Live Reviews

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If you would like to write live reviews of your favorite New England-based acts and get them published in The Noise, contact T Max at tmax@thenoise-boston.com with LIVE REVIEWS in the subject box.

TOKYO TRAMPS/

TRICK WALLACE TRIO/

THE REAL REAL BAYOU BOY/

DOUG MACDONALD BAND

The Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA

11/6/16

It’s an afternoon show today and why isn’t anyone here at The Midway yet? Ooops – I forgot to turn my clock back last night. At least I’m an hour early and not an hour late.

Before Doug MacDonald hits the stage he hands me his latest CD, Lightning Head, and I stuff it into my pocket for later listening. There’s no big soundcheck, Doug jumps right in with Patty Short on drums sticking to him like glue on “Drawbridge Troll” from the new CD.  This is a unique two-piece band. Doug does the writing and can sing in the upper stratosphere when he gets going. He plays a red hollow body Gretsch and gets the most out of its big sound with a nice dose of reverb. He plays with elements of garage rock and a bit of Dick Dale guitar sensibilities. Doug and Patty are tight, they move from one song to the next as if they’re in the same mind. They play a lot of songs I’ve enjoyed from their past CDs including “Mr. Bones,” “Jack Joke Shop,” “Honk Your Horn,” and “No Fighting” which I’ve heard on WMBR recently. More and more people are realizing that there’s something special about this act.

The Real Real Bayou Boy lead by Greedy Geezer (on 12-string and voice) is the kind of band meant to be playing for a bar full of people out to hoop it up. Geezer’s got Lonesom Lil (Lillian Donnelly) on piano and singing, Uncle Joey Fingers on accordion, Andrew Crear on drums, and two of the Tokyo Tramps on percussion. They take an old Sam & Dave soul song, “I Thank You,” and make it into a hillbilly jambouree. They’re breaking in drummer Andrew Crear tonight and one song does get a little twisted with some people on the up beat while other are on the down – but it just adds to the thrills. They do the Stones’ “Play With Fire” and pour on some moonshine to fan the flames  – reaching for that feeling of imperfect perfection. The band expands when Satoru takes off the washboard and straps on his Strat and Yukiko jumps on stage with her signature brown SG bass. They roll over “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and we all get what we need.

The Trick Wallace Trio does seem to make some magic on stage – starting off –  this trio is made up of five members. Before things get rolling Trick’s mic stand starts drooping, so he quips, “It’s heard me sing before.” Behind Trick are Spencer Hargis (bass), Paul Giovine (drums), James Bryan (guitar) and John Mulrooney (lap steel). They are a refined bunch of excellent players reminding me of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic or Men & Volts. Good musicianship, smooth grooves, and easy-going presentation. The highlight of their set is a soulful song, “I Need a Love” – so good I figure it must be an old Curtis Mayfield number, but Trick later tells me that he wrote it himself. Wow – nice writing and performance. They end with “Christmas in the Slammer” and I don’t know if it was intentional or not but the solo section had a real Eno-esque quality to it.

Tokyo Tramps are also breaking in a new drummer tonight. He, Teruki Kameyama, starts off by himself with Yukiko Fujii on bass and Satoru Nakagawa on guitar slowing adding to the picture. The first tunes are “Flowing Water” and “Jeffrey Jive” both songs from their two-song teaser… before their album If I Die Tomorrow is released. “Flowing Water” has a Hendrix feel to it with Satoru showing off his guitar skills.  “Jeffrey Jive” actually rolls in and out of “All Along the Watch Tower” in case we didn’t catch the reference. Yukiko gets serious when she performs “Someday You Will Come Home” for her mother who has passed. They play it up for their audience with “Shake Your Money Maker” and a bit of “Yakkit Yak” with their fans filling in the response “Don’t talk back.” Too much fun at the Midway today.  (T Max)

ANTJE DUVEKOT/

CHUCK CANNON

Me & Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead, MA

11/18/16

Host Tony Toledo starts off the night with a double intro going back and forth between the two artists. Antje Duvekot and Chuck Cannon would normally be playing separate sets tonight but Antje announces that they will be doing this in the round. Antje starts off with a very quiet performance – what I love about this is that it forces the audience to be in a perfectly still listening mode. Chuck does one of his about money not mattering anymore and I notice distinct extra reverb on his guitar and his low E string sounds like it’s down around C. Antje joins in on the chorus of “Everyone’s rich and nobody’s poor.” It becomes obvious that we’ve got a friendly duel of songwriting going on. Both artists are extremely talented writers. They just happen to have matching dark sunburst Gibson acoustic guitars, ’cept Antje’s is three-quarter size. She uses one effect on hers – tremolo – and it adds such a nice feel. Chuck tells the story of how Dolly Parton gave his house a call when she heard that Chuck’s dad was giving him grief about becoming a songwriter. Dolly recorded and released Chuck’s song “Why Can’t We Be” and it showed his dad just how wrong he was. Antje follows that with “Christian Boys” a politically motivated song she wrote 10 years ago for Trump (actually, she admits it was for George W. Bush, but it’s getting more mileage now). This friendly battle of songs keeps rolling into the night – it kind of like watching a home run derby. One after the other, each artist hits it out of the park.  Chuck’s storytelling, which he didn’t plan to do tonight (my cohort Perry Persoff from WUMB made a request before the show started and it turned Chuck’s decision around), is the highlight of the night for me (thank you Perry!). Perry also provides me with these lines… “Chuck had become a fan of Antje Duvekot’s songwriting prior to the show – Antje had sent Chuck some of her CD’s.  The smile on his face and the words he expresses show how impressed he is with her writing during the show.” And this home run derby of songwriting continues to go further into the night than any Me & Thee performance has ever gone… and the audience still wants more. Now listen to me very closely – thats right, put your ear up to the screen… if you enjoy intelligent melodic songwriting – please write “Antje Duvekot” and “Chuck Cannon” on your forehead backwards and look at yourself in the mirror everyday for a month to engrain their names into your mind. You WILL go see them perform the next time you see or hear either of their names again. Go ahead, write it.  (T Max)

OCCIDENTAL GYPSY

Me and Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead, MA

(first set) 11/11/16

It was one year ago this week that Occidental Gypsy played Me & Thee and wowed me with their amazingly zapped up gypsy jazz. They bow to Django Reinhardt and play his style with speed and confidence not seen in many musicians. And it was also one year ago that Anthony Silva (you might know him as the one time afternoon voice of WBZ radio) returned to volunteer at this coffeehouse that he got going 46 years ago. He’s here tonight to introduce the band and refers to music being what people need after the presidential election. But he doesn’t take it any further than that… then zip… the five-piece acoustic act (two guitars, violin, bass and drums) jumps into “It Don’t Mean a Thing”… if it ain’t got that swing…  Jeremy Frentz croons like a jazzed out Sinatra.  Jeremy also takes the first of many nimble guitar solos – the others are taken by equally quick and maybe even more expressive Brett Feldman. These solos make me (an above average guitarist) feel like I’m a three-fingered beginner, but I can’t even say that since the true style that Django applied was with two fingers. But hold on here… Occidental Gypsy also has a quick fingered (classically trained from what I can see) fiddle player, Eli Bishop, who makes 32nd note runs look like child’s play.  Laying down the outer frame for afore mentioned trio-extraordinaire are bassist Jeff Feldman (Brett’s brother) and drummer Erick Cifuentes, who both exhibit high-end smooth technical skills.

Two different kinds of song are in this group’s set. They thrive on their instrumental ability so we get high-end instruments, some original, some written by Django Reinhardt, all similar in style. The other variety of tune is displayed when Jeremy stands up to sing – and when I say sing, I mean croon, as he does in the old standard first recorded by Hoagy Carmichael in 1930 and brought to fruition in 1960 by Ray Charles… I’m talkin’ about “Georgia.” I love how Erick mixes the soup with the brushes on his snare. They cover Django’s “Minor Swing” and despite the title, Django’s version has more bounce more than swing.  Occidental Gypsy makes the song really swing. It’s Jeremy’s birthday tonight and maybe I didn’t understand correctly, but they’re celebrating his bar mitzvah with the song “Paper Moon” with its refrain of “It wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me.” Another Django cover is “Heavy Artillery,” which Brett informs us was written in a bomb shelter – I listened to the original and I believe Occidental Gypsy have picked up its pace. These guys are good. They end the first set of the night with an original, “Gypsy Blues,” about an evil woman who got to almost ever member of the band.  You have to see/ hear these guys to believe this level of alacrity. Highly recommended to fans of Django Reinhardt… but even if you never heard of him, you’ll gasp in amazement at this musicianship. (T Max)

If you would like to write live reviews of your favorite New England-based acts and get them published in The Noise, contact T Max at tmax@thenoise-boston.com with LIVE REVIEWS in the subject box.

 

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