Live Reviews: Bob Malone at Framingham Centre Common and Danielle Miraglia at Front Street Concerts

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies; photo by Geoff Wilbur

It was a great summer for concerts, though I didn’t make it out to many. I did, however, find a way to see a couple of my personal favorites just a week apart mid-summer. Though I didn’t take many notes, I did take a few photos, so I’ll give you quick reviews and remind you why your music collections (and nights out) are remiss without these talented blues (or hyphenated-blues-based) artists’ music making them better. In fact, these two would make an amazing double-bill, with uniquely different but complementary blues-based styles. But I digress.

Bob Malone

Framingham Centre Common, Framingham, MA

July 27, 2018

On his way back to Los Angeles from a featured spot at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, Bob Malone stopped in Framingham and played at the Village Green as part of the Framingham Summer Concert Series. I arrived during his opening number, driving past the park in search of parking while “Chinese Algebra” drifted in through the car windows. Two sets of piano-driven, rockin’ blues followed.

Bob’s vocals are reminiscent of a bluesier Randy Newman. His songs range from rambunctious to poignant, often connecting – on a real or exaggerated level – with very relatable experiences. And his keywork? I’ll quote (paraphrase) a woman in attendance who was attending on behalf of her church and handing out water to concertgoers on this warm July evening. She said he reminds her of Jerry Lee Lewis. Indeed, Bob’s music cuts across generations.

Bob Malone

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Bob’s sets included a few of my favorites from his several albums, most heavily leaning on his newer stuff, of course. “Can’t Get There From Here,” “I’m Not Fine,” and “Ain’t What You Know” were among my favorites on the set list this particular evening. “Rage & Cigarettes” was another live highlight. And, of course, “Stay With Me” got some of the crowd on its feet dancing… not quite to the extent it did at Bob’s Barn #81 show last fall, but pretty darned impressively for a laid-back, hot summer concert evening.

Of course, there’s no wrong time for a Bob Malone concert. And this one ended with some emphasis, as Bob’s keyboard stand crashed to the stage at the very end of his final number. Even though I know it was unintentional, how rock ‘n roll is that?!

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

Front Street Concerts, Hopkinton, MA

August 4, 2018

I love being quoted, even if I have to quote myself, but the following tweet isn’t very quotable, so I’ll paraphrase. Clearly, if you weren’t at this show, to see Boston treasure Danielle Miraglia, you must be trapped under a rock.

But I digress. We love Front Street Concerts; it’s always great food followed by a concert from reliably one of the area’s best artists. And we love Danielle Miraglia, the aforementioned transcendent talent whose rockin’ bluesy vocals and intricately crafted lyrics delivered with a smile and a wink should rightly have her playing arenas. So where else would we possibly have been on this particular summer evening but at Danielle’s annual barn concert?

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Danielle isn’t afraid to mix in songs from her heroes, as the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and Prince covers all made appearances. But, of course, the confluences of those influences are her original tunes, and that’s why she drew a backyard full of fans, because of her exceptionally engaging, wry, defiantly, identifiably Danielle Miraglia originals.

Danielle drew songs from her last three albums for her originals this set. She opened things up with “Fair Warning,” a fun, energetically defiant, and snarky tune that’s… well, I was going to say it’s a crowd favorite, but they all are.

The hook in “See the Light,” up next, grabs me every time. And “All My Heroes are Ghosts,” the title track of Danielle’s current album and a tune on the more thoughtful end of her musical spectrum, was next.

Also in the first set were some attitude-laden personal favorites: “Monster,” “Don’t Pray For Me,” and “Aim Low.” Three songs with social and societal messages, cleverly told. Something very few do as well as Danielle.

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

photo by Geoff Wilbur

She and her band opened the second set with another statement on the state of the world, “Famous For Nothing.” A couple Spotted Tiger songs were thrown into the mix. Spotted Tiger, comprised of Glory Junkies violist Laurence Scudder and guitarist Erik White, plays a uniquely eclectic brand of Americana, not quite rockabilly. The sort of music you might hear at a barn raising. A fun stylistic change-of-pace to the evening, this two-song interlude was a great nod to the exceptional talent of Danielle’s band, a very versatile aggregation of some of the best musicians in the Boston area.

Then it was back to Danielle’s music, the lively “Everybody’s Wrong” followed by the melancholy “Home.”

After Danielle’s cover of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret,” I was caught up in the music and forget to continue to take notes. I do know one of the show’s highlights came later when audience participation helped drive the power of “Choir,” a longtime favorite of mine.

Front Street Concerts

photo by Geoff Wilbur

As always at a Danielle Miraglia concert, the experience was fun and satisfying, as if you attended a meaningful event; a Danielle Miraglia show never seems frivolous. And the hospitality (and delicious buffet) at Front Street Concerts always makes it feel like a gathering of old friends. More than a hundred old friends.

I’m disappointed this was the only Front Street Concerts event I made it to this summer. My only Danielle Miraglia concert in a long time, too. But I’ll have a few chances to make up for that in the coming months.

Live Review: Danielle Miraglia at Front Street Concerts

Danielle Miraglia (The Glory Junkies Trio)

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Danielle Miraglia

Front Street Concerts, Hopkinton, MA

August 12, 2017

Danielle Miraglia is a Boston treasure. Period. We are fortunate enough to have one of the best regional blues-centered music artists in our midst, a special performer whose full band shows (with her band, the Glory Junkies) are blues-rock and whose solo acoustic shows are more blues-folk, but they always carry that original Danielle Miraglia spark, that glint in her musical eye, and that fun, amusingly thoughtful emotional and intellectual sincerity. The entire east coast is lucky to get a chance to experience her music during her tours, but we in the Boston area can get a regular dose of her musical magic, and the fact that she typically draws strong crowds even with her frequent performances is a testament to how much we appreciate her considerable, world-class talent. This is my fourth review of Danielle’s music since the Blog‘s launch, but it is the first in more than a year. I reviewed her last album, a 2016 set at Atwood’s Tavern, and last summer’s gig at Front Street Concerts.

Danielle Miraglia

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Front Street Concerts, meanwhile, is a favorite venue, perfect for a pleasant summer night. It’s a backyard “house concert” with a dinner buffet and a purpose-built barn featuring a stage and a sound system, with wide-open barn doors and a tent allowing most attendees to sit outside on lawn chairs. Even without the music, it would be a great place to spend a summer evening. But, of course, the concert series organizers always, dependably bring in exceptionally talented musicians.

On this particular evening, Danielle performed fronting the Glory Junkies Trio, flanked by violist Laurence Scudder and guitarist Erik White from her Glory Junkies band. Using a stomp box where added percussion was necessary (as she does during solo acoustic performances), Danielle delivered a perfectly rockin’ evening of blues and blues-rock. The Trio kicked things off with one of the songs that first turned me on to Danielle’s music, “See the Light” from her 2011 Box of Troubles release. This is almost hillbilly blues-rock, showcasing her bandmates’ skills, hinting at the offbeat humor occasionally hidden in Danielle’s lyrics, and featuring her strong, versatile voice, touching upon its raw power while built around the textured emotion that makes her mid-range so powerful.

Danielle Miraglia (The Glory Junkies Trio)

photo by Geoff Wilbur

She followed that with a pair of songs from her Glory Junkies disc. “Fair Warning” sports a cool, almost syncopated sound in its trio arrangement, while “Famous For Nothing” is driven by kind of a chunky rhythm when performed live, a cool rendition of this album favorite on this particular evening.

Next up was the first of Danielle’s new originals to be performed this evening, “All of My Heroes are Ghosts.” Classic, gritty, growly Danielle Miraglia at her best. It was during this song, in fact, that I was compelled to comment to the person standing next to me, “Oh, my God! That thing in her voice!” Vintage. Or, rather, new, since it’s one of the songs I assume will be on the album she’s currently recording.

Danielle Miraglia (The Glory Junkies Trio)

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Late in the first set came another favorite new song, the topical, timely “Make Your Own News.” On the whole, the tune chunked along like a classic blues rocker, but the bridge almost seemed to borrow from seventies pop-radio harmonies, and there was a fun viola solo well worth its own shout-out, as well.

After that, Danielle shook the joint with the raucous “Stagger Lee” before mellowing a bit on “Home,” a powerful song whose sound is always so warm and uplifting, a tune that displays the richness of Danielle’s voice that makes this sort of connection possible. And, of course, she closed the first set with a Janis Joplin cover, just one of many iconic artists whose songs fit her voice so well.

Spotted Tiger (Laurence Scudder & Erik White)

Spotted Tiger (Laurence Scudder & Erik White); photo by Geoff Wilbur

The second set started with two songs sans Danielle, as Laurence and Erik have their own band, Spotted Tiger. So we were treated to a couple Spotted Tiger tunes. The first was an almost hillbilly-ish Americana number; the second more like energetic folk. Indeed, these guys form a cool duo. I saw them perform a full set as Spotted Tiger once before, the spring before I launched the Blog.

Then Danielle was back to finish off the night. The second set featured a couple favorites from the Glory Junkies disc, “Dead End Street,” in which I love the funky pop element that interacts well with Danielle’s blues snarl, and “Coffee Stained Thank You Cards,” a song that would easily win my vote as the best blues-rock song to mention sarcastic zombies in the lyrics.

Notable, as well, was new original “Everybody’s Wrong.” This one shows off Danielle’s blues howl – my notes from the evening simply say “Grrr!” and “Wow!” – in addition to some almost Chuck Berry-esque axework by Erik White.

Danielle Miraglia (The Glory Junkies Trio)

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The final set also included several covers. There was a Dylan cover, the heartfelt, melancholy “I Want You.” And a Prince cover, of course: “Gett Off.” And notably, as usual, a show-closing, wailing rendition of Tom Waits’ “2:19,” a Danielle Miraglia concert staple that she always makes her own.

Not ready to end the evening any earlier than necessary, there was, of course, an encore. In this case, a very gospelly rendition of “Shine a Light.”

There’s rarely a better way to spend a Saturday night than at a Front Street concert. And there’s never a better evening than a Danielle Miraglia concert. Combine the two, and you get a true summer memory.

Looking Ahead

There’s just one Front Street Concerts event left this summer. That’s next Saturday, August 19th, featuring Tim Gearan. If you can get out to Hopkinton next Saturday, it’s well worth it. But you need to RSVP in advance to reserve your spot.

Danielle Miraglia (The Glory Junkies Trio)

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Danielle Miraglia, of course, has several shows on her schedule. Next up is August 26th at Lemifest in Mashpee. Then, on August 27th, as part of the Charles River Reprobates in Newburyport. You can also catch her on September 3rd at the Plymouth Folk and Blues Festival in Plymouth, VT and on September 9th at the 7th Annual Haverford Music Festival in Havertown, PA. Be sure to check the “Shows” page of her website for details and check back regularly to stay current. Indeed, this is one of the thinnest schedules I’ve seen on her website in a while, so I’m sure there will be more shows added soon.

Spotted Tiger also has a few gigs coming up, as noted on their website. They’ll be onstage tonight, August 13th, at Toad in Cambridge, MA. They’ll be at Bull McCabe’s Pub in Somerville, MA on September 22nd. And they have gigs listed in Beverly and Salem, MA and Nashua, NH on various dates from October through February. For more details, see their website.

Geoff’s Night Out: Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies with Tom Bianchi at Front Street Concerts

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies with Tom Bianchi

Front Street Concerts, Hopkinton, MA

July 30, 2016

Front Street Concerts

Front Street Concerts; photo by Geoff Wilbur

One of my favorite house concert venues, Front Street Concerts is a popular place to catch great music in a backyard setting out here in the outer suburbs of Boston. The timing for this evening’s concert was pretty good, a cooler night than most we’ve experience the last couple weeks, and quite comfortable by the time the concert was in full swing. Tonight’s gig featured Metro Boston’s not-so-hidden gem Danielle Miraglia and her band the Glory Junkies with her husband, Boston music scene veteran extraordinaire Tom Bianchi, serving as her opening act.

Danielle Miraglia & Tom Bianchi

Danielle Miraglia & Tom Bianchi; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Opening Act: Tom Bianchi

This was my first time catching one of Tom’s sets, and it was the fun experience I was told to expect.

Tom Bianchi

Tom Bianchi; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Tom was tuneful and delivered nearly as broad a mix of acoustic folk-rock as possible within a short set that mixed legitimate acoutic guitar (and electric bass) chops and fun between-song banter into a folky froth. Indeed, the set was mostly acoustic but occasionally featured his electric bass.

As usual, I didn’t ask about song titles, so I may get them wrong, but here goes:

Tom opened with a self-described new song, “My Old Friend,” which featured acoustic guitar strumming, Tom’s engaging, bit-of-a-growl vocal style, and his big, welcoming personality.

The several-song set closed with an interestingly matched couplet, as Tom himself pointed out, featuring first an original anti-cover-song song, then his cover of the Beatles’ “Something.”

It’s obvious from even this short set why Tom is such a popular local performer. His performance comes across a bit like organized chaos… a guaranteed fun night out!

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Headliner: Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia was the headliner tonight with her band, the Glory Junkies – Laurence Scudder (viola), Jim Larkin (bass), and Chris Anzalone (drums). Favorites around the Boston area and up and down the east coast, Danielle and her band packed the house – OK, the barn and the yard – at Front Street Concerts.

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies; photo by Geoff Wilbur

I reviewed Danielle’s February gig at Atwood’s Tavern, and I’m not sure I’ll ever write a better description of her blue-chip band’s rockin’ blues style than I did in that review; suffice it to say, Danielle Miraglia and the Glory Junkies again delivered a performance of folk-influenced, rock-inspired, subgenre-crossing blues, all with a sly, sarcastic, fun, and sometimes heartfelt edge. The band’s leader and her partners-in-crime seem to always be at the top of their games; this gig was no exception.

The band kicked things off by getting the crowd fully engaged with “See the Light” from Danielle’s Box of Troubles album, followed by the rollocking “Fair Warning” from her latest release, Glory Junkies.

Danielle Miraglia

Danielle Miraglia; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Popular culture-inspired “Famous for Nothing” followed, as did Danielle’s amazing ability to channel Janis Joplin in an inspired Joplin cover. Here, as elsewhere, Scudder’s inspired viola work stood out.

A few songs later, Danielle ditched the band for three songs and went acoustic, reaching back three albums for “Snow Globe” and following it with a new song (“Silence Was Your Weapon”?), both quite sensitive songs that spoke to the audience. The highlight of the acoustic trifecta for me, though, was Danielle’s new “empowerment” song, a tune I’d never heard before, “Aim Low.” Instant classic. Like a musical demotivational poster.

The return of the band featured Danielle growling along with some well-placed viola on “Don’t Pray For Me,” followed by “Stagger Lee,” an energetic number that always brings to my mind an image of a railroad train chugging full-speed down the tracks.

The set closed with Tom Bianchi joining the band for its final three songs, closing with a rendition of Tom Waits’ “3:19” that, a Danielle Miraglia concert staple that she truly makes her own.

The evening ended with one of my favorite Danielle Miraglia tunes, a rafter-shaking performance of “Choir.” And, of course, the evening ended too soon.

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Looking Ahead

The “shows” page on Danielle’s website lists her next gig as Friday, August 5th at Atwood’s Tavern opening for the Tim Gearan Band. Other upcoming scheduled shows include the Kingsville Folk Festival in Kingsville, Ontario on Saturday, August 13th; Saturday, September 3rd at One Longfellow Square in Portland, Maine, opening for The Mystix; Friday, September 16th at the Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square, PA with Beacoup Blue; a Saturday, September 17th house concert in Reston, VA; Saturday, September 18th at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, DE with Kyle Swartzwelder; and Saturday, October 1 at Old Sloop Coffeehouse in Rockport, MA with Jon Shain.

Tom’s performances page lists his weekly local Somerville/Cambridge residencies: Thursday nights with the Baker Thomas Band at Toad; Sunday nights as host, emcee, and performer at the Burren Backroom Acoustic Music Series; and Monday nights as host and emcee of the Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge.

Front Street Concerts has one upcoming concert currently scheduled: Florent Dufour on Saturday, September, 10th.

Geoff’s Night Out: Danielle Miraglia and Tim Gearan at Atwood’s Tavern

Danielle Miraglia and the Glory Junkies/Tim Gearan Band

Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, MA

February 26, 2016

Tim Gearan Band w Danielle Miraglia

Danielle Miraglia with the Tim Gearan Band; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Backstory

If you haven’t been reading the blog from the beginning, you may have missed it, but I reviewed Danielle Miraglia’s Glory Junkies album as installment #7 of my 9-part “Road Back to Music Journalism” series.

Friday nights are Tim Gearan’s night at Atwood’s Tavern. Each week, he brings in another great band to open for him. Because I hadn’t been out to see Danielle perform live since starting the blog, I had been looking for an opportunity, and this night came with a chance to catch Tim, as well, so it seemed like a perfect choice.

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia and the Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia & the Glory Junkies; photo by Geoff Wilbur

My level of appreciation for Danielle Miraglia’s talent is already well-documented. She can perform solo as an acoustic, almost folky blues singer, and she can perform a raucous, full-on rockin’ blues set with her band, the Glory Junkies. Tonight, of course, was a Glory Junkies night.

The band opened with “See the Light,” a stompin’ blues rock tune from the Box of Troubles CD that featured a nice fiddle solo and showed that Danielle’s tuneful blues growl was in full form tonight; the energy carried well into “Fair Warning.”

Next was “Famous for Nothing,” challenging the rhythm section, who adeptly kept the song under control as the vocals and guitar danced around the melody a bit.

Danielle Miraglia

Danielle Miraglia; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Through the rest of the set, Danielle did her usual amazing job on a Joplin cover, played a fun song off the Glory Junkies disc, grabbed the acoustic guitar for a new song – I didn’t ask for the title, but I’d assume it’s “Don’t Pray For Me” – that’s a real foot-stompin’ blues number with a smirk and a lotta howlin’ soul, and then added a Prince number.

The band closed its set with what’s a bit of a Danielle Miraglia standard, as well it should be, her powerful, force-of-nature rendition of Tom Waits’ “2:19.”

A deafening call for an encore was greeted with one last song, “Pick Up the Gun,” with a little spacy intro, great guitar-picking, vocal power, and significant use of a freaky fiddle sound I had never heard anywhere before this evening. This song, by the way, via a YouTube video of a live, outdoor performance, was one of the first songs I listened to when I was initially checking out Danielle’s music.

Tim Gearan Band

Tim Gearan Band

Tim Gearan Band; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Tonight was my introduction to Tim Gearan in a live setting, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, though I had an idea. He and his band are a powerhouse of full-steam-ahead, rollicking blues and blues-rock.

Tim opened his set by asking Danielle Miraglia to join him on vocals for the first two songs, which quickly got the house rocking.

After a couple more straight-ahead rockin’ blues numbers, Tim advanced to some funky blues.  By this point one thing was clear. Well, two things. First, this band could handle just about any variation of the blues with aplomb. Second, there’s so much texture in Tim’s voice, sometimes seeming to have a Southern-sounding bluesy edge to it, that it always contains lots of emotional power.

Or so I thought. The band’s rendition of Tom Waits’ “Clap Hands” combined spacy and psychedelic music with understated vocals. Proving Tim can deliver emotion without the power, when called for. And when the band next turned it down for a slow swayer, there was a hint of Randy Newman in Tim’s vocals.

I’m glad I got a chance to catch the Tim Gearan Band live. The evening ran late, so I couldn’t stay until the end, but I did stay a bit longer than I had planned because I couldn’t tear myself away. Indeed, I don’t get out to catch live music as often as I’d like, but this double-bill was clearly one worth leaving this house for. ‘Cause “my house don’t rock” the way a Danielle Miraglia/Tim Gearan show does.

 

The Road Back #7: Danielle Miraglia

The Road Back to Music Journalism #7: Danielle Miraglia’s Glory Junkies CD

Fall/Winter 2014/15

First CD Pre-Order

Danielle Miraglia

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Backstory

I can’t recall exactly how I discovered Danielle Miraglia‘s music, but I believe it involved local live show listings (and the subsequent checking-out of bands listed) because I first viewed out YouTube videos before finding Danielle’s Box of Troubles album available online as a free (“name your price”) download. After months of listening to that album on my PC playlist, Danielle had become one of the artists whose recordings I would look forward to buying as soon as it was released, so I took it one step further and pre-ordered her Glory Junkies CD in the fall of 2014; the album was completed and released that winter.

Danielle Miraglia

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Why This Was a Step on the Road Back

My first CD pre-order was simply one more piece of evidence that I was becoming more involved in the discovery of new music. Since that pre-order, I’ve seen Danielle perform live three times; that’s more than any of the other original independent musicians I’ve been following the last few years. Granted, she performs locally quite a bit, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time a couple of times, but her performances are always absolutely worth it. (I’m partial to her shows with a full band, but that’s no surprise; I do like to rock.)

CD Review of Danielle Miraglia: Glory Junkies

Danielle Miraglia

image courtesy of Danielle Miraglia

The word that best describes Danielle’s vocal style is “can I have more than just one word, please?”. She can rock, she can do sultry, she’s frequently a little raspy and gravelly, she can go extremely bluesy — well, she’s always a little bluesy, but sometimes yowza! Regardless, Danielle’s voice is an unmistakable powerhouse. And most of the time it sounds as if she’s singing with a good-natured smirk. And there’s a good chance that’s exactly what she’s doing. All somewhere on the spectrum from folk to blues-rock to full-on blues, yet every song is identifiably, undeniably, absolutely a Danielle Miraglia song.

Danielle Miraglia

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Glory Junkies tune with probably the greatest hit potential due to its monster hook is the not-quite title track, “Glory Junky.” Lyrically, the song is soaked in sarcastic wit, as well, which only adds to the fun. If you’re looking for blues, you might want to try “Left Hand Turn,” though it’s an absurdity-as-reality style of blues, really the only of its kind on this album, with Danielle wailing the lyrics quite matter-of-factly. Meanwhile, Red Sox fans (and baseball fans and psychology fans in general) will enjoy the slower-paced, folky “Heat of the Win,” essentially a study of misery and forgiveness as it relates to Bill Buckner. “Tear It Down,” meanwhile, delivers a truly rollicking brand of fast-tempo blues. Less bluesy, the slow, lyric-driven “Carmella” really knows how to tell a story; it will play on your sympathy if you listen closely. There’s also a bit of commentary in the twanging surf-blues of “Famous For Nothin’.” But there’s also plenty more pure humor on the disc, from sarcastic zombies at the door in “Coffee-Stained Thank You Cards” to pigeons in, well, “Pigeons.” But be careful what you dismiss as humor; there’s always a bit more “there” there, as is the case with the aforementioned “Pigeons.”

So once again we return to the dilemma of describing Danielle’s musical style. Blues. And folk. And blues-rock. Not so hard. But it’s Danielle Miraglia’s brand of blues/folk/blues-rock. Replete with sarcasm, wit, deep thoughts, great lyrical turns of phrase, and an always-a-little-bluesy vocal style that can navigate all three of those styles (and probably more if she chose to) but still always be undeniably, recognizably her own. Glory Junkies is a fun disc, a musically, vocally, and lyrically satisfying journey. Of course, with Danielle Miraglia at the wheel, it’s no surprise.