Live Review: Amanda White at ONCE Somerville

Amanda White at ONCE Somerville

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Amanda White

ONCE Somerville, Somerville, MA

April 15, 2019

I had intended to get out to an Amanda White show for a while now, and this was a Monday night when my schedule fell into place, and the start time was early enough that it didn’t impede getting home at a reasonable hour; I love early shows on work nights. So I ventured out to this gig, even though it meant traveling to the severely-parking-impaired town of Somerville. (I promise I’ll try to avoid a Somerville parking rant in this review. Mostly.)

Amanda White at ONCE Somerville

photo by Geoff Wilbur

I arrived in time for Amanda’s set. Backed by a talented band, she took the stage by storm. Amanda’s style is very old-school punk. Raw but tuneful music with a penchant for random profanity. But it extends well beyond that, as you can hear prog influences, while some songs feature Amanda’s venture into soaring, operatic vocal run that few can equal. If you know anything about my musical recommendations, you’ll know they’re either for well-performed pure musical styles or, more often, those with obvious external influences from a number of often-surprising other sources. You know, that plus great vocals and songwriting. Indeed, my punk rock recommendations are rare, but they are all must-listens.

Amanda White at ONCE Somerville

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The evening mostly featured songs from Amanda White’s latest CD, Kittens Give Zero Fucks. Prior to this show, I had only listened to the album online a couple of times. Though I’m more familiar with the music now, I’ll stick to my notes from the evening for this review. There’s a more detailed album review coming sometime in the future.

Amanda and her band opened the set with, according to my notes, “that soaring, moaning song.” Gotta be disc-opener “Last to Bite.” Next up was “Fuckall Rockstar,” delivered live in its full punk rock glory, much more distorted than on the recording. Exceptionally crunchy axework and an engaging driving rhythm provided the support, while the soaring vocals were opera meets Broadway meets punk. That vocal blend – one Amanda’s uniquely capable of achieving – is a recurring theme.

Energetic rocker “Whackadoodle World” (the “oh oh oh oh oh oh oh” song, per my notes) brought a bit more straightforward rocking energy to the set. Then catchy “Ur Wife,” with its hypnotic rhythm, followed.

Amanda White at ONCE Somerville

photo by Geoff Wilbur

After a soaring fifth song (“Dark Art”), Amanda reached back to her first disc, Toyshop, for “Monica’s Getting Her Tits Done,” a tune musically catchy largely due to the recurring rhythm guitar hook.

The evening’s seventh track (noted simply as “rawks!!!”) was followed by the evening’s power ballad, “Someone’s Watching Over Me,” a song that showcases vocal versatility while still being haunting and dark.

Speaking of haunting and dark – and throw in a healthy dose of foreboding – and you’re talking about the first few minutes of “Fade” before guitar and drums help the song build to a scream. With its power shifts and movements, there was a bit of a Broadway flavor to the evening’s performance of “Fade.”

And, to close our the set Amanda closed with soaring, symphonic prog-metal “Adora.” And what better set-ender. Though punk-rock attitude permeates the performance – a pure New York-style punk rock double-bill with Bad Mary would be an unforgettable event – Amanda’s singing and songwriting versatility are what sets her apart. And she and her band rocked this particular Somerville evening. Hard. Raw. And powerfully.

Allison & Moon

Allison & Moon; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Evening’s Other Bands

The opening and closing acts of the evening were also worth catching, even though I kind-of didn’t. Evening openers The James Rocket caught my ear in my pre-show listening, but my attendance at its set fell victim to the “circling Somerville looking for parking” portion of the evening; I arrived in time to catch the last few seconds of the group’s final song. The closing set by Allison & Moon was a treat, or at least it was for as long as I stayed, but I only caught a few songs and took no notes, so I’ll have to catch them again one of these days.

Amanda White at ONCE Somerville

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Looking Ahead

Be sure to check Amanda White’s Facebook page for future gigs. At the moment, the only one listed is a February 8, 2020 show at Connolly’s in New York. The evening’s closing band, Allison & Moon, next plays on December 11th at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston, MA.

Interview with Claudio Simonetti and Live Review of Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin at the Crofoot Ballroom

photo by Larry Fritzley

by Eric Harabadian, Contributing Blogger

Interview with Claudio Simonetti and Live Review of Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin at the Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac, MI, October 14, 2019

Claudio Simonetti and the band Goblin are synonymous with the horror and suspense film genre. The Italian Brazilian-born keyboardist and composer Simonetti began his career in Europe in the early ‘70s playing in a band called Cherry Five. That initial group eventually morphed into what became the progressive rock powerhouse known as Goblin. The band’s partnership with famed Italian film director Dario Argento led to a flourishing career creating soundtracks for his suspenseful crime dramas and supernatural horror films like Deep Red/Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, Tenebrae, and a host of others. Both with Goblin and as a solo artist, Simonetti went on to compose soundtracks for many other directors such as Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi, Lucio Fulci, Lamberto Bava, and Sergio Martino.

photo by Larry Fritzley

Just in time for Halloween, we bring you an up close and personal conversation with Claudio Simonetti, as the band is currently on tour for its third U.S. leg since 2013. We also offer a recent show review from their stop in the Detroit area that was a rare occurrence indeed. So, sit back and enjoy a few moments with one of the legends of progressive rock and the global horror and suspense genre.

Eric Harabadian: Can you clarify the significance behind the band’s title?

Claudio Simonetti: After many member changes over the years I have my own band doing Goblin music.

photo by Eric Harabadian

EH: So, after various personnel changes, it’s back to you leading the band. How long has your current lineup been with you?

CS: My guitar player Bruno Previtali has been with me 20 years. My drummer Federico Maragoni has been with me six months, and our bass player Cecilia Nappo a year and a half. This is the band that recorded our new album.

EH: Can you tell me about the new album?

CS: The album is called “The Devil is Back” and has 10 brand new songs. At the same time we did a “Best Of” album which contains some of the most important songs taken from films like Zombi/Dawn of the Dead, Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, and Tenebrae. They were released for our U.S. tour but are available on Spotify and all the streaming services. Physical copies of the albums will be released everywhere in November of this year.

photo by Larry Fritzley

EH: How did you meet and work with director Dario Argento?

CS: I met Dario Argento in 1975 when he finished the film Deep Red/Profondo Rosso. He was looking for a band to score his picture. We had recorded one album under a different name but with the same members. And we worked with a producer that was already working with Dario. So, when Dario asked the producer for a band, he first wanted to contact Pink Floyd or Deep Purple. But the producer said, “No, I’m producing these Italian guys, and would you listen to them?” And so Dario came by the studio and listened to our music, loved it and decided to have us do the music for Deep Red. That was our first film with Dario, followed by Suspiria. We were very lucky because we were very young, but it worked out, too, because the soundtrack sold 4 million copies. It was incredible. This was especially weird for a prog band like us in Italy. Pop music was mostly big there then.

EH: And, of course, you’ve done a lot of music that goes beyond just horror films. Can you briefly talk about your process when you write for a movie?

CS: In the beginning I talk to the director, and I see the film. And I start to write some of the music for the scenes. Sometimes the director has suggestions, or they give me the freedom to do what I want. But I work watching the film, never before.

EH: Who are some of the biggest artistic influences that have figured into what you do?

CS: The big progressive bands from England like King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Deep Purple, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

photo by Larry Fritzley

EH: How long has it been since you last toured with Goblin, and what has been the focus of this current tour?

CS: This is our third tour here. The first was in 2013 with different members. It was two from the original band and two from my band Daemonia. We did a second tour last year as Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin. Last year we played Suspiria, and this year Deep Red.

EH: In addition to this fall U.S. tour, you’re gonna be a part of “Cruise to the Edge” in April 2020, correct?

CS: Yeah, that will be a really good experience with a lot of big names. The band Yes is the main organizer of these gigs on a boat. I’m a big fan of Yes and grew up with them. It will be fantastic to be there. And we will be one of two Italian bands on the cruise. The other is Le Orme, another popular prog band from the ‘70s.

EH: You also worked with George Romero didn’t you?

CS: Actually, no. We did the soundtrack for Dawn of the Dead because Dario Argento asked us to change the music for the European version. I also did a vampire movie for Romero called Martin. But, again, I never did meet Romero directly. I finally did meet him in 2016, a year before he passed away. He was a very nice person.

photo by Eric Harabadian

EH: Your music encompasses so many different elements. How would you describe what you do?

CS: Now, my music is progressive like the ‘70s, but with new sounds. Maybe there is more energy too. I had this band in 2000 called Daemonia that was the same stuff but heavy metal. Now I’ve turned back to the original music. I’ve done a lot of film music for Dario like Phenomena and Opera; that was just me without Goblin. So, when I play live I play Goblin stuff and my stuff.

EH: You’ve played all around the world. Where are some of your favorite places to play and why?

CS: Well, the United States, of course. But we’ve had a lot of success in Japan. I go there every year. We will be going to Japan soon for two concerts where we will play the score to the film Tenebrae.

EH: What has the response been from fans to what you do?

CS: Every show is different. But you know what surprised me more was that young people know this music. I thought only my generation would remember, but there are 20- and 30-year-olds that come with the records and want my autograph. It makes me give thanks to the internet, you know. I don’t think there is nothing special with a lot of new music. I think young people find something new in our vintage music. There is some great new music but the vintage bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin are still the best.

EH: Well, I always felt your music has a timeless quality that spans generations.

CS: Yeah, many generations. My audience goes from 20 to 60 years old.

EH: So, is your emphasis now on performing live?

CS: Yes. I don’t work much with soundtracks now. I think it’s a bad period for films, especially horror because they tend to be low budget. I prefer to play live with my new and old stuff. It’s better for me now.

photo by Larry Fritzley

Capturing Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin live is a rare and cinematic experience. You certainly get your money’s worth. The band, in the midst of a multi-state U.S. fall tour, stopped in Pontiac, Michigan at the Crofoot Ballroom for a three-hour-plus extravaganza. The first two hours found the members of Goblin poised on stage, each with instruments in hand, as they diligently watched the screen tracking live the score to Dario Argento’s Deep Red. The 1975 murder/suspense/horror hybrid holds up all these years later, and the original soundtrack performed along with it adds to the film’s vibrancy. From the opening plotline development to the closing credits, watching Simonetti and the Goblin crew in action was a true joy to behold. It was a rare glimpse into the studio process where sound-to-picture aligns and comes alive. Deep Red’s story of musician and amateur sleuth Marcus Daly’s (played excellently by David Hemmings) search to find a psychic’s killer is advanced by the band in three dimensional audio. A lot of the music had a jazz-fusion quality to it that never sounds dated, even though Simonetti is performing music he originally scored for the picture over 40 years ago. During many of the set pieces, Previtali’s tasteful wailing guitar, Nappo’s hefty and lithe bass lines, coupled with Maragoni’s syncopated beats elevated the film’s images to greater heights.

One aspect of the first section of the concert with the film that was truly phenomenal was a scene where main character Marcus Daly is in a haunted mansion and looking for clues to a murder. As he begins striking a wall and attempts to bust through the plaster, drummer Maragoni fervently eyes the screen, matching drum hits to each strike of Daly’s hammer to the mansion wall. At that moment, one really felt like they were in the recording studio laying down the music cues to the film with the band.

photo by Larry Fritzley

After the film portion was done, Simonetti and company played another hour of various instrumental pieces from a host of other Argento films like Demons, Tenebrae, and George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. They also performed some brand new tunes from the album The Devil is Back. Smiles on stage lit up all around as Simonetti, Previtali, Nappo, and Maragoni locked in place and bounced all over the landscape, driving their unique brand of progressive rock and electronic-laced rhythms undeniably home.

Claudio Simonetti is truly one of the original masters of Italian rock and world class film scoring. Along with the new Goblin they bring a classic sound that should keep thrilling horror film fans, and just solid music fans, for some time to come. For more information on the band just go to www.goblinsimonetti.com.

Looking Ahead

Per the “tour dates” page on the band’s website, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin will be in Kawasaki, Japan on October 25th and 26th and Berlin, Germany on October 31st, followed by gigs in Italy: November 1st in Lodi, November 14th in Pistoia, November 15th in Milano, and November 16th in Bologna. And they’ll be performing on Cruise to the Edge 2020, departing from Miami on March 27th, 2020.

Live Review: Nathans & Ronstadt at Upton House Concerts

Nathans & Ronstadt at Upton House Concerts

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Nathans & Ronstadt

Upton House Concerts, Upton, MA

April 6, 2019

It has been about a year since I last attended an Upton House Concerts gig. As advertised, it’s a cozy event, like a gathering of friends in a living room. And the series has plenty of regular attendees, so in a way it is. And since this host of the series is a songwriter himself, the one thing I know about any artist invited to perform as part of the series is that he or she will be outstanding songwriters. Or, as in this case, they. Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt.

Nathans & Ronstadt at Upton House Concerts

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Guitarist Nathans and cellist Ronstadt perform a unique style of song-driven folk music. Unique, yes, because all people are unique in their own ways. But that’s not what I mean, of course. Unique because you don’t often hear a guitar and cello duo.

Early in the first set, the duo performed a wistful song about “Old Film,” a tune that lyrically paints a vivid picture, while the cello adds a rich warmth. Also noteworthy early on were the energetic day-in-the-life song “Doing the Best I Can” and “Take My Words,” a song whose cello part can best be described as blues cello. (Really.)

Nathans & Ronstadt at Upton House Concerts

photo by Geoff Wilbur

After a crowdpleasing cover of “Englishman in New York,” Nathans & Ronstadt rolled out the rich, warm, energetic, Americana-esque toe-tapper “Corners.”

Next up was perhaps the angriest, darkest song I’ve ever heard about a peanut allergy, “Turncoat Peanut.” I can only assume Tom Lehrer was channeled during the writing of this song.

And yet there was no letdown as the first set closed with “I Go Low” and “Conshohocken Curve,” the latter a song about breaking up while stuck on the often backed-up Philadelphia-area freeway segment.

Nathans & Ronstadt at Upton House Concerts

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Ronstadt switched to mandolin to kick off the first couple of tracks of set two, bringing a new sound to the duo for “Ghost Writer” and “If I Had an Axe.”

After a power and intense mid-section of the set (during which I was paying such attention I didn’t even think to take detailed notes), the second set continued with “Range Anxiety,” a story-song built around electric car battery life (range anxiety), a great tension-building tune with verses reminiscent stylistically of the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl.”

Nathans & Ronstadt at Upton House Concerts

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Next up was a nostalgic tune about confiding in your barber, “Old Joe’s Chair.” And the evening closed with a powerfully rockin’, heavy prog-folk reimagining of “All Along the Watchtower.”

In all, it was a fun evening with a pair of engaging characters, a couple great songwriters both lyrically and musically, and a duo of talented musicians. Those six people were, of course, just two. Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt. Absolutely a pair of people worth spending an evening with musically.

Looking Ahead

Nathans & Ronstadt at Upton House Concerts

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Upton House Concerts have completed this season. Watch their Facebook page again later this year for next season’s schedule.

Nathans & Ronstadt have several gigs listed for the rest of this year on the gigs page of their website, though the only two shows currently listed before the end of the summer are June 8th in Phoenixville, PA, at the Black Walnut Winery Tasting Room & Wine Bar and July 19th in Lansdowne, PA, at Jamey’s House of Music. Obviously, check back to see if they add additional shows to their schedule.

Also check the individual, solo websites for Aaron Nathans and Michael G. Ronstadt to learn about some of their other musical endeavors.

Live Review: Ari Hest House Concert

Ari Hest

House concert in Shrewsbury, MA

March 30, 2019

Sometimes I simply trust the concert promoter. In this case, this concert series is hosted by Monica Mansfield, producer of Mostly Rock ‘n Roll – here’s a link to a 2017 episode featuring Ari Hest – so I reserved my spot at this show without even listening to any of Ari Hest’s music beforehand. I also didn’t look into Ari’s background before attending the show, discovering on-site that he was nominated for a Best Folk Album Grammy in 2017 for his collaboration with Judy Collins, Silver Skies Blue.

As is so often the case in this particular concert series, tonight’s concert once again featured a memorable vocalist. Ari has a booming, rich voice with a little gravelly rasp and a sort of nasal echo that adds relatability, emotion, and poignance to his songs. I often found myself thinking of Ari’s sound as a modern, updated version of some of the full-voice, warm feeling-inducing maintstream, crossover folk singers of the seventies, people like Jim Croce, though there’s no historical exact match to Ari’s original sound.

Ari opened his first set with a couple personal songs among his initial trio – “Good to Be Back,” about family, and “Sato,” about his dog George Harrison.

Next up, “Willing to Try” was a ’70s-style, singer-songwriter pop song that rides a bit of a groove. “Still Crazy After All These Years” was a fitting cover. And I really liked the way “One Two” built to power, with its catchy, energetic vibe.

“Set in Stone” was a melancholy, emotional number with a kind of “traveling song” rhythm. And “Balcony” – a song from Bluebirds of Paradise, the duo in which Ari performs with his talented wife Chrissi Poland – was slow, mellow, and soulful. And it had some Brazilian guitar influence, which Ari pointed out and I, you know, then heard and was able to identify so specifically because he told us what we were listening to.

Ari then stepped up the tempo with “I’ll Be There,” a cheerful little ditty about an ex; the key lyric herein is “I’ll be there to make you miserable.” And he closed the first set with the uplifting “Bona Fide,” a song about his neice.

Ari opened his second set with an audience Q&A. Early in the set I heard a bit of a jangly Dirty Guv’nahs-esque vibe. Second-set standouts included a haunted, rolling number called “The Weight”; “All Because,” with its build to very insistent vocals and prominent use of gravelly lyrics; Bluebirds of Paradise song “Forever More,” with its cool, jazzy vibe; and rich, cheerful mid-tempo ditty “Cranberry Lake.”

Ari closed the evening with “Make It Up,” a tune with a bit of a funky rhythm, and the softly emotional and powerful “Concrete Sky.”

Though I allowed the evening to be a surprise, the result wasn’t really much of a surprise. It was a great evening featuring an exceptionally talented artist with a very special voice. And now I know to look forward to the next time I get to hear Ari perform.

Looking Ahead

Per the “Tour” page of Ari Hest’s website, he’ll be performing at Davidson College in Davidson, NC on May 4th. He also has May and June dates scheduled that will take him to New York, Maine, Michigan, and Virginia, plus more dates in North Carolina and Massachusetts. If you’re in any of those states, you should click through to see if you can catch him in your area.

And this house concert series continues on May 4th, with a concert by Pushing Chain.

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.

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

 

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.