Sunday, December 27, 2009

Narrows Alums Make Top Blues List

'Tis the time for lists. Came across this one, listing the top blues CDs of 2009. Narrows alums Ruthie Foster and Shemekia Copeland made the grade.

More here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

R.I.P. Vic Chestnutt

I was listening to the BBC World Service overnight when I learned that Vic Chestnutt, who opened for Jonathan Richman at the Narrows in 2009, has died. To the right is a photo I took at his performance.

He was particularly known for working with Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and for the recording of his songs by Madonna and others on a benefit album.

During his visit to the Narrows, I recall briefly speaking with him. To the best of my knowledge, he's the first Narrows' artist to perform in a wheelchair, which he needed as a result of an automobile accident when he was a teenager.

It's been reported that Chestnutt, who is said to have taken his own life, was depressed from high hospital bills he incurred. This is the second time this year that medical costs have possibly played a role in the death of a Narrows' alum. Jay Bennett, formerly of Wilco, needed an operation he couldn't afford, and reportedly overdosed on a painkiller as reported here.

From what I read from various sites, Narrows alum Kristin Hersh's Twitter messages alerted many to Chestnutt's coma and subsequent passing.

To see a NY Times report, please click here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Afternoon Musings

Your humble blogger is working his way through Christmas afternoon with some musings and some news related to upcoming performers.

--Back Eddy Bluegrass kicks off 2010 with a CD release party at the Narrows January 8. Back Eddy is a local group of nice folks we've hosted a bunch of times over the years. True devotees of bluegrass. Which is why they probably will be coming to the Ralph Stanley show, as we all should be! See the next item.

--Grammy-winner Dr. Ralph Stanley, performing January 22 for his first time at our fabled venue, has an autobiography that came out recently, telling about the founding of the Stanley Brothers in 1946 and much more. Apparently the 80-something Stanley isn't famous for talking much. Did you see him perform "O Death" in "O Brother Where Art Thou" starring George Clooney?

Steve Forbert, who has played the Narrows a number of times, comes January 23 with a new 2-CD set featuring 39 new studio and live recordings. Steve is famous for "Romeo's Tune" but your humble blogger especially enjoys his version of Ray Davies' "Starstruck."

--J.D. Souther, a Narrows newbie coming January 30, also has a new CD, his first in 25 years. He's associated with writing hits for The Eagles and James Taylor, but one reviewer called his new CD one of the best jazz albums he's heard in a long time. Hmmm.

-Peeking ahead to February, on the 5th--just added--is first-timer Commander Cody of "Hot Rod Lincoln" fame. Opening are our friends Professor Louie and the Cromatix, which is kind of an offshoot of The Band. This under-appreciated group out of Woodstock, NY, has released several excellent CDs, and is outstanding in concert, especially if you appreciate quality musicianship. We haven't had Professor Louie at the Narrows for several years, and your humble blogger is delighted that they're returning.

--Question: anybody interested in seeing the Turtle Island String Quartet at the Narrows? They're not booked or even on the horizon as far as I know, but it strikes me that folks might enjoy seeing them. You may have heard them on Prairie Home Companion, like I have. By the way, they've shortened their name to the Turtle Island Quartet.

Big Brother Guitarist Passes

James Gurley, longtime guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company, passed away a few days back.

Big Brother in the past year or so played the Narrows, without James and, of course, without Janis Joplin, who became the band's voice, taking it to international stardom. Apparently James split with Big Brother among some nastiness.

To read some remembrances from several band members, visit the band's website here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sarah Borges & Broken Singles Recording Live

The word from Narrows faves Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles is that they are recording a live CD and DVD. And they need our help!

Here's an excerpt from their latest newsletter:
We wanted to let you know that as a result of overwhelming demand, we have decided to record a live record, as well as a live show DVD.
The LIVE RECORD will be recorded on New Year's Day (1/1/10), and 1/2/10, at the club where we got our start, the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA. Tickets are still available, but it's a very small venue, so we urge you to get them now (last minute Christmas gift anyone?) We will be recording a full length album, culled from the performances over these two days. Wouldn't it be great to say you were then when?
The live record will be available at performances and on our online store upon completion, in the early part of 2010.
You can buy tickets here for the January 1 & 2 shows.
The Lizard Lounge
1667 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA
We also wanted to tell you that we'll be shooting a live DVD on January 17th at the Livery in Benton Harbor, MI. This will be a band-funded production (no record label help or money involved), and we're asking for your support. A link will go up on our new online store asap to donate to the cause. You will of course receive a copy of the finished DVD product, but we are asking you to donate whatever you think is appropriate for an undertaking of this sort. We've had so many requests for a DVD of our live show, since the records can't quite capture it, and we need your help to make it happen. More info to come...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Would You Come to a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Concert

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has its first new album in five years. Apparently all the original members are still in the group, which rose to fame with their version of Jerry Jeff Walker's
"Mr. Bojangles."

Later they went on to soft rock and country fame, using the name "The Dirt Band" for at least some of their releases.

Not saying we could bring them to the Narrows, but was curious if people are still following them or would come to see them?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bye Bye Folk Music on WGBH

The above headline is not entirely true: "A Celtic Sojourn" is still on Saturday afternoons, but at a new time, 3 to 6 p.m. And "A Prairie Home Companion" is still on as well.

But Saturday afternoon non-Celtic folk is gone on WGBH.

Your humble blogger was at a holiday celebration Friday night (yes, I missed everything at the Narrows this weekend because of parties) and the hostess bemoaned the loss of folk on WBGH, which has a pretty good signal in these parts. "But they still have jazz at night," I helpfully pointed out. "I don't like jazz. I like folk," she retorted.

Of course there are myriad alternatives through the Internet, including our good friends and partners But, of course, this is not as portable as good old FM. (WUMB, which is folk, in Boston seems nearly impossible to get around here.)

Likewise, classical music fans are bemoaning the loss of Mozart et. al. on WGBH, which has eliminated classical, telling listeners to tune to WCRB, now part of WGBH. Trouble is, you really can't get the WCRB signal in the Fall River/Providence area.

There is one alternative for classical music: high definition radio. No, not satellite. This is radio with more channels, like HD TV. WGBH broadcasts WCRB on 89.7 FM HD2. Of course, you don't know what I'm talking about unless you have an HD radio. I bought one at Radio Shack a couple weeks back. I also bought an extra antenna because it's challenging grabbling HD signals from Boston. Locally, Clear Channel stations have secondary channels--e.g. WHJY HD2 is alternative rock; The Coast HD2 is smooth jazz; and B101, where your humble blogger used to work for nearly 20 years, has a classic rock station on HD2. Citadel Broadcasting's WPRO FM and Lite Rock broadcast in HD but don't have content on their HD2 channels as of yet.

Any opinions or suggestions on folk music or classical on the radio? How about those who listen to it on college stations. Any recommendations?

Catching up with Geoff Mulduar

Narrows alum Geoff Muldaur was featured recently on NPR's "Fresh Air" as he takes his band on the road.

More here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Top 10 Folk Songs of 2009: Jorma's #1

NPR has tapped into Folk Alley for the Top Ten Folk Songs of 2009. At the top--Narrows' fave Jorma.

See the list here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hither and Yon

Some notes regarding the Narrows and the artists who perform there:

--If you have been a Patron of the Narrows, like me, please note your Patron membership has expired or will expire by years' end. Please renew your membership, or become a Patron! More info here. Remember, the Narrows is a non-profit.

--Congrats to Narrows fave Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles for being recognized in the Boston Music Awards as Americana act of the year.

--Crooked Still goes into the studio in January down south. Here's an excerpt from their newsletter:

While there aren't any more Crooked Still shows until January, we're hard at work preparing to head back into the recording studio to record our 4th studio album this month. We're really excited to be working with producer/engineer Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Dixie Chicks) and to be recording at Haunted Hollow, a studio retreat in Virginia owned by none other than Dave Matthews! It should be a great week down there. We've got a whole bunch of new material and can't wait to get into the studio and bring it to life. Look for the new CD to be released in May 2010.

--Been listening to Robert Cray's "Sweet Potato Pie" CD from the late 1990s. Terrific. He's making his debut at the Narrows in March. More info here.

--Your humble blogger chatted briefly with Eilen Jewell at the Chuck Prophet show. She and her group have been touring a fair amount overseas! Anyway, she always puts on a great show--she's one of my favorite songwriters too. She'll be at the Narrows in January. Details here.

--Thank you for all of the kind words after some recent concerts I emceed. Patrick Norton and Deb Charlebois, and others do the heavy lifting these days. Back in the Narrows' early days, when I still lived nearby, I used to haul out most of the bands, sometimes in less than stellar conditions (e.g. snowstorms!). It was a great way to get to know the artists and learn about life on the road. I miss that, although I don't miss the late nights and sometimes back-breaking work. I appreciate the folks who do that these days and salute them as unsung heroes at the Narrows. And I must not forget the amazingly talented and humble Brian Shriver who is a jack-of-all trades.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jim Lauderdale Nominated for Grammys

Narrows fave Jim Lauderdale is up for a Grammy or two or three. Details here.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Top Concerts of 2009

It's that time of year...time to list what, in your opinion, were the best shows of 2009. Of course, we have a few more weeks to go, but feel free to list in the comments area your favs. Some of my mine:

Los Straitjackets
Marc Cohn (both times)
Nick Lowe
Richie Furay
John Davis
The Flatlanders
Coco Montoya
Glen Tilbrook
Eilen Jewell

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chuck Prophet's Not Afraid of Volume

Power pop rocker/songwriter Chuck Prophet showed his prowess on guitar, and he and his band weren't afraid to turn it up, even if it was a quiet Sunday night.

The Narrows has proudly hosted Chuck a number of times over the years, and each time this Left Coast icon continues to surprise and delight.

If you aren't familiar with his music, should have the show in its archives soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Robert Cray March 22

Silky smooth blues dude Robert Cray makes his Narrows debut March 22nd.

Details here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crooked Still Sell Out

It was a first for Crooked Still at the Narrows--a sold out show!

Crooked Still proved Friday night why their fan base continues to grow. Quality musicianship and an upbeat approach. streamed it live. Should be in their archives soon.

Congrats to the nice folks of Crooked Still!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Crooked Still Tonight

One of the most creative roots groups on the scene is Crooked Still--and they're at the Narrows tonight!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Memphis Man" Marc Cohn Walks Tall at Narrows

Saturday night "Walking in Memphis" piano man Marc Cohn proved, for the 2nd time this year, that he has the chops beyond his one mass appeal hit.

A packed house at the Narrows listened intensely to his tunes, sung with a passionate, soulful delivery that apparently made some female admirers nearly swoon. "You made," one woman told your humble blogger after the concert, thanking me for something Marc Cohn did. The benefits of being a Narrows volunteer!

Yes, he did "Walking in Memphis," which sounded fresh and energized. He explained that he wrote the tune after reading an article in which James Taylor explained that he overcomes writer's block by catching a plane and going somewhere he'd never been. A young Marc Cohn took his advice and went to Memphis.

A former backup singer for Marc and local talent, Amy Correia, opened the show, winning new fans.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dan Tappan's Photos from Gandalf Murphy

Slambovians! More photos from the recent concert. Courtesy of a true photo artiste Dan Tappan.

See them here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Welcome to Slambovia

Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams made their 2nd appearance at the Narrows Friday night, playing their quirky mixture of space folk (They have a CD called "Flapjacks from the Sky"), rock, metal and what have you.

They delighted their dedicated fans with their creativity and off-the-beaten path approach.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Someday Someway Happy Birthday

Happy 56th birthday to Narrows alum Marshall Crenshaw!

Happy Birthday Mose!

Happy 82nd birthday to Narrows alum Mose Allison!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

8th Anniversary Features Guitarist/Vocalist Susan Tedeschi

Saturday night was the Narrows 8th anniversary celebration, and we did it up big with Susan Tedeschi and her band, their first visit.

Of course, the show was sold out!

In honor of the event patrons were given an official Narrows commemorative mug. And the official commemorative t-shirts and sweatshirt were available for purchase, listing every artist, including openers, who have performed at the Narrows over the past 8 years.

Of course, Ms. Tedeschi--whose dad and brother were in the audience--charmed the crowd with her bluesy chops, impressive singing, and kickin' group of musicians performing with her.

Kansans Moreland & Arbuckle opened the show with a set of blues rock that won them fans bigtime (You should have seen the line to buy their CDs after the performance!). streamed the show live on its website and two radio frequencies. Chances are the show will be archived on the site in a few days.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Eagles Collaborator Coming in January

This just in--one of the best California cool songwriters, J.D. Souther, is coming to the Narrows for the first time Saturday, January 30.

He wrote a number of hits for the Eagles, including "Heartache Tonight" and "Best of My Love."

You may remember his duet with James Taylor "Her Town Too" or his solo hit "You're Only Lonely."

Hipper readers may remember his work with Narrows' alums Chris Hillman and Richie Furay, the Souther Hillman Furay Band.

This is a special treat. More info at

Thursday, November 05, 2009

8th Anniversary Commemorative T-Shirts, Sweatshirts

Just in time for our 8th anniversary show Saturday night, the Narrows has begun selling t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts that feature the names of every act, including openers, that have played the Narrows.

Your humble blogger (above) modeled the shirt (only $15 for the short sleeve version) in the Narrows office.

This is a great way to celebrate 8 fab years only made possible through your support, the hard work of our many volunteers, our corporate, government and foundation sponsors, and the multitude of artists who have graced our stage and gallery over the years, including: Adam Carroll, Adam Hood, Adam Sweeney, Adrian Legg, Adrienne Young, Al & the Transamericans, Al Basile, Alejandro Escovedo, Alice Peacock, Alison Brown, Allysen Callery, Alvin Youngblood, Amun Ra, Amy Correia, Amy LaVere, Amy Rigby, Ana Egge, Anais Mitchell, Asylum Street Spankers, Atwater Donnelly, Averi, Avett Brothers, Aztec Two Step...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Susan Cowsill

Susan Cowsill, formerly of Newport, RI and now of the Big Easy, brought her hook-filled, pop-injected songs and voice to the Narrows Thursday night.

Susan is a terribly underappreciated talent who has no doubt benefited and been cursed by being one of the singing Cowsills, chart toppers in the 1960s with "Hair," "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," (performed at the concert) and "Indian Lake"--pretty darn good pop records, in your humble blogger's opinion. Later she was a member of an underappreciated group, "The Continental Drifters," which was one of the first groups to perform at the Narrows.

Now 50 years old, she seems dedicated to her art, despite the tough times she's endured (most lately, Hurricane Katrina and the death of siblings). Her voice remains strong--with more than a dash of world-weariness--and her songs, memorable.

Local heroes Louie Leeman and his band (below) did the opening honors.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rediscovering Nick Lowe

To many people I'm sure, Nick Lowe's career began and ended with "Cruel To Be Kind," a hit single that provided some rock 'n' roll on the radio in the late disco era.

Your humble blogger discovered Nick Lowe with "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" earlier in his recording career. But like many, I lost touch after about 1980.

Still, he continued to write and record, and many of the fans attending Thursday night's show at the Narrows probably have most of those recordings.

It was him, his acoustic guitar, and his songs. One after the other as he did a retrospective of his career, which includes "What So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding" (Elvis Costello did a well known cover of the song), and "The Beast in Me," covered by Johnny Cash.

Former Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen, now a longstanding collaborator with Nick Lowe, opened with a clever set, and sat in with Nick for a song.

If you missed the show, keep an eye on this space. We're sure to have Nick and Bill back next time they're available.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Can We Wish You'd Go Away If You're Never Here?

It's been too many years since Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks have played the Narrows. Your humble blogger is a big fan, not only of "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away" and "I Scare Myself," but newer classics such as "First I Lost My Marbles, Then I Lost You," "Barstool Boogie," and "C'mon to My House."

As you might expect, your blogger is somewhat jaded when meeting famous musicians: Roger McGuinn, done that; Richie Havens, many times; Chris Hillman, interesting guy; Richie Furay, salt of the earth, etc. All very much an honor for yours truly, but, heck, they're just regular folks when you come right down to it.

A this point there are a few that leave me nearly speechless, and Dan Hicks is one of them (Jonathan Richman is another; and Ray Davies would be another, if he ever plays the Narrows).

Details on Dan's return here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hometown Hero

Cheryl Wheeler got to play a gig close to home Saturday night, performing before a hometown crowd that lined up around the corner from the Narrows' entrance waiting to get in.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Marc Cohn Returns in November

We had such a great time with Marc Cohn earlier this year, we've got him returning on November 21.

Visit for more.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Way Out

Prog jazz quartet Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey kicked of the weekend with an approach that had room for Lennon as well as Monk.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Narrows Alum Tom Russell on Letterman

One of the first artists ever to play the Narrows was Tom Russell. Not many folks showed up then, but we hope more will when he returns in June. One of the more interesting singer/songwriters you'll hear. Your humble blogger particularly enjoys his song "Everything's Gone Straight to Hell Since Sinatra Played Juarez."

Friday night he played David Letterman. See the performance here.


A packed house on a rainy Saturday night welcomed new grass pioneers Peter Rowan (l) and Tony Rice to the Narrows.

Kicking off with Peter Rowan's "Panama Red" (made famous by The New Riders of the Purple Sage), the guys picked and grinned, told stories about the old days, and just generally delighted the crowd with playfulness mixed with musicianship.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chad & Jeremy Bring Back Yesterday

Chad & Jeremy, vets of the British Invasion, delighted a Wednesday night crowd at the Narrows. It was the first visit for the whimsical duo, who, you may remember, appeared on the Batman television show, along with the Patty Duke Show and the Dick van Dyke Show.

"Yesterday's Gone" and "A Summer Song" were their big USA hits.

They told stories of the old days, working with Paul Simon (they were slated to record Simon's "Homeward Bound" just before it became a hit for Rhymin' Simon and his pal Art Garfunkle), having their voices held for ransom by Catwoman, and lounging on the Left Coast with Dean Martin, Ursula Andress, Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet (left) appeared to be a major draw for the Narrows Festival of the Arts on Sunday.

This Louisiana-based group certainly seem to have a horde of devoted fans in these parts.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weather, Music Combine for a Fab Festival

The annual Narrows Festival of the Arts brought perfect weather with it Sunday, along with such performers as Hot Club of Cowtown (above) and Dirty Dozen Brass Band (below). More photos coming soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kicking Off a Fab Weekend

The Old Blind Dogs Thursday night kicked off a weekend that will feature Tom Rush (Saturday night), and Beausoleil, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Hotclub of Cowtown and more (the free Narrows Festival of the Arts on Sunday).

The Dogs--who last played the Narrows about 3 years ago--performed their high energy Scottish folk music to an enthusiastic crowd of fans.

One highlight from their last visit was their purchase of a bass guitar hanging on the wall of a liquor store across from where they were staying in Somerset, MA. Since they had forgotten to bring a bass to the states, they bought the instrument (for $40)--later raffling it off and donating the money to charity. From then on they have been raffling off one of their instruments at the end of a tour. This time they are raffling off a guitar.

Last we checked there were just a handful of Tom Rush tickets available. And, of course, this Sunday is free.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Country Comfort

Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Richie Furay reminded us why country rock is one of the most enjoyable genres, particularly when played well with a lot of simple harmonies.

He and his band (featuring one of his daughters as back-up singer) brought the house down at the Narrows Saturday in his first visit to our fab listening pad.

He played tracks from his former bands Buffalo Springfield and Poco, and new material.

By the way, these days his full-time gig is as a pastor of a church near Denver. Your humble blogger, in fact, walked into a prayer session with the pastor and his band backstage shortly before they started the show.

The prayer worked!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different...

It was kinda 3 chords and the truth at the Narrows--well, maybe not.

Our beloved stage featured the masked and mysterious surf masters Los Straitjackets doing the instrumental rockabilly sound on a rainy Friday night. It was the 2nd visit for the group, which speaks Spanish on-stage and never appears without their Mexican-wrestling inspired disguises--although your humble blogger saw them uncovered before the show. But I'm sworn to secrecy regarding their true identies. Let's just say let sleeping masks lie.

Openers were Providence 's Mericans, with a Byrds-like flyte that gave the crowd delight.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Club Helsinki in Great Barrington Closing

A number of Narrows' artists--Eilen Jewell and Sarah Borges immediately come to mind--also have regularly played Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, MA, way out there in the Berkshires.

Club Helsinki is closing the end of the month; your humble blogger knows not the reason.

Maybe something on their website although I didn't see details.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Red Molly Makes Narrows Debut

A group your humble blogger has been hearing great things about, Red Molly, made their Narrows debut Friday night. And they did not disappoint, with their rootsy sound, beautiful harmonies, and gentle sense of humor.

And, for their debut, they also drew a nice sized crowd!

It was broadcast on and should be posted in their archives soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cowtown to Our Town

Because the Narrows is dedicated to everybody in the area and is committed to sharing the arts, the annual Narrows Festival of the Arts will take place once again--this year, Sunday, September 13.

Yep, it's free.

One of the highlights is the return of the internationally loved Hot Club of Cowtown, pictured above.

If memory serves, we hosted these folks a time or two, then they split up, with vocalist/fiddler Elana James starting her own group, which also played the Narrows.

We're glad to see they're back as a unit with their modern take on Western Swing, Dawg Music or whatever one wants to call it.

Pencil the Narrows Festival into your calendar. Starts at 11 a.m. and goes until the sun goes down.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Waterfront with the Duke

Your humble blogger, felled by a sudden back ailment, didn't make the free Duke Robillard show last Friday sponsored by the Narrows outside down the street at the Gates of the City.

Fortunately, a sharp-eyed Mike Moran took this shot of the Duke looking quite dapper.

The Dapper Duke!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Founder of the New Riders Passes

John Dawson, who founded Narrows fave New Riders of the Purple Sage, died recently. He founded the group with Jerry Garcia.

More here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Maria Muldaur Works with Narrows Alums

Maria Muldaur, who makes her Narrows debut on October 31, has a new CD coming out featuring Narrows alums John Sebastian and Dan Hicks.

And she's returning to the old jug band sound.

More here.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Waybacks from Way Back

Took the above shot during Friday night's show at the Narrows from progressive roots speedsters The Waybacks.

The band was recording the show for a possible future CD.

See the mikes hanging from the ceiling?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Got My Mojo Workin'

No question:one of the top shows of 2009. The fabulous Nighthawks and Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin (above) at the Narrows Saturday night.

The nearly 80-something Mr. Sumlin was "the star" according to the Nighthawks, but this celebrated roots group brought star-power energy and prowess to the stage all by themselves.

Mr. Sumlin, who influenced Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and others with his riffin' for The Wolf, was like their beloved dad who was sitting in just for the fun of it. And was it fun!

On a personal note: you couldn't find a nicer group of folks than the Nighthawks and Mr. Sumlin. Lots of positive energy and smiles! Hope to see them again soon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Forgotten African American Music Celebrated

Most people probably think that African American music pre- and post-Civil War was spirituals, blues, gospel, ragtime.

How about CLASSICAL?

Brilliant pianist John Davis brought his show to the Narrows Thursday night that showed us that a slave named "Blind Tom" and a son of a slave, "Blind Boone," wowed audiences across the US with keyboarding wizardry that owed more to Mozart than to the Mississippi Delta.

It was a one-of-a-kind performance that was recorded by our friends at and should be posted on that site in a few days.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Gordon" of Peter & Gordon Passes

British popsters from the '60s Peter & Gordon were known for "A World Without Love," written by Paul McCartney (he almost married Peter's sister) and other tunes.

One half of the duo has died. Details here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Newport Jazz and Folk Festival Head Interviewed

George Wein, of Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival fame, was interviewed on Buddy Cianci's show on WPRO in Providence.

Hear it here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

First Gates of the City Concert Features CJ Chenier

It was a beautiful night for an outdoors concert, and the Narrows obliged by taking its CJ Chenier concert Friday night outside down the street to what's known as "The Gates of the City." And it was free.

Zydeco sounds brought out the dancers, but, interestingly enough, not the mosquitoes. Not too warm or cold, nor too humid. Had to leave early; lucked out since I was typing this in Barrington when the rain hit.

Another one coming up later in the summer. Check out

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women took to the Narrows stage Thursday on a warm, but fairly comfortable July evening.

To the best of your Humble Blogger's memory, this is the first headlining appearance by Mr. Alvin. He opened for James McMurtry a couple years back.

Along with the women in the picture opening this article was award winning steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar. You may remember her during her many years with Asleep at the Wheel.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cruel To Be Kind

Fab Brit Nick Lowe debuts at the Narrows October 15.

You may remember his song "Cruel To Be Kind."

More here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Crooked Still Live!

Young rootsy favs Crooked Still have released a live CD, featuring their new line-up. Learn more here.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

New Chris Smither CD Out in Sept

Narrows fave Chris Smither has a new one out in September.  More here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Slide Wayzz

Slipping and sliding trombones were the order of the night Friday as Bonerama brought its New Orleans heat to the Narrows stage.

Three trombones, bass, drums, organ and guitar made a thunderous sound--but, with kudos to our sound dude, the dynamics worked well in the room.

If you're old enough--think Blood, Sweat and Tears after David Clayton Thomas departed, with more than a sprinkling of Fats Domino.

The show was streamed on, where it will likely be posted in a few days.

The Narrows is taking its 4th of July break. Plenty of great shows on tap for the 2nd half of 2009.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Meet Vic Chestnutt

He's worked with Emmylou Harris, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and others.  On Friday night he opened for Jonathan Richman, doing a quirky set with songs with one might describe as off-beat lyrics.

Learn more about Vic Chestnutt here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

If I Were A Richman

Your humble blogger went to talk to Jonathan Richman "backstage" at the Narrows about a half hour before showtime Friday night. There he was--a musical hero to your humble blogger, asleep on the couch.

I left, resisting the urge to snap a photo.

We chatted later, working out how I was to introduce him and his drummer Tommy Larkins.

He put on a quirky performance, picking up his guitar then putting it down constantly, picking up bells and dancing, wandering away from the microphone, re-arranging where the audience was sitting, etc. And the quirky crowd positively adored him.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Guitar Man

Leo Kottke, one of the finest 12-string acoustic guitarists in the world, made his annual trip to the Narrows Saturday night. In addition to the finest playing one could ever see, we learned from Leo's between-song patter:
  • He looks exactly like a German female classical pianist named Kottke who died in 1911;
  • He once shot a pistol at light bulbs tossed into the ocean while standng on the deck of a surfaced submarine;
  • While doing the above his hearing was impacted when the guy next to him fired a loud machine gun at the light bulbs.
  • Pete Seeger is a one-of-a kind instrumentalist.
  • And, as documented in the photo above, he likes to carry his guitars off the stage once the show is over.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Taking It Back to the Yanks

The guy who pretty much founded British blues/rock, Kim Simmonds and his group Savoy Brown made another lively appearance at the Narrows on Friday night to a large and enthusiastic crowd.

Despite cranking out the riffs since the mid-1960s, Mr. Simmonds (unlike some aging rockers) seems to have his speed and his chops with him. And he didn't have to sit in a chair to play (an increasingly common sight).

Whatever he's doing, it seems to be keeping him healthy!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Haven on a Rainy Night.

Richie Havens, right after his Friday night performance at the Narrows. It rained like Woodstock forty years back.

Opener Emily Elbert, Texan and Berklee student.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ridin' Old School Freight Train for Free

Sunday afternoon marked the first of a number of freebies being provided by the Narrows with various partners this summer.

Jam banders Old School Freight Train performed under the big tent at Bristol Community College on Elsbree Street in the Scholarship City. They've had a shuffle in personnel and are leaning toward the jam sound more than before.

Check out the Narrows' schedule for more upcoming free concerts at

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wall of Sound Producer Behind Walls For A Long Time

19 years to life for producer Phil Spector--who produced John Lennon's "Imagine" and "Instant Karma," George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," the Beatles' "Let It Be" album, the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling"(he co-wrote that one too) and many more incredible records.

More from Rolling Stone here.

Amy LaVere was Here

Musician and actress (she was in "Walk the Line") Amy LaVere ("Like Paul Revere,"she told me before the show) made her Narrows debut Friday night.

She and her band have a quirky pop-rock sound that combines her innocent, nearly girlish vocals with maybe-banging-a-little-too-hard drumming and aggressive electric guitar.

You should be able to hear the show soon by checking out the Narrows' archives at