musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: April 2014

A Visit to the Dentist

(drilling down deep to discover the root of the problem)

It was a routine dentist appointment, nothing out of the ordinary. A cavity filling on a recessed front tooth and a few cosmetic patches, made possible by recent health care changes. She couldn’t afford it otherwise, but now, why not?

A few small shots of novocaine and she waited a while, relishing the empty time when she could just sit and collect her thoughts, relax and not have to be working.

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Bow Thayer ~ Eden: Live at The Chandler

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck - photo by Paul Janovitz (2011)

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck - photo by Paul Janovitz (2011)

Watching Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck performing “Eden” from their just released first live album Eden: Live at The Chandler (recorded during a January 2013 performance at the Chandler Center For The Arts in Randolph, Vermont) was a rather surreal experience. I had been blown away, along with the rest of those in attendance, by Bow and his band at the 2012 Boston Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, which they ended up winning. To reconcile their down ‘n’ dirty (and quite marvelous) performance on the scrappy T.T. the Bear’s stage a few years ago with a seated audience in a lavish concert hall is to realize how far they’ve come. A bit of catching up is in order.

Bow started in Boston with rock/reggae band 7 League Boots, who toured with bands like Fugazi, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Pearl Jam. He relocated to Vermont fifteen years ago, took up slide guitar and immersed himeself in the Delta blues. He also started playing the banjo and performing with the bluegrass group, The Benders. His latest album, Eden, was released last year, examining man’s destruction of the planet. No doubt one becomes more sensitive to the callings of nature and the precarious state of the planet whilst living in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Appropriately, the live album was released on April 22, Earth Day. He also released a concept video for “The Tide,” which addresses the encroachment upon animal habitats by big business and industry.

It is said that he’ll be moving on from his work with Perfect Trainwreck to explore new musical terrain with drummer Jeff Berlin and some new bandmates, as he continues performing on his self-designed instrument, known as the “Bowjotar.” Having already performed with musicians such as Ringo Starr, Booker T, John Hiatt and Levon Helm, there are no doubt interesting journeys ahead.

Upcoming Shows

4/26 North Country Folk Festival – Canton, NY (Bow solo)
4/27 Musicians Against Child Abuse at Sweet Melissa’s – Montpelier, VT (full band)
4/30 Alternate Roots TV Session – Norwood, MA (w/The Mallett Brothers; full band)
5/1 Atwood Turns 8 Celebration – Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, MA (full band)
5/2 Tupelo Music Hall – White River Junction, VT (w/The Mallett Brothers; full band)
6/7 Cambridge River Festival – Cambridge, MA (full band)
6/28 Rockfire Festival – Barre, VT (full band)
7/9 Lyman Point Park – White River Junction, VT (Bow solo)

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Priscilla Ahn ~ gentle reflection and a spring tour

Priscilla Ahn, a multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, harmonica, ukulele, banjo) with an angelic voice, is new for me but has been performing for more than a decade. She has toured with DeVotchKa, Willie Nelson, Amos Lee and others, and has collaborated with Tiesto (“I Am Strong”) and Ashtar Command (“The Breakup Song”). She released her fifth album, This Is Where We Are (Universal Music), back in July.

At her core is quiet introspection with the focus on her beautiful voice, softly accompanied by wistful, delicate piano and acoustic guitar. On her latest album, she incorporates electronica and beats (and sprinkles of fairy dust), though fortunately this adds to the appeal of her intimate and haunting vocals. While artists with less talent hide behind electronics, Priscilla Ahn uses the technology to further color her already quite colorful inner world.

Spring Tour

4/29 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
5/1 Cambridge, MA – T.T. the Bear’s Place
5/3 Washington, DC – The Hamilton
5/4 Philadelphia, PA – Tin Angel
5/6 Toronto, Canada – The Drake Hotel
5/13 Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
5/15 San Francisco, CA – Yoshi’s San Francisco
5/30 Los Angeles, CA – Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

See full schedule

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Introducing… New City Ghost

Here’s something that stood out recently. New City Ghost, from Rhode Island, are poised to release their debut 5-track EP, Ossa Cava, on May 20th. In this first musical offering, they expertly exhibit a defiant punk rock sneer, but there’s more going on, which is why it caught my ear. The songs are dirty and noisy in a fine punk and grunge tradition that stretches out into a delightful cacophony, but there are also some very pretty melodies, layered sounds and delicate touches mixed in. The tightness, composition and vocal harmonies sound like a more seasoned outfit. The bits of lyrics I catch are also more sophisticated than the norm, which warms my jaded heart. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

They have a few shows coming up next month. The official CD release show is on May 23 at the Worcester Palladium, but before that, they’ll be at T.T. the Bear’s Place on May 17, with The Okay Win (who also have an album coming out) and Sikes. Have a listen and check them out live.

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The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) ~ debut album and tour

This is a brief commemoration of a new band. Or perhaps a new duo. Whatever they want to call it. Aimee Mann (‘Til Tuesday) and Ted Leo (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Citizens Arrest, Chisel, The Sin-Eaters, The Spinanes) have just released their debut album on her own SuperEgo Records, and they’re embarking on a tour (see East Coast dates below).

Selected Shows

see full schedule

4/24 Pearl Street Nightclub – Northampton, MA
4/25 Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
4/26 Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME
4/27 Toad’s Place – New Haven, CT
4/29 The Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
5/1 Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY
5/2 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
5/3 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
5/5 Mr. Smalls Theater – Millvale, PA

The Both: web | facebook
Aimee Mann: web | facebook | twitter | youtube
Ted Leo: web | facebook | twitter

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Introducing… STRNGRS

It’s when you hear a band playing a stripped-down set free of any electronic embellishments that you really separate those precious gems from the rest of the pile. NYC-based STRNGRS are a noisy, rambunctious trio with a scrappy and bluesy garage sound, but it is in last year’s CMJ penthouse performance where their soulful center and stellar musicianship really comes out into full bloom. Have a listen to that first, and then check out a few more in their “natural habitat.” They’ve got a bit of old Led Zeppelin going on as well (to my ears anyway – listen to “Outta My Mind”).

They’ve got two EPs out (Five Dynamic New Tunes! and Magic Boy) and will be recording their debut album later this year. Really? They’re that new and already sound this good? Nice. They currently have two New York shows scheduled — Arlene’s Grocery on April 25 and Mercury Lounge on May 31.

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Neil Finn’s Dizzy Heights

Leave it to a Kiwi to produce the perfect soundtrack to our troubling times. Neil has been a favorite for many years now — from his musical meanderings with brother Tim in the artsy and rambunctious New Wave powerhouse of Split Enz to his own immensely successful (and immensely wonderful) Crowded House, to several brilliant solo albums, his 7 Worlds Collide projects and the warm brotherly love and playful affection in his recordings with Tim as Finn Brothers. He’s New Zealand’s elder statesman, an inspirational songsmith and along with brother Tim, was bestowed with an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993 for their contribution to the music of New Zealand. So yes, it’s actually quite a big deal that Neil has a new album out.

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In honor of David Lamb of Brown Bird

I heard the sad news this morning that David Lamb of the wonderful Rhode Island folk duo Brown Bird lost his battle with leukemia yesterday. I’d like to send my very best wishes and heartfelt condolences to his partner and band mate MorganEve Swain and other friends and family.

I had the great honor of being in the audience for their stunning 2011 Newport Folk Festival set. It was an amazingly soulful and profoundly moving performance. David will be deeply missed not only by those who knew him, but by the many people who were captivated by their music.


(thank you, Boston Phoenix)

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Introducing… Calan Mai (aka Jordan Lawrence)

Here’s something rather happy and bouncy for you. Yeah, I know, not typically my style, but it’s catchy stuff. Calan Mai a.k.a. Australian singer-songwriter Jordan Lawrence, focuses on introspective/retrospective lyrics and upbeat melodies. Some of his influences are Conor Oberst, Bob Dylan, Sam Beam, Justin Vernon and Adam Duritz. One thing about Calan/Jordan that endears me is that he sings honestly and with his charming Aussie accent, which sadly, not all artists would do. With his bursting positive vibes, I’m thinking he’d be a natural for the Life is good. festival.

His debut single is called We’ve Got Love, which comes from his debut five track EP “Days On The Rock Face,” due out in July. The song was produced and mixed by Adam Lyons. I don’t see a way to embed it, but click on that link and have a listen. There’s also a little teaser for the upcoming EP.

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