musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Show Previews (Page 1 of 21)

Jaggery Presents The Beautiful and the Grotesque: Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci @ the MFA

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Remis Auditorium
465 Huntington Ave • Boston, MA
Friday, May 1st @ 7:30pm | all ages
::: info & tickets :::
::: facebook event :::

It’s high time to check back in with my favorite darkly erotic, harp-wielding, siren-luring, viola-beckoning, piano, percussive and bass jazz-jiving exotic ensemble, Jaggery. They have an incredibly special performance coming up on Friday, May 1st at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It is called Jaggery Presents The Beautiful and the Grotesque: Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, an evening of original new music that coincides with and celebrates a visiting exhibit at the MFA of rare drawings by da Vinci.


The show is Leonardo and the Idea of Beauty and it features some drawings that have never been shown before in Boston.

Even by Jaggery’s usual ultra-high standards, this is going to be one damned classy gig. Most all the members of Jaggery have written their own pieces for the show and they explain their inspiration as being “everything from Leonardo’s studies of light and shadow on drapery, his forays into flight and flying machines, his bronze horse statue, an essay regarding correspondence between a music theorist and his portrait painter, to our own interpretation of Renaissance music.”

As it’s all new music, we’ll all have to be delightfully surprised together, but if you’re not familiar with Jaggery’s sensuously dark magic, here’s a little taste from their For The Record [LIVE] recording, released last year.

In addition to brand new offerings from Jaggery (as if that wasn’t enough to entice), they’ll be joined by very special guests Rabbit Rabbit (Carla Kihlstedt/Matthias Bossi), who, for those of you familiar with Mali Sastri’s magnificent Orgs, was renamed Now You for Org: Murder Ballads and Hello Dust for Org: Asylum. Brilliant musicians.

Needless to say, this is going to be an amazing event. Their performance is part of the highly recommended ArtWeek Boston. As they say in their press release, “come party with us like it’s the fourteenth-to-seventeenth century!!!”

And with that I’ll leave you with a pair of mind-melting music videos, to get you all in the mood. See you there.

Jaggery: web | facebook | twitter | youtube
Rabbit Rabbit: web | facebook | twitter | youtube

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Checking in with The Calder Quartet (they’re at Jordan Hall Friday night)

photo by Autumn de Wilde

photo by Autumn de Wilde

The Calder Quartet, as distinguished and classy string quartets go, keep some mighty strange company sometimes. Readers of this particular publication might know them for their musical adventures with The Airborne Toxic Event and the inimitable Andrew W.K.. However, on Friday night they’ll be performing more traditional string quartet fare, as part the Celebrity Series of Boston in beautiful Jordan Hall. You can buy tickets here. The performance will include music by Andrew Norman and Thomas Adès, in addition to Ravel’s “String Quartet in F Major” and Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Opus 95, ‘Serioso.'” That’s certainly a far cry from “I Get Wet.”

Violinist Andrew Bulbrook was interviewed by WBUR recently, where he spoke about the quartet and this upcoming performance.

If you happen to live on the other coast, The Calder Quartet will be performing two shows at the world class Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on May 28th and May 30th. They’re also doing a Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York on Sunday, February 22 and other shows in Colorado, Oregon and elsewhere. See their schedule for more information.

web | facebook | twitter | the Boston Celebrity Series

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A Taste Of Iceland 2014 ~ the music, the art, the culture, the food, the vodka…

It’s time again to celebrate the arts, culture, food (and vodka) of Iceland! Presented by Iceland Naturally, this annual mini-festival is called A Taste Of Iceland—and it is, quite literally. From today through Tuesday, there’s an epicurean Icelandic feast prepared by chef Hákon Már Örvarsson at Rialto in Harvard Square. On Saturday from 5-7pm, there’s an Icelandic Photography Reception with a talk by Boston photographer Neal Rantoul at 555 Gallery. The FREE CONCERT, Reykjavik Calling, with Icelandic (and Boston) musicians is on Saturday night at The Middle East (downstairs) in Central Square (RSVP; first come, first serve). On Sunday, things wind down with a Reyka Vodka Craft Cocktail Class at The Liberty Hotel in Boston (RSVP HERE; limited to 50 people).

Read more about this weekend’s activities and learn how you can win an Icelandic prize pack in a special “Iceland scavanger hunt.”

We’ll focus on the music, which you can get a taste of below in a terrific little sampler. This is your chance to experience these Icelandic musicians live, without the long flight. You’ll also get to hear some unique collaborations with local artists. I attended one of these special events a few years ago, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Mark my words; you’ll make some amazing discoveries.

Keep reading for some information about the show and some samples from the featured artists.

Read More

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Introducing… Vikesh Kapoor

To summon the emotions from another person’s life story and personal struggles, and be able to convey everyday events that instantly evoke a sense of time, place and personality takes a special gift. When one thinks of master storytellers who touch people’s souls, names like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan come to mind. While many musicians have been inspired by Guthrie and those such as Seeger and Dylan who proudly carried the torch after him, very few have the necessary gravitas to convincingly pull it off. Folk music is a tricky animal. It’s a rare breed who can sing about the seemingly mundane life of the common man and elevate his actions and feelings to a reverent realm, without coming off as simplistic or overly sentimental. To delicately weave in a socio-political message is even trickier. Bruce Springsteen can do it. So can Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle. It’s not a long list. So when I saw Vikesh Kapoor mentioned alongside the legendary Guthrie and Dylan, and even named in The New Yorker as one of Guthrie’s natural successors, I was skeptical.

Vikesh Kapoor hails from rural Pennsylvania and did some time as a mason’s apprentice, getting a firsthand taste of blue-collar life. Upon performing at author and activist Howard Zinn’s funeral in 2010, he had an epiphany of sorts and set out to tell socially conscious and politically informed stories of everyday people. What got my attention are the songs themselves on his debut album, The Ballad of Willie Robbins (Mama Bird Recording Co.).


This is a young man with an old soul. His first effort is a concept album about working man Willie Robbins and his real-life daily struggle to not only survive but thrive, most simply and poignantly expressed in the title track. The songs are sad but also celebratory, raising the human condition to lofty heights. Other stand-out tracks are the mournful and solitary “I Dreamt Blues,” with its heart-wrenching lyrics and harmonica cry, the bittersweet banjo-tinged lament of “Bottom Of The Ladder” and the haunting “Carry Me Home,” in which his expressive voice is especially effective in carrying the wistful mood. “Forever Gone” is an absolute stunner of a song, a kind of “gypsy klezmer dirge” that seeps deep into the bones.

Kapoor is not only insightful into the human condition; he’s also quite enlightened about the art of storytelling. In a recent Interview Magazine article, he explains that although his debut album isn’t autobiographical, during the process of relating a story, one can’t help but be self-revealing. “In narrative, adding elements of fiction or stretching the truth can shed light on greater truths than just recounting something in a journalistic way.”

Upcoming Shows
w/The Melodic
04 Dec – The Saint / Asbury Park NJ
05 Dec – North Star Bar/ Philadelphia PA
06 Dec – Cafe Nine / New Haven CT
07 Dec – The Middle East (Upstairs) / Cambridge MA – Facebook event
08 Dec – Higher Ground / Burlington VT
09 Dec – Mercury Lounge / New York NY
13 Dec – Columbia City Theater / Seattle WA – w/Frank Fairfield & more

web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp

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Introducing… Clara Berry & Wooldog

Drawn from the dark, enchanted seas off Southern New Hampshire, Clara Berry’s magical tales are intricately-woven pieces that dress themselves up differently for each new piece. Her haunting voice is yet another multicolored instrument in addition to a colorful buffet table that includes platters of pedal steel and baritone guitars, piano, bass, violins, violas, cello, percussion, trumpet, french horn, tuba and saxophone. That sounds like a cacophonous mess, but it’s not at all. It’s quite nice. Songs like “When This Mountain” and “Waltz for my Victims” are quieter and simpler, while “Air Traffic” is a fully orchestrated gem. There are many different shapes and colors, such as the dare I say avant-garde (and personal favorite) “Your Moon,” the jazzy “Boys,” the bluegrass-soaked “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and the bluesy “Stella.” Such is the journey taken on Berry’s new album, The Magician’s Wife.

On her second full-length album, Berry, who grew up in Southern Maine, is joined by Wooldog (Joe O’Neill), a musician from Boston’s South Shore whose influences include Billy Martin (Medeski Martin & Wood) and John Zorn, which explains where the avant-jazzy stuff comes from. The album features many Lowell-area musicians arranging and recording Berry’s songs, and was recorded by Bradford Swanson (Mason Jennings, The Bad Plus) at UMass Lowell. A local effort, to be sure.

They’ll be performing tomorrow night at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, and at Church on Monday, November 20, opening for Kill Madonna and The Swindlers.

Upcoming shows: 10/21 Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY; 11/1 live at the HIVE!, Kennebunk ME; 11/20 Church of Boston, Boston MA; 11/21 The Red Door, Portsmouth NH; 12/6 Slainte, Portland, ME; 12/14 Radio Bean, Burlington VT; and 12/27 St. Elmos, Alexandria VA.

Berry’s previous releases were Wave (2008) and the Creature 5-song EP (2010).

web | facebook | twitter | soundcloud | bandcamp

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It’s HONK! Festival time again! (Boston, Somerville & Cambridge Fri 10/11 – Sun 10/13)

Well damn, I almost missed the boat on this year’s Honk! Fest. It begins today and runs through Sunday, in and around Boston, Somerville and Cambridge. If you’re not familiar with Honk!, it’s an annual gathering of noisy and wildly festive guerrilla street theater with horns — and is a hell of a lot of fun. I dare you to stay in a somber autumn mood for very long with these merry pranksters running around. This is definitely NOT your daddy’s high school marching band — be prepared for anything and everything! SEE THE FULL SCHEDULE ~ and the COMPLETE LIST OF BANDS

official site | facebook | twitter | youtube highlights

This year’s new bands include:

Os Siderais

from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Perhaps Contraption

London, England

Photo by Marc Sethi at Secret Garden Party

Photo by Marc Sethi at Secret Garden Party


The Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

New Orleans, Louisiana


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RadioBDC Live on the Square on Sunday, October 13 – FREE Concert at Union Square!

Are you looking for some FREE live music this weekend? RadioBDC (along with Budweiser, Goodwill Industries and FIVE cool Boston-based or Boston-born bands) will be showing Union Square in Somerville some big love. This happens on Sunday, October 13, starting at 12 noon. The Sheila Divine headlines, and also on the bill are American Authors, Speedy Ortiz, Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters and Rhett Price. This is a really strong lineup of local musicians. And Goodwill are going to have their trucks there, so bring along your old stuff to donate!


The Sheila Divine are something of a Boston tradition, with a hardcore “cult following” in, inexplicably, “Boston, Buffalo and Belgium.” They’ve been in business since 1997 with two hiatuses and two reunions, the most recent of which was in 2010. In 2012, they released a new album, The Things That Once Were. You can listen to more of them on bandcamp and read a little history lesson on Wikipedia.

American Authors formed back in 2006 at Berklee (known as The Blue Pages), although they’re now based in Brooklyn, NY. Gaining in popularity recently, their debut EP features the singles “Believer” and “Best Day of my Life” (heard in US and UK TV ads). They’re currently in the midst of a U.S. tour which continues through December.

Hailing from Northampton, Mass., Speedy Ortiz produce some nice, noisy garagy stuff,, with Sadie Dupuis on lead vocals and she and Matt Robidoux on dueling guitars. Their debut album (as a full band) was Major Arcana, and their most recent release was the “Ka-Prow!” and “Hexxy” single. A limited 7″ vinyl is available from Inflated Records. Here’s a little background info. They have shows this month and next around the East Coast, but not typically free ones, so get on it.

Founded in 2007, Sea Monsters are a musical collective led by Christian McNeill which started as an acoustic group of revolving songwriters performing together. They took up what became a three-year residency at Precinct Bar (in Union Square, so this appearance is quite appropriate and special). That residency garnered them a Boston Music Award and spun off into a recording session at the legendary Q Division Studios, the fruits of which became a debut single and subsequent Everything’s Up For Grabs album.

As it said in the Boston Globe back in August, “Homeless violinist to YouTube sensation.” Rhett Price is originally from Texas but was schooled at Berklee and is now based in Boston. He’s been getting some serious buzz recently with his cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” performed along with his friend Josh Knowles at a Red Line subway station. It’s well deserved attention, too. They’re amazing.

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New(ish) from Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys: Toys of Future Past

(and some shows)

Good evening. There’s been big doings from Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys. I’ve popped on quickly to tell you of a few things, as one happens tomorrow. The other is a big 3-day Halloween Extravaganza. The third thing is new music. Make that new FREE music (though you should donate a little something to support starving musicians, if you can) (ok, maybe not starving, but still in need of your money, if you’ve got any). Anyway, this is a cool and curious collection of covers. Enjoy.


TOMORROW NIGHT – 10/3 at Oberon (Harvard Square) Kissing Oscar Wilde – “The Best Book Release Part EVER for Jade Sylvan” at Oberon. Featuring music from Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys and The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library; performances from Jane Doe, Claude Kitten and UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Webb; readings from poet Krysten Hill, the author herself and more; and staged performances of sections from the book. ::: GET TICKETS HERE :::

10/31, 11/1 & 11/2 – THREE NIGHT HALLOWEEN EXTRAVAGANZA “There will be awesome FOOD, spectacular DRINKS, dancing, shenanigans, revelry and maybe even a MARIACHI band (not kidding). Watch FB and Twitter for more info – we will announce this show SOON! (don’t worry, you can come for one night, two nights or ALL THREE!).” Yup, this is going to be utter madness. No question about it. And take from me — you’d better start planning your costume NOW.

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A Musical Celebration and Benefit for Warren Leslie – tomorrow night!

Warren_Leslie_Benefit

A Musical Celebration & Benefit for Warren Leslie
with Haley Jane and the Primates, Warren Leslie and Dana Crowe, Kingdom of Love , Peter Montgomery band, Maura Young and special guests
The Plough and Stars, Cambridge MA
(Central Square)
$10 suggested donation
Facebook event


Ok, so this is rather late notice, but a very worthwhile cause. Singer-songwriter and blues musician Leslie Warren was recently diagnosed with inoperable stage 4 liver cancer, and his musician friends and non-musician friends have started a GiveForward campaign to raise badly-needed funds to help him.

The happy news is how many people are rising to the challenge. Tomorrow night, there will be A Musical Celebration and Benefit for Warren Leslie at The Plough and Stars in Cambridge. Have a listen to a few of the bands below, and make it out there if you can.

* Maura Young 9:30
* Peter Montgomery band 10:00
* KOL 10:30
* Warren Leslie and Dana Crowe 11:00
* Hayley Jane and the Primates 11:30

And then they jam into the night with special guests!!

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The Life is good festival 2013 ~ Sat., Sept. 21 & Sun., Sept. 22

Life is good Festival 2013
Saturday, September 21 & Sunday, September 22
Prowse Farm, Canton, MA – Rt 93 (Rt 128) at exit 2B
(15 minutes from downtown Boston)
More info. | ::: BUY TICKETS :::

It’s that time of year again for the “feel good and do good” Life is good Festival. I had the great pleasure of going to one of these two years ago, and was greatly impressed at the smooth organization, family-friendly events and easy-going nature, exceptional line-up of performers and the awesome fundraising efforts for a noble charity, the Life is good Kids Foundation. They help children who have been traumatized by abuse, domestic violence, neglect, natural disasters and poverty. Through purposeful play, they give these children back their childhood, which is crucial to social and emotional health and well-being.

With music, arts & crafts, games & demonstrations, a variety show, nature show, storytellers and — new this year — a coffeehouse with acoustic performances, the Life is good Festival is an amazing two days of fun for music lovers and families alike.

The musical lineup includes Jack Johnson, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Amos Lee, Trampled by Turtles, Dawes, Ryan Montbleau and many more. See their website for a full list of musicians. This year, the new Life is good Coffee House is an intimate atmosphere which will feature the new line of Life is good coffee and a stellar musical line-up curated by Ryan Montbleau (see schedule below). The Coffee House celebrates the launch of the new Life is good coffee, which is UTZ Certified, promoting sustainable farming and support for farmers and their families.

Saturday, September 21: Lori McKenna (1:30 – 2:20) | Vance Gilbert (2:35 – 3:25) | Ryan Montbleau (3:40 – 4:30) | Nathan Moore (4:45 – 5:35) | Stephane Wrembel (5:50 – 6:45) | Mike Doughty (9:15 – 10:00)

Sunday, September 22: Tall Heights (1:30 – 2:20) | Caravan of Thieves (2:35 – 3:25) | Ryan Montbleau (3:40 – 4:30) | Zach Gill (4:45 – 5:35) | Amber Rubarth (5:50 – 6:45) | Session Americana (9:15 – 10:00)

Life is good: web | facebook | twitter

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