Rita: Whenever I think about growing up with you it makes me shudder. Lolita: With all the extra baggage you’ve acquired the term should be growing out. Enough of your heavy handedness let’s get to our question of the month – Where did you grow up and what were the major music events and influences from the area? And if you didn’t grow up in New England how did it compare to what you’ve experienced here? Start talking Willie! WILLIE ALEXANDER (Fisheye Brothers/ Fishtones/ Persistence of Memory Orchestra): I grew up in New England listening to the radio (I was listening to it before there was any rock ’n’ roll too) and hearing music in church, ’cause my dad was a minister and my mom was a good singer and played the violin in civic orchestras. So I heard a lot of “good music.” *** CHRIS PORTER (Once Ballroom/ Chris Porter Productions): I grew up in Lowell, MA. Not too many musical highlights there while I was growing up, however I do fondly remember when I was around 14 I snuck into a big outdoor ULowell event that featured Robin Lane & the Chartbusters and The Atlantics. I was thrilled to see those bands and it whetted my appetite to seek out more local rock. It also helped inspire me to eventually get involved with the local rock scene in the future. *** MYANNA PONTOPPIDAN (The Lovedogs/ Myanna): I grew up in Weston, MA. For me the musical highlight was being introduced to jazz by a large circle of friends including Gray Sargent and his brother, Andy Baer, and Dave Bragdon. I credit them with my discovering my love of the saxophone. We would go many nights up to Lennie Sogoloff’s club – Lennie’s on the Turnpike in Peabody to hear jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Illinois Jacquet, and many more. It was an excellent jazz education. *** MARK CUTLER (Men of Great Courage): I grew up in Cranston, RI, a suburb of Providence. The place to see concerts when I was a kid was The Palace Theater in downtown Providence. Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, Bowie, Bruce, Steely Dan and Aerosmith among many others played there a lot an informed much of my musical taste. The place was known for its eclectic bills. I believe Mott opened for The Mahavishnu Orchestra there. Brown Spring Weekend was always a great festival type thing. I first saw NRBQ in the early ’70s there. Also, in my little neighborhood, we had for real garage bands. We’d sit in our bikes in the band’s driveway and watch until the cops came and closed the free concert down.
Rita: Now is the perfect time to spread the word about what’s going on in the New England music scene. Lolita: I just hate it when you make sense. STEVEN TYLER to headline the first ever Laconia Fest later this month. He will appear with his Nashville band LOVING MARY during Laconia’s 93rd Bike Week. *** LIZ BORDEN seen at Soundscape Studio in Fort Point working with DAN INZANA (Melt) and grrrrl band FLIGHT OF FIRE at 8:00 in the morning. “It’s way too early to rock,” Liz says, “but these girls manage to do it.” Check out twins TANYA and TIA DMUCHOWSKI and DORIAN MAVERICK right now. *** Blues harp player extraordinaire PARKER WHEELER hosted another great Sunday gig at The Grog on the North Shore. Grammy nominated JON BUTCHER joined the mix for a super show at this perfect place. Jon’s latest CD 2 Roads East has cool cameos from Connecticut’s Beehive Queen CHRISTINE OHLMAN (Saturday Night Live Band/ Rebel Montez), ex-musical director of Joe Cocker’s band CLIFF GOODWIN (Rebel Montez), bassist WOLF GINANDES drummer MARTY RICHARDS (The J. Geils Band) and saxman DERIC DYER (ex-Tina Turner Band/ Joe Cocker Band). *** Surf rockers TSUNAMI OF SOUND’s drummer RICK SANGER tells us the band was just at Armory Sound in Somerville with studio whiz PETE WEISS. They recorded a killer version of “My Favorite Martian” originally done by The Bobby Fuller Four. The new CD, Permanent Wave, will have seven originals and seven covers. DAVID ESPOSITO on guitar, JAMIE HUGGINS on bass and Sanger pounding. *** ILANA KATZ KATZ the fantastic violinist who mixes appalachian and blues music can be seen playing in the subway stations most of the days and she just joined blues diva MICHELLE WILLSON at The Beehive in The South End for a killer show. A great and very romantic club with small round and candlelit tables. Sorta like the bar in Casablanca. But in living color. *** SAM BLACK CHURCH played their third and final performance of their reunion weekend at The Brighton Music Hall. They called it Re-Alive 2016 and it’s in support of the 90-minute documentary Leave Behind A Groove In The Earth.The Story of Sam Black Church that just debuted in Brooklyn. *** A few weeks ago, ADAM EZRA and his band showed up for a private show at The Brickhouse near Portland, Maine, PAUL WILLIAMS‘ place for a few drinks and a few songs. Their tune “Let Your Hair Down” nearly blew the roof off of the room. *** The Ninth Annual Blues After Hours fundraiser and tribute to MAI CRAMER is the first saturday in June at The Regent Theatre. LUTHER “GUITAR JUNIOR” JOHNSON, TONI LYNN WASHINGTON, SUGAR RAY AND THE BLUETONES, BARRETT ANDERSON, JUSTIN QUINN, PETER HI-FI and BABE PINO will be onstage. Proceeds benefit Mass Farmer’s Markets and the show sold out last year. *** More blues news- Check out the blues jam alternating sundays at Crows Nest Pub and Grill in Plaistow, New Hampshire. Great food, music and pool. The other sundays each month are acoustic open mic nights. *** JOE KESSLER‘s Klezmer band THE KLEZWOODS have a new CD out called Toy Monkey. *** Did you know there is a Berklee Silent Film Orchestra? Their new original score will get it’s North Shore premier in the middle of the month for silent film giant Emil Jannings starring in a wrenching tale of love and lust called Jealousy. Set in a circus with trapeze artists and murder and released ninety years ago in a new digital restoration with the twelve piece BSFO performing live to picture at The Cabot. *** Northampton art rock band BELLA’S BARTOK have a new single called “Ramona.” Check it out. We love this very theatrical band. *** RONNIE EARL the 2014 Blues Foundation’s Guitarist of the Year in Memphis just joined diva Janiva Magness, who’s new album Love Wins Again recently debuted at number five on the Billboard charts, for a great version of Buddy Guy’s “I Smell Trouble” at The Bull Run, in Shirley. *** DAN LAWSON just opened for Blue Oyster Cult at The Blue Ocean Club right on the ocean in Salisbury. His band will also be at the Laconia Fest on the same bill as Tyler’s band LOVING MARY. Until then you can catch him hosting his open mic night at St. Anthony’s Club in Woburn every Friday night. *** PETER WOLF playing the 30th Annual Green River Festival in Western Massachusetts the middle of July. Local legend SUSAN TEDESCHI and her group THE TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND is also on the bill. There will be hot air balloons giving hour long rides and tons more there too. We predict there is absolutely NO chance that Wolf goes up in a balloon but you never know. “Don’t worry about the Indiana Jones Syndrome,” says balloon meister PAUL SENA, “the landings are soft and pleasant.” Three stages plus camping and food. Plan ahead, folks. *** ELLIS PAUL and national singer/ songwriter VANCE GILBERT are having a songwriter’s retreat in the middle of august. Three days of fun and workshops on beautiful Cape Cod at The Craigsville Tabernacle, in Centerville. Workshops include songwriting, guitar performance, music business, marketing and touring. Multiple sessions during the day and round the clock access to a private beach five minutes away. Nightly entertainment and jams. RALPH JACCODINE in Cambridge is the manager and event coordinator. *** Blues axeman BROOKS YOUNG and his band are recording at Rocking Horse Studio in Pittsfield, New Hampshire working on their new album. The EP will be called What The Night Knows. We dig two of the cuts “We Were Young” and ” Losing Game” which were both mixed in Cambridge by JONATHAN WYNER. *** BOB NISI has left ERIN HARPE AND THE DELTA SWINGERS and LOVEWHIP and is now back in his old band RED ZONE CUBA. They had their first show since 2004 at the Abbey Lounge Reunion gig. *** Legendary ’80s TV host JOHN DAVIDSON, from Hollywood Squares, will be performing on acoustic guitar at Passim’s, in July. He was born in West Bridgewater and lives in Lenox now. *** Atwood’s Tavern just celebrated their tenth anniversary. The ROY SLUDGE TRIO with JIMMY SCOPPA on growling guitar played at the party. *** RYSE is finishing up recording their six song EP titled From Peace To Pieces. They are also playing a huge metal festival at the end of July in Vermont called Wookie Fest.
MORE HOMETOWN HIGHLIGHTS
Rita: Enough gossip. Let’s ask another local legend about about their early music experiences. JAY WILLIE (Jay Willie Band): I grew up and currently reside in the beautiful town of Newtown, CT. The musical scene in general was much better in the ’70s and ’80s. Although Newtown itself did not have any notable music venues the local and surrounding clubs supported live music and there were some area bands that were highly respected and drew a big crowd. Some of the local bands that I recall and really liked included, Tony Richards and the Kman Band, The Simms Brothers Band, Steeple Chase, Twisted Sister, The Good Rats, Voices and a band my brother Tod was in named Diamond Roller. Fortunately if we wanted to see a national touring act there was a lot of opportunity in the New Haven, Hartford and Waterbury areas. One of the most memorable to me was in 1973 at Dillion Stadium in Hartford. The show included The J. Geils Band, Humble Pie and Peter Frampton’s Camel. Humble Pie included the Blackberries, a backup vocals trio with Venetta Fields and it was very cool. *** DEBBIE CATALANO (Catalano Creative): I grew up in Winchester, MA – a small suburb but close enough to Boston to feel the Boston scene. There weren’t any musical highlights in Winchester that I recall, but for me before I was of age, my highlight was watching the video channel V66. That’s how I was introduced to a ton of Boston bands before I could get out to the clubs to see them – little did I know that one day I’d be working with some of them! *** BRUCE BEARS (Duke Robillard/ Bruce Bears Trio): I grew up in bucolic Topsfield, Massachusetts where there were many musical experiences to be had. We had a good music program at Masconomet High School, one that produced a slew of excellent musicians: including bassist Joe Holaday of The Fools, Beatlejuice etc., saxophonist Larry Panella (whose performance credits include Sting and who is also Associate Professor of Music at The University of Southern Mississippi), John Cameron from Bim Skala Bim, and Tony winner Donna Murphy, to name just a few. When I was a kid Joe Holaday and Leo Vrettos (who both later played in The Fools) performed in the area all the time. I’ll never forget seeing them play at Proctor School in downtown Topsfield when I was around 12 or 13… that was probably the first time joining and playing in a rock band crossed my mind (and also the first time I saw a Hammond B3 in action). At around the same time I had the chance to play in a big band that Larry Panella’s saxophone teacher Red Hamilton used to run at his home in Boxford. That made a huge impression on me… it was too much fun (even if I was just playing the fourth trombone part)! I also had been to Lenny’s on the Turnpike on Route 1 once or twice with my dad where my Aunt Jessie waited tables, and I went to Sandy’s Jazz Revival in Beverly when I was very young as well. Around that time Buddy Rich played at our high school too and put on quite the show, and Duke Ellington played at the Topsfield Fair. I also snuck into EJ’s on Route 1 and The Grog in Newburyport to see the rock bands a few years later when I was around 16 or 17. Needless to say it was a rich musical childhood. *** Local legend behind the kit BOBY BEAR: I am no longer active in the music scene. I no longer play. I can’t find anyone who wants to let me actually play. In recent years, I’ve found that for some reason, other musicians have not been able to resist the temptation of giving me drum lessons. Typically, I get the call, based upon my alleged skills, then, the next thing you know, I’m being remolded. It just kept happening over and over until finally, the prospect of playing the drums became a joyless experience. Eventually, I realized that obviously, I didn’t really have that much to offer anyone, so I gave up. I wouldn’t have the confidence to strike a drum if my life depended on it. Anyway, that’s what I’ve experienced here in New England.
Lolita: Back to babbling. New JENNY DEE & THE DELINQUINTS single “Idle Hands” includes special sauce provided by G. LOVE on harmonica. Recorded and mixed at Q Division Studios by PAT DICENSO and mixed by their fearless leader ED VALAUSKAS. *** Thunder Road has Monday night residencies of stripped sets at “Murdock Manor” and every Wednesday it’s BEARLY DEAD rocking out. *** Vocalist extraordinaire CHERYL ARUDA had a great gig at Mickey Bliss’s downstairs happening at The Cantab. CHERYL ARUDA & DIRTY BLONDE are a great group. *** Me & Thee recently hosted new acoustic talent singer/songwriters MATT NAKOA and RACHEL KILGOUR. Keep your eyes and ears out for these talented artists. *** A recent really ripping dance/rock night at The Spotlight Tavern on The North Shore with ABSOLUTE GENTLEMEN, OL’ BROWN SHOE, NICK THE BARBARIAN, CACTUS ATTACK, THE RADIATOR RATTLERS and DCDR. WILLIE ALEXANDER and his FISHEYE BROTHERS are at this cool club and on the same bill with THE NERVOUS EATERS and THE REAL KIDS the third week of July. Don’t miss this excellent event! *** MARIACHI INTERNACIONAL is a premier mariachi band. Go check them out every Friday and Sunday nights at Casa Vallarta in Saugus and every Thursday and Sunday nights at the same franchise but different location in Northborough. Trumpeter TOM HALTER is also in jazz band EITHER ORCHESTRA so expect a little Miles via Mexico when you’re eating your nachos. *** Connecticut r&b /blues group THE JAY WILLIE BLUES BAND has a new studio recorded release called Hell On Wheels due out in September. *** CHRIS PORTER is back in town booking Once Ballroom and tells us “I’m still technically Seattle based and will be working on the venue remotely however I will be in Boston more throughout the year than I usually am. So, I’ll sorta be bi-coastal these days. I’m psyched to spend more time in my old home.” *** DUKE ROBILLARD keeping himself very busy these days. He’s finishing his Full Circle CD with all original compositions and one obscure cover, “Last Night” by Jimmy “Baby Face” Lewis. This will be very traditional blues and will feature contributions from local legends SUGAR RAY NORCIA, and KELLY HUNT. Due out in September. He’s also just finishing up Duke And His Girlfriends with tons of female special guests that is scheduled to be released next year. This is a fun romp through music of the ’20s and ’30s featuring lead vocals by many of the area’s best known divas. Lastly, Duke recently did his first sessions for a new KNICKERBOCKER ALL-STARS album featuring his band with Jimmy Vaughn on guitar. *** Happy birthday to seductive scenester DI DUNN THOMPSON. *** BILL HOWARD brought his solo act to the grand opening of The Inn on Peaks Island in Maine. You just hop on a ferry, go out to the island and enjoy some great food and nice entertainment. A picture perfect place, folks, and Bill will be back. You can also catch him running the weekly acoustic open mic night every tuesday at the Sea Dog Brewery in South Portland, Maine. *** MUCK AND THE MIRES successfully returned from their tour of Spain – Ninguna Mierda. *** The Real Kids got back from playing down in Atlanta, GA. Their first song was “Better Be Good” and JOHN FELICE introduced the song by saying “We’re The Real Kids. We’re from Boston” and the packed house went nuts. *** ERIN HARPE & THE DELTA SWINGERS just won The Granite State Blues Challenge and are going to Memphis to compete in the international blues challenge next January. This is their third time making it to the IBC. Erin did a solo/duo performance and they’ve been down their twice before with harp player extraordinaire and Vizztone Records owner ROSY ROSENBLATT. Bassist JIM COUNTRYMAN and the band also represented our state a few years ago.*** Club Passim in collaboration with The Reel Blues Fest will launch Reel Blues @ Club Passim in the beginning of June. The new series will feature established blues musicians and introduce emerging and younger artists to local audiences. Each show will be filmed by independent film makers in Boston. They will kick off with blues legend JAMES MONTGOMERY paired with seventeen year old guitar prodigy TYLER MORRIS. Blues radio personality HOLLY HARRIS is mc-ing all the nights. *** STEVEN TYLER announced an intimate solo “Out On A Limb” tour with the Aerosmith front man playing theaters. Nineteen cities with the trek kicking off in the beginning of July and getting to Boston September 4th at The Citi Performing Arts Center/ Wang Theatre. *** We hear LOU MIAMI‘s son ADRIAN DOHERTY is in a local band. *** Legendary social activist/humorist BARRY CRIMMINS overheard saying “the real problem with the upcoming election is one of them is gonna win.” *** Check out New Hampshire’s ANNA MADSEN and her new CD “Efflorescence.” *** MARTIN NESTOR & THE BLACKJACKS are sorta like Arlo Guthrie meets John Hammond. They will be at The Bull Run the first week of July playing their new release “Live From The Bull Run.” JEFF ROOT, LLOYD LLSLEY, and CARL JOHNSON are the other members of the band. Congrats to Martin for his daughter JACKIE getting married to PETER BOSWELL. We wonder if the band played his daughter’s nuptials? *** RICK BERLIN and his NICKEL & DIME BAND taking a break from playing out for a few months as they rehearse new tunes for their next record to be recorded at Dimension Sound with JOE STEWART doing the production. His other project, “2 Hepcats, Ink” has him and ROBBY MANOCHIO behind an intriguing proposition. They will write a song for YOU! Just define the style, genre, and topic and you’ll get your song. We love it. Rick is always doing something new and interesting!
FINAL HOMETOWN HIGHLIGHTS
Rita: And now for the last of our answers. HATTIE BARRETT (Shor’ty Billips & The Foxx Band): I grew up in Fort Valley, GA. and Roberta, GA. Musical highlights: All of the R&B and gospel group from that area who are now legends, I had the privilege of knowing their families and them personally. James Brown, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Bobby Womack, Little Johnny Jones, Sam Cooke. They all made sure to do a summer show. There is no comparison that I can speak about without getting a “backlash.” I can safely say its been an EXPERIENCE. *** SHANE LAMM (Ryse): Growing up in New England I was raised into classic rock through my father (Michael Lamm drummer of Axminster). He had me listening to bands like Aerosmith, AC/DC Led Zepplin, etc. ACDC was the first band I listened to when I started playing drums at eight. From that point on I branched off into many genres of rock from hard rock to heavy metal and death metal. Godsmack was a huge hometown band that I still follow to this day. That band opened my eyes to all aspects of the music I listen to and play today. Those guys had a great stage presence, quality music and great music structure. If it weren’t for me listening to them I don’t know where I would be in music. *** RON POKE CHOP GILL (Poke Chop & The Other White Meats): I’m living and performing in the Portland, Maine, area. I was born in New York just outside the city in Oceanside NY but spent most of my life in Denver. I’ve found it to be a very open scene here, especially on the blues front. I can say I’ve jammed with just about everyone who plays blues in Maine. I’ve been involved in my own band, Poke Chop and The Other White Meats since I got here and we’ve had a very good run. We’ve been named The Portland Phoenix’s Best Blues Act in 2013, we received a NEMA nomination, we’ve played the Maine Blues Festival nearly every year since it’s existed, played some openings for national acts, even been invited to the Marshall Islands for a series of performances. I’ve also been heavily involved with the Maine Blues Society in trying to help raise the visibility of blues in Maine and presenting some Blues In The Schools programs. *** MATTHEW STUBBS (Matthew Stubbs & The Antiguas): I grew up in Hampstead, NH. My father is also a musician so I was always around music and his band practicing and gigging. I was into blues music from the start. At that time there were lots of great jams all over New England. My father would take me all over and I would sit in and listen to the bands. After high school I went to Berklee for a year then ended up moving to LA for three years. Once I got the Charlie Musselwhite gig I moved back east and have been living in Boston ever since. I am still Musselwhite’s guitarist and I’m on the road about 140 days a year. When I’m not on tour I have my own band called Matthew Stubbs & The Antiguas which is an instrumental garage/ soul/ twang type thing. *** NATALIE JOLIE: I was raised here in Wakefield, MA, I’ve lived here my whole life. Wakefield is actually really big into music. We have a lot of local bands, live music, and the school system prides itself on the music department. My favorite part of the music in Wakefield was on the 4th of July as a kid they had a bad play on the bandstand and everyone would be dancing to old classics while waiting for the fireworks. Last year I was asked to sing in between sets of the main band on that band stand and to sing the national anthem, so my next goal is to actually be hired as the main band and get to play in front of the 20,000 or so people that attend every year! *** Rita: Great answers. Sounds like a good time to end the column. Lolita: See you with a new column in July !