Sunday, July 31, 2005
They are talented teenagers from Cape Breton Island up there in the Great White North.
On our right, there's Jimmy McKenzie with the guitar. Next to him is his sister Rose, who wowed the audience during the night with her lively fiddle playing and almost non-stop movement. To the far right is Fiona MacGillivray, whose sweet voice charmed everyone.
Here's a close-up of Jimmy with one of his trademark hats. Jim, my man, it was hot at the Narrows. What's with the hat?!
We're sorry that the photos of Ciaran MacGillivray didn't even meet our low standards for quality. Ciaran is the eldest, and has been featured in previous write-ups on the group. So scroll down to earlier entrys if you're interested in seeing him.
Thanks to JMVH and her friends for helping get these photos. If anybody else has digital photos of the show, please email me at email@example.com. We'll try to post 'em.
News Flash: it is unconfirmed at this point, but it is our understanding that the Cottars have signed or are near to signing a contract with a large record label in the USA.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
It's Jim and Jennie and the Pinetops, who are giving you a big "howdy" in the photo. If memory serves, our show will be their last before they play the Newport Folk Festival. So you can see 'em on the cheap!
Here's a little write-up from their website:
Jim and Jennie met in 1998 in the wilds of eastern Pennsylvania. Jennie Benford grew up in a bluegrass-lovin' family but spent her teen years, like most of us, trying to figure out the cover art of 'Houses of the Holy.' Jim Krewson spent his formative years immersed in hardcore punk and experimental rock, not flipping for the bluegrass until he heard his dad's Flatt & Scruggs Mercury recordings. After meeting up with banjo prodigy Brad Hutchinson, they set out to fulfill their ambition of winning over both the bluegrass crowd and a broader audience that wasn't necessarily familiar with it but would respond to their energy and inventiveness.
Since then, they have released two studio albums, a live tour-only CD, toured the world, contributed backing skills to Neko Case's recent live CD, and made good on their promise to rocket roots music into the 21st Century.
Friday, July 29, 2005
I've written a number of articles on the group, so scroll down and check previous entries if you're interested.
There are tickets available, and should be easily available at the door. Visit www.ncfta.org for ticket information.
By the way, if you take digital photos of this or any of our shows, please email them to your very humble blogger (pictured above in his blogger trailer) at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your shots are fairly decent, why I'd be happy to post them and even give you credit.
Other stuff....I'm currently listening to the latest release from Chuck Prophet, who is coming to the Narrows on Monday--that's right, Monday--August 15. I hope to be writing a review for this blog and www.americanaroots.com where I also publish stuff. Suffice it to say, it's a very cool CD, and Chuck Prophet's show will be outstanding, particularly since--it is my understanding--he's bringing his band.
Anybody see Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris on the Today Show last week? Though it was great to see them perform, I thought it was a weak performance. Perhaps my television speakers reduced the power of the show. Or maybe it was too damn early in the day for Elvis and Emmylou to really kick into gear.
Hope to see you tonight at the Narrows!
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Two former Byrds have played the Narrows, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. Gene Clark never will, because he died in 1991, just living long enough to see the alt.country movement he helped inspire. That's Roger to the left of Gene (in the square) and Chris just below, back in the original Byrds line-up. The other guys are David Crosby on the far left and drummer Michael Clarke, who is also dead.
Gene was considered the original lead singer of the Byrds, but his and Roger's voices were often combined in harmony on the Byrds records, according to the book. He co-wrote "Eight Miles High" and wrote "Feel A Whole Lot Better" and many other songs, most you are probably NOT familiar with.
Because poor Gene just never developed a significant solo career, though he did have a hit around 1980 with Roger and Chris in "McGuinn, Clark and Hillman" with the song "Don't You Write Her Off Like That," a tune written by Roger and a collaborator.
According to the book, he was considered the Byrds' best singer and best songwriter, and the best-looking Byrd. Except for those of us who follow these things, he and Michael Clarke are the "forgotten Byrds." Which is why I picked up the book. Roger has consistently been out there working and recording, and Chris Hillman did extremely well with his Desert Rose Band, and even has a new album currently on the Americana charts. I knew little about Gene Clark, and still don't know much about Michael Clarke, other than he's dead and supposedly wasn't much of a drummer (though he continued to work as a drummer after the Byrds, so he must have known something).
Anyway, you can find more information at www.geneclark.com including a wide array of MP3s, so you can hear what he sounded like solo.
After finishing the book, all I can say is "it's a damn shame."
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Their latest release is "On Fire," which is a pleasant introduction for those of us less familiar with Celtic.
The kick-off track is a pop-sounding "Ready for the Storm," written by Scotland's Dougie Maclean. A nice way to ease into the CD. Lush strings and piano and primarily the young-sounding voice of one of the girls, with rich harmony singing backing her up.
The next track is a traditional tune "Callin on Song" which The Cottars first heard Steeleye Span do. Harmony singing, sometimes without musical accompaniment.
OK, the pop stuff is done, and the drumming, whistling, guitaring and fiddling begins!
The CD continues with a wide range of sounds that should please the newcomer to Celtic and, since the group digs into the traditional canon, those more familiar with this wing of international folk music should be fairly happy as well. Make no mistake though--these kids have a contemporary feel in their music. This doesn't sound old timey to your humble blogger's ears.
Click here to listen to several cuts from "On Fire!" yourself.
I asked the young guy pictured below, Ciaran MacGillivray (who's about 17), if they're working on a new CD, since this one came out in 2004. "We’ll start recording a new CD between now and spring," he said. "We have 95% of the material ready and, once we find time to get into the studio, we’ll start laying down the tracks. This 3rd CD will likely be part of the US record deal that we expect to sign in the coming weeks."
Nice Rolling Stones t-shirt Ciaran!
I don't want to leave one of them out. Up top you saw Fiona MacGillivray and Roseanne MacKenzie doing their Celtic thang. Ciaran is over there, without his eyeglasses.
Here's Jimmy MacKenzie, the old man of the group. He's about 18! And almost every picture they've got he's wearing that damn hat!
Jimmy plays guitar and the bodhran, which looks like this.
For a more formal review of "On Fire!" click this link http://www.thecottars.com/viewnews.php#13.
Tickets are still available. Go to www.ncfta.org for info. See you Friday night!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
If you missed the show, you might want to plan on attending a Rosie show in the future. We all had such fun that we hope to have her back as soon as possible.
Now, down below is a picture of Rosie signing autographs. One guy, who we suspect lives in his parents' basement (he's a nice fellow, but a little obsessive), brought a stack of Rosie CDs for her to sign. She graciously agreed to autograph them all! That guy, by the way, is NOT in the picture below.
Finally, below, for you guitar nuts, a not-too-great picture of Rosie's guitars. If memory serves, she didn't play the acoustic during the show; however, after everybody was gone except the Narrows crew and her band, Rosie graced us with her rendition of Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," plucking away at the acoustic and singing.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Don't know if they planned it, but both were wearing the same style of sneaker.
After her show, Sarah, of course, signed autographs. Way in the background that's Mrs. Norton, one of our most dedicated volunteers.
Pictures from the Rosie Flores and the Falcons part of the show coming up tomorrow!
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Monday August 15--Chuck Prophet. This is a very recent add, and a very strange day to be doing this show, but we thought it was an opportunity to bring in this interesting, off-the-beaten path Californian. Chuck should have his band with him as well, if memory serves. Please note that if you've been to the Narrows recently and picked up a flyer, this show is not listed. That's how new this is.
Saturday August 20--Rory Raven. This guy is not a musician. He's a mind reader. You may have read about him in the Providence Journal for his "Ghost Walks" that he does in Providence in the fall. He looks a little scary, doesn't he?
And this just in: Narrows fave Ryan Fitzsimmons will be opening for Ryan Montbleau on Thursday August 18. Ryan has opened and headlined a lot of shows at the Narrows.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Rockabilly filly Rosie Flores headlines tonight (Saturday) at the Narrows, coming to us from deep in the heart of the Lone Star State.
Because it's a Saturday night, the show starts a little later--about 8:30 p.m. That's when Sarah Borges will start strumming her guitar, playing songs from her "Silver City" recording, one of the hottest Americana CDs in the nation so far this year.
Tickets are $14, and will be available at the door.
So go out to dinner. Take your time. And get to the Narrows before 8:30.
Join us tonight!
Friday, July 22, 2005
I've listened to a bit of the CD, and he kinda sounds like he has false teeth now.
It's okay. This is folk music.
"Dear Abby, dear Abby, my false teeth don't fit. My wife hollers at me, and my house is a pit!" Longtime John Prine fans--and I have been one since he started making records--will understand the reference to one of John's funniest tunes.
But that's not why I'm making this blog entry.
I happen to be listening to a new CD from the guy who plays accordian on "Fair and Square"--in fact, the guy has done a lot of work for John Prine and many others. His name is Phil Parlapiano. That's his real name. And he sometimes plays piano!
Currently I'm working on a review of his CD for americanaroots.com, so I was doing a bit of reading up on him. One of his claims to fame is that he was in the below-deck dancing scene in the movie "Titanic" playing the accordian. That's him behind Kate Winslet, one of Titanic's stars.
That reminds me of the time we had Peter Tork at the Narrows. His sideman, a wonderful guitarist whose name escapes me, played a Klingon in one episode of the original "Star Trek" television series in the 1960s.
Now you know. Aren't you glad you read this blog today?
Thursday, July 21, 2005
If you're reading this blog from outside New England, you may not know that locals sometimes pronounce "tuna" as "tuner." Why? It's a mystery. Probably to make up for all of the r's dropped at the end of "car."
But your blogger digresseth...
Jorma and Jack are calling the show "Hot Tuna Acoustic," probably because they plan to play acoustic more or less. So Jorma won't be playing that electric guitar he's holding in the photo. But then, who knows? You won't mind, will you?
I don't recall Jack Casady playing the Narrows, but Jorma Kaukonen has, and your humble blogger, who emceed the show, butchered his name, even with some coaching from Jorma's wife.
I'll probably ask somebody from the audience to climb on stage and correctly pronounce his name into the microphone.
Tickets will be $30 in advance, and $35 day of show. At this writing, they may not yet be available, though you can always email the Narrows at email@example.com and ask. Or call (508) 324-1926.
And if you call, please don't request "Hot Tuner" tickets!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Except at the Narrows. We ain't no oldies club, Jack! To us, rockabilly is true roots music, not a wistful nostalgic trip down memory lane--though there's that element to it.
This Saturday night we welcome Texan Rosie Flores. She's a contemporary rockabilly artist, but she's not stuck in the 1950s. In fact, if you read the interview your humble blogger did with her, she noted she's been listening to Diana Krall and Tom Petty on her Ipod. Tickets are still available. Visit www.ncfta.org for more details.
Rosie is not the first rockabilly performer to play the Narrows. For example, we have featured California's rockabilly guitar hero Deke Dickerson a bunch of times. Deke is a personal favorite of the crew at the Narrows because he's easy to work with, draws a good crowd, and is an excellent showman. Deke will be returning to the Narrows this fall. More details will be posted soon.
(That's the "Dekester" on the far left playing what looks to be a Les Paul guitar.)
Deke has a new CD out, which we swear we saw on some music charts recently but it seems to have disappeared. Visit his website to learn more about this recording.
If you're reading this in the Providence area, you may see ads in the Phoenix about Sasquatch and the Sickabillys. They've played the Narrows and we found them to be truly one of the loudest and most in-your-face rockabilly ensembles you'll ever see. Maybe this picture says it all.
So if you're a rockabilly fan, come to the Rosie Flores show Saturday night. If you're a roots fan and you want to see a slice of true Texan Americana, come to the Rosie Flores show.
Get hep, daddy-o!
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
She's no local phenom. Her debut CD "Silver City" was one of the hottest Americana CDs in the first half of 2005. Not bad for a 26-year-0ld alternative country debutante.
She blew off the rafters at the Narrows earlier this year, and this Saturday she'll try it again (as a solo performer) as she opens for rockabilly and country legend Rosie Flores. We hope her friends and family will once again come to the Narrows to support her. She deserves it!!
Later on this year, she'll be playing with Dave Alvin at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music, a place that helped launch the careers of our buddy Roger McGuinn, John Prine and the late Steve Goodman (he's the guy who wrote "City of New Orleans," with which Arlo Guthrie had a hit).
But most important, her CD "Silver City" is simply one of the best damn CDs I've heard in a very long time. It rocks, it rolls, it twangs, it thumps and it bangs! It "floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee."
Saturday night is going to be a BIG show, with Sarah and Rosie. Tickets are still available. Check out www.ncfta.org for more information.
Monday, July 18, 2005
The Cottars, a teenage Celtic group out of Cape Breton Island, in the Great White North, is coming to the Narrows on Friday, July 29. Ciaran MacGillivray, who is about 17 years old, was kind enough to respond to your humble blogger's questions, and you can read the interview down below. The Cottars, by the way, are a very hot item in the Celtic world, and tickets are even starting to move at the Narrows, which is not known for Celtic shows.
Steve the Humble Emcee: Why not be a rock musician or something considered in the mainstream? Or are you planning to go in that direction eventually?
Ciaran: On Cape Breton Island, Celtic folk IS very mainstream. We grew up listening to it, consider it very cool, and have been travelling all over the world playing that sort of music for the last five years. However, we do some songs by contemporary writers in the folk vein, and we included some electric instruments and drum kits on a few cuts on our last CD. Who knows where it’s all headed.
Steve the Humble Emcee: How do you balance your school commitments with performing?
Ciaran: We have “homework buddies” (who keep track of classes we’ve missed), we take correspondence courses, and we get great cooperation from our schools. By the way, three of us are in the French immersion program in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Steve the Humble Emcee: Outside of where you live, what is your favorite country in which to perform?
Ciaran: We’ve really enjoyed performing in New England, the Southern States, and in Denmark, but I think our very favourite place has to be Japan. We’ve had two great tours there.
Steve the Humble Emcee: How do the Cottars decide what to record? What's the process?
Ciaran: We workshop the tunes that we all bring in to rehearsals. After awhile we home-record them, try them out on “live” audiences, and then decide. Allister MacGillivray, our musical director, has a great music library, and he also helps us to polish the pieces we’ve chosen to work on.
Steve the Humble Emcee: Are you working on a new CD currently?
Ciaran: We’ll start recording a new CD between now and spring. We have 95% of the material ready and, once we find time to get into the studio, we’ll start laying down the tracks. This 3rd CD will likely be part of the US record deal that we expect to sign in the coming weeks. Our first two releases came out on our own Sea-Cape Music Ltd. Label (distributed by Warner Music in Canada), and are available through our website: www.thecottars.com
Steve the Humble Emcee: Nobody is named "Cottar" in the group. Where's the name from?
Ciaran: The “cottars” were poor tenant farmers in Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries. They lived in “cots” but were eventually driven off their lands and then emigrated to North America. All four of us in the band probably have cottars (also “cotters”) in our background. But our real last names are MacGillivray and MacKenzie.
Steve the Humble Emcee: For people thinking about coming to your show in Fall River, what songs might they expect? Will the show be high energy or mellow?
Ciaran: Our show can vary quite a bit from night to night, but we always include our Canadian singles “The Briar & The Rose” and “Ready For The Storm”, and there’ll be some driving instrumentals. Shows staged by Celtic bands like us tend to be lively, though we always include some tender ballads in close harmony. Lots of variety is the key.
Steve the Humble Emcee: Who are your favorite performers? Any CDs you could recommend to our readers?
Ciaran: Among the British Isles artists, we like Danú (blogger note: Danu is coming to the Narrows on Thursday, August 25), Dervish, Altan, Planxty, Steeleye Span, Kate Rusby, The Chieftains, Paul Brady and Tommy Makem — and lots of others. In North America, we like a wide array of musicians such as Tom Waits, Natalie MacMaster, Ricky Skaggs, and a few of the more senior members such as Doc Watson, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and even Peter, Paul & Mary. In the Celtic line, we’d like to recommend Danú’s “Think Before You Think”, Dervish’s “Live In Palma”, Paul Brady’s “Nobody Knows” and Altan’s “The Blue Idol” Cd’s. In non-Celtic, you can’t go wrong with Ricky Skaggs’ “Live At Charleston Music Hall”, Bob Dylan’s “Unplugged”, and Peter, Paul & Mary’s “Lifelines” Cd’s.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
--Anybody got some of those big "Casablanca-like" ceiling fans? We could use a donation or some special deal. They would be nice to cool things down and would also add to our artistic environment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (508) 324-1926.
--We need a new computer--actually just the computer box, or as some call it, "the tower." Our computer system is dying. So if you have a box that's in very good shape (please, no viruses or way old stuff) and would like to donate it, please contact the Narrows (see above).
--Thanks to Rick Santos and Robert Lima at Rick's Music World, and Paul Hanoud, from Hanoud and Associates, for their help in creating and installing a new sound system at the Narrows. The new system had its maiden voyage on Friday night at the Red Stick Ramblers' show. Sounds great! Much clearer, and no "dead spots."
--During these warm months, the Narrows can be a "beach like" experience, to put it mildly. While, of course, we encourage good taste at all times (well, some of the time!), please dress accordingly. It's informal at the Narrows, so relax and be relaxed. And stay cool!
--A rare Monday night show is coming up in August. On Monday, August 15, we'll be featuring Chuck Prophet, coming to us from the Left Coast. Chuck looks thrilled about that in this picture.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Rick and the rest of the group are old friends and musical partners of your blogger, and I always look for an opportunity to give their wonderful music the spotlight.
So if you're unfamiliar with their work, the interview below might be a good introduction. By the way, they're playing the Narrows in September.
Steve the Emcee: I know you're still working on the CD, but have you chosen a name?
Rick: After three years of work, we have, in fact, finished the album. It’s all mixed and we’re getting ready to send it off to have it mastered. It’s called “Pilgrims.”
Steve the Emcee: FolksTogether's music has strong roots in '60s folk, rock and country. Will the new CD continue this tradition?
Rick: For certain. We’re always looking for those connections. As a “folk” group, we’re limited only by the presentation of the music, but never by the choice of material. New England folk artists have a longstanding tradition of finding material in unusual places. Joan Baez used to sing show tunes at Club 47 and Tom Rush was known for his Bo Diddley covers. Then of course, the legendary Joe Val and the Charles River Valley Boys cut an entire album of Beatles songs back in the 1960s, opening up the folk world to a whole new source for the repertoire. We try to continue in this tradition and hope we’re worthy of being included in the line.
Steve the Emcee: FolksTogether, besides writing great songs, often covers sometimes obscure songs by others, such as Gram Parsons. Any such covers on the new record?
Rick: Of course! We’ve got songs on there by Procol Harum and Free, believe it or not. They fit right in. Speaking of covers, we started out this project with over thirty songs. We just kept recording and writing and looking for a thread or theme to tie it all up. Once we’d found one, we were left with a entire album of covers which we’ll probably use as our next release - something like “FolksTogether Sing The Great Folk Hits”; sort of “A Mighty Wind” without the tongues too far in the cheeks.
Steve the Emcee: Who did the artwork for the new CD?
Rick: Like everything to do with this project, it’s been a group effort. (Group member) Vincent (Pasternak) and his wife Elizabeth Pasternak are the photographers. We’re shooting the group at locations chosen by them and by me and my wife, Carleen Machado, who is one of our co-writers. (Group member) Jeff (Olson) will handle the graphics. I organized the liner notes.
Steve the Emcee: You folks are multi-instrumentalists. What do you all play on the new CD?
Rick:We set some ground rules for this project before we began. As you know, Steve, FolksTogether started almost eight years ago as a revue featuring three separate acts: Wire & Wood, Bellaire & Dunn, and Vincent Pasternak, with each act performing their own material backed by the others. They said it would never last! Over the years, it’s grown into a true band. But this will be the first actual “FolksTogether” album. We’ve been writing in different combinations than the original components--for instance, Vincent wrote a song for Donna to sing and Jeff and I wrote a song for Vincent to sing. So when we gathered up all the material, we agreed to workshop the album to let it grow at its own rate without the time and financial constraints of entering a recording studio on a schedule with a set budget. We set up a rehearsal/recording space and just let it happen. And to push ourselves further (And finally get around to answering your question!), we agreed that should we need to broaden our palette, we’d have to find a way to do it ourselves--to keep it all in the family, so to speak. No studio musicians. So we’ve got some new sounds happening. I played a lot of percussion, some harmonica, some accordian; John played the drums and he picked up the cello in order to create string sections with Vinny’s violin and viola. Because we wanted to keep a "live" feel to the album without too much overdubbing, we began each song with a basic track consisting of no less than three of us playing together. Sometimes there were four and sometimes all five of us playing live in the studio. This led to a couple of interesting instances when we switched off on our usual instruments to cover parts on a basic. It was a lot of work, but it sure was a lot of fun.
Steve the Emcee:Last question: what CDs by other artists have you been listening to lately. Who are you recommending to others?
Rick: Speaking only for myself, I tend not to listen to too much music when I’m working on a project, especially music which is similar in nature to what I’m doing at the time. So over the last couple of years, I’ve been listening to a lot of mainstream jazz from the 1950s; I listened to the nine Beethoven symphones; I organized my Rolling Stones rarities into a ten CD set which just fascinates me--man, they need to do a box set. As for recent stuff, I really got stuck on the last couple of Eric Andersen albums, “Beat Planet” with the long track and the first volume of folk “oldies” he’s released, “The Street Was Always There.” I couldn’t get the first Nickel Creek album out of my CD player for a year and they're poised to move on to true greatness. I’m really into a guy named Doug Wamble. He’s got two albums out on Branford Marsalis’s Rounder imprint. He’s a singer and guitarist, but that’s as far as I can go in describing him. He plays jazz guitar with a butter knife and sings like a ‘60s soul man who started off in a gospel choir. It’s not jazz or blues or country or gospel...it’s just music! He’s unbelievable. These are all great artists whose work could slip between the cracks without enough grassroots support. I highly recommend these albums.I’m really interested in songwriters who are not necessarily considered artists performing their own material. They paint such different pictures. In the last couple of years, I’ve listened a lot to albums by Barry Mann (“You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”), Casey Kelly (“Soon”), Angela Kaset (“Something In Red”), and a bunch of others: James Dean Hicks, Bruce Roberts, Jason Blume, Rivers Rutherford. It’s really great stuff-- sometimes much more moving than the “hit” versions. Gee, I guess that sounds like a lot of music, but really, it’s not, at least for me. Anyone who’s seen my record collection knows that if I’m not writing or recording music, there are records playing 24/7 at my house.
Friday, July 15, 2005
The crew at the Narrows comes back from several weeks off to work the Red Stick Ramblers show tonight (Friday).
Tickets are still available!
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show should get underway about 8 p.m.
That's them in the picture up top. Looks like they were playing in Alaska.
UPCOMING ON THIS VERY BLOG OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS: An interview with a member of the Celtic group "the Cottars" and an interview with Rick Bellaire of the very rootsy FolksTogether. Please check this blog daily!!!
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Rosie just came in off the road for a few days, and took time to answer my email questions, as we get ready for her upcoming triumphant return to the Narrows.
Steve the Humble Emcee: For those of us who have never seen you perform ( I have not; I missed your previous show at the Narrows), what might we expect at a Rosie Flores show?
Rosie: FOLKS CAN EXPECT TO HAVE GREAT TIME DANCING AND SINGING ALONG WITH ME. I BRING A LOT OF FUN ENERGY TO THE AUDIENCE AND REALLY ENJOY PLAYING MY TURQUOISE WILD CAT EPIPHONE ELECTRIC GUITAR AND DANCING AROUND ON STAGE TOO.
Steve the Humble Emcee: Other than your home area, where is your strongest fan base?
Rosie: I DO PRETTY WELL IN NEW YORK CITY, CALIFORNIA AND TEXAS AND IN EURO COUNTRIES LIKE SWEDEN, FRANCE, GERMANY, BRITAIN AND SWITZERLAND.
Steve the Humble Emcee: What is "right" about "mainstream" country music, and what would you say is wrong with mainstream country these days?
Rosie: I DON'T CARE TO LISTEN TO MAIN STREAM COUNTY MUSIC, IT DOESN'T ROCK MY SOUL LIKE THE OLDER DAYS WITH HEARING JOHNNY CASH, MERLE AND WAYLON JENNINGS AND OF COURSE TAMMY WYNETTE AND GEORGE JONES. THOSE ALL WERE MY MAIN INFLUENCES ALONG WITH OTHERS LIKE GARY STEWART AND CHARLIE PRIDE. IN THE CASE OF WHAT I DO THINK IS RIGHT ABOUT THE MAINSTREAM RADIO, IT'S PROBABLY ALAN JACKSON AND GEORGE STRAIT.
Steve the Humble Emcee:Is touring difficult for you, or do you enjoy the road?
Rosie: IT'S DIFFICULT WHEN THE HOURS ARE LONG IN THE VAN.... BUT I LOVE THE ROAD AND THE CHANCE TO PERFORM FOR A LIVE AUDIENCE.
Steve the Humble Emcee: Any funny road stories you can share?
Rosie: WELL, LET'S SEE......THERE WAS THIS TIME WHERE WE WERE DRIVING ACROSS COUNTRY ONCE AND THE TIRE BLEW OUT AND SO WE TRIED TO GO AND BUY A TIRE BUT THIS GUY COULDN'T UNDERSTAND THAT WE ONLY NEEDED ONE. (HE DIDN'T SPEAK ANY ENGLISH .) SO HE WAS TRYING TO SELL US TWO!
HE WOULDN'T GO FOR JUST THE ONE APPARENTLY. WHILE WE WERE WAITING TO GET THE TIRE PUT ON HIS DOG CAME INTO THE WAITING ROOM AND STARTED BARKING AND TRIED TO ATTACK MY BASS PLAYER.
WHEN I WENT TO CALL FOR THE TIRE GUY TO GET HIS DOG CALLED OFF, I CAUGHT HIM PUTTING TWO NEW TIRES ON AND TOLD HIM TO STOP.
SO HE TOOK BOTH NEW TIRES OFF. WE STARTED A YELLING MATCH, ALL FOUR OF US AND THE DOG. WE STUCK THAT TINY SPARE ON AND WE WENT ON TO DRIVE NEARLY 100 MILES ON THE TINY SPARE BEFORE WE FOUND A SEARS. AS WE LAUGHED IN DISBELIEF AS TO WHAT WE'D BEEN THROUGH FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.
Steve the Humbe Emcee: What CDs are you listening to these days?
Rosie: THIS MONTH, I'M DIGGING ON DIANA KRALL, JET, DJANGO REINHARDT, AND TOM PETTY, MARSHALL CRENSHAW. DON'T ASK ME FOR TITLES OF CD'S. SORRY, JUST VARIOUS STUFF THAT I HAVE ON MY IPOD.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The Narrows is unafraid to fight for great music, even when the going gets rough.
Some of the best musicians on the circuit are those playing in what are often termed "jam bands." Essentially, these are bands that feature extensive musical virtuosity, often delving into jazz or Phish or Grateful Dead-like soloing.
The Slip, which has its base near Fall River, is the most successful jam band--in terms of attendance--that has played the Narrows, selling out (if memory serves) every show. The guys in the band are top-notch players and excellent showmen to boot. We also like them on a personal level. We'll book 'em as much as possible.
But other great jam bands have not nearly been as successful. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, for example, is a personal favorite of your humble blogger. I even have their bumper sticker on my car ("A True Patriot Questions Our Lying Government"). But, damn, we can't get the attendance their vast talents deserve.
But we're going to keep trying because as a non-profit center for the arts, it's not all about the dollar. So on August 19th we're bringing back jam banders "Roots of Creation," who actually did reasonably well last time they visited. We hope they do even better this time out.
If you dig music, particularly improvisational music, we ask that you seriously take a look at what's going on in the jam band scene, and consider becoming part of it through attending the Roots of Creation show. One jam band resource is www.jambase.com, which has a lot of stuff about the wide range of groups making up the scene.
We'll do our best through this blog and the Narrows website to provide as much information as possible so you'll be an educated music consumer about jam bands and other types of music.
Thank you for supporting the Narrows! Spread the word!
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Tickets are still available. Visit www.ncfta.org.
Red Stick Ramblers bring it on
Mandolin player Josh Caffery's voice doesn't necessarily conjure up Bob Wills. But his playing - and that of his band mates in The Red Stick Ramblers - certainly does.
This six-man combo raises many ghosts, and the first few notes on the band's second album "Bring It On Down," (Memphis International) make one nostalgic for toe-tapping swing tunes from the nation's past.
The Red Stick Ramblers add a little spice to the gumbo, with Cajun influences and other interesting bits.
"We kind of started out playing mostly swing, hot jazz, genuine early jazz from the 1930s and Western swing," Caffery recalls.
But one of the group's fiddlers hails from Eunice, La., he says, and things began to evolve. "It's in the air around here. We were playing swing, and every once in a while we threw in a Cajun tune more and more - until today, it's more of a balance of swing-inspired stuff and Cajun stuff."
"Bring It On Down" is a rollicking affair, with seductive blues, call-and-response vocals and all sorts of musical bells and whistles. What else would you expect from a band that boasts - at various points - fiddles, banjo, steel guitar, piano and even triangle?
"We try to throw in a hodge-podge of stuff, but I'd say that the two guideposts of what we do is Cajun swing and the music of southern Louisiana and Texas," Caffery says.
The Ramblers met in Baton Rouge, where they were living, working and attending school around Louisiana State University. Caffery made a trip with a band mate to a weekly Cajun jam session at the Savoy Music Center in Eunice to learn about and listen to Cajun music. While there, he learned that fiddler Joel Savoy was a freshman attending LSU, according to the band's web site.
Eventually, Savoy joined Caffery and drummer Glenn Fields, in a Baton Rouge band called Brother Teresa, and Savoy began honing his fiddle chops. The band played regularly in the area, but graduation meant migration, and the band members moved in various directions.
Brother Theresa disbanded, but Savoy eventually met Chas Justus, a musician from Memphis. The two began taking part in daily jam sessions. Acoustic bassist Ricky Rees came to the group by way of an ad in a local paper. Fiddler/vocalist Linzay Young, a childhood friend of Savoy, also joined up.
A first gig was booked at a coffee house in Mandeville, La. In tribute to legendary Cajun music players The Hackberry Ramblers, the group outfitted itself in fancy suits, now a hallmark of their performance, according to the web site. As time went by, the set list grew to encompass everything from bluegrass to so-called "gypsy jazz."
In early 2002, the group released its first disc, a self-titled effort, and began playing several big-name festivals. The second disc came out last year and included a range of cuts, everything from the peppy Bob Willis tune "Bring It On Down" to Caffery's bluesy piano stroll, "Main Street Blues," a perfect remedy to a tough day at work. There are waltzes such as "Two Step des Condamnes" and "Parting Waltz" and the dark, haunting "Rattle My Cage."
Different songs have different inspirations. "Speaking for myself, I'm sort of inspired by the landscape down here, the culture, I would say, just the way people are, the way people act, the way the land looks here. Natural settings, the beauty of, just the natural environment. That's just personally what I'm into. The other guys would say (they are inspired by) heartbreak," Caffery says.
While Caffery reveres older songwriters like Jimmie Rodgers, he also has a taste for modern forms.
"I'm honestly really into rap. I like Outkast, of course. I think everyone does these days. I'm definitely inspired by rappers. I think the cadences of the songs and some of the rhythms are more like what you might find in a rap song," he adds. In a demonstration of how wide personal musical tastes can range, Caffery also enjoys Bob Dylan albums including "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blood on the Tracks."
Count on a lot of travel in the Red Stick Ramblers' future. "Around here, we are one of the only bands playing swing that's more rooted in an early jazz sort of feel, sort of more straight swing. On the festival circuit that we play - hmm, I don't know that there are other bands doing what we do."
Fellow disciples might include Hot Club of Cowtown or Asleep At The Wheel, he says. Still, most of what Caffery hears "seems to be centered more on bluegrass and old time and Appalachian roots. There is a lot more of that than there is Deep South roots music, like south Texas music and southern Louisiana music. There aren't that many bands out there on the circuit."
By the end of the year, that circuit will be a well-traveled one. "This summer, we're going to be out, pretty much all of May, June, July," he says. Festivals are in the offing, as are trips to New England, Texas and French Canada.
Even with all the travel in the next few months, the Ramblers have another album in mind, he says, and have some early plans to start "recording a little bit, just on our own."
He envisions a disc "really based on some of these traditional musics that we have been learning how to play since we became musicians and sort of creating something new and very exciting and solid."
Monday, July 11, 2005
The Red Stick Ramblers, playing the Narrows this Friday night (July 15), will be featured at noon on Tuesday (July 12) on WUMB, Boston, 91.9 FM.
The station provides a live stream, so you can listen to the interview through your computer.
Tickets are still available for Friday night's show.
Visit www.ncfta.org for more information.
That's what I was doing just before I wrote this. Listening to the CD "Altiplanos," which features our guy and his wonderful guitar style and warm vocals.
Is it jazz? Is it World Music? Is it folk music?
I don't know. I just know it sounded great resonating off the walls of my humble trailer as I sipped and munched.
Pierre, who lives in France, has headlined the Narrows several times and has also kindly donated to the Narrows. So he's not only a performer, but a patron. Considering he lives on another continent, his generosity was most unexpected. But, as we've gotten to know him, that's just the way he is.
Look--Pierre's stuff is extremely sophisticated. He's world-renowned for his unique tuning and approach. A grey-haired guy sipping coffee in a trailer in Attleboro while eating carrots, peaches and strawberries probably shouldn't attempt to get too fancy in his review.
So I won't. I liked it. And no, you can't have my copy of the CD.
For our more sophisticated readers, I have provided a link right here so you can read something a bit more profound.
But then--is there anything more profound than simply liking a work of art?
Sunday, July 10, 2005
The Narrows will host the group's CD release party in September. You're invited! Be sure to visit the www.ncfta.org
"live music" area soon for the information. It should be posted shortly.
The recording's title is still an official secret so I'm sworn to silence. All I can report is that it has a "p" in it. Okay, that's enough. Oh, alright, there's also a "g" in it. That's it. I really mean it this time.
Anyway, that's Jeff up there in the picture. He's a damn fine musician, producer, songwriter and friend. I've had the distinct honor and pleasure of working on several musical projects with him, and have shared the stage with Jeff and the other members of the group, Donna Olson (Jeff's bride), Rick Bellaire, Vincent Pasternak and John Dunn.
I can tell you that the CD has original tunes and some rather unusual cover tunes. Rick Bellaire--and, to an extent, nearly all the members--is a musicologist and an archivist who can tell you the flip side of a Byrds single from 1965. So Rick and the gang know about songs that we've never heard of or have, sadly, forgotten.
"Rick Bellaire came up with the concept for the album and produced it. His idea was to stretch the limits of what we had previously done, and still retain the FolksTogether feel," said Jeff, who plays guitar and six-string banjo and contributes back-up and lead vocals. "We wanted to step out of the 'we're not quite bluegrass sound.'"
One of my favorite tracks is a tune passionately sung by bassist John Dunn. John really went "over the top" on this one, and I hope after the final mix and mastering the piece will still have the edge that I heard. There's a track sung by Donna Olson that has a nice Western Swing feel that will likely make it a crowd favorite.
Violinist and guitarist Vincent Pasternak is all over this recording, adding a fiddle line here, a classical guitar strum there, and some lead and harmony vocals as only Vinnie can.
The CD was digitally recorded "Chez Bellaire" in the beautiful Mount Pleasant neighborhood in Providence. Those familiar will FolksTogether's previous albums will notice that this one has some new instruments on it, and might be described as "lush" in places, which is unusual for a roots recording.
Good luck to FolksTogether as they wrap up this project. We'll see you in September!
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Since the Beatles are such a tremendous influence on so many of us, we try to keep up with the work of the surviving members, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
Ringo has just released a new album, "Choose Love," and recently was the guest host on Little Steven's Underground Garage national radio show. You can hear Ringo on the show by clicking here. (In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that your humble blogger works for a broadcast organization which airs Little Steven's show.)
You can read a review of Ringo's album here. It's a favorable write-up, by the way.
Rollingstone.com reports that Paul McCartney will soon release a new album called "Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard." Paul plays most of the instruments, including the flugelhorn! The CD comes out in September and then Paulie goes on tour. He's like the Energizer Bunny...he keeps going and going and going.....
Friday, July 08, 2005
If you are a dedicated roots fan, you may be thrilled to visit the Alan Lomax database, which is now available on-line for free.
Who was Alan Lomax? I grabbed this description off the Alan Lomax website:
"As an anthropologist of the performing arts, Alan Lomax developed methods for comparative study of music, dance and language...Alan Lomax was awarded the National Medal of the Arts in 1986, an honorary doctorate of philosophy from Tulane in 2001, and a Grammy in 2002 for his life-long contributions to music. He is a Living Legend of the Library of Congress, and he joked that he had driven more miles in search of songs than anyone else on earth. He died on July 19, 2002..."
Essentially he's known for his field recordings, particularly folk and blues, from the first half of the 20th century. He roamed the United States and other parts of the world to document, through recordings, authentic folk culture.
Anyway, go to the database by clicking here.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
It's a half hour interview and performance, featuring a calypso tune, something from Big Maybelle and Louis Armstrong, and another tune or two.
Paul and Annie have just been scheduled to play the Narrows in December, though it's not yet posted.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
What's not to like about the Red Stick Ramblers?
Certainly their latest CD, "Right Key, Wrong Keyhole" is a toe-tappin' gem for those who dig Western Swing, old timey, traditional country, blues (yes, blues) and Cajun (though, for a group out of Louisiana, I expected a more Cajun sound). Sometimes the record flows as if it was recorded about 1944, with a subdued, almost big-band atmosphere that sounds like crooner Bing Crosby could be stepping in front of the microphone any minute.
"Right Key, Wrong Keyhole" has a lot of mid-tempo numbers, which made things drag for me a bit--of course I'm a metalhead as well as a folkie--but it may appeal to listeners who are looking for a laid-back listen. Perfect for a hot, sticky summer night with the one you love close at hand, perhaps on a backyard swing overlooking a cornfield--or sitting at a table at the Narrows, sipping some Merlot.
As this is being written, the CD is #16 on the Americana chart, which means a lot of DJs across the country like it. So far, however, it hasn't hit the XM Radio or the Third Coast Music Network charts. Maybe next week.
You can pick up a copy of the CD on Friday July 15th, as the Red Stick Ramblers bring the Narrows crew back from our early summer break. Tickets are available by visiting www.ncfta.org.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
But the fact is, Michael Troy is a winner—specifically the 2005 Suwanee Folk Festival Songwriter’s Contest; the 2005 South Florida Folk Festival Songwriter’s Contest; and the 2004 Boston Folk Festival Songwriter’s Contest. He was a finalist in the 2004 Kerrville Folk Festival New Song Contest; the 2nd place winner at the 2004 Woody Guthrie Songwriter’s Contest; the 2nd place winner at the 2004 Chris Austin Songwriter’s Contest at Merlefest; and a finalist in the 2003 USA Songwriter’s Contest.
And he was featured in the emerging artist showcase at the 2003 Southwestern Regional Folk Alliance Conference; the 2003 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference; the 2003 Falconridge Folk Festival; and the 2003 Winterfolk II Festival.
Not bad for a former textile worker, floor finisher and fisherman from Fall River.
I first met Michael at open microphones where he would wow the crowd with his raspy, yet melodic voice, his solid guitar playing and, most of all, his mountain of lyrics. I couldn’t figure out how he could memorize so many darn verses! At the same time, he literally transfixed the crowd.
“Romancing the Moon,” his latest CD does exactly what he did at those open microphones years ago. Raspy, yet melodic singing, fine guitar playing, and verses and verses and verses of lyrics. If you are a “word person,” you’ll love Michael Troy.
What are the songs about? You tell me:
Where the sun sets upon the hill,
Where we drank dreams - from a paper bag
Those are the lyrics from his song “Ricky the Kid.” Or how about these words from the title track:
Now the river's been buried, and the mills shut down
If you love story songs, if you love lyrics, Michael’s your guy. He's headlined and opened for others at the Narrows. And he never fails to impress the audience.
If you catch Michael at the Narrows or elsewhere, take a moment to pick up "Romancing the Moon."
It's Michael Troy as he is.
Monday, July 04, 2005
It's not uncommon for me to be creeping among the shelves of the Providence or Fall River public libraries looking for
good books to read about music. I'm not talking about the fan books--at least not usually--but more "serious" books.
Well, not that serious.
For example, currently I'm reading "Magical Mystery Tours, My Life with The Beatles," by Tony Bramwell. I resisted picking this book up for awhile, because I believed I read nearly every serious book written about The Beatles, and didn't think I needed another one. But this one is written by a boyhood friend of "the boys" who later went to work for them. I'm up to page 33, and it's charming, even for this Beatle-hardened reader.
So, I was delighted to find at npr.org a program that focused on books about music to take to the beach (although for me "the beach" is the Starbucks in Wayland Square, Providence). If you have speakers on your computer, you can listen to it at your leisure. If memory serves, they discuss books about Bob Marley (one I haven't read, but have seen around), punk rock (another one I haven't read, but have seen around) and one by the late guitarist John Fahey (pictured above) dealing with how bluegrass music ruined his life. I've never even heard about this one.
Anyway, here's the link.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
If you're a Gatemouth Brown fan, you'd be pleased to know that he's still alive and kicking, despite having to cancel his Narrows' performance due to seriously poor health. Candace Corrigan recently interviewed him for her show.
Learn more by clicking right here.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Stumbling through one of those "dollar" stores yesterday I came across a CD treasure that cost me just a buck.
It's called "Adios Amigo: A Tribute to Arthur Alexander," and features Narrows alums Graham Parker, Roger McGuinn, Marshall Crenshaw, along with Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Frank Black, John Prine, Nick Lowe and others.
It came out in 1994, not long after Arthur Alexander's death, and was releaseed by Razor & Tie.
I've never heard Robert Plant sing with a steel guitar, for one thing.
Who was Arthur Alexander? According to the CD's booklet, he was the guy who made the music the Beatles wanted to imitate, even covering Alexander's "Anna," with John Lennon doing a very cool lead vocal. Our guy Roger McGuinn does "Anna" on the CD, sounding like a cross between the Byrds and the Beatles.
Arthur was a guy out of Alabama who couldn't play an instrument, but would come up with melodies and lyrics in his head, and have them transcribed by musician friends--Greg Trooper's producer, Dan Penn, was one of them.
Unfortunately, Arthur, despite recording a number of charted records, never got the money or recognition he deserved. "I first heard the song 'Anna' on The Early Beatles album and loved it," Roger McGuinn is quoted as saying in the CD booklet. "It was clear that Arthur was a strong influence on John Lennon's singing, not just in that song, but in many others that The Beatles performed."
Arthur Alexander was on his way to a comeback when he died in the early 1990s.
So keep your eyes open when you go into those dollar stores. You might just find gold.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Her debut CD, "Silver City," has been one of the hottest CDs on the Americana charts for months.
She was kind enough to answer a few questions via email recently.
Steve the Emcee: Your CD "Silver City" seemed to come out of nowhere and raced up the Americana radio charts. I was chatting with your father at your show at the Narrows and asked him "What made it a success?" He said something to the effect that you've been working hard for 10 years. That may be true, but a lot of people work that hard and never see the success you've seen. What was it about "Silver City" that you think made the difference for radio programmers?
Sarah: I think there are a lot of different types of songs on the record, so we've been able to appeal to different radio listeners: country, rock, pop. The music also is a little left of center for some of those genres, so hopefully it's kind of refreshing to them.
Steve the Emcee: Your song "I'm Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song," reminded me that you seem to live within each song while you're performing it onstage. Isn't that exhausting?
Sarah: We definitely try to give a high-energy performance every time, and some of the songs are emotionally tiring, so yes, at the end we all need a good rest. But it's a good kind of tired, the kind you get after a job well done, like running and winning a marathon.
Steve the Emcee: Tell us how you connected with your record label, Blue Corn Music. You're in Massachusetts; they're in Texas.
Sarah:We had a couple of mutual acquaintances, so I had been corresponding with Denby Auble, the owner. I sent some rough mixes of songs from the record and he liked them, so I sent him some more. Then he came up to Boston to see us and we did our thing onstage, and that kind of sealed it.
Steve the Emcee: You've been traveling beyond Massachusetts performing. Are you using the same band, or do you have "regional bands" so you don't have to keep a band fed and housed while you're touring?
Sarah: We use the same guys as a rule. Every once in a while we have a sub or a different configuration, but the guys in the band have all had a role in how the songs have developed, so they're all really important to what we do. We also all enjoy each other's company, and it shows onstage.
Steve the Emcee: You're a high energy performer. I've never seen you solo. How is your performance approach different?
Sarah: I try to still keep the same intensity. There's a lot more room to play around with the dynamics because it's just me controlling them, and sometimes it's easier to interact with the audience because I don't have a band, and I'm really trying to engage them as a more active part of the performance.
Steve the Emcee: Your CD has a lot of angst on it. Do you have a lot of angst in your life, or are you more happy-go-lucky?
Sarah: I think I definitely live inside my own head more than people. I'm surprised I don't have ulcers from all of the worrying I do, but I've been that way my whole life. I wouldn't consider my life to be more full of angst than anybody else's though, I probably just think about it more.
Steve the Emcee: Your dad, and I think your mom, was at your show at the Narrows. Are they musicians, and how understanding have they been through the turmoils musicians usually experience?
Sarah: They're both very supportive of what I do and always have been. They tell everyone they know about me and my record, and drag them to shows all the time. They of course have the normal concerns about having money and a stable job, but I think they understand that I'd be pretty miserable working in an office for the rest of my life.
Steve the Emcee: What instruments do you play?
Sarah: I play guitar and sing and some piano and am able to bang some sort of tune out of assorted other things.
Steve the Emcee: How have the sales been on "Silver City?" Is great radio chart positioning translating into great CD sales?
Sarah: CD sales for people with records like mine aren't on the scale of Eminem or Aerosmith. It's just a different animal. We consistently sell records in cities we play in, and we usually sell a bunch at shows. The radio play has certainly helped, but sometimes it's more indirect, like "I heard your song on the radio so I came to the show and now I want to buy a record. "
Steve the Emcee: Other than the Narrows, what are some of your favorite performance venues and why?
Sarah: I really like to play in places that are old or have history. Having just come back from Texas, I really liked playing at Gruene Hall, this place that's been around since the 1800's and is just a big wooden room with open sides and benches for sitting. People dance like crazy, and if you get too hot you can go jump in the river that's next to it.We also just played at the Sanders Theater at Harvard University, and it's like a church. The acoustics are amazing, and you can't help but play well because it's such an inspiring place.
Steve the Emcee: Are you working on your next CD? If so, when do you expect to release it?
Sarah: I'm starting to write songs for it, and some of the songs that didn't make it onto "Silver City" might find their way onto it. I'm not sure when it will come out, we've still got a lot of touring left to do on this one.
Steve the Emcee: What CDs are you recommending to others? What are you listening to?
Sarah: I'm loving the new John Doe record "Forever Hasn't Happened Yet." His old band, X, is one of my all-time favorite bands, and this is the kind of record I'd like to make at some point. Phil Lee's "Mighty King of Love" is also so good. He's an example of somebody who everyone should have heard of but nobody has. Every song on that record is one that I wish I'd written.