Live Reviews – Oct


ROLLING NECTAR  (opening for Stone Giant and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown)

The Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA


Rolling Nectar brings their stylish mix of vintage heavy metal rock ’n’ roll, soul and British blues to open up for two out-of-state and equally ear-splitting groups, Stone Giant from Brooklyn and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown from Tennessee. The latter headlining act has Brad Whitford’s (Aerosmith) son Graham on guitar; so I know tonight will require earplugs. From the moment Rolling Nectar (Kevin Graham on lead vocals and guitar, Jim McIver on guitar, Todd Smith on bass, Chris Botelho on drums, and The Nectarines (Leah Hinton and Cookie DiBiase on backing vocals) plug in onstage I can tell they are a volume ten band and I love their sound and style. I even hear a bit of Americana and psychedelic overtones in their tones. The music is high energy with a tight performance. The two songs I like best are “Set Yourself Free” and “Path 2 The Moon.” These tunes are real rockers that set the groove for the rest of the evening. Stone Giant and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown are both booming bands, with blazing guitars that register nine on the Richter Scale; and by the end of their sets I am physically and mentally drained. As expected, my ears are still ringing as I remove my earplugs and replay the highlights of the night in my mind. A great bill. Thundering rock ’n’ roll at it’s finest.  (A.J. Wachtel)

HARVEY REID & JOYCE ANDERSEN with special guest DAVE MATTACKS (first set)

Me & Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead, MA


Host Tony Toledo leads us into the 46th season of music from Me & Thee with the introduction of Harvey Reid and Joyce Andersen. The autoharp sitting in Harvey’s lap insists on more attention as the muggy night expands the wood and tuning is required. Some bad jokes fill time, then we’re swept away into the traditional folk sounding “Billy Grey.” Joyce Andersen occupies the left side of the stage and from my vantage point (the first row) I can see she is set up with more electronic gadgets than could possible be allowed in this legendary venue of acoustic music. She sways , strokes her fiddle, and sings lead with Harvey harmonizing, sitting, strum/picking on the autoharp. In the next song Harvey switches to acoustic guitar and I notice he’s using two capos – the one placed higher only effects some of the strings. Turns out that Harvey is big on different capos and imaginative tunings – he’s written books on the subject. He blames his obsession on tunings with a mid-life crisis to help ward off Alzheimer’s. On stage solo now, he starts playing classical but it’s a beautiful folk melody. Before he gets to the end of the instrumental it sounds more like a jig. And because his capo only effects half the strings, his hand can hop over the capo to fret some lower notes.  Next he picks up an electric Chrysalis guitar. This one looks like Elvira Mistress of the Dark could have been its previous owner. The exposed insides look something like a spider web, black on red. And it goes perfectly with Harvey’s red and black checkered shirt. He play’s Norman Blake’s “Six White Horses” on it. And then it’s back to the autoharp which he imagines is a pipe organ and choir in a cathedral… and it’s easy to agree with that comparison once he starts playing “In Dark Winter Rejoiceth.”  I might add that the cathedral is in Scotland as he picks out the main line and supports it with a counter chordal bass melody. Now it’s time for Joyce to dominate the stage with her neo-traditional loop and effects station. Getting the loops in synch and building layers is not enough to keep her busy, she also has a left heel tambourine slap to accent the beat. After the beautiful symphony-like “Life is Love Song,” she offers a gushing introduction of drummer Dave Mattacks. Not everyone knows that this Marblehead resident has recorded with Paul McCartney, Elton John, XTC, and George Harrison to name drop a few.  So Dave walks out, sits at his kit and proceeds to change his shoes. Joyce looks at him and says, “Your like Mr. Rogers over there.” Joyce builds up a drone in her cockpit of effects and Dave takes his mallets out for a string of tom tom accents. He’s almost teasing us holding back on a repetitive rhythm, but he eventually falls into a backing groove. With all the effects and built up beats in “Yearning” it’s starting to feel like a rock show.  Even Joyce wonders if the spirits of folk music in this legendary folk venue are frowning upon a drum set holding a place on this folk stage. Harvey returns to the stage joining Joyce and Dave to close out the set with the 40-year-old crossover hit by Bobbie Gentry– “Ode to Billy Joe.”

It looks like Me & Thee’s 46th season is off to a super mega wicked start. Every Friday night in Marblehead you can expect a rediculously good acoustic show booked by Kathy Sands-Boehmer and run by the very abled and friendly volunteer staff – and look for me in the audience taking notes.  (T Max)

AISLING PEARTREE & SHALOM (opening for Eryn Allen Kane)

The Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA


R & B, soul and hip-hop are on the menu tonight and Aisling (pronounced Ashling) and Shalom are red hot as they perform their set in front of a crowded room. Vocally Aisling can be compared to Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans and Jazmine Sullivan, and Shalom’s style resembles Biggie, Nas and Tupac.  Three songs from their upcoming EP release Angels In The City really knock me out: “Sail,” by Awolnation, the title track “Angels In The City,” and “Running” use industry beats and the people are singing along with this dynamic duo as the walls shake. After the set, I approach Aisling and talk about their music. She says, “We sing/rap about social justice, freedom, revolution, and personal freedom: inner demons, suicide, healing and redemption. Music is magic and therapy for us, and we want to share that with anyone who might benefit from it the way we have. Peace, blessings and love!” In my opinion they should have been headlining over national act Kane who I find a bit pretentious onstage and lacking real passion in her voice. Another great show at the club that always has it’s fingers on the pulse of the music in the local street culture.   (A.J. Wachtel)


The Center For Arts In Natick


Judging from its name, I imagined TCAN to be a modern cement and soulless structure and am surprised when I see this club situated in a very old brick building, only twenty miles out of Boston, with tons of character. Before soundcheck, I go sit inside the venue’s intimate stage setting, which is sorta like having a small stage in your living room with a succession of seats. I position myself right in the center of the first row as a man walks over to me and says “Hi, I’m John.” The Lenox, MA, native comes over and shakes my hand. John is down to earth and affable and when his set starts I see that tonight he is not just a folk singer but is more like the consummate performer. Almost a throwback to another era when talent paved the way toward stardom and not vice versa. John comes out and talks to the audience like he’s a stand up comic establishing a relationship with his crowd even before he picks up his guitar and starts to play. Davidson is funny, interesting and very anti-Trump.  Throughout the long single set he talks to the audience between tunes and the people love it. Everyone is won over before the second song. I really dig his political stance in songs like “Hard To Be A Liberal” and “Wall Street Blues,” and his religious beliefs in “Atheist In The Wood.” His cool covers of The Del Vikings’ “Come Go With Me,” has the people loudly clapping along with the classic, and Harry Chapin’s “Cats In The Cradle” goes over just as well. He walks around the stage singing and playing  instead of simply sitting down in a chair and just strumming along with the words. And like a true folkie he is always commenting on society. ’70 Sucks’ is an anxious example of one of his messages. Sometimes you get the feeling he is singing specifically to you and this uplifting style lends to an interaction between artist and audience lacking in many other current concerts. John has a theatrical voice and he sings convincingly and passionately. A real 21st century troubadour in every sense of the word. In fact, he is almost like a one man band when he clicks in the female voices harmonizing with his own, and when he uses his heel to have a bass drum accompany his acoustic guitar. A nice stage with a good sound system mixed with a neat night of upbeat, political folk music with social messages. And done by one of the most talented veteran artists around today.    (A.J. Wachtel)




Firehouse 13, Providence, RI

8/ 16/16

Firehouse 13 is in the middle of a war zone and the inside is dark and dirty, but at least they have a stage and a PA system. Vertical Twin is playing when I enter. They are a bit older of a band than I’m used to seeing. They are a little old to be Green Day and a little young to be The Who, but I see where they get their power trio influences from. Vertical Twin plays high energy rock ’n’ roll and put on a good show, the singer is funny and entertaining, it’s a great way to start the night, though I may have missed two earlier bands. Monument Thief take the stage next. Monument Thief is a Providence based bass and drums duo, but don’t compare them to Lightning Bolt! They play straight up rock and the bass sounds like a guitar player without solos. It’s really good alternative rock that reminds me of my childhood. I’ve had a few drinks by now and I’m ready for a great band to top off a cool night. sadly, the Matt Fraza Band is unable to deliver the goods. Boring Dave Mathews, Jimmy Buffet type generic garbage. Hey, guitar player, stand up, this is a rock ’n’ roll concert, man. I’m afraid if I see their whole set I’ll fall asleep at the wheel and I don’t even have a car.  At least I have an excuse to get on the bike and head home early. (Terry Boulder)

THE DELTA GENERATORS (opening for Elvin Bishop)

The Cabot Theatre, Beverly, MA


This is my first time at The Cabot and I get here early to meet the band and the people in charge of this beautifully ornate movie theater. The Delta Generators are loading in when I arrive and my old friend Wiz from Wizard Security, who keep things in order here, takes me on a tour of the old venue currently under renovation. The Cabot gets my official seal of approval for its majesty and overall coolness; at the back of the room, behind the regular seats, is an area with small round tables and chairs if you’d prefer to drink and view the show from there. The Delta Generators start off their night with “Hand Me Down Blues” showcasing the killer slide guitar of Charlie O’ Neal and stellar vocals of Brian David Templeton who joined the group three weeks ago. And he plays killer blues harp too. This band really rocks and the general modus operandi has brother Rick O’ Neal on bass and drummer Jeff Armstrong powering the group as Charlie riffs and Brian emotes. And it works very well. I really love when the guitar and the voice play off each other in many of the songs. Sometimes they call and respond and sometimes they sing and play the same notes at the same time or right after each other for extra emphasis. My two favorite songs are “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down” and the last song “That Evil” where Charlie’s imaginative slide licks and Brian’s powerfully passionate and believable vocals showcase their interesting interplay. I also really appreciate the Robert Johnson-like slide leads that drive “Strawdog Strut.” The Delta Generators have the crowd screaming by the end of their set and they are my new favorite band in Boston. The theatre’s sound is very good too and you can clearly hear all the artists and their instruments in a good mix. Elvin Bishop has a six-piece set-up complete with a woman playing upright bass, an accordion/ keyboardist, another guitarist, a drummer and a trombonist. Their music is pretty much New Orleans r & b with only “Travelin’ Shoes” from his classic catalog on the set list. Elvin’s guitar playing is iconic and tonight’s audience is treated to a bit of his southern hospitality as Mr. Bishop entices the audience with his perfect playing and nifty narrative. (A.J. Wachtel)