Friday, April 30, 2010

Young At Heart

Popular tribute group Forever Young drew a strong crowd to their energetic show celebrating the music of Neil Young Friday night.

This Providence-based group has worked hard to develop a following, winning recognition in Motif magazine polls and beyond.

Check out the band's bios. Chances are, if you've followed the Rhode Island area music scene, you'll recognize their names.

The concert was streamed live on, so it should be posted in their archives soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sky Guys

Narrows unsung hero, Brian Shriver, (left) and his partner in photography, Chris Blake, have opened at the Narrows a compelling photo display.

Their company, called Aerial VR, creates photo content on websites that feature bird's-eye views of property, virtual tours, maps etc. It's surreal while being very real and informative.

Brian, by the way, is a longtime Narrows' volunteer who has used his practical and creative skills to heighten the Narrows' physical plant. He's also run the sound board for many concerts.

So if you're visiting the Narrows over the next few weeks, be sure to take a look at Brian and Chris's work.

Have You Heard? Volume II

Couple of recordings that are the 2nd--either the second CD called "Mountain Soul" or the second CD the group released:

Mountain Soul II--Patty Loveless--This former mainstream country chanteuse, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, has released a lovely bluegrassy CD that salutes the old timey sound of the Stanley Brothers without sounding old fashioned. (She thanks Narrows alum Ralph Stanley for being the father of Mountain Soul.) The CD kicks off with a cover of "Busted," most associated with Ray Charles from way back, but sounding strikingly contemporary given the economic times. Guests include Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Del McCoury. Tasteful production and arrangements. A winner!

Volume II--She and Him--When is retro so retro it's progressive? Well, maybe not progressive but there's not much around these days that sounds like She and Him, actress Zooey Deschanel and guitarist Matt Ward. They've captured the folk pop of We Five (remember "You Were On My Mind"?) and Friend and Lover ("Reach Out of the Darkness"), and The Mamas and The Papas (particularly when Michelle Phillips sang lead). It's soft, it's sunny, it's shimmering. Ms. Deschanel, who played the older sister in the movie "Almost Famous," wrote most of the songs. Fun!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More New Narrows Artist Releases

Some stuff that just came out from some Narrows alums, according to lists published at

Jonathan Edwards--Rollin' Along: Live in Holland--He's returning to the Narrows in October. Can't go wrong with a concert by this guy.

Mark Hummel--Retroactive.

The Infamous Stringdusters--Things That Fly.

Shelby Lynne--Tears, Lies and Alibis. She tore the house down at the Narrows a couple years back. That's her in the photo. Can't wait to hear this one!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Psychedelic Seeger

When one hears the name Seeger, one may conjure up images of singalongs, banjos, more singalongs, and even more banjos.

Pete's grandson Tao seems to be working to change that, as shown Thursday night at the Narrows where he and his band were unafraid to rock pretty hard.

What can you say when the grandson of Pete
Seeger--who mythically took an axe to Bob Dylan's power supply at the Newport Folk Festival--aims his electrified banjo at his amplifier and twists and turns it to create feedback like Jimi Hendrix?

The times, they are a-changin'.

By the way, you may have seen Tao with his grandpa and Bruce Springsteen at the Obama inauguration singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." On another note, Tao and his group were very nice folks, winning kudos from the Narrows crew.

Denver-based Paper Bird opened, with a mixture of two-sister plus harmonies, horns and more. Don't know how they fit all those folks on stage without bumping into one another!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Have Your Heard? Soul!

Feed My Soul--The Holmes Brothers--These guys can do no wrong for those of us at the Narrows who have worked with them over the years. You might call their rootsy sound soul or rhythm & blues. But even when they're singing about loving a woman--e.g. on this recording, "Pledging My Love," a tune associated with Johnny Ace--the sound is church'd up. And why not? Ain't love divine? So without preaching the cleansing feeling of gospel pervades--even when they cover the Beatles' "I'll Be Back," an odd choice perhaps, but not a total surprise since this is the trio that covered Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" as a touching ballad. Not to mention taking on Nick Lowe's "What So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?" The CD was produced by Joan "If God Were One of Us" Osborne and recorded in part at beautiful Longview Farms Studios, North Brookfield, MA. For Narrows alumni trivia fans: Ollabelle's fab keyboardist Glenn Patscha and jazz/blues vocalist Catherine Russell lend a hand. Catch brothers Wendell (above, at a Narrows Festival of the Arts) and Sherman Holmes and Popsy Dixon May 14 at the Narrows.

Only Everything--David Sanborn--The saxophonist who has pretty much sat in with everybody has put out a delightful CD, even, I submit, for those having difficulty listening to instrumental recordings. The sound is jazz, but the melody remains through the riffing--and passionate 23-year-old British R & B tigress Joss Stone and nice guy flexible folkie James Taylor break it up nicely at the microphone. The theme is that Sanborn is getting back to his
roots--namely Ray Charles--featuring tunes written and/or recorded by The Genius, including "Hallelujah, I Love Her So," given the JT treatment and "Let the Good Times Roll" fronted finely by Stone (this is not the hit for Shirley and Lee in the 1950s, but rather a song associated with Louis Jordan in the 1940s). Feature of note: Soulful Hammond B3 all over the place. Pop this one into your vehicle's sound system and cruise.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Releases From Narrows Artists

With so much music floating around, it's difficult to wade through all the information. That's why, as a public service, your humble blogger is listing selected releases over the past week or so from artists who have performed, or will be performing at, or we would love to have perform at, the Narrows. The information is gleaned from and other sources. So if you're a fan of the music presented at the Narrows, this might be a good starting point in tracking down a recording you may enjoy.

Jeff Beck--Emotion & Commotion (Nice story in Rolling Stone a few months ago featuring Jeff Beck & somewhat historic rival Eric Clapton. Worth tracking down to see how Mr. Beck views his relative anonymity compared to Clapton's celebrity.)

Chris Farlowe--a couple releases are listed: Art of Chris Farlowe, as well as Best of Chris Farlowe. Mr. Farlowe was a protege of The Rolling Stones, a British soul singer who's version of the Stones' "Out of Time" is a favorite of your humble blogger.

Jefferson Airplane--Thirty Seconds Over Winterland/Early Flight. (Hey Jorma fans!)

B.B. King--On Stage with Lucille

Kaki King--Junior (We did a show or two with her a few years back. She was respected at that time; she's much more famous now, I think. In an email from Rounder Records announcing the release, the company says she's Rolling Stone's first-ever female guitar god.)

Tom Lehrer--Tom Lehrer Collection (Your humble blogger is a huge fan.)

Janiva Magness--Devil is an Angel Too. (She's coming May 15 to the Narrows. Been digging on this CD for a few days.)

Carrie Rodriguez--Love and Circumstances. (That's her on the right at one of the Narrows' Festivals of the Arts.)

Catherine Russell--Inside this Heart of Mine. (Great show the other night at the Narrows.)

Ravi Shankar--Nine Decades, Vol. 1. (I know we have some 1960s fans who come to our concerts. So who is more 1960s than Norah Jones' father?)

Please feel free to add other releases or make corrections.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It Swings

Jazz/blues song stylist Catherine Russell showed, Friday night at the Narrows, how it was when jazz and blues were the same, and her dad, Luis Russell, was working with Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong in the 1920s and '30s.

Dinah Washington, Fats Waller--and even Sam Cooke's younger brother L.C. Cooke were on the agenda.

Catherine's tasty back-up of keys, stand-up and electric guitar with even a bit of banjo was stellar support.

Narrows Best Folk Venue

You knew it already, but now so do the readers of the Providence Phoenix: The Narrows is "Best Folk Venue."

Thank you to all who voted for us!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Merle Haggard Streaming

Merle Haggard's new CD, his first in several years, is streaming until its official release later this month on NPR.

New Furniture!

New furniture at the Narrows! Comfy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Voice

What can you say about a group that can go from Bill Monroe to the Moody Blues ("Tuesday Afternoon") to Led Zepplin ("Going to California") to Frank Sinatra--and make it work?

The John Cowan Band did, Saturday night at the Narrows, in a progressive bluegrass/jazz style.

Bassist Cowan, who is perhaps best known for being part of the Newgrass Revival (along with Sam Bush and Bela Fleck) way back when, demonstrated why he has been for decades the vocal go-to guy for folks like John Prine, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Garth Brooks, Hootie and the Blowfish, the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Travis Tritt, the String Cheese Incident etc. Magnificent vocals--and pretty darn good bass playing as well. His version of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," a song Frank Sinatra made a classic in 1955, could have won a Grammy. He dedicated it to his late father, who died in 1974, who he said was a talented singer and a vocal influence, though confining his talents to church and a barbershop quartet.

On guitar, Jeff Autry, one of the best you'll here (he cited jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery as one of his idols). On fiddle, the magnificent Shad Cobb.

Check out in a few days. The show was streamed live on their website and should be in their archives very soon. Absolutely worth finding!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Adrian Belew Coming in June

Guitarist Adrian Belew, perhaps best known for his guitar work with King Crimson, is coming to the Narrows in June.

More here.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Little Brother Jimmy

Chip Taylor brought his charming show to the Narrows Thursday night, featuring guitarist John Platania (you heard his guitar on Van Morrison's "Moondance") and fiddler Kendel Carson.

His new CD Yonkers NY tells of growing up with two older brothers, actor Jon Voight and geologist Barry Voight, with a golf pro dad who thrilled his sons with stories of his supposed life as an undercover FBI agent.

Chip, whose given name is James Wesley Voight, is best known for composing "Wild Thing" a hit for The Troggs and covered by Jimi Henrix (and others), and "Angel of the Morning," a hit for Merrilee Rush and Juice Newton.

Local fave, singer guitarist Louie Leeman, opened.