Live Review: Los Goutos at Lizard Lounge, with Jimmy Ryan & Dana Colley

Los Goutos at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Los Goutos and Jimmy Ryan & Dana Colley

Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA

October 20, 2018

As you’ve probably read here before, I don’t make it into the city for shows very often. Partly because I’m out in the suburbs. And partly because the headliners go on so late, and I prefer early sets that allow me to get a good night’s sleep for work the next day. I also don’t usually go out by myself on Saturday nights. Those nights are reserved for family, so if it’s a Saturday night show, I usually don’t go; and if I do go, it’s rarely by myself.

Los Goutos at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

This performance broke all of those rules. It was a late event in the city on a Saturday night. But it was a big CD release show for the highly-anticipated release of Mighty by Los Goutos, a band I had heard about but not yet seen – or rather, “witnessed” would probably be a better term. I also hadn’t been to the Lizard Lounge before. Hard to believe, yes, but that’s the case. It opened a few years after my first stint in Boston, which is when I started my music journalism career, and I hadn’t gotten to the venue yet since I moved back. So for this event on this night, I made an exception.

The evening began with a set by Los Goutos, followed by a set by Jimmy Ryan and Dana Colley, and then a set of “Los Goutos and Friends” (the band plus Jimmy and Dana; and I can’t be sure if there were others, as I called it a night sometime between 12:30 and 1:00). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Featured Band: Los Goutos

From the very first notes, one thing became clear: Los Goutos is Spanish for “Party in a Box.” OK, I made that up. But it could be. An eight-piece band including three singer-songwriters, the band takes up a lot of real estate – a stageful of musicians generating a roomful of fun.

Los Goutos at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Stylistically, Los Goutos is a band with a quirky approach, lots of spastic energy, plenty of group-sung vocals, and horns, combined with songwriting talent. That’s a recipe for success in a college town like Boston. The energy of the evening reminded me of a typical college-town-favorite ska band, someone like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones or Chucklehead. But just the energy; Los Goutos’ sound is quite different. I know the band is generically categorized as Americana, but in reality it’s more like a demented hoedown, rockabilly on acid.

Los Goutos at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The eight band members are Mike Eigen, Chris Gleason, Paul Stewart, Bruce Bartone, Shamus Feeney, Emily Grogan, Eddie Barrett, and Jakub Trasak. Multi-instrumentalists, let’s just say, rather than listing their many roles within the band, enabling multiple instrument and role changes during the set.

As for the show itself, Los Goutos’ first set began with a beginning-to-end performance of Mighty. “Tequila Set the House on Fire” is sure to be a frequently-named fan favorite with its persistent energy, singalong-worthy lyrics (after a few listens to the disc so you can remember them), and guitar, horns, and growled lyrics splashing across a rhythmic wall-of-music bed. Party in a box. Or on-stage, rather.

Los Goutos at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

“Down to the Studs” is another standout track, a raucous number reminiscent of Weird Al-meets-cowpunk.

The fourth song of the evening, “Can’t Hurt” was a notable change of pace; it’s still very much true to Los Goutos’ rhythmic Americana style, and quite an energetic song, but it was the first indication of the evening (and on the album) that Los Goutos doesn’t need to have all of its instruments blasting all the time to maintain its trademark sound.

Los Goutos at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

A couple other standout Mighty songs made it into my sparse notes of the evening. First, “Moscow Mule,” a song that, musically, is part O Brother Where Art Thou, part “Cotton Eye Joe.” And “Corkscrew,” primarily because it’s perfect song for a college town band with its singalong lyrics, “screw! screw! screw!

Past the Mighty portion of the first set, “Broken” was another standout song of the evening. Way too enthusiastic for its lyrical content, the song seems like a great shout-along number, nonetheless.

Guests: Jimmy Ryan & Dana Colley

Jimmy Ryan & Dana Colley at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The middle set of the evening was a treat, as well. A nice change of pace, perhaps, from the full-tilt energy of Los Goutos. Mandolin player Jimmy Ryan teamed with Morphine co-founder, saxophonist Dana Colley. Especially on the back half of their set, they were joined by a member or two of Los Goutos for various songs.

It was a fun set from a pair of top-shelf musicians. When they leaned on the sax, there was a bluesy jazz flavor. At other times, more singer-songwriter (with sax). Jimmy’s vocals are the sort that can cut through a very full sound. Frequently, I felt a Paul Simon-ish vibe from Jimmy’s singing – not that he sounds like Paul Simon, but his style and presence are similar.

Jimmy Ryan & Dana Colley at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The song I noted as a standout was “Relax Your Body,” a number that shows great stylistic variety, at times a rolling blues number with a little deep Johnny Cash flavor, then some George Thorogood, maybe a little hipster, back to straight-up blues. This song alone was a terrific journey, indicative of the whole set.

The Third Set: Los Goutos and Friends

The final set was “Los Goutos and Friends.” In other words, Jimmy and Dana joined Los Goutos for a rollicking third set, a jam band extraordinaire (and an extremely full stage of musicians) that carried the party deep into the night.

Los Goutos & friends at the Lizard Lounge

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Though I only stayed for a few songs of the set – I wasn’t going to stay until 2:00 AM because I had responsibilities to get up for the next day – I can only imagine when the set ended an hour-plus later it must have been with reluctance. Because, you know… party in a box.

Bonus Coverage: The Charles River Reprobates at the Corrib Pub, Brighton, MA, October 23, 2018

On Tuesday nights, The Corrib Pub features Eddie Scheer’s Tuesday Night All-Stars. Some weeks, he performs with his supergroup The Charles River Reprobates. Scheer, Blog favorite (and artist number 7 in my Blog-launching “Road Back to Music Journalism” seriesDanielle Miraglia, Jimmy Ryan (who I had just seen perform for the first time a few days earlier), and Bob Enik, who are all featured on the band’s promo photos, were joined by Randy Bramwell on bass. Chris Leadbetter (who I’ve seen perform in Bob Malone’s band a couple times) is listed on the band’s Facebook page as the fifth Reprobate, but he wasn’t part of the band on this particular night.

The Charles River Reprobates at The Corrib Pub

The Charles River Reprobates; photo by Geoff Wilbur

I was returning home from an evening business event in the city on Tuesday, October 23rd, and the Reprobates were performing that night, so I took advantage of the opportunity, stopped by the Corrib Pub, and caught most of a set. No notes, so no real review, but I’ll share a photo and suggest that when this group of Boston-area all-stars assemble, it’s always worth a bit your time. The evening leaned blues and blues-rock, with lots of classic tunes, and a whole lotta fun.

Looking Ahead

Los Goutos are performing several times in the Boston area in the coming weeks, as you’ll see on the “Shows” page of their website. There’s their ongoing Sunday night residency at The Burren in Somerville every Sunday. And then there are some other big shows: a late afternoon/early evening gig Sunday, December 9th at the Aeronaut Brewing Company in Somerville; Los Goutos’ “Mighty Holiday Hootenanny” on Saturday, December 22nd at the Burren Back Room in Somerville; Saturday, December 29th at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge; and Saturday, January 12th at The Bebop in Boston.

You can catch Jimmy Ryan playing in a variety of groups, per the “Shows” page on his website: with Wooden Leg on Friday, November 29th at Sally O’Brien’s in Somerville; with Jimmy Ryan & Hayride on Sunday, December 2nd at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge; with the Sado-Domestics on Sunday, December 9th at the Aeronaut Brewing Company in Somverville; and with Jimmy Ryan & Hayride on the last Sunday of every month, December through April, at Atwood’s Tavern.

Album Review: Thornetta Davis – Honest Woman

Thornetta Davis

photo by Bob Schultz; photo courtesy of Thornetta Davis

by Eric Harabadian, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of Thornetta Davis: Honest Woman

She is often referred to as Detroit’s “Queen of the Blues.” And for good reason! Thornetta Davis has consistently won numerous awards in her hometown and abroad and, with this current album, shows she is as strong a composer and songwriter as she is a singer. According to the liner notes, this album was roughly 20 years in the making. And, while Davis always delivers a sincere and no-holds-barred performance, this is some of her more personal and powerful material to date.

Thornetta Davis - Honest Woman

image courtesy of Thornetta Davis

This is a full-length feature, with a baker’s dozen of all Davis originals. It’s a seamless cross-section of rocking blues and gospel-inflected R&B that truly is a showcase for what this world class artist is all about. “I Gotta Sang the Blues” kicks things off in an appropriate autobiographical vein. It’s an uptempo funky number that guests the legendary Kim Wilson trading vocals and harmonica with the Detroit diva. “That Don’t Appease Me” finds Davis boasting loud and proud in her defense from a man that did her wrong. This one really swings as well as rocks the house. “Set Me Free” changes the pace a bit, offering a jazzy feel, with great choral vocals and superb guitar from Saginaw blues man Larry McCray. Davis makes reference to Sam Cooke in her notes, and “I Believe (Everything Gonna Be Alright)” kind of rings with that “Change is Gonna Come” kind of vibe. Other highlights can be found in the spirited “Get Up and Dance Away Your Blues,” with horns by the late Marcus Belgrave, and the title track “Honest Woman” that features Kid Rock saxophonist David McMurray and intense revelatory lyrics from the singer.

Davis is joined by many of Detroit’s first-call session players and side musicians, including guitarist Brett Lucas, bassist James Simonson, drummers Skeeto Valdez, Todd Glass and Dave Marcaccio, keyboardists Phillip Hale and Chris Codish and many others. Simply put, it’s a solid release!

Live Gigs

Per the “gigs” tab of Thornetta’s website, she’ll be performing tonight, November 23rd, and tomorrow night, November 24th, at Kingston Mines in Chicago. Thornetta’s Facebook page also lists a March 2, 2019 show with Mike Wheeler at The Token Lounge in Westland, Michigan. I’d definitely keep an eye out for other live shows, too.

Single Review: Open Strum – “Wildfire”

photo by Krista Powers; photo courtesy of Michel Goguen/Open Strum

by James Morris, Contributing Blogger

Single Review of Open Strum: “Wildfire”

This new track from Open Strum is a breezy, light and open-ended song. On this single, Open Strum comprise of Michel Goguen, Frank Goguen, and George Belliveau. When you listen to more of the Open Strum back catalogue, you appreciate just how diverse they can be. A range of styles from ambient acoustic through to funky electronic.

photo by Nancy Boudreau; photo courtesy of Michel Goguen/Open Strum

“Wildfire” is at the mature poppier end of the scale with a style that is engaging and warm. A drum beat ushers in rich harmony vocals and jangly Byrds-type electric guitars which lead you into a very easy going, bright and highly listenable track. There are some subtle and lovely touches on the mandolin, and the airy production allows the track to shine. It’s a refreshing and gripping 2:39 in length, and whilst the listen is short it absolutely soars, particularly into the uplifting choruses. When the song ends, it feels like it could just be a lull before crashing into some thunderous solo and carrying on for another couple of minutes. However, its simple brevity actually works really well, leaving you ready to go again, time after time.

For those who like a hook to hang it on, I would say that it immediately struck me as an Eagles groove with a Jackson Browne twist.

Check this one out, and then go explore more of Open Strum’s work. You can find them at www.openstrum.com

They will be heading back into the studio, so not much time to head out and play live. But if you plan ahead then you can see them play on June 8th 2019 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada to kick off next year’s “Music for Critters” fundraiser to help out animal shelters and rescues.

Live Review: Cameron Blake at HopCat WYCE Blue Bridge Music Festival, ArtPrize 10

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

Cameron Blake

HopCat WYCE Blue Bridge Music Festival

ArtPrize 10, Grand Rapids, MI

September 29, 2018

by Amy McClees, Contributing Blogger

ArtPrize 2018

photo by Amy McClees

The Blue Bridge Music Festival at ArtPrize 10 in Grand Rapids, MI was a colder, more subdued event. In an outdoor venue like this, it often depends on weather as to the atmosphere and attendance. Walking past the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum on the way to the Blue Bridge, there were throngs of ArtPrizers admiring the Cat/Lion sculpture Dare to Dream Big by Chris Navarro, an ArtPrize 10 entry display.

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

Cameron Blake played guitar to a respectful welcoming audience. He was accompanied by a flutist, keyboardist, stand-up bass, cello and drums. Cameron’s band includes Martin Spence (keyboard), Jennifer Fortosis (backup vocals and flute), Jill Collier Warne (cello), Ian Thompson (upright bass), Andy Szumowski (drums), and Debra Perry & Majestic Praise (gospel group on Queen Bee).

The mostly acoustic ensemble was trying to assemble in a little bit of wind over a river, which, by most musicians standards is out of the ordinary.

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

They opened their set with the title song, “Fear Not.” It is a piano/keyboard-based acoustic ballad and involves musicians and instruments that take skill and talent to play. According to his website, he learned to play the violin at age 12 and has since received a master’s degree in 2007 from the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore.

Blue Bridge Music Festival

photo by Amy McClees

He has been a favorite of Local Spins and has been featured at the SpeakEZ Lounge also. “While having a full time job and family including 2 children, he writes most of his songs standing at the sink doing the dishes” according to press for the Fear Not album.

Blue Bridge Music Festival

photo by Amy McClees

I find the opening song of the talented group in front of me very ironic, after having been a repeated victim of thefts and vandalism to vehicles, one of which happened three years ago at an evening venue for ArtPrize in the heart of downtown.

Looking Ahead

Keep an eye on the Events page of Cameron Blake’s website for upcoming gig information, though the calendar is currently empty. You can also follow Cameron via his Facebook page.

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

 

EP Review: Edge of Paradise – Alive

EP Review of Edge of Paradise: Alive

Edge of Paradise‘s follow-up to Immortal Waltz continues its full-on edgy hard rock aural assault. Margarita Monet’s emotively powerful voice again combines with a hard-driving, shredding metal music bed to deliver a set of memorable tunes. The songs are in Edge of Paradise’s trademark slightly off-balance, funhouse mirror metal style.

I gave a sneak peek at a couple of this EP’s tracks at the end of my Immortal Waltz review in 2017. One of those was the title track, “Alive.” Driven by churning guitars, some nearly-full-stop tempo changes, and a breathy flavor to a fair portion of the vocals, this is a power rock track. And it’s stylistically very clearly an Edge of Paradise song.

Edge of Paradise - Alive

image courtesy of Edge of Paradise

I totally dig the harmonies in hard rocker “Dust to Dust.” Yet, as straightforward as this track is, it still keeps the listener off-balance with croakily growled vocals and off-balance musical backing during the bridges. Indeed, nothing about an Edge of Paradise song is ever perfectly straightforward, but this churning rocker sprinkles EoP’s trademark song-twisting elements with a light touch for a fun change of pace.

It’s followed by “Mystery,” a theatrical ballad, suitable for anything from radio play to a rock opera performance. Monet’s straining vocals sit atop a music bed based on piano and orchestral strings, driven by booming drums and a rock guitar growl. An extremely touching, emotional, sensitive ballad, “Mystery” shows off Edge of Paradise’s range and is the song on this disc with the broadest cross-genre appeal.

The power is back with “Shade of Crazy,” with Monet’s expressive vocals providing texture to the otherwise hard-driving, powerful, crunchy melodic metal song.

“Humanoid” closes the Alive EP. Kicking off with frenetic drums and guitars behind an odd croaking vocal, the song evolves into a rhythmic power rocker in which Monet’s vocals are largely another instrument, and the beat is the real star.

I’m never sure if Edge of Paradise is one of the more uniquely original progressive rock-influenced melodic heavy metal acts or if they’re one of the more mainstream power rock-influenced heavy theatrical progressive bands on the scene. Regardless, their music is fun to listen to, their musicians and vocalist are top-shelf hard rock/metal talent, and I always look forward to hearing what they’ll do next.

Looking Ahead

I’ve taken so long to get this review written that Edge of Paradise’s new album will be out in just a few months, so there’s plenty to look forward to, but if you don’t already have this EP, it’ll be a great way to fill the gap while the next disc is in the works. In the meantime, also check the band’s website for tour dates. Currently listed are a couple early 2019 shows in Japan – January 31 in Yokohama and February 2, 2019 in Tokyo.

EP Review: Allyson Paige – Little Girl Lost

Allyson Paige

photo by Tom Dellinger; photo courtesy of Allyson Paige

EP Review of Allyson Paige: Little Girl Lost

The depth, warmth, and emotion of Allyson Paige‘s voice is what first stands out, and it’s the piece of the Little Girl Lost musical tapestry that remains a memorable constant. Stylistically, the three songs included on this musical snippet are old-school, folky country. The folkiness comes from Allyson’s picking (and, I assume, grinning) guitar style. The music on this disc would dub Allyson the country singer on an adult contemporary radio station, the folk singer at a country dancehall show, or just the singer-songwriter at an outdoor festival.

Allyson Paige - Little Girl Lost

image courtesy of Allyson Paige

The most energetic – and most knee-slappin’, twangy – number on the disc is the title track, “Little Girl Lost.” It’s a lively story-filled ditty with tempo changes, hooks, vocal flourishes and guitar runs all endearing this song quite quickly. A fun song, you’d definitely turn the sound up on the radio if this came on. This is (usually) my favorite of the EP’s three songs.

The other two cuts on Little Girl Lost are much softer, slower in tempo. First, a heartfelt ode to a certain beloved Gibson guitar, “Gibson Dove.” Sentimental and poignant, Allyson’s voice wavers in all the right spots, cementing this song’s very personal, emotional nature.

Final track “Jerry the Viking” sneakily became another favorite over the past many months. A strumming number that most clearly shows off the soaring power of Allyson’s voice, it plods along pleasingly in a sway-to-the-music drinking song style. But one from the end of the night, as everyone’s almost fallen asleep, mellow from perhaps a drink too many, its slow tempo bringing the EP to a close with a warm, pleasant, satisfied feeling.

Allyson Paige

photo by Bob Hakins; photo courtesy of Allyson Paige

I’m a big fan of song-ordering on discs, and the song order of Little Girl Lost is ideal, opening with energy and closing with relaxing warmth, a feeling of completion.

This short collection from Allyson Paige seems like a great introduction to a talented singer. Rather, singer-songwriter, as the well-craftedness of the songs are perhaps the most important element, Allyson’s vox notwithstanding. Of course, if you’re already a fan, it’ll simply be a new favorite.

I’m particularly intrigued by the text on the EP’s CD Baby page: “A country folk departure for well known SF Bay Area Blues singer and songwriter Allyson Paige.” Now I really want to hear more of her music.

Looking Ahead

I don’t see any upcoming dates on the gig calendar page of Allyson’s website, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. You can also keep an eye on the “happenings” page of Allyson’s Joni Mitchell tribute band, Foni Mitchell.

Live Review: That Beatles Thing: An Artsy Nod to ArtPrize 10, Featuring the Songs of Rubber Soul

That Beatles Thing

photo by Amy McClees

That Beatles Thing

September 22, 2018

by Amy McClees, Contributing Blogger

ArtPrize 2018 is upon us.  After getting my credentials I went to one of the mainstay eateries in downtown Grand Rapids for some live music.
That Beatles Thing, as you can surmise, plays the music of the Beatles with some of the authentic instruments. As a nod to ArtPrize 10, they decided to perform the songs of the album Rubber Soul. Pete Bardolph introduced the evening and let the audience know that there were two versions of the album, an American version and a British version.

They started the night with “Drive My Car.” They quickly followed that up with “I’ve Just Seen A Face.” And they basically played the album as they advertised they would.  The band is: James Murphy, vocals and playing guitar (and driving force of the band); Bill Van Ess, vocals and bass; Pete Bardolph, one of the longtime owners of Rainbow Music, singing and playing lead guitar; and Fritz von Valtier, who rounds out the foursome with drums and vocals.

The ballad written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown),” with the signature opening chords, was stylistically and melodically poetic.  It is arranged/based on English folk songs minus the sitar. The vocals were spot on for “I’m Looking Through You.” James has a solid voice, and Pete volunteered that Ringo was a country music fan in the song “What Goes On,” which was sung by Bill. With the help from TB Player, he brought his authentic Hofner and a second bass so Pete could play the bass and sing on “Think For Yourself.”

If you are a Beatles Fan, you’ll appreciate their live performance. Their upcoming shows include Saturday, October 6th at the Grand Haven Eagles #925 in Grand Haven, MI; Saturday, October 13th at the American Legion Boat and Canoe Club in Grand Rapids, MI; and Friday, October 19th at Woody’s Press Box in Wyoming, MI. For additional shows beyond those, check the band’s website or its Facebook page.