Live Reviews – Sept

LivRev-T MaxIf you’d like to write about the acts you see and have it published in The Noise, New England’s longest running music magazine, email tmax@thenoise-boston.com for the guidelines.

T MAX

T Max’s Vegetable Tour

Jamaica Plain Farmers Market/ Watertown Farmers Market/ etc.

5/28/16 – 8/4/16

How does he do it? What are his secret energetic ingredients? Who’s his agent? In a never-ending quest to be amongst the “people,” T Max has turned into a modern day Woody Guthrie, a troubadour roaming the land to bring his music, his whimsy, and artistic inspiration to the area’s local farmer’s markets. Starting in Jamaica Plain, he has already touched down in Gloucester, Medford, Norwood, Waltham, Newton, Chelmsford, Tewksbury, Stoneham, Haverhill, and Watertown, and will continue onto South Boston, Revere, Salem, Harvard, Melrose, Ipswich, Dorchester, Everett, Topsfield, and Lynn before the harvests set in. That’s a feast of entertainment to swallow.

I’ve seen him twice on his current tour, and today he starts with a few originals, a plethora of covers (today’s theme: ’60s girl groups a la The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Angels, Betty Everett, etc.) before segueing into creative, impromptu tunes focused on the products in the surrounding stalls. Always in the moment, T makes personal contact with the shoppers and the vendors, and they are usually beguiled. When he tosses his percussion bucket into the crowd, little children scamper up to take part in the festivity, playing along with his hit song, “Chop Chop Chop.” Immediately everyone is smiling. He quickly adds two more song written by a member of one of his former groups, TCD,  called “Think Up a Dream” and “Holy Moley,” and then keeps pulling more surprises out of his musical hat. That’s an immense amount of non-stop talent and effort for a solo performer with a guitar and some processing stomp boxes. Fun fun fun until the cows come home!   (Harry C. Tuniese) 

RockpileAd-web

MIELECD Release Party

NARROW WAVES

ELSEWHERE

THE GREAT MADNESS

FIRE FOR CAVEMEN

THE ANGRY TIDES

The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

8/18/16

One of the great things about going to a gig at The Middle East is that ex-Prime Movers and ex-Slaves guitarist Dick Tate is the man in charge downstairs. His long time experience in the local music industry is invaluable in making sure everything goes right during the night and that the shows run smoothly. This is especially true for situations like this when six bands are playing during this evening’s extravaganza. Tonight there are two stages in the one room. The big main platform in the back of the room and a smaller area on the other side of the banistered  path leading out toward the stairs to the street used for loading in and out. The musicians in this second dias face toward the main stage while they perform. It’s a pretty cool set up and allows for one band in one area to end their set while the next group quickly starts their own. I’ve never seen a show here done like this but it cuts down on the time it takes for onstage set ups and allows for more bands and music and an easier flow of the proceedings and the mood. This is a great idea and I like it a lot. At eight sharp, the first band The Angry Tides come on. They play psychedelic grunge with a tinge of goth. Their music is bass and drum driven with a lot of guitar effects and reverb. Dave Saulnier on guitar and vocals, David Blois on bass and vocals, and Justin De Silva on drums play a few songs from their soon to be released five tune EP Second Incarnation. “Primer” and “Come Down” simply scream and I really dig their Black Sabbath cover of “Paranoid.” Fire For Cavemen is a great group. Their style is eclectic twang at times and raucous rock at others. A bit of reverb and a psychedelic sound keep the same groove going and “Desert Run,” The Wheel” and “Lizzard Brain” are the hits. They play an all-original set of punk/ alt/ indie music and tell the crowd they are ‘in the process of recording new stuff  that should be released in the fall.” Matt Nicholas (Black Helicopter) pounding, Julian Cure on six strings, Dan Mariariello on four strings, and Frank Cappabianca singing and on guitar – sound a bit like The Stooges and The Misfits to me. The Great Madness at times mix together rock/ indy/ punk/ and reggae in their all-original set and Great Madness is a great band. I really dig their tunes “Garden” and “Heroin” and Matt on guitar and vocals, Mark on guitar and vocals, Chris on bass and Tom on drums tell me their new album Never Again will be out soon. Keep your eyes and ears on this North Shore band, folks. The band Elsewhere is Mike Aroian on guitars and vocals, Kevin Swaluk playing bass and backup vocals and Brian Epstein on drums. They are a progressive punk high energy power pop trio who’s terrific tunes include a new single now getting WAAF airplay “We’ve Got Movement” and “To The Surface” about The Armenian genocide. These cats play with a lot of passion. Newly formed Narrow Waves is up next and they play an all-original set of ’80s-inspired indie rock with alternating male and female vocals. J.R. sings and plays guitar, Sarah sings and plays violin, Graham sings and plays keyboards, Noah powers the bass, Tim is on drums and Matt plays guitar. The synth parts really knock me out. Their stand out songs are “Reducer” and “Fault.” Headliners Miele are celebrating the release of their new EP Seed Crystal and I especially like their opener “Hold It Together” and “Walking Away” from their latest disc. When they cover Radiohead’s “High and Dry” the place goes wild. The band includes Melissa Nilles on vocals and piano, Zach Sciaba on drums, Tim Dolinger playing bass and Joseph Spilsbury and Vishal Vaswani on guitars. Their alt/ rock/ psychedelic/ funky blues sound is catchy and rock solid. Before the gig Melissa tells me that Miele is the Italian word for honey and tonight’s show sure is sweet. Another great audio assault at The Middle East showcasing the music of the New England street culture. (A.J. Wachtel)

DEPARTMENT OF EVERYTHING

NOMAD STONES

KILLER CORTEZ

The Midway, Jamaica Plain, MA

8/17/16

Killer Cortez, a duo of drums and guitar featuring Socrates Cruz. The music is upbeat and trippy, creating a cool ambiance.  As the band plays, I reconnect with an old college friend who just relocated to Boston. Inspired by the band on stage, she says that one of the things she really likes about Boston is how easy it is to see great bands any night of the week and constantly be exposed to great new music. She is absolutely right.

Next up is Nomad Stones, a hard rocking trio featuring Adam McGrath, formerly of Cave In, on guitar and vocals. The band lets loose with an arsenal loaded with heavy rock ’n’ roll and bombastic guitar solos. It’s unapologetically loud and in your face. Even standing towards the back of the room, you can feel the music coarse through your body. The energy of the sonic bombardment is contagious. Their up-tempo stuff remind me of one of my all time favorite bands that used to play in town called Cancer to the Stars. Two thumbs up for that.

Last on stage is Department of Everything. This band is downright loony and I love every minute of it. Combining funk, rap and noise rock in a carnival show like delivery is pretty genius. The band features the genius of Sam Hanson, Adam Strauss, Zachary Cadman and Mark Aylward. Sam is on drums and vocals, wearing an odd mask that apparently has a built in pitch-shifting microphone. Mark Aylward on synths and vocals, who sang through an old payphone receiver he had draped over his shoulder. Adam was a blast to watch as he rocked the hell out of the bass, even at one point leaving and going into the men’s room mid-song, without dropping the beat. Impressive. Zach Cadman was the icing on he cake, playing an euphonium decorated in Christmas lights that ran through a series of stomp box effect pedals. It was surreal and I loved every minute. The whole night I had a smile on my face. I just have to thank the bands for putting together such a great show! (Kier Byrnes)

TOKYO TRAMPS

BOB LEGER

CLUB LINEHAN A GO GO

YUCCA FLATS

BUBBA LOAF

MISS INTENT

JOEY FINGERS

CLIMATE CHANGE

Geezer’s Annual Rock ’n’ Roll BBQ, Hillbilly Ranch, Stoughton MA

8/6/16

Greedy Geezer has hosted his yearly party for a while now. He used to run the garage night at The Granite Rail in Quincy and today his events are held at The Raynham Flea Market each month. But this gathering is special. A lot of great local talent playing at a house with a large pond in a rural South Shore area. And tons of great food provided by Mary Geezer and Barbara Fingers. If Kenne Highland wasn’t here I’d believe I’d died and gone to heaven. Climate Change is Harlequin and The Gravedancers members Reno Daly on bass and Matt Gilbert playing power chords with Bruce Scott on slide guitar and  Mike Moog on drums. I like their all original set and especially the protest power song “Living In A 911 World” and the spooky psychedelic tune “Broken Down.” Joey Fingers is next up playing his hot New Orleans jazz piano songs, and then comes a progressive post hardcore punk group of musicians, Miss Intent, with Geezer’s son Bayou Boy  on bass, Wesley Evans behind the kit, Chris Berniel and Connor Jaques on guitars with Morgan Emanual and Shane Walsh singing/screaming. They also play an all original set and I dig the headbangers “Holograms,” “Taro,” and “Party Song.” Then comes drummer Al Hendry’s band Bubba Loaf who are really rocking and play a bunch of classics that get the crowd going. Next up is the barnyard boogie of Yucca Flats. Just Dan McLellan on acoustic guitar and Scott O’Grady on dobro. And they are great. Dan tells me he strives to be The Ramones of Americana and he’s right on the mark. His songs “Hillbilly Snake Shake,” “Another Shot of Sorrow,” and “Boy With The Mannish Face” make me feel grief stricken and recklessly arrogant at the same time. So it’s time for another delicious burger. Now I am ready for the punk rock of Club Linehan A Go Go and I am not disappointed. Mike Quirk on guitar and lead vocals and Kenne Highland on vocals and lead guitar with Kevin Linehan on drums, Joe Quinn playing bass, and John Keegan on sax and vocals find the pocket and groove for their time onstage. Highlights are “Pills” written by Bo Diddley and covered by The N.Y. Dolls, “World’s Greatest Sinner” by Zappa, “He’s Waitin’ ” by The Sonics and Chuck Berry’s “It Wasn’t Me.” Just killer. And Kevin, Joe and Q have known and been playing together since they attended high school in Southie last century. The Tokyo Tramps are currently one of the most under appreciated bands in Boston. They have a new album coming out, If I Die Tomorrow, and right now they showcase the first two songs they will release; “Why” and “Flowing Water.” A great band getting even better. They also do “When The Saints Go Marching In” in a slower, bluesier tempo. Pretty cool. I suggest to them they instead speed the tune up to a punk tempo, make it a two minute song, and sing it in Japanese. They look at me like I have two heads. North Shore guitar ace Bob Leger comes up for a few songs and I really dig his string bending, screaming version of “Born On The Bayou.” Everybody joins in onstage for a final jam around nine-ish; “we have neighbors” Geezer explains although all I can see anywhere is a forest of trees on all sides; and I hear The Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” as I walk down the dark driveway and path towards my ride home. Another great party celebrating the depth and diversity of the local music scene, I can’t wait until next year’s extravaganza.  (A.J. Wachtel)

FORGET, FORGET /

AUVA

O’ Brien’s Pub, Allston, MA

8/13/16

Last spring, I attended a Bent Knee concert in Lowell and was immediately impressed with one of the opening acts – Forget, Forget (from Portland, Maine). Since they trek down to the Boston area only several times a year, I’ve been on the lookout for their return. Guitarist-vocalist Tyler DeVos and keyboardist-vocalist Patia Maule are an indie synth-pop duo that click on all counts – extremely catchy tunes, lovely duel vocals, subtle washes of keyboards over delicate guitar filigrees.     Tonight, they are second on a four-band bill, following a bouncy sextet called Auva, a surfy psychedelic dream-pop act with big guitars, keys, double percussion, and multiple vocalists. On one tune, the main solo is all of them whistling the melody – very clever. I find them intriguing and they come across like a cool blast of young, fresh thinking.
Then, up come Forget, Forget and the mood evolves dramatically. After decades of interest in techno-pop, I feel comfortable in saying this duo have merged elements of analogue and digital technique into an extremely satisfying combination. Songs such as “Back to Me,” “Your Kid Sister,” “Statues,” or “Year of Transition” expand their sound palette through a woven tapestry of softer hues and hard hitting deliberation that ties in ‘80s styles of rhythm programming with current intents. They beam immense confidence and hopefully redeem their moniker in some respects as unforgettable. Even so, the band’s reflective graces are simply too enchanting to beg comparison or neglect. They are still new to me, but looking forward to more gigs or their future album.      (Harry C. Tuniese)

JOSH BUCKLEY with LAURENCE SCUDDER and THE SILKS

Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA

8/10/16

Tonight is a fine welcome home concert for Josh Buckley, an amazing singer/songwriter who left Boston five years ago to try his luck in Austin, Texas.  A big crowd has turned out to see Josh return and collaborate with one of the hottest local bands, The Silks. Throwing in a virtuoso like Laurence Scudder (Spotted Tiger, Ryan Montbleau Band) on viola makes this show an event not to be missed.  Josh Buckley’s music has a Neil Young vide, combining old time rock with folk yields a refreshing take on the Americana genre. A few cover songs are thrown in, like Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” which blend in nicely Josh’s impressive and well-crafted original songs.  And then there are The Silks. Man, the Silks bring it all to life. Watching them is like sitting in on a master class of how to rocking the hell out. Great show fellahs! (Kier Byrnes)

NORTH SHORE CONCERT BAND

From Sea to Shining Sea – a Musical Salute to America

Robert Hayes Bandshell, Salem Willows, Salem, MA

8/2/16

You know it’s summer when you walk up the hills at the Salem Willows and you hear live music playing. And what I hear before I even arrive is excerpts from West Side Story. Coming over the hill I can see the 25-piece band, which is comprised of members of the North Shore Musicians Association, American Federation of Musicians, Local 126. The group is conducted by David L. Benjamin and I didn’t get the name of their distinguished narrator.  (If you know his name, please leave a reply at the end of this column.) And the narration really does help tell the story of what is going on with the music. Like I never knew that John Philip Sousa’s second most popular march came about because he was commissioned to write it for a contest held by the Washington Post – hence the title “Washington Post March.” Because of arriving late I have to I figure out that tonight the band is playing music from all different areas of America.  And right now we’re in the midwest with Clare Grundman, composer of Irish Rhapsody, Promise Land, and Sad and Lonely. I love hearing all the different section of a concert band working together. Next they take us down to a Dixieland funeral that starts all solum and slowly the clarinets start weaving melodies and then the trumpets kick in and we’re celebrating life with “When the Saints Come Marching In.”  They follow it up with “Tuxedo Junction” that was in the film the Glenn Miller Story. Soon after all the kids in the park are asked to participate by picking out a percussion instrument and marching together around those seated on the natural amphitheater hillside. After the kid parade they take a break and I soak in the dusky view of the Salem Harbor and focus on a lone seagull sitting atop an old fashioned streetlamp (photo on my Facebook page – tee.max.3).  I’m heading out early to beat the exiting traffic and I can hear them playing a few tunes from The Music Man. The narrator mentions “Marion the Liberian” and my brain weirdly segues to Groucho Marks singing “Liddia oh Liddia the encyclopedia.” This is the way we move through life. Thanks to Merchants Liquor for sponsoring the pleasant event.  (T Max)

BRUCE BEARS AND FRIENDS

The Beehive, The South End, Boston, MA

8/21/16

This is one of the coolest smaller venues in Boston today. It reminds me of the bar room in the movie Casablanca: small round tables set up in very intimate situations around the front of the stage. With some couples deep in conversation and others with their eyes stuck on the players as the band’s music envelops the room. These musicians are among the best on the local scene and the notes they are playing  is the perfect background soundtrack for the close and nostalgic atmosphere in the club tonight. This is a groove band that really swings in a big band way. At times, almost like seeing The Tommy Dorsey Band without the horns. Bruce Bears (The Duke Robillard Band) has a Sunday night residency here and tonight’s band includes Cheryl Arena on great Texas blues harp and vocals, Bruce on keys and vocals, Bob Worthington on left handed electric bass, Mark Teixeira pounding and Dave Haley on guitar and vocals. Artist by artist – Cheryl’s voice and her harp playing are both passionate and believable. When she sings she is candid and vocally versatile, plus she has a nice voice. Her harp playing is more Jerry Portnoy than James Montgomery and unique to her own Texas style. Bruce is one of the best keyboardists around. I really love the way his beautiful leads go up and down the scales in creative and melodic ways. And he’s got rock solid riffs. Bob and Mark are a jumping rhythm section that drives the band with their tightness and power, and Dave on guitar plays many different styles masterfully. A few decades ago Haley was in the local band Two Bones And A Pick and he now lives in Texas. He came back specifically for tonight and a few other gigs in the upcoming week. He goes from swing jazz to r&b to blues to bossa nova to rhumba without breaking a sweat and he is a master of them all. It’s a real pleasure to hear his choice of licks and watch his enjoyment performing as the night goes on. Check out the depth and diversity of their night onstage: three instrumentals including the opener “Greasy Gravy” (William Clark) with Cheryl playing a chromatic harmonica, “Stormy Weather” and “Cherry Pink Apple Blossom White” (The Thunderbirds). “Too Late Brother” (Little Walter), the rocking “Tried To Call You Late Last Night” (Lynwood Slim), the uptempo Chicago blues “Country Girl” (Jr. Wells), the swinging tune “Lonesome Train” (Jr. Watson), the juke joint feel song “Cry For Me Baby” (Elmore James), “Alimony Blues” (T-Bone Walker), “Temptation” (Tom Waits) done with a slow bossa nova/ rhumba minor key groove, “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You” (Don Redman), “It’s Obdacious” (Buddy Johnson), “Don’t Worry About A Thing” (Mose Allison) sung by Bruce, and my favorite “Don’t Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes At Me” (Wynonie Harris). The great sound is provided by Dennis D’Angelo and local blues guitar legend Ricky “King” Russell is sitting at a table nearby intently watching this super show. Another great gig showcasing the tremendous talent available any night of the week in Boston. Do you really think they have magnificent music like this in Duluth on a Sunday night?  (A.J. Wachtel)

LOUDER THAN MILK

Cleary Square, Traffic Jam Music Series, Hyde Park. MA

8/19/16

I’ve got to say that outdoor street music gets me every time and here in Hyde Park there has been a free summer series for several years that brings the populace out of their houses to swing & sway. This year we’ve heard Latin jazz, country-folk, Afropop, funk, soul, and tonight courtesy of Louder Than Milk, a smokin’ quartet that mixes country, blues, & rock. Paul Castellano (lead guitar, vocals), Andy Crowe  (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jeff Todd (bass, vocals), and Jay Paget (drums, vocals) are a savvy unit with tremendous potential of mixing clever originals and choice covers. They all sing, which adds expressive coloration to their own tunes such as “Sin City Rambler,” “Annabelle,” “Ugly Ole Cow,” or “Waltz o’ Death.” And when Paul rears back and unleashes one of his dynamic solos, everyone sits up and starts grinning. They show a lot of pluck and charismatic yee-haw when they introduce tunes by Johnny Cash (“Cry Cry Cry”), J. D. Loudermilk (“Abilene”), The York Brothers (“Long Time Gone”), and even The Beatles (“Yer Blues”), all drenched in their slick-pickin’ country boogie style. Theirs is a serious attempt of producing an authentic sound combining elements of hillbilly, rockabilly, jazz, and blues music. Totally gratifying!     (Harry C. Tuniese)

MASS

Wally’s Pub, Hampton Beach, NH

8/28/16

When an iconic ’80s hard rock band like Kix comes to town who you gonna call to warm, no make that heat up the crowd – none other than MASS.  The long time Boston hard Rock band has been kicking it since 1984 and show no signs of slowing down.  Their set begins with “Turn It All Around” a great opening song that highlights Joey (Vee) Vadala pounding out that irresistible machine gun drum beat that you just have to start moving to – there simply is no choice.  From the get go you could tell this was going to be high energy and up to the standards that lead singer Louis St. August sets for himself and the band. The boys go right into “Nine Tonight” then “Over You” from the Crack of Dawn album which many in the crowd know and sing along to.  “It’s You,” “Crying Alone” and “Reach For The Sky” follow, all pushing the large MASS crowd into a sea of bobbing heads and dancing bodies.  After a bit of small talk, Louis goes into “Leaving You” a defiant breaking up anthem that has all the earmarks of those great ’80s hits. In the theme of heartbreak MASS performs “Seven Days “an emotional tune exploring the feelings we’ve all had about unrequited love. So after mellowing out MASS style which is high energy for some bands, the guys go into ‘Looking Good” a fun song about girl watching and how can that be a bad thing. “Pedal to the Metal,“ a ruckus kick ass song, is next with a heavy infectious bass line that Michael Palumbo lays down with perfection and a lead guitar blasting by Gene D’Itria that is prevalent throughout the entire set. “Sea of Black,” a haunting bass laden love song with hints of “DIO” shows why MASS is still a great rock band. The set ends with the Who’s “Love Reign on Me” – and who doesn’t like The Who?  Missing from tonight’s set is their MTV hit “Do You Love Me.”

Watching this great performance by MASS I can’t help but think of what might have been, yes they had moderate success during the great Boston influence on music back in the ’80s. However, in my opinion they deserved a lot more with their song writing ability, killer sound and look. Like a lot of bands who know the music part of the music business but lack the knowledge of the business part, they got caught in legal battles that delayed things and hurt their success.  Still MASS continues to entertain to a loyal fan base and will be releasing a new album soon.   (Brick Mason)

If you’d like to write about the acts you see and have it published in The Noise, email tmax@thenoise-boston.com for the guidelines.

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