Bradley's Almanac

[Proudly Presenting] Darren Hanlon, Colin Clary, & (the return of) Eef at TT the Bears this Monday

Posted on June 16, 2015 at 9:28 am | No Comments

It’s barely begun to sink in, but in little more than a month, Cambridge, MA rock club T.T. the Bears Place will no longer exist. The reasons behind its end are either straightforward or complicated, depending on who you’re reading, but the simple fact is the well-worn stage of this Central Square institution will soon go silent. Boston rock forebears Scruffy the Cat will provide the closing notes on Saturday night, July 25th.

Before that happens, I’m compelled to put on one last “Bradley’s Almanac presents…” show at TTs, and it’s come together perfectly. The club has always been very kind to me, allowing the occasional custom bill with faves & friends, and the ability to do that there has never been lost on me. The fact that I get one more chance is a gift, so I’m making the most of it…

(show poster gorgeously designed by Nicole at Daykamp Creative)

This coming Monday, June 22nd, 2015, I’m proud to present a night with Australia’s own Darren Hanlon, fresh off a tour opening for Courtney Barnett at sold out shows across the country. If you caught his too-short set at their Sinclair stop last month, you know he charmed the crowd with his witty, literate, irresistibly catchy songs, and all were left wanting more. Well, more is what we’re getting, because before he heads back home to Oz, he’s doing a few North American solo gigs. I’m honored to help make one happen here in the Boston area, and grateful that TTs gave us the green light.

Darren’s set will be preceded by my longtime pal & bandmate Colin Clary (of the Smittens & Let’s Whisper), who will drive down from Vermont to play a special mix of solo & band songs with a group of friends. Before that, the reunion that at least 3 people have been clamoring for: Vermont/Boston-based trio Eef will make their first on-stage appearance in nearly 2 decades. Ok, rather than refer to Eef in the third person, I’ll just say “we”, since yes, I’ll be behind the drum kit. Our unexpected resurrection has resulted in a batch of newly-recorded songs, including a contribution to the just-released charity compilation Keep Safe Boston. You can stream that track, along with songs from Darren & Colin, below.

While I already consider this lineup, at this particular time, and at this particular club, to be something pretty special, there’s another reason the night means a lot to me and others: We’re dedicating the evening to the memory of our departed friend, Joe Wiencis. Joe, who was a longtime indie-pop (and Genesis) fan, passed away in late April. I wasn’t able to attend his memorial, nor were a few other mutual friends I know of, so it felt right to mark the loss at a show he may have attended. Rather than a maudlin affair, it will instead be one filled with some of the songs that soundtracked Joe’s too-short life. We’ll have between-band mixes of his faves playing, and shortly after doors open at 8pm, there will be a tribute set of Joe-centric covers by newly-formed combo The Abacab Lounge Singers. Whether you knew him or not, arrive early to join us in commemorating our missing friend.

Tickets for this 18+ show are available for $8 at Ticketweb, or for $10 at the door on Monday night. If you have Facehole, check the event page for updates.

Some songs from Darren, Colin, & Eef. See you on Monday…

[Nac Tracks] May 2015 New Music Playlist

Posted on June 2, 2015 at 11:32 am | No Comments

Another month under our belts means another installment of Nac Tracks, my cumulative monthly new music playlist of just-released songs that strike me on Soundcloud. May brought 36 tracks, and the June edition is, of course, already in progress

[Nac Tracks] April 2015 New Music Playlist

Posted on May 4, 2015 at 9:55 am | No Comments

File under: Better eventually then not at all. With blogging time at a premium (i.e. non-existent), I’m always looking for song-sharing shortcuts, so throwing new Soundcloud tracks that grab me into a monthly playlist is a no-brainer. Here’s the first one: My 35-song April 2015 “Nac Tracks” Soundcloud playlist, embedded for your listening pleasure…

The May 2015 edition is already in progress.

[Words & MP3s] The Replacements live at the Sinclair in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Posted on May 1, 2015 at 11:17 am | 6 Comments

Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson summed up Monday night pretty succinctly mid-set, after the band finished a run through their classic (among many classics) “I Will Dare” at the Sinclair in Cambridge, Massachusetts…

“This is weird.”

Yeah, the whole thing was pretty weird. From the hard-to-swallow early rumor they’d be playing the relatively small 525-capacity rock club in Harvard Square with Dinosaur Jr. and locals The Young Leaves, to the official announcement that it would kick off a 5-night Converse Rubber Tracks Live series of free shows, to the 2-day open lottery method of ticket giveaways. Yay!sayers, naysayers, and everyone in between chimed in online, especially after the winners (will call only, for the lucky few and a friend) were chosen and many, many fans were shut out. My rejection email arrived later than most, so last Thursday was a particularly long day at work clicking refresh ad nauseam.

For most any other band, I would have moved to the acceptance-stage of grief pretty quickly, but this was the Replacements’ first proper headlining tour since reuniting in 2013. When their 2015 road schedule was announced and Boston was left out, many were surprised – surely they didn’t think a shortened outdoor festival set (at last September’s Boston Calling) was enough to satisfy, especially in the hometown of new guitarist and longtime local-boy Dave Minehan. There had to be a proper area headlining show in the cards. Turned out there was, but you probably couldn’t go. Pessimists (like, uh, me) worried this stop would cross Boston off their to-do-list, and that would be that. After all, given the band’s turbulent past and Paul Westerberg’s idiosyncratic ways, who can say the live reunion will last?

Speculation on the size of the VIP list, the number of tickets actually doled out to fans, and the amount of sneaker-fueled corporate cashola being thrown at the Replacements & Dinosaur Jr. to feed this marketing machine followed. There was bitchin’, there was beggin’, there was resignation and self-righteousness. The Craigslist “TICKETS WANTED!” posts piled up, along with Facebook event page pleading, with offers of favors, cash, and eternal gratitude. Even if I was the kind of guy who felt comfortable using so-called connections to wheedle my way in, that well was probably bone dry. Watching online acquaintances whine and pull strings made me cringe. The FOMO, it burned.

Small slivers of hope remained when a few local websites ran giveaways, and the ‘Mats themselves came to the rescue for a handful of fans with a last-minute mailing list contest. Barring those giveaways, the only way for a non-VIP to get in was to be invited by a winner as their +1. Which, miraculously, is how I made it in. Still don’t believe it, frankly. I even felt/feel guilty – because I know too many people who wanted to be there, who should have been there, right alongside me. And they will be when the Replacements book a proper Boston show later this year, right? Sponsored by no one, paid for when we buy our tickets. One can hope.

The recording, with a bunch of show notes and random thoughts below…

The Replacements
Live at the Sinclair, Cambridge, MA
on Monday, April 27th, 2015

[ Download the whole set as a 200MB .zip file ]

01. Seen Your Video
02. Takin’ A Ride
03. Treatment Bound
04. Kissin’ In Action
05. I’m In Trouble
06. Left of the Dial
07. Kiss Me On The Bus
08. Nobody
09. I Will Dare
10. Valentine
11. Waitress In The Sky
12. 20th Century Boy (T Rex cover)
13. All Shook Down
14. Anywhere’s Better Than Here
15. Whole Foods Blues
16. Skinny Black Jeans
17. Sixteen Blue
18. Another Girl, Another Planet
19. Can’t Hardly Wait
20. The Ledge
21. Within Your Reach
22. Bastards of Young
23. Nevermind
24. Unsatisfied
25. Alex Chilton

  • The lineup was ridiculous: The Young Leaves proved themselves a worthy warm-up, wearing their influences on their sleeves (despite frontman Chris Chaisson’s lack of them) while delivering solid songs like seasoned pros. Actual seasoned pros Dinosaur Jr. gave a no-frills set of their more well-known tracks. No smiling, no talking, and no sign of Lou Barlow’s face under that unruly mop. Few bands would throw a cover in as their second song, but Dino did it, and “Just Like Heaven” still rules.

  • The foursome took the stage to the sound of the Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird“, each wearing a Lone Ranger mask, and Paul Westerberg was the first to slide his to his forehead as the band launched into “Seen Your Video” (referred to as “Seen Your Tent” on the setlist, referencing his recent on-stage campouts.

  • That’s the one n’ only Judy Landers alongside Love Boat bartender Isaac on the head of Josh Freese’s kick drum. Didn’t have the heart to correct the guy near me who yelled “Ha! It’s Charo!”. He was so excited.

  • As usual, we got a couple covers/mash-ups/song references during their set, including that take T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” and “Bang a Gong” with Minehan on lead vocals. They dropped a bit of Sabbath into “Kissin’ in Action” and tacked on a little “My Boy Lollipop” to close out “Bastards of Young“.

  • Anyone concerned that a corporate-sponsored free show would shut out quote-unquote ‘real’ fans, resulting in a room full of need-to-be-seensters, well, no worries. The crowd was enthusiastic, smiling, and singing along up where I was. That said, we lost points when, after “Left of the Dial”, someone yelled “Tommy!” at Paul. His response? “You don’t even know my fuckin’ name!” Ouch.

  • Westerberg acknowledged the business-borne freeness of the show a couple times, promising “You’ll be gettin’ your money’s worth tonight, I gare-own-fuckin-tee-it…” after “Kiss Me On The Bus“, and joking “We should let them make their picks, seein’ as they paid… oh, they didn’t…”. There was a point during a solo where he started moving mock-robotically, and I probably read too much subtext into it.

  • Recent shows have the band throwing in goofy new number “Whole Foods Blues“, which is at least more coherent than that 24-minute jazz thing they spit out at Christmas. On Monday, however, they followed it up with a sample of another bluesy toss-off, “Skinny Black Jeans (That Do What The Gym Could Not)“. At the very least, those guys are having fun fuckin’ around in the studio.

  • Loved that we got a solitary trombone during “Can’t Hardly Wait“. Anyone know who that guy was?

  • I have no idea why Paul absolutely obliterated his 12-string acoustic before he even used it for the encore – tuning problems, I assume. Poor acoustic guitar, now nothing but shards. Looking at the planned setlist below, we were going to get “Skyway“, but got “Unsatisfied” instead. Hey, I’ll take it.

  • If you’ve seen photos or video from this tour so far, you’ve likely noticed that Westerberg is wearing a different spray-painted white t-shirt each night, with a new letter on the front and back. I spent awhile going through the online evidence, and here’s what we’ve got so far…

    City / Front / Back
    Seattle: “I” / “N”
    Portland: “H” / “O”
    San Francisco: “A” / “W”
    LA night 1: “V” / “I”
    LA night 2: “E” / “M”
    Denver: “A” / “U”
    Cambridge: “L” / “S”
    Chicago night 1: “W” / “T”
    Chicago night 2: “A” / “W”

    We’re getting 1 sentence on the front, 1 on the back, so…

    front: “I HAVE ALWA..”
    back: “NOW I MUST W…”

    “I have always… now I must w…”.

    What exactly are you trying to tell us, Mr. Westerberg?

    UPDATE 5/11: Now that we’re done with the planned U.S. dates, it’s more obvious where we’re heading. The latest letters, including a couple he shared from his hotel while recovering from an illness that postponed the Pittsburgh & Columbus shows…

    Milwaukee: “Y” / “H”
    Detroit: “S” / “O”
    Pittsburgh (canceled): “L” / “R”
    Columbus (canceled): “O” / “E”
    DC: “V” / “M”
    Philly: “E” / “Y”

    back: “NOW I MUST WHORE MY…”

    “I will always love you, now I must whore myself”? Oh, Paul.

    (end of 5/11 update)m>

    The boys hit Milwaukee tomorrow night, so keep your eyes peeled. I’ll be in Philly next weekend to see the final letters for myself.

    And, of course, I was told there’s a “Paul’s Shirt” Facebook page tracking this (because of course there is!), which would have saved me a bunch of time. Still enjoyed the search, though.

  • Lots of great post-show words & pictures to go through if you’re so inclined: Maura for the Globe, Jed for the Herald, Tim for the Dig, Josh for Do617, Johnny for Daykamp Music, Ben for BDCwire, Michael & Matthew for Vanyaland, Deanna & Tom at Allston Pudding. My own set of shots can be found on Flickr or Facebook.

  • For more live recordings, be sure to hit the indispensable Replacements Live Archive Project.

    (not quite) The Replacements setlist – Cambridge, MA – 4/27/2015

    [Area Premiere] Elliott Smith documentary “Heaven Adores You” to screen at 2015 Independent Film Festival Boston (April 22nd-29th)

    Posted on March 31, 2015 at 4:49 pm | No Comments

    When this year’s lineup for the annual Independent Film Festival Boston is officially announced tomorrow, there will undoubtedly be a couple dozen movies I’ll add to my personal viewing list. Seeing as many as I can between opening night on April 22nd and the closing film on the 29th becomes a lesson in impossible time management and tough choices.

    One choice has been made easy, since nothing could possibly trump the screening that was confirmed today: The New England Premiere of “Heaven Adores You: A Documentary Film About The Life & Music Of Elliott Smith” on Friday, April 24th.

    The fan-funded film, which was successfully Kickstarted in late 2011, made its debut last May at the San Francisco International Film Festival before hitting more than two dozen fests worldwide… but never Boston. When the news that the film would be released globally to theaters this coming May 7th, I quickly checked the online list and… nope, no Massachusetts. While I still held out hope that the film would come around, I started to accept that I’d have to wait until a digital or DVD release to get a look. Fortunately, thanks to the all-volunteer crew at IFFBoston, the long wait has been made much shorter.

    Directed by Nickolas Dylan Rossi, the film includes appearances and interviews with some familiar names and faces, including Larry Crane (Tape Op, Vomit Launch, Jackpot! Recording), photographer Autumn de Wilde, Jon Brion, Heatmiser drummer Tony Lash, Sean Croghan (Crackerbash, Jr. High), Pete Krebs (Hazel), Joanna Bolme (the Jicks, Quasi, Jr. High, etc), and many more. Bandmates, friends, & collaborators all, the film is sure to be a moving and insightful look into Elliott’s life and musical career.

    Expressing my love and appreciation for the songwriting of Elliott Smith, and the pain of losing him in 2003, would take more time than I have to write it or you have to read it. And I still wouldn’t get it right. If you’re a fan, you get it, and you won’t need any convincing to join me at the “Heaven Adores You” screening in a less than a month…

    Keep an eye out tomorrow for the full IFFBoston lineup, which will include a few more music-related documentaries that I’ll be covering in my annual fest preview post in a couple weeks.

    In other ES-related news, Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield‘s full-length tribute to Elliott arrived last week, and while I’m generally skeptical of other artists interpreting his work, these two pretty much nail it. Their versions are gorgeous, understated, and sincere, and their admiration shines through clearly. Here’s a KEXP-recorded live version of one of the most beautiful songs ever written, the heartbreaking “Pitseleh“…

    keep looking »
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