musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: August 2012

Strike up the band, The Bread & Puppet Theater are back in town!

photo by Mark Dannenhauer

photo by Mark Dannenhauer

The Bread & Puppet Theater: The Circus of the Possibilitarians
Cambridge Common, Cambridge MA (Mass. Ave & Garden St., near Harvard Square)
Sunday, September 2nd, 3pm – FREE! (rain or shine)
to kick off Harvard Square’s annual “Revival Month”

Sponsored by the Cambridge Arts Council and the Harvard Square Business Association

What better way to celebrate (and ridicule) the Ridiculous Neverending Circus of this political campaign year with that esteemed bastion of progressive thought, The Bread and Puppet Theater!

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Introducing James Roseman

A curious thing happened as I listened repeatedly to James Roseman’s debut album, Words and Tricks, a surprisingly sophisticated effort for an 18-year-old with a G4 Powerbook in his bedroom. What first came across as a charming collection of songs about young love and heartbreak from the vantage point of naiveté, after a few spins took on the tone of a wiser and far more jaded jilted lover, looking back with both nostalgic compassion and sardonic disgust. His musical palette varies from whimsically wayward multi-tracked vocals (“Track 3”) to a touch of flamenco (“What Are You Waiting For”) to saxophone and kazoo, bass drum and snare.

In the middle of these nine songs I find myself listening to over and over again, there’s an achingly vulnerable, sweet and melancholy take on Ben Gibbard’s brilliant masterpiece, “Such Great Heights.” James also has some rather stark poetry of his own – “With your feet in the mud, you feel right at home / And it’s in the dark you feel so alone / Yet so at ease, no one to please, hasn’t it ended yet?” (from “Young Blood”). Young blood, perhaps, but an old soul. I mean really, how many 18-year-olds would use the concept of 21 grams in a pop song? (“21 grams I follow for / 21 grams I’m chasing”). I’ll be keeping an eye on you, son.

facebook | bandcamp | soundcloud | Sababa (previous band)

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A Montréal Sojourn

and The Airborne Toxic Event Saves Osheaga! (for a few hours, anyway)

Montreal, as viewed from Parc Jean-Drapeau

Montreal, as viewed from Parc Jean-Drapeau

It was the smartest thing I could have done. Stuck in a nerve-wracking holding pattern for so long, getting nowhere, I needed something just outside my comfort level – the uncertainty of a long road trip in my beat-up ’93 Corolla, a looming border crossing, unfamiliar roads with speed signs in kilometers, and mostly unfamiliar language. Despite the edginess, there was this temporary freedom from the expected, the ordinary, the noose that had been tightening around my neck.

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Mali’s Fight for Freedom, and Amadou & Mariam in Boston *tonight*

Amadou & Mariam

Amadou & Mariam

Amadou & Mariam
Sponsored by CNV and FCM
with Debo Band
TONIGHT! Wednesday, August 1
Doors at 7 PM; 18+ | Advance Box Office Price $25 | buy tickets

I intended to write a run-of-the-mill preview of a show at Brighton Music Hall two weeks ago, featuring the Mali, West African band SMOD (and fellow West Africans Orchestra Poly-Rhthmo de Cotonou). My inability to pull this together has now dovetailed with the disturbing news of escalating violence and a massive humanitarian crisis in Mali, with the displaced Tuareg people being driven from their homes and systematically killed. A recent CNN special highlighted this part of the world and struggles that have until now escaped the notice of the West, absorbed as they are in what’s going on in Syria. But this is potentially a much larger tragedy, both in human scale and in the destruction of priceless historic artifacts and a noble culture. So now, as the world-renown Malian duo Amadou & Mariam are in town tonight at the Paradise, I find myself writing a very different sort of article.

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