October 29, 2007

It never gets old

Forgive my small diversion from music topics to celebrate the Sox as 2007 World Champs! What a fun year it was. I truly never believed that I would see a World Series victory in my lifetime, and now I've seen two! It is amazing. I was thinking last night as I was trying to fall asleep following the celebration about how many years it was between World Series appearances when I was a kid -- '67 to '75, '75 to '86, '86 to 2004 (me pictured with the 2004 trophy) -- and how the Sox could never win it. And now my 11-year-old son, between the Sox and the Patriots, thinks this is just a regular occurrence that our team wins it all. Anyway, we'll get back to music, right after I get some sleep.

October 25, 2007

Two for Thursday

A couple of items I've just learned about...

First, the Boston Music Award nominations are now in and YOU can vote for your favorites. In recent years these awards seem to have fallen on hard times, even to a point of being a joke when the likes of Pat Metheny and Bonnie Raitt were up for awards even though they haven't lived in Boston for over a decade. And this year there are still some questionable ones (hello, Josh Ritter, who has lived in Idaho for the last couple years). But there are some our favorites who are getting notice and got our vote (in fact, we voted for Josh anyway!). Lori McKenna was nominated for a bunch of awards and so was Sarah Borges. Another of our faves, Eilen Jewell was left off, which does not make us happy. Anyway, to vote click HERE.

Our second piece of news does not make me as happy. Rushad Eggleston (left), the brilliant charismatic cellist, is leaving the band Crooked Still. It has been our fear since I saw them earlier this year that the band is just too good to stay together long term. As it is their banjo player extraordinaire Greg Liszt has taken leaves from the band to tour with Springsteen. Crooked Still is adding another cellist and a fiddle player and are not breaking up, so we can take heart in that.

October 23, 2007

Wear it all, begins!

You've read the magazine... you've browsed the blog... now wear your obsession with pride. Yes, now available is Modern Acoustic the T-shirt, sweatshirt and other fine products suitable for you or your very cool friends and relatives. OK, enough of the sales pitch.
But it is true, now available through Cafe Press are VERY COOL shirts in a variety of styles and colors. How cool? Take a look.
Go to www.cafepress.com/
to browse through the merch.

October 18, 2007

Where it all begins

It's easy to forget sometimes - as you pay your money, sit in nice seats, and listen to polished bands - about where it all starts for musicians. A couple of nights ago I got the pleasure to revisit that experience at an open mike night at the Burren in Somerville. My reason for going was to meet Seattle singer-songwriter Ali Marcus (right), someone who I became acquainted with through my magazine (she wrote a piece for my Internet radio story, Issue 15) and heard her music (reviewed in Issue 16), but never met in person. She and her friend Kristy Cameron (below), another musician (who to my surprise has a strong Josh Ritter connection), are touring the East Coast and were playing their way from Boston to Northampton to New York, picking up open mike gigs spontaneously as they went.
It was a long night of music: There were plenty of musicians who came to showcase their work, and though the crowd was fairly small at first -- there was after all a Sox playoff game happening -- by the end of the night, there were people dancing (even to Kristy's pony song!!) in front of the bar. And while some of the acts, especially early, were less-than polished, there were many others that really showed some skill and potential. Among those I can remember were a woman named Elizabeth Perkins, who had a really nice voice, and a dude playing bass in a rockin' duo, who could really play.
And of course my new friends Ali and Kristy. Ali played this great new tune she said she just wrote about Kurt Cobain. Being from Seattle, she has some history there, but her song was about how she just read his biography and found that he was not a very nice guy. Ali's got a great stage presence and also plays a mean harmonica! As for Kristy, she's got the guts to get up in front of people and play the banjo -- solo! Go, Kristy.
Visit Ali Marcus' website HERE
Visit Kristy Cameron's myspace page HERE

October 6, 2007

The Day After the 2 Nights Previous

I just woke up after back-to-back nights of Josh Ritter and Co. at the Somerville Theatre. The tunes are still deep in my subconscious, my head still bouncing to the beat. A tremendous pair of shows with so many highlights, among them the incredibly rocking new songs "Rumors," "Mind's Eye," "To the Dogs." The older songs, gussied up with a bigger sound and slightly new arrangements, certainly held their own. "Girl in the War" was more determined than ever. The horn section, man, if they could only take them on the road for the complete tour... They really helped hammer "Real Long Distance." Which night was better? Who knows, who cares. The crowd seemed rowdier the first night; the band cranked on Night 2.
Some asides:
* Josh, please tell us that story again about playing wiffle ball among the sheep. Still trying to figure that one out.
* Opening act Old School Freight Train got each night off to a rollicking start. Who ever thought Blondie's "Heart of Glass" could be done as a roots-rockin' ballad?
* Finally, I just want to say thanks to the Ritter band. I got to know the two newest members, Austin and Liam, over the two days. I really appreciate how nice all the guys are, but the band couldn't do any better than adding these two. Their exuberance and willingness to answer all of my silly questions is/was amazing. Zack is a rock, and the Loch Ness Tuba is a monster! Sam, thanks for everything. We all had a great time. If you ever need a tour bus driver, count me in!
For more pics, click HERE

October 2, 2007

Issue No. 17, October 2007

CAUGHT IN A JAM: For a full weekend we found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the Gathering of Vibes jam-band festival

I arrived at Ithaca College in 1979 with a boxful of Lynyrd Skynryd, Tom Petty and Pink Floyd albums.
Two years later, when my college roommate, Jeff, and I went our separate ways to follow our dreams, I left with a boxful of tapes recorded from his totally cool collection of jazz and rock albums, and a wider appreciation for all kinds of music.
Jeff and I have kept in touch over the years, our families have become almost relative-like. But we live far enough apart here in New England that get-togethers – let alone going to shows – are sadly few.
This summer we were determined to see a show together. The Newport Folk fest? The lineup wasn’t inspiring. He came up with the Gathering of the Vibes Festival in Bridgeport, Conn. Jeff is more into the jam scene than I am, even though I did my time as a Deadhead in the early ’80s. I was not quite convinced about traveling 3 1/2 hours for a day of jam bands. But when the plan became three days of music and camping, well, I was excited there was adventure (and a magazine story) to be had.
There were many emails back and forth planning meals and equipment to bring, all leading up to a great weekend that started with rain the first night and ending with two beautiful days on the Connecticut coast, enjoying sun, surf, great food and music.
In this issue, we offer some of the sights we saw. The jam-band community, like the Dead community that spawned it, is quite intact. In our three-day stay, we saw no fights, no problems with the police and a lot of people – both young and old, singles and couples with kids – enjoying themselves. The festival itself, its professionalism, the food, the care for the fans, was top notch.
And the music?
That’s another question, one we explore as well. For those who love jam bands, it was great. For those of us on the fence ... well, we reveled in a weekend filled with good vibes.
Click HERE to download the new issue
Click HERE to view pics from the festival

ALSO, we review new CDs: Erin McKeown's "Lafayette," Joni Mitchell's "Shine," and Iron & Wine's "The Shepherd's Dog.'' Click HERE to read the reviews.

1. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’’ “The Covers Album,” Cat Power. Slinky, and almost unrecognizable from the Stones original.
2. “Throw Me a Rope,” unrecorded, Gillian Welch. I’m sure the song will appear on the next album, whenever that is. Right now, we can only hear it with the help of YouTube.
3. “Loan Me a Dime,” Boz Skaggs with Duane Allman, “The Duane Allman Anthology.’’ Down, out, and awesome.
4. “Celluloid Heroes,” “Misfits,” The Kinks. It’s been a while since we heard this. Always fun to revisit old friends.
5. “Oreo Cookie Blues,” “Strike Like Lightning,’’ Lonnie Mack. Yes, a song about the actual cookie – with a little help from Stevie Ray Vaughan on acoustic slide (!).