Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shake Some Action

Keeping Time--Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents--Remember the line "you had me at hello"? Boston's Jen D'Angora and her group had me at their version of the Flamin' Groovies tune "Shake Some Action," which, as posted on the Jenny & company site, has won the endorsement of co-writer Cyril Jordan. (You may be familiar with the Flamin' Groovies' version from the movie "Clueless." ) Keeping Time, though, is mostly filled with her original songs performed "retro," recalling 60s "girl" groups like The Shangri-Las. "I've been a fan of that music since I was really young and my interest was rejuvenated as I started getting into Blondie and the New York Dolls--their interpretations of songs by The Shangri-Las and other groups fascinated me," she writes on her website. Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents come to the Narrows January 21, opening for the Spampinato Brothers. Get warmed up by this video of the group performing "Shake Some Action" last year in the UK. And, I couldn't resist, a video of The Flamin' Groovies too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quirky Cool Country

Welder--Elizabeth Cook--She's got a voice like Dolly Parton's and she's played the Grand Ole Opry. She's country as heck, and funny too. And she's got the looks of a supermodel. So how come you (and formerly me) don't know her? Maybe it's because she's quirky, and sometimes, you know, people don't appreciate that kind of thing. Quirky people's brains are, ahem, different.

Some of her lyrics as evidence of her sublime quirkiness:

"If I wake up married, I'll have to annul it/ Right now my hands are in his mullet." (From "El Camino." Also from that song "I told him your car is creepy man/And not in a gangsta kind of way/But in a perv kind of way.")

"She stripped for awhile in Connecticut/Got married at least 5 times/Everyone of them men was crazy about her/So she married a couple of 'em twice." (From "Heroin Addict Sister," in which she also writes "She's a certified underwater welder/She can cook, clean and crochet/She can flash a smile from her sweet weary soul/That'll melt all your doubts away.")

"When you say yes to beer, you say no to booty." (From "Yes to Booty"--you get the picture.)

"Likes to talk about Elvis, but only in the Sun years." (From "Rock N Roll Man," in which she also writes "He's got sheets over the windows and records on the floor/A poster of Jimi Hendrix on his bedroom door." I don't know about you, but I've known people like that.)

Welder was produced by Don Was (who's produced The Rolling Stones, among many others). Buddy Miller, Dwight Yoakam and soon-to-be-Narrows alum Rodney Crowell contribute assorted background vocals.

Unless you've got something against quirky cool country, you'll love Ms. Cook, as did the Narrows audience when she made her debut earlier this month (that's her in the photo signing).

Say no to beer, but yes to quirky.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Boogaloo Dudes

What do you call the sound of the subdudes. Hard to put a name to it, but rock, folk for sure. And, being from New Orleans, one can hear The Big Easy. Heck, I even thought Doobie Brothers.

Guitars, accordion, lots of harmonies, gentle toe-tapping rhythm.

What's safe to say is that people love it--witness the sold out show Friday night at the Narrows! Might be awhile before we see them again. Their website says they're cutting back touring in 2011 to focus on side projects.

You might see them on HBO: They just did filming for Treme.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

9 Years! What A Rush!

Saturday night the Narrows marked its 9th anniversary with a sold out Tom Rush concert. Can you believe it? Nine years!

Thanks to Bert Harlow, Patrick Norton, Deb Charlebois, Peter Belanger, Brian Shriver, Congressman Jim McGovern, Sam Shapiro, and so many others--especially our patrons.

Your humble blogger for the first time missed the anniversary concert but Narrows volunteer Herb Tracy was there, took the above photo and writes:

"Tom was in fine voice and his playing was stellar. At times during the show you could hear the proverbial pin drop or roars of laughter at his banter. But it was a rousing rendition of Galveston Flood as an encore that brought the audience to its feet. As those who've seen him before know, he makes a personal connection with his audience while on stage and off. Last night was no exception. During the break and after the show Tom spent times with fans genuinely enjoying the stories they brought to him about what his music means to them.

"He introduced us to his first song for children--about a child's experience with a magic fish. Tom has an 'interactive' coloring book to go with it. And, as he said, 'I'm the author and the child is the illustrator.' What better collaboration could you want? Will a children's album follow? We'll have to wait and see."

Nice job Herb. Thanks! Anybody else at the concert want to add to Herb's observations?

Friday, November 12, 2010

We Salute Our Donors with Quite a Cook!

Funny. Who knew Elizabeth Cook was that funny?

Maybe we should have suspected since she's well known for her song "Sometimes It Takes Balls to be a Woman."

Friday night was an exclusive concert for the Narrows' donors, and Ms. Cook was the perfect match. Great songs, fabulous singing, great playing by her husband, guitarist Tim Carroll and bassist Bones Hillman (remember Midnight Oil?).

And funny. Her mom, she said, is from West Virginia. "50 million people and 5 last names." Elizabeth is from Central Florida, which, she said, is part of the south. Once you get to Orlando though, "it's New Jersey then Cuba."

If you're a Sirius satellite radio subscriber, you might be familiar with her show "Elizabeth Cook's Apron Strings" a mix of music, recipes and household tips.

Speaking of radio, the concert was streamed live on, which should have it posted in its archives soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yer Bonerama

It hit 75 degrees in New Orleans today, and despite the 40-something temperatures in the Spindle City, NOLA's Bonerama chased the chills at the Narrows.

Kicking off with The Star Spangled Banner on this Veterans Day, Bonerama fused rock, trippy prog, jazz, and whatever, even doing the rarely if ever covered (from the Beatles' White Album) Yer Blues ("My mother was of the sky/My father was of the earth/But I am of the universe/And you know what it's worth"). At times they reminded your humble blogger of the old Blood, Sweat & Tears, with the emphasis on electric guitar (Remember Steve Katz?) despite being a horn-dominated ensemble.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Above are the wonderful group Red Molly, who performed a lovely bluegrassy show at the Narrows Friday night. I took this photo "backstage." If you missed them this time, be sure to keep an eye on the Narrows schedule, because no doubt they'll be returning in 2011.

Many groups sell CDs at their performances, usually at around $15 apiece. Red Molly, however, let people decide how much they wanted to pay. As they joked on-stage, the more people who have their music, the more likely they'll be invited on "Oprah." They're probably right. Anyway, knowing the generosity of Narrows patrons, chances are at least some paid more than the standard $15.

Red Molly's kindness to their fans got me thinking.

By coincidence, I'm reading You Are Not A Gadget, a book by Jaron Lanier, one of Time magazine's 100 people in 2010 who most affect the world. He's a guy who knows computers, the Internet etc. He describes himself as a "digital technologist." He is also a musician who is worried about what the Internet is doing to the earning potential of people paying the bills based on "mental activity," such as musicians, filmmakers and writers.

Over the course of my 9 years at the Narrows, I have spoken to musicians--some well known across the country and beyond--who are barely getting by as they create the soundtracks of our lives. They make us tap our feet and laugh. They comfort us in bad times, and help us enjoy good times. They encourage us to think, to love, to live life. They help us survive jobs we may not enjoy, and, even worse, unemployment. They hold our hands when a loved one passes, and provide the songs we sing with our children. They enrich us with their life's work.

So, in this light I respectfully suggest that those of us who partake of "free" downloads might reconsider such actions. Am I wrong?

Friday, November 05, 2010


The Narrows crew continues to mourn the loss of longtime Narrows supporter Ronnie Brandt, who passed away recently.

We thought we'd post his photo, since many knew his smile but maybe not his name.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

"Tries To Be Good"

"I'm glad I found Slaid Cleaves, because my life would have been poorer without him."

--Stephen King

A good crowd enriched their lives Thursday night at the Narrows, as singer/songwriter Slaid Cleaves brought his bag full of story songs to our stage for the first time since 2006, according to our records. You can look it up.

We're particularly fond of Slaid because he was one of the first performers ever to play the Narrows back about 9 years ago. He was at the Narrows before the Narrows was cool!

Through the years, his motto has remained the same: "Grew up in Maine. Lives in Texas. Writes songs. Makes records. Travels around. Tries to be good."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Too Cool to Miss

Praise & Blame--Tom Jones--Powerful vocals. Powerful songs. Tom Jones, who turned 70 this year, has tossed the tux to get into a rootsy wrassle with John Lee Hooker's "Burning Hell" (watch TJ do it on Jools Holland's show), Bob Dylan's "What Good Am I?" and other gospel-like tunes. Jones "reinvents himself but is always the same guy," says producer Ethan Johns in this clip about making Praise & Blame. Which is about right--remember when he did--who would have thought?--Prince's "Kiss"? And it was perfect! (Note for history buffs: Johns is the son of famed producer/engineer Glyn Johns, whose name you may have spotted on a Stones or Beatle album.) Backing musicians in addition to Johns include Gillian Welch and Rhode Island's Dave Rawlings, Stax legend Booker T. Jones and Tom Petty associate Benmont Tench. This is a keeper that may not get its due because roots fans will overlook a bump and grinder. Resist the urge. This one's too cool to miss.