Rita: Those of you out there who have read my biography Goddess of Everything know that my whole life has been one tremendous time after another. Lolita: Yeah, I’ve heard it a zillion times. Your existence is just a series of important intervals. Rita: At least I’m not a Jon Butcher stalker sweetheart. But you give me a great idea for this month’s Question of the Month: Describe what you believe to be the most important moment in local music history. Let’s ask legendary blues keyboardist ANTHONY GERACI (Sugar Ray & The Bluetones): That’s a tough one because there are so many pivotal moments we are so lucky to have here in the Boston area. So I will relate an important musical history day from my life. It was the mid 1970’s and I was attending the Berklee College of Music. I had befriended and started to play with a blues band from New Hampshire – The John Wardwell Blues Band. We got the opening slot to open for Muddy Waters for a whole week at the uber cool Paul’s Mall (The Heath Brothers were at the Jazz Workshop next door.) Needless to say every blues musician/ fan within a hundred miles made the pilgrimage there that week, and during that time I met everyone in the local blues community… and since there weren’t too many piano players around a lot of people asked me for my telephone number – Michael Ward (soon to known as “Mudcat”) was one of them. Two of Muddy’s band mates were Bob Margolin and Jerry Portnoy and they both lived in the Boston area and when they weren’t on the road with Muddy would host jam sessions mostly at Great Scott’s in Allston, And they invited me to do a lot of those sessions. Ronnie Horvath (soon to be Ronnie Earl) was just finishing a stint with Johnny Nicholas and was looking to put a blues band together with Mudcat… they called me and came to my house and Ronnie said “you’re going to be in my band.” I said okay and after one rehearsal quit Berklee and went on the road with what was soon to become Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – who I still play with today. So for music history in Boston that would be the most important day for me. *** BRUCE MARSHALL (The Bruce Marshall Group/ The Nor’easters): It’s a hard question! I think the J. Geils Band getting signed to Atlantic Records in 1970 was a huge moment for our region and paved the way for many other New England acts that followed. Doors opened for acts like Aerosmith, James Montgomery, The Cars, Boston and a host of others. Although Centerfold was their only number one hit, the J. Geils Band established themselves as the premiere live show in New England for many years and set a high bar that was tough to match. They wrote most of their own songs and the original lineup was intact for quite a while and the current lineup anchored by Peter Wolf continues to tour today. I’m enjoying my forty third year as a full time musician and after eight thousand shows I enjoy performing today more then ever! *** JULIET SIMMONS DINALLO (Juliet & the Lonesome Romeos): Berklee College of Music. It has brought so many people from so many different walks of life that landed (and stayed) in Boston because of Berklee. There have been so many bands that succeeded on a local/ regional level to bands that went onto arena fame that somehow spun other relationships and musical partnerships that began at Berklee. *** JOHNNY BARNES (Johnny Barnes & The Night Crawlers): Barry and The Remains opening for the Beatles put Boston bands on the map. Along with their great Boston sound and hit songs. The Barbarians had “Are You a Boy Or Are You a Girl” and played The TAMI Show. These were historic moments in Boston rock. *** FRED PINEAU (x-Atlantics): In my opinion, the most important moment in local music history was when Jimmy Herald decided to jump off a cliff and turn The Rat into an original music venue. In the 1960s the local scene had some great artists, including one of my all time favorite rock bands – The Remains. But back then these artists had to play sets of current cover songs, with maybe one original song stuck in the set. But when Jimmy embraced the fledgling punk and alternative artists, it opened the flood gates for a lot of us who had been playing their own music for years to largely no audience. I had already been playing at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in New York City with The Atlantics, and that scene had solidified, but now Boston was going to follow suit, and Boston rock ’n’ roll would never be the same. The first time that I played The Rat I was in Bonjour Avaitors, and I believe that we were the third original band to play there, Jimmy booked us for a Friday and Saturday night. Only us, and we had to play three fifty minute sets. However, Jimmy paid us seventy five dollars per night. College radio was supporting all alternative artists, and as you know, it all came together in a way that we may never see again.
Rita: How about some fall factoids? Now is the perfect time to spread the word about what’s going on in the New England music scene. Lolita: I hate when you make sense. WARD HAYDEN’s band GIRLS, GUNS & GLORY opened for PETER WOLF & THE MIDNIGHT TRAVELERS at The Outdoor Lowell Summer Music Series. *** The Middle East opening up the refurbished T.T. The Bear’s this month or next under the new name Sophia’s. *** Many of DUKE ROBILLARD‘s photographs and abstract paintings at The Blackstone River Theater in Cumberland, Rhode Island, from February to the first week of April when his band will do a concert with SUNNY CROWNOVER. Duke says he’s excited to be presenting his work at this beautiful treasure of a venue. He recently played a show at Chan’s in Rhode Island and violinist MARNIE HALL and her 17-year-old guitarist son BAXTER sat in for a few tunes. Bax is also in a great band CLYDE BROWN. *** Guitarist BOBBY STANTON has been elected to the Massachusetts Country Music Awards Associations Hall of Fame. He put himself through college playing with local country music icon JOHN PENNY and T.H. & THE WRECKAGE. *** BARRENCE WHITFIELD & THE SAVAGES and DIABLOGATO shook the roof at a recent gig at Once in Somerville. A great place to catch a gig. Ow Ow Ow! *** Ex-JAMES MONTGOMERY BAND drummer JIM KERSEY had a recent medical emergency. He is recuperating and hoping to get back to normal in the near future. *** Hip Hop artist MR. LIF‘s latest record project will be out in the middle of the month and called The Life & Death Of Scenery. It features DJ Q’BERT, AKROBATIK, INSIGHT, GONJASUFI, CHESTER WATSON, and is narrated by WYATT CENAC (Bojac Horsemen). *** The trio MAMBO SONS reunites on November 11 at Blackeyed Sally’s in Hartford, Connecticut, to celebrate the release of guitarist TOM GUERRA‘s solo album Trampling Out The Vintage. The band is Tom on guitar and vocals, SCOTT LAWSON POMEROY on bass and vocals, with JOE “The Cat” LEMIEUX pounding. *** THE THALIA ZEDEK BAND released Eve at Great Scott’s in Allston. The night included MINIBEAST (with Peter Prescott of Mission of Burma). BLACK HELICOPTER and POSITIVE NEGATIVE MAN. *** Transplanted New Hampshire guitar ace MATT STUBBS is back from a six week tour with CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE. His show at The Plough And Stars on October 10 is gonna be killer. Matt also runs the blues jam at The Common Ground on Harvard Avenue. *** Downbeat Mondays are back at The Plough And Stars. *** Fun fact: RICK BARTON (Continental) has a dog named Brutus. *** OEDIPUS (WBCN) will be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall Of Fame. The induction ceremony takes place during the Tenth Annual Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall Of Fame Awards luncheon at The Boston Marriott in Quincy on October 13. *** MILE TWELVE is a great four-piece Americana/ bluegrass band with EVAN MURPHY on guitar and vocals, BRONWYN KEITH – HYNES on fiddle and vocals, NATE SABAT on upright bass and BB BOWNESS on banjo. Bronwyn and BB are two rocking ladies. *** JOHN PERESADA, SKIP FISHER and STAN BLUES JR. from THE THROWDOWN BLUES BAND are now in GHOST TRAIN. *** JAMBALAYA HORNS rocked the house at Jalapeño’s Mexican Restaurant in Gloucester. *** Sax player MARTY PHILLIPS had total heart failure and is now recuperating at a South Shore Hospital. Keep your eyes peeled for the scheduled benefits. SATCH ROMANO is in control for his band mate and friend. *** PAPER CITIZEN held their EP release party for Postcards In Transit at The Midway in Jamaica Plain with BEAR SALON, ADESSA ON BAY STATE, and DINGO BABIES. *** THE SLEEPING MONKEY BAND from Malden with DAVE and SUE STEIN and BEAN LEFEBVRE gigged at The Leatherheads Motorcycle For The Peabody Firemen event at the end of September. *** Northampton’s art and dance rock band BELLA’S BARTOK came back from a month long tour of West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. We asked them to tell us something about their latest adventure and they said, “We went to all the Subways to eat fresh.” *** Did you catch THE RYAN LEE CROSBY BAND and RAY CASHMAN at The Tavern At The End of The World? Why not? *** RICK BERLIN & THE NICKEL AND DIME BAND are in the studio recording basic tracks for their fourth album with JOE STEWART at Dimension Sound. Rick: “We think it’s our best ever. JANE MANGINI‘s work on it alone puts it over the top.” *** PHIL IN PHLASH has a new book of his photos due out to cross all musical boarders. *** New Hampshire blues singer and banjoist T.J. WHEELER is putting together his “Hope, Hero’s and The Blues” program for schools and libraries and other gigs for the upcoming school year. During a recent kindergarten performance about 20 little kids sitting cross legged in a trailer at Grant Elementary School moved their arms in circles to mimic the wheels of a train while Wheeler imitated train sounds on his guitar. *** Check out the Man Ray/ Halloween celebration on October 29 with WRAITH at The Paradise. *** CARLOS FOLGER tells us “all good girls go to heaven and all bad ones go to The Paddock Lounge in Fitchburg for the Wednesday night jam hosted by THEM CHANGES. *** On the first Thursday of every month check out BRUCE MARSHALL’s open mic at Beef and Ski in Bridgton, Maine. The room has excellent acoustics and the slow cooked roast beef is legendary! *** New LETTERS TO CLEO five song EP Back To Nebraska out mid-October. This is the band’s first new music in 17 years. The lineup features original members KAY HANLEY (vocals), MICHAEL EISENSTEIN (guitar), STACY JONES (drums) and GREG MCKENNA (guitar). We dig the catchy and classic Cleo sounding “Can’t Say” and so will you.
MORE EPIC EVENTS
Rita: Enough gossip! Let’s get back to asking another local legend about a blast from the past that still has them shaking in their boots. CHERYL ARENA (The Cheryl Arena Band): I’ve been playing music for a wicked long time, so pinpointing the single most important moment in local music history is near impossible for me. But the thing that popped into to my head was the original House of Blues in Cambridge. For the first few years (before it went corporate and became the House of No Blues) the place was a mecca for the blues. It was all blues and nothin’ but the blues and it was thriving! Thanks to the talent buyer, the late Teo Leosmeyer who was also a musician, a keyboard player, who played for a time with Freddie King and then Johnny Clyde Copeland. Teo knew everybody in the blues world and if they were still living he brought them in! I got to hear so many of my blues heroes because of him and not only did I get to hear them but I also got to play with a bunch of them! I played there all the time with my band usually on weekend nights and the touring bands were usually on weeknights so I would get to see them. Some of my best memories there were hanging out and playing harmonicas with Jr. Wells in the green room, playing with Louisiana Red on my birthday, playing with R.L. Burnside two nights in a row to a sold out house on a Monday and Tuesday, watching Albert Collins walk through the crowd with his guitar playing his blistering licks, playing several times with my dear friend, the soulful Johnny Clyde Copeland and his then teenage daughter Shemekia, talking shop with William Clark and trying out his amp after the show. Oh man, I could go on and on with stories. I sure do miss that place! *** TOM GUERRA (Mambo Sons): The most important day in local music history occurred on April 5, 1968, the day after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. As the nation’s inner cities erupted into violence following the announcement of the assassination, James Brown (who was scheduled to perform at the Boston Garden that night), pleaded with the citizens of Boston for peace. Fearing more violence, Mayor Kevin White wanted to cancel the concert until councilman Tom Atkins suggested that Brown continue with the show while getting the local PBS station to simultaneously broadcast the event. The concept was to encourage people who didn’t already have tickets to stay home and stay off the streets. Ultimately, the idea was accepted by both Kevin White and James Brown. As the show progressed, some unruly fans started to storm the stage, followed by police who tried to keep order. Sensing that a violent eruption could happen at any second, Brown stopped the show and asked the police to stand down and then spoke to the rowdy fans directly by asking them for some respect. The crowd listened to Brown, and the show went on peacefully. The TV broadcast was looped all night long. The next day, Brown walked the streets and continued to ask the citizens of Boston for peace, reminding them of Dr. King’s stance on non-violence. Brown’s pleas and leadership worked, and Boston was spared the riots that beset other major American cities during that terrible spring of 1968. Following this event, both black and white America started to look up to James Brown as a spokesman for the African American community. *** BOB LEGER (Bob Leger): The Boston area has a great musical heritage from The Boston Tea Party to The Rathskeller (The Rat), Jonathan Swift’s and many others, to the advent of stadium rock. It is hard to point to one most important event. I saw The Beatles at Suffolk Downs in Revere, and The Rolling Stones at Manning Bowl in Lynn. For me, personally, it was 1966. My band Ritchie’s Renegades was competing in a battle of the bands at Boston Garden. At the end of the day we came away with all of the marbles. It was truly an epic event that I will never forget. *** GARY SOHMERS (King of Pop Culture): Most important event in Boston’s modern music history? In 1962, WBZ AM switched from a part-time musical format which included mostly middle of the road music and a inkling of safe rock ’n’ roll, switched to the Top 40 format at the time only being broadcast on legendary local rock ‘n’ roll station WMEX. The massive reach of WBZ AM radio at that time gave Top 40 music (which included surf, rock ’n’ roll and rhythm and blues) a bigger footprint in America for acts like The Beatles, The Supremes, The Beach Boys, and countless talented ground breakers who began their paths to international success. Being able to influence teenagers by the millions with music had a powerful impact on all those affected by it, whether it be playing music or just buying music, the marketplace and the players were meeting on a larger scale. Most important event in my Boston musical history? I moved to Boston in 1983, and was lucky enough to land a long term gig on Lansdowne Street at the Metro, through its transformation into Citi Club and then to Avalon. During that time, I was also lucky enough to work with, and get to know Jean Tasse, who was a general manager of the clubs for Patrick Lyons and the Lyons Group, but who was known to many as the Mayor of Lansdowne Street. Knowing Jean was like knowing the Pope… if he liked you, you were golden… Jean appreciated loyalty and was loyal in return. After approximately one thousand nights at the club over nine years, working the first Aids benefit with Dionne Warwick, Cindy Lauper, Rachel Welch and others, working with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Prince, Cab Calloway, Allman Brothers, B52’s and hundreds of other musicians, the most important event was meeting Jean Tasse at a WBCN lunchtime concert featuring Joe Perry Project. Tasse put me in charge of the backstage door on my first day and I wouldn’t let Pat Lyons in because I didn’t know who he was and Tasse had told me to not let anyone in… so I didn’t… I earned Tasse’s trust that day and it was well worth it.
Lolita: Back to babbling. Connecticut band WEST END BLEND is on a fall CD release tour for Rewind from Vermont to North Carolina with HAYLEY JANE & THE PRIMATES and a Northeast run with THE Nth POWER. Check out their Halloween weekend gig with DOPAPOD and BIG MEAN SOUND MACHINE in Hartford, their home town. *** The largest annual rock ’n’ roll event in New England happened for the fourth time with thirty six music acts featuring veterans from The Rat. The bands donated their performances and the five dollar cover charge and raffles benefited the Hull High School Music Department with emphasis on special needs. This great gig was held at The C Note in Hull and ended the second day of October. *** The Spotlight Tavern just hosted DEREK JOHN BERGMAN with special guest JOHN ARUDA, followed by CASEY HERLIHY. These three extremely talented musicians are some of the best the North Shore has to offer. *** JULIET SIMMONS DINALLO’s new track “Whirlwind” on Feel Like Going Home – The Songs Of Charlie Rich is a great song. The CD is produced by her husband MIKE DINALLO and also includes cuts from KEVIN CONNOLLY and JOHNNY HOY. *** Check out the new release by SESSION AMERICANA called Great Shakes. *** The MORPHINE documentary Journey of Dreams is coming soon. *** Drummer extraordinaire BOB NISI accepted a position at Emerson College as an affiliate faculty member working with Jazz Dance 1 students. *** Klezmer band EZEKIEL’S WHEEL has their record release party for Turning Point at Passim’s the first week of October. *** THE DELTA GENERATORS are a great honky tonk rock ’n’ roll roots and blues band with a killer slide guitarist and harp player. Their new album Hipshakers and Heartbreakers is incredible. Check it out. *** Our old Boston U. friend JOAN MYERS told us about a brand new Myers Media release from BRUCE MOLSKY an old time music fiddler who teaches at Berklee. Molsky’s Mountain Drifters is loaded with Americana and blue grass music and has Boston natives STASH WYSLOUCH on guitar and ALLISON DE GROOT on banjo. They all met at Berklee. *** THE GIZMOS tribute album is finally out. TOM LEGER from THE BROOKLYNS and MIKE Q QUIRK from CLUB LINEHAN A GO GO are the Cryptic Friends on track 10 covering “Cave Woman.” All 15 tracks from the first three Gizmos EP’s are covered. *** CHARLIE FARREN and AMANDA CARR sang their Boston anthem “Strong” at the opening ceremony for The Bruins’ at the hockey team’s new practice home – the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. The facility has a dazzling 75,000 square feet rink with 660 yellow seats and a rink wide view of the traffic zipping east and west on the Mass Pike. *** One of the songs on the new JOE BLACK metal CD is “Care About You” written by JIMMY D’ANGELO (August). CHARLIE FARREN is on lead vocals, Joe on bass, AART KNYFF on acoustic guitar, KEVIN FIGUEROA on drums and JOHNNY PRESS on all electric guitars. *** STEVE MORSE‘s talented artist son NICK is selling his works through the website Airlifting. Go to the artists page on the site and look up Nick Morse to see his work. Enjoy! *** R.I.P North Shore folkie MARTY NESTOR and actor/ TV personality CHARLIE FLANNERY. Charlie co-wrote many of the songs on North Shore guitar ace BOB LEGER’s latest release Imaginary Dream. *** Boston Americana artist DIETRICH STRAUSE has a new album How Cruel That Hunger Binds and had a great gig at Oberon in Cambridge. *** Heavy metal gods MASS are doing pre-production for their next release. *** Female rappers AISLING PEARTREE and SHALOM are working on their next EP called Angels In The City that includes seven hip hop/ r & b/ and soul songs. *** Thunder Road in Somerville is celebrating their first anniversary. Congrats! This is a killer club folks with a lot of powerful performances already under its belt. *** ERIN HARPE opened for ZZ TOP at The Indian Ranch in September. *** The Lizard Lounge celebrated its 10 anniversary of its Open Mic Monday. Go there and raise a glass to 10 years of supporting local music. *** RICK BERLIN and ROBBY MANOCHIO continue to work their store front songwriting plan. They write you a song. You define the style, genre and topic. Pretty cool! *** The Cabot in Beverly adds classical music to its already broad repertoire. *** DANIELLE MIRAGLIA and JOCELYN AREM have formed a new duo called NEW YORK SLICE. *** PETER WOLF joined BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND on the final night of their tour at Gillette Stadium for a rave-up version of THE ISLEY BROTHER’s “Shout.” Peter joined the same band for the same song during a gig last February. *** KATHEI LOGUE (Killer Children) plans on being up here the first week of Rocktober to put together the final edition of her new wave mag Killer Children and visit her old friends. Kathei believes it will be only in print unless she has the energy to figure out how to publish it online.
FINAL EPIC EVENTS
Rita: And now for the last of our epic event answers. JOHNNY PRESS (The Johnny Press Mess): The most important event in local music history was the opening of the Boston Tea Party. Boston was always a hit or miss place for acts (example: Cream was hated at the Psychedelic Supermarket). The Tea Party established Boston as a great home base for many bands from Buddy Guy to Led Zeppelin. It also had a secondary benefit of making Don Law a star promoter. He then promoted huge shows at the Music Hall, the Orpheum and Boston Garden. There are many live anthologies (mostly bootlegs) that proudly mention that the performances were in Boston. Most of these were at the Tea Party. *** SUNNY CROWNOVER (Sunny Crownover with The Duke Robillard Band): Well, that’s a real hard question, but from a historical perspective, I’ll say that the founding of the New England Conservatory in 1867, and then the founding of Berklee College of Music in 1945. So many incredible musicians have graduated from these institutions and made huge contributions to the local, national, and international music scenes that I think they deserve to be recognized for their importance. I don’t know if that counts as moments but I’d say they changed New England music more than anything else I can think of offhand. *** RICKY KING RUSSELL (Ricky “King” Russell & The Cadillac Horns): The most important moment for me in local music history was Led Zeppelin at The Boston Tea Party on Berklee Street in 1969. Zephyr with Tommy Bolin opened, and Candy Givens was great – a very powerful singer. But then Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin came on, and everything changed. The idea of a blues rock band was etched in my mind forever. Everyone else in the room knew something bigger and better had taken place. Time stood still. *** TIM MANN (The Music Emporium): Most important musical memory is hard to answer with just one event. The historical events that stand out the most are The Remains opening for The Beatles on their last ever tour (now over 50 years ago!), and the Mayor calling the governor of Rhode Island to get Keith Richards sprung from jail so The Stones could play The Garden in ’72, or ’73. And third, any show at The Boston Tea Party! My personal most important musical moment is the first time I played with Greg Hawkes (The Cars). It was 2003 in his livingroom. We played “Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea” on ukuleles. *** RON LEVY (Levitron): Boston has long been a cultural center for education on all levels. Thus, it has been a magnet for serious purveyors of music, art, medicine, literature, science, research, religions and all studies since its founding in the 1600’s. Growing up here in the mid-1960’s, I got to see so many of the best of the best in blues, jazz and r & b. I talk about these experiences and impressions in my book, Tales of A Road Dog (Levtron). Free samples on my site. I saw the likes of Otis Redding, James Brown, Jimmy Smith, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, James Cotton, Albert King, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Art Blakey and many others while in their absolute prime, close up, in local Boston venues and clubs. The first time I saw Ray Charles, he was hiding under my parent’s bed. Our maid Cora cowering above, weeping beneath the covers, was half wearing one of my mother’s nightgowns. It may have been the very one my father had just given my mother on their most recent anniversary? No matter, my father was beyond livid, especially when he sized up all of what was going on! Curious of an innocent pair of sunglasses, I clumsily knocked them off the adjacent antique nightstand. When I bent down to pick them up, I spied Ray under the bed. I didn’t quite recognize him without his glasses at first, but quickly put it together. Just like my old man! I slid him his glasses and he said, “Thanks son.” I recognized his voice from his hit song “Georgia.” Needless to say, it was quite a night after that, especially when my mother came home from shopping too much again. Cora didn’t make dinner that night either. It was rather embarrassing the next day, when my Uncle Shlaimy got busted selling smack to Mr. Charles on the Logan airport tarmac. It was in all the papers, but that’s another story for another time. A few years later, Paul Snyder’s parents had season tickets to a theater in the round in Framingham. They always went there because Barbara Streisand, Steve & Eydie, Tom Jones, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin and others appeared regularly. Englebert Humperdinck was Mrs. Snyder’s particular favorite. That was their schtick. For my folks, it was either classical or Broadway tunes, never any Ray Charles. One time, the Snyders gave their two tickets to Paul. That night Ray Charles & The Raelets, his classic band with Billy Preston on B-3, were on tap and they considered in their generosity, that it was “a raucous rock ’n’ roll show the boys would love.” (I don’t believe they really liked Ray Charles that much either, frankly.) We were like 14 or 15, best friends and had a band called The Frantics. Which we were, whenever performing in front of anyone, never mind a real audience. Our parents took turns shuttling us back and forth that night. The very next day, I moved our kitchen radio up on top of our parlor piano, tuned to 1090 WILD-AM and began my musical journey, one finger at a time. A few years later, amazingly enough, I was playing piano and organ, touring with Albert King for awhile, then B.B. King for seven years! Since, I’ve worked and met with many of the all-time greats (even Ray!) performing, recording, learning and making many, many wonderful friends across the country and around the world. It’s all in my book (Levtron). So all in all, I’d have to consider that Ray Charles’ concert was pretty important. The actual moment would have to be, being baptized by Ray’s sanctified original rendition of “What I’d Say,” complete with the Raelets thumping their tambourines and shouting a gospel style call and response, the horns blaring past a raging full moon while marching a New Orleans second line, not to mention the crowd going berserk and wilder than I had ever imagined possible. All of this was an important and historical time, at least for me. Unbelievable! *** Rita: Great answers. Sounds like a good time to end the column. Lolita: Come back and see us again for our next column posted on November 1!