musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Gigs (Page 1 of 11)

Boston’s Kristen Ford Sets Out on the Road with Dinosaur

Listening to Kristen Ford’s just-released album Dinosaur, the initial thought that came to mind — my first impression, if you will — was “strength and courage.” It comes across in the music with clear ringing guitar melodies, in comes through lyrically, and it’s especially evident in her powerful voice. If you enjoy listening to music that has an edge with an air of gutsiness and determination along with melodic prettiness, then definitely check this one out. After you listen, purchase a copy and support this fine musician on her musical journey.

The album was recorded with producers Dan Cardinal (of Josh Ritters’ Crew) and Jesse Ciarmataro (AKA Qwill) at Jamaica Plain’s Dimension Sounds.

Speaking of strength and courage, Kristen is poised to leave Boston, her home and music community for the past four years, to set out on the road full time. She and her band will be performing at the JP Block Party on June 15th, but after that, it’ll be Philly, Pittsburgh, Canton (OH), Columbia (MO), Middleton (WI)… see her tour schedule to see if she’ll be dropping by your town. It’s a massive thing, to believe in yourself and your music enough to make that big leap for 100% commitment, and we wish her well.

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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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Emmaar, Tinariwen’s Return to the Desert

[For the abridged version of this article, see Ryan’s Smashing Life]

The past few years have been difficult for the people of Mali. There was a devastating drought and armed conflicts which made the country unsettled for the long-suffering population. There were military coups, people were out of work and farmers were unable to plant their crops and raise livestock. Poor harvests continued into 2013, while road conditions and security issues hindered relief efforts. Aid groups warned of a serious food crisis with as many as three million people at risk. There continues to be political instability, even after French troops successfully ousted Islamic jihadists who had taken over Northern Mali and were trying to impose sharia law.

That isn’t your typical album review introduction, but then again, North African Tuareg band Tinariwen isn’t your typical band. They were founded in the Tuareg camps in Libya in the 1980s, where these nomadic people had relocated. They were looking for work and to rebuild their lives after fleeing their Saharan homeland. Truth is, the Tuareg have been continuously moved from places they tried to call home since the late 1960s. They traveled through Mali, Algeria, Libya, Chad, Mauritania and Niger. In all of these regions, they were considered refugees. They were (and continue to be) a people without a home. It is a complicated story.

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Lorde: The Pure Heroine?

I ask a lot from my music. A strong beat, something tuneful or catchy, isn’t enough for me. It’s not enough to hold my attention, and it’s not enough to inspire me to write. There has to be philosophical inquiry, social observation, searching, or struggling, scathing commentary, yearning, mourning, hunger. If it doesn’t provide me with answers, at the very least it has to ask the right questions. Whether it does this in words, in music, or both, I really don’t care. But it has to do something.

I don’t know if Lorde can be trusted. Is she the youngest philosopher of our time, or a savvy business woman light-years beyond her earthling age? In either scenario, if she indeed is the author of these coming of awareness tales, precociously making her social observations and spewing her venom towards mainstream culture while starkly framed by the skeletal remains of modern tribal electronica, then she’s a genius.

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The Airborne Toxic Event’s February Mini Tour

The last time I saw Airborne, they were tearing it up during an incendiary 45-minute set at Boston Calling.

The last time I saw Airborne, they were tearing it up during an incendiary 45-minute set at Boston Calling.

Consider this a continuation of my flakey attempt to see what my L.A. bands have been up to lately. I started this exercise in earnest at the end of last year with Black Hi-lighter, went boldly into the new year with Summer Darling and Sea Wolf, and then promptly fell off the face of the earth. Chalk it up to 2014’s strange beginnings, a curious job situation and the on again, off again polar vortex. Call it what you will.

I’m back now to have a look at what The Airborne Toxic Event have been up to recently. By recently, I mean since last October, when they finished off with 13 European shows, marking the end of the “on again, off again” tour to support the brilliant Such Hot Blood. So what have they been up to? Uh, not a whole lot. Or I should say, not a whole lot that they’ve been talking about. One can extrapolate, however, from various sources. Their single “Hell and Back”, from the Dallas Buyer’s Club soundtrack album, has been doing really well, in the top 20 of Billboard’s “Alternative National Airplay” chart for 13 weeks now. Mikel Jollett has been all but invisible, save for a cryptic tweet every two or three weeks. There’s been a virtual “radio silence” from the rest of the band, except for Anna Bulbrook doing a few side projects, setting up her own studio, picking up some new musical skills and tweeting about her canine roommate, io. All signs point to a pre-recording scenario (writing, collaborating, arranging), and sure enough, a recent tweet from Anna announced a vague “listening session with Mikel Jollett,” so I guess that’s probably right.

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Sea Wolf (Alex Brown Church) Solo Acoustic Tour – and new “stripped-down” album

Los Angeles-based Sea Wolf has been a favorite since 2008, and I’ve written about them often, attempting to keep up with their exploits. Back in September, they embarked on a Kickstarter campaign so they could record a special limited release “experimental stripped-down album.” Having exceeded their goal, they’re now set to release this recording.

Alex Brown Church will be performing intimate solo acoustic performances in several cities across the U.S. He’ll be playing acoustic versions of songs from the entire Sea Wolf catalog, from Leaves In The River (2007) through White Water, White Bloom (2009) and his latest album, Old World Romance (2012).


Yeah, I missed this. Hopefully they’ll have some copies of the album at the shows.

The tour begins *tonight* in Los Angeles, at the Masonic Lodge, with a “stripped down” album release party. This one show will also feature bandmates Lisa and Scott. You can listen to a little taste of this project, “Bergamot Morning,” on the Kickstarter page.

If you’re in or around NYC, Jukely is currently running a VIP table giveaway contest for for 4 to ABC’s solo acoustic show at (le) poisson rouge in New York on Feb 14th.

Upcoming shows

Jan 11 – Los Angeles, CA @ Masonic Lodge# (‘Stripped-down’ Album Release Party)
Jan 15 – Orlando, FL @ The Social*
Jan 16 – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits*
Jan 17 – Atlanta, GA @ Eddie’s Attic*
Jan 18 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt*
Feb 12 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery*
Feb 13 – Wilmington, DE @ World Cafe Live at the Queen*
Feb 14 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe*
Feb 15 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge*
Feb 16 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall*
Feb 17 – Hamden, CT @ Spaceland Ballroom*
Feb 20 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
Feb 21 – Austin, TX @ Lambert’s
Feb 22 – Dallas, TX @ Three Links
Feb 23 – Little Rock, AR @ Juanita’s

* solo acoustic
# special ‘stripped down’ set with Lisa and Scott

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Thick Shakes’ new single “Polyommatus Blues”

Into the garage we go for the new single from Boston’s own Thick Shakes, “Polyommatus Blues.” Gritty. Noisy. I like it. They’re playing Saturday night (6/15) at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston with Flavor Packets, The Little Richards and Cutting Room Floor (queer feminist punk from Ohio) (that’s their description, not mine). This is their only summer show, so get on it. Oh, and here’s the Facebook event. Peace out.


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Introducing… Balto (from Portland, Oregon)

Dan Sheron (photo by Benedict Evans)

Dan Sheron (photo by Benedict Evans)

Based in Portland, Oregon, Balto is a folk music collective led by Daniel Sheron. Their latest album is Monuments, released last September. Balto has interesting beginnings. Daniel Sheron left his home in Moscow, Russia to go on a “vision quest” of sorts into Siberia. During his travels in that desolate region, he wrote songs about the people and places he encountered. In 2010, he found himself in a Brooklyn basement with a group of friends, and what came out of that was an album called October’s Road.


After their first national tour in 2011, Daniel moved from New York to Portland, Oregon, performed on his own and wrote songs for the next release. The band came together again last June to record the six songs with producer Jeremy Backofen (The Felice Brothers, Mice Parade, Gregory and the Hawk). Balto’s music is Americana with a bit of an edge and some compelling storytelling that feels very personal. It’s pretty with acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and closely-knit harmonies, but it’s rather sad as well. Have a listen.

East Coast shows

6/19 Cameo Gallery (10:30 pm) – Brooklyn, NY – 93 N6th Street (w/ Bird Courage)
6/20 Wormwood Park (7:30 pm) – Boston, MA – A St and Wormwood St (organized by New Music Cooperative) (Free)
6/21 Lickety Split – Philadelphia, PA
6/29 Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 (6 pm) – New York, NY – 196 Allen St. (Free)

See Balto’s site for full tour schedule

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Introducing… We Are The West

Here’s something absolutely stunning for you tonight. We Are The West are the Los Angeles-based acoustic guitar and upright bass duo of John Kibler and Brett Hool. They record and perform in “natural places” to, in their words, “use sound and space to create an experience that is welcoming and honest.” Their mission to bring their music into common (and uncommon) places has meant gigs in shipping containers and storm drains, sheep farms and abandoned convents… and they have a “residency” (so to speak) in an underground parking garage of a Santa Monica office building on the Saturday night before every full moon. The just recently released their second EP installment of a four-part album, entitled We Are The West II (listen below). It was recorded in a Western New York barn, which is probably one of the more conventional place they’ve played.

As the full moon is just around the corner, so is their next gig. They’ll be performing at The Parking Garage beneath the Office Building on the corner of 7th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard this coming Saturday, June 15, with a very special guest, New Zealand songwriter Greg Johnson. And it seems they’re playing an actual venue on June 19 — The Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, Arizona with Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers. That should be an unusual experience for them.

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JBM (Jesse Marchant) – “Stray Ashes” & tour

JBM a.k.a. Jesse Marchant released a pretty, dreamy and haunting album called Stray Ashes (on Western Vinyl) a little over a year ago. He’s currently touring and will be coming to the East Coast for a few shows in July, so I thought I’d share a few luscious tracks to ease you into your week.

Upcoming Shows

(select dates – see JBM’s site for full schedule)

6/13 San Francisco, CA (w/Cayucas) – Rickshaw Stop
6/17 Portland, OR (w/ Cayucas) – Mississippi Studios
6/19 Seattle, WA (w/Cayucas) – Barboza
6/28 Minneapolis, MN (w/Cayucas) – 7th Street Entry
7/3 Boston, MA (w/Cayucas) – Great Scott
7/5 New York, NY (w/Cayucas) – Mercury Lounge

You can purchase “Stray Ashes” here: digital release | CD, vinyl

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