Monday, March 29, 2010

Have You Heard? Claire Lynch & Chick

Whatcha Gonna Do--Claire Lynch-Bluegrass and folk music from a voice as clear as a bell--the kind that makes you look up and pay attention. Reminiscent of Dolly Parton. Great song choices too, including Jesse Winchester's "That's What Makes You Strong," which features a vocal by Jesse, who is making a return visit to the Narrows June 11. Ms. Lynch seems to be a talent who hasn't received just recognition over her many years of performing. This CD deserves to win her new fans.

Five Peace Band-Live--Chick Corea & John McLaughlin--"I decline to attempt to describe this music or give it a name. But I will say that it's a music that's made by five musicians who don't care about what it's called or where it comes from or what its 'influences' are," writes jazz keyboard great Chick Corea in this 2-CD set's booklet. But since Corea and guitarist McLaughlin worked with Miles Davis creating Bitches Brew you know it has to be adventurous. And it is. Still, melody matters more than would be apparent at just a cursory listen to this winner of the 2010 Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental. Includes Kenny Garrett on sax, Christian McBride on bass, and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums--guys who have worked with Miles, Zappa, etc. Guest spot by Herbie Hancock on piano.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Recent Grammy winner Loudon Wainwright III brought his topical songs to the Narrows Saturday night.

Earlier this year he won the Grammy for his two-CD set High Wide and Handsome, the Charlie Poole Project, his first Grammy win. He noted that he had been nominated for two Grammys in the 1980s, but was beaten both times by his friend Steve Goodman, who had passed away a year or so before the Grammys were awarded. He was concerned that since he was once again up against a deceased person, that he would be shut out!

Believe it or not, he already has a new CD out, 10 Songs for the New Depression, featuring a song that was a sing-a-long during the show, "Cash for Clunkers."

Our longtime friend Kerri Powers (below) opened the show, ending her set with a stunning version of the Barry Gibb (BeeGees) song "To Love Somebody," which, she explained, was written by Barry Gibb for Otis Redding but was recorded by Gram Parsons.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Mose Allison CD Reviewed in Rolling Stone

Narrows alum Mose Allison (left, exiting the Narrows' stage a couple years back) has a new album, his first in some time. And Rolling Stone is singing his praises.

Be sure to catch the guy whose fans include Ray Davies, The Who and Eric Clapton. He'll be at the Narrows again in June.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Just a Singer in a Rock 'n' Roll Band

"My name is Rhett Miller and I'm a rock 'n' roll singer!"

So kicked off the solo gig of the Old 97s' Rhett Miller before a devoted audience at the Narrows Thursday night. It was his Narrows' debut.

Boston-based David Wax (below), doing a gig apart from his band The David Wax Museum, opened.

If you missed the show, it should be in the archives in a few days

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Have You Heard? Church and Screams

Downtown Church--Patty Griffin--Various types of church music in this release, with Hank Williams' "House of Gold," the much covered "Wade in the Water," and "All Creatures of Our God and King," a familiar hymn to Catholics and perhaps those of other faiths, with lyrics apparently written by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century (Griffin's father was once a Trappist monk). But the reverence doesn't get in the way of making this an upbeat, interesting and entertaining recording with some surprises, including (!) a cover of a Leiber and Stoller's "I Smell A Rat," ("You won't tell me where you been, Whiskey running all down your chin") which has no religious message that I could find. Griffin's singing is stellar, as is the backup which includes Narrows alum Jim Lauderdale, as well as Emmylou Harris, Raul Malo, and Julie Miller. Produced by Buddy Miller, with the recording partially done in a Presbyterian church in Nashville.

Screamworks:Love in Theory and Practice, Chapters 1-13--HIM--This Finnish band calls its sound "love metal," but these ears hear creative power pop with a metal edge. It's probably impossible not to at least like this album: the songs are hooky and radio friendly for the most part, the production is smooth as are most of the vocals. And it's about love: "Let fall apart together now zipping cupid in a body bag..." go the opening lyrics. What's not to like?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Coco,Richie, Ralph II Others Added to Schedule

Coco Montoya, Richie Havens, Ralph Stanley II, Jonathan Edwards, Red Molly, Tom Rush, Tao Seeger added to the schedule.

Check it out here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Aloha from the Narrows

Hapa brought the sounds of Hawaii and Polynesia, particularly slack-key guitar, to the Narrows Friday night, featuring inspired and technically incredible musicianship and even a hula dancer!

Interesting to note that the show attracted a lot of new people to the Narrows--as a center for the arts we're always interested in opening our doors to more and more friends with diverse artistic interests. Certainly Polynesian folk music is different for us!

If you're one of our new friends, thank you for visiting with us! Tell your friends! We hope to see you again soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Angels We Have Heard On High

The powerful harmonies of Angel Band resounded at the Narrows on a warm March Thursday evening.

Box Tops, Big Star's Alex Chilton Dies

The guy who sang "The Letter" in the 1960s when he was a teenager, and then went into cultish obscurity with Big Star, Alex Chilton, has died of a heart attack. Details here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Have You Heard This One?

The Bright Mississippi-Allen Toussaint--If you don't know his name, you haven't been paying attention. Pianist Toussaint, based in New Orleans, has been an important composer, producer and musician for a long time. His songs include: "Yes We Can Can," a hit for The Pointer Sisters; "Southern Nights," a hit for Glen Campbell; "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," covered by Robert Palmer and the name of one of his albums; and "Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)," a hit for Three Dog Night. And he produced "Lady Marmalade (Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi), a hit for LaBelle. I could go on. The Bright Mississippi was not produced by Toussaint (it's a Joe Henry project), nor are there any Toussaint songs--the tunes are by Duke Ellington, "Jelly Roll" Morton, Joe "King" Oliver, Django Reinhardt, and others. Producer Joe Henry writes in the CD's booklet that he'd been wanting to do a "covers" CD with Toussaint after he heard Toussaint, for fun, play a Fats Waller song between takes in a Los Angeles studio. "I was stunned," writes Henry. "It was a revelation to hear this music...interpreted through Allen's very unique point of view...'Have you ever considered making a record like that?' I quickly asked him over the talkback. 'Never,' he said with a slight grin, and kept playing by way way of assuring me that he most certainly had." The Bright Mississippi is almost entirely instrumental, except for one track on which Toussaint sings. Musicians include Narrows alum Marc Ribot on acoustic guitar, along with Joshua Redman and others. Since this is pretty much all instrumentals, it's important to CRANK IT UP so it's not just background music. This is classy and classic, and not to be missed especially if you're interested in the roots of American jazz. It was a 2010 Grammy nominee.

My One and Only Thrill---Melody Gardot--Move over Diana Krall! This 25 year old out of New Jersey has one of the hottest CDs on the Billboard Jazz Chart. She's an excellent chanteuse, with a hint of the great Peggy Lee, plays piano and guitar, and wrote or co-wrote all the songs, except for her bossa nova cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The CD has a lush sound, but also a bluesy "after hours" feel that takes it to a hipper place. The artist has an interesting backstory: although a child piano prodigy, she didn't plan on becoming a professional musician as an adult. Then she sustained serious injuries after being hit by a car, and had to use music as therapy. She learned to play the guitar and started writing songs. Today, she has to wear shades day and night due to light sensitivity, but the accident didn't hurt her voice. If you enjoy musical excellence, check this one out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Wolf Was Back!

Thanks Herb Tracy for this photo of Walter "Wolfman" Washington at the Narrows Saturday night!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Holmes Brothers New One #1 On Billboard Chart

Our guys The Holmes Brothers, coming to the Narrows in May, have the number one record on Billboard's Blues Chart. See more here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Touch of Whimsy in the Night

Leon Redbone once again graced the Narrows stage bringing his whimsy, his guitar and a piano player to perform before a sold out audience Friday night.

Your humble blogger had the good fortune to chat with Mr. Redbone before the show. He provided some valuable photography tips that led to the photo above.

Comedian Smokin' Joe Holden, above, opened the show, getting laughs and setting a light-hearted tone for the evening.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Have You Heard This One? Humble Blogger Suggests:

The Ballad of John Henry--Joe Bonamassa--Strutting bluesy hard rock, in the very best sense of those words. Testosterone-soaked big fat riffs from Bonamassa, of Utica, New York, fill the speakers, backed by horns and pounding rhythm, with vocals from the guitarist himself. Some guitar heroes have trouble being the lead singer. Not him. And some don't write or choose strong songs, relying on virtuosity. Again, not him. He writes 'em, and picks selections from Tom Waits and Tony Joe White, and even Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse! This CD came out in 2009--and he's releasing a new one March 23. Busy guy.

A Friend of a Friend--Dave Rawlings Machine--Recorded in part at RCA Studio B, a now historic site for being the cradle of 1,000 + big hits and 150 Elvis Presley tracks, A Friend of a Friend will no doubt add to its legacy. Rhode Island's Rawlings, folk and bluegrass icon Gillian Welch's partner, may have himself the 2010 Folk Record of the Year. The aura is stark "folk goth" with a sweetener at times from strings arranged by the legendary Jimmie Haskell. The songs are mostly composed by Rawlings, with help from Welch (who is all over the record), Ryan Adams and others, with tunes also by Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, the late bluesman Jesse Fuller and Neil Young. Essential listening for anyone following the contemporary folk scene.

By A Thread--Gov't Mule--If you enjoy the early to mid-seventies classic rock/southern rock sound (I do--hey, that's when I was in high school!), this will be instantly likable. Led by Allman Brother/Dead member Warren Haynes, Gov't Mule mixes riffing and tasteful tunesmithing with a sprinkling of psychedelia. The arrangements are compelling, and the lead vocals, provided by lead guitarist Haynes, fit the overall sound perfectly, recalling Bob Seger and/or Gregg Allman. By A Thread is an excellent rock 'n' roll record that clearly was put together with care and creativity. It may not win a Grammy, but it deserves to be considered for a nomination. Well done.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Aztec Two Step, Rex Fowler and Neil Shulman, brought their Simon & Garfunkel show to the Narrows Saturday night to a sold out house! The fans were psyched too! Great vibe!

The show featured their interpretations of "Sounds of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," "Hazy Shade of Winter" and others. Their 2nd set focused on their originals.

Before the show, Rex visited the resident artist studios, purchasing a pendant at Annie's Artifax. That's Annie checking out her creation around Rex's neck.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Let's Radiate!

New Orleans funk rockers The Radiators packed the house Thursday night at the Narrows. Above is guitarist/vocalist Dave Malone.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Your Humble Blogger Recommendeth...

Your humble blogger listeneth, and therefore writeth:

Sounding Point--Julian Lage--First CD. First Grammy nomination. This twenty-something former child prodigy--he performed with Narrows alum David Grisman when he was 10 years old--has released an interesting collection of tracks, mostly original compositions, featuring Bela Fleck and Chris Thile, that crosses genres, but mostly remains in the jazz realm. This is all instrumental, so to ensure you don't miss the artistry you need to CRANK IT UP! While Mr. Lage is a guitar guy, the recording benefits from the prominence of pianist Taylor Eigsti, particularly on the last track "All Blues," written by Miles Davis. Mr. Eigsti is also a twenty-something former child prodigy by the way. If you appreciate instrumental music as more than background buzz, this CD should be to your liking.

Splendor in the Grass--Pink Martini--Jazzy, campy and fun, Pink Martini is an Oregon-based group, more an orchestra, with ties to Massachusetts, specifically Harvard University. That's where the founder, keyboardist Thomas Lauderdale (relative of Narrows fave Jim Lauderdale??) and singer China Forbes hooked up and started exploring their diverse musical passions. The result is this interesting, somewhat nostalgic collection of tracks that sound like post-World War II pop, or something from a 1966 James Bond film, or maybe the New
Seekers--sometimes they sound about about two notes from breaking into "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" or Astrud Gilberto's "Girl from Ipanema"! One more Massachusetts tie: they cover Fall River native Joe Raposo's "Sing," a hit for the Carpenters and featured on Sesame Street. (The Narrows has honored the late Raposo with a commemorative display.) Open your ears and maybe your mind, and you'll get a kick out of this CD! Currently on Billboard's Jazz Chart.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Holmes Brothers Get Picked by USA Today

Our guys the Holmes Brothers, returning to the Narrows in May, had a track from their brand new CD, "Feed My Soul," make the "playlist" at USA Today. The chosen track is a Beatles' tune "I'll Be Back." More here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Alejandro Escovedo Returns in April

Narrows fave Alejandro Excovedo returns April 9. More here.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Blues and Bluegrass for Haiti Raises $4,500!!

The Blues and Bluegrass for Haiti fundraiser, held Sunday at the Narrows, raised $4,500!

Many thanks to all who participated!

Big kudos for Gayle from Back Eddy Bluegrass for organizing the event!