Monday, December 31, 2007

Singing the Unsung

John Paul Viveiros used to roadie around the area for years. These days he's a volunteer roadie at the Narrows.

That means he specializes in the equipment load in and load out--behind the scenes, thankless tasks that sometimes hurt! (Ever have an amp land on your toe?) In the photo, that's J.P. up on the loading dock getting handed something-or-other from yackety sax player Doug James, of Duke Robillard's band, hours before the show. John Paul, as usual, is smiling.

J.P., as he is know, also often works the door and is available for other tasks--all for the love of the music.

So on this last day of 2007 let's give a salute to one of the Narrows' unsung heroes!

Thanks John Paul!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Achy Breaky Stuntmen

In addition to their high powered yet tuneful sound, the Drunk Stuntmen always are interested in providing a good visual for the fans. And that's what they did Friday night at the Narrows.

One of their devoted followers helped out with this one, bringing the spirit of the "mulleted-one" onto the stage.

Nonetheless, the Stuntmen got serious in all their wildness, putting out some solid sounds. They're no doubt psyched up about their new record coming out in March. It was produced by R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Thursday night Alejandro Escovedo, above with his terrific sideguy, pushed back the post-Christmas blues with his energy and creativity. It was the opening of the winter season at the Narrows Center for the Arts after a few weeks off so we could get to know our friends and families again.

Jeffrey Foucault, below, was the opener.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mavis Staples Coming to the Narrows

Great new shows for the late winter and early spring, anchored by--for the first time ever--the phenomenal Mavis Staples! That's her in the photo. 2008 is looking great at the Narrows.

March 8
Coco Montoya

He learned the electric blues guitar from Albert Collins while playing drums in his band. John Mayall recruited him for his newly re-formed Bluesbreakers, filling the spot once held by the likes of Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor. "In a world of blues guitar pretenders, Coco Montoya is the real McCoy. Be prepared to get scorched," says Billboard.

$20, $23

March 22
Catherine Russell

A jazz and blues singer, the Village Voice has called her "incredibly talented and classy." Talk about a solid foundation: Her dad was Louis Armstrong's music director; her mom is a bassist and singer who has performed with Mary Lou Williams and Wynton Marsalis. To give you a better feel for her work, here are some of her gigs before playing the Narrows: the Panama Jazz Festival (Republic of Panama, where her dad was born); opening for the Levon Helm Band in Woodstock; several dates as part of the American Beauty Project, a tribute to the Grateful Dead, featuring Ollabelle and Jim Lauderdale; and a performance for the Mountain Stage Radio Show. Her new album was recorded at the Levon Helms Studios in Woodstock and will be released shortly before she plays the Narrows.

$18 , $20

May 17
Mavis Staples

She's a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and VH1's Greatest Women of Rock and Roll. She was a member of the Staple Singers, who had two #1 singles, "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again." During the 1960s the group was the spiritual and musical voice of the civil rights movement, and were closely associated with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over the years, Ms. Staples has worked as a solo performer, recording her own albums and working with Bob Dylan (a Grammy nomination for her duet with him on the song "Gotta Change My Way of Thinking"), Prince, The Band, Ray Charles, Delbert McClinton, Natalie Merchant, George Jones, and others. Whew!!

$50, $55
To purchase tickets, visit
At this writing, the shows aren't on the official schedule, so you may have to check back in a day or so.

Lafave, Young, Greencards & Borges Get Top Spins has released its top 100 radio spins in 2007 list--and we're proud to say that Narrows' alums Jimmy Lafave, the Greencards, Adrienne Young (on the right playing the Narrows in 2006) and Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles made the top 20. Other Narrows alums, including Eilen Jewell and the Holmes Brothers, made it onto the overall list.

Here's the top twenty, artist and album name:

1) Lucinda Williams, West

2) Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger

3) Kelly Willis, Translated From Love

4) Son Volt, The Search

5) Patty Griffin, Children Running Through

6) Marty Stuart, Compadres: An Anthology of Duets

7) Jay Boy Adams, The Shoe Box

8) Joe Ely, Happy Songs From Rattlesnake Gulch

9) Subdudes, Street Symphony

10) Gurf Morlix, Diamonds To Dust

11) Jimmy LaFave, Cimarron Manifesto

12) Various Artists, Endless Highway The Music Of The Band

13) Greencards, Viridian

14) Adrienne Young, Room To Grow

15) Joan Osborne,Pretty Little Stranger

16) Sarah Borges And The Broken Singles, Diamonds In The Dark

17) Sunny Sweeney, Heartbreakers Hall Of Fame

18) Steve Earle, Washington Square Serenade

19) Old Crow Medicine Show, Big Iron World

20) Doug Spartz, The One Who's Leavin'
For the complete list, including exactly how many spins each got, click here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Narrows Wins Big At Boston Music Awards

Well, not exactly--but Narrows' artists did quite well at the event, held December 1 (your humble blogger is a few weeks behind the times).

As mentioned earlier on this blog, Lori McKenna got album of the year for "Unglamorous." That was in the major label category.

Best local male vocalist was a guy we hosted just once, if I'm not mistaken: Ryan Montbleau.

Did I mention Sarah Borges received the best local female vocalist?

Our guy Chris Smither received the outstanding folk act of the year award and Josh Ritter received the outstanding singer/songwriter of the year award.

The complete list can be found here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Top Americana/Folk/Jazz CDs of 2007

Well, well,'s time to gather around your Backstage Blogger to discuss the best Americana/folk CDs of 2007--or whatever you call the music we normally feature at the Narrows. We should include jazz, jam, etc. as well--and I don't know what you call the music made by the likes of Rasputina.

The CDs don't have to be by artists who have played the Narrows, though some may be.

For example, one of my favorites is Bruce Springsteen's latest "Magic." I'm not wild about the production, but it sure is a nice kick-in-your-face presentation. Great songs, great playing. The compression, or whatever you call it, is too squashed for these furry ears.

I kinda like the Eagles' latest, though as time goes on I'm not so sure. Not as interesting to me at least.

The Holmes Brothers' "State of Grace" CD was certainly a highlight, as they transformed Cheap Trick's lecherous "I Want You to Want Me" into a gospel number (!!), and interpreted tunes from folks like John Fogarty ("Bad Moon Rising") and Nick Lowe ("What So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding"). particulary took note of the Cheap Trick cover.

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles released "Diamonds in the Dark" in 2007. "Open Up Your Backdoor," a fun, audience-participation song during their concerts, is one of the best tracks, but garage-bandy "Stop and Think It Over" is the hit for your humble Backstage Blogger, an unabashed Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles fan. It was the major label (Sugar Hill) debut for Sarah and the fellows.

Narrows alum--and now would-be country star with the help of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw--Lori McKenna put out a compelling record called "Unglamorous" in 2007 on Warner Brothers. Not sure if it made her a C & W star at this point (though she won "Album of the Year" in the Boston Music Awards), but still an excellent outing and worth a listen. She knows how to write a tune! As you may know, she lives up in Stoughton, MA with her husband Gene and five kids. We have hosted her only once, if memory serves, a few years back. Nice woman and a great talent.

Although the record came out in 2006, let's give a tip-0f-the-hat to Cassandre McKinley, a Boston-based jazz chanteuse, for her "Til Tomorrow" CD, a tribute to Marvin Gaye. Her website isn't up and running, but here's a link to a review of her recording. Cassandre played the 2007 Narrows Festival of the Arts, and your blogger never listened to "Til Tomorrow" until 2007. By the way, her cover of the Beatles "Yesterday" (which apparently Marvin Gaye recorded as well) is worth the price of admission. Her partnership with Brad Hatfield (she and Brad did the arrangements, and Brad plays keyboards on the record) works well, and your Backstage Blogger hopes it continues., for which your blogger used to write reviews, has polled its writers for their Top Ten. See their stuff here. Some of the Narrows alums making their lists are Eilen Jewell, the Avett Brothers, Mary Gauthier, Uncle Earl, Grace Potter, John Gorka and Jim Lauderdale.

Leave your fave CD list in the comments section.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Learn More About Old School Freight Train

Old School Freight Train, an extremely creative bluegrass-based type group, is once again coming to the Narrows--this time Friday, January 11.

(Your humble Backstage Blogger doesn't know how tickets are going, but chances are getting entrance should be no problemo for this show. Visit

These young guys are absolutely brilliant players and know how to entertain as well. But because they're young they're still in the audience-building phase, which is why I urge that you take the time to learn more about them and consider coming to the show. Your humble Backstage Blogger has proclaimed this show a "lock"--using a sports term indicating a sure thing.

Don't just look at the schedule and say "don't know 'em" and move on. If you dig the David Grisman jazz/bluegrass thing (he's a fan of theirs, btw) then you are almost required to learn more. These are your guys.

But your humble blogger must point out that these guys are SONG GUYS. Some great instrumentalists are so into riffing that they (to kinda quote Chuck Berry), they lose the beauty of the melody. Not Old School Freight Train.

Okay, enough blathering from yours truly. Check out this write up on jambase.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ben's List

Rasputina: Gothic but rockin' says Ben

You've heard of Craig's List? It's time for Ben's List for 2007.

Ben Norton, still in grade school, is one of the youngest volunteers at the Narrows. Nonetheless, since he's been growing up at the Narrows, his musical sophistication is well beyond his years.

Without further ado, here's the word from Ben:

In no particular order!

Rasputina--Gothic but rockin'.

Sarah Borges and Broken Singles--Good as usual.

Drunk Stuntmen--Drunk as usual (Note from your Backstage Blogger: Ben is just goofing here. At least I think he is!)

Old School Freight Train--Cool cats.

Tripping Lily--Local but good! (Note from your Backstage Blogger: Ben is apparently cleverly alluding to the misconception that if you're local, you can't be good--which as we all know, including Ben, is not true.)

Richie Havens--Awesome.

New Riders of the Purple Sage--Good show.

Holmes Brothers--Poppy is funny! Shout out to him. (Note from your Backstage Blogger: Hey Poppy! We're shoutin' out to you!)

The John Cowan Band--Great musicians.

Buckwheat Zydeco--He has cool alligator shoes.

l also liked: Henry Butler

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Not yet posted on

February 1
Rosalie Sorrels

Gonzo dude Hunter Thompson and folklore guy Studs Terkel wrote liner notes for some of her albums. As part of its Beat Generation Archives, the University of California set up a Rosalie Sorrels Archive. Etc. etc. etc. She's a folk icon and we're truly honored to have her perform. Don't know her? Check out her website and meet her--and learn a bit about America too:

$20, $23

February 2
Eilen Jewell

We first met her as an opening act; now her music is popular on Americana radio stations across the USA. She's gotta a kinda lazy, sexy, western swingy kind of voice and a cookin' band. And she knows how to write a tune. Give a listen to this young woman!

$15, $17

Feb 23

The Boston Globe's Steve Morse described Entrain as "like a lively summit conference between the Dave Matthews Band and Little Feat.” Says it all.

$15, $17

March 29

A strange name, perhaps, but these are serious young musicians who are classically trained, and play all sorts of guitars, banjo and mandolin to make what has been called a folk/pop/bluegrass sound.

$15, $17

April 19
Steve Forbert

Yes, he's the "Romeo's Tune" guy. But his career has been much more than that, as those who have seen him previously at the Narrows know firsthand. We particularly dig his version of the Kinks' "Star Struck."

$20, $23

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Guitar Beauty Pageant

Narrows piano tech Andrew Pettey shows off a Gretsch White Falcon worth $2,000+
He's sitting in front of some art from music legend Richie Havens

As you might have heard, the Narrows is holding a guitar auction to raise the dough to keep the music and art humming for many years to come.

A very generous collector donated a bunch of these bad boys to the cause, and you can help yourself and the Narrows by making a bid.

We're featuring just a few of the guitars on this blog. There are many more. Email if you want more info.

Narrows president Patrick Norton shows off a Tom Anderson Atom valued at $2,200+.
He's sitting below a visual art piece by Richie Havens on display in the Narrows' Gallery

Deb Charlebois, queen of the numbers at the Narrows, cradles a USA Parker Fly Mojo worth $1,500+

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Comes to the Narrows

Alison Brown's daughter Hannah sings "California Here I Come" while wild man Joe Craven looks on
Bluegrass/newgrass wonder Alison Brown and her extreeeeeeemly talented group brought the spirit of the season to the Narrows in a big way Saturday night.

Alison was simply brilliant on the banjo and guitar, and her group--featuring fab fiddler Joe Craven (formerly of David Grisman's group--and it showed), as well as Alison's husband Garry West on bass, an unbelievable pianist, and a fantastic drummer--were too. They were fast, tight and entertaining (They even hopped off the stage and played while walking through the aisles). Was it bluegrass? Newgrass? Jazz? Classical? New Age?

Alison and Garry's daughter, Hannah, even got into the act, belting out a rousing version of "California Here I Come." Course, that has nothing to do with Christmas, but a lot of the show did.

This is the first time Alison and her group have played the Narrows, but we hope to get them back soon--at least by next Christmas season! If you were at the show, we'd love for you to leave comments.

By the way (Whew, where did the year go?), Saturday night's show was the Narrows' last before Christmas. We start up our post-Christmas schedule on December 27th.

Alison Brown and Joe Craven coordinate their sound Saturday night at the Narrows

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In Heaven with Havens

Richie Havens with East Providence educator Judy DePerla
The first song he played Friday night was one he asked a friend to write down so he could learn it--but his friend had already made a demo recording so Richie learned it from that and started featuring it in his act. But then another friend, hearing him perform it, wanted him to write down the song so he too could perform it. Well, Richie says, that guy recorded the song and "nailed it," so much so that Richie stopped playing it for a time. The first friend was Bob Dylan. The second: Jimi Henrix. The song: All Along the Watchtower.

It was that kind of night, as Richie Havens brought humor, peace and energy to the Narrows' stage, merrily breaking strings along the way. After the show, Mr. Havens brought "personal heaven" to the fans as he met with as many as he could and posed for pictures.

Narrows prez and chief bottlewasher Patrick Norton and Richie Havens just after the show

Saturday, December 08, 2007

For Those Who Attended the Richie Havens Show

Richie Havens played before another sold-out crowd Friday night at the Narrows. Photos should be posted soon.

But, actually your humble Backstage Blogger is writing to provide further information about a story that Mr. Havens told last night (and I believe has told before; so this may make sense if you've ever seen Richie in concert).

Richie talks about a guy on "muscle beach" in California on his back playing one note on his guitar over and over again. Some guy goes up to him and says something to the effect "Hey man, why are you playing the same note over and over and over again. Can't you play something else?" To which the guy with the guitar replies that "there are a lot of guys on this beach looking for that note."

The guy Richie is talking about is the writer of "Get Together" (a big hit in 1969 for the Youngbloods). His name was Dino Valente. To find out more about him, click here.

R.I.P. Dino.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Top Concerts at the Narrows in 2007

It's getting to be that time of year when people start compiling "best of" lists, even though the year isn't quite over yet.

So, perhaps it would be fun to start listing what you think were the top concerts at the Narrows for 2007. Of course, if you only went to a couple shows, that's kind of tough. But we want to hear from you! My thoughts:

--The Karla Bonoff show, for me, was one of the best ever. And meeting producer/sideguy Kenny Edwards was a personal thrill. Karla's songs and performance were solid, and she had an interesting sense of humor, too.

--The Kim Wilson, Charlie Musselwhite show was another thrill , particularly when J.Geils' guy Magic Dick showed up.

--The John Cowan Band show was also one of the best of the year, although folks may not know who he is. Get to know him!

--I love the Holmes Brothers. Their most recent CD was groundbreaking, as they did a "gospel" version of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me." They got some notice on for this, which was nice.

--Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles continued to surpass expectations. They're just a fun band to watch. They released their first CD on major label Sugar Hill Records, which was cool. They're still "working" the record as we speak. I wouldn't be surprised if they head back into the studio in 2008.

--Did we have the Drunk Stuntmen in 2007? If we did, their show was certainly one of the best. Great energy, songwriting, arrangements, harmonies, musicianship. Always a "lock" for the Backstage Blogger.

--And let's not forget Eilen Jewell either. She continues to grow in popularity across the country. I wouldn't be surprised if she goes back into the studio, or gets signed by Sugar Hill or somebody.

Some of the best news at the Narrows was the soon-to-be-completed installation of an elevator (yaaay), and the guitar auction, which is going on right now. Visit for more info on that.

Leave your favorites and your thoughts in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

David Grisman Quintet Alum Saturday Night

Saturday night's show at the Narrows starring Alison Brown will also feature Joe Craven, who is described thusly by Wikipedia:

"Joe Craven is a bluegrass musician who is known for wearing oversized Hawaiian shirts, playing fiddle, mandolin, and anything that he can get his hands on, such as a mug, a credit card, or a jawbone."

Mr. Craven also spent many years working with David Grisman btw.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Iris Dement: Her Narrows' Debut

Iris Dement started off with one of the Backstage Blogger's favorites, "Sweet Is The Melody," expertly tinkling the ivories to a delighted full house Saturday night at the Narrows.

(Your BSB used to play that tune in coffeehouses on his guitar back in the day.)

Her voice was strong, and she showed a self-deprecating sense of humor. She noted that her husband, Greg Brown, had played the Narrows and said nice things (we like that kind of talk from performers).

Btw, some inside stuff: We almost had to delay the show because we had to call in a piano guy to fix a something-or-other. But the job got done during the break.

Local guy Gary Farias opened the show and quickly had the crowd singing.

If anybody has some photos of Iris at the Narrows to share, please leave info in the comment section.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Backstage Blogger Interviews Richie Havens

Richie Havens' digital artwork is already on display at the Narrows, and he'll be playing our beloved stage on Friday December 7.

Will you be there?

Last I checked, tickets were still available. More info at

In celebration of the return of the wonderful Mr. Havens, we interviewed him about his art, his music, his life.

How does one produce digital art, and how did you become interested in it?
Digital art has been legitimized by the international art world and gives rise to thousands of stylistic approaches to modern artists... The computer as the palate allows many young artists to express themselves in conventional and unconventional ways...The Wacom pen tablet allows one to use a digital stylus to draw with a pencil or a paintbrush/palate knife, etc., directly onto digital surfaces to be printed on canvas, art papers or fabrics. I was fascinated by the different mediums available to me that allowed me to experiment.

As an artist, how does it differ from your painting and sculpting?
I am able to use different programs to prepare and create models so much faster for sculptures I have always wanted to do. As far as painting goes I am able to work with interactive color.

Let's talk music...who are the backing musicians you'll be bringing with you this visit, and how do you feel they add to your sound?
I am traveling with a cellist and a guitarist... 3 of us ... who are in themselves incredible musicians...who are what I call "feelers"... I only know the first two songs I am going to sing and they are able to use their senses to figure out what's coming...Between us we create an organic atmosphere song by song.

You do a cover of the Gary Wright song "Love is Alive," which was a follow up to his hit "Dream Weaver." Why did you choose this song?
I didn't choose. "Love is Alive" was a song I have wanted to do since it came out... It chose me... Any song that stopped me in my tracks was a song I responded to by learning it and sharing it immediately with the audiences I sing to... Those songs educated me on many levels...

You seem to be a very positive individual. Were you always this way, or is it something you developed over the years?

I was always that way, because I was under the impression that we all are a part of the "Great Becoming".. which meant, we are living in the ongoing history of the world we live in...Nothing is finished; we are in the throes of creating this world... Everything man has ever witnessed was a "FIRST"... and we are creating more firsts every day.

What are your future musical and artistic plans?

I feel that I too am in the world of "FIRSTS," so the songs I sing will always reflect the "The Ongoing" and allow me to chronicalize our human story... forever :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tim O'Brien Dirty Linen Cover Guy

Narrows alum Tim O'Brien is the latest cover guy for Dirty Linen magazine. To read an excerpt from the article, click here.

That's Tim, on the foreground right, playing the Narrows in January 2006. On the left is the legendary Danny Barnes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Narrows Alums On Americana Radio Chart

Just checking out the latest Americana radio chart (

The following Narrows alums are either on the chart or are just bubbling under:

Mary Gauthier
Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez
Red Stick Ramblers
Jim Lauderdale (read a review of the recording on by clicking here)
Pieta Brown
Chuck Prophet
Duncan Earl Walters
Peter Mulvey
Ana Egge
John Sebastian

Did I miss anybody?

Some of those and Narrows alum Lori McKenna are on this chart from

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cosmic American Music

Opener Danielle Miraglia and headliner Sarah Borges goof around before the show
Wasn't it Gram Parsons who coined the term Cosmic American Music? If so, Saturday night at the Narrows started perfectly with Gram's group The Flying Burrito Brothers blasting through the speakers, via a new CD from recently discovered recordings, warming up the growing crowd.

From Mississippi John Hurt to original tunes written by a young woman from Taunton, MA, it was Cosmic and American all the way.

The show began with newcomer Danielle Miraglia, out of Revere, MA, expertly plunking the strings and singing the blues.
After a break, it was headliners Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, on the road for much of the year, returning to Sarah's home area for Thanksgiving. The band was tight and loose, energetic and quiet, then punk-rock roaring loud. Their set consisted of originals, covers of old punk songs, and even a Charley Pride number.

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles rip this joint

Savoy Brown's Kim Simmonds "On the Record"

Savoy Brown makes its annual visit to the Narrows this coming Friday. As you may know, Savoy Brown was doing the British blues thing long before it became fab.

Just did an email interview with guitarist/vocalist/leader Kim Simmonds. Here it is:

During your last visit to the Narrows you played with such joy. Is it always fun these days?

The "joy" is always there. It's a blessing. Tough to hold on to if you take it lightly. I try to not make it "work" which this business of being a traveling musician can quickly become. Therefore I take less gigs so that the ones I do play, I can give 1000% to the audience and to the music. I can't give any's the way I'm built.

What recordings are you listening to these days? Any recommendations?

I like listening to the artists I grew up with. All the old blues and rock records are still fresh to me. I like people like Mose Allison and Tony Joe White and Dion and so forth. Older artists that still make great new music. I've been also listening to The Smiths lately which will tell you just how crazy my tastes are!

How about your recording plans?

I'm currently recording my next solo acoustic CD tentatively entitled "Out Of The Blue" for release next May. I have the songs written but now I'm waiting on a special Martin from the Martin factory and also I've been promised a couple of newer Guilds so there will be a guitar shoot out in my studio soon....may the best guitar win.

Solo performing versus playing with a band...any preference? The positives and negatives for each.

I was surprised to hear James Taylor talking of the difficulties of putting on a one man show. I would have thought it was second nature to him. There is a real challenge to standing on stage alone with just an acoustic guitar. I love the challenge. With a band you can relax on stage and just let it happen (if the band is good) can't relax just by yourself. Of course on the upside there is a wonderful solitary vibe that goes along with traveling and playing alone which appeals to the Celt in me.

What kind of gear do you use, and why?

I use Gibson guitars because they give me a beefy sound and one that exemplifies the "UK blues sound" that I am apart of. I was also using Marshall amplifiers for the same reason but recently I've switched to a Dailey amplifier that has much the same characteristics as a Marshall but with hand made components etc.

What's your favorite kind of audience...quiet and attentive, or kind of rowdy, shouting out requests, that kind of thing. The Narrows has both, and in-between.

For solo acoustic performances I like an audience that's not too quiet because then I may get too self conscious. Attentive but responsive I suppose is what I mean. As regards the band shows...I don't mind...quiet is good...boogie loud is also good...crazy maniacal is also good!!! Really, with the band, there is nothing better than a loud, ready for the moment audience.

What are your long-term future plans?

I intend to keep being a traveling musician until I'm.......really old. It keeps me healthy and inspired. I also draw and paint every day at home (as well as practice the guitar) so even if I wasn't a professional I would still do those things. More and more I am grateful for the ability and blessing that have made me able to make a living at doing what others consider a hobby.
I will continue to record band and solo records and with luck, I intend to live to a ripe old age!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Narrows Newgrass

Newgrass banjo-man Tony Trischka brought his virtuosity to the Narrows Friday night. Part of his "Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular" tour.

And Opening for Sarah Borges Saturday Is....

photo by Claire Folger

Opening for Sarah Borges Saturday night is a new face to the Narrows: Danielle Miraglia, out of Boston way.

Your BSB has never seen or heard her, but let's see what others are saying:

From Jon Sobel, "Danielle Miraglia's country/folk/blues sound descends in large part from Mississippi John Hurt, and she is a worthy carrier of that guitar-picking tradition. Her voice, reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt's, is strong but vulnerable, feminine but never precious, with a gutwrenching catch to it..."
From the Patriot Ledger: "Her husky alto is both engaging and world-weary."
From Performing Songwriter:"Folk fans in the Northeast are already hip to the talents of Danielle Miraglia, and with her latest release, Nothing Romantic, it won’t be long before the rest of the country takes notice as well."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Best Music Magazines and Websites

Your humble BSB has been thinking about reading material recently, as happens when he has a few days off from his day job.

What do you read in terms of music publications? Not necessarily folk/Americana music, but also in general. Here are my thoughts on a few publications and websites. Love to get your thoughts, too.

Rolling Stone--Still the grandaddy of them all in my opinion, and is pretty good. Of course the magazine is geared for folks younger than the BSB, but it's still a good way to take the pulse of the nation. Plus, for all you political folks, it's as lefty as ever. Not enough coverage of the folk/Americana scene (pretty much none), but we're an elitist group anyway.

No Depression--A folk/Americana magazine that drives the BSB nuts with its refusal to follow standard American punctuation. (Message to No Depression editors: In the USA, the period always goes inside the quotation mark.) Other than that, it's pretty much the bible for the kind of music we feature at the Narrows. The articles are way too long for me though. (Message to No Depression editors: Leave the best and cut the rest.) I like to read the advertisements, too, because they're often about upcoming releases. Great reading for the treadmill!

Dirty Linen--Another folk/Americana magazine. I don't receive this in the mail at this time, but I used to read it every now and then after purchasing it at the newstand. Pretty good, but No Depression is better. Update 11/23/07: Disclosure: Dirty Linen once gave me a positive review for a CD I co-produced and had a track on.

Blender--This is a guilty pleasure. It doesn't look like it would be a good magazine for us elitists, but it has more coverage of stuff we're interested in than you might imagine. Yes, yes lot's of hip-hop, but also indie rock, which is not far from folk/Americana. The latest issue has Jay-Z on the cover (I wasn't exactly sure who he is), but also a listing of the 100 greatest indie-rock albums of all time. Hmm, let's see....the #1 album is "Slanted and Enchanted" by Pavement; #7 "The Velvet Underground" by the VU, an album that featured "Pale Blue Eyes"; #21 is "The Modern Lovers" by Massachusetts guy Jonathan Richman & his crew; #30 is Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"; #97 is "Rock 'n' Roll" from Narrows alums The Mekons; you get the picture. Overall a fun magazine, unless you're so elitist that only something sanctioned by NPR will do. site does the sanctioning. Great cross-section of musical genres. I don't read this enough. Maybe I'll make a vow in the New Year to do so. Currently features an interview with Narrows alum Eric Anderson.

Revolver--okay, this is a metal magazine that has an approach way below my personal standards. But--if you have any interest in the metal scene, this is pretty good. It has surprisingly good interviews mixed in with the stupid stuff. And its CD reviews are interesting. If your life is way too serious, this may be the magazine for you! I think it's fun to read about various musical genres, and this is my way of staying in touch with metal. Now, I just need to get magazines on jazz, classical and hip-hop and I'll be all set! online magazine I check regularly. Not enough content, but it's quality stuff worth a look every week. Made to order for the Narrows' audience. of like Blender, except on-line. A musician in one of the groups playing the Narrows made me aware of this site. Worth a visit every couple days. Occasional coverage of folk/Americana artists. became aware of this after it was referred to by Narrows alum Sarah Borges (Sarah is playing the Narrows Saturday night). Haven't spent much time on this site, but it looks like a nice mixture of music genres. I should read this more often. rarely look at, but a friend says it's a quick way to follow the music trends, if you care. I do care, so I'm going to look at this one more.'ve written many reviews for this site, so I'm partial. It's the most ambitious on-line Americana magazine that I've found, featuring podcasts, reviews and interviews. It comes out of San Antonio, Texas so it seems to have a slant for the Lone Star State at times, but that's fine with me. When I wrote for it, I provided a Northerner viewpoint. They're constantly revamping the site, trying to make it better, so if you haven't visited in awhile you'll notice a different look. Their reviewers are all volunteers, by the way, so they may be looking for somebody who can write who digs the music. of the important magazines for the world of radio. It does have sections about Americana and Triple A (Triple A is the format for WBOS in Boston; open to folkie/Americana stuff, but not really hardcore). weekly chart about who's getting the airplay in the folk/Americana scene. These are the Narrows' folks! Btw, according to musicians I've spoken with, being successful on this chart doesn't mean you can afford to buy a new car. is for Boston's WUMB radio, an important station to us folks at the Narrows. You must visit this site! I even set up a link (I'm too lazy to do this for every entry). I particularly like to read the playlist archives to see which Narrows' artist is getting the most airplay. important radio publication that is worth checking out, particularly to learn about new releases. Doesn't really cover folk/Americana but does venture into this territory in its writing about the Triple A format. critical for those of us who care about charts. Its charts are based on sales, so it's a good way to take the pulse of the nation. The Eagles and Led Zeppelin are in the top ten in terms of album sales this week, btw. All is not lost! Now if we could only get Tim O'Brien, Sarah Borges, Eilen Jewell, Richie Haven and other Narrows' alums on the chart, then the world would be a much kinder place!

Did I miss anything? Please leave your suggestions in the comments area.

Happy T-Day. Hope to see you Friday night at the Tony Trischka show.

Update 11/23/07: I ran into a guy who suggested and

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dar Williams on Concert TV/Thoughts on Jools Holland

Your humble BSB was perusing the free on-demand stuff on Comcast when I came upon a notice that Narrows alum Dar Williams is featured on in November.

At this writing, haven't seen the show, but it's apparently from Ms. Williams' new DVD of a performance at the Bearsville Theater.

It's probably on Cox as well, since they also carry

If you see the show, please leave a review in the comments section.
Btw, I've watched those Jools Holland music shows on cable. While I know I should like this rather unconventional program, since it features a kind of round-robin of major artists (Kinks, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Tom Petty and many others), I am now declaring it nearly unwatchable. It's very much for a UK audience and I find the much-celebrated Jools nearly incomprehensible when he speaks. It was interesting; now it's annoying. Plus the shows seem to be at least a decade old.
Am I wrong?

Josh Ritter: Somewhere in the UK

I happened to be perusing when I came across a write up by a UK mogger, as it were, about a Josh Ritter show apparently in the UK (I didn't see a mention where).

The celebrated Josh Ritter, as you probably guessed, is a Narrows alum.

Without further ado, here's the concert review.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fotos: Greencards and Tripping Lily

Thanks to Herb T. for stepping up to the plate and emailing some photos in from Saturday night's show starring the Greencards with openers Tripping Lily. Your humble Backstage Blogger forgot his camera.

A couple of the Greencards up top, and pretty much all of Tripping Lily down below.

Nice to see young 'uns making roots music, huh?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Featurette on Eliza Gilkyson

Came across a little featurette on Narrows alum Eliza Gilkyson on

She's played the Narrows a time or two but is not on our current schedule.

Of course that changes all the time.

For all you oldies fans, her dad Terry wrote "Greenfields," which I think was a hit for the Brothers 4 or somebody. He also wrote "The Bare Necessities" for Disney.

Anyway, the feature on Eliza is here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Random Ramblings from Your Backstage Blogger

Your humble Backstage Blogger, aka BSB, has been nosing around a bit, looking for scraps of info to pass along to the readers.

Here we go:

  • The guitar auction benefiting the Narrows should begin on Wednesday on Ebay. A wonderful benefactor has donated many beautiful guitars for this auction, which is likely already creating a buzzzzzz among guitar aficionados. If you've attended a Narrows' concert recently you may have picked up the flyer so you can purchase a guitar at the minimum bid price. Keep an eye on, the Narrows website, for more information over the next 48 hours or so.

  • While your BSB missed the Friday night show with Donna Jean, formerly of the Dead, I did emcee the Greencards' show on Saturday night. Good crowd showed for the first-time appearance of this highly acclaimed Aussie/Brit roots ensemble. The opener was a Cape Cod group of youngsters called Tripping Lily, who charmed the audience with their songs and personalities. Both the Greencards and Tripping Lily look to be folks in their twenties, more or less. It's great to see that today's roots movement is being driven by young musicians (Think of Ollabelle, Uncle Earl, the Mammals--all kids in the eyes of your BSB).

  • But the old guys (and women) get the job done too. Tony Trischka, coming to the Narrows on Friday, has a terrific new CD out this year. Your humble BSB has toiled at his real job with "Tony Trischka's Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular" on the CD player a time or two. Very tasty stuff. Your BSB believes one doesn't have to be a bluegrass fan to dig it.

  • Parking for a visit to the Narrows is usually not a big deal. It was a bit challenging on Saturday night because--we hear from a reliable source--that our friends at the Battleship Massachusetts held a sleep-over on the Battleship for youngsters.

  • Don't forget the elevator fund. Last I checked we raised about $15,000 for the $40,000 last-stage-of-the-project. Go to for more info.

  • New suggestion: If you bring it in, please take it with you. A member of the audience suggested this awhile ago. If you bring bottles etc. to the Narrows, kindly take them with you for final disposal. You don't have to--we have trash barrels etc. But, remember, clean up (and everything else except for the music and art) is performed by volunteers.

  • Our buddies Louie Leeman and Cheap Sneakers are opening for Savoy Brown in the final hours of November. Make sure you arrive early enough to catch Louie and the crew. Solid musicians who know how to entertain. Special salute to the group for helping your BSB at a charitable event put on by the Providence Rotary back in September.

  • From our "Would Hank Have Done It This Way?" Department--Bob Dylan, Jack White and others have put music behind Hank Williams Sr. lyric sheets that may have been with the Hankster when the 29-year-old "stepped on a rainbow" (as Kinky Friedman would put it) more or less on January 1, 1953 in the back of a Caddy. More info from Paste magazine.

  • Nice to see Kinky on Robert McNeil's "Do You Speak American?" on PBS. Kinky was on a segment about talk deep in the heart of Texas. Btw, I notice some people call Robert "Robin." Anybody know what's up with that?

  • A belated farewell to Porter Wagoner, who died recently. He never got the respect he deserved from us hipsters until the very end of his life. We elites embraced his last CD which came out earlier this year. Your BSB has yet to get an earful, though. It's called "Wagonmaster." When your humble BSB was growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Wagoner's show used to come on to the TV. We, of course, got up from our chairs and changed the channel. Mostly because he dressed in rhinestone outfits and slicked his hair back in a rather odd way to our eyes. Porter, btw, helped make Dolly Parton a star.

  • Speaking of opening acts, don't miss Mark T. Small opening for Johnny Winter in January at the Narrows. He puts on an energetic show and is very swift with his fingers on the fretboard.

  • Wanna work off the turkey and stuffings? Come to the Sarah Borges show Saturday after T-Day. An energetic time is guaranteed for all!

That's it for now. Hope to post some photos from the Greencards show soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eilen Jewell Releases EP

It's already starting to get added onto Americana format radio stations across the nation: A 5-song EP from Narrows' fave Eilen Jewell called Heartache Boulevard. Her most recent full-album release, by the way, Letters from Sinners and Strangers, did extremely well on the Americana chart.
For more info about the EP, click here.

Donna Jean Musical Photo Montage

This Friday Donna Jean and the Tricksters come to the Narrows for their--kind of--2nd visit.

Donna Jean, formerly of The Grateful Dead (and a back-up singer for Elvis), came to these shores awhile back with a different band set-up.

Interesting factoid: Donna Jean sang back up on Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman."

Anyway, a nice fan put together a musical photo montage of Donna and the group. Might be a nice way to get a feel for what they do, if you're unfamiliar.

Click here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Crooked Still Worth A Mil

Saturday night the Narrows welcomed roots youngsters Crooked Still for the first time.

It was a packed house, maybe a sell-out, which we were surprised at since the group really hadn't worked the area much, other than playing at Summerfest in New Bedford a couple years back.

But Crooked Still showed why a lot of the crowd was willing to travel from Boston--some even attending the group's show the preceding night in Beantown--to hear them play.

They were charming, funny and experts at their instruments. Most of all the evening was just good-old-fashioned entertainment, roots-music style.
Some Crooked Still news: their fab cellist(above, left)--the only string player to ever get a full scholarship from Berklee College of Music--is leaving to focus on another project. So the group is being re-configured over the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cowtown's Elana Returns/So Do New Riders

Not yet posted:

January 12
Elana James

This show is a lock! Guaranteed to warm up a January evening. Violinist Elana was in the fabled string jazz group "Hot Club for Cowtown" that played the Narrows and toured with Dylan. Is it folk? Is it jazz? Is it Western Swing? The answer is: yes, all those and more.

$18, $20

January 25
Bettye LaVette

USA Today says "LaVette's chill-inducing performance is without question one of the finest you'll hear all year." She's recognized as one of the finest soul singers. Learn more by going to her website: By the way, we've spelled her first name correctly. It is Bettye.

$22, $25

January 26
Roots of Creation

Jam banders unafraid to let their freak flag fly as they boogie through all sorts of funky rhythms. Every time we have these folks in, we love them even more.

$10, $12

February 8
New Riders of the Purple Sage

A seminal country rock band that used to be a Jerry Garcia side-project. Get your tickets early for these psychedelic space cowboys!

$25, $28

Sheryl Crow Album Due Out In February

Sheryl Crow has a new album coming out in February. While Sheryl has never played the Narrows, we know there are Sheryl fans who go to our shows.

A musician on one of her albums, Jay Bennett, has performed at the Narrows. He used to be in Wilco.

More on Ms. Crow's stuff here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Death in the Family

As you may have heard, tonight's show with Iris Dement has been moved to December 1.

The word is there was a death in her family.

Our condolences to her and her family. We look forward to seeing her December 1.

For more info regarding tickets, please visit

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Eagles Whip Britney Spears (On the Chart)

Yes, they're only selling it at Wal-Mart, but The Eagles latest CD "Long Road Out of Eden" is pretty darn likeable. Some of your Backstage Blogger's friends refuse to go into Wal-Mart--but your blogger dares to venture where many will not in pursuit of music.

Quick story: I'm in Wal-Mart looking for the CD, which wasn't in the regular location for CDs from The Eagles. So I bump into a gentleman who asks "You looking for the new Eagles' CD? Me too."

Together, almost arm-in-arm, we paraded around the Wal-Mart in Seekonk until we--aha!--came upon a special display. My feelings that I had found a kindred spirit, however, were shattered when the guy asks "Do you like Chicago, too?"

Being the snob I am I, of course, replied, "I liked their early stuff, when Terry Kath played guitar for them." (Kath lost his life in an apparent accident with a gun early in Chicago's career.)

By the way (and the real reason for this blog entry): The Eagles beat out Britney Spears on the latest Billboard chart. Details here.

What your very humble Backstage Blogger wants to know: wasn't Britney's career pretty much over for now?

Maybe Britney is smarter than we think.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ex-Ramones Manager Murdered

The news continues to be sad from the Ramones' camp...their ex-manager, who went on to a prolific career as a real estate agent "to the stars," apparently was murdered.

Interesting life, interesting career. Tragic end.

More here from Newsday.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

1949 Woody Guthrie Performance Now Available

The Guthrie Archive has released a 1949 performance of Woody Guthrie, father of Arlo, grandfather of Narrows alum Sara Lee Guthrie, role model for Bob Dylan, and composer of "This Land is Your Land" among many other tunes.

To see the write up by the Guthrie folks go here.

To read a review that is somewhat critical of the release, click here.

IWAY Opening Cuts Travel Time to Narrows

The long-awaited opening of the eastbound IWay took place today.

In short, it means folks traveling 95N to 195E to, of course, the Narrows from south of downtown Providence will be shaving some time from their trip.

Your humble blogger traveled the new ramp and bridge today to get a firsthand look.

Currently, it's only for the eastbound hookup to route 195.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

New England Bluegrassers Make Narrows Debut

Not yet in the schedule, but here on this very humble blog:

January 10
Judith Owen
British folk-rock guru Richard Thompson was so impressed by this Welsh folk-jazz chanteuse and songwriter that he invited her to perform on his tour, “1000 Years of Popular Music.” She's gotten rave reviews from the New York Times, the Boston Globe and others, and has performed on The Today Show. And she's married to funny guy Harry Shearer, with whom she's performed as well.

$13, $15

Feb 9
Eric Lindell
The Washington Post calls him "a rock-'n'-soul man in the tradition of Van Morrison and Southside Johnny but with a twist: Lindell has spent the past seven years in New Orleans." Learn more at

$15, $17

April 5
Northern Lights
If you've followed the bluegrass scene over the past 30 years, you've heard of this group, which has received widespread recognition across the nation--even recording with Alison Krauss and Peter Rowan! Learn their history and who's in their latest version by visiting their website

$15, $17

Friday, November 02, 2007

Vote In The Boston Music Awards

Narrows faves Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles and The Slip are up for Boston Music Awards, along with Narrows alum (she played at the Narrows just once we think) Lori McKenna, who had her major label debut this year, thanks to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Anyway, there are a bunch of categories, including metal (your humble blogger digs Killswitch Engage), and YOU can vote.

We, of course, urge you to support Sarah and her crew, The Slip and Lori McKenna (one of the good folks who has worked many years for her success).

Don't know why Narrows-most-recent-discovery Eilen Jewell wasn't nominated, since her latest CD did extremely well on the national Americana chart.

For more click here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Eagles' CD Brings Back 70s' California Cool

Your humble blogger picked up the Eagles new CD--their first full studio recording in nearly three decades--at Walmart, which is the exclusive distributor at this point at least. It became available on Tuesday.

If you enjoy the Eagles laid back, kinda out-in-the-desert sound, this CD won't disappoint. Trademark harmonies and a country rock feel abound.

Read more from Rolling Stone here.

Priest Co-Wrote "Hello Mary Lou"

If you're an oldies fan, you're probably familiar with Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou."

Did you know that a Dominican priest has a co-composer credit along with Gene Pitney?

Details here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

California Guitar Trio

While the Red Sox were doing their thing in the World Series, the California Guitar Trio were doing their thing--fabulous guitar virtuosity--at the Narrows on Saturday night.

These guys are graduates of Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists (coming this Friday), and showed that they must have graduated with "straight A's" as they wowed the crowd with intricate melodies and complex musical interplay among the three guitarists.

Above is a photo of them closing the show with a beautiful instrumental version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

If you missed this show, be sure to catch them the next time--especially if you have any interest in fine guitar work.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Guitar Auction to Benefit Narrows

In just a few days, the Narrows will have its first-ever guitar auction. Details will be up on in early November.

Proceeds will benefit the Narrows, of course.

Minimum bids range from $300 to $7,500, according to info provided today to your humble blogger.

Guitars were generously provided by Matthew Brown, a guitar collector living in Europe.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Porter Wagoner Battles Lung Cancer

Longtime country star Porter Wagoner, who released a critically acclaimed CD in 2007, is battling lung cancer.

He's also known by we folkie/Americana types for fostering the career of Dolly Parton, who--despite her "over the top" image--is a talented songwriter and musician now celebrated in the folk/Americana community.

For more info on this story, click here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jug Band Music Movie Featuring Narrows' Fave

A movie called "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" recently debuted at the Woodstock Film Festival.

It's a history of jug band music, and features Narrows alums John Sebastian (pictured), Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite, and Paul Rishell and Annie Raines. Also featured: Bob Weir and David Grisman.
Learn more here.

The Artwork of Richie Havens

Narrows fave Richie Havens will be performing at the Narrows in December, but his artwork will arrive about a month before his appearance and be displayed in our gallery.

To see more of his artwork, click here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Escovedo Returns Right After Christmas

Here's a new addition to our schedule:

December 27
Alejandro Escovedo

Escovedo's acclaimed 7th album, The Boxing Mirror (produced by Velvet Underground guy John Cale, who has produced Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman and others) finds the artist mixing rock 'n' roll, pop-rock, Mexican-American and more as the songs trace his recovery from severe illness. Rolling Stone critic David Fricke has asked "What does it take to make this man a star?" He's already that for many of us. Visit

$20, $23

Friday, October 19, 2007

Du Cafe?

Beausoleil is the first group your humble blogger ever worked with that had a coffee urn in the dressing room. The smell of fresh-brewed coffee filled the Friday night air--a nice change!
They mentioned that they had a rather enjoyable dinner at a local restaurant just before the show, so perhaps they wanted to make sure that the great food didn't make them feel too content.
And judging from the dancing, the coffee did the trick!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Timber & Nails

Mary Ann Rossoni is an incredibly dedicated songwriter. Your humble blogger goes way back with her, playing coffee houses and sitting in on songwriting critique sessions with her.

Nobody respects the song more than Mary Ann, and nobody respects the fact that songwriting is more than inspiration--it's a craft, like woodworking or acting, that requires the honing of skills.

Mary Ann has been unafraid to workshop her songs with other songwriters, listening to their praise and criticism and acting accordingly. And when she and her musical partner went their separate ways about a decade ago, she knew she had to improve her guitar and singing skills because she could really only lean on herself on-stage to deliver those precious songs.

Your humble blogger remembers that when she was approached by a record company who wanted to sign her, instead of--like many other artists--jumping at the chance, she brought in professional representation to ensure it was a fair relationship. Like with her music, she knew that good things come from hard work.

And she's not just focused on her career, she cares about others bigtime: Your humble blogger should note that when he put together compilation CDs to benefit good causes, Mary Ann was always one of the first artists to say "yes." In fact, she specially wrote one song, Emma Lee, for one of the CDs, a song she has now refined and placed on Timber & Nails, her latest release.

The Narrows welcomes her on Thursday, November 8, and we hope you'll come to the show and hear the fruits of her labors.
Read the Providence Journal's review of her new CD here. If you go here, scroll down a bit for a write-up by the Providence Phoenix.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Italy Comes to the Narrows

Beppe Gambetta

Couple of new shows being added to our spring line-up:

Friday March 28
Beppe Gambetta

He lives in Italy, but much of his musical heart lies in the USA, where many of his influences--including Narrows alums Leo Kottke and Tony Rice--call home. He also cites Gypsy jazz guitar icon Django Reinhardt as an influence and often collaborates with Dawg music great David Grisman. This is a must show for serious students of the guitar. Hear what he sounds like by visiting his myspace page. Also, visit


April 3
Greg Brown

He's a huge presence on the Americana/folk scene as a performer and a songwriter (Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter have covered his songs), and is likely to sell out the Narrows again. Get your tickets early for this one.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pendragon: Celtic Before It Was Cool

Rhode Island area treasures Pendragon did their annual October show at the Narrows Saturday night.
As you may know, Pendragon was onto the Celtic thing back when people said "sell-tic" as opposed to the hard "c" sound. A few fotos from Saturday night.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Karla Bonoff Debuts at Narrows

Friday night marked the debut of LA singer/songwriter Karla Bonoff at the Narrows, and it was a heck of an introduction. Producer/side guy Kenny Edwards kicked things off with several tunes from his first ever solo CD--he's made a ton of records (he's Bonoff's producer) but never got around to his own.

(As noted in an earlier entry in this blog, your humble blogger is a big fan of Mr. Edwards--to the point when I was introduced to the multi-instrumentalist-producer-former Stone Poney before the show I showed uncharacteristic enthusiasm, like a "fan." This apparently was unnerving to witnesses, according to other Narrows' volunteers. Your humble blogger pledges never to show an emotional crack in his professional music armor ever again.) BTW--for more info on the Stone Poneys, click here.

A youngish 56-year-old Bonoff played the tunes that made her fame as a songwriter, including "Somebody To Lay Down Beside Me," covered by Linda Ronstadt, and "Tell Me Why," a hit for Wynonna Judd. Ms. Bonoff noted that her song "All My Life, " a big hit for Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, is apparently popular at weddings "though I wouldn't know."

Despite being a night of ballads and mid-tempo numbers, the quality of the songwriting, Bonoff's stellar vocals, and the understated-yet-solid musicianship from Bonoff, Edwards and guitarist Nina Gerber engendered the energy to bring the crowd to its feet.

A quirky aside--Ms. Gerber brought her dog on stage for the show. Tootsie Gerber, unlike the appreciative audience, seemed to sleep through the music. It's the first time a dog has "performed" on the Narrows' stage.

Springsteen's "Magic" Is

Yeah, I know we're all too cool to admit we like Bruce Springsteen...but, hell, the guy has taken artistic risks--specifically The Seeger Sessions--and challenged himself in other ways. Bruce is a true artist.

Your humble blogger did not have one single Springsteen CD (Wait a minute--I might have the Seeger Sessions CD; can't remember) in his collection, until he heard the first single off of the "Magic" CD, called "Radio Nowhere." Since your humble blogger has had too many years behind a radio microphone not to take notice of a song with the word "radio" in there, he went and purchased it (with a Newberry Comics' coupon, for under 11 bucks). I'm also a big fan of Little Steven, who, with the other E Streeters, has rejoined Bruce for the recording and a tour.

Other than the fact that the CD is a bit too bassy (part of the way Bruce gets that immense "Wall of Sound" anthemic quality to his stuff), it's fun, interesting and clearly showing a guy at the height of his powers.

As for its political commentary, you can read about that here if you'd like. Yeah, yeah, I agree with all the sentiments on the record--but the world according to Bruce is of less interest to me than whether the record is--as a sum of all its parts--worth my time.

It is.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stone Poneys Founder Backing Karla Bonoff

Friday, October 12 the Narrows welcomes singer/songwriter Karla Bonoff for the first time--but since your humble blogger is a man who reads the liner notes, he'd like to announce that Kenny Edwards will be backing Ms. Bonoff.

Kenny who?

Didn't you ever read the credits on a Linda Ronstadt album? He helped found The Stone Ponys, baby (Remember "Different Drum?") with Linda. He'd done much more over the years, of course.

Check him out here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dark Horse Documentary

Beatle George, sometimes known as the Dark Horse, will be the subject of a documentary that will be shown in movie theaters.

More here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mistrial for Wall of Sound Guy

It's a mistrial in Phil Spector's murder trial.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Meet Mountain Girl

Grabbed this from a radio trade paper known as Friday Morning Quarterback:

The University of Massachusetts already has one graduate and one undergraduate course that focus on Grateful Dead, and now the school will take it a step further with a university conference on the enduring legacy of the Dead experience.Unbroken Chain: The Grateful Dead in Music, Culture and Memory will be held from November 16 to 18 at UMass Amherst and will bring together more than 50 presenters for 20 panel sessions ranging from music composition and improvisation to an examination of the band’s business model, as well as a musical performances, gallery exhibits, movie screenings and other presentations. Panelists will include “Mountain Girl” Carolyn Garcia, first wife of guitarist Jerry Garcia; David Gans, host of Grateful Dead Radio Hour for the past 20 years; Dead midi wizard Bob Bralove; and Dan Healy, who designed and built the “Wall of Sound,” famed enabler of the Dead’s improvisational style. There also will be a keynote address by Dennis McNally, longtime Dead publicist and author of Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. “The academic world is not as removed from so-called reality as people think, especially those in the academic world,” said McNally. “In the Rock & Roll world, there are pockets of meticulous intelligence and literacy, people like Jerry Garcia and (bassist) Phil Lesh.” The weekend also will include performances by American Beauty Project and Dark Star Orchestra, whose rhythm guitarist Rob Eaton and keyboardist Rob Baracco will take part in several of the panel discussions.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Boys Weekend At The Narrows: The Photos

We started with Mark T. Small and Paul Geremia on Friday night...then Richard Shindell on Saturday night.

Above, there's Paul Geremia not long after we coaxed him out of the dressing room where he was making sure his 12-string guitar was tuned. He tuned because he cared! Next to him is guitar wunderkind Tony Medeiros, of the Chili Brothers and other collaborations, who sat in a bit with Paul. By the look on Tony's face, what do you think he's thinking? Maybe we should have a caption contest!

Down below is fleet-fingered blues cat Mark T. Small, who gave away his debut CD on Whaling City Sound to everyone who wanted one. It is fab, by the way, and not because it was free!

Above, Richard Shindell proves why he's the "thinking person's" folk musician on Saturday night, with lyrics that make you ponder without being ponderous.