Noel Coakley from The Autumn Hollow Band (swiped from their MySpace page; sorry, no show pics)

Noel Coakley from The Autumn Hollow Band

Yes, I got myself off my little island again to see a show, and I’m really glad I did. I’d never been inside Toad for any considerable length of time… nice place! Cozy, rather shaped like a shoebox with the “stage” at the far end, and a slightly raised area off to the right when you first walk in. Tables on the right, bar on the left, narrow walkway down the middle, and there you have it! A cool place for live music, but definitely get there early if the band(s) playing are popular at all. Otherwise, you might have to wait outside for a bit until someone squeezes out so you can squeeze in (I’m guessing about 100 maximum capacity, if that).

We had to wait a little, but it was definitely worth it. Steve Brodsky opened. A singer/songwriter who’s previously performed with Pet Genius and Cave In, he had an excellent band (including a female vocalist) backing his thoughtful lyrics, though I’m afraid I can’t tell you who they are, as his MySpace page doesn’t mention them. You can order his music (and book), watch a few videos, and read more about him on the Hydra Head Records site. Oh yes, and my friend Victor said he reminded him of Gram Parsons.

The Autumn Hollow Band were really great as well. They’re rocking and rootsy, with interesting lyrics that I’ll have to investigate further. The band features Brendan Murphy (lead vocals, guitar), Scott Marucci (vocals, bass), Todd Sampson (drums), Noel Coakley (vocals, pedal steel guitar, banjo), and Mike Burke (lead guitar). I don’t often get to hear live pedal steel, so that was a real treat, and some very nice banjo and guitar playing as well. Not sure about available releases; probably best to contact the band directly via MySpace. They have a great song called “Washing Machine” (which they performed live). Victor said the lead singer, Brendann, reminded him of Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. I’m not so good at that sort of thing, so I’ll take his word for it.

Anyone living in or near Cambridge should definitely check out Toad for live music and a really casual atmosphere. They’re in Porter Square, next to Christopher’s restaurant.

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