Friday, December 24, 2010

The Story of a Fairytale

The Story of... Fairytale of New York, a BBC program on the song "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Widely regarded as one of the best non-traditional Christmas songs, the song was written by Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer. The song is also notable for it's censorship due to a couple of words. While I wouldn't use the words myself and their meaning differs based on context, they add gritty realism to the "dialog" between the song's subjects. Here are the lyrics from

I like documentaries and especially those that are music-related, so I found the story interesting. The scenes are below, in order.

Part 1 (Introduction), Part 2 (The Pogues first American tour, Elvis Costello), Part 3 (Steve Lillywhite (producer), Kirsty MacCoil), Part 3 (Music video, Matt Dillon, BBC Top of the Pops), Part 4 (Song deconstruction with music experts, Once Upon a Time in America, Irish Americans), Part 5 (Shane on the ending, notable cover versions, censorship, Kirsty MacColl's death and memorial).

The film includes commentary by Steve Lillywhite, Matt Dillon, Nick Cave, Shane MacGowan, Jem Finer and The Pogues.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cassavettes Finale


Photos from Cassavettes final show at Middle East Upstairs, Sat, 18-Dec-2010. It was a fun night and fitting celebration for a great 5-year run for one of Boston's best bands. Look for the guys playing in Glenn Yoder & His Merry Band, Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion! and/or Scissormen.

Shake Down The Sun by cassavettes

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Billy Ruane Memorial Birthday Bash

It was a amazing night. Both Middle East and TT's were sold out. I never made it over to TT's, but the Middle East was rockin'. Many Billy lookalikes from every decade. I've never seen so many sportcoats at a rock show.

Mary Lou Lord was a passionate emcee and told a lot of Billy stories. The slide show (video) was very cool, with Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy" as it's soundtrack. Musical highlights for me were Joe Harvard, originally from Boston, now in Asbury Park, NJ; Tanya Donelly, who sang Lucinda Williams' "Little Angel, Little Brother" for Billy; at least a few minutes of Chris Browkaw's 11 minute feedback sonata on an acoustic electric; Peter Wolf, Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents, Buffalo Tom (whose first gig was booked by Billy in 1988?) and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper.


The video below shows lots of pictures throughout the years. The song and performance used was "Beluga" by Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (Aly Spaltro from Portland, ME). It was the last song of the night, played by the emotional 19-year old, who was one of Billy's latest finds.

A Kickstarter project is now in the works for the Official Billy Ruane Documentary by Michael Gill. You can view the video from the night on the page.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gram National Photos

Photos from the 3rd annual Gram National, the two night festival celebration of the music of alt-country pioneer Gram Parsons.
Precinct Bar, Nov 5 & 6, 2010.


Previously in Nashville, Gram National was held for the first time in Boston in 2010. The Beantown connection being that he attended Harvard and formed the International Submarine Band here in 1966. Gram died in 1973 at the age of 26, but his vision of  "Cosmic American Music" is still alive today. He should have been 64 on November 5.
[Click on image below for more photos]
Tabblo: Gram National 2010
Pictured above: Lydia Loveless, Cosmic American Derelicts, Twang 'em High, The Molenes, 25 Pearl, Loose Salute, Highway Ghosts, Lynda Lucas, Sarah Blacker and Maureen Kavanaugh

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gram National, Nov 5-6 at Precinct

This weekend (Fri, Nov 5 and Sat, Nov 6) brings Gram National 2010 to Precinct, a two-night showcase of the music of Gram Parsons. This the the 3rd annual celebration and the first in Boston, the place where Gram first attended Harvard and founded the International Submarine Band in 1966.

Gram is considered widely influential and a pioneer in alt-country and Americana music. He is pictured with friend Keith Richards at Villa Nellcote during the recording of The Rolling Stones' seminal album "Exile on Main Street".

Below is the schedule from the Precinct website (subject to change)

Fri, Nov 5
  •  7:30 Jenee Halstead
  •  8:00 Maynard & The Musties
  •  8:50 Brian Molnar
  •  9:40 Cosmic American Derelicts
  •  10:30 Lydia Loveless
  •  11:20 Twang Em High
  •  12:10 Highway Ghosts
  •  1:00 Jenee & Lindia
Sat, Nov 6
  •  7:30 Jenee Hallstead
  •  8:00 Rocking Horse Rodeo
  •  8:50 Lynda Lucas
  •  9:40 Jeff Byrd & Dirty Finch
  •  10:30 The Molenes
  •  11:20 25 Pearl
  •  12:10 Loose Salute
  •  1:00 Lynda Lucas / Derelicts 

See you there!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RIP Billy Ruane

As reported in the Boston Pheonix, legendary Boston music promoter and scenester Billy Ruane passed away this evening. He would have been 53 in November.

He was a supporter of the Boston music scene for over three decades. The story "Still Rockin' (Boston Phoenix, Nov 2007)" describes how he helped bring live music to The Middle East club: "Ruane threw himself a 30th-birthday bash at T.T. the Bear’s Place, booked too many bands, and got the family-run Lebanese restaurant next door to pick up the slack."

In recent years, he's been a fixture and impromptu emcee for a series of benefit concerts for Stephen Fredette at The Plough, Toad and others venues. Usually with a drink in hand...

I was at Billy's "Fuzzy Christmas" show at the Plough last December. The music was great of course, but it was really more about the community coming together to help one of it's own. Jim Sullivan ( wrote this article on the show: Another Round of Fine Music for Stephen Fredette at the Plough.

Any good music scene is a community. Boston lost a member of our community tonight.

From the song "Billy Ruane" by Varsity Drag (listen above): "The place just ain't the same without Billy Ruane". 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sonic Youth - New Hampshire

Although I didn't go, I followed some of the Austin City Limits Festival online. I've been a longtime fan of the Austin City Limits PBS show and the line-up was pretty good, but huge outdoor festivals aren't really my thing. I'm spoiled for good by seeing the same great bands at much smaller venues. For example, I've seen The Strokes a few times before their hiatus and doubt that an extra 60,000 people would add to my enjoyment.

I read some great reviews of the Sonic Youth set on Friday (and at a smaller venue on Saturday) and later discovered that they had a song called "New Hampshire" on

Johnny Winter
Johnny Winter no-show
B.B. King just turns on
The New Hampshire boys
Steve and Joe
They're gonna lead on
They're doin' it for life

It does mention legendary bluesmen Johnny Winter, BB King. The NH boys, I assume, are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. How cool is that?

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Night Band, Sat Aug 21

Clear your calendar for THIS Saturday night and head to Middle East for the second annual One Night Band, presented by Boston Band Crush. The show starts at 8pm and I hear there will be swag bags for the first fans. So get there early!

You'll see 40 selected Boston musicians, who will be formed into random eight 5-member bands, each performing a 4-song set (3 originals and one cover). You do the math, sounds like fun!

All proceeds benefit ZUMIX and their mission "Empowered youth, who use music to make strong positive change in their lives, their communities, and the world."

For more info, see

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Session Americana @ Lizard Lounge

Session Americana is 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.They are Billy Beard (drums), Jim Fitting (harmonica), Sean Staples (mandolin, banjo, guitar), Dinty Child (keyboards, guitar), Ry Cavanaugh (guitar), Jon Bistline (bass). Special guest: Kimon Kirk.

Photos from Night Two of Session Americana at Lizard Lounge, August 6, 2010. More photos on the Tabblo page below.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New England Music Festivals

Although lesser known than national festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella, SXSW or even NXNE, New England is home to some great music festivals throughout the year. Since many are annual events, you should keep your eyes open in case you missed your favorite this year.

Many local festivals are held outdoors during the summer. For more info on some of the facilities, check out my post on Summertime Venues. 

Note that listings with this year's date have been confirmed, those with last year's date are still TBD

See my music calendar for upcoming shows in New England


Thursday, July 29, 2010

NEAF Summer Series Night Two

The Summer Series continues TONIGHT (Thu, July 29) at Hard Rock Cafe Boston. The show features Chris O'Brien, The Autumn Hollow Band, Jeff Byrd and the Dirty Finch, Brendan Hogan and more!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ha Ha Tonka with Langhorne Slim

This looks like a great double-bill, happening this Friday, July 16 at Middle East upstairs. I first heard Ha Ha Tonka from their live sessions on the most excellent HearYa blog. I later saw them play at the most excellent Bloodshot BBQ at Middle East last summer. They are most excellent. You should go see them!

Below is a video from HearYa Live Session #50

Also check out these Live Sessions:
The boys can bring the rock, but be prepared if they gather around the mike and sing "acapella-ly". Their version of "Hangman" in Live Session #8 is amazing and even more so live. 

If you're on the Cape this weekend, you can catch them at The Beachcomber in Wellfleet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Remember Haiti at House of Blues

This Saturday, July 10 at House of Blues Boston. For more info or to by tickets, see

Riverfront Music Festival

The Riverfront Music Festival is a free outdoor concert happening this Saturday, July 10, 2010. The lineup this year looks very good with The Candles (1pm), Sarah Harmer (2pm), Steven Kellog & the Sixers (3:30pm) and The Lemonheads (5pm). I'm most looking forward to The Candles and The Lemonheads, who are currently touring together.

Unfortunately we can't be in two places at once, since the Showcase Fest at Prescott Park is going on at the same time up the road in Portsmouth, NH. That show includes Jon Nolan, Adam Ezra Group, Jason Spooner and Gypsy Tailwind.

Be sure to check out the excellent line-up for the Wednesday night series at Prescott Park, which includes Chris Smither, Crooked Still, The Waybacks, Richard Thompson and more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

NEAF Summer Series at Hard Rock

Save the dates (the last Thursdays in June, July and August) for the NEAF Summer Series at Hard Rock Cafe. The full schedule at the website below, including Jimmy Ryan & Hayride!, Chris O'Brien, Dennis Brennan Band, Sam Reid, Autumn Hollow, Brown Bird and many more.

Thu, June 24
Jimmy Ryan and Hayride (w/ Mark Spencer from SonVolt / Blood Oranges)
Sam Reid and the Riot Act
Eric Robertson & Boston Boys
The Whiskey Boys
Jeff Conley
Marc Douglas Berardo

Thu, July 29

Chris O’Brien
Autumn Hollow Band
Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch
Brendan Hogan
Jenee Halstead
Bees Knees
David Sammarco

Thu, August 26

Dennis Brennan
Tripping Lily
Brown Bird
John Colvert
Highway Ghosts
Kingsley Flood

All three nights will be hosted by Eric Royer.

More information available at

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Front Room Shows in June

Below are the Free local shows at the House of Blues Front Room in June.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dex Romweber Duo

Jack White freely admits that the Flat Duo Jets were a great influence and perhaps even provided the blueprint for The White Stripes. Albeit without the red, white and black color scheme or the hokey brother and sister story.

Hailing from North Carolina, Dexter Romweber currently fronts the Dex Romweber Duo with his older sister Sara Romweber. Note the little White Stripes jab at the beginning of the video below.

Dex Romweber Duo play TT the Bear's on Wed, June 30 with Boston's Jittery Jack.

Listen: Dex Romweber Duo w/ Jack White - Last Kind Word Blues 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Free Local Music at House of Blues

As reported in "Bringing bands to the front" on, the free music series in the front room at House of Blues Boston starts in June. Check the poster below for details.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Big Star Story

Nothing Can Hurt Me: The Big Star Story is a feature-length documentary about the massive acclaim, dismal commercial failure and enduring legacy of pop music’s greatest cult band, Big Star.

The film is still in production and includes coverage of the Big Star/Alex Chilton tribute shows at SXSW 2010 on Mar 20 and at Levitt Shell in Memphis on May 15, 2010.

Below is the trailer for documentary produced and directed by Drew Denicola and Danielle McCarthy. More info at, or  follow them on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Paradise Home Improvements

As reported in "Makeover in Paradise"Jim Sullivan, Paradise Rock Club will undergo a major renovation over the summer. The improvements will close the club from about July 4 to Labor Day. It should reopen with a larger capacity, to around 1000 from 728. 

The stage (shown here) will also be moved away from the middle pillar, which sits right in front of the band. I only recently learned, from Dennis Brennan's mailing list that the pillars are from the space's former life as a parking garage. Who knew?

Anyway, Paradise is still my favorite big rock club and bigger doesn't always mean better, so I'm a little nervous about the changes. Although I really won't miss the old bathrooms or the crowded ticket booth and merch areas.

The timing probably couldn't be better, though, since the many bands will be playing festivals and other summertime venues anyway.

Be sure to check out Buffalo Tom at the "old" Paradise on June 11.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Exile on Late Night

TONIGHT: Mon, May 10 marks the beginning Rolling Stones Week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC, channel 7,  12:35AM). It is scheduled to be a celebration of the re-release of Exile on Main Street and a companion documentary "Stones in Exile", which will be aired with limited commercials on Fri, May 14.

All the details are on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon blog. Here's the info for the performers from the press release:

  • Mon: Green Day and Taj Mahal
  • Tue: Keith Urban
  • Wed: Sheryl Crow
  • Thu: Phish
  • Fri: "Stones in Exile" documentary

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Summertime Venues

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high...

Who says that there ain't no cure for the Summertime Blues? Oh yeah, it was Eddie Cochran (later covered by Blue Cheer and The Who). But they were all wrong. There are some great Summer only concert series in New England that may just be the ticket for some summer fun, both indoors and outdoors. Most announce their line-ups in early spring. 

See my Music Calendar and Music Festivals pages for upcoming shows in New England

  • Prescott Park Arts Festival: - Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH hosts a Wed night concert series in a beautiful waterfront park in the lively seaside town. The selections have been more folk, blues, bluegrass than rock in past years, but it makes for a very nice night out. There are great places to eat nearby, but I suggest setting up a blanket early and having a picnic dinner in the park. In addition to the concert series there are weekend Folk, Jazz, American and Roots festivals, as well as chowder and chili festivals. Prescott Park Festivals: ShowcaseFolk and Americana festivals and others 
  • Hampton Casino Ballroom: - This club is about the same size as the House of Blues in Boston capacity-wise, but I like this room better. It's got a more open and airy feel (with 60 foot ceilings) and a great sound system. The bands are more mainstream for my liking, but they do host some good shows. I've seen The Strokes and Black Crowes there in recent years, as well as The Ramones and The Talking Heads "back in the day". Plus it's at the beach.
  • Lowell Summer Music: - This is held in a downtown park in Lowell. The park slopes to the river, creating a natural amphitheater. They do get big acts and the prices are not necessarily low, but it is a nice venue and the sound is good. I think the key is to arrive early and place your blanket down, then walk downtown for a drink or bite. They do have great (ethnic) food vendors, so a picnic in the park is also a good idea. The city also hosts the annual (free) Lowell Folk Festival (end of July). 
  • Meadowbrook Pavillion: - The Meadowbrook Pavilion in Gilford, NH was once known as Meadowbrook Farm, is a beautiful outdoor pavillion. There is both fixed seating under a roof, as well as a lawn area where you can bring your own chair. There's a Samuel Adams pub and several beer tents.
  • Bank of America Pavillion: - This is a large concert venue right on the water in Boston. If the weather's nice and the band is right, it can make for a great night out. They do sell beer (not cheap) and have a nice outdoor area overlooking the water. Definitely check that part out during the intermissions.
  • Comcast Center: - This is a nice venue and I have some great memories here, but it is a haul and dealing with the traffic can be a pain, so I haven't been there in years. I remember seeing Elvis Costello there on a nice summer night. I was also at one of the early Lollapalooza shows there (1992, with Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, more). During that show, those crazy kids ripped up the sod and created huge bonfires with it. Needless to say, that concert series never was invited back.
  • Rock and Blues Cruises: - Rock on a boat. The cruises leave from the World Trade Center Pier in the Seaport District at 200 Seaport Blvd, Boston and are usually three hours. They board at either 2pm or 7pm and are 21+ with a cash bar.
  • Club Passim Summer Concerts: - Free lunchtime concerts held on Wednesdays noon-1pm in Kendall Square and Thursdays 1pm in Harvard Square
  • Concerts in the Courtyard @ MFA Boston: - Concerts are held in the beautiful Calderwood Courtyard at the MFA, late June through August. The events are paid, general admission (bring your own chair). Shows start at 7:30, typically on Wednesday nights, and are moved to the auditorium in bad weather.
  • Harborwalk Sounds at ICA Boston: - Thursday night concerts on the harborwalk in front of the ICA. The events run July through August and feature performers from Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music. Grandstand seating is first come, first served. Admission is free.
  • The Beachcomber of Wellfleet: - This is a summer shack/concert club high up in the dunes of Wellfleet. If the beach by day or the views by night aren't enough, they have an eclectic summer series that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you're staying on Sunday, or driving back late, check out the Incredible Casuals, who have had a Sunday afternoon residency there for years (and years).
  • Hampton Seashell Stage: - A brand new Seashell State opened in 2012, as part of a $14.5 million redevelopment project on Hampton Beach. The shows here are mostly mainstream and family oriented, but it's a nice venue and admission is free. And it's at the beach. The new stage has three stages,  750 seats, three stages and state-of-the art sound and lighting.
  • Cocheco Arts Festival: - The annual festival kicks off on the 4th of July in Dover, NH. It includes a Friday night Headliner concert series that highlights local talent. There's also a children's and lunchtime concert series.
  • Picnic Concerts at Crane Estate: - A Thursday night concert series on the beautiful Grand Allee of the Crane Estate (Crane Beach) in Ipswich. Admission is charged by the car. Gates at 5pm and the shows run 7-9pm
  • L.L. Bean Summer Concert Series: - Concerts are held at L.L. Bean's Discovery Park at their flagship store in Freeport, ME. Shows include national and local acts and admission is free. Bring your own chair.
  • Governors Inn of Rochester, NH: -  Three months of great music in the gardens of a 1920 Georgian Colonial with a very comfortable tavern. The series runs June into September and features up to 40 bands and 12 beer selections. The Sunday concerts feature roots and Americana music and are held from 4-7pm, rain or shine. Admission is free. 
  • 3S Loading Dock Concerts: - A summer long concert series at the upcoming 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH. The series will feature some of the best local and regional talent every other Friday night, 6-8pm (Note: 2012 series info)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alex Chilton

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round

Like so many music fans, I was saddened by Alex Chilton's passing on St Patty's Day 2010. I personally found out about it on twitter and tried in vein to debunk it as a mistake or hoax. I finally believed it when I found the story on I don't think I can add much to what's been written about him, so I'll include some of the articles that I found most interesting. 

"He stepped up to the mike and clicked his heels four times. That was it. I don’t know who my fragile busted up little psyche’s influences were at the time; Neil Young, Joe Strummer, David Bowie, Tom Verlaine? They all went out the window at that moment; floated up into the ether and stayed put. Alex has remained. I have forgotten many heroes along the way. Put on “Bangkok” and you’ll begin to understand why this man, this rock and roll song and dance man, can’t be tossed aside. Ever."

Chuck Prophet did a blazing cover of Alex's "Bangkok" at his recent Lizard Lounge show and also performed at the SXSW Big Star tribute show. [Review from] 

"Yeah, December boys got it bad, as “September Gurls” notes. The great Alex Chilton is gone — folk troubadour, blues shouter, master singer, songwriter and guitarist. Someone should write a tune about him. Then again, nah, that would be impossible. Or just plain stupid."

Paul Westerberg wrote the song "Alex Chilton", as the lead singer of The Replacements.

NPR: "Big Star: The Unluckiest Band In America"

"The statement, usually ascribed to Peter Buck of REM, that only a thousand people bought the Velvet Underground's albums in the 1960s — but every one of them started a band — also holds true for a Southern band whose albums in the 1970s sold even fewer copies, but whose posthumous reputation is just as large."

Peter Buck played in the Big Star tribute show at SXSW

"Perhaps fittingly, Chilton’s final performance was not the much-anticipated Big Star showcase at South by Southwest, but a hastily organized Jan. 24 benefit for Doctors Without Borders at the Big Top, the funky art gallery/performance space on Clio Street. Chilton declined to rehearse or even discuss the set list in advance.

“He said, ‘We’ll wing it,’” recalled Anthony Donado, the benefit’s organizer. “He liked music on the edge.”"

Keith Spera is a music writer in New Orleans, where Alex Chilton lived

Known as a musician's musician, his songs have been covered by many over the years and will certainly be covered by many more in the future. Here are some covers that you can listen to online.
Some great tributes that I heard myself included Rhett Miller covering "September Gurls" (Regattabar 27-Mar-2010) and Wilco covering "In the Street" (CCANH 7-Apr-2010).