Merrily James, Margaret Glaspy, Black Tape For A Blue Girl (Nicki, Athan & Sam. Jan 2010. by Kyle Cassidy., and Sans Nomenclature (photo by Zak Taylor)

Merrily James, Margaret Glaspy, Black Tape For A Blue Girl (Nicki, Athan & Sam. Jan 2010. by Kyle Cassidy., and Sans Nomenclature (photo by Zak Taylor)

As I’m heading into what promises to be one wacky month of delicious music, once again I’ll be featuring just two shows for this week. First, there’s some smooth R&B/jazz/pop performers at cafe 939, including Merrily James, for her debut CD release party. I don’t cover this style of music too often, but these folks are really good, and café 939 is a wonderful stripped-down and intimate venue. That’s the sort of place to hear some pretty singing… seriously. At the completely opposite end of the spectrum is the Middle East Upstairs “Goth Fest” (with some folk and electro-industrial) on Sunday, with 1476, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Emmy Cerra, Lucretia’s Daggers, and Sans Nomenclature.

Friday, April 9

Merrily James, Ramzy & The Newscasters, and Margaret Glaspy @ café 939 – Wednesday Jan 20. doors 7:45pm | get tickets

Merrily James, Margaret Glaspy

Merrily James, Margaret Glaspy

While smoothly produced pop/R&B is not usually “my thing”, I can recognize when a singer has natural talent, and Merrily James definitely has it. She’s performed for Linda Ronstadt and Smokey Robinson, and on “Showtime at the Apollo” – and has shared the stage with Bobby McFerrin, Phillip Bailey (Earth, Wind, & Fire), Don Was, and Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power). One very nice thing about this show at café 939 is that in a smaller setting like this, I’m guessing it’ll be a somewhat more “stripped down” and basic show; the better to hear her lovely vocals. She’s currently offering her debut CD for free up until her show on April 7. You can download it on For a taste of what you can expect (albeit on a much smaller scale), check out this video from the Berklee Performance Center.

Also performing this night is Margaret Glaspy, who sounds like she comes from another time. Bluesy, soulful and rootsy, she’s been compared to Regina Spektor and Kate Nash. She plays guitar as well, and musically her band is a sort of jazzy Americana with a bit of swing. I see now that she also has a Tuesday night residency this month at the Lizard Lounge

Balancing out the bill between these two ladies is pianist and singer-songwriter Ramzy Suleiman, who has a smooth R&B, jazzy style with a touch of funk – influences include performers like Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Thelonius Monk, Nina Simone… His recent debut album is The News Caters Home.

Sunday, April 11

Anderson Mar‘s Annual Birthday Bash: 1476 (mems of Blitzkid), Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Emmy Cerra, Lucretia’s Daggers, and Sans Nomenclature @ the Middle East Upstairs – Sunday, April 11. 18+ | 7pm doors

"Nicki, Athan & Sam. Jan 2010. by Kyle Cassidy."  | Sans Nomenclature

Two more diverse shows to feature this week I couldn’t have better planned. If Thursday’s R&B, pop and jazz performers don’t quite fit the bill, then head out to the Middle East on Sunday for a Goth Fest. Well, let’s say at least “goth-flavored”, as it also features the folk rock of Emmy Cerra and industrial/electronic music from Lucretia’s Daggers. The occasion is Anderson Mar‘s birthday. She’s a Boston-based promoter (Dark Sky Productions), General Manager for The Paul Green School of Rock Music in Watertown, and currently the vocalist for local band Sans Nomenclature (who are performing Sunday night – nothing like working on your birthday). A festive evening, I’m sure, and a perfect occasion to pull all that cool lacy black stuff out of the closet.

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