Ellsworth-McAfee Park (Northborough Summer Concert Series), Northborough, MA
July 14, 2016
The Backstory: About the Northborough Summer Concert Series
Of all of the local summer concert series, Northborough is one of my favorites. Four shows per summer, at 6:00 pm every other Thursday (with Sunday as a rain date). They tend to book top-notch performers (as do many of the local summer concert series), but just as importantly, the seating area is flat and comfortable, there is generally at least one food option if you don’t have time to pack a picnic basket, and there’s plenty of parking, though for those who arrive late it’s grass parking. When I first see the list of performers each year, I check them out online, and even though my availability is the key determinant of whether or not I attend, a quick listen to Mychael David’s music online suggested this was a show I didn’t want to miss.
With storms approaching, the organizers kept a close eye on the weather but made the appropriate call… just barely; the rain began falling during my drive home after the show. The result of the approaching storm, however, was a relatively cool summer evening ideal for an outdoor concert. In spite of weather concerns, the turnout was very good. Now, about the concert…
Mychael’s rich, full, deep, emotive vocals are this band’s calling card. It’s a special voice, capable of everything from ballads to rockers and great on the mid-tempo, laid-back-but-still-energetic songs that seem to be his sweet spot. He gets support from Susan Jayne on vocals, some impressive guitar shredding from guitarist Howie Swett, and some sweet keyboard work from Glenn Stegner, with the tight rhythm section of Pete Early and DC Carter rounding out his concert-caliber line-up.
Yes, there’s traffic in downtown Northborough at this time of day, so I may have missed the first song or two, but upon my arrival I was treated to the fun, rockin’ Southern rock-style country number “It’s All About Tonight” (with apologies to the artist if I don’t get the song titles quite right).
The band showed its versatility over the course of the evening. Mychael’s “Heartbreak Song” showcased his deep, emotional, tear-jerking vocals. The energy and tempo changes within “Hang on Tight” set it apart as a worthy listen. And “Little By Little,” a mid-tempo duet with Susan, was a pleasant, almost Buffett-esque tune with perhaps a little more guitar twang and some rocking Howie Swett axework.
Also worth noting were the Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues” cover that got the crowd clapping along and took full advantage of the low end of Mychael’s vocals. And “Take a Lot to Make a Livin’,” a rollicking working-man’s country rocker; it’s so effective because Mychael delivers it with such conviction.
“Smoke and Ash” sported a growly vocal and a little funky guitar riff, while even on a mid-tempo twanger like “Goodbye is Still Goodbye,” Mychael’s vocals are still as crisp and clear as ever while still projecting full emotion. Did I mention that there’s a special nature to his vocal talent? I believe I did.
Finally, toward the end of the show, Mychael and band rolled out his biggest hit, “Nothin’,” a mid-tempo tune with lyrics that really connect, especially thanks to Mychael’s deep, emotional, powerful voice. The song is very catchy; I can see easily why it was a hit.
The Mychael David Project lists a lot of local dates over the coming months, so you may have an opportunity to catch the band yourself if you live in New England, particularly in eastern or central Massachusetts. The next few shows listed are Friday, July 22nd for the Center of Hope Benefit at the Indian Ranch in Webster, MA; Saturday, July 30th at Halligan’s in Auburn, MA; Saturday, August 6th for the Massachusetts State Chili Cookoff at the American Legion in Winchendon, MA; Saturday, August 13th at Forty’s in Leominster, MA; and Saturday, August 13th at the Straw Hollow Engine Show on Cross Street in Boylston, MA. Check the “Tour” page on Mychael’s website for additional information on those and additional upcoming shows in Massachusetts, New Hamphire, and at the Woodstock Fair in Woodstock, CT.
As for the Northborough Summer Concert Series, there are still two more upcoming concerts. Hit the Bus performs Thursday, July 28th, and Eclipse closes this summer’s series on Thursday, August 11th. Shows run from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. You can find more information on the Northborough Community Affairs Committee’s website here.