screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: The Middle East Downstairs

Introducing… The *First* Aputumpu Music Festival Boston

What began four years ago as a Brooklyn, New York festival for local bands starting to get known in the area has now spread to Boston. The festival organizers felt there was a similar need here for a high profile showcase for smaller bands beginning to receive local acclaim. The first annual (hopefully) Aputumpu Music Festival – Boston is set to take place on Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 at The Middle East Downstairs. It’s a humble beginning that will showcase ten of Boston’s rising stars.

Here’s the line-up, and here’s the ::: facebook event :::

April 10th – 18+ – 7PM
Festival Pass: $30
Early: $15/ $17/ 22
Tickets Day 1:

Jam band.

Tigerman WOAH
Old-time country.

A group of gypsies fusing of classic funk with high-energy dance music.

Osekre and The Lucky Bastards
Indie pop.

Mad Satta
Eight-piece soul/R&B ensemble that combines old school soul with hip-hop, rock and jazz.


Saturday, April 11th – 18+ – 7PM
Festival Pass: $30
Early: $15/ $17/ 22
Tickets Day 2:

Debo Band
An 11-member ensembles that performs Ethiopian pop music that combines traditional scales and vocal styles with soul and funk rhythms with instrumentation similar to Eastern European brass bands.

Federator No 1
An afro-pop/world music band comprising members from Soulfege, Shake Senora, Rebel Tumbao, Iyeoka, and more.

Atlas Soul
Performing original music that celebrates polyrhythm & melodies rooted in the Afro-Mediterranean traditions and blend them effortlessly with deep jazz, funk and intelligent hip hop.

Kina Zoré
A six-piece band led by Mozambican songwriter Helder Tsinine that plays electric African rhythms with triumphant horns and uplifting vocals.

Lamine Toure and Group Saloum
An Afro-pop band founded by world-renowned griot percussionist Lamine Touré, They fuse Senegalese mbalax with elements of jazz, funk, reggae, and Afrobeat.


The Aputumpu Music Festival Boston: official site | facebook | twitter

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Delta Spirit blows the roof off The Middle East Downstairs (and has a new album coming soon)

Boston (and Cambridge) loves Delta Spirit. After Tuesday night’s FREE concert at The Middle East Downstairs, Bostonians are also quite fond of StubHub and Pandora, as they co-sponsored quite an amazing party for us. In addition to this free show with such a stellar band, there was also an open bar, complimentary posters (that were silk screened on site) and t-shirts. How could this not be great?

This wonderful evening was part of StubHub’s Next Stage Concert Series, which will also be stopping by Nashville and San Francisco. Their mission is to present “emerging artists in iconic clubs in exclusive live shows across the nation.” Nice.

It probably makes sense that Matt Vasquez and the boys have recently relocated to Brooklyn from Los Angeles. Though I have no doubt that their West Coast fans were sorry to see them go, the experiences I’ve had with them clearly show a bigger East Coast following. The last time I saw them, it was in Costa Mesa supporting Airborne. Despite being 45 minutes south of L.A., that OC audience was completely clueless as to who they were. Having seen the band about a week before at The NINES Festival in Devon, MA in front of a delirious crowd, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief.

Here now, back in Boston, they were clearly in their element, playing for a large number of fans who were there for the band first and the free booze second. Not to say that the open bar didn’t contribute to the mile-long line that snaked down Mass. Ave., but there were plenty of fans who had braved the rain and were pressed up against the stage, singing and swaying along. Their set was deeply satisfying, even given The Middle East’s abysmal basement acoustics. It was an overflowing basket of delectable classics — “Parade,” “Strange Vine,” “White Table,” “People C’mon,” “Trashcan,” “Children,” “California” and my teary-eyed favorite, “People, Turn Around” (which was performed as a triumphant encore – see below). They also unveiled three new songs from their upcoming album, Into the Wide, which is due out September 9, and which seems to be very much worth waiting for. They played “Live On,” “Language of the Dead” and “The Wolf.” It was a muscular and exhilarating performance; they’re definitely one of the finer live bands out there.

Setlist: Strange Vine, Tear It Up, Live On, Parade, Empty House, Language of the Dead, White Table, Money Saves, The Wolf, People C’mon, Bushwick Blues, Trashcan, Children, California // People, Turn Around

Here’s a teaser for the new album.

And here’s another teaser: Matt said they’ll be back in September.

Other videos filmed: Parade | White Table | People C’mon

Delta Spirit: web | facebook | twitter | youtube

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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.

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Introducing The Darcys, and their suprisingly cool take on Steely Dan

Toronto art rock band The Darcys released the second in their trilogy of releases, Aja. Yes, that’s the name of the platinum-selling Steely Dan album from 1977. They’ve reinterpreted the entire album, and I have to say (and this is coming from not much of a Steely Dan fan), this is totally surreal and quite good! It’s a spacey, psychedelic and dreamlike take on these painfully familiar songs. It’s quite odd to listen to, having heard them over-and-over-again so many years ago. It’s kind of like a disturbing memory from your long-lost youth, as played over a top-40 radio station, but through a rather pleasant, smoke-induced haze. Here’s the best part: it’s available as a free download (as is their debut). For you vinyl lovers, it’s available on limited edition 180-gram colored vinyl from

They’re currently on tour with UK indie folk-pop quartet Bombay Bicycle Club. The Middle East show on Friday night is unfortunately sold out, but if you’re in Philly, those are still available (Sat. 3/10). They’ll also be headed to SXSW, Toronto, the UK, and the West Coast. See their complete tour schedule for details.

Have a look at their great apocalyptic video for the first single off their debut album, released back in October of last year (on Arts & Crafts).

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The Wrens, Choo Choo La Rouge @ The Middle East Downstairs ~ January 16, 2010

The Wrens

The Wrens

Hanging out with a bunch of folks at The Field before the show, we were talking about The Wrens. I was completely unfamiliar with this band I was about to see, though intrigued with their music and their story. It’s an all-too-familiar tale of mishaps and missteps, navigating the treacherous music biz in search of that elusive “big $$ recording deal”, though informed with a particularly charming, older-and-wiser cynical as hell world view. They’ve been performing (and on the rare occasion releasing something) since 1989, and a particularly dedicated Wrens fan who had driven up from New Jersey for the show marveled at their longevity, “they’re really old – they’re in their 40s!” (thank you honey, excuse me for a moment while I go slit my wrists). Fortunately, The Wrens (and I) have a sturdy and time-tested sense of humor, and after seeing their full-on crazy and wildly energetic, sweeping and majestic, ultra-classy performance, I’m very glad to have gotten out of my rocking chair to come out to see them. A new fan is born.

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