boy without god (a.k.a. Gabriel Birnbaum), Ice Cream Social, Kay Hanley, Ketman, and the original lineup of Treat Her Right.

boy without god (a.k.a. Gabriel Birnbaum), Ice Cream Social, Kay Hanley, Ketman, and the original lineup of Treat Her Right.

Ok, I made an executive decision: I’m just going to profile 4-6 bands per week, so I can eventually get this up in a more timely manner – like just ahead of the weekend. Rather than when I’m now doing it, which is Monday morning. So here’s a small selection of Boston-area artists and bands you may wish to check out this week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

boy without god (Boston/Copenhagen), and Carter Tanton (of Tulsa) (Cambridge), @ ZuZu (The Middle East) – Monday, January 4.


The Boston Phoenix just called Gabriel Birnbaum (a.k.a. boy without god) “(Boston’s) Elliot Smith“. I wouldn’t go that far, but he’s worth checking out. There’s an interesting starkness to his singing style, though I’d have to sit down with written lyrics to see if there’s any actual depth there. Yeah, I’m a lyrics person, what can I say? I like the musical accompaniment – sometimes minimal guitar and drums; at other times, sax and clarinet are added in, which can even take on a sort of free jazz vibe here and there. It’s a curious mix. Not sure who he’ll have performing with him at ZuZu.

Also at ZuZu Monday night, Carter Tanton, who plays guitar and sings for Tulsa. He’s quite good as well; nice quiet introspective vocals with acoustic guitar (and sometimes harmonica). Should be a cool double-bill. I haven’t been to ZuZu to see anyone (it’s a small restaurant that’s part of the Middle East Restaurant/Club, in between the “Upstairs” and “Corner”), but it should be a good place to see these guys.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Davina Yanetty & Friends (Boston), The Tusken Raiders (Topsfield, MA), Kristen Ford Band (Boston/Northampton) and Ice cream Social (Somerville) @ T.T. The Bear’s Place – Tuesday, January 5.


I’m featuring this show partly because of the bizarreness of this bill. This is definitely one for those of you who like some adventure and prefer to “mix it up” genre-wise. We have Davina Yanetty, who does comedic original songs and covers on her ukelele. She was previously with The East Boston Make-Out Club Band and currently sings and plays keyboards for local cover band The Workin’ Stiffs. Then there’s The Tusken Raiders, who are kinda punk, kinda grunge/hard rock, and there’s some ska, funk, and other strange things mixed in there as well. The Kristen Ford Band features Kristen’s gutsy powerful voice with a reggae-flavored and at time folksy rock backdrop. She plays jangly acoustic and electric guitar, and is joined by Paul Hendrick on bass and Sarah Icklan on drums. Naturally, the bill is rounded out with a Celtic and folk rock duo, Ice Cream Social, who also perform some lovely sea shanties (Justin Aucoin on guitar and vocals; John Borecki on vocals, mandolin, bodhran, banjo). I think these guys are on first, so I would definitely get there early to catch them. They’re really good.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo) (Boston/Los Angeles), Ronald Reagan (Boston) @ Lizard Lounge – Thursday, January 7.


Local legend Kay Hanley of the wildly popular Boston band Letters To Cleo (who split in 2000, but reunited in 2008-9 for some shows) does a solo performance at the small and intimate Lizard Lounge in Cambridge this Thursday. She’s based in L.A. these days and has a band out there (and also a company called Art Is War Productions); not sure if she’ll be playing solo or will have anyone with her. Later on that evening is a rather strange group that calls themselves Ronald Reagan, who do really weird (and hilarious) covers of 1980s pop music played on alto and tenor sax. [they both can play a mean sax, by the way; each is part of a (presumably more serious) jazz combo].

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ketman (Boston), Reverse (Boston), Bacchus King (Allston), and Tired Old Bones (Allston) @ the Middle East Upstairs – Friday, January 8.


I’ll admit, their MySpace genres scared me a little (“Psychedelic/Surf/Metal”), but it’s good stuff. Maybe it’s the horns (sax, trumpet, trombone) that give it an odd klezmer or Eastern European vibe as well on “Breathless Panther”. Otherwise I’d say the description, odd as it seems, fits. They’re very good. Also on the bill: the rocking trio of Reverse, the decidedly more bluesy and brassy (they actually have a tuba, of all things) Bacchus King, and the energetic, punk rock of Tired Old Bones, I like their sound and their vocalist, Bridget Nault, quite a bit. “Ash and Cement” is a slower one; very nice. They also have a great MySpace tagline – “last call for earplugs”. Guess you’ve all been warned.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Treat Her Right @ Toad – Sunday, January 10, 9pm


Ah man… Treat Her Right. Originally formed in Boston in 1984, the band included the late and supremely great Mark Sandman on guitar, Billy Conway on drums, David Champagne on guitar, and Jim Fitting on harmonica – with vocals from everyone but Billy. Their sound was bluesy with some punk influence, and they were highly influential on bands having a similar sound. Mark and Billy went on to form Morphine in 1989; Jim played with The The, The Coots, and Session Americana; Dave founded The Jazz Popes and occasionally plays with his wife under the name The Heygoods. Treat Her Right were together from 1984-1991, 1995-1998, and the three surviving members came together again in 2009 to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of Mark’s death, performing at the Mark Sandman Memorial Concert in September.

At Toad on Sunday it’ll be two of the original members – Jim Fitting and David Champagne – plus Tim Gearan (who’s held down the Monday night residency at Toad for 10 years), Boston-based drummer and co-founder/booking agent for The Lizard Lounge and Toad, Billy Beard (Face to Face, Session Americana, The Dennis Brennan Band, Jimmy Ryan and Hayride!, Jennifer Kimball, The John Powhida International Airport, The Ragman Son Revue, and The Heygoods), and Steve Mayone.

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