Francesca Blanchard and Chazzy Lake at ArtsRiot and Haley Jane at Orlando’s March 15, 2018
It was a 57 degree day and the world was melting. The walk down to Pine street was easy and joyous and I slipped in the door and wandered into the show room. The lights were dim and the stage was empty except for one amp, two lamps and a row of candles at the front. There was a square rug in front of the stage with two chairs and two guitars and a keyboard to the right.
Surely, anyone could find a comfy place to be. Off in the corner there was soup for whomever wanted.
I was wondering about Chazzy Lake and had an oh, right, moment when Charlie Hill sat down and began to play an acoustic guitar. His voice sounded nice and his playing was fine. He sang a song about glasses, and a song that begins with his dog waking up from a dream. He played a love song to himself called Me that was fun, then dropped some poignant joy with So Good (I Could Die). After a bit, he brought Francesca up for a couple of songs and the way their voices blended melted me.
After that there was a quick set break then Francesca Blanchard took over. Her voice was pure and true and she played most of the songs on guitar. Her between song banter was witty and fun and added to the cozy atmosphere. I think she opened with Maria and she definitely played that song about stalking ex-girlfriends on the internet. The song about the world spinning slightly off-kilter seemed to generate a little extra spark with the audience. She moved to the keys for a gorgeous piece called piano song which also elicited a lot of love from the crowd. After a bit she brought Chazzy back and they played a couple of covers. I don’t know the second one, but it was great. The first was a version of Only Love Can Break Your Heart that was just stunning.
A new old venue called Orlando’s had just opened up at 1 Lawson Lane. I thought it was going to be Hayley Jane and the Primates but it turned out to just be Haley Jane. That’s fine, since she is such a strong performer. There was a small table and one chair right in front of the stage. I took the invitation and sat and listened. She can unleash her powerful voice when she wants but she also sings with a lot of nuance and I reveled in it as she played rock songs on the acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, the place was packed with a Friday night crowd with little or no focus on the music. Some people were getting into it, but most were there to hang tout and chat. Haley seemed unfazed by the din and charged through her set. At some point I realized I was tired and my drink was empty, so I headed out. I was hoping for a full on rock show, but I was close enough to the stage that I could focus on the wonderful singing and playing, and am glad I stopped in.
The rest of the walk home was lovely. Sorry, no pictures this time. Next time, I promise.
The Nancy Druids at Radio Bean March 10, 2019
I had a great time seeing music last night at Radio Bean. I got out of work a little early on a snowy day after the time change, and started catching up on show write-ups. I finished the previous night’s story a little after nine, grabbed a quick bite to eat and was out the door at 9:45.
I made good time and walked in as the church bells rang 10. I got in and settled and chatted with Kirk and Barbara from Happy Spangler, thanks for the drink, and then it was showtime.
I found a comfortable place to stand and The Nancy Druids began to shimmer the universe with their beautiful rock sound. They opened with the song about how the sky is all around us now then lit into December. By the end, Sean’s guitar rippled with rock glory. Just Another Day started with a heavy rock stomp lead by John’s bass and Ann Mindell‘s drums. It went through a couple of Beatlesque choruses then Sean unleashed a killer guitar solo at the end. Up next was the sweet rock pop of Vondlepark (sp??). There is something about that song that always makes me float to a happy place and the version they played last night is still with me now.
They kicked up the volume for the heavy rocking I Can’t Remember Who You Were and I reveled in Ann’s drumming. By Design is super catchy and rocks hard and was nothing but joy. We found Salvation all around then experienced a few Bitter Days. Sign had a nice bounce to it and is still delightfully stuck in my head, then they brought the pace to full rock glory for Halo. Again, Ann’s bombastic drumming just puts that song over the top. Often, they will toss in a fun cover at the end but last night the opening rock groove of The Space Between proved otherwise. It’s one of those songs that builds and builds and ends in a hail of drenched feedback and leaves you with that happy dazzled feeling. I loved every moment of the show.
Swale and Soundbrother at ArtsRiot March 9, 2019
The walking was icy in the Old North End but Church street was clear and I flew down at high speed. I slowed down a little as I approached the ice sheets on the sidewalks close to the club and made it in with plenty of time to spare. I hung out with a few cool people for a bit then headed to the front.
The lights went down and SWALE began slow with Beaten Down. They followed with the slow build of Every Last One Of Us and by the late middle part of the song they had a huge fierce rocking sound capped by a staggering Eric Olsen guitar lead. The song eventually slowed to a quiet end while the steady chant of we can all be that way faded away. It was breathtaking. They lit into Safe To Say and kept rocking us hard. They eased up for a slow moody song then played a new one called Shrug It Off. I think it’s about how we can all see all of the people that we’ve ever been. Elevator was bouncy and fun, even if the lyric was terrifying. If You Get Lost was huge and gorgeous then they played a new one. Eric sang all 6,000 paragraphs, well maybe there weren’t that many words, but there were a lot of words. I think it was about how your uncle is on the internet and how God is on the telephone. They wrapped the set with a sweet version of Felon and my swooning heart only got happier.
I chatted with some cool people during the set break, then it was time for SoundBrother to play some lovely music. I had seen Zach and Sam DuPont play before but never with their band. Both are great guitar player and singers and with Tyler Bolles keeping steady bass lines and Ezra Oklan hitting hard simple rhythms with perfect precision, the band had a gentle elegant feel.
They began the show with Zach and Sam alternating electric and acoustic guitars and lead vocals. As the show progressed both played electric for a while. I did not know any of their songs but liked them all and loved the way the whole show sounded. They sang about believing it all and beating hearts. They sang about pictures from your mind and pictures found in closets.
They played a “banger” that rocked nicely and followed with Centerpiece. They got a little cowpunk for a song called Broadcast and rocked out the ending. They played a slow rocker where Zach played a sweet slide then they played a song which they just released a video for. They closed the show with a song called Audio Hallucinations In The Key Of C which had a trippy soundscaped ending. It was a lovely show all the way around.
I did not hang out for very long after, and took the challenging walk home. I’m so glad I put in the effort.
Don Rico, Zeus Springsteen, and The Blue Stones at Higher Ground March 4, 2019
I got in and settled into the steadily filling room. Don Rico took the stage and played a whirlwind set of chaotic rock music. With three guitars, bass and drums the band were loud and fast and full of attitude. Their stage banter was fun and the X’s on their hands suggested that they are just getting started. They opened with a song about dollar shots that made me think of what Mr Doubtfire might sound like if they were a little breezier. They played a country-ish song about getting your dicks up, a fun rocker, then one about how cool Burlington is. They played a song that was not a Nirvana song about getting stuck in a basement then wished us a Happy Valentine’s Day. They closed with a song about screaming to worship the gods. They had something going for them and it may be fun to see where they go in the future. They weren’t great, but have potential.
Up next Zeus Springsteen took the stage and rocked the packed house hard. They opened with the old Lobot song Lights Of Montreal then brought us A Special Kind Of Hell. I don’t know that song, but will get to know it soon. They encouraged us not to stand too close to the shadows then we had a Signal Loss. Their catchy songs seemed to delight the audience and it was fun to be part of the experience. The next one was cool then they rocked out I’ll Get You Dindone Fontain. Your Funeral lit me up and I enjoyed the next song, which I think was about dimming the lights. Car Bomb rocked hard then they closed with a punk prog song which told us don’t think about it. I’m so happy they have so many newer songs that I need to get to know. They are just amazing.
I did not know anything about headliners, The Blue Stones, but when they unwrapped their gear it looked like a guitar drums duo. Remember back a few years when The White Stripes began to play and everyone loved their sound, but I really hated it and thought it was way too thin? There are very few duos that I can handle, and my fears were answered when they began to play. They were a duo and did not catch me at all. I stuck it out for three songs, but after the killer set that Zeus dropped on us, I could not find anything to latch on to. I headed out quickly and took the lovely walk home.
It’s a pretty common occurrence for me to see a band I like and a band or two that I don’t know and really discover something wonderful. It did not happen that night, but I’ll keep trying.
The Blue Stones
Wren Kitz, Danny & the Parts, and Omoo Omoo at The Monkey House March 2, 2019
I walked in right at show time and Wren Kitz were on and easing their way into a song. I grabbed a drink and walked to the front and let the heavy psychedelic music wash over me. They started with a familiar song about a Master Of The Universe that made me smile. I thought they might jam out a bit but they slid into another of their more poppy songs. It was fun, then they kept up the theme with a sweet version of Sky of Words. At the end they let it drift off into an intense jam. Maybe it was the news I had watched earlier, but you know that point when the Falcon rocket has brought you into space and the Dragon capsule has separated it and is flying steadily towards the space station? It sounded like what I imagine that would sound like. Eventually, it solidified into Georgie and they rocked that cool song to a lovely conclusion to cap the night.
They are always amazing.
Up next Danny & The Parts took the stage as a trio. They began their popish country-ish rock-ish set with the poignant Maybe There’s a War then rocked out a cool version of Drifting. They sang a song about people that you know then a couple more that I did not know but really liked. They kicked out a fun rocker that caught the room then played a cover with a blues rock stomp. Why You Putting Down That Phone sounded nice then they had a big rock finish on a song about how you want me back home. It was a really fun set.
Danny & the Parts
After a short break Omoo Omoo began to play. The instrumental trio began with a dreamy slow rock jam that took a nice prog turn. It became slow and shiny for a while then rocked a bit a the end. Their sound brought to mind King Crimson and The Dixie Dregs, and they definitely had some old Rush influence running throughout. All of the songs were long jams. Some were more slow and mellow and some rocked super hard. They played for an hour or so and ended with a breezy proggy song that was quite pleasant. It was a really nice set.