Bradley's Almanac

[Words & Music] The Boston Book Festival Is Here (& MP3s from 2010 Book Revue)

Posted on October 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm | No Comments

squirrel party!

With last night’s Herbie Hancock Keynote kickoff, the annual Boston Book Festival is officially underway in and around Copley Square. As much as I appreciate (and mutilate) the written word, my favorite parts of the fest always end up being those that throw music in the mix. The BBF never fails to incorporate at least one music-related event into their programming, and this year is no different: Saturday evening’s grand finale is “Words and Music: A Literary Jam Session” at the Old South Church. The details, from their website:

In this one-of-a-kind session we’ll hear from three authors who’ve infused their recent novels with music, from classical to rock ‘n’ roll. The heroine of Stacey d’Erasmo’s “Wonderland” is a middle-aged rocker embarking on what she hopes will be her comeback tour. The young characters in Kate Racculia’s “Bellweather Rhapsody” find more there’s more than just music to discover (hint: corpse) at an orchestra camp in upstate New York. “Wonderkid” by Wesley Stace tells the story of the tumultuous rise and fall of a rock band whose audience is still in diapers. Musical interludes will be provided by Stace (aka John Wesley Harding), the appropriately named indie ensemble-pop group The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, and by our host, Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding, who’s also no slouch at the drums. Dancing in the aisles is encouraged! Sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.”

Between now and then we’ve got tonight’s second keynote speech by Susan Minot and a ton of interesting sessions on Saturday, so be sure to check the full schedule.

This year’s fest gives me an opportunity to flashback to my favorite-ever BBF event, “The Book Revue: Words & Music”, which capped off the 2010 edition. It was an ideal marriage of words & music, with a killer lineup and one hell of a host in Steve Almond (“Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life“, “Against Football”, etc).

After Almond’s introduction, author/songwriter Joe Pernice (Pernice Bros., Scud Mountain Boys) read from his novel “It Feels So Good When I Stop” and performed the Pernice Bros. songs “The Loving Kind” and “Amazing Glow“. Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna, Dean & Britta) read “Letter From A Concerned Luna Fan” from his novel “Black Postcards” and played G500’s “Blue Thunder” along with the Dean & Britta track “The Sun Is Still Sunny“. Author Nick Flynn delivered his intoxicating mediation on drinking, “Same Again” before an excerpt from his novel “The Ticking Is The Bomb”. Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave) followed with a couple excerts from her resurrected teenage diary “Rat Girl” and performed both “Flooding” and “Your Dirty Answer“. Lastly, Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) joined Zachary Lipez and Stacy Wakefield to present pieces of their collaboration “Please Take Me Off The Guest List“. The centerpiece of the whole thing was Almond’s hilarious lyrical dissection of Toto’s “Africa“. That bit is worth the price of admission alone.

The BBF shared, and still archives, the entire event in (one giant) MP3 form, so I’ve excised a few bits below alongside the original file. Enjoy…


Steve Almond vs. Toto. For more photos, click here.

[MP3] Boston Book Festival 2010 – “The Book Revue: Words & Music”

[MP3] Joe Pernice – “Amazing Glow” (live)

[MP3] Dean Wareham – “Letter From A Concerned Luna Fan” (reading)

[MP3] Dean Wareham – “Blue Thunder” (live)

[MP3] Kristin Hersh – “Flooding” (live)

Much gratitude to Mr. Tom Johnston for pulling that lineup together, and to the Boston Book Festival’s continued inclusion of music-related programming every year. Have a look at Saturday’s complete BBF 2014 lineup, and hit up the Dig for some recommendations

[50 Years of Boston Rock] WMBR’s Pipeline! Announces Anniversary Lineups

Posted on August 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm | 1 Comment

WMBR‘s venerable live local music show Pipeline! is marking their 25th year on the airwaves by throwing a 5-weekend party at 5 Boston-area venues this fall, and the lineups have just been let loose. It’s crammed with legends, also-rans, familiar names, and obscure oldsters – reuniting a ridiculous number of bands from throughout, and I quote, “50 Years of Boston Rock!”. If scanning through this stacked list of several dozen area bands doesn’t get you excited, then you either haven’t lived here very long, or you’ve grown too old and jaded to care. Either way, your loss. Me? I’m practically giddy. I gasped more than once after this sucker hit my inbox.

Full press release and nightly lineups (not in performing order) below, with my personal standouts following. Read on, snag your tickets (update: all tickets are now on sale, links next to each lineup), and get ready…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PIPELINE! AT 25
PRESENTS
50 YEARS OF BOSTON ROCK!

The Dates, Venues, and Line-ups!

Pipeline!, WMBR’s live local music show, celebrates its 25th anniversary year with 13 shows featuring close to 80 reunited Boston-area bands performing at 5 venues over 5 weekends from September 12 to October 12

Cambridge, MA (August 3, 2014) ­- WMBR’s Pipeline! show (airing every Tuesday evening 8:00-10:00 with host Jeff Breeze) today announced the dates, venues, and band line-ups for the 50 Years of Boston Rock festival this fall. These bands from decades past come roaring into the present day, among them: The Remains with their stunning garage beat and The Freeborne rediscovering their psych virtuosity from the ’60s; Reddy Teddy and Willie Alexander & The Boom Boom Band bringing back the pre and proto-punk sounds of the ’70s; Stranglehold, The Dogmatics and the F.U’s delivering early ’80s punk proper and hardcore…and later in the decade O Positive and Big Dipper representing the burgeoning indie-rock scene; Gigolo Aunts, Fuzzy, and the Dirt Merchants nearing the millennium with their ’90s indie-pop/rock brilliance; and finally The Sheila Divine and The Charms, arriving in the 2000s, recasting pop and garage verities into their own thrilling style. This is a half century’s worth of the Boston music underground…and this festival revisits a good chunk of it!

50 Years of Boston Rock takes place from Friday, September 12 – Sunday, October 12 at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, The Middle East downstairs in Cambridge, the Brighton Music Hall, the Regent Theatre in Arlington, and Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, a new ballroom-like space with a capacity of 425. There are current plans to add a 14th night to the series. Tickets for the Middle East shows are now available, with the other clubs offering their own nights’ tickets this coming week.

Friday September 12th
at the Regent Theatre, Arlington
(Tickets)
O Positive (added)
Cordelia’s Dad
The Freeborne
String Builder
We Saw The Wolf

Saturday, September 13th
at Cuisine en Locale, Somerville
(Tickets)
Baby’s Arm
Miranda Warning (added)
The Dogmatics
Eric Martin (of the Neats) & friends
Stranglehold
The Turbines

Friday, September 19th
at Cuisine en Locale, Somerville
(Tickets)
Curious Ritual (added)
Nisi Period
Someone & the Somebodies
Pods
Purple Ivy Shadows
Mistle Thrush
Curious Ritual
Ultrabreakfast (added)

Saturday September 20th
at Cuisine en Locale, Somerville
(Tickets)
Dirt Merchants
Fertile Virgin
The Gravel Pit
Honeybunch
Evol Twin (added)
The Sheila Divine

Friday, September 26th
at the Regent Theatre, Arlington
(Tickets)
The Barnies
Bill Goffrier (of Big Dipper) & friends
Dumptruck
The Jigsaws
Vapors of Morphine

Saturday, September 27th
at the Regent Theatre, Arlington
(Tickets)
Barry & the Remains
Cardinal
The Downbeat 5

Sunday, September 28th
at Brighton Music Hall, Allston
(Tickets)
Anastasia Screamed
The Flies
The F.U.’s / Straw Dogs
Men & Volts
The Nervous Eaters
Bentmen (added)

Friday, October 3rd
at the Middle East Downstairs
(Tickets)
Tacklebox
The Blood Oranges
Buttercup
Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
Fuzzy
Lazy Susan

Saturday, October 4th
at the Middle East Downstairs
(Tickets)
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
The Clamdiggers (proto-The Upper Crust)
Crazy Alice
Kudgel
Bulkhead
Quintaine Americana
Orangutang

Sunday, October 5th
at the Paradise
(Tickets)
Big City Rockers (Atlantics)
Heretix (added)
The Dents
High Risk Group
Reddy Teddy
Shake the Faith
Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band

Friday, October 10th
at Cuisine en Locale, Somerville
(Tickets)
The 360s
Green Magnet School
Luca Brasi
Orbit
Permafrost (Miles Dethmuffin)
The Red Telephone (added)
Hullabaloo (added)
Unnatural Axe

Saturday, October 11th
at Cuisine en Locale, Somerville
(Tickets)
The Cavedogs
Drumming on Glass
Flying Nuns
Gigolo Aunts
The Natives
The Rising Storm

Sunday, October 12th
at the Middle East Downstairs
(Tickets)
The Bags
Ed Redeeming Qualities with
Carrie Bradley (of The Breeders) & friends
Dave Derby (of the Dambuilders/Gramercy Arms) & friends (added)
The Gizmos
Kenny Chambers / Electric Ears (doing Moving Targets)
The Underachievers
The Voodoo Dolls

Ok, first off: The “Grambuilders” has gotta be a modified version of the Dambuilders, yeah? I’m digging for details. I’ve known about the Green Magnet School reunion for a little, and I’m still internally freaking out about that one. Can’t wait to see my old friends in Mistle Thrush, plus old labelmates Crazy Alice & Fuzzy, and chimp rock progenitors Kudgel (and while we’re at it, let’s hope one of those TBA spots give us a little Swirlies action, eh?). Then there’s Orbit, Anastasia Screamed, Honeybunch, Dumptruck, Mary Lou Lord… hell, if I don’t stop now I’ll just end up re-typing the full lineup. I’ll share more lineup updates on the ‘Nac Facebook page as they come.

Here’s a look at the original schedule image sent out to press (click to embiggen)…

[Your Boston-Area Saturday] SLEEPYHEAD Record Release Show at Somerville’s Cuisine En Locale / AWESOME DAY FEST in Allston

Posted on May 23, 2014 at 9:01 pm | No Comments

At last, the long weekend is here, and it’s crammed with too many things to do and too many bands to see around Boston. There’s not enough time to write about it all, much less do and see everything, but there are a couple stand-outs that deserve some special attention…


I’m sure I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but we’re a lucky town thanks to Rachael McNally and Chris O’Rourke’s years-ago decision to relocate from NYC to Boston, and the fact that they’ve kept their scrappy indie/rock/punk/etc trio Sleepyhead a going musical concern. Their live shows may be a rare thing, but when they do happen, they’re all ours. There’s long been the promise of a fresh batch of recorded material, as more new songs kept popping up in their sets each year. We’re fortunate that while they may have slowed things down, they’ve never felt the need to put the brakes on after almost 25 (!) years as a band.

Well, 2014 sees them positively flooring it. They’ve released their first full-length in 15 years, the excellent “Wild Sometimes”, on illustrious Chicago label Carrot Top Records, last month they played their first string of out-of-town shows in ages, and tomorrow night they make it local with a special record release show in the friendly confines of Cuisine En Locale in Somerville…

It’s an all ages show, with openers the ‘Mericans kicking the music off around 9pm, but if you really want the full experience, arrive early: Starting at 6pm you can order up a truly spectacular locally-sourced meal courtesy of the top-notch cooks of CoL. Hit their website to see what they’ll be dishing, and to learn more about their meal shares and unique culinary events. The address: 156 Highland Ave., Somerville.

Stream Sleepyhead’s long-awaited “Wild Sometimes” below, check out their brand new Jeannie Donohoe-directed video for the title track at Wifey.tv, and grab advance tickets for Saturday night’s show here. Oh, and remember to eat light tomorrow – save your appetite for the pre-show chow-down.

File under: “A dream I once had”. There are 15 bands playing on Saturday in three venues that are all within shouting distance of my own home. Yes, tomorrow is AWESOME DAY here in Allston, and there’s an AWESOME DAY FEST to prove it.

O’Brien’s, Regina Pizzeria, and Store 54 – all at the intersection of Cambridge St. and Harvard Ave. – are playing host to this multi-stage event, and the lineup includes some personal faves, among them Soccer Mom, Eldridge Rodriguez, Thalia Zedek Band, Earthquake Party!, and M.G. Lederman. Here’s the full where and when…

AWESOME DAY FEST
Saturday, May 24th, 2014
at the intersection of Harvard Ave.
and & Cambridge Street in Allston, MA

At O’Brien’s (doors at 3PM / $10 cover)
6pm-6:30pm: Quarterly
6:40pm-7:15pm: Jim Healey
7:30pm-8:05pm: Tired Old Bones
8:20pm-8:55pm: Civil Warblers
9:10pm-9:45: Soccer Mom
10:05pm-10:45pm: The Proselyte
11pm-11:45pm: Hey Zeus
12 midnight: Gondoliers

At Store 54 (donations encouraged)
9pm: M.G. Lederman
10pm: The Thalia Zedek Band
11pm: The Televibes
12pm: Beware The Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion

At Regina Pizzeria (donations encouraged)
9pm: Earthquake Party!
10pm: Eldridge Rodriguez
11pm: Lifestyle
(in between) DJ Ken Cmar

While there’s a pretty good chance your own tomorrow will be awesome, those chances increase dramatically if you’re actually at Awesome Day Fest….

[It’s Here!] A Music Fan’s Guide to the 2014 Independent Film Festival Boston

Posted on April 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm | No Comments

As warmer temps finally take hold in the Northeast, and the last of those nasty, dirt-colored snow piles fade from our streets, there’s only one thing that will get me to spend many springtime hours inside a darkened movie theatre: The annual return of the Independent Film Festival Boston.

Now in its 12th year, the esteemed 8-day, non-profit, all-volunteer film fest kicks off tonight at the Somerville Theatre with a screening of “Beneath The Harvest Sky”. That’s one of many movies I’m looking forward to this year (and not just because star Aiden Gillen – from the Wire & Game of Thrones – will be in attendance, along with the drama’s co-directors). Tickets for that are still on sale, but I can almost guarantee that won’t be the case at the door tonight. Each year, many films sell out in advance, so have a look at the lineup and make a plan, or better yet, grab a full festival badge and save yourself a little stress. Update: Full fest badges are sold out! All the more reason to pick up single tickets in advance, or at least arrive early for the stand-by lines.

As usual, the IFFBoston schedule has a strong musical component to it, both in subject matter and soundtracking, so I’ve pulled together my yearly guide to those particular flicks. Here are a dozen films showing between now and next Wednesday that either directly, or tangentially, involve makers of music…


A Music Fan’s Guide To IFFBoston 2014


EVERY EVERYTHING:
THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES
OF GRANT HART

Directed by Gorman Bechard
Friday, April 25th at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
Tickets / Synopsis

Of the 12 films listed here, this is the one I’ve been lucky enough to get a preview of, so I can guarantee the greatness. Obviously a must-see for fans of this former Hüsker Dü co-songwriter/singer/drummer and his seminal Minnesota trio, but it’s not just for the already-familiar – it’s a truly fascinating profile of a pure artist that stands on its own.

(for more of my thoughts, read this synopsis, which I contributed to the IFFBoston guide)


FAT

Directed by Mark Phinney
Friday, April 25th at 9:45pm at the Brattle Theatre
Tickets / Synopsis / Official Site / Facebook

A Boston production, through and through – made here, starring more than a few people who live here, and soundtracked by a whole bunch of area musicians, including the Beatings (who you can hear in the trailer below), M.G. Lederman, Mean Creek, Slowdim, The Milling Gowns, and more. Not only do we get the area premiere on Friday night, but many of the bands involved will perform at a Saturday afternoon show at O’Brien’s in Allston. Perfect post-film follow-up.


GOD HELP THE GIRL

Directed by Stuart Murdoch (of Belle & Sebastian)
Sunday, April 27th at 8:30 PM at the Brattle
Tickets / Synopsis / Official Site / Facebook

Described as “a poignant coming-of-age story that doubles as an indie-pop musical”, Belle & Sebastian fans (myself included) have been waiting for this Stuart Murdoch-directed story for a very long time. Early reviews were mixed, and may depend on one’s tolerance for twee (or Belle & Sebastian’s catalog), but fortunately my tolerance for such things is very, very high. Bring it on, I say.


HOMEMAKERS

Directed by Colin Healey
Thursday, Apr 24th at 9:30 PM at the Somerville
*World Premiere* / Tickets / Synopsis

The lead character of this Pittsburgh-set drama, played by Rachel McKeon, is described as a “part-time Austin indie rocker — and full-time harbinger of chaos and destruction”. That’s enough of a hook to reel me in, especially knowing of one or two people who could star in this and turn it into a documentary.


LIFE ON THE V:
THE STORY OF V66

Directed by Eric Green
Sunday, April 27th at 4pm at the Somerville
Tickets / Synopsis / Official Site

The story behind V66, a Boston-based music video channel that burned bright for 18 months in the mid-80s and disappeared. Locally-focused, the station was noted for broadcasting in real-time, playing lots of Boston bands, and making their audience a part of the programming (long before ‘social media’ and ‘customer-created content’ became a buzz-phrases). The film features a more than a few now-and-former Boston musicians, including Kay Hanley, Greg Hawkes, Ben Deily, and Dan Zanes, and even some friends (Cathy! Nick!). This screening is sure to be a fun one.


MOOD INDIGO
(L’ÉCUME DES JOURS / France)

Directed by Michel Gondry
Wednesday, April 30th at 7:30pm at the Coolidge
*Closing Night Film* / Tickets / Synopsis

While Michel Gondry’s filmmaking is generally hit-or-miss (Eternal Sunshine: the best, Be Kind Rewind: the worst), he can be counted on for an interesting use of music. His latest, a French language film starring Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, will close out IFFBoston 2014 next Wednesday, and judging from the soundtrack details, it’s no exception (though I may have to take a bathroom break when that dreadful Lumineers song comes on).


RIOT ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Directed by Steve Tozzi
Sunday, April 27th at 8:15pm at the Somerville
*World Premiere* / Tickets / Synopsis / Official Site / Facebook

Pulling from the synopsis: “…the gritty story of City Gardens, one of New Jersey’s most infamous clubs and its larger than life promoter, Randy Now.” I first became aware of this film a couple months back when Vulture interviewed Jon Stewart about his time as a bartender there back in the mid-80s, then again when Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers appeared on the Daily Show with author Amy Yates Wuelfing, who just released “No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes”, an oral history of the fabled venue. The list of talking heads in the film is top notch: Along with Stewart, there’s Dean Ween, Jack Irons, Milo Auckerman, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, Al Jourgensen, and Ian MacKaye. That’s one seriously stacked lineup.


RUBBER SOUL

Directed by Jon Lefkovitz
Friday, April 25th at 9:15pm
Tickets / Synopsis / Official Site / Facebook

If you were assuming from the title that this would be Beatles-related, well, you’d be right. It focuses on my personal fave of the fabulous four – John Lennon – and uses audio and transcripts to reconstruct two interviews with him and Yoko Ono (one in 1970, one in 1980), contrasting and combining them to paint what, one hopes, is a unique portrait of the man – something that’s not easy to do nowadays. The tagline sums it up nicely: “Ten Years – Two Interviews – One Lennon”.


THE 78 PROJECT MOVIE

Directed by Alex Steyermark
Sunday, April 27th at 5:30pm
Tickets / Synopsis / Official Site / Facebook

Lifting from the synopsis: “The 78 Project is on a journey across America to make one-of-a-kind 78rpm records with musicians in their hometowns using a 1930s Presto direct-to-disc recorder. With one microphone. With one blank disc. In one 3-minute take.” Inspired by the travels of the legendary Alan Lomax, the film documents an ambitious new exercise in audio archiving.


SUPERMENSCH:
THE LEGEND OF SHEP GORDON

Directed by Mike Myers
Sunday, April 27th at 1pm at the Somerville
Tickets / Synopsis / IMDB

Yes, the director is that Mike Myers. And his subject, Shep Gordon, looks to have had a hell of a life on Earth so far, managing artists as varied as Alice Cooper, Blondie, Pink Floyd, and Luther Vandross before moving on to handling celebrity chefs. Many of his famous friends and clients hold forth in the film, including Cooper, Michael Douglas, Emeril Lagasse, Anne Murray, Willie Nelson, and Sylvester Stallone. If that ain’t a true mix of personalities, I don’t know what is.


20,000 DAYS ON EARTH

Directed by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
Saturday, April 26th at 10pm at the Brattle
Tickets / Synopsis / Official Site / Facebook

Nick Cave gets the documentary treatment, although it being Nick Cave, it does things a bit differently than your standard rock doc. From the synopsis: “This innovative drama/documentary features Cave as both subject and co-conspirator, intimately documenting his artistic process and combining it with a fictional staged narrative of his 20,000th day on Earth.” In other words, don’t go into it looking to uncover exactly what makes Nick Cave tick. Besides, do you really want to know?


WE ARE THE BEST
(VI ÄR BÄST! / Sweden)

Directed by Lukas Moodysson
Saturday, April 26th at 2:30pm at the Somerville
Tickets / Synopsis / IMDB

The trailer for this Swedish-language film is all I needed to add it to my screening schedule. It’s described as “an energetic rough and tumble story of three rebellious teenage girls who form a punk rock band to defy the stifling conformity of early-1980s Stockholm.” Count me in.

If you’re looking for more viewing tips beyond my music-centric ones above, surf on over to read Ty Burr and Peter Keough’s recommendations at the Boston Globe, Norm Schrager’s choices at Meet Me In The Lobby, and Erin Trahan’s piece on this year’s short films over at WBUR.

As you fest, make sure to keep tabs on IFFBoston’s Facebook page and Twitter feed for the latest updates, like this list of filmmakers who will be appearing at certain screenings, which is always one of my favorite aspects of festival. Tonight: Carcetti in the house! See you there.

[Nac Blogiversary] 14 Live Covers for 14 Long Years

Posted on February 15, 2014 at 8:18 pm | No Comments

squirrel party!While the exact born-on-date of the Almanac is a nebulous one – Is it when I first started sharing songs? Or using an actual blogging platform? Or writing mostly about music? – I decided long ago to settle on the most solid one of record: February 15th, 2000 – the day I registered this URL and began uploading content. Whatever this place was back then is a distant cry from whatever it is today, and even from what it was in 2003, when I began frequent music-centric updates. Lately, it’s the “frequent” part that’s changed the most.

But I’m still around, still sharing songs and news from bands I love, still plugging away. Sure, it’s become more quick-shots on Facebook and Twitter than longer posts here, but I’ve resisted the occasional temptation to shutter this place completely. “The blog is dead, long live the blog“, they say. This post-Chromewaves world is a lonely place, but I’m hanging on.

For kicks, here’s the ‘Nac by the numbers…

Number of years gone by: 14
Number of published posts: 1,117
Number of current draft posts in progress: 42
Number of stale, out-of-date draft posts I’ve deleted: &infin
Number of live sets I’ve shared: ~ 300
Number of live sets I’ve recorded but not had time to share: 312
Number of Tweets: 5,225
Number of Twitter followers: 3,149
Number of Twitter followers that are probably bots: 50%
Number of Facebook followers: 1,046
Number of the Almanac on the Hype Machine‘s blog tracker: 31
Number of those 31 original blogs the Hype Machine is still tracking: 7
Number of band/promo emails I get every day on average: over 60
Number of those emails that include the word “remix”: at least 50%
Number of daily promo emails that are relevant or of interest to me: maybe 5?

It’s those last three stats that have been slowly draining the life outta me. More than a decade of doing this means the Almanac has ended up on every music-related mailing in existence – it’s a constant deluge that has worn me down and drawn me ever closer to closing up shop. They come faster than I can send unsubscribe requests, and more importantly, I can’t possibly listen to all the songs that come my way. I’ve had to master a jaded zen-like state when going through my inbox, and keep my fingers crossed that I don’t miss something truly great.

But I’m not here to whine, I’m here to celebrate. Or at least acknowledge this slightly notable passage of time. So I’ve thrown together 14 covers from live sets I haven’t had time to share over the past few years, along with a photo from each show, and a few words. Dig in, there are some special songs below…

[Download] All 14 live covers in one .zip file


[MP3] Tommy Stinson – “Nighttime” (live acoustic Big Star cover)

From an acoustic set for Record Store Day, April 21st, 2012 at Newbury Comics in Norwood, MA. He was joined by his wife Emily Roberts on backing vocals and (her uncle?) Sippy Roberts on slide guitar.

Stinson’s reunited Replacements have announced a few more festival appearances this year, but I’ve still got my hopes up for an eventual Boston show. ICYMI, grab my recording of their first reunion appearance at last year’s Riot Fest Toronto.


[MP3] Death Cab For Cutie – “I’ll Be Your Mirror
(live acoustic Velvet Underground cover)

It’s been awhile since Death Cab For Cutie hit the road, in fact I think this series of special shows backed by the Magik*Magik Orchestra in Spring 2012 was the last proper tour (they played the Wang in Boston with Low on 4/21/12). This cover was a nice surprise during the stripped down part of their set, and was well before Lou Reed passed and sparked a rash of VU covers.

The DCFC machine is gearing back up after helping Barsuk Records celebrate their 15th birthday a few months back, and they’ll return to town for the Boston Calling fest in May. I’m assuming we’ll get some new album news before too long.


[MP3] Ben Gibbard – “My Drug Buddy” (Lemonheads cover)

During that Death Cab break, but before the Postal Service reunited in 2013, Ben Gibbard did some solo shows in support of his “Former Lives” LP, including a stop at the Somerville Theatre on Sunday, November 4th, 2012. Not sure if he pulled out a geographically-specific cover at every show, but this classic Lemonheads cut was a nice nod to Boston.


[MP3] John Roderick (of the Long Winters)
The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1
(live Neutral Milk Hotel cover)

Another high point of the Barsuk celebration in Seattle last November was John Roderick and his Long Winters reuniting to perform the “When I Pretend To Fall” album in its entirety. It was glorious, and made me even more hungry for a proper new LW record, as if that was possible. Roderick’s been performing solo sporadically since their previous LP (in 2006!), and this Neutral Milk Hotel cover was played at the Paradise in Boston on Friday, June 1st, 2012.


[MP3] Tanya Donelly & Buffalo Tom – “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
(live Tom Petty/Steve Nicks cover)

This show was something really special – a small room full of friends and fans gathered together for Chris Toppin’s (Fuzzy) birthday party at the Midway in Jamaica Plain on Nov. 9th, 2012. So many great moments on the stage that night, including this team up of Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses/Belly) and Buffalo Tom to serve up some Heartbreaking.

Tanya has been releasing a string of excellent digital EPs called the Swan Song Series, and she’ll be hitting the stage opening for her old band Throwing Muses for a few shows next month. Buffalo Tom is hibernating, but Bill Janovitz has been offering up some great new solo songs since the year started. Here’s hoping they keep coming.


[MP3] Ted Leo – “Freeway” (live Aimee Mann cover)
[MP3] Ted Leo – “Hybrid Moments / Me & Mia” (live Misfits cover & TL original)

This show was a ridiculous amount of fun. Just after Boston cops started cracking down hard on local house shows, Ted Leo played this one in a Brighton living room on Monday, November 26, 2012. It was crammed, and incident free (unless you count overly-drunk-local-band-guy or overly-intrusive-photographer), and an absolute blast. Ted pulled out a few covers, as he is wont to do, including a song by his then-tourmate/now-bandmate (in The Both) Aimee Mann. The kids didn’t know what hit ‘em, but I ate it up. He whipped out a Misfits cut to rile us up (it did – singalong!), segueing straight into TL/Rx classic “Me & Mia”, when the show hit a crushing crescendo. Bent Shapes opened up. It ruled.

Ted & Aimee will release their self-titled debut album as The Both in mid-April, and will hit the road in support, including a stop at the Paradise in Boston on April 25th.


[MP3] J Mascis – “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” (live Smiths cover)

Well, this was an odd one. J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. in a shoe store on Boston’s Newbury Street. With (bad) free beer and chips. He probably got paid in purple Doc Martens. This strange scene was on 12/6/2012.


[MP3] Sleepyhead – “Like A Girl Jesus” (live Game Theory cover)

This was a bittersweet moment, but mostly sweet, during Sleepyhead’s set at the Sinclair in Cambridge on May 10th, 2013, just a few weeks after Game Theory’s Scott Miller passed away. Not sure how many in the crowd got the gesture, but I damn well did. This cover was actually the b-side of one of the great indie singles of all time, Sleepyhead’s 1992 (!) “Punk Rock City USA” 7-inch.

Sleepyhead’s long-in-the-making next LP will be out in April on Carrot Top Records. Can’t wait.


[MP3] Telekinesis – “Don’t Change” (live INXS cover)

After seeing that Sleepyhead set, and most of Buffalo Tom’s, at the Sinclair, I raced across the river to try and catch some of Telekinesis at Brighton Music Hall in Allston. Made it in time to see a handful of songs, including this ace cover of one of my favorite INXS tracks. Wish I’d been able to see the whole show, but even a little Telekinesis goes a long way.


[MP3] Quasi – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding
(live Elvis Costello cover)

Oh, Quasi, how I love thee. Two people who project more joyful noise and energy from the stage than most quintets ever could. This Elvis Costello cover came near the end of their fantastic set at Great Scott in Allston on Thursday, October 17th of last year. Their latest LP is last year’s “Mole City”, and you should own it.


[MP3] Neko Case & her band – “Crazy On You” (live Heart cover)

Not only did we get a Heart cover during Neko Case’s set at the Orpheum on November 1st, but we got two, back to back. First Kelly Hogan handled lead vocals on an amazing “Barracuda” (that riff!), then Neko stepped up to tackle this one. The crowd was rightly, happily surprised when the second song started up, but the band may have been smiling more than we were. And that’s saying a lot.


[MP3] Minor Alps – “Airscape” (live Robyn Hitchcock cover)

When I was out at that Barsuk anniversary bash in Seattle back in November, new duo Minor Alps (Matthew Caws of Nada Surf and Juliana Hatfield) remarked that their set was the first time they’d ever played in front of people. It kicked off a cross-country trip that brought them to the Sinclair in Cambridge two weeks later (11/23/13) for the final show of their inaugural tour. Grateful I was able to see the first and last stops, especially glad that they learned and played one of my favorite Robyn Hitchcock tracks, the gorgeous “Airscape“.


[MP3] Chris Brokaw – “Crooked” (live Wussy cover)

As much as I love Chris Brokaw’s original songs, and as many times as I’ve seen him, I will never tire of hearing him run through Wussy’s wonderful “Crooked”. This particular rendition was by request, played at an uber-intimate house show in Watertown, MA last month (1/4/14). If you’re wondering why we were so quiet in our appreciation at the end, well, there was a baby asleep upstairs. There’s no better reason for repressed enthusiasm.


[Download] All 14 live covers in one .zip file

As always, thanks for following along, especially those of you who have been stopping by for years. Without getting too sentimental or self-deprecating, I’ll admit that it still surprises me that anyone still reads my ramblings, and every lingering eye and ear is appreciated. Cheers.

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  • Boston Area Events

    Wednesday, November 26th
    Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
    @ The House of Blues

    Wednesday, November 26th
    The Sheila Divine
    Mean Creek
    The Daily Pravda
    The Life Electric
    @ The Sinclair

    Saturday, November 29th
    Pete Holmes (stand-up)
    @ the Paradise

    Sunday, November 30th
    Skinny Puppy
    Front Line Assembly
    Haujobb, Youth Code
    @ House of Blues

    Monday, December 1st
    Blonde Redhead
    VBA
    @ The Sinclair

    Wednesday, December 3rd
    Krill
    Big Ups
    Washer
    Kal Marks
    @ O'Brien's

    Wednesday, December 3rd
    The Head and the Heart
    @ House of Blues

    Thursday, December 4th
    St. Nothing
    Casey Desmond
    @ Great Scott

    Thursday, December 4th
    Yusuf / Cat Stevens
    @ The Citi/Wang Center

    Friday, December 5th
    The first night of the 3-week
    SPEEDY ORTIZ Holiday Residency
    @ Great Scott

    Saturday, December 6th X__X
    The Major Stars
    Corn Mo
    Gondoliers
    @ the Midway in JP

    Monday, December 8th
    Exit Verse (ex-Karate/Edsel/Chisel)
    The Thalia Zedek Band
    Andrew Sadoway (Bent Shapes)
    @ Great Scott

    Monday, December 8th
    Manchester Orchestra
    Chris Staples
    @ The Somerville Armory

    Tuesday, December 9th
    Aimee Mann Christmas show
    with Ted Leo
    & many Special Guests
    @ the Wilbur Theatre

    Wednesday, December 10th
    The inaugural
    KEEP SAFE BOSTON benefit
    with Parlour Bells,
    The Color and Sound,
    Corin Ashley (of The Pills),
    Drab, The Rationales,
    Jass Bianchi, Club GRCB,
    & emcee Jody Sloane
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Friday, December 12th
    The Real Kids
    The Titanics
    The Nectarines
    @ the Midway in JP

    Friday, December 12th
    The second night of the 3-week
    SPEEDY ORTIZ Holiday Residency
    @ Great Scott

    Saturday, December 13th
    Centro-matic (their final tour)
    Anders Parker & Cloud Badge
    @ Great Scott

    Saturday, December 13th
    The Figgs holiday show
    with Blockhouses and Low Fi
    at Society High (with Guy Lyons)
    @ the Lizard Lounge

    Saturday, December 13th
    a FUZZY xmas!
    with special guests including
    Thalia Zedek, Love Love,
    Chris Colbourn & Hilken Mancini,
    Milo Jones, and many more
    @ the Midway in JP

    Tuesday, December 16th
    Nick Lowe
    @ The Paradise

    Friday, December 19th
    The final night of the 3-week
    SPEEDY ORTIZ Holiday Residency
    with openers Lemuria
    @ Great Scott

    Friday, December 19th
    Magic Man
    Gentlemen Hall
    The Novel Ideas
    @ The Sinclair

    Friday, December 19th
    Blue Bloods
    Spitzz
    Duck & Cover
    Quiggs
    Silver Screams
    @ TT the Bears

    Friday, December 19th
    Pig Destroyer
    Dropdead
    Hivesmasher
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Sunday, December 28th
    A Sunny Day In Glasgow
    Jason Bartell
    @ Great Scott

    Wednesday, January 7th
    Future Islands
    Operators
    Wing Dam
    @ The Royale

    Saturday, January 10th
    Hallelujah the Hills
    Tallahassee,
    Parks, & Cask Mouse
    @ The Sinclair

    Thursday, January 15th
    Neil DeGrasse Tyson
    @ The Wilbur Theatre

    Saturday, January 17th
    The Vaselines
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Monday, January 19th
    Helmet
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Friday, January 30th
    Kingsley Flood
    The Grownup Noise
    The Lawsuits
    @ The Sinclair

    Saturday, January 31st
    Dr. Dog
    @ House of Blues

    Thursday, February 5th
    Spandau Ballet
    @ House of Blues

    Friday, February 6th
    Damien Jurado
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Friday, February 6th
    Kevin Devine
    Into It. Over It.
    Laura Stevenson
    @ The Sinclair

    Monday, February 9th
    His Name Is Alive
    25th Anniversary Tour
    @ Great Scott

    Sunday, February 22nd
    Sleater-Kinney
    @ House of Blues

    Saturday, February 28th
    Hundred Waters
    @ The Sinclair

    Friday, March 6th
    Gang of Four
    @ the Paradise

    Thursday, March 12th
    The Church
    @ The Sinclair

    Saturday, March 14th
    Cursive
    @ The Sinclair

    Saturday, March 21st
    Cold War Kids
    Elliot Moss
    @ House of Blues

    Saturday, March 28th
    Swervedriver
    Gateway Drugs
    @ The Sinclair

    Monday, March 30th
    Belle & Sebastian
    @ House of Blues

    Tuesday, March 31st
    Father John Misty
    King Tuff

    Friday & Saturday
    April 3rd & 4th
    Decemberists
    Alvvays
    @ House of Blues

    Saturday, April 11th
    José González
    Ólöf Arnalds
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, July 18th
    Mission of Burma
    Foo Fighters
    @ Fenway Park

    Sunday, July 19th
    Foo Fighters
    Royal Blood
    @ Fenway Park

    Tuesday, August 6th
    James Taylor
    Bonnie Raitt
    @ Fenway Park