Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Summer and the Livin' is Rhythmic

How does one describe Entrain's sound? Rhythmic, for sure. Jam band? Yep. Rock 'n' roll? Works for me. Funk, R & B? Could be. World? At times and maybe even jazz.

Most of all, they sound like summer.

They've been around since the early 1990s after drummer and founder Tom Major returned from a trip to West Africa where he sampled the local sounds. As he writes on their website, he came back more determined than ever to start a rhythm heavy band.

Friday night at the Narrows they showered us with their rhythms, energy, musicianship and, yes, joy.

Welcome to summer!

Friday, April 22, 2011


  • This week's Providence Phoenix published the annual "Readers' Picks," and guess what? The Narrows is, once again, "Best Folk Venue." Won it last year and 2008. The Phoenix writes: "It's sizable but intimate. It's rustic to a degree. And best of all, it has a homey vibe." We're just regular folks here, see, looking to spread music that matters throughout the world--or at least our little part of it. Thanks Phoenix readers!
  • Have you seen Patrick Norton's blog? He's the Narrows' executive director, bookings guy, etc. He brings a unique viewpoint on the music world. Check out his write up about record stores here. Kinda choked me up. I love hanging out in record stores, and am sad when one closes its doors. I like the Newbury Comics in Attleboro and the Providence Place Mall, FYE in the Swansea Mall too. And, almost forgot, the Time Capsule on Route 6 in Seekonk.
  • At this writing, Roomful of Blues is close to a sell-out. They're coming Friday, May 6. First time at the Narrows, believe it or not. Long overdue.
  • Yes, Judy Collins is sold out.
  • But Rickie Lee Jones isn't. Michelle Shocked tickets still available.
  • Don't forget, John Popper makes his Narrows debut April 28. Blues Traveler guy.
  • Really like the new Narrows t-shirt. Grabs the eye.
  • I don't care what you think. I like American Idol, and enjoy seeing Steven Tyler on the show. Plus, interesting performance tips from Jimmy Iovine.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Morphine was an alt-rock band based in Boston led by Mark Sandman, who collapsed on stage in Rome, Italy and passed away from a heart attack in 1999.

Since then former members have pursued various projects, with the latest involving Narrows' regular Jeremy Lyons and Morphine members Dana Colley, on baritone sax, and Jerome Duepree on drums. They created a groovy, dark, bluesy vibe Thursday night.

Looked at that big old baritone sax! Puts a real bottom on the sound.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Learning the Truth

Above all there's the voice--compelling, on the note, with feeling. Janis Ian, a pro in the finest sense.

An accomplished guitarist. A musician.

The songs, "Society's Child" etc. Etc. understates, of course.

Her personality, her humor, her stories--about playing "Society's Child" in concert as a teenager and being attacked with vile taunts; leaving the stage before the show was over; crying, then returning after the promoter told her that he couldn't believe that the writer of that song was a coward.

If you missed Janis Ian this time round, you can check the archives at and see if the recording of the show is posted. Better yet, catch her live, preferably at the Narrows.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

All That Jazz

Gretchen Parlato, a rising jazz presence with the current #1 jazz album on itunes, brought her voice and talented group--piano, bass, drums--to the Narrows Wednesday night, helping us through the mid-week hump.

It was a kinda CD release party, although she's already succeeded chart-wise in the world of Apple, for her new recording The Lost and Found, which was released Tuesday. Our esteemed stage was the first performance in support of the disc.

Spread the word: the Narrows is the premier listening room for jazz--and everything else, come to think of it!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

RIP Melvin Sparks

Was reading the Providence Phoenix this morning when I noticed that the Cool, Cool World column noted the passing of Melvin Sparks. Here's the NY Times obit with more details about Mr. Sparks. As far as I can remember, the Narrows did at least one show with him--a Google search found a performance in 2004, which is why I couldn't find anything in the Backstage at the Narrows archives, since this blog started in 2005. If my memory is correct, the house was empty for Mr. Sparks' concert. Too bad, since he was a celebrated session and jazz guitarist. Perhaps with our new emphasis on cultivating jazz at the Narrows we might have booked him in the months ahead. And since we're much better known than back in 2004, Mr. Sparks may have drawn the audience he deserved. If you saw Mr. Sparks perform at the Narrows or elsewhere, please leave your thoughts in the comments section. RIP.

Friday, April 01, 2011

No Foolin'

It may have been April Fools, but it was no joke that the Narrows showed it's growing as a comedy venue, based on Friday's draw.

Who doesn't need a laugh during these tough times?

Mike Koutrobis, Paul Keenan and headliner Joe Yannetty (photo) took the edge off the world for awhile with their observations.

Comedy fans don't have to wait too long for the Narrows' next comedy night. The word is it's May 13. The performers will soon be announced.