musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: June 2016

Air Traffic Controller’s On The Wire Video

A quick bit of catching up is in order. Boston band Air Traffic Controller released their latest album, ‘Black Box’ back in March. Recently released is a video for a song off the album, “On The Wire,” which tells the story of female empowerment and the bonds of friendship, following a “Thelma and Louise” road trip.


The band is currently touring. See their Bandsintown page for more information.

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Introducing… Kid Coyote (sort of)

photo by Sydney Bilodeau

Actually, we have already met the Portsmouth, New Hampshire duo Kid Coyote back in 2013, though at that time they were known as Clara Berry and Wooldog. With the wool dog now metamorphosed into a kid coyote, they have released the first single “Full Moon Rising” from their upcoming new album On Borrowed Lawns. Judging by this first offering, their music has taken on a darker, more ethereal and minimalist, electronic deep space slow burn soul journey tone. What lingers, quite strongly, is a sense of intrigue and Berry’s enticing and hypnotic voice.

Like what you hear? Download it for free.. Kid Coyote is Clara Berry and Joe O’Neill, and they have a few shows coming up in New Hampshire and Maine. Check them out if you can and follow them for news about the new album.

Upcoming Shows

Jul 12 Bird’s Eye Lounge (Opening for Jessy Lanza) – Portsmouth, NH
Jul 16 Seacoast Congress of Sound – Berwick, ME
Aug 12 TBD – Portsmouth, NH – RSVP

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Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling Forsake Boston for L.A. – Bon Voyage!

::: Give them a raucous send-off at the Middle East Downstairs TONIGHT! :::
with special guests Psychic Dog, Endation, and Petty Morals – plus drummer Jess Townsend

Those of you who follow the Boston music scene will already know that the dynamic duo of Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein, two of the area’s creative luminaries, will soon be packing up to move west to Los Angeles. Before that happens, though, they have a special going-away party at the Middle East Downstairs — and they’ve given us a lovely going-away gift.

First, the show. They’ll be joined tonight (June 23) by special guests and friends Psychic Dog, Endation and Petty Morals, and drummer Jess Townsend will join them onstage.

As for the gift, it’s a shiny new three-song EP called In The Village. It’s very pretty, moody, ethereal and dark. How’s that for an endorsement!? Could this be a new direction for the band? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

For everyone who has been following along, DNFMOMD is devoted to the 1960s British television series The Prisoner — hence their name and their raison d’être. The first two tracks of the EP are, in fact, episodes 13 and 14 in their Prisoner project and the third track is an absolutely hilarious and quite wonderful cover of Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend.” Because, you know, Loverboy.

Check out their features on Boston Emissions on WZLX and Vanyaland And if you can, join them at the show!

Safe travels and best of luck, Sophia and Michael. We’ll miss you!

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Exciting New Music Frontiers: Boston Creates and the Open Music Initiative


Two stories came to my attention recently that could be potential game-changers for indie musicians. Both involve major initiatives taking place in the Boston area. One, Boston Creates, could greatly assist musicians and other artists living and working in Boston. The other, the Open Music Initiative, could impact the lives (and livelihoods) of musicians around the world.

Boston Creates

Following Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s election in 2013, a Chief of Arts and Culture position was created along with increased funding for the arts in the city, and the Boston Creates cultural planning program was established. These sorts of initiatives tend to be very slow in coming together, but since then, they’ve been engaging the public in a series of town hall meetings, focus groups, interviews, a survey and an online map of cultural assets. Recently, the plan was drawn up and it looks like real action is about to start taking place.

The results of these efforts can now been seen in the Boston Creates Cultural Plan. There’s a lot of reading here, from information about the research process through the plan’s creation, implementation and action items. If you’re interested, do check it out. However, the basic gist of it is that the city is putting some money into improving the situation for artists and their audiences (long overdue), in addition to encouraging art education in schools (and often-overlooked subject). This is a very good thing. Some of the key problems they found include the need for affordable cultural spaces and facilities, the lack of affordable housing and work space for Boston artists and imbalances and gaps in funding for Boston artists, the arts and cultural organizations. It was also found that there is a need for better arts education programs in Boston public schools.

The good news is that they have a 10-year action plan, and the plan details recommendations and action items. Since the plan was recently approved and put into play, musicians and other artists living (or attempting to live) in the Boston area may find some help in the way of funding and resources. To keep apprised of the latest news, visit the Boston Creates site.

Open Music Initiative

This wonderful initiative began as a collaboration between the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) and the MIT Media Lab. They state the mission of the Open Music Initiative as being “to promote and advance the development of open source standards and innovation related to music, to help assure proper compensation for all creators, performers and rights holders of music.” Not a moment too soon. Lack of artist compensation by streaming media sites has been widely documented, and that’s just one part of the wider problem that makes it nearly impossible for musicians — unless they’re superstars — to make a decent living. The way music licensing, distribution and ownership works is complex and often quite secretive. The Open Music Initiative seeks to make the entire process more transparent and fair, and that’s definitely something to cheer.

Fortunately, there has been a lot of industry interest in this, both from big names to independent musicians. Some of the entertainment companies that have signed on include YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, Netflix, NPR and major labels Universal, Sony and Warner. Perhaps if the process of identifying music rights was easier, there would be fewer lawsuits and more fairly paid artists. What they propose is a global infrastructure — a shared, open database of music ownership rights. They believe this would help to speed up payment to the artists from the entities that play their music. This would include streaming sites, internet radio, podcases, YouTube and elsewhere. As Panos Panay, founder of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, describes the music business, “It’s one of the few industries that I know where you can use something and it’s OK to not really know who to pay. We don’t think that that should be acceptable.”

This ambitious project, if it is successful, will change the outdated methods of rights identification to reflect our current digital landscape. For more information, read this article from local NPR station WBUR, and visit the Open Music Initiative. For now, there will be a three-week summer innovation lab led by BerkleeICE and collaborator IDEO.

Boston Creates: web | facebook | twitter | boston creates cultural plan

Open Music Initiative: web | business wire article | yahoo finance article

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Introducing… JP Source, Jeremy Johnson and a cool Prince cover

JP Source, photo by Mary Beth

JP Source, photo by Mary Beth

Miss Prince? So does JP Source, a producer and DJ originally from the UK but now living in Louisville, Kentucky. His styles include “house, disco (new and true), downtempo, soul, funk and balearic.” I quoted that directly, because as you know, I know nothing whatsoever about such things. What I do know is that this cover of Prince’s “She’s Always In My Hair” is amazing. It’s a glorious and loving tribute, with some damn fine guitar work and compelling vocals. The song features Your Black Star member and Meta bar owner Jeremy Johnson, who is responsible for the guitar shredding and singing, and it’s produced by JP. Nice job, guys.

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Introducing… Boston’s Earth Heart

Are you up for some noisy garage rock? Of course you are! Earth Heart hails from Boston, and at the risk of seeming trite when I say “of course they do,” let’s face it, Boston is rather legendary for this kind of rambunctious bravado, and proudly so! While their name might suggest a new age ensemble, once you hear their new single, you’ll realize they’re most certainly not.

No deep sentiments here, but then, there doesn’t have to be. Not when the thrashy guitar, boisterous drumming and acerbic juvenile delinquent vocals of Katie Coriander and Matt Axten sound this good.

The duo met at that premiere Cambridge hot spot, All Asia Cafe in 2013 and, as chance would have it, Katie was in the market for a drummer. In fact, she needed one for a show the next day. He came through despite no rehearsals, and the rest, as they say, is history. Since then, they’ve self-recorded and released five EPs and have played extensively around town. They’re set to release their debut full-length album Homesick on August 5. It was recorded by Shaun Curran at Napoleon Complex in Somerville. Yes, a professional recording studio — a first! Though no worries; their music still has that brashy edge, influenced in part by bands like The Melvins, Mouldy Peaches and Cat Power. Following their debut album, they were joined by Natan Keyes on bass.

They plan on local shows and a proper tour for the first time this summer, so stay tuned!

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Animal Deaths

When I called my friend Victor, I simply said, “I have a bad animal story.” He instantly knew he would have to console me, though at first he laughed. “You’re laughing? How can you laugh at something like this!?” He was thinking, of course, of the time he had helped me clear out a ton of junk from underneath my porch and we had come across a petrified dead squirrel that he initially thought was a piece of wood. I took one glance and knew better, as I ran shrieking from the storage space. The poor squirrel looked as if death had surprised him, as he was frozen into a shape that resembled a miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex.

I told him this story was worse, much worse. I had arrived home from the gym and started to turn the car into my driveway. I immediately spotted a young groundhog scaling a low retaining wall. He stopped and stared at me and I paused, admiring and greeting him. He scampered over the wall and back down into the yard. I then drove further into the driveway and promptly heard a high-pitched squealing. I had felt the impact with something small at about the same time, and my heart sunk. Turning my head to look toward the end of the driveway, I saw another young groundhog struggling to pull himself along to get away from the car, badly injured and unable to run. I watched, horrified, as he made it to the end of the driveway and turned at a front flower bed and toward my front walk.

I’d been seeing the pair of them — brothers, or so I imagined — for a few weeks now. They must have a hole nearby my front door, probably under this large, overgrown bush. I had seen them running down the front walk, scooting underneath the bush, and I had seen telltale signs of half-eaten plants. Once in a while I’d spot them hanging out on the walkway, near my front door. They were young, about the size of large rats, nowhere near the giant fat groundhogs one typically saw in the summer.

And now — now I had just killed one of them. I felt horrible. It was an accident, of course, just an awful accident. But it didn’t matter. Why hadn’t I checked the driveway before I barreled in? But who really does that? I had been busy looking at his twin, and didn’t bother to wonder where the other one was. I hadn’t even remembered that they typically moved around as a pair.

While in the shower, trying to wash away the memory, I recalled the other animal deaths I had witnessed in my life. Just a small handful, but all painful.

There was the time when I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the late 1970s, when I accidentally ran over my own kitten. My biker boyfriend, Artie, had come across him in back of the Harley dealership where he worked. It had been abandoned and, come to think of it now, was probably feral. The little guy was crazy, so because of that (and my violent cat allergy), he lived outside and we fed him.


We were on our way to meet up with some friends and were in my car with the motor running. The kitten kept running up to the car, no matter what we did. We kept trying to shoo it away, toss it into the yard, anything.

When I tried to back out of the driveway, the kitten ran straight for the tires, and I ran him over. Never had I been so distraught or inconsolable. I remember sitting on my couch wailing hysterically, with Artie doing his best to console me.

Even when the animal’s passing was natural and I had nothing whatsoever to do with its demise, I couldn’t fully cope with it. Boo-Boo was my friend Victor’s beloved cat, and Boo-Boo (full name Sai Boo-Boo, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba) had bucket loads of personality (kind of a grouchy old man, really) and terrorized at least a few neighbors and clients. When Boo-Boo died, at an advanced age, I wrote a eulogy and attended the funeral at Victor’s family home in Southie, but could not bring myself to look at the body.

Though it wasn’t directly my fault, I took full blame when a backyard squirrel met his demise at the hands of a birdbath bowl that came crashing down off its base after he must have perched on it for a drink. There was no bottom piece to hold it in place, so it had to balance on top. I tried to center it so it would be secure, but clearly it wasn’t. I actually found the poor squirrel trapped underneath it, still alive, and moved the bowl so he could try to crawl away, though he was very badly injured. I’ll never forget the look of fear in his eyes when I approached him and maybe, possibly, the look of gratitude when I freed him, though I felt ashamed for what I felt was complicity in the crime. I was so traumatized by that incident that I actually called the town animal warden to come and dispose of the squirrel, which he was kind enough to do. The benefits of living in a small town.

Then there was the sin of the father. This was possibly the toughest one of all, given my love of birds. I was visiting my parents, and my dad, deeply immersed in the frustration and difficulty of having to care for my bed-ridden mother, had grown annoyed at the birds nesting in an air-conditioner in her room. She of course wasn’t in any danger and probably couldn’t care less about the noise. There was another window that was being used with a stronger unit, so there was no reason he had to suddenly remove this older unit from the window at the height of spring nesting season. But, as I realize now, his insistence upon taking immediate action was a symptom of a more pervasive illness. He was feeling powerless. I understand that. But even more powerless was the baby bird whose nest he disturbed.

I had helped him remove the air-conditioner, so I unfortunately had a front row seat to the carnage. As he started destroying the nest, the image that burned itself into my mind forever was of this new baby bird, fleshy and vulnerable, crying and reaching out for its mother, who I saw hovering in the sky nearby. The mother bird was also powerless, unable to help her offspring.

My dad, not immediately registering the situation, said in disgust, “see, there are even insects in here,” and continued to brush everything from the window sill onto the ground far below.

My fight-or-flight response immediately took flight into the bathroom where, door locked, I proceeded to cry hysterically for a half hour. My father will never truly understand why I reacted in that way. It wasn’t just the single act of killing a baby bird and destroying its nest. Baby birds die all the time, often at the hands of other animals, or due to weather, or to an accident or to any number of natural events. In my mind, this was clearly a metaphor. There was innocence being destroyed in the course of life’s harsh reality, and my own innocence was being brushed aside hastily and with no remorse, along with the nest and its fragile new life, onto the cold ground. In that moment, I felt as vulnerable as that baby bird.

The telltale sign of critters in our midst.

The telltale sign of critters in our midst.

All of these incidents flashed through my mind like a news reel as I walked to the front porch to retrieve the mail. I glanced out the window. About two-thirds of the way down the front walk laid the young groundhog. In trying to make it back to his hole under the bush, he could only make it that far. Shit. Profoundly sad, I went to get a shovel and a bucket. I would bury the poor guy underneath my giant blue spruce, the same place I laid to rest a dead bird I found years ago.

I stepped out the front door at the same exact time that his brother appeared at the front of the walk. As I started to walk towards the dead animal, his alive and no doubt frightened brother started running towards me. My mind raced. Did he see his brother lying dead on the ground? He surely must have, as he ran right past him. Was he going to attack me for killing his brethren? I am not privy to the inner lives of groundhogs, to know whether they even have a sense of unjust death or of revenge. But I wasn’t about to stay and find out. I retreated back onto the enclosed porch, as he ran right near me to scurry quickly behind the bush.

Once again, I called Victor. Would the groundhog come back to retrieve the body of his brother? Do they do that? Should I wait for a while? I still felt horrible. He assured me again that it wasn’t my fault, that it was an accident and how could I know that he was underneath my car? We spoke of animal customs, animal awareness, elephant graveyards and other such topics. He told me to go ahead and bury him and the sooner the better, while I still had light.

The burial took place under the blue spruce. The groundhog had looked so peaceful in death, just lying there on my front walk as if asleep. This time I looked carefully. As I took in his peaceful countenance, I became more peaceful myself. Far less distraught and focused on my task, it was easy to push him into the bucket and easier still to dig a small hole in the large open space underneath the 60-foot pine tree. I placed pinecones on top, with a stone to mark the grave.


I think now of the surviving sibling, alone in the world with no brother to frolic and play with. I wonder if I will see him again, and I know that if I do, I will be forever sad. He is alone now in the world, an only child, like me. My heart goes out to him.

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Introducing… Lara Maxen

Don’t let her soft, sweet appearance fool you. Lara Maxen is, as her Twitter profile warns, a New York based savage. Pure and simple. If you don’t believe me, have a listen to her third single, ‘Bite The Bullet’.

The song was co-written with Oktavian and Mickey Valen and produced by Valen. And, hard to believe, that’s not the third single of her third or fourth album — it’s her third single ever. Incredible.

“The world is spinning out of our control
You just have to wait until it slows down
See, I don’t got the time to drag you back to life
So grab your chance while still I got fucks to give
‘Cause I’m at the speed at light, so better hold on tight
We’re gonna break the ice that you’re sleeping in

What the fuck are you waiting for?
Don’t you pull it, gonna do it
What the fuck are you waiting for?
Don’t be foolish, bite the bullet”

Good advice.

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Introducing… Brooklyn Doran

photo by Cassandra Rudolph

photo by Cassandra Rudolph

It began as a poem written some years ago by Canadian songstress Brooklyn Doran. She tells the story of Icarus, though written from a unique perspective, that of the sun. It’s in hearing a familiar story told from a unique perspective, plus the added attraction of her fragile yet supple voice and the sparse acoustic accompaniment that gives “Paper Wings” the essence of a fresh summer rain.

It is the first single from her album These Paper Wings, set for release in September. The music was recorded at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, Ontario. It was produced, mixed and recorded by Dan Hosh (City and Colour, Arkells, Rose Cousins) and mastered by Stephen Pitkin (Elliott Brood) at Modest Heights Recording. The converted century-old church that is home to Catherine North Studios seems like the perfect spot to bring to life a song which carries with it a sense of reverence.

Her debut EP, There’s A Light On, was released in 2014, followed up with a remix compilation called Sink This Ship: a Brooklyn Doran Remix Compilation.

Doran says of her musical creations, “A big part of the process for me is creating a conversation through music. And it’s something I am incredibly interested in. It’s one of the main reasons that I make music and put it out into the world.”

Upcoming Performances

Aug 09 Via Rail Artist On Board – Toronto, Canada
Aug 12 Trout Forest Music Festival w/ The 24th Street… – Ear Falls, Canada
Aug 18 Moose N’ Fiddle Festival w/ Mike Procyshyn &… – Caliper Lake, Canada

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