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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thursday, October 21, 2010

'On and Off' Showcase 03/08/11!

SAVE THE DATE for the next
On and Off event at Club Passim! It will be on March 8, 2011 and will include another batch of incredible local musicians. So far... Dennis Brennan! Honorary local, Margaret Glaspy! Mark Erelli! and Jess Tardy! Backed by Billy Beard on drums! Zachariah Hickman on bass! and Mark Erelli in guitar! Guests are inevitable and surprises in store.

We can't wait!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Farewell, Austin!

I am leaving Austin a few days from today. I wish I were the 13 year-old girl who once wrote endlessly about her experiences and the meanings she found in them. I am not, but I miss that freedom.

While I am certain that Austin is not the city for me, I do not regret the move in the least. I had no hesitation when I arrived to town. I had already gone through and subscribed to all the local club listings. I had my favorite spots scoped out from visits to town in the past years, and I was quick to take recommendations from friends. I completely understand why people in Austin are SO proud to live here.

My favorite place to see music in Austin is undoubtedly the Continental Club. Everything is red inside. I love the chic but dive-y. I love Sarah, the hot, tattooed waitress that rolls her eyes at customers when they block the service station.

The first night I was officially out to take in some Austin music, was on a Sunday. I went to Momo's to see Warren Hood. He is quite the talent. Momo's has a sweet patio where you can see and hear the music pretty well, too. A friend said that the Sunday night thing to do was to head over to the Continental afterward for Heybale! (the exclamation is part of the name.)

It was already after 11, but I am so glad that I went. I can sum up
the why with these two words: Redd Volkaert. He, along with all the band members in Heybale! are incredible. I have gone out to see Redd play several times since coming to town. I will let the links provide more related info.

Another spot for great Austin music is the Saxon Pub. The first thing I noticed was how nice the room sounds. I went on a Monday night to hear Matt the Electrician. Matt and his band put on a great show. It is a weekly residency that I wish I would have gone out for a few more times before leaving town. I tried again but I did not know he was out on a tour. I ended up staying to hear Bob Schneider. What a scene! The chicks dig Bob. He is a good songwriter. perhaps a little too pop to move me, but solidly good.

I went to see Randy Weeks on a few occasions. My new pal, Killer, told me to check him out. I like him a lot. He has great songs, a cool voice and he is fun to see play live. In certain songs he reminded me of Jimmy Ryan. I think it was his vocal style in some of his songs. You will probably appreciate Weeks at least as much as I do. Lucinda Williams covered his song, "Can't Let Go," on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

Tonight I went out to the Continental for the last time (while living in TX) to see Planet Casper, then to Stubb's for the Coveters.

I had never heard of Robyn Ludwick until I saw her perform with Casper. I reminded myself of her name again and again so that I could come home and find out more about her music. This discovery was the highlight, since I was not feeling much connective energy from the Coveters. Maybe I needed to give them more than three songs... or maybe it just isn't my thing.

Goodnight, Austin.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Critical Music

*Critical Hang 2009

I have a new blog. Critical Music is the place to find out what music happenings are top notch (according to me.)

There is a calendar associated with the blog that will help keep track of it all. Everyone always says they want me to do this... but now that I am, make use, people!

Much love from Austin... then Arizona... then home to Somerville in July.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

1800 Mass Ave

Friends know that I ended up in Cambridge because my beloved brother moved there from where we grew up; in the land of the saguaro. I was nineteen, and I have called the Boston area home until recently, at 32.

You also know that I am a lover/writer of poems. The one I am adding to this entry is appropriate to this blog since it is in praise of Mass Ave, though the sentiment predates a time where my passion was for the music you will find there.

This poem was written only a couple of months before I moved to Austin. Maybe it can be a little view into my head before I made the leap.

1800 Massachusetts Avenue (#23)

Mister Van Growling was a small bear of a man.
Who wore his steps on the sidewalks smooth
From the Starbucks store at Packard’s Corner
To his room overlooking Massachusetts Avenue
In Porter Square- where he read his poems aloud
While standing on a milk crate below ground in the Subway.
Van Growling did not hesitate departing our desert city home.
He would see me disappear from the car’s rear window-
As he escaped my body sank to the ground and wept him farewell.
I followed Growling to Cambridge where he would push me in to snow piles
All along the Avenue, with a sinister howl that was all too familiar.
I visited Van Growling at the building at 1800 Massachusetts Avenue,
Time and time again he would come down the steps
Wearing his brown Carhartt jacket and a smile for his sister.
Do not send mail, my brother, the elusive Van Growling no longer resides here.
I am standing across the way, raising my gaze to his window-
Struggling to keep my body from sinking to the ground, wishing he did still.
He sits atop a hill in Dolores Park; his smile is for San Francisco.
His sister is a New Englander, at least for now-
Tomorrow Massachusetts Avenue waits for us with just fallen snow.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Raise Your Voices

hadestown: make plans to go

I had his profile tattooed on the back of my right shoulder before leaving Boston for Austin... the least you can do is vote for the TIM GEARAN band in this poll:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Off the Avenue

*photo by Jon Strymish

This one is coming to you from my new home in (south) Austin, Texas.

I sit here with a cup of some of the best coffee I have ever tasted and I am still surprised to be here and not in Camberville/Sombridge making plans to have margaritas with you tonight.

I have been out a few times in Austin, and so far I have found that the food and cocktails alone have justified the move. (!)

Now because you are dying to know... the live music here is fine. There are a lot of places to find it, and in just a tiny fraction of time, I have seen a handful of genius players at work.

I think anyone who treasures the musicians along Mass Ave like I do will agree that it is not
just that it is a talented songwriter/player community. It is this along with who they are; people that if I were the weight of a sack of (red bliss) potatoes, I would run and jump into their arms when I see them. I would climb them like the oak trees that they are. (inspired by the famous words of Jess Tardy, "I'd like to climb him like a tree.") They are friends to love.

You never move to a new city and expect that you will find a replacement for everything you left behind. My psychotic loyalty is your assurance. I cannot imagine sinking down into the refuge of a place so beloved to me as the Lizard Lounge is, and seeing anything like a Dinty Child sitting among the SA setup, tuning up one of the dozen instruments they use up there.

In case I am unclear, I am happy and loving my new city. I am satisfied with having found a true love in the Cambridge music scene. There is not an equivalent to be discovered Anywhere on the planet, at least not for me. I did not move to Austin specifically to hear more/better/different music, I came here to discover more of me.

You who know me know this: my passion for what I love does not run out or stop functioning. I am in it. I will admit, and appear silly (because I am) and tell you that when I think about having cutoff my musical access to Tim Gearan and Duke Levine, I instantly plummet into stubborn, silent weeping. Rose P is not going to sit here and play her new song for me either, is she. So in the meantime, I just text Sean Staples. Because he oversees it all for me, and will undoubtedly text me back.

I need a warm-up for this Oaxaca blend coffee, and to get back to living in this fabulous new town I am in.


Advice on making this happen is welcome:

"I was just thinking that you need live feed cameras at all the rooms in Sombridge so you can monitor all the musical happenings from your command central position. I picture a bank of monitors and speakers, with a continuous supply of margaritas. Of course you would want to pay the cover to these needy musicians, so you would have direct deposit to their accounts. We at least HAVE to get you a live feed of the Anais show next week (and Sub Rosa, and Kev, and Hayride, and, and, and.)" ~Dinty Child, Facebook

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh Hear Us

I have posted yet another video from the 2007 film project benefit at Club Passim.

This video is an incredibly gorgeous version of Jennifer Kimball's,
Eternal Father. Rose Polenzani lends her sweet voice to the mix, while Duke Levine stands heroically by, on electric.

The song is from Jennifer's last record, Oh Hear Us, released in 2006. The first verse comes from the hymn
Eternal Father and the second from Our God Our Help in Ages Past.

I can't say how much I miss Jennifer and her music here around the Avenue. She and the family are due to return from Ireland in June. Until then we have a few YouTube videos to tide us over.

Eternal father strong to save
Whose arm does bind the restless wave
Who biddst the mighty ocean deep
Its own apointed limits keep
Oh hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea

Time, like an ever-rolling stream
Bears all its children soon away
To fly forgotten as a dream
Dies at the opening of the day
Oh, hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril here with me

Oh let the darkness shine as light
Make endless nightime to be bright
When fear and sorrows all have passed
Then face to face well meet at last
Be still when tears are wiped from men
Whose eyes shall never weep again,
weep again, weep again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dark Eyes Shining Darkly

Only a handful of songs have ever effected me like
"Your Fonder Heart." When I first heard the song, my eyes welled, heart swelled, my head whirled and I lifted off the ground... like how a great song can make you soar.

Why? Though I never know the exact thing about art that shifts my being, I imagine that with this song it has a lot to do with glowing energy that enters the room when Anaïs plays it, the visually striking language she uses along with its moving sentiment, and her disarming delivery. I was captured by that rawness in her style of singing and playing from the second I saw her take the stage at a Club Passim
Campfire festival.

When I first began taking the camera out to shows, I shot a lot of my favorite artists around town with no specific focus regarding the
On and Off Mass Ave project. I have been having a ball uploading some of that footage and sharing with the people. Here are the lyrics to the song along with the video I shot at Club Passim at the CD release for The Brightness in 2007.

Your Fonder Heart

come out, come on, come outside
don’t you hide your handsome face from me
I want to see you half-lit in the half-light
laughing with the whites of your dark eyes

way over yonder I’m waiting and wondering
wither your fonder heart lies

come out, the streets are breathing
heaving green to red to green
come with your nicotine and wine
tambourine keeping time
come and find me in the evening

way over yonder I’m waiting and wondering
wither your fonder heart lies
way over yonder I’m waiting and wondering
whether your fonder heart lies

come out, come inspired
you will not come to harm
if I cannot take you for a liar or a lover
I’ll take you for my brother in arms

way over yonder I’m waiting and wondering
wither you fonder heart lies
way over yonder I’m waiting and wondering
whether your fonder heart lies

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmastime All Year

My housemates really wanted a Christmas tree- but I repeatedly complained that I didn't, and added that I would be the only one at home for the Holidays this year.

My Christmas spirit has been snuffed, I am not going to lie. It seems we wait to experience magic on one day, to give to those we cherish, to sing of joy and thanks, then to overshadow religion with commercialism. I know, it can be a fun tradition.

I celebrate everyday- everything that I love is loved and enjoyed with all of my soul. I raise my glass, my spirits soar and it is the
most wonderful time of the year every time.

The video below made me a little swoon-y, admittedly. So fine, Mary Flo, you can move your lovely little Christmas tree to the living room when you go home for Christmas.

Thanks to Rose, Rose, Laura, Matt and Jen
for making another thing for me to love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sean Staples: Joy Comes Back

Friends of Sean Staples gathered to celebrate his 40th Birthday last night in Cambridge.

As we waited to surprise Sean at Atwood's, Matt Smith told me of a time where Sean played solo gigs in town, long before I would become so endeared to him, his voice and songs.

Dwelling on the opposite side of the Charles, I missed seeing Sean with the Vinal Avenue String Band, and when he played Jesus in Jesus Has Two Mommies. But it was not long after that I found one of my favorite local musicians in him.

It was among the chaos and delight that is Session Americana when I first noticed the glittery brilliance (that's right) that Sean exudes when he plays songs. He sings so quietly about love lost, as abruptly about cocaine- ridiculously in his element in a group of natural artists like Session.

I always hope that he knows the value of his existence in the community. All the stages I watch him perform on with his bands or while accompanying other songwriters, it would not be as great- we would not love it as hard without Sean.

Sean was one of the first people we interviewed for the OAOMA film project. He spent hours telling us about his history in the scene, and through him I have gained a wealth of knowledge about the people and places that make up my prized association- living among their songs and sounds. Invigorating and restful, live music is home... Sean Staples is a major piece of the puzzle.

As I looked around the bar at the Birthday celebration, I felt so grateful to be among Sean's family, band-mates and friends alike. With the help of Atwood's staff, the crowd rallied together for a reunion-style group photo. I watched everyone gathering around Sean and the world looked so beautiful right then.

A hard day, a hard month- but I am reminded how JOY COMES BACK.

Here is Paula Gearan's fuzzy iPhone video of Tim, Lou Ulrich, and Sean performing Sean's song,
Joy Comes Back.

Happy Birthday, Sean!!!! (dec 5)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"If I Could Hit You"

Hello, November.

I am sitting at the kitchen table at our house in Somerville... black coffee beside me, on the stereo Peter Mulvey is singing "Dynamite Bill." What a likable day.

Last night I uploaded two more videos to the film project YouTube channel. This one is Rose Polenzani singing her song, "If I Could Hit You," with Session Americana. The song is on the record she made with Session, WHEN THE RIVER MEETS THE SEA.

Also! Announcing Critical Hang 2010. Together with my friends Yukon and Colleen, I am planning the next big party. Brian Schwartz calls me a "community organizer," I like that.

And I love this:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"You Awaken My Highest Hopes"

It is a rainy day in Boston, what better thing to do than watch these mesmerizing artists sing their sweet songs? This one is Rose Polenzani's "Highest Hopes."

The song was inspired by a trip Rose took to NYC with our fabulous friend Cindy Howes. Above is a photo of Cindy awakening our
Highest Hopes at one of our famous family dinners last year.

Next is Meg Hutchinson performing her song "I'd Like To Know." I think this is going to tear you up, but in a good way... one of Meg's many talents.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen...

The MAGNIFICENT tellers of my soul, Tim Gearan and Duke Levine.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"In Between the River and the Sea"

Continuing my sincere celebration of the performers who took part in the film benefit we held at Club Passim just about two years, I give you this new video from our YouTube channel.

The evening of October 25th, 2007, was a spectacular concert of the stars of my live-music-loving eyes/ears. They just so happen to be incredibly generous as well, they all agreed to play this event without hesitation or compensation.

I have love letters and songs to sing for you all. (though the eventual completion of the project will have to be the only forthcoming evidence.)

In praise of you, my friends.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"You Could Do Alright For a Song"

It is coming up on the anniversary of the benefit that Club Passim generously hosted for our film project. It will be two years on October 25! It is hard for me to believe that so much time has passed, yet I am grateful for all of the learning and experiences that I have gained in just that time.

Along with my friend Brian Schwartz, I filmed interviews with our friend Matt Smith, Manager of Club Passim, and beloved singer-songwriters, Jennifer Kimball and Sean Staples.

Lacking financial resources and free time, the project has been on the dreaded back burner for too long.

The good news is that during these past years, my LOVE of LOCAL, INDEPENDENT artists has only been nurtured a zillion times over by witnessing hundreds of live shows in our adored, musical neighborhood. A (very long) film exists in complete form in this head of mine. And if you are thinking that might not be sufficient, I agree.

My experiences have shaped my ideas a lot since we began filming, and so that means that there is still A LOT OF WORK to be done. More interviewing of course, but most importantly, I am dreaming of a session where I gather a few up-and-coming artists with some serious live music fans, to talk about this extraordinary community we are living in, ON FILM. A long table, a big circle, whatever. A few cameras, and a lot of admiration for all the guts that were spilled at places like Toad, the Burren, the Lizard Lounge, Atwood's, Club Passim... and so many other bars and listening rooms we have witnessed over the years.

Let's face it, some of our favorite musicians end up going out-of-pocket on gigs, or not getting paid, of getting paid $15 bucks for playing 4 hours of music. Some people earn a living at it, and some laugh at the idea of that ever happening- but most everyone is playing because of what they get out of playing music with their friends, their community. For fun.

The next videos I am posting to my channel are of two of my favorite musicians and people on the planet. Jennifer Kimball's work has been wowing the masses for a good long time. I will go and watch her perform any chance I get. I have said to many friends, no matter how sad a song it is, Jennifer Kimball cheers me up.

And if you know me, or read any previous posts on this blog, you will know how I feel about Tim Gearan. This video is Tim and Duke Levine performing one of my favorite of Tim's songs, "Little Hollywood." Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Like a Miracle

My incredibly gifted friend, Rose Polenzani, wrote a song in appreciation of her local music community. The song is "Like a Miracle," and the community she sings about is the very same one that you will see me praise everywhere this world will let me.

Rose has a rare ability to lock-in continuous moments of stupendous vocal glory and then pair it with moving, unanticipated lyrics. As a songwriter, these things alone make her great. She has an emotional voice- I mean, every word she sings seems like she is experiencing it that second, living it, telling you fresh out of the pit of her stomach. When artists that I love are doing what they love, and simply for that reason, I think it is easy to hear, see and feel that.

When I first had the idea to begin making a film that would celebrate Cambridge/Somerville musicians, it was watching Rose's performances that sealed the deal for me. I knew I wanted to document the pure joy and gratitude that I felt at being a witness to such an extraordinary group of artists. Rose is most often a common link among the musicians who make this area as notably brilliant as any other in the country to see live music.

The video I am putting up today is another from the benefit we had for our project. It is Rose performing
Like a Miracle with several other local songwriters who are celebrated everywhere. Featuring Duke Levine, Dinty Child, Tim Gearan, Jennifer Kimball, Anne Heaton and Brian Webb.

If you are interested in the project I hope you will visit
or email me at folkfilmproject at

"Someone sings a song, it's a miracle."

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Little Tenderness

Last night my little gang of usual conspirators were off somewhere else and I had no thoughts about who to rally for usual Sunday shenanigans. Our tradition is to meet at the Burren in Davis Square for the front room Americana session and a few pints of Guinness.

From the Burren I sometimes head over to Precinct for the Sea Monsters, but last night I wanted to see another band at the Highland Kitchen. So I found myself a free agent and absolutely confused about what directions my legs should go. There was a brilliant moon, and it said that I could not be at home. I am a great listener when I want to be.

I walked out of the house at quarter of eight to head down to the square. I passed a music store, where lingerers peered wantonly through the glass, then Johnny D's, where the sound of the blues jam made Holland Street a lively, lovely scene. Next up was a street musician pouring out his soul for people frolicking outside the ice cream store or sitting around in the square with friends.

I was kicking down the street joyfully, smiling. I love this town, and the songs I heard and the ones in my head... like "all I need is lovin' you and music, music, music..." and "we've come to the place where everything is music, everything is music, let it play."

I stepped into the Burren and heard the sound of my Sunday around me- the boys playing songs that I never tire of hearing, and seeing the faces that I expect to see surrounding them.

When it was over I knew these neighborhood friends would be heading to the Precinct, but I walked out unsure and solemnly aware that the night's events were more unclear than they'd ever been. So I started down Highland Avenue toward the Highland Kitchen, not so sure I would actually walk through the doors once I got there after twenty minutes of walking.

Every other moment I considered turning back and landing home. I stopped in front of the armory and thought how pretty it looked at night... lingered by the gates of the "Little Sisters of the Poor," a home for needy elderly... but I eventually continued on.

I did it, I walked in- and then my heart leapt at the sight of my friends Chris and Jenny. Chris has been away on tour for a long time, and having friends in the room after a weary walk was a godsend. Chris had been in a session with Laura Cortese at Hi-N-Dry earlier, so they all mosied to the HK afterward. Pure delight for me to see everybody there.

They went home after a drink, and I stayed it out. I'll wall-lean until the bitter end as my ears grab eagerly for the sound of Duke Levine on electric guitar. I am everyday more impressed at my own swooning abilities- nobody does it better.

I left. I walked a block or so in the direction of the square, then yes, I went back again. (it may have been the moon edging me on, the way it knew to do.) I stepped into the crowded side of the bar and asked for a glass of water, then I took up a conversation with a friendly writer sitting nearby... then after telling him that I could not decide whether or not go to the Precinct for the end of the Sea Monsters show... we were in his car, on our way there. He came in with me, then I lost him.

But I found everyone else that I had left back at the Burren, I heard some sweet music, and after another offer of a ride- I wound up with Ruth at the Tavern At the End of the World.

I am making my way foggily through this day, listening to Otis Redding. I am thinking that last night when I was weary, the universe showed me a little tenderness.

Thanks to all of you who are inside of the places that I will always want to go to. You are sure a tender bunch.