Friday, November 27, 2009

It Might Get Loud

Being a White Stripes fan, I had heard about "It Might Get Loud" at least a year before it came out and anxiously awaited it's release. The film is described as "a documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three rock legends". The legends in this case are Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Jack White (White Stipes, Raconteurs) and The Edge (U2).

I was fortunate enough to see it at the most excellent Red River Theatres in Concord, NH during it's theater run over the summer. If you didn't get to see it in the theaters, I highly recommend that you check it out at home. According to the official Sony Pictures website, it will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 22nd.

I'm a huge fan of Jimmy Page and Jack White, so I would've also picked them if I had to pick only three (living) guitarists. I also like The Edge, whose inclusion adds some detail on effects, but my dream pick for the third guitarist would be Neil Young.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Radio Radio

Radio is a sound salvation. Radio is cleaning up the nation.

Here are some great radio shows with information about Boston music and rock & roll in general. Ironically, the lyrics above and below come from Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio", which was a protest song condemning the commercialization of radio. Also ironically, I'm more likely to listen online these days than live on the radio. But I do listen...

So you had better do as you are told. You better listen to the radio.


Three Ring Circus (3RC) with Joan Hathaway
Fridays 4:00-5:30PM WMBR 88.1 FM

This is a recent discovery for me, although the show has been on a mission since 1991. It specializes in roots rock music, with lots of local music and previews of upcoming shows. There are occasional stuoursdio guests and in-studio performances. The events calendar is almost as good as our calendar and contains most of the shows that you need to know about. I think they're stalking me, or maybe I'm stalking them... The playlists are also informative, especially if you missed part of the show. I generally listen to this one streaming live on There are usually two archived podcasts on the WMBR website listed below, so you can listen to the most recent shows.

Boston Emissions with Anngelle Wood

Sundays 10:00-midnight 100.7 WZLX

This show has been an institution of the Boston rock music scene for years and fortunately survived the move from 104.1 to 100.7 FM. The show specializes in local indie rock and features Boston music exclusively, with guests and in-studio performances. Originally aired on WBCN (The Rock of Boston), the show is now going strong on WZLX. I generally listen to this live on my stereo, but also listen to the podcasts on the website when I miss it.

Sound Opinions with Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot
91.5 FM WBEZ Chicago 

This show covers all aspects of rock & roll, from pop to rap, and the hosts are very knowledgeable. Each show has a theme and can range from changes in the music business to a dissection of a landmark album.They often have great in studio guests and live performances (including Boston's own Mission of Burma and Frank Black of the Pixies). It is very much like a "Siskel and Ebert" for music and even originates from Chicago. Like that pair, they may be most entertaining when they disagree. CD reviews are on the buy it, burn it or trash it scale, similar to the famous "thumbs up" ratings. The show airs on NPR, but I have not found it locally. I listen to this exclusively as a podcast, available through iTunes.

On a sad note, Blues on WGBH (Saturday nights on 89.7FM) and their folk show were discontinued in Nov 2009. I admit that I've only occasionally listened to the show in recent years, but I was a big fan of Mai Cramer's original "Blues After Hours" show. Mai (pictured at left) lost her battle with breast cancer in 2002, you can read more about her legacy here. For the past few years, there has been an annual benefit blues concert at The Regent Theatre in Arlington. Look for the next concert in April.

Wonderful radio, Marvelous radio...
Radio Radio

The video below comes from SNL's 25th anniversary show in 1999, where Elvis recreated his infamous 1977 appearance by interrupting The Beastie Boys and performing "Radio Radio". The original Attractions may have been better, but this version rocks, too...

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Dropkick Murphy St Patty's Day 2010

    Let's Go Murphys! Let's Go Murphys!

    There may be nothing that says Boston better than a St Patty's Day show with the hometown heroes Dropkick Murphys. Last year's shows were recorded and filmed for an upcoming live CD/DVD that should be available by the time the Murphys take the stage in 2010. I've seen them at Avalon (replaced by House of Blues), House of Blues, and at Agganis and Tsongas Arenas. They are always a good time.

    The Dropkicks may be the hardest working band in rock & roll and it's never more true than during St Patty's Day week. They pull out all the stops for these shows, including Irish step dancers, fife and drum corps, string quartets, choirs, bagpipes; all from the local community. The concerts are not as much rock shows as a celebration of all that is Irish and all that is Boston. Check out the excellent slide show from last year's show by Kerry Brett to see what I mean.

    Tickets for the 2010 St Patty's Day shows are on sale now, although I believe they're all SOLD OUT. The links are listed below. Please don't buy or sell scalped tickets. It doesn't benefit the artists, venues or fans.

    Like last year, the six nights will be hosted at House of Blues Boston. Shows are all ages, general admission. There is a four ticket limit per person. A limited number of tickets will be available from the Orpheum box office in Boston with no service fees.

    DKM fans may know the answer to this FAQ already, but each show starts with the song "Foggy Dew" played at full volume through the PA. The song is sung by Sinead O'Connor, on The Chieftains' "Long Black Veil" album. It is an absolutely jaw-dropping rendition.

    I'll be there for the Sunday show. See you at the rock show!

      Sunday, November 22, 2009

      The Cover Up with Brendan Boogie

      I had been meaning to go see The Cover Up ever since I first heard of it. It's a live music series that gathers some great Boston musicians to play together for one night and pay homage to their favorite artists.

      These are not "cover" or "tribute" bands, they are fans like you and me, only they actually can play the songs and do them justice. Above all, they can have fun doing it and so does the audience. And that's the point...

      The series, organized by Brendan Boogie and Andrea Kremer, occurs about once every other month with various bands and guests. It's similar to the tradition of Halloween shows, which can be lots of fun, only you don't have to wait a year for the next one.

      This month's installment was The Last Waltz, which played to a sold-out crowd at Lizard Lounge on Sat, Nov 21. In case you're not familiar, "The Last Waltz" is the name of the Martin Scorcese film that captured the last concert by The Band on Thanksgiving Day in 1976. It is considered by most to be the best concert film ever, both for the music and for the cinematography. If you are interested in the back story, I highly recommend the "making of" featurette that's included on the remastered DVD.

      The evening started with The Beau Roland Band, who did more of the traditional, roots music for which The Band was originally known. Their set included special guests to do the Neil Diamond and Joni Mitchell songs. In the real concert, these were not my favorite songs, but they were great on this night, especially the Joni song by a blonde-wigged John Powhida.

      Next up was Brooklyn indie rockers Teenage Prayers, who I had wanted to see for a while. They tackled the more bluesy-rock tunes, from Bo Diddley to Clapton. For me, the highlight was a rockin' version of "Mannish Boy" (Muddy Waters). They should keep that in their set list. I could hear it again (and again).

      Both of the next two bands, The Phil Aiken Army and The Rationales channeled The Band's more rocking side and played their biggest hits from the original show. As described in the Globe article "They Have it Covered", both bands had a connection to the original band and obviously felt a reverence to the songs.

      Bob Dylan (Brendan Boogie) ended the set with The Band, wearing a white fedora and doing several songs including "Forever Young". Everyone came back on stage for the grand finales of "I Shall Be Released" and "Don't Do It" (the last song in the concert, but first song in the film).

      The next installment will be in Feb. I'll post the date/time/place when I get confirmation. But I'll just say two words: Neil Young. Make that two more: Advance tickets.

      Thursday, November 19, 2009

      Albums of the Decades (1970-2010)

      Inspired by the many "best of the 2000's" lists, like "The Decade's 50 Most Influential Recordings" from NPR, I came up with my own list. But rather than list the top 10/20/50 albums, I immediately thought of the single album that most shaped my musical experience in all the decades that I've been listening to modern rock & roll.

      These are the albums that either ignited or re-ignited my passion in new music. I would not have discovered (or re-discovered) many other of my favorites without them. And each new discovery fuels the search for the next one.

      The list was mostly a no-brainer for me, until I discovered that my picks for the 70's and 80's were actually released just before those decades. However, I'm sure that the impact of those records for me (and for most others) was mostly in the decades for which they are listed.

      Decade: 2000's

      White Blood Cells
      The White Stripes

      Decade: 1990's


      Decade 1980's

      London Calling
      The Clash

      Decade: 1970's
      Led Zeppelin II
      Led Zeppelin

      According to (who figure these things out mathematically), the best of these decades are: 2000's, 1990's, 1980's, 1970's, 1960's and the Best Overall.

      Tuesday, November 10, 2009

      The Molenes

      Once was a time when this town was all shiny and new
      There were hopes and dreams, there was promise too

      It's not often that I get to write about a band from my home state of NH. One of the area's top alt-country bands, The Molenes list many of my own favorites as influences; Son Volt, Whiskeytown, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, X, Ryan Adams, Drive-By Truckers... and oh yes, Big Star and The Replacements. If this all makes you think of catchy songs that both rock and twang, you'd be exactly right.

      Even though they're from NH, I'm more likely to see them at Toad. The first time was last winter and I had circled the day well in advance. As the day approached, a big winter storm loomed, so I thought I might need to skip it. However, the show started at 10 and around 9 there was not a flake in sight, so I headed down.

      I love the snow and of course, rock & roll music. Watching it snow through the storefront windows while The Molenes rocked the room is still a very nice memory. I picked up their excellent "Songs of Sin and Redemption" disc (their latest) at the show. The songs rock & twang and sound even better live. But as the snow piled up and the Cambridge P.D. started to enforce the parking ban, we decided it best to leave around midnight.

      The most recent time seeing them was on the way home from seeing Lyle Lovett at the Orpheum and stopping in for a few songs was the perfect double-header. I didn't expect to stay long, but enjoyed their set so much that I stayed until the end. This time I picked up their debut "This Car is Big" (a reference to the humorous photo on the cover), which also has some great tunes. The last set really rocked. The crowd had thinned toward the end, but I think that made it so much cooler for those of still there.

      I got to talk to the band, who also remembered that snowy night. Turns out they were not so lucky as I when the parking ban went into effect and their car was towed, making for a long and expensive night.

      After the show, I also got to talk with Chuck Melchin about the latest disc from The Bean Pickers Union and will be on the lookout for his next gig.

      The Molenes are Dave Hunter (vocals, guitar), Andrew Russell (bass, vocals) and Zach Field (drums) and guest Bruce Derr (pedal steel)

      Although I've only seen them as a trio, they occasionally add a pedal steel player. They have been a fixture for the Americana Festival at Prescott Park for several years. Though for some unknown reason, this past year's lineup was decidedly more Celtic than Americana...

      Upcoming shows:
      More Info:

      Monday, November 9, 2009


      And we ain't nobody's darlins,
      So just shut up and play that guitar said of Lucero's "Dreaming in America": Flying by the seat of their pants, Southern indie rockers Lucero have eked out a career in music despite never receiving a royalty check from their first record company and watching their second label close its doors right as the band was getting hot. Add a charismatic, heartfelt ruffian as lead singer, a never-ending tour schedule, and a Replacements-like show that's brilliance on the brink of drunken disaster, and you've got one heck of a story.

      Lucero is one of those bands that I'll try to see whenever they come to Boston. I got to see them twice this year;  at Paradise in March and Middle East in October. Normally, I say that the smaller venue is better, but I enjoyed the Paradise show better. I had a much better spot and took some photos at that show. There was also less crazies (kids spraying beer and crowd surfing) up front

      They remind me more of Uncle Tupelo than The Replacements, but I'm a big fan of both and never got to see either. Lucero have a rabid following, many who sing along and shout requests, even this far north of their Memphis home. They play for two hours without a set list and hnoor most requests; even if they're not sure they can remember the words. They rock. Go see them, if you can.

      Sunday, November 8, 2009

      Satan and Adam

      I gotta pick up the pieces of my life,
      I gotta start all over again...

      While reading a book called "The Show I'll Never Forget", where 50 authors described their most memorable concert-going experience, I couldn't help thinking about what concert I would write about. Even though I attended many of the shows that The Phoenix listed as "The 40 Greatest Concerts in Boston History", the one that I'd ultimately write about is not on that list. In my case, this concert story was over a decade in the making.

      In the early 1990's, my interest in music was re-ignited by Nirvana's "Nevermind" and I read magazines and newsgroups looking for the next big thing. I remember reading on the grunge-l newsgroup about a duo called "Satan and Adam". The author wrote that while they weren't punk rock, you should go see them if you ever got the chance.

      A year or two later, I saw them listed at The Press Room in Portsmouth, NH and remembered my mental note. I immediately made plans to see them, even though I didn't know exactly what to expect.

      The upstairs room was jumping when we arrived, with Mr. Satan playing a fuzzed-out electric guitar, while singing and playing percussion with his feet. Adam played the harmonica and jumped around next to him.  I was amazed, just as I read I would be.

      I never saw them again in the decade that passed and read that Mr. Satan was no longer playing music and that his whereabouts were somewhat unknown. In 2009, I not only discovered that a documentary was made on their story, but that they would be doing a show again at The Press Room. I made plans to see them and it was the show I was looking forward to most.

      Watch the trailer for "Satan and Adam":

      The original show in June was postponed and the details described on Adam's website. I was disappointed, but was able to make the rescheduled show in August. Whether or not it recreated the energy and magic of the first time was not the point. It was inspiring just to see them together after all those years, after all they had been through.

      They made a point to come back to The Press Room, as Adam explained, because it was their favorite place north of NYC. And many in the audience that night were there for their shows more than 10 years prior. 

      For me, the recent show was as special as the first, but this time it was more about appreciation than entertainment. I got to talk and take pictures with both Adam and Mr. Satan. The entire night was a celebration, more a homecoming party than a concert. It defined what blues music should be. As Stevie Ray Vaughan once sang "Talkin' about good times and singin' the blues".

      While they may not travel back to northeast anytime soon, Satan and Adam are planning to record a studio album in December, their first since 1996's Living on the River.

      Satan and Adam are Sterling Magee (aka Mr. Satan) and Adam Gussow.

      More info:

      Wednesday, November 4, 2009

      The Bean Pickers Union

      You pull into the 7-11, kickin' gravel and squealin' tires
      You want to hear The Clash, but they're playing "Frampton Comes Alive"

      We last saw Chuck Melchin of The Bean Pickers Union wearing a jacket and tie while ripping through a set of vintage V-Roy's songs at the Halloween Spectacular. That got our attention, as did the copy of "Potlatch" that we picked up at the show.

      If you like The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo and Neil Young (and of course you do, if you're reading No Depression), I'm sure you'll like the disc. There are some great alt-country rockers like "Warrior". "Independence Day" and "I'm So Sorry", as well as some nice acoustic numbers like "Bride", "Home" and "Promise". Check it out.

      Upcoming shows:

      Sat, 11/7/2009 9:00 PM
      Rosebud Bar & Grill, 81 Summer St, Somerville, MA
      Preacher Jack WITH VERY SPECIAL Guests: Chuck Melchin (of the Bean Pickers Union) and guests and also Bryan Pero and the Tired Horses.

      This looks like a great Davis Square double-bill, with Eillen Jewell playing 7:00-8:30 at Johnny D's.

      You should go. I should go.
      OK, I'll see you there...

      Monday, November 2, 2009

      Session Americana

      Yeah I know, but sometimes I forget...

      Session Americana is a local treasure in the Boston Music Scene. They are made up of some great musicians and always put on a great show, having as much fun around their table as everyone in the audience.

      Here's the description from their website:

      Session Americana sit tightly around a small cafe table, ambient mics tuned to catch the whole sound of the voices and instruments. A suit-case drum kit, an old electric bass, a bunch of acoustic instruments, a field organ: This format feels very theatrical and though the musicians face each other, the audience feels drawn into the circle by the warmth, joy and camaraderie that emanate outwards by the all star cast of characters seated around the table.

      The band just finished up their December residency TUE (12/22) night at Lizard Lounge. I've seen them several times, but the Lizard shows are always the best -- they did a 3+-month residency there last year and it was sold-out every week. The residency is on hiatus this winter, since Ry is spending time in Ireland.

      They have had many great special guests join them at their shows. While they are too numerous to mention, my personal favorites were Bill Janovitz, Rachel Price (3/17) and Mia Dyson (12/22)

      Here's a video from SoozTV that might give you an idea:

      Session Americana is Billy Beard (drums), Jim Fitting (harmonics), Sean Staples (mandolin, banjo, guitar), Dinty Child (keyboards, guitar), Ry Cavanaugh (guitar), Jon Bistline (bass)

      Upcoming shows:
      • Tues residency (Dec 1,8,15,22) @ Lizard Lounge
      Note: Lizard Lounge shows always SELL OUT. They offer 50 tickets online and 60 tickets when the doors open at 8:30.
        More info:

        Rodfest 8: Sat, Jan 30

        Mark your calendars for this one...

        Saturday January 30, 2010
        Rodfest 8 featuring: Three Day Threshold (CD Release Party) with Cassavettes and more bands TBA
        doors at 8 PM; 18+ show

        Ticket info at

        In case you're not aware of this (8th annual) benefit show, here's some info from

        Rodfest is a celebration of life and music. The goal is to provide an over the top great time for everyone in attendance. This year's Rodfest will return to the biggest and most legendary club in Boston.

        All proceeds will again go to the Greg "Rodney" Moynahan Memorial Scholarships.

        Rodfest musical Alumni:

        • ..Three Day Threshold.. (Class of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
        • ..Kalvin Koolidge/The Rogue Heroes.. (Class of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
        • ..Girls, Guns and Glory.. (Class of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
        • ..Cassavettes.. (Class of 2007, 2008, 2009)
        • ..Colin Toomey - SOLO .. (Class of 2009)
        • ..Shays' Rebellion.. (Class of 2009)
        • ..Sixteen on Center.. (Class of 2009)
        • ..Bowen Street Band.. (Class of 2008)
        • ..Beaglepuss.. (Class of 2007)
        • ..Robby Roadsteamer.. (Class of 2006)
        • ..BLOWW.. (Boston League of Women Wrestlers with their house band, ..Panty Raid.. (Class of 2006)
        • ..Forgetful Jones.. (Class of 2006)
        • ..Alpha Juliet.. (Class of 2006)
        • ..Sam Reid & The Riot Act.. (Class of 2006)
        • ..Stan Thompson.. (Class of 2006)
        • ..Two Satanic Souls.. (Class of 2006)
        • ..Musketball.. (Class of 2005)

        RODFEST will feature: The “Rod” Carpet, a place where you are the star. Be prepared to get your picture taken by the Rodfest Paparazzi on the “Rod” carpet, plus there will be Rodfest Head & Wristbands, to ensure the sweat won’t get in your eyes when you are rocking out to the music. The night kicks off at 8pm with the premier of the Rodfest “Acoustic Showcase”! The full line up will be announced later.


        We're an American band. We're coming to your town, we'll help you party down...

        OK, I couldn't resist the inside joke. The band auditioned for a Tom Cruise movie (filmed in MA) and were going play a Grand Funk song in a wedding scene. As reported on, they didn't get the part. Oh well, who needs a whole lotsa money or a big, fine car....

        In all seriousness, they are really a great rockin' Boston band, by way of Texas. Here's some info from their myspace:

        Known for energetic, powerful live shows that crackle with the electricity of The Replacements, Old 97s, and The Rolling Stones, Cassavettes (pronounced kass-uh-vets) has turned more than a few heads, locally and beyond -- scooping up “Best Local Band” in the Boston Phoenix reader’s poll, nabbing a Boston Music Award nod for “Outstanding Americana Act,” and making a splash at South By Southwest 2007 and 2008 in Austin, Texas, ...

        OK, they had me at Replacements... Here's a little video from SoozTV that might give you an idea.

        I've seen them a few times at Toad and they always rock the house. The new album "Shake Down the Sun" is excellent and is my current pick for Boston Record of the Year. Not that my vote counts or that CDs are still called "records". My current pick for Boston song of the year is either "Lights Out" or "Madeline", both from that album. Besides all that, they are nice guys and support their friends in the Boston music scene.

        Cassavettes are (alphabetically): Coyote Scott Jones (bass), Mike McCullagh (guitar, vocals), Matt Snow (drums) and Glenn Yoder (lead vocals, guitar)

        You should go see them, I should go.... OK, I'll see you there... And if you're following along Cassavettes, I'm gonna want to hear some of that Grand Funk. :-)

        Upcoming Shows:
        • Jan 30 Rodfest @ Paradise Rock Club (Three Day Threshold and more)
        • Feb 23 @ TT the Bears
        More info:

        Halloween Spectacular

        Every picture tells a story, don't it?

        No photographic evidence exists, but maybe that's not a bad thing. Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all. We had a table that was part of the stage for most of the show, so it doesn't get much better than that. Good to see Ali, Johnny and Melissa.

        Sarah Borges and Lyle Brewer (from her band, the Broken Singles) started the evening off doing original songs on dueling electric guitars, literally dueling during one set.

        Heads-up: Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles at Johnny D's on Sat, Dec 5

        Next up was The Guilded Splinters playing Hank Williams and original songs with rock and twang.

        Things shifted into high gear with Tom Baker of The Dirty Truckers, Chuck Melchin of Bean Pickers Union, Jim Zavadoski of BrownBoot and Jason Baldock of Eddie Japan playing the music of The V-Roys.

        Heads-up: Township with The Dirty Truckers at TT the Bear's on Fri, Nov 20
        Heads-up: The Bean Picker's Union with Preacher Jack, Bryan Pero and the Tired Horses at the Rosebud (Bar and Grill, in Davis Sq) on Sat, Nov 7 

        Finally, the amps were turned up to 11 for BrownBoot, who performed as "early Rod Stewart". Their set included blazing songs from Faces, The Jeff Beck Group and Rod's own "Maggie May". I don't think I can add to "Rod's" description: "Brownboot (Rodrigo Van Stoli, Jordan Valentine, Jimmy (Jax) Zavadoski, Wes and Matt - with Andrew Malone on keys) play the best rock n roll evarr - with drinks to match. We look forward to being banned from this fine establishment.". Yeah, they may get banned. But if they come back, I'm so there...

        Heads-up: Bang Camaro at Paradise on Sat, Dec 12

        To listen to a few covers from Brownboot, check out Boston Band Crush.

        What's in a name?

        I'm in love with rock & roll and I'll be out all night

        In case it's not familiar, the title "Faster miles an hour" comes from the song "Roadrunner" by Boston's Jonathon Richman and the Modern Lovers. The song came out in the early '70's and is still considered to be one of the greatest songs of all time (ranked #269 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time).

        Some writers, including the author of this glowing article in the Guardian have called it "the first punk record" and "rock's most thrilling song". I don't know about all that, but I certainly knew about the song back in the late '70's and early '80's. I always liked the unique count-off at the beginning "one two three four five six"...

        Roadrunner, roadrunner
        Going faster miles an hour
        Gonna drive to the Stop 'n' Shop
        With the radio on at night
        And me in love with modern moonlight
        Me in love with modern rock & roll
        Modern girls and modern rock & roll
        Don't feel so alone, got the radio on
        Like the roadrunner

        I was re-introduced to the song during Bill Janovitz' residency and it reminded me about what is so great about the Boston music scene. Just as in the days of it's origin, the song still describes to me a love of modern rock music; specifically in the Boston area.

        While the meaning of "modern" rock music has evolved over the years, I still have the same feeling when driving home after a rock show and often hear the song in my head. This blog is about that feeling...