musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: The Drowning Men

Celtic Revelry, Wayward Pirates and a Theramin: Flogging Molly and The Drowning Men at the Boston House of Blues

Nato Bardeen and friend of The Drowning Men

Nato Bardeen and friend of The Drowning Men

This is one of my infamous “long after the fact” reviews (Febuary 26, as it happens), but I felt it deserved some mention. For an atomic blasting off of cobwebs formed over a long hard winter, there was no finer lineup. The show was headlined by the Celtic punk band of gypsies, Flogging Molly. You’d be hard pressed to find a more appropriate ensemble to heat up a cold Boston night. Not being at all familiar with them (apart from from a misinformed idea of merely a drunken and rowdy Irish rock band), I was very pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong, they are a rowdy Irish rock band, but they’re a whole lot more than just that, encompassing traditional Celtic instruments, noble values and awareness of sociopolitical issues — proud champions of the working man (and woman). No disrespect to the capacity crowd of drunken revelers who playfully moshed, brawled and toasted each other with hoisted drinks throughout the evening, but I’d love to see these guys do a quiet acoustic set sometime, with their banjo and bodhran, uilleann pipes, violin, accordion and tin whistle. They’re truly a class act.

The Drowning Men were the reason I came into town. I’ve loved these guys for a few years now. It was an inspired pairing of kindred spirits, apart from the fact that they’re on Flogging Molly’s own label, Borstal Beat Records. These bands work phenomenally well together. What more can I say about The Drowning Men that I haven’t said before? Their music is the sonic equivalent of an adventurous and slightly askew ocean voyage aboard a wayward schooner. By the end, you’re left feeling intoxicated, exhilarated, satiated… and a little dizzy. Suffice it to say they most certainly delivered this night.

Opening the evening was Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One (previously the lead singer and guitarist of Boston punk band Darkbuster). He was great as well, performing no-nonsense, heartfelt music that appealed to this hometown crowd.

Other Drowning Men videos: Smile | Rita/Courageous Son







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The Drowning Men roll in to Boston tonight! (JP)

The Drowning Men, from their Hartford, CT show w/Airborne in 2011

The Drowning Men, from their Hartford, CT show w/Airborne in 2011

Here’s some sweet music to commemorate a “family reunion” tonight — The Drowning Men are back in town, stopping off at Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain, as part of their current tour. Supporting them tonight will be Cradle to the Grave, The Old Edison and Alen of Dale. I first fell in love with The Drowning Men when they toured with The Airborne Toxic Event a few years ago. Their music is difficult to describe, but I’ll give it a shot: wayward sailors adrift on a treacherous sea with a musical maelstrom that blends gypsy Americana, Eastern European melodies, eerie otherworldly sounds, rollicking sea shanties and ferocious rock ‘n’ roll, underpinned by Nato Bardeen’s heartfelt and pleading “man grasping wildly at a small life raft” vocals. All Of The Unknown was released last year. Check it out. And meanwhile, a beautiful acoustic performance of a particular favorite of mine, “I Am the Beggar Man.”
::: BUY TICKETS :::

thank you “Lightning 100” for uploading this lovely tune.

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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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The Drowning Men’s Stellar Set at T.T.’s

Nato Bardeen and Todd Eisenkerch of The Drowning Men

Nato Bardeen and Todd Eisenkerch of The Drowning Men

I had seen The Drowning Men on several occasions as support for The Airborne Toxic Event, mostly in larger venues. I had become so accustomed to seeing/hearing them take over the room and captive big crowds in a big space, that nothing quite prepared me for the sonic onslaught of that huge sound of theirs in the small confines of T.T. the Bear’s Place. This is a happy problem to have—being too good for a small venue. As Nato himself said, when headlining, they’re still a “small band,” though they sure as hell don’t sound like one.

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The Drowning Men at T.T.’s Tomorrow Night!

Rory Dolan and Nato Bardeen of The Drowning Men in Hartford, Ct last year

Rory Dolan and Nato Bardeen of The Drowning Men in Hartford, Ct last year

The Drowning Men (11:30pm) with The Yoni Gordon Orchestra (10:30pm) (NYC), Banditas (9:45pm) (Somerville) and Sails (9pm) (Vermont)
at T.T. the Bear’s Place – Central Square, Cambridge
Friday, October 26, 2012
8:30pm doors | 18+ | buy tickets

Crazy times. It’s scary how fast this year is whirling past, but the one piece of good news is that we’re already on the eve of The Drowning Men’s show at T.T.’s, as they make a stop in Cambridge midway through their tour. They’ve been celebrating the release of their extremely fine new album, “All of the Unknown” (Borstal Beat Records), which I reviewed on Ryan’s Smashing Life. Last time I saw these guys, it was almost a year ago at the Orpheum Theatre, supporting The Airborne Toxic Event, whom I definitely have to thank for introducing me to these wonderful musicians. I’m really looking forward to Nato Bardeen’s ‘grasping wildly at a life raft’ vocals, keyboards and mandolin, the band’s sheer exuberance and their ‘pirates on the high seas’ vibe. And oh yes, the theramin, which gives their Eastern European, wistful Americana, sea shanty rock an off-kilter carnival air. If you begin to feel dizzy, put your head between your knees.

Be there when The Drowning Men come careening onto the stage of T.T.’s. And find me up at the front sometime around midnight to wish me a happy birthday.

10/26 Fri – Cambridge, MA – T.T. the Bear’s
10/27 Sat – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
10/28 Sun – Pittsburgh, PA – Club Cafe
10/30 Tues – Chicago, IL – Schuba’s Tavern
11/1 Thurs – Denver, CO – Lion’s Lair
11/2 Fri – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
11/3 Sat – Las Vegas, NV – Palms Hotel Lounge – FREE SHOW

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Best Shows of 2011: My Top 5 Personal Favorites

Levon Helm, Crooked Fingers, Toyah Willcox with The Humans

Levon Helm, Crooked Fingers, Toyah Willcox with The Humans

Ok, so last year I had a ‘Top 10’ list. What can I say; 2011 was kind of a struggle. But I did discover a common theme for this year’s favorites: delivering a stellar performance in the face of adversity. Whether it was a legendary performer who had overcome personal struggles to come back, absolutely blazing (Toyah Wilcox, Levon Helm, and Eric Bachmann with his band Crooked Fingers); or just a rough night (lead singer Evan Way of The Parson Red Heads being really sick but soldiering on anyway, and The Drowning Men and their ‘road trip from hell’); my soaring admiration combined with musical prowess to create these special evenings.

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The Airborne Toxic Event and The Drowning Men: A Road Story

The Drowning Men at Terminal 5, NYC

The Drowning Men at Terminal 5, NYC

This isn’t a show review. Not exactly. It’s a story of heartfelt commitment to one’s craft, to strength and perseverance, and to the bonds of friendship. And by “friendship,” I don’t mean posting something witty on someone’s facebook page, but coming to their rescue in the middle of the night on some desolate highway after a hellish traffic accident, packing their gear into your trailer and managing to cram 19 people onto a tour bus.

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