Sunday, October 31, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

"I'm a cross between Pete Seeger and Don Rickles," said Vance Gilbert during his debut at the Narrows Saturday night.

This delightful self-effacing performer--who started in jazz and is a mainstay in the folk scene--charmed the audience with his soulful vocals and stand-up comedy stage banter.

When your humble blogger went "backstage" to shoot a behind-the-scenes photo (above) before the show, he rose to the challenge to make it fun and different.

As one of our longtime audience members (Fred) pointed out, a Vance Gilbert performance is a personal experience. It certainly was!

A sad note: Before the concert, Vance learned his 82 year old step father had just passed away in CT. Our condolences to him.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Howlin' for The Black Keys

Brothers--The Black Keys--These two guys from Akron are doing what musicians--like Led Zeppelin, Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones, the Animals and others--did in the 1960s: take sounds from way back and make them your own. The Stones and the others took blues music and transformed it for a new age. The Black Keys are taking classic rock--with more than a touch of the likes of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and even Gary Glitter--and molding it for a new generation. Call it retro, call it garage. It works!

All the songs were written by The Black Keys except for "Never Gonna Give You Up," written and recorded by soul singer Jerry Butler (Who covers Jerry Butler?), but the riffs sound familiar, even though you may not be able to pinpoint why. And the songs are more than songs--they feel like atmosphere. It's old, it's new. It's everywhere too. This morning I heard their "Howlin' For You" from Brothers in a car commercial. Not a bad thing. If you're, like me, late to The Black Keys--they have been around for about a decade--Brothers would be a nice introduction.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Texas Tornado

The Lone Star State's Jimmie Vaughan made his Narrows debut Sunday night before a sold out venue of appreciative fans (including guitar god Duke Robillard)!

Accompanied by a blazing band and roadhouse singer Lou Ann Barton, the Fabulous Thunderbirds founder showed why he is one of the most celebrated guitarists in the world.


Learned of a death in the Narrows family just before the Jimmie Vaughan show Sunday night.

Ronnie Brandt passed away suddenly this weekend. Narrows honcho Patrick Norton led the audience in a toast to his memory before the concert.

Our condolences to his family and friends. He was remembered fondly by members of the crew at the Narrows.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Temptations are Still Here!

Still Here--The Temptations--Yes, those Temptations. "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" Temptations, "Ball of Confusion," Temptations, "My Girl" etc. Great songs, very cool sweet and, in the late 1960s, psychedelic soul. Only one member these days is original, but throughout their hit-making history they kept changing personnel anyway. Never mind that. Still Here is a wonderful listen, a recording the Temps call a "concept album" because it reflects various styles from their history. If you like soul, you'll like Still Here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Raul Malo: The Voice

He's got the subtle heartbreak in his voice that Roy Orbison possessed--and he brought it to the Narrows Thursday night for the first time along with his band and kind of Tex-Mex sound.

Raul Malo, formerly of The Mavericks, charmed from his first note.

The concert was streamed live on and hopefully will be in the archives in the near future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Did You Know This About Peter Wolf?

Peter Wolf, solo artist and J. Geils singer, makes his Narrows debut in November, although he has attended at least one show (Shelby Lynne's) at our fabled location.

Peter lived an interesting life even before he came to national attention as the wild man voice of the J.Geils Band.

Some fun facts:

--His father was a musician and had his own radio show in New York City; his mother was a teacher; his grandmother, an actress.

--His older sister was a dancer on Alan Freed's television show.

--As a child he took part in a child music series with Woody Guthrie.

--Peter has dyslexia, a condition which makes it difficult to play an instrument. He studied piano, guitar, drums and violin.

--When he was seven his family moved to the Berkshires due to his father's work at Tanglewood, and young Peter used to hang out in the studio of Norman Rockwell, developing an interest in painting.

--Peter hung out with Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village in Dylan's early years.

--Peter's high school was in Harlem, not far from the Apollo Theater, where Peter watched shows by Ray Charles, James Brown, Jackie Wilson and others.

--Peter roomed with David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks) in Boston while studying art at Boston's Museum of Fine Art. He also befriended Jon Landau, later Bruce Springsteen's manager and a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

--Peter had an apartment in Cambridge, MA which became a refuge for touring musicians, including Muddy Waters.

--Barry Tashian, of New England legends Barry and the Remains, and later a member of Emmylou Harris' group, roomed with Peter.

I could go on.  Learn more at

Friday, October 08, 2010

Cheryl Wheeler made her annual appearance at the Narrows Friday night--but this time she was accompanied by a lovely book called Nice Rendition, Cheryl Wheeler's Lyrics in Calligraphy.

Sixty artists have done beautiful work in interpreting the lyrics from 73 of Cheryl's songs.

The book will continue to be for sale at the Narrows for a couple more weeks. Also check out

Friday, October 01, 2010

Notwithstanding Pompatus

Bingo--Steve Miller Band--The smooth production rock powerhouse who gave us "pompatus of love," is back after almost 2 decades, and doing blues with the help of veteran R & B singer Sonny Charles. Like most, perhaps all, of Steve Miller's work, what's not to like? It's catchy, it's fun, it's quality, and it's mostly silky smooth (except, maybe, for a rhythmically jarring rendition of Howlin' Wolf's "Who's Been Talkin"). Soon-to-be-Narrows-alum Jimmie Vaughan had a hand in writing 3 tracks, by the way.

For those who may not be ultra-serious blues students, there's a possibility you are unfamiliar with the tunes on Bingo. You might know B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby" (reportedly the most covered blues song of all time), though. But, no matter. This is a fun, fine recording you can listen to a lot without growing tired. I'm mean, have you ever tired of hearing "Rock 'N Me,""Jet Airliner," or "Swingtown"? Not me. Okay, I am tired of "The Joker," "pompatus of love" notwithstanding.