Justin Townes Earle, the twenty-something son of the great Steve Earle, showed that he's got his daddy's songwriting gift Thursday night at the Narrows. The 6'3" or so gangly dude with the slicked back hair is somewhat scary at first--smoking outside the Narrows before the show with eyes that have perhaps seen too much. And pacing onstage when his sideguy takes a solo--bending and twisting like a punk rocker or maybe Johnny Cash on a bender.
But then you notice that he's not angry; nope, he's smiling, happier than heck to be playing for you, acknowledging applause with a down home "Thank you all!"
He sings as if he's lived every lyric and then some, leaning down into the microphone 1950s rural radio broadcast style.
No question: one of the best shows of 2008. Keep an eye on this youngster!
Musician Jeff Olson is home and recovering reasonably well from his near-death experience from Legionnaire's Disease.
He is healthy, but as of yet can only walk a few steps.
I watched the Patriots at his house yesterday with him along with Folks Together bandmate Vinnie Pasternack. Jeff, of course, was disappointed with the Patriots' loss, but he feels fortunate to be around.
This whole health thing has been a tough fiscal blow for the Olson family, so the Narrows is hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, October 5, 1 p.m.
By the way, thanks to Philippe and Jorge in the Providence Phoenix for the recent blurb about Jeff.
Cheryl Wheeler, with her base in nearby Swansea, MA, had the Narrows laughing Saturday night as she played her annual concert at our beloved venue.
Some news, particularly for Cheryl fans: she's recording a new album!
Other stuff: she's dismayed about the political situation (of course!), she loved the overcast weather in August (inspiring her to write a new tune), she's dreading her flight to Houston next week ('cause flying hasn't been enjoyable since the 1950s), and she urges her fans to support the Narrows Center for the Arts (thank you, Cheryl!).
A regular reader of this blog suggested I add more "behind the scenes" stuff. Okay, here's some dirt: before the show Cheryl quietly sat in our "green room"; and moments before showtime helped me find the switches to turn on the ceiling fans. Yep, it's fascinating!
The bridge between jazz and blues (and a damn funny songwriter) Mose Allison brought his piano stylings to the Narrows on Friday night for the first time.
"When I discovered Mose Allison I felt I had discovered the missing link between jazz and blues," says Ray Davies.
This 80+ year old hep cat with a voice of a 35 year old jive talker kept a packed house hanging on every dry-witted lyric, like the one your humble blogger is using as the headline. That's from Mose's song "Your Mind in on Vacation But Your Mouth is Working Overtime," a favorite of mine (and of Van Morrison and Elvis Costello, who covered it).
"If talk were criminal, you'd lead a life of crime. 'Cause your mind is on vacation and your mouth is working overtime."
Mose posed below with his bassist, Paul DelNero, in the Narrows "green room" shortly before the performance.
That guitar pick above is an official Tom Rush pick, something he gave away to an unexpected donor of $1,000 Saturday night at the Narrows.
That's the kind of guy Tom is. Your humble blogger, during his usual introductory remarks before bringing the featured performer on stage, noted that the Narrows now has a WALL OF RECOGNITION, for donors at various level of giving.
Tom, who has been very generous to the Narrows himself, offered--tongue squarely in cheek--- to give away his official pick to donors. People laughed, but heck a little while later a generous donor stepped forward. As always, thanks Tom!
A sold-out crowd delighted in Tom's music performance of course, which was streamed live on mvyradio.com. And Tom spent quality time with the fans signing autographs and chatting with folks who, no doubt, have been following his career since his early days in Cambridge, MA.
Karla Bonoff returned to the Narrows Friday night, bringing her polished West Coast folk pop sound. Left to right in the photo above is her fine guitarist, Nina Gerber, and Ms. Bonoff. This was "backstage" a little while before the concert.
The pink blouse that Karla is wearing later turned into a liability while playing the guitar. She kept pushing it back off the strings--but finally she just rolled up her sleeve, noting that it wasn't a good shirt to wear and play guitar.
The show was opened by longtime producer and collaborator, Kenny Edwards (pictured below).
By the way, several members of the audience drove all the way from Buffalo, NY, just to see the show. I'm sure they felt it was worth it! One of the best concerts of the year at the Narrows!
Eric brought his swampy Big Easy funk to the Fall River streets--and the people responded wildly when Narrows prez Patrick Norton raised his finger and asked if they wanted Eric and his band to return to the stage for one more song.
Please indulge your humble Backstage Blogger for publishing the above photo of me hangin' with The Holmes Brothers after their show at the Narrows Festival of the Arts on Sunday. Left to right, that's Sherman Holmes (bass, vocals), Popsy Dixon (drums, vocals), the Backstage Blogger, and Wendell Holmes (guitar, keyboard, vocals).
The Holmes Brothers, by the way, will soon be touring for an extended period in Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Austria and other countries. There are no language barriers when it comes to Sanctified Soul.
Grammy-winner Jim Lauderdale brought his country tunes and fun attitude to the Narrows Festival of the Arts on Sunday afternoon.
That's our volunteer coordinator Marilyn Edge in the photo above getting a hug from Jim before the show. She and Jim got to know each other through their involvement with the Americana Music Association.
We hope to see Jim again sometime in 2009 at the Narrows.
The annual Narrows Festival of the Arts was a huge success Sunday! Tropical Storm Hannah blew in and blew out Saturday night and left a beautiful sunny day for the festival, part of which was carried live on mvyradio.com.
Rebecca Pronsky, who opened for Catie Curtis Friday night, uses yoga as a warm up. That's her in the photo back in the Narrows' "green room" a few minutes before she got onstage and charmed the crowd with her voice, songs and wit.