musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: Middle East downstairs

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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Introducing… N/A Hip Hop a.k.a. RNA the Messenger

N/A Hip Hop, from his "Marco Polo" video

Those of you who frequent this blog will know that I don’t cover a whole lot of hip-hop. In fact, I think the only rap artists I’ve ever covered here have been John Forte and M.U.R.S.. It’s not that I’m racist, or even that I particularly dislike this style of music. The issue is that I’m a lyrics girl, and let’s face it, the vast majority of rap/hip-hop is incredibly misogynist and perhaps even worse than that, vacuous. This is why, when I hear someone doing something vital and interesting in this genre, I get really excited.

Greg Matthew, the mastermind behind N/A Hip Hop a.k.a. RNA the Messenger is originally from Dorchester, Massachusetts, though he’s now based in Austin, Texas (one of many Boston to Austin defectors). An English grad from Boston College, he delivers the message to teens that it’s possible to rap sincerely and honestly “without selling out and saying all the nonsense one hears on the radio.” He’s inspired by the emotion the music evokes, and expresses himself through the filter of his literary background. The result is something sophisticated yet visceral, poetic and predatory.

N/A Hip Hop (which stands for nucleic acid and/or not available) released their first 6-track EP, “The Code”, under the name DNAtheG. They’re currently recording with Robie Rowland at Echo Studios to release their second EP, “Here Cometh The Dreamer,” under the name RNAtheMessenger, later this year. In the meantime, they’re releasing singles from it, the first of which is “Marco Polo.” The music video (see below) was filmed by Steven Yee, a former classmate of Matthew’s at Boston Latin School and Boston College who now works as a Hollywood film director. It’s beautifully shot like a short film, and follows the story of an emcee who chooses a performance over a date with his girlfriend. What follows is a dreamlike series of events where he comes home to find evidence that she’s cheating on him (though it’s not clear if she is or not), they fight and he takes off into the woods to clear his mind. There’s a lot of symbolism with a dropped and then found yin-yang necklace, as he confronts his personal demons. As the artist himself explains, “What I was trying to say is that even though he just fought with his girl and she cheated, he knows he was the reason for her disloyalty because he didn’t put her first, so the real fight is not with her but with himself.” That’s certainly a far cry from “bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks.”

“I’m a mystery of Agatha Christie
Edgar Allan Poe yo I’m mad and sadistic
Noam Chomsky said I’m bad with linguistics
In battles I go ballistic
Y’all babble spitting sophistic
My talent’s simply statistics
Trial and error I’ll die by heuristics.
I think I might be a mystic, science fiction”
– Marco Polo

There will be more singles from the upcoming album. The other songs are “Mechanical Hounds,” “Janitorial Madness,” “If Only,” “Grammy and a Girl” and “Here Cometh The Dreamer.” Here are some excerpts:

“These stars are life’s scars, just a part of creation, we were only meant to be, not to solve the equation. The mystery of our history breeds misery, don’t miss the beat, see victory is sweet, we mask hegemony as liberty.” -Grammy and a Girl

“There’s no Clear Channel, our views warped, Now Everything We Slaves Consume Or Review Points to NEWSCORP” -Mechanical Hounds

“Edgar Allan Poe’s reincarnated soul, up at 3 AM copying “The Cask of Amontillado,” composing by the glow of a candle, with no handle on my sanity, one eye on the vanity mirror staring at my sorrow” -Janitorial Madness

Clearly this isn’t your typical rap music. The genre has been twisted and perverted, soaked in the stench of the mainstream music industry. What N/A Hip Hop is doing goes back to what I believe was the original intent, to report without a filter from the trenches of human experience. And besides, anyone who name drops Noam Chomsky in a song of any genre deserves a listen.

As for the title “Here Cometh the Dreamer,” it’s derived from a plaque outside the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis — “they said one to another, behold, here cometh the dreamer, let us slay him and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Take that, Lil Wayne.


If you like what you see and hear, N/A Hip Hop will be returning home to open for Capone-N-Noreaga on July 19th at The Middle East Downstairs. His set is at 9:40 p.m. He’ll be performing with Colin Dwyer, who will be releasing his own EP on 9/11 at The Lizard Lounge.

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Seeing Out The Year That Was: My 12 Favorite Shows of 2012

A last minute addition: The Magnetic Fields at Symphony Hall for First Night (last night)

A last minute addition: The Magnetic Fields at Symphony Hall for First Night (last night)

It’s a good thing I held off posting this, because I’ve just made it an even dozen in honor of the year that just flew by, 2012. The last one? A band I had the immense pleasure of seeing for the first time, on First Night just last night at the majestic Symphony Hall. [Why do they call it “First Night”? Shouldn’t it be “Last Night”?]

I saw a total of 24 shows this year. Not a whole lot for a music blogger, but I’ll tell you—nearly all of them were spectacular. That’s damn good odds. I’ve heard some people say that 2012 was an awful year. What I’ll say, from my personal perspective, is this: 2012 was a year of massive challenges and difficulties, but the rewards, if you were prepared to step up, and I mean step up in a major way, were equally impressive. It was most definitely not a year for lightweights. But it’s all moving forward, and it’s moving forward quickly. Hold on to something sturdy, because I have a feeling 2013 is going to be just as intense. Remember, with challenge comes opportunity. Happy New Year, everyone.

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Introducing (to myself anyway) Pearl and the Beard

PearlAndTheBeard-500

I’ve literally just discovered this wonderful little threesome that features brightly colored three-part harmonies, guitar, cello, melodica, drums—and sometimes glockenspiel and accordion. But just because I’m out of the loop doesn’t mean you have to be. You can head right over to the Middle East (downstairs) in Cambridge NOW and catch Pearl and the Beard live, as they’re performing tonight with Boston indie folk duo You Won’t and Brooklyn-based Lucius. If you’re seeing this after the fact, or you’re nowhere near Cambridge, Mass., have a listen and pick up their latest 4-track extended single The Prodigal Daughter.

Pearl and the Beard – “40K” by Girlie Action Media

Who Knew by YouWontMusic

Lucius – “Genevieve” by ilovelucius

Pearl and the Beard: web | facebook | twitter
You Won’t: web | facebook | twitter
Lucius: web | facebook | twitter

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Big Boston Band Night Out – tonight!

A few bands performing for the Livestock Boston series: Streight Angular, Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, Lenkadu, and TonyBear

A few bands performing for the Livestock Boston series: Streight Angular, Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, Lenkadu, and TonyBear

Yep, big doings tonight for the local Boston music scene. Predictably, I’ll be working. But you should definitely get out tonight. Don’t get bummed if you don’t have tickets for the sold out Deer Tick guys; there’s other noteworthy stuff going on – a brand new club’s opening night (with live music – and FREE admission!), and a bunch of local bands playing for a worthwhile charity.

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Show Preview: The Residents ~ Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge ~ Wed., February 10, 2010

An Evening with The Residents – The Talking Light Tour
at the Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, Wednesday, February 10
(18+ show)

The Residents, circa 1986

The Residents, circa 1986

“Four interior decorators of the Apocalypse”

I’ll begin with this disclaimer: this is going to be a woefully inadequate introduction to a long-standing and highly regarded multimedia performance art troupe (and yes, I suppose you could also call them a band), The Residents. I feel I must say something to commemorate their upcoming performance at the Middle East Downstairs this Wednesday, though with the bands long and lavish history (and my time limitation due to a ton of other stuff breathing down my neck), I won’t be able to do more than give a brief nod – so my apologies in advance to their loyal fans.

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Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker @ The Middle East Downstairs ~ January 17, 2010

Camper Van Beethoven at the Middle East Downstairs

Camper Van Beethoven at the Middle East Downstairs

One of a long list of bands I had heard of throughout the years, but never got around to seeing, Camper Van Beethoven has been around since the early 80s (they celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2008), performing their unique wicked-eclectic style of genre-fusing… well, I suppose one can loosely call it rock, for the sake of referring to it as something, though it’s actually many different, wondrous things.

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Boston Bands This Week…

The Elevator Drops, Cassavettes, Your Favorite Ex, Harry & The Potters

The Elevator Drops, Cassavettes, Your Favorite Ex, Harry & The Potters

Well, I guess this isn’t going to be a weekly feature, but here’s some Boston-area bands playing this week anyway.

You can see The Secret Sea at Great Scott on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Supa Dupa! plays T.T. The Bear’s. On Thursday, Hallelujah The Hills is at the Middle East (downstairs). On Friday, Monique Ortiz performs at Toad, and Elevator Drops plays at the Middle East (downstairs) for, apparently, a one-time-only reunion. On Saturday, Your Favorite Ex does an afternoon show at the Middle East (upstairs) as part of a “Boston Music Spotlight”, and Street Dogs play the Paradise. At Toad on Saturday, folk-rock/Americana group Cassavettes are performing with the rootsy Don’t Kill Antz. There’s a cool show on Sunday at the Middle East (downstairs) – The 5th Annual Yule Ball, a Harry Potter-inspired extravaganza featuring Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, Whomping Willows, MC Kreacher, and more. And Street Dogs are at the Paradise again.

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A Camp at the Middle East Downstairs – Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Camp (from MySpace)

A Camp (from MySpace)

It was a quote from a song off their new CD, “Colonia”, that was quoted in last week’s Phoenix that piqued my interest and got me out to see this show. “Love is stronger than Jesus. Don’t you know that love can kill anyone? So bring it on.” The tracks I heard on MySpace sounded quite promising, poppy and yet with that darker tinge that instantly reels me in. But that’s all I knew. I never heard of Nina Persson‘s previous band The Cardigans (with whom she gained worldwide popularity, though of course that passed me by completely). So I saw this band without knowing really anything at all about them, and maybe that’s the best way to first see someone. It was a smallish but enthusiastic audience (120-130?). I knew this would be interesting when I saw their stage setup – a few intriguing looking floor lamps, small tables with tablecloths on which various pieces of their equipment were placed… as I was enveloped in this mood of cabarets and salons, I was thinking it would not be out of place for her to sing while stretched out on a divan.

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