Thaddeus Hogarth. And they cover “Champagne” by The Del Fuegos, “Hang Up Your Hangups” by Herbie Hancock, “Can’t Find My Way Back Home” by Blind Faith’s Stevie Winwood and Tower of Power’s “You’re Still A Young Man.” Trust me. The roof and walls of the club are shaking! The band says they’re gonna be back for another gig or two real soon and I can’t wait. New music from this legendary old band? Keep your fingers crossed and on the valves. (A.J. Wachtel)
BEST NOT BROKEN
Blue Ocean Music Hall, Salisbury, MA
The storm-whipped waves pounding against the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Massachusetts, provides the backdrop for Best Not Broken (“BNB”) from Manchester, New Hampshire, as they open the night for the iconic Jefferson Starship. Eric Jackson (vocals, guitar), Carlo Carluccio (drums), Brian Eyberg (keyboards), and Mark Oswald (bass) take the stage for this sold-out show not knowing what to expect. The band opens with “Anarchy,” an upbeat melody with the story of a crazy love affair that contains lines like “I’ll forget you’re a psycho crazy bitch.” They then perform “I Won’t Stop Loving You,” the story of growing old with your only love. After another slow love song “Breaking My Heart,” the band goes straight into “Listerine,” a simple way to explain the sting of a lost love. “What The Night Has Left” brings the crowd back from tears and they are moving again.
The Jefferson Starship biased crowd gets into Best Not Broken’s power pop material with bobbing heads, chair dancing, and arm waving that leads to rich applause after every song. Eric entices the crowd by saying if they go to Facebook and like the band, they will get a free CD at the end of the show. Immediately cell phones begin lighting up all over the venue indicating that the band will be handing out quite a few CDs. Continuing with their set, BNB goes into the danceable “Tell Me That You Want Me” that gets a few of the chair dancers up out of their seats. This song was debuted on the radio by Chris Desimonie on Frank FM 106.3 and featured by Pat Monahan of Train on his Sirius XM show Train Tracks last November.
The band closes their 40-minute set with a cover of “The Letter” by The Box Tops just to show this crowd that BNB can bring the R&B and sound amazing doing it. Best Not Broken exits the stage to rousing applause and whistles leaving them with no doubt that if they were not the opening band an encore would be in order.
The band meets a long line of new fans to sign CDs before and after Jefferson Starship’s set; a sight you rarely see when you are the support for the night. It’s a great night for a local band starting to catch the eye and ear of New Englanders by giving fun performances of great songs with sometimes funny and sometimes thoughtful lyrics combined with killer melodies. (Brick Mason)
THE GHOSTS OF JOHNSON CITY
Port City Blue, Portland, ME
The last time I saw these guys I said I was going to see them again as soon as possible. So here I am again in Blue with skads of other people – the place is packed. As the “Ghosts” assemble on stage they tell us that tonight all the songs will be original compositions. They begin with “Fare Thee Well,” an acoustic and harmonic minor-key dirge featuring the sociopathic lyrics of a cruel, possibly jealous husband who carries out the demise of his golden haired bride right in front of us. Musically, that is! Next is a song honoring the explosion at the Stag Canyon Mine in New Mexico, the second worst mine disaster in American history taking over 250 souls. Now we hear “Evelyn McHale” about a most beautiful death of Ms. McHale who, in her red dress and pearls, leaped from the Empire State Building and landed on a parked limousine, where she looked like a woman sleeping in folded blankets of metal. A theme somewhere between Edgar Allen Poe and America’s Most Wanted is emerging. More story songs: one about America’s first serial killing family, the Benders; correspondence of heartsick lovers of the Gold Rush; Civil War tragedies; The Sultana Steamboat disaster claiming over 1800 souls; the influenza epidemic of 1918. And more. I find myself getting emotional, realizing that remorse and sorrow linger near the earth, and this band is a mouthpiece for stories that long to be told. I imagine more ghosts lining up behind songwriter Amos Libby, tugging on his sleeve, “Tell my story now, tell mine.” Their mission is profound. They are bringing back a genre from a bygone era that feels prescient and important. Doug Porter, Erik Neilson, Erik Winter, Ian Riley and Amos are supported this evening with help on vocals by Bridget. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)
DON WHITE & CHRISTINE LAVIN
Me & Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead, MA
On a day that commands us to “march forth” (through the snow), Don White celebrates his birthday in front of a crowd of adoring fans. Me & Thee is quickly packed so I squeeze into a tight space in the front pew – I love getting to see the nuances of performers facial expressions. New Yorker Christine Lavin starts with a hilarious opening set and though I could elaborate on every well-chosen comic tale, I have to follow The Noiseformat and move on to our New England-based artist of the night, the afore mentioned musician/ storyteller/ comedian, Don White. For those not in the know, Don is practically the Mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts, by way of his never-ending attention to his local community. His quick wit earns him big laughs, like when he boasts about being married for 38 years, then looks out at the mature audience and adds, “but I can see I’m not gonna win any awards here.” He sings about his relationship with his dog, his kids growing up, and his wife, and every song brings on gut-busting laughs. But what really makes Don the master of his audience is his ability to turn around and hit you with a serious life lesson sewn into a song that practically brings tears to your eyes. He introduces vocalist Christina Thompson and violinist Jackie Damsky to back him up and also lets them take the spotlight for their own song. Don follows that up with about 15 minutes of real life standup comedy. Then Christine Lavin joins him and the laughs keep coming. She also manages to get everyone up shaking and dancing. The surprising highlight of the night is a serious one, when Don delivers the simple yet beautiful title track of his latest CD, More Alive. In it he tugs on our heart strings with advice from of his wild 82-year-old Aunt Betty Mae who lives life like she’s 22. Other great songs at the end of the night include a Don/Christine duet of “I’m Glad S/he Can’t Read My Mind,” a version of “Goodnight Irene” impaled with some creative new verses, and “Sensitive New Age Guys” where a dozen or so male members pile on the stage offering their untrained baritones to the chorus. If you get the chance, buy a ticket to go see Don White in concert, it’s one of the better things in life. (T Max)
RICK BERLIN & NICKEL & DIME BAND
WILLIE “LOCO” ALEXANDER & THE FISHEYE BROTHERS
ELIZABETH & BEN ANDERSON
Nickel & Dime CD Release Party
Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA
Totally amazing – it’s icon time at this venerable establishment. Celebrating the release of Rick & Nickel’s EP Badville, we are treated to a major showcase from two local legends, still plowing the fields of creativity. Settling in for some prime entertainment, the opening act is the very young brother/sister Ben & Elizabeth Anderson, who offer a set of Irish jigs, reels, and folderol… mildly interesting.
But then, we quickly step into the realm of the sublime with a short powerful selection from Rick & Co., who introduce some of the new tunes and several classics from Rick’s oeuvre. Tonight they are doing two sets and the band is whip sharp – the audience relishes it. As always, Mr. Berlin is brilliant and the crowd adores him. Obviously, we are being primed for a rare local appearance by Mr. Alexander & The Fisheye Brothers (Jim Doherty: drums and Mark Chenevert: clarinet & saxes).
In a ten-song explosion of energy, we get a concise primer of Willie’s vital spirit and songwriting hijinks. Opening with a twisted reworking of “Great Balls of Fire,” and his two initial classics, “Kerouac” (it was his birthday!) and “Mass. Ave” (Willie says: “just cause it’s right outside”), we get a cross section of his decades-long career. Other stopping points were “Shopping Cart Louie,” “Ogalala,” “Life is the Poem,” and “Dirty Eddie.” Pure rockin’ bliss!
When we return to the Berlin & Dime Band, they are rejuvenated by Loco’s set, and unleash a sampling of their torchin’, tender, terrific tunes from their past few albums. The new EP’s title track, “Badville” is an apt metaphor for this group – honest and true, down-home, catchy, enthusiastic, talented BAD-ASS daddios (Jesse, Mike, Sam, Ricky, Rob, Al, and the exceptional Jane Mangini)! We are totally wiped out and awash in admiration for a tremendous evening. Thank you very much! (Harry C. Tuniese)
The Foundation Room in The House of Blues, Boston, MA
These guys don’t get out and play as much as they used to because they all have other responsibilities. And that’s a pity because they’re as good as the handful of other Grateful Dead inspired bands in the area like Max Creek, Playin’ Dead, Crazy Fingers and Dead Beat. New Hampshire guitarist Leo Ganley (Lemon Fresh Kids, Weed,Inc.) on lead vocals and guitar, George Chambers playing lead guitar, Jeff Wyman (The Fiends) on four strings and Norm Fuller (The Cause) pounding play really well together. There is a lot going on onstage between the tight playing and good arrangements. The guitarists sound great and like they’ve shared the spotlight forever and the bass and drums keep it jumping. They remind me a bit of 10,000 Maniacs meets R.E.M. This is a real good party band and the nice harmonies and power pop sound make original songs like “New England Town,” “Eskimo Pie,” “Mary Goes ‘Round,” and “Mother Earth” sound like familiar tunes you’ve heard on the radio before. “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Fab Four, “Big Railroad Blues” and “Don’t Ease Me In” by The Dead are cool covers people in the crowd are swaying and singing along with too. A lot of fun. Let’s hope their next gig is sooner than later. (A.J. Wachtel)
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