Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bob Dylan Reveals Greenwich Village Nickname for John Hammond

Bob Dylan's autobiography, which came out a few months back, reveals that Narrows fave, and blues master, John Hammond had a fun nickname in The Village in the early 1960s.

That's when the Bobster was scuffling around, and so was young John. By the way John's father, also named John Hammond, was a bigshot at Columbia Records and signed Bob Dylan. In the book, Dylan notes his gratitude to the elder John Hammond and that young John never mentioned who his father was.

John Hammond senior, by the way, also signed Billie Holiday, Bruce Springsteen and other greats, and brought blues legend Robert Johnson out of obscurity.

Okay the nickname for young John Hammond: Jeep.

No explanation given.

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who really enjoyed reading Bob's book

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Free Jerry Garcia Art Show Thursday Night

The inside word from those unpacking the artwork is that Jerry Garcia was a terribly under-appreciated visual artist.

Check it out for yourself--for free--Thursday night (March 31) starting at 7:00 p.m.

By the way, this is the only New England showing. That's right, and it's at The Narrows!

Visit for more info.

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, whose favorite Jerry Garcia song is "Sugaree."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Interesting Kathleen Edwards Link

If you're starting to hear Kathleen Edwards' song "Back to Me" on the radio (I know it's climbing the chart at Boston's WBOS), you might be interested in learning more about this singer-songwriter from Canada.

Here's a link to a page with photos, her latest video and more:

It's my understanding that her show at the Narrows is probably going to be rescheduled from the current late May date. Keep an eye on this blog or the "live music" section at

In case you haven't heard the song "Back to Me," it's a sexy number that's a little naughty in parts, maybe even a bit nasty, depending on your sensibilities. Reminds me of Sheryl Crow.

Nothing wrong with that!

Submitted by Steve the Emcee who's always nice, never nasty.

New John Doe CD Just Out

John Doe, who's coming to the Narrows this Saturday, April 2, has a new CD that hit the streets just a few days ago. It's called "Forever Hasn't Happened Yet," and will most likely be available at the show.

It's one of the "most added" CDs on the latest Americana radio chart, so it's off to a great start.

I've listened to the CD about three times, one time with my 19-year-0ld daughter as I drove her back to school in the Berkshires. She heard touches of the Beatles in several of the tracks, while I thought the first song "The Losing Kind" would be something the late(?) Jim Morrison would have been proud of.

Local favorite Kristin Hersh is featured on one of the tracks "Ready," and the legendary Dave Alvin plays on a couple tracks with Grant Lee Phillips.

"This is not punk rock but it uses all the same ingredients," proclaims the CD's promotional blurb (Doe was in a legendary punk band called "X," so the punk rock reference is not surprising). I'd describe this CD as bluesy, sometimes rock'nroll clangy, sometimes alternative country-sounding, and sometimes Doors-y.

For another take, check out the Rolling Stone review:

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who's looking forward to the show this weekend.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

John Doe on Conan then Plays Narrows

John Doe, who is making his second appearance at the Narrows on Saturday, April 2, is performing on Conan O'Brien's show a couple nights before.

So reports Radio and Records.

So see John do a song or two, then come to his show Saturday night at the Narrows!

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who watches Conan sometimes on Comedy Central

Tickets Still Available for "Shout, Sister, Shout"

As of this writing (early morning Saturday, March 26, the day of the show), there are still plenty of tickets available for this evening's special event "Shout, Sister, Shout" featuring Odetta and The Holmes Brothers.

The show will be at Bristol Community College in Fall River, located at 777 Elsbree Street.

From Providence take Route 195 all the way to Route 24 North. Get off at President Avenue exit. Go about halfway around the rotary, then go straight to the lights. Take a right (Elsbree Street). Go about a mile. On your right you'll see Bristol Community College. Take a right into the parking lot and go around back. The show is in the Jackson Arts Center.

Show starts 8 p.m. Call (508) 324-1926.

See you there!

Link to Blog About Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Here's more about Sister Rosetta Tharpe at Sheila Lennon's blog at

Thanks, Sheila!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Projo Gives Big Push to "Shout, Sister, Shout"

Thanks to Rick Massimo and Sheila Lennon over at the Projo for a great job on the history of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and for raising awareness of this Saturday's BIG show. Tickets are still on sale. Check out the Narrow's webpage for more info.

Here's the online version of the Projo coverage

And check out the main page at the Projo and scroll down for some interesting stuff from Sheila Lennon, including some sounds from Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Submitted by a very grateful Steve the Emcee

Monday, March 21, 2005

Holmes Brothers Review

With the big event coming up this Saturday featuring Odetta and The Holmes Brothers, you might want to read a review of The Holmes Brothers' latest album, "Simple Truths." Tickets are still available for the show, by the way. Check out the musical calendar for more information

Anyway, this is from the director of the NY Blues and Jazz Society:

The Holmes Brothers have been around since forming in 1979. They are a New York City band that has played all the local clubs including the recently closed “Bottom Line”, where during the early years they were an opening act. The Holmes Brothers (Wendell, Sherman and Popsy Dixon) have been nominated for three Handy Awards in the last three years and recently released their fourth album on Alligator Records called “Simple Truths”. The simple truth is that they are the best “roots rock” band around incorporating soul, blues and gospel harmony to formulate their own sweet sound.

“Simple Truths” opens with a wonderful Wendell Holmes rock song “Run Myself out of Town” and includes three other originals. “We Meet, We Part, We Remember” will become a soul classic, with its raw emotional power. “You Won’t Be Livin’ Here Anymore” and “I’m So Lonely” are the other originals. Their songs are often humorous and always uplifting.

The “covers” given the Holmes Brothers treatment, include Townes Van Zandt’s hymn like “If I Needed You”, Bruce Channel’s “Hey Baby”, a scorching version of Hank Williams’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, Gilian Welch’s “Everything Is Free’, Willie Dixon’s “Big Boss Man”, Willie Nelson’s “Opportunity to Cry”, a revealing version of Bob Marley’s “Concrete Jungle”, and Brook Benton’s hit “He’ll Have To Go”.

The Holmes Brothers “Simple Truths” will probably receive a Handy Award nomination, it’s uncertain as to which category that might be in, and that’s part of the reason why they are so exciting and why you need to get this album.

Richard Ludmerer
Director, NY Blues and Jazz Society

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Musings on Odetta

With Odetta coming to Fall River this Saturday night(March 26)--as part of the "Shout, Sister, Shout" show we're presenting at Bristol Community College--I thought it would be fun digging into an Odetta recording to kind of get warmed up for the show.

Back in 1999 she did a CD for M.C. Records called "Blues Everywhere I Go," which was her first studio recording in something like fourteen years.

It's a celebration of the first blues recording artists: women. That's right, Eric Clapton did not make the first blues record! Various women did in the 1920s and '30s, including Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Alberta Hunter. While the quality of the recording is, of course, much better than the scratchy 78s those women issued, there's certainly an old time feel to the record.

If you see the CD around--maybe they'll have it available at this Saturday's performance--it's worth purchasing if you like smokey, nightclub blues. Click on this for more information:

Tickets are still available for this Saturday's show, which will be at Bristol Community College's Jackson Arts Center on Elsbree Street in Fall River.

Bristol Community College is 5 minutes off Route 24. Get off at the President Avenue exit. Go about half-way around the rotary, going straight at McDonald's (on your left). Take a right at the stoplight, and go down about a mile. It's on your right.

See you at the show!

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who still has the what-happened-to-my-happy-home blues.

Stuff Not Yet Posted in the Calendar

Look for the following on the official music calendar page--but Backstage at the Narrows gets it first ('cause I pretty much write the music calendar page and this blog).

June 23
Fishken & Groves

You may have heard them on WUMB, Boston, or seen them open for Ramblin' Jack Elliott or perform at the New England Folk Festival or New Bedford's Summerfest. They've headlined at Club Passim and shared the stage with our buddies and Narrows' alums Paul Rishell and Annie Raines. They sing traditional folk songs, Woody Guthrie classics and are really into cowboy-style material. Learn more:

Doors 7:00 Show 8:00 Admission $10

June 24
Drunk Stuntmen

Every time we book these guys, it snows. We think we're safe with this one, not long before the Fourth of July. The Stuntmen hail from the deep backwoods of Western Massachusetts, and are know for their alternative country sound with a special devotion to the songs of Fred Eaglesmith. Learn more:

Doors 7:00 Show 8:00 Admission $10

Submitted by Steve the Emcee because he just couldn't resist adding more content.

Narrows Alums "The Duhks" Reviewed in Projo

Today's Providence Journal features a review of the Canadian group The Duhks, whom we like to believe we discovered. In the vernacular of the day, they were "awesome" when they performed at the Narrows. The review was actually done by Martin Bandyke of the Detroit Free Press, not local Projo staff.

The Duhks -- "The Duhks" (Sugar Hill) ***

This band of twentysomethings out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has a youthful attitude that breathes new life into traditional folk tunes, producing acoustic music with contemporary energy and a punk-rock edge.

Led by the fiery-voiced, tattooed lead singer Jessica Havey and fiddle player Tania Elizabeth, the Duhks (pronounced like the waterfowl) show any number of influences on their second album, including Irish, French-Canadian, gospel and Appalachian music. For the most part, the group handles more recently written songs as well as it does the traditional ones, as on "Mists of Down Below," penned by the young Canadian Dan Frechette. A strong acoustic guitar riff by Jordan McConnell moves into an evocative tale of migration told from the viewpoint of, yes, a duck. It may sound corny, but it's disarmingly beautiful.

Less effective are lightweight versions of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" and Sting's "Love Is the Seventh Wave." These are minor missteps on an album that is otherwise impressive.

By Martin Bandyke, Free Press special writer

Nice job, Martin! Congrats to our friends The Duhks!

Submitted by Steve the Emcee who hopes Patrick the Booking Guy brings back The Duhks in two shakes of a duck's tail.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Odetta Returns!

The legendary Odetta returns to our area after being away too long. She did an inspiring show at the Narrows about a year or so ago. This time, she's returning as part of the "Shout, Sister, Shout" show taking place on Saturday, March 26.

So if you want to catch Odetta this time around, get your tickets today!

To learn more about Odetta, check this out:

The Holmes Brothers are also on the "Shout, Sister, Shout" bill.

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, not long after the Ollabelle show.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Greg Trooper Returns

Narrows fave Greg Trooper is returning June 11th.

Greg knocked 'em dead opening for Tim O'Brien and at his own show at the Narrows.

Greg is bringing with him a new CD--this one produced by legendary producer and songwriter Dan Penn. Penn wrote "I'm Your Puppet," "Do Right Woman," and our favorite, "Dark End of the Street,"which was recorded by the patron saint of the Narrows, Gram Parsons.

If you don't know Greg, visit his rather spiffy website:

Also playing that night, alt-country legend Jimmy Ryan, formerly of The Blood Oranges, who were playing alternative country before alternative country was cool. Jimmy has played the Narrows a good number of times, and he's always a crowd pleaser.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Narrows Alum John Sebastian

Just want to send happy 61st birthday wishes to Narrows alum John Sebastian.

John, of course, was the voice of the Lovin' Spoonful, and was involved in writing their classics like "Summer in the City."

John did a great show here at the Narrows about a year or so ago. For those interested, John is just like he sounds on his records: friendly and good-natured. I had the opportunity to chat with him for a few minutes, and it was like chatting with the guy next door.

So John, "live long and prosper!"

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who never gets sick of hearing the "Welcome Back Kotter" theme written and sung by Sebastian.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tickets Still Available for Ollabelle & John Hammond

Tickets have been moving fast for Ollabelle, this Friday night, and John Hammond, on Saturday night.

Tickets are available at this writing (Wednesday, March 16, 2005).

If you really want to make sure you get tickets, order via the website. Don't be disappointed!

Monday, March 14, 2005

John Hammond in the Projo

In case you missed it, I've grabbed a piece of the John Hammond interview published in a recent Providence Journal. John returns to the Narrows this Saturday. Tickets are getting scarce last I heard. So make your move if you want to go to the show.

He keeps preachin' the blues
01:00 AM EST on Sunday, March 13, 2005
BY WALTER TUNISKnight Ridder Newspapers

What is the least obvious environment for creating deliciously tortured and often devilish blues music?

For John Hammond, the answer is easy -- church.

The pioneering singer-guitarist, who performs Saturday at Fall River's Narrows Center for the Performing Arts, has been responsible for some serious soul-stirring blues testimony during the past 40 years. Just get a load of the jubilation that erupts out of Son House's "Preachin' Blues," a longtime staple of Hammond's concert performances. The tune underscores the acoustic intensity that has long defined his lean, devout blues sound, and it rejoices in salvation even though Hammond sings as if the devil were just a few steps behind him.

But it took a small gothic-style church in the heart of the Midwest for Hammond to summon the swampy grooves and often dark blues grinds in his new album, In Your Arms Again.

"We went out to this old church in Salina, Kan., that's been used as a kind of recording studio and concert hall," Hammond said by phone recently from his home in Jersey City, N.J. "Every October, they have a blues festival there and bring in some of the greats from the old days -- people like Pinetop Perkins and Robert Lockwood. I was invited there, as well. The sound in this room was just amazing.

"Then the owner approached us and said, 'Any time you want to make a record here, we'll make it worth your while.' We took him up on it."

So Hammond; his wife and co-producer, Marla; bassist Marty Ballou; drummer Stephen Hodges; and engineer Oz Fritz set up shop in the church -- renamed Blue Heaven Studio -- to record the kind of music you probably won't hear at choir practice.

Typifying the album's often stormy mood are chestnuts by a trio of blues giants: Willie Dixon's "Evil (Is Going On)," Howlin' Wolf's "Moanin' for My Baby" and John Lee Hooker's "Serve Me Right to Suffer." From Hammond's guitar attack to his emotive vocal command, the songs bridge the decades. They blend the immediacy of the solo country blues recordings Hammond cut in the early '60s for the Vanguard label with the thick but flexible band groove that drove his sublime 2001 album of Tom Waits tunes, Wicked Grin.

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who's got the blues bigtime these days.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

JP Jones Gets Upclose and Personal on New CD

JP Jones' new CD "thugs and lovers" features JP on a $279 Alvarez acoustic guitar, a harmonica and vocals--nobody and nothing else. There's only one overdub, and most tracks are first or second takes, according to the CD booklet. Four of the 12 songs are under 3 minutes.

Simple. Low tech.

I've known JP for about a decade, and even performed one of his songs back in my days of apicken' and agrinnin'. I've also c0-produced two compilation CDs that have featured tracks by JP.

I like JP and I like his work. And he's knocked the crowd out when he's performed at the Narrows.

I've been less of a fan of some of his recordings and performances with his full band, although they've been stellar for the most part. But, from my working the area music circuit over the years, playing coffeehouses and festivals with JP, I've always liked it best when it was just him.

He's one of the few performers whose lyrics I actually care to listen to and I don't want a drum or keyboard drowning them out.

Whether he is a poet is for others to debate, although he seems to embrace that title in the notes in the CD booklet. But there's no question he's a fine lyricist and has an ear for melody and song hooks. To me, those are more important when it's just you and your guitar in front of an audience or a microphone.

I know this sounds overblown--but I consider JP one of the best folk, pop, and rock songwriters over the past 50 years. I rank him up there with Lennon and McCartney, Buddy Holly, Jagger/Richards, Ray Davies, Holland/Dozier/Holland, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Why? Because he has mastered the art of writing lyrics and tunes that are deep and sometimes complex, but are, nonetheless, easy to remember. For example:

woke up from my dreamin'
you found someone new
guess I saw it comin
guess you knew it too
hope you find your real companion
hope this time it's true
temporary partners give ya
temporary blues

That's from the album's first track, which you might have guessed is called "temporary blues." Deep but not deep. And, damn, it rhymes! Good lyricists know the importance of rhyme. As Paul McCartney wrote:

Woke up, got outta bed
Dragged a comb across my head

As John Lennon wrote:

He's a real Nowhere Man
Sitting in his Nowhere Land
Making all his Nowhere plans for nobody

As Bob Dylan wrote:

Don't follow leaders
Watch your parking meters

Simple. Deep, but not need. And the words rhyme and are easy to remember!

Songs touch upon the breakup of relationships (this is probably a good record to listen to if you're going through a divorce), but also a romantic longing for love, as in the track "nothin like":

nothin like the beating of my
true love's heart
nothin like her voice beside me
in the dark
nothin like the distance when we're
far apart
nothin like the circle of my
true love's arms
lord if i could only find her
lay my body down beside her
nothin like the beating of my
true love's heart

Best tracks: "temporary blues, " "not your business now,""nothin' like."

Sleeper best track: "long haul."

Pick for radio hits: "temporary blues,""nothin' like."

Best track to play for your wife or girlfriend if she'll only listen to one song from this guy: "nothin' like."

Weird-sounding songs that you'll like after hearing them 5 times: "pink flamingos,""crawlin out of wakefield."

Song you'll wonder why he included the first 3 times you hear it, then understand why: "handbasket."

Congratulations to JP! I hope Americana radio will play the hell out of this CD. Maybe even the Triple AAA format (attention WBOS!).

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who loved JP's music even before he met him. He heard it when he was doing a folkie show at a radio station in Marshfield, MA.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Narrows Artist On WBOS Playlist

Boston's WBOS, located at 92.9 FM, is playing the dickens out of Kathleen Edwards' latest record "Back to Me," which is on Rounder Records.

She's listed on the recent WBOS playlist.

Tickets are on sale now for Ms. Edwards' Saturday, May 21st appearance at the Narrows. Better buy soon. With radio exposure like this, tickets will soon be flying out the door.

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who has worked with WBOS morning show host Kristin Lessard and works every day with her husband. Both are two of the nicest people on the planet.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Narrows Alum Guthrie Featured on NPR's Morning Edition

Sarah Lee Guthrie, daughter of Arlo and grand-daughter of Woody, was featured recently on NPR's "Morning Edition." The fuss was the fact that she was becoming the 3rd generation of Guthries to release an album with the release of her new album, which they're calling her "first" album.

The Narrows crew and audience know the true story, however. Sarah Lee has already released an album. We've heard it.

But anyway, if you have the equipment to listen to the NPR piece (which features Arlo and Sarah Lee's husband, Johnny Irion), here it is:

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who sweats the small stuff.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Opening Acts Deserve Respect

An often thankless task is opening for a better-known artist. The Narrows audiences, however, are usually supportive of the openers and--in some cases--have given them standing ovations.

Of course, the Narrows only books the best in opening acts--many of them featured performers in other venues. That's the case this Saturday, March 12, when singer-songwriter Julie Lee opens for the Avett Brothers at the Narrows.

Look at these comments about Julie Lee:

When I first heard Julie Lee I was taken by her ability to be artful, truthful, commercial, and refreshing at the same time. Not at all easy in this day of Artifice and facade. — Rodney Crowell

Julie's beautiful voice and beautiful heart make for an extraordinary combination of lyrics and melody that has the ability to touch each and every one of us. She's a fantastic talent. — Alison Krauss

A collection of songs and a unique voice that both sound... timeless — Vince Gill (of the new record "Stillhouse Road")

Not too shabby!

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who opened a few shows himself back when he was apickin' and agrinnin'.

Narrows Artists Chart High

The latest Americana Radio chart has several Narrows alums and a future alum charting very high. Here we go:

1) Nanci Griffith, Hearts in Mind

2) Ray Wylie Hubbard, Delirium Tremelos (Narrows alum)

3) Alison Krauss & Union Station, Lonely Runs Both Ways (Jerry Douglas of Union Station has performed at the Narrows)

4) Reckless Kelly, Wicked Twisted Road

5) Duhks, The Duhks (Narrows alum)

6) Clay Dubose, These Days

7) Willie Nelson, It Always Will Be

8) Hayes Carll, Little Rock

9) Kathleen Edwards, Back to Me (Coming to the Narrows May 21!!!!!)

10) Mary Gauthier, Mercy Now (Narrows alum)

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who's making his list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Narrows Needs New Copy Machine

Sorry to report that the Narrows needs someone to donate a copy machine. Ours is in bad shape.

If you can help, call the Narrows at (508) 324-1926 or email

The Narrows is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, which means donors have the opportunity to write-off such a donation on their taxes.

The Narrows, by the way, is entirely staffed by volunteers. All donations help us keep the lights on and the music playing.

Of course, if you have a few thousand dollars to donate to help us buy a new or used copy machine, that would help too!

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, a proud donor of money and time to the Narrows. Unfortunately he can't foot the bill to replace the copy machine. But he would if he could.

Narrows Alum Gets Rolling Stone Review

A few years back, Mary Gauthier played the Narrows. Since then, she's signed to a major label and her new album, Mercy Now, received high praise from Here's the review:

As a singer, Mary Gauthier could pass for Lucinda Williams' twin sister: Gauthier's voice, like Williams', is a chewy Dixie drawl scarred with experience. And as a songwriter, Gauthier, like Williams, has bloomed in adulthood. She wrote her first song at thirty-five, after a long trip up from rock bottom. Now, at forty-two, after a run of acclaimed independent albums, Gauthier makes her major-label debut with the country-gothic suspense of Mercy Now. She's brought some vintage darkness: "I Drink," which she first cut in 1999, is about the bottle the way Lou Reed's "Heroin" is about the needle: precise and moving in its emotional journalism. She also puts the same care into the leaving and being left behind detailed in newer songs like "Falling Out of Love" and "Drop in a Bucket." Sustained despair is an acquired taste, and Mercy Now rarely moves at more than funeral-ballad speed. Yet the life and longing in Gauthier's voice puts color in these shadows. "I was born lonesome, and I'm lonesome still," she sings at the end, with the true grit of one still not ready to give in.

Submitted by Steve the Emcee, who reads Rolling Stone on-line, but is too cheap to buy the magazine.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Delmhorst? What Kind of Name is Delmhorst?

We don't know what kind of name "Delmhorst" is. German?

But we do know that one of the bearers of that name, Kris Delmhorst, is one of the finer singer/songwriter/instrumentalists you'll hear. And she's returning to the Narrows after being away too long on May 13th.

She's a very independent sort, who travels around the USA and overseas constantly. All with a rather sunny disposition, although her songs can be nasty.

We remember our first chat with her years ago. The blogger said, after being impressed by one of her CDs, that maybe a major record label would sign her. She didn't seem interested! She likes her freedom! (For the uninitiated: large record labels often exert a lot of control over their artists.)

We hope to see you at her show.

Submitted by the lonely and lowly Steve the Emcee, who is on hiatus in a cave in the Connecticut woods.