Dining at The Old Inn on the Green is an extraordinary experience: fine wine, great food & the dining rooms are lit entirely by candlelight & there are fireplaces in each room. In the summer months, dinner is also served outside on the garden terrace under a graceful white canopy, overlooking a large colonial flower and herb garden.
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day With A Little Bit of Ireland
Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, the Reagle Players return with their 17th annual festival A Little Bit of Ireland, a celebration of all things Irish. A Little Bit of Ireland contains a wee dram of Irish tenors, a little bit of Riverdancing, a rousing pub visit, a twinkle of Celtic comedy and, of course, festive songs such as "Danny Boy," "If You're Irish, Come Into the Parlor," "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" and more. A cast of 100 and a live orchestra round out this blarney-filled production at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham. It's pure Celtic magic.
When: Mar 14, 2015 7 PM in Waltham, Massachusetts Cost: $21.50 - $27.00 (Sat, 14 Mar 2015 19 )
Concord native Sarah Whitney returns to present a new and exciting concert! BEYOND THE NOTES is an interactive concert experience that combines concert vignettes and conversations with the performers, allowing the audience an insight into the lives of the artists. Along with guest Angela Pickett, violist of the acclaimed string quintet, SYBARITE5, the two performers will present works by Mozart, Martinu, Jean-Luc Ponty and more! Presented in an intimate setting, BEYONG THE NOTES brings personality to the concert experience. Throughout the evening, casual onstage interviews will be conducted, including biographical to historical as well as questions from the audience, promising a lighthearted evening of music, learning, humor and insight! Following the concert, the audience is invited to a reception to personally meet the artists. TICKETS $20 advanced purchase/$25 at the door
When: Mar 28, 2015 7 PM to Mar 28, 2015 9 PMin Concord, Massachusetts Cost: 20 - 35 USD (Sat, 28 Mar 2015 19 )
As a part of the Cambridge Science Festival, we are pleased to announce this free public event where we can share our interests and experience at the intersection of science and art!
Gain insights into the way scientists and artists “see” the world.
Examine and handle, measure, weigh, move and classify, then re-classify, objects and specimens using various interpretations of the natural world to shed light on how things become related or separated in systems of categorization. Look at examples of artwork from different periods to discuss the infinite variety of artistic interpretations.
This free and interactive collaborative event utilizes the extensive specimen collections from the Rhode Island School of Design Nature Lab and takes place in the studios of Maud Morgan Arts.
Our science and art event has been made possible thanks to EL STEAM of Cambridge, MA, whose mission is to bring people, providers, and projects together, pool resources, and collaboratively increase access to, awareness of, and quality across expanded learning STEAM opportunities available to Cambridge's young people.
When: Apr 21, 2015 10 AM to Apr 21, 2015 12 PMin Cambridge, Massachusetts (Tue, 21 Apr 2015 10 )
Lacoste Gallery and the Concord Art Association (CAA) are excited to present “Basic Black,” a ceramic arts installation with work by a number of local Concord artists. The show’s curator, Lucy Lacoste, describes the installation as an exciting alchemy between cutting edge ceramic art and the powerful sense of time and place evoked by the 18th century building that houses the Concord Art Association. There will be an opening reception on March 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.
When: Mar 5, 2015 12 AM to Apr 3, 2015 12 AMin Concord, Massachusetts (Thu, 05 Mar 2015 00 )
A Stronger Workforce: Leveraging State Funding to Invest in Your Staff
Generously hosted by the Nonprofit Alliance of Greater Lowell
Join the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network to learn about ways that your organization can support and develop its employees through the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Program: a statewide program that provides employers in the Commonwealth with funding to train and develop their employees.
At last year’s regional meetings, the need for training and professional development in the sector continuously rose to the top of the list as a primary concern among 300+ nonprofit leaders. To address this feedback, these interactive and informative meetings will provide an overview of the features and benefits of each of the Workforce Training Fund Grant programs, the amount of available funding, and how to apply for the grants. After the overview, attendees will participate in a facilitated conversation to identify and address professional development needs across the nonprofit sector to ensure we have a strong pipeline of nonprofit leaders.
The regional meetings will be most beneficial for senior leaders and human resource professionals in the nonprofit sector whose organizations are eligible for the Workforce Training Fund. Click here to find out if you are eligible. However, representatives from all organizations are welcome to attend as there will also be a broader discussion on training needs and opportunities across the entire sector.
When: Apr 1, 2015 8 AM to Apr 1, 2015 11 AMin Lowell, Massachusetts (Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08 )
Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld has announced plans for a solo tour dubbed "An Open Book: An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld Of Blue October" to promote the release of the expanded 3rd Edition of his book of lyrics and writings dubbed "Crazy Making". The shows will consist of spoken word, rounded off with a question-and-answer session, and will also include an acoustic set of songs never before heard and intimate versions of favorites. The evening will focus on breaking down the walls of artist and audience and will provide fans the most access to Justin ever.
When: Jun 18, 2015 8 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $30 (Thu, 18 Jun 2015 20 )
Attention came swiftly following Speedy Ortiz’s 2012 Sports EP on the Boston-centric label Exploding In Sound, and with good reason. Massachusetts-based songwriter/guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ knotty, lyrically dense songs were fully realized by her bandmates, with intricate guitar lines crisscrossing over Darl Ferm’s fluid bass and Mike Falcone’s precisely executed drumming in a way that was simultaneously catchy and jarring. After the success of its 2013 Best New Music-honored debut full-length Major Arcana, the band formalized its assault through a year and a half of relentless touring with bands in whose brainy-slash-brawny legacies it followed—among them Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Ex Hex, and The Breeders. In 2014, the band added guitarist Devin McKnight of the Boston-based post-punk group Grass Is Green, whose guitar parts both match and challenge Dupuis’.
Speedy Ortiz’s second proper album—Foil Deer, recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn when the band wasn’t pushing forward on its hectic 2014 tour schedule—comes out on April 21, 2015. The songs represent a leap forward, possessing a lightness that mirrors Dupuis’s post-grad school outlook; they also have a deliberate nature to them, one that emanates from extra studio time and more experimentation with the band’s essential form. (Ferm contributes a few unexpected guitar parts; Falcone’s vocal harmonies zing in with more force.) Speedy Ortiz possesses big-tent rock swagger and punk’s restless yet intimate spirit in a way that makes the impulses seem identical; while the quartet can still command crowds at festivals like Primavera Sound and Pitchfork Music Festival, they also relish playing Boston’s teeming basements alongside the city’s next generation of bands. That willingness to push not just forward, but in all directions, makes Speedy Ortiz one of rock’s most exciting outfits.
When: Apr 22, 2015 8:45:00 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $13 advance / $15 day of show (Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:45:00 )
Ex Hex is Mary Timony, Laura Harris, and Betsy Wright. They are a power trio hailing from Washington, DC, making the music you’ve been waiting for. Drums, bass, guitar, P90s, searing leads—this is unapologetic rock ’n’ roll spat out in the discipline’s mother tongue.
Mary found Laura Harris (The Aquarium, Benjy Ferree) and they hit it off immediately. Laura is a monster on drums: intuitive, solid, and just a bit rough around the edges. The pair played together for a couple of months in a tiny carpet-lined practice space shared with half a dozen hardcore bands and what appeared to be the better part of a B.C. Rich Mockingbird. In walked Betsy Wright from the wilds of Virginia. She and Mary have similar tendencies, both defaulting to denim and The Voidoids. Betsy is a performer and an ace piano player, and before long, she was slinging a cherry SG as the third member of Ex Hex.
The group played a handful of shows and a couple of months later, in the spring of 2014, headed into the studio. Working furiously, they recorded over the span of two weeks in North Carolina with Mitch Easter (Let’s Active) and in the basement of Mary’s home with frequent collaborator Jonah Takagi. Bobby Harlow (The Go, Conspiracy of Owls) was tapped to mix because of his unique take on making rock records. What results is Ex Hex Rips, twelve songs about underdogs, guys stealing your wallet, schoolyard brawls, and getting bent. The record happens pretty quickly, so don’t blink.
When: Jun 13, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $15 (Sat, 13 Jun 2015 21 )
Over the course of its two-decade existence, Lightning Bolt has revolutionized underground rock in immeasurable ways. The duo broke the barrier between stage and audience by setting themselves up on the floor in the midst of the crowd. Their momentous live performances and the mania they inspired paved the way for similar tactics used by Dan Deacon and literally hundreds of others. Similarly, the band's recordings have always been chaotic, roaring, blown out documents that sound like they could destroy even the toughest set of speakers. Fantasy Empire, Lightning Bolt's sixth album and first in five years, is a fresh take from a band intent on pushing themselves musically and sonically while maintaining the aesthetic that has defined not only them, but an entire generation of noisemakers. It marks many firsts, most notably their first recordings made using hi-fi recording equipment at the famed Machines With Magnets, and their first album for Thrill Jockey. More than any previous album, Fantasy Empire sounds like drummer Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson are playing just a few feet away, using the clarity afforded by the studio to amplify the intensity they project. Every frantic drum hit, every fuzzed-out riff, sounds more present and tangible than ever before.
Fantasy Empire is ferocious, consuming, and is a more accurate translation of their live experience. It also shows Lightning Bolt embracing new ways to make their music even stranger. More than any previous record, Chippendale and Gibson make use of live loops and complete separation of the instruments during recording to maximize the sonic pandemonium and power. Gibson worked with Machines very carefully to get a clear yet still distorted and intense bass sound, allowing listeners to truly absorb the detail and dynamic range he displays, from the heaviest thud to the subtle melodic embellishments. Some of these songs have been in the band's live repertoire since as early as 2010, and have been refined in front of audiences for maximum impact. This is heavy, turbulent music, but it is executed with the precision of musicians that have spent years learning how to create impactful noise through the use of dynamics, melody, and rhythm.
Fantasy Empire has been in gestation for four years, with some songs having been recorded on lo-fi equipment before ultimately being scrapped. Since Early Delights was released, the band has collaborated with the Flaming Lips multiple times, and continued to tour relentlessly. 2013 saw the release of All My Relations by Black Pus, Chippendale's solo outlet, which was followed by a split LP with Oozing Wound. Chippendale, an accomplished comic artist and illustrator, created the Fantasy Empire's subtly ominous album art, and will release an upcoming book of his comics through respected imprint Drawn and Quarterly. Brian Gibson has been developing the new video game Thumper, with his own company, Drool, which will be released next year. And, of course, Lightning Bolt will be touring the US in 2015.
When: May 17, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $12 advance / $14 day of show (Sun, 17 May 2015 21 )
After being featured by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Fox News playing sold out houses in NY, LA and SF, attracting fans such as Dodger’s Andre Either, Dan Patrick, Lori Petty, Gary Busey, Kirsten Dunst, and even Keanu Reeves himself, Jaime Keeling’s POINT BREAK LIVE!, (the smash-hit parody of the 1991 Keanau Reeves/Patrick Swayze extreme action blockbuster movie Point Break) is coming to BOSTON! For the FIRST TIME EVER for ONE SHOW ONLY! The extreme 90s sports action, senseless violence and unintentionally hilarious dialogue of the original film, combined with over-the-top, action-packed comedy in a punk-theater setting, POINT BREAK LIVE! will have it’s BOSTON premiere JAN 31ST at THE SINCLAIR; doors 8pm show 9pm.
POINT BREAK LIVE! takes the audience along for the ride as FBI agent Johnny Utah is abused by the bureau, hazed by the LA surf community, and bromanced by one truly radical sonofabitch -- wave-catching guru Bodhisattva. In a “low-brow brilliant!” twist according to New York Magazine, the role of Utah is performed by an audience member selected nightly in an impromptu Are U Keanu? contest. To infiltrate the violent and insular world of the LA surf scene, former audience member Special Agent John Utah must learn to surf, sky dive and dominate at beach football. His lines are provided to him via cue card via a production assistant who is also his stunt double. No shit.
Sometimes credited as the first-ever “reality-play”, the audience as the movie's extras are caught in guns-a-blazing bank robberies, bloodied from senseless violence and soaked in a devastating Australian hurricane. No worries...a POINT BREAK LIVE! SURVIVAL KIT (poncho, earplugs, Bodhisattva $ etc.) is included with each ticket purchase! The life you save may be your own! Ms. Keeling created the radical theatrical device of casting the LEAD from the audience – which has contributed to the overwhelming success of the production.
The cast of POINT BREAK LIVE! Features Michael Christoforo, David Carl, Jo-Anne Lee, Mark Sam Rosenthal, Tristan Griffin, Kate Armstrong Ross, Brian Sturgill and Chris Nester. Production design includes technical design by Zach Wood, live music by Patrick Hambrick, fight choreography by Rod Kinter, Shane O’Connor is the Stage Manager.
JAIME KEELING (WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR) Jaime Keeling has curated, produced, and directed many independent film/theater/multimedia projects. She produced 2011 Spirit Award-winning, and Gotham Award-nominated feature film “Without” and award-winning music video “Caskets” for artist Damien Jurado. She was formerly the program director of film arts non-profit Northwest Film Forum where she curated year-round programming and worked closely with local and international artists from all mediums. She was the originating programmer of L Magazine's popular outdoor film series Summerscreen in Brooklyn. She first premiered her college stoner joke Point Break LIVE! in 2003 in the highly liberal and permissive city of Seattle, Washington. It was a hit.
She is living proof that a major in philosophy can help you become a well-rounded writer of some killer stoner jokes that will still be appreciated by audiences over a decade later. Special Thanks to Keanu Reeves without which she would not have a career.
POINT BREAK LIVE! First premiered in 2003 for a sold-out 1 month run Directed/Produced by Jaime Keeling at Seattle's Little Theater and has since toured throughout the country, including extended runs at the Knitting Factory/Webster Hall/Bell House/Littlefield in New York, DragonFly in Los Angeles, and DNA Lounge in San Francisco. It previously played at Charlie O's Lounge in the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles where much of the movie took place, and premiered on October 1, 2008 at the V Theater/Planet Hollywood Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas. To date it is the longest running show in LA/Hollywood, where it opened in 2007.
When: May 29, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $25 advance / $30 day of show (Fri, 29 May 2015 21 )
Parents can learn how to prepare a fun, family friendly Passover Seder. This free workshop includes songs and activities that can help your Seder become a fun, learning experience for all ages. Kosher wine sampling is held following the evening workshop geared for parents of young children. The event is free, but parents should register at bostonjcc.org/mwpassoverworkshop.
When: Mar 19, 2015 7 PM in Framingham, Massachusetts Cost: Free (Thu, 19 Mar 2015 19 )
Free, self-guided tour of artist & artisans open studios, shops & museums of Boylston, West Boylston, and Clinton. Sponsored by the West Boylston Arts Foundation to support local arts. Information and directions available at www.wbaf.org.
When: Mar 14, 2015 10 AM in Worcester, Massachusetts Cost: Free (Sat, 14 Mar 2015 10 )
Singer, songwriter and guitarist DUSTIN KENSRUE will release his new album, CARRY THE FIRE, on April 21, 2015 on Staple Records/Vagrant Records. The new album is the long anticipated follow-up to his 2007 solo debut, Please Come Home.
Kensrue, known for his dynamic solo performances and as frontman for Southern California rock band Thrice, engineered and produced the record on his own while mixing duties were handled by Brian Eichelberger and the album was mastered by Howie Weinberg.
“This record is a study in contrasts; light and darkness, flame and flood, true love and senseless hatred,” commented Kensrue. “What does it mean to ‘carry the fire’ when it so often seems like there is no light or warmth to be found at all? This is the question woven through the fabric of these ten songs.” Andy Hull
“I got too many things on my mind,” Josh Rouse sings on his new album, ‘The Embers Of Time.’ It was that realization that led the acclaimed songwriter to find the only English-speaking therapist in Valencia, Spain—the small town on the Mediterranean coast where he’s lived for the last decade with his family—and face his anxiety head-on.
“While I was writing these songs, I was having a mid-life crisis I guess,” Rouse says. “I’d been living in a different country for a long time, and becoming a father and being someone who travels a lot, I was having a hard time.”
In his sessions, Rouse was introduced to Gestalt Therapy, which focuses on fully experiencing the present moment and the thoughts and feelings it encompasses, with the belief that growth and change come about from a total acceptance of one’s current reality rather than a pursuit of an alternate one.
“I started going back through my past and my childhood,” the Nebraska native explains, “growing up and moving around a lot and never really having a father figure, per say. All those things came out in this new set of songs. This is my surreal, ex-pat therapy life album.”
It’s also one of the finest collections in a celebrated career that’s earned him plaudits everywhere from the NY Times to NPR for his “pop-folk introspection” and “string of remarkable records.” Hailed for his “sharp wit” by Rolling Stone and as “a talent to outrank Ryan Adams or Conor Oberst” by Uncut, Rouse has long since solidified his status as a songwriter of the highest caliber over his ten preceding studio releases. Q called his acclaimed critical breakout album ’1972' “the most intimate record of the year,” EW dubbed the follow-up album ‘Nashville’ “persistently gorgeous,” and PopMatters called his most recent record, 2013's ‘The Happiness Waltz,’ “a big contender for Rouse’s best work.” In 2014, he won a Goya Award (the Spanish equivalent of an Oscar) for best song for “Do You Really Want To Be In Love,” from the film ‘La Gran Familia Española.’ But as he navigated the unfamiliar terrain of his forties while writing ‘The Embers of Time,’ Rouse found himself facing difficult questions.
Album opener “Some Days I’m Golden All Night” finds comfort in accepting that there are no easy answers.
“I think I had been talking to my therapist about it, and he was like, ‘It’s OK to feel like shit,’” says Rouse. “There’s a lot of emphasis out there on this kind of fake positivity, but if you feel bad you feel bad, and this song is about having good days and bad days just like everybody experiences.”
The album’s laidback, countrypolitan vibe—captured in part in Rouse’s studio in Valencia and in part in his former American home base of Nashville with producer Brad Jones—continues on “Too Many Things On My Mind,” which was inspired by economist E.F. Schumacher’s book ‘Small Is Beautiful.’
“It’s a book on economics,” explains Rouse, “but it was written in the mid-70's and predicts what’s going on today with globalism and where we’re at in the world right now with consumerism and technology. That song is about downshifting and trying to live a bit more simply.”
“Taking care of loved ones / hanging out with friends / some big ideas going through their heads,” he sings. “Can we recover what’s been lost / So many people living in the box / Turn on your TV and stay offline / Too many things on my mind.”
Simplification is a recurring theme on the album, as the pedal steel and harmonica drenched “New Young” finds Rouse “making plans to move out to the country,” and “Crystal Falls” is propelled by uncomplicated rhythm from an unexpected source.
“That song feels very childlike,” says Rouse, “and that’s because my two-year-old son has a drum kit. He was banging on it and playing this beat, and I started playing along with it, and the initial idea for ‘Crystal Falls’ came out.”
Fatherhood influences Rouse’s writing throughout the album. “Just the other day I stopped by my stepfather’s grave / He died at 30 way too soon I forgot his face,” he sings on the delicate, mandolin-flecked “Time.” The reminder prompts him to contemplate his own mortality and how to make the most of his days on Earth with his own kids.
“It’s wonderful to bring my kids up around music and for them to have a father that does something different,” says Rouse, “but at the same time, there’s a sense of responsibility that can be overwhelming, especially having a career that’s as unstable as music.”
“How am I gonna tell another story / How am I gonna live another line? / Gotta wake up early in the morning / Take the kids to school by nine,” he sings on “Worried Blues,” a JJ Cale-inspired, tongue-in-cheek look at his unusual lifestyle.
“I’ve always been a fan of JJ Cale, and when he passed away it seemed like an appropriate time to give a nod to him,” says Rouse. “The song is about being worried about things I shouldn’t be worried about, but I didn’t want the record to come off as overly serious, so it was important to me that songs like this have a sense of humor to them.”
That sense of humor sustains Rouse as he faces down some of life’s biggest questions on this record with grace and humility. “Am I a hunter or a fox?” he sings on “Pheasant Feather.” ‘The Embers Of Time’ suggests that Rouse has discovered he may never know the answer, and that’s just fine.
When: Jun 12, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $22 advance / $25 day of show (Fri, 12 Jun 2015 21 )
Multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter/producer Ben Folds is releasing in 2015 a landmark record that will showcase new pop songs – arranged and recorded in collaboration with yMusic, a NYC-based sextet ensemble. The new record also features the debut of Folds' critically acclaimed "Concerto For Piano and Orchestra." Recorded in just under two weeks in New York, Los Angeles and Folds' own historic RCA Studio A in Nashville, the record is marked by its forward-thinking studio craft and creative spontaneity.
Folds, who first found fame with the Ben Folds Five, has gone on to have a successful solo career, writing, recording and performing pop hits and a piano concerto, as well as writing and recording music for film and TV.
To kick off his 2015 touring, Folds will be joined for the initial tour shows by yMusic, which critics have characterized as combining "all the prestige and virtuosity of classical music degrees with all the attitude and energy of an indie rock band." Folds will also perform other orchestral and solo shows throughout the year to promote the record.
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis return with their first new album in three years since their acclaimed Smoking In Heaven. On Kitty, Daisy & Lewis The Third, themes of fresh adulthood and lost loves run throughout. With the enlisted help of legendary Clash guitarist, Mick Jones, as producer, KD&L recorded The Third in their self-constructed, 16-track analogue studio in a derelict Indian restaurant in Camden Town. "With Mick on board, it was the first time we have worked with a producer," says Lewis, "Just having someone else in the room meant we could start bouncing ideas off other people and that was great."
London siblings Kitty, Daisy & Lewis Durham are talented songwriters and musicians, whose musical background is rooted in the tradition where songs are handed down and performed at family gatherings, playing any instrument they lay their hands on. From a young age Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have been inspiring audiences with their unique stage show and eclectic musical selections rooted in a history of story telling.
WHO: Join The Sinclair’s Executive Chef Keenan Langlois and Bill Codman, Master of Whisky for George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, as they come together to create a four-course dinner that will perfectly marry the southern spirit with complimentary flavors.
WHAT: Guests are invited to savor the season with a four-course whisky dinner at The Sinclair, paired with selections from George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. Included from the profile will be the George Dickel 8 year, George Dickel 12 year, George Dickel Rye, George Dickel Barrel Select. As guests arrived, they’ll be welcomed with a whisky cocktail created by Sinclair Bar Manager, Lindsay Whalen.
The menu for the evening will include: First Course: Frisee Salad with Grilled Endive, Smoked Oysters, Poached Egg, Blood Orange Second Course: Chicken Fried Foie Gras Torchon with Cherry Gastrique and Watercress Salad Third Course: Roasted Prime Rib with Charred Leeks, Candied Shallots and Rye Dijon Cream Dessert: Coconut Souffle Cake with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream and Plantain Chips
When: Mar 4, 2015 7 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $65 (inclusive of tax and gratuity) (Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19 )
Some quick true/false facts about the band Horse Feathers and their new album, So It Is With Us:
1. The record was partially recorded in a barn in a beautiful pastoral setting in rural Oregon (true, but hasn’t everybody done this now?)
2. The band lives in Portland, OR (also true, and they are consciously and unconsciously living breathing stereotypes just like the ones portrayed in Portlandia)
3. Horse Feathers last album charted on Billboard by selling fewer records than they had in the past (true, but maybe more a comment on the music industry as a whole?)
4. For this album, the band was influenced by the following: Pentangle, Talk Talk, Paul Simon, The Band, Van Morrison, John Wesley Harding era Bob Dylan, Desire era Bob Dylan, and Abner Jay (not what you would have guessed, right?)
Justin Ringle, the man behind all ten years of Horse Feathers, has the following to say about the making of this album, and the current state of his band:
“I wanted to stop. I did all the touring for my fourth record – "Cynic's New Year" – and ended the year 2012 disillusioned and defeated. I didn't touch my guitar for months, which was the longest I had gone in about 15 years. I thought that my career in music was over and wondered if I even wanted to do it anymore. After an arduous period of self-doubt and discovery, I finally arrived at the enlightened idea that maybe it should just be a little more fun. I had grown weary of talking to people after shows who said that my last record “helped them through their divorce”. I have always been flattered by that sort of thing, but I realized what I wanted to hear was how my last record helped them “have a great weekend”. If you have heard any of my previous records you will realize that this transformation from “divorce” band to “weekend” band would be a tall order. And it was! I wouldn’t say we’ve become a “party band” overnight, but I certainly tried to change things a bit.
I enlisted friends to play with me that I trusted and had known for years. Along with longtime bandmates Nathan Crockett (strings/mandolin) and Dustin Dybvig (percusion/drums/keys), I threw Justin Power (bass/vocals) into the mix to have an honest to god rhythm section for the first time. With Lauren Vidal on cello and Brad Parsons singing harmonies, we played an impromptu show at Sasquatch and people liked it. We liked it, and the unusual feeling that I had after that show – which I think is referred to as “joy” – became something I wanted to experience again. I shared more. I stopped editing myself as much. The joy of playing live became its own reward, and I dared myself to allow that joy to shape the songwriting. In the end, I was able to let it go, and I don't own it anymore. Which also feels like joy. That's the way it was, and so it is with us.”
So It Is With Us will be released on Kill Rock Stars on October 21, 2014.
When: Mar 27, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $15 (Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21 )
It took a near-death experience to reunite Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin, the California brothers at the heart of "roots heroes" (Rolling Stone) The Blasters.
"Phil died and was brought back to life over in Spain," Dave says of his brother's 2012 health scare. "That was a real wakeup call to me. We hadn't made a full album together since 1985, but as you get older, you realize you're not immortal and you've only got so much time."
It only made sense, then, that for their first record together in three decades, the Alvin brothers would go back to where it all started and pay tribute to one of their original shared musical heroes: Big Bill Broonzy.
"I first remember seeing Big Bill's picture on an album cover that I bought when I was 14 or 15," says Phil. "I didn't really know who he was and came home and played it and was overwhelmed by him."
"We're brothers, we argue sometimes," Dave adds with a laugh, "but one thing we never argue about is Big Bill Broonzy. I remember the day Phil brought the record home, it was one of those childhood memories like you're graduating grammar school or stealing your first Playboy. For me, Big Bill is in that elite company of Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, people like that."
Like the Alvins', Broonzy's career lasted more than 30 years and spanned several stylistic incarnations, all of which the brothers sought to capture on 'Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy.' "He played both country blues and ragtime blues picking, and then in the late 1930's and 40's he was one of the inventors of the Chicago blues sound," explains Dave. "And then in the late 40's until his death, he was the guy that brought blues and American folk music to Europe. He was the first guy to go over there and blaze the trail."
That the Alvin brothers feel such a kinship with a trailblazer like Broonzy is little surprise. The Blasters emerged to international fame in the early 1980's, blending American roots and blues with searing punk energy to critical acclaim. Rolling Stone hailed their "bright, raw playing, terrific taste and...[Phil's] full- bodied vocals," while in the Village Voice, Robert Christgau wrote that Dave was "a major songwriter, one with John Fogerty's bead on the wound-tight good times of America's tough white underbelly." The band performed with everyone from X and Black Flag to The Cramps and Queen, and even gave early breaks to Los Lobos and Dwight Yoakam by inviting them on the road as openers. As AllMusic puts it, "it's practically impossible to imagine the roots rock scene of the '80s and onward existing without [The Blasters] as a roadmap."
The brothers went their separate ways in 1986, when Dave left the band to pursue a solo career. After decades apart musically, they reunited briefly to record songs for the 2013 soundtrack to "The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," a musical written by Stephen King and John Mellencamp featuring performances by Elvis Costello, Taj Mahal, and Kris Kistofferson among others, and produced by T Bone Burnett.They also sang a duet on “What’s Up With Your Brother” for Dave’s last Yep Roc release ‘Eleven Eleven.’
"We rehearsed at David's house a few times for that," remembers Phil, "and that was a good step in bringing us back together."
Once inspiration struck for the Big Bill Broonzy project, all it took was a phone call from Dave, and Phil was onboard and ready to head into the studio for their first album together in three decades.
"We used this old Foley studio from the 30's that had been used for movie sound effects," says Dave, who shares vocal duties with his brother on the record. "We set up all in that one little room a la Sun or Chess and just recorded."
"It was easy," he continues. "I'm not as boisterous as I used to be. Like the title suggests, this is where we come together. It's square one. There was nothing to argue about outside of 'Am I playing the guitar part right?'" he laughs.
Rather than trying to recreate Broonzy's exact guitar parts and vocals note for note, though, the record honors his innovative spirit and musical adventurousness, blending chords and melodies from different songs and incorporating stylistic nods to other guitarists—everyone from Magic Sam to Bo Diddley—whose work bears Big Bill's unmistakable fingerprint.
That encyclopedic knowledge of American music, that expansive musical vocabulary and the fluency with which the Alvins slip in out and of genres and eras is what enables 'Common Ground' to triumph. Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin may have set out to honor the legacy of Big Bill Broonzy with this record, but in the process, they solidified their own as one of roots music's most exceptional duos.
When: Mar 21, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $25 advance / $28 day of show (Sat, 21 Mar 2015 21 )
Ribbon Music is pleased to announce the return of Baltimore’s Lower Dens with their third album, Escape from Evil. On Escape From Evil, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter emerges: cerebral and hot-blooded, rash and incorruptible, and, crucially, possessing of a loud, clear voice. The album sees Hunter stepping up and taking center stage, and emboldening every aspect of the band.
On Escape From Evil, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter emerges: cerebral and hot-blooded, rash and incorruptible, and, crucially, possessing of a loud, clear voice. The album sees Hunter stepping up and taking center stage, and emboldening every aspect of the band.
Escape From Evil is a cinematic, tonally rich work. The sounds are clean and warm. The pulse of the album is strong. Melodies are potent and songs are physical. Lyrics are direct, frank confrontations with life’s common crises. The album title is brazen, and along with the grimly funny title of lead single, “To Die in L.A.”, almost theatrical.
Lower Dens’ 2010 debut, Twin-Hand Movement, was a stunning evolution of guitar brilliance and murky emotiveness, while its 2012 follow-up, Nootropics, was a stark, textured paean to experimental bands of the krautrock era. Escape From Evil marks a bold, monumental step forward for the band and the welcome manifestation of a singer we’ve never quite seen until now.
When: Jun 20, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $12 advance/ $14 day of show (Sat, 20 Jun 2015 21 )
Calexico is no stranger to negotiating borders. For the better part of two decades, eight albums, and countless trips around the globe, Joey Burns and John Convertino have crossed musical barriers with their band, embracing a multitude of diverse styles, variety in instrumentation, and well-cultivated signature sounds. Under fences it digs and over mountains it climbs, sometimes into untrodden terrain, sometimes towards a more familiar landscape, and sometimes simply walking that fine line to soak up sustenance from all sides. These are men from the desert, yes, but there has always been so much more to Calexico than just heritage and heat. Now, with Edge of the Sun, Burns and Convertino find themselves straddling that celestial division of light and dark, taking inspiration from a trip to a place surprisingly unexplored by the band before, and with the benefit of many friends and comrades to help guide the way. "When I step back from this record I see the spirit of collaboration," says Burns. "As we began working on it, we started inviting people and it was a natural thing. We've always welcomed guests; it's in our DNA. John and I are really good at hopping in to play with people and improvise but we're also sensitive to what artists need." "We've collaborated a lot in the past on other records but this one is the most vastly collaborative," says Convertino. "Almost every song has a different guest." The first outside invitation came when Burns was writing "Bullets and Rocks" and recognized space for a former Calexico collaborator to join. "When putting vocals on that song, it immediately reminded me of the Iron & Wine feel," says Burns. "So I texted Sam (Beam), who wrote back quickly and got it going." Encouraged by that experience, the guest list grew to include musicians from a myriad of backgrounds, origins, and genres, including Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses, Nick Urata from Devotchka, Carla Morrison, Gaby Moreno, Amparo Sanchez, multi-instrumentalists from the Greek band Takim, as well as Neko Case. Burns' older brother John Burns lent a hand to some lyrics and songwriting, and the band's keyboardist, Sergio Mendoza, stepped up to co-write and arrange certain songs, ultimately co-producing the album along with Burns, Convertino, and longtime associate Craig Schumacher. It was, in fact, at Mendoza's suggestion that Calexico would physically cross an actual border for a retreat to the historic Mexico City borough of Coyoacán to begin the writing process for Edge of the Sun. In view of the fresh creative perspective provided by the band's journey to New Orleans to make its previous album, Algiers, Burns sought Mendoza's involvement in finding a new writing destination. "I wanted to see the band revisit elements in the songwriting that led to songs from [the band's 1998 breakthrough album] The Black Light, so I suggested going to Mexico City," says Mendoza. "To me, it wasnt going back to something they had already done, but rather adding another chapter with Mexican collaborators. The surroundings of Coyoacán really helped bring life to those ideas that were waiting for a special time and place to come out." "Going to another city to jumpstart the creative writing process helped us to know what this record is about and where we are as a band, like an open canvas with few ties to normal routines when recording and writing," says Burns. "Of course, we have been influenced by Mexican music and culture since the beginning, and you would imagine that a trip to Mexico City would have happened on past projects, but it hadn't. So going to the center of Mexico and seeing an artistic community with such an impressive history as well as notable current musicians really inspired us." The ten days in Coyoacán were not without their surprises. Initially expecting for the world of Calexico to mesh with the sounds and vibe of Mexico City and take on varied overt Latin influences, Burns and Convertino were amazed when they left the country with some of their poppiest songs to date. Album opener "Falling from the Sky" is earnestly straightforward in its rafter-reaching approach, and "When the Angels Play," with additional vocals and lyrics by Pieta Brown, connects thematically to the Aztecs but, in Burns' words, could have been written anywhere. Perspective achieved, the band internalized the influence of Mexico and continued to write and record in their home Wavelab studio in Tucson throughout the middle half of 2014. Songs such as the electronica "Cumbia de Donde" and the cinematic swell of "Coyoacán" were direct results of the foreign experience and the type of lessons that can only be realized upon reflection. While Convertino's move to El Paso, Texas, presented another slight border to cross, all this distance only served to inspire and preserve the unique Calexico identity: unconventional timing and instrumental elements, an electrifying live show, and the pushing forward of social connection and ideas to create a profound space. "It really demonstrates the dynamics of our live show, and I'm hoping this album helps translates some of that energy," says Burns, identifying Edge of the Sun most closely to the wide-ranging styles of their 2003 album Feast of Wire. "We weren't trying to replicate anything or make it hugely different from song to song, but there is some of that carryover, I think. As much as we try to break new ground on records, inevitably there's continuity, which works well on a record like this." Convertino, too, singles out Feast of Wire as a touchstone for the new album and a special era for Calexico, one that informed the band's unique relationship with space and distance today. "Feast of Wire opened the door for us and attached our sound to the region, helping us discover that we could have that sound and still be our own thing," he says. "Joey and I have talked a lot about space in music; we make sure to give the notes we don't play as much emphasis as the notes we do play, because they're just as important. It's a big part of what Calexico does: we create a space." Negotiating borders and the spaces within, then inviting others inside those edges: that may be the recipe for Calexico's success. As its empire expands and the familiar pieces join with fresh ideas and a new cohort to pass under wires and across fields and time, Calexico now finds itself here in 2015 on the solar precipice, navigating the edge and trying to find hope in that balance of darkness and light. "The 'edge of the sun' could be coming from the direction of darkness seeking light, or riding the line between both," says Burns. "Which side of this edge are you on? Traversing along the edge of the sun, that to me feels closest to what this album is and what the band has been, and where we are with this international makeup of musicians. Madrid, Nashville, Tucson, El Paso, Berlin; it's an eclectic mix. All in all, this album is about pushing through the blue to brighter days. Calexico has always had that element of hope, going back and forth between a positive outlook and embracing desperate or dark themes that I think we all share."
When: Jun 4, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $22 advance / $25 day of show (Thu, 04 Jun 2015 21 )
San Fermin is the work of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. His self-titled debut album is strongly influenced by his unique background in classical music, which includes a job assisting composer/arranger Nico Muhly.
After finishing his musical studies at Yale, Ludwig-Leone wrote the album in six weeks while holed up in a studio on the mountainous border between Alberta and British Columbia. He focused on life?s top-shelf issues – youth, nostalgia, anxiety, unrequited love – and tied these vast themes to different characters through vocal contributions from longtime friend Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.
The first track released from the album, "Sonsick," tackles many of these larger themes head-on. "It's like a panic attack disguised as a birthday party," Ludwig-Leone says. "I realized that the most intense moments are the ones in which conflicting emotional worlds exist inside you, equally, at once."
San Fermin is not an album of singles but rather a sweeping, full-bodied listen with multiple distinct peaks and ambitious thematic connections. Ludwig-Leone composed all of the album's arrangements and lyrics in full prior to collaborating and recording, noting that "writing for a large group of unknown musicians infused the writing process with a kind of operatic scope.
Since then, the band has coalesced into a core of eight members in addition to Ludwig-Leone: Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye, lead vocals; Rebekah Durham, vocals/violin; John Brandon, trumpet; Stephen Chen, saxophone; Tyler McDiarmid, guitar; and Mike Hanf, drums.
San Fermin is available now on CD, vinyl and digital outlets via Downtown Records. The name is pronounced [SAN fur-MEEN]
When: May 8, 2015 8 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $15 advance / $18 day of show (Fri, 08 May 2015 20 )
When a band spends the bulk of its year on the road, its members are bound to have their share of trouble and strife. But only the truly talented are able to take those trying experiences and turn them into enduring art. The Randy Rogers Band is one of those few, and they’ve transformed coal into diamonds yet again on their latest album for MCA Nashville, Trouble.
Teaming up for the first time with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage the Elephant, The Wallflowers), the Texas five-piece—vocalist/guitarist Randy Rogers, guitarist Geoffrey Hill, bassist Jon Richardson, fiddle player Brady Black, and drummer Les Lawless—dove headfirst into songs of loss, love and, above all, truth.
“No matter what, trouble always finds us. And that title honestly sums up the last two and a half years of making this record,” says Rogers. “At times it cuts deep and you can hear the pain, but it’s honest, it’s real. On the flip, we like to have a good time and you can hear that too. ”
During that time, the band and its extended family suffered an assortment of calamities, including the untimely death of Richardson’s brother. Instead of letting those events derail them, the band pulled together tighter than ever and allowed their personal experiences, pain and loss to seep into their work while hunkering down in the studio with Joyce.
“Getting Jay onboard pumped us up, made us work harder, and made me more creative. I think it reenergized our band,” Rogers says. “It was a blessing. The timing couldn’t have been better.”
A blessing for both the group and for their passionate fan base, w ho will no doubt connect with the 11 tracks of Trouble, the band’s eighth album. The band has always enjoyed critical acclaim, thanks to their signature blend of outlaw edge coupled with guy-next-door charm. This album takes that duality to the next level.
The first single “One More Sad Song” is a heart wrenching autobiographical tale of the end of a relationship. The sorrow in the lyric is tangible and echoed by a soaring, haunting chorus. “Fuzzy,” with its dirty, swampy groove, is the hazy recollection of a night that many have heard of and only a few have had. And “Speak of the Devil” is about one man’s efforts to forget his ex whose name and memory haunts the darkest corners of his mind. “I came in here to drink to drown you out and watch you sink…to do anything but think. Speak of the devil.”
“This album is a little more out of the box for us. We pushed the envelope intentionally, to try to grow and experiment with our sound in the studio. Knowing the depth of Jay’s talent and his genius, we were all willing to take a chance to expand our range. We felt comfortable in our skin with him and were able to try sounds that are a bit out of the ordinary,” Rogers says. “Glad we took those chances.”
On “Fuzzy,” for instance, the band uses wrenches and cooking equipment to add texture and layers to the sound. The payoff, a unique album with roots that run deep.
“We’ve grown as a band with this record. But I still don’t think we could make an album without the soul and passion that that embodies Texas music and it’s heritage,” said Rogers. “I am definitely proud that we are from Texas. We got our start here and cut our teeth here. To me, it’s the whole reason I have a gig.” Rogers continued, “Without growing up dreaming to be George Strait or Willie Nelson, there wouldn’t be a Randy Rogers Band.”
As such, there’s a certain cachet attached to the group—an authenticity that can’t be manufactured, and one that is often coveted by other artists.
“We work hard touring, building up our fan base and putting on a good show night after night, over 200 nights a year. I feel like people have grown to respect us for that.” Rogers is nonetheless honored by the group’s three consecutive ACM Award nominations for Vocal Group of the Year. “It’s validating. The ACM nominations, and even the regional awards we’ve won in Austin, mean a lot to the band. I can’t tell you how proud we are every time we hear that we’ve been nominated.”
And they’re equally proud of the fact that their hero Willie Nelson graces “Trouble Knows My Name,” a true-to-life song about the perils of the road that recalls the Red Headed Stranger’s own “Me and Paul.”
“We went out to Willie’s studio to record his vocal and guitar tracks. That is a day I’ll never forget. Having him on our record and being able to be in the studio while Willie Nelson was recording, priceless.”
“In the verse that Willie sings, there really was a guy hanging halfway out of our bus after a show in New Orleans,” Randy says. “We scared him off, and he came back and threw a bucket full of concrete through the window trying to get back in.”
“If I Had Another Heart” is a track that honors one of the band’s influences, Radney Foster, who produced three of the group’s previous albums. “We’ve always been huge fans of Radney and we always try to include him in our records. He was one of my first mentors and I’ve learned so much from him. ‘If I Had Another Heart’ is an incredible song, it really fits what we do as a band on the stage. We were excited he let us cut it, we hope we made him proud.”
Which is exactly where the band excels: on the concert stage. Under those bright lights they actually develop new songs, reinterpret old favorites and, most importantly, forge a connection with their audience before heading back to the studio and employing what they’ve learned. Such was the case with Trouble.
“We like to view albums as snapshots. It’s a photo of where the five of us are and where we came from. We made this record as a team and we’re really proud of it. It showcases who we are as a band and we got to include some of our heroes—and you just can’t beat that,” says Randy.
When: Apr 15, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $20 advance / $22 day of show (Wed, 15 Apr 2015 21 )
After years toiling away as a guitarist in other-people's bands, Courtney Barnett finally gained the courage to step out as a solo artist less than two years ago. Gathering together a bunch of like minded friends, she recorded a debut EP of rambling garage pop and began life as a front-woman.
That EP 'I've Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris" received glowing reviews in her home country of Australia but that trickle of critical acclaim turned into a river of praise upon the release of her second EP "How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose".
While the sprawling guitar jams of her band "The Courtney Barnetts" barely hide her remarkable pop sensibility it's Courtney's honesty, wit and unique turn of phrase that set her apart from the rest. Reviews range from calling her "The next queen of Australian rock and roll" to just wanting to be mates with her, "I've only ever met her once but I can tell she's a legend."
2013 has seen Courtney release a bunch of killer singles such as the free associating 'History Eraser' (praised by The Guardian as "a perfect summary of the earnest freewheelin' and rambling wit that makes music from this end of the world just so great.") and the anaphylactic balladry of 'Avant Gardener'. With a second EP complete (produced by The Drones' Dan Luscombe), a debut album around the corner and an increasingly impatient international audience waiting for her to leave her shores, it's an exciting time to be one of Courtney Barnett's friends.
When: May 18, 2015 8 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $17 advance / $20 day of show (Mon, 18 May 2015 20 )
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