Category Archives: music

Gary Burton Quartet at Berklee

September 25, 2011 – As soon as I heard that Gary Burton was playing at Berklee with his “new

Poster from concert

quartet”, I knew I had to go. I had seen Julian Lage at Passim with his band and was looking forward to hearing him in this setting as well. Plus the band includes Antonio Sanchez, drums (also plays with Metheny) and Scott Colley, bass (also with Metheny). The story goes that Burton lined up his drummer first and then asked him to choose the best bass player to go along with them and he immediately said, Colley.

In addition, Gary Burton was one of my earliest introductions to jazz, having heard him in 1977 at an Arcosanti festival in Cordes Junction, AZ. I know I have the program book from that festival, but cannot locate it in all the usual places I’ve squirreled away mementos. πŸ™

Back to the concert…

Since this was at Berklee, everyone seemed very comfortable on that stage, probably from having played many concerts there over the years as faculty and students. Gary did most of the talking, of course, as the leader. I like that he actually talked to the audience and explained some of their tune choices(Light Blue: “musicians can play these Monk tunes over and over”) and it’s background (Afro Blue: “the first tune written for the new latin jazz genre”). Β Here’s the entire set list:

  1. Afro Blue
  2. Never the Same Way (Colley)
  3. I Hear a Rhapsody
  4. Last to Know
  5. Etude (Lage)
  6. Light Blue (Monk)
  7. Common Ground
  8. My Funny Valentine
  9. Did You Get It?

They started with a quiet introduction to Afro Blue by Burton alone, before getting into the melody (doubled by Lage) and solos. Burton is certainly a master of rhythm and melodic improvisation and his bandmates kept up, supporting him throughout the ebbs and flows of a solo. I love how the really great improvisers (and the bands, in general) can move through a song from very quiet and mellow to building up intensity to a crescendo and then transition to the next phase of the tune. That is definitely a sign of both great musicianship and communication among the band members.

Never the Same Way, from the group’s album Common Ground, begins with a bass ostinato introduction before moving to the next section of the melody, a rhythmic vibes melody on top of a blues-y chord progression. This is an extended composition with plenty of room for solos and was actually the longest selection in the concert at over 12 minutes.

“I Hear a Rhapsody”, another standard tune, was a pretty straightforward rendering with solos by Burton, Lage, Sanchez, and Colley. It’s always good to throw in something familiar to keep the audience on your side, so you can expand their range elsewhere in the concert.Β Burton told a story about how Michael Brecker hated playing at Berklee because of all the musicians likely to be in the audience, Gary says, “but I don’t care…”.

Etude was written by Julian Lage as an exercise for his students (“I feel sorry for his students”, said Burton.), and you can find him playing it on youtube here. Burton said, “When I recorded this on the record, I promised myself I’d never play it again!” and “We started playing this live last week and I think I played it right the third time.” Yes, he even had a very long and wide score in front of him to read thru, which cracked the audience up as he unfolded it on the stands. It was kinda funny watching him shift the paper along as the song progressed. Of course, then they proceeded to play it in unison perfectly. The guitar and vibes have a nice blend to them, both being percussive in attack and in the same range.

Light Blue is an obscure Thelonius Monk tune that had the typical twists and turns of a Monk tune. “He wrote these short, simple, quirky songs that just stick with you.” Apparently he only ever played it once in a concert at Town Hall. I was searching through my iTunes library and turned up a version of Bill Frisell playing it in a live recording I downloaded from ‘who knows where’. I think people like playing these tunes because the melodies are so strong they force you into playing to the strengths of the melody when you solo.

My Funny Valentine opened with an extended intro by Lage, solo. This went on for 6 whole minutes of guitar brilliance, not having too much to do with My Funny Valentine. πŸ™‚ However, the ideas seemed to be endless! There were many different variations on a theme, ranging from folk music to classical until he finally hinted at the real tune the last time through, then passed it off to Burton to state the melody, more or less, with the band backing him.

The encore was “Did You Get It” which is on the Common Ground album. This was a fitting end to the concert and gave everyone a chance to stretch out on their solos. I went home and immediately bought the album. Highly recommended.

Chris

Stauffer Style Antique Guitar

I recently picked up this funky little guitar. I put some new strings on it (D’Addario Nylon Folk). Below are some pictures and a brief rendition of Freight Train – sorta – so you can get an idea of how it sounds. It is surprisingly loud for such a little guy. Of course, when it was built some 100 years ago, it was probably used for classical music, but I need to practice that before unleashing a recording. πŸ™‚ The neck is a lot narrower than my other guitars, so fitting my hands on it was my biggest challenge. The strings are fine to play up to around the 5th fret before they get pretty high.

The guitar has maple back and sides and a spruce top. You can see some of the cracks in the top, but they look to have been glued up a while ago. I couldn’t find any markings on the guitar even with a mirror looking around inside.

Stauffer style guitar

Showing the neck

Here’s the recording I made to give you an idea what it sounds like: Freight Train. I didn’t use any effects, just a couple of mikes about 2 feet away recorded to my Xoom H4N digital recorder.

Chris

Splinters at IBM Centennial Celebration

As previously tweeted and facebooked, J and I played at the IBM Centennial Celebration at the Museum of Science. Both of us being IBMers made it convenient, for sure. The event was an “IBM’s Got Talent” show with about 10 acts, ranging from rock and bluegrass to show tunes and dance numbers. I especially enjoyed the Indian dances – one traditional and one Bollywood style. (Somehow I ended up without a program, so I don’t have all the details!)

Each performer had 4 minutes to get it done. This required quite a bit of editing on everyone’s part. That was a common comment backstage, for sure. For our part, we decided to string together 2 fiddle tunes: Salt  Creek followed by Whiskey Before Breakfast. We did the math and as long as the tempo was right, we’d be about 4:15. πŸ™‚ I guess it makes you focus and get to the point to have a time constraint.

We were fourth on the program, which was good – right after the solo singer doing “Memories” from Cats. After us was one of the Indian dances. The venue was the Cahners Theatre, which holds about 300 people. It was standing room only in there, maybe because there was no alcohol served at the party! Anyway, in addition, they also simulcast the show to screens throughout the museum.

Bottom line: we had fun and we nailed the transition to our satisfaction. One of J’s colleagues took a video on his iphone and posted it to Vimeo.


The Splinters at the Boston IBM Centennial Celebration from Paul Beaulieu on Vimeo.

Chris

The Splinters Live

J Johnson and I have been hanging out in my basement for a while shedding fiddle tunes. We debuted at the West Roxbury Open Mike night and have played at Roslindale too. One of these days, we’ll get more than 2 songs to play at a real gig. πŸ™‚ We typically include some form of improvisation after playing the melody a few times; and it’s fun to trade 4’s back and forth.

We’re making our way through the bluegrass top 20 tunes like:

  • St. Anne’s Reel
  • Salt Creek
  • Red Haired Boy
  • Billy in the Lowground
  • Whiskey Before Breakfast
  • Cherokee Shuffle
  • E.M.D.
  • Blackberry Blossom
  • Arkansas Traveler
  • Soldier’s Joy
  • Temperance Reel
  • Prisoner’s Waltz (from Tone Poems 1)
  • I Am Pilgrim
  • Shady Grove

We still want to add some more vocals and probably some more swing. We’ve played All of Me and Sweet Georgia Brown, for example, along with Minor Swing, which seem to be popular with the bluegrass/newgrass set. I picked up the Fiddler’s Fakebook recently, so I’m ready to mine it for some of the more obscure tunes to go along with the fan favorites.

We have been influenced by Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Tony Rice, David Grisman, Chris Thile, Bill Frisell, and Frank Zappa, among others.

We put up a web site under The Splinters name. Check it out to listen to some of the basement tapes.

Chris

Thile-Daves at Brighton Music Hall, Boston

On May 24, J and I went to see Chris Thile and Michael Daves at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston – actually in the neighborhood called Brighton on Brighton Ave and Harvard Ave. I’d never been to this place before; I think in previous incarnations it was a metal-band venue, or at least rock and roll, known as Harper’s Ferry. I don’t think folk/bluegrass artists are necessarily on the bill all the time even now. However, we got there about 8:10 for a 9 p.m. show and got a great spot right up front and center as you can see from the photo I took to the right. It’s a “standing room”; meaning, no seats to speak of and the sold out show of 340 eventually filled the hall. I think there are as many bars as there are seats: 3.

The stage looks relatively small for a band that has more than 3-4 people. Of course, that didn’t matter on this night, as the setup was a single microphone in the center. The sound was great, especially being so close, you could hear both the amplification over our heads and the acoustic sounds coming out in front.

As expected, they played a lot of tunes from their recent debut album, Sleep with One Eye Open. You can also hear a few songs on the official web site, but you’ll want to just buy the album. I was busy writing down the tunes in Evernote for later, but at the end I took a picture of the set lists that some folks snagged from the stage. First set is to the left. The opening number, Evening Prayer Blues, was a short, quiet instrumental that set the stage for what was to follow. It was appropriate that Bill Monroe made this one famous, as you could hear that influence in both the playing and singing.
Chris Thile is an engaging performer and very comfortable up there, while Michael Daves seems more reserved. Both play with passion and fire! Their voices are well-matched, to the point where sometimes I could not tell who was singing which part, and I was standing right in front of them. The playing was superb – this is why you go see live music – you get the spontaneity and humanity that only comes from a live performance. You could definitely see, as well as hear, how they communicated on stage and in the moment.
Check out this video of the first set fiddle tune request that someone was kind enough to post on youtube. It was pretty funny to watch them get requests from the audience, then choose a sequence and key for each one…and then play their asses off (I can say that on the web, right?). “Freebird has words, and is therefore: DISqualified!” The reference to 7 strings and all the tuning was about Thile breaking a string in the middle of the set, which he repeated in the second set too.
Okay – that was amazing! πŸ™‚ You could hear both the tradition and taking it to the next step. They must have played these tunes a million times to get to the point of turning them inside-out. They did the same thing with the second set fiddle tune request time, but took Arkansas Traveler even further “outside”. Check it out below about 2 minutes in. That deserves an OMG.
Speaking of live performances, they flubbed the transition from Camptown to Rebecca, which was going from key of Bb to B (of all things). Oops. In the video, you can see Daves trying to make the eye contact to signal it was coming. They made up with it afterwards by trying just that part – so we got to see the live rehearsal process, too. See below – pretty cool. I still can’t believe they played that tune in B – who does that on purpose??

“Wasn’t that cooool????”
You should really listen to some of the tunes with singing – it’s as big a part of the experience as the instrumentals. “Loneliness and Desperation” is a good example of how it can cook. It reminds me of early rock and roll feel, foot-tappin’ music….or maybe even foot-stompin’!
Finally, for completeness of the historical record, I present to you the second set list. Enjoy and go see some live music, people. Where else will you see the performers whip out a bottle of rye and start swigging it during the encores? And if you get a chance to see these two perform this summer, go for it!
All in all, both J and I were inspired by this performance and took some of it to the practice shed last week, as we forge our own identity on guitar/mando. I hope some of it rubs off on us.
Note to Thile/Daves: next time play at Passim – at least we can sit down.
Chris
P.S. Thile’s other band, Punch Brothers, is playing at the Lowell Summer Music series in August. There’s other great music there too.
P.P.S. We ate at the Sunset Grille, but don’t go there for the food. They do have 112 beers on tap however. Unless they are out of some, then there are 110.

Julian Lage at Club Passim


I was browsing through the Boston Phoenix paper yesterday and saw that Julian Lage was playing at Club Passim. How did I miss this? Anyway, I went to the Passim website and there was only 1 ticket left for the 7 pm show, so I snagged it. (I didn’t realize until later that he was playing a 10 pm show as well as Sunday night at 8 – the front page of the site only listed the 7 pm show!)

Anyhoooo…on with the show. I arrived at 6:40, having secured my usual secret free-parking space near Harvard Square. Club Passim, or as most people call it, Passims, is a basement venue in Harvard Square. Mostly they have folkie acts, so having a jazzer appear was a bit unusual. It’s a great place to hear music because 1) it is quite, um, ‘intimate’, meaning that you are practically sitting not only on the person next to you, but also on top of the performers; adn 2) the sound is really good – not too loud and a mix where you can actually hear everything. Add to that, the aforementioned intimacy, where you can hear the acoustic nature of the instruments blending with the sound system, and it makes for a good room.

The Julian Lage Group this time is a quintet, adding a cello and tenor sax to the usual guitar, bass, drums trio that I saw at the Beantown Jazz Festival in Sept. You can see how crammed they are on the tiny stage. This was the CD Release party for Gladwell, available on April 26, although they had them at the show. They played a lot from that album, as far as I could tell. The show was excellent and ran from about 7:10, aka “jazztime” to 9 pm.
I’m pretty sure the opening number was “Listening Walk” from Gladwell, due out on April 26. Talk about a workout on the left hand! No wonder at the end of the night Julian said that he’s been having to take care of his left hand due to overuse (I can relate, but he’s only in his 20s!). For the most part the cello and sax were a calming counterpoint to the frenetic picking and percussion of that tune; they seemed to play that background role quite a bit throughout the concert – more like texture backing the trio rather than being on equal footing as soloists on every song. They did get some extended solo turns later in the set. I liked the way it worked. The band was tight, able to shift on a moment’s notice from loud to soft, from quiet introspection to frenetic jam – this is the stuff that makes for a great night of music making.
Other tunes they played from Gladwell included However, Cocoon, Telegram, and probably more, but I’m just judging by the clips on amazon.com and what I remember. πŸ™‚ I can hear in his playing a ton of influences as well as his own unique voice. Sometimes, I hear the Pat Metheny lick or harmony, but he doesn’t stay there long. Like Metheny, it sounds modern and rooted in tradition at the same time – whether that tradition is jazz, rock, folk, country, or something else…I think it’s all of those. Just watch some of the videos on his site or youtube and you can also see that he is really having a good time. Having complete command of your instrument doesn’t hurt, either.
Speaking of tradition, the trio did one of their trademark tunes, the standard Lil Darlin’. This was not your typical Berklee practice room jam session! Go listen to Joe Pass play it first (or this big band arrangement is good and unctious). Then come back and listen to this version (coincidentally recorded at Passims last Aug). Hear the difference? That’s how you modernize a classic and make it your own. At one point, Julian played a new song he was working on where he said he wanted to make something like a traditional jazz tune, but also make fun of it. Making fun of it isn’t exactly what he meant; I think it was more about being ironic. Maybe it was just taking a traditional form and extending it for the 21st century – yeah, I’m going with that last one. πŸ™‚
That video of Lil Darlin’ kinda sums up the group aesthetic. The tune is a jumping off point for an extended improvisation. The interplay among the musicians is awesome, as they almost go into a free jazz section for an extended period before bringing it back home. You can do that if you 1)know the tune inside out; 2) have chops for days; and 3) listen closely to what is going on in the moment.
You can also see in that last video the unusual technique of the percussionist, Tupac Mantilla – using mostly his hands to play. Last night when they played Lil Darlin, he stood up and mostly played by clapping, snapping fingers, hitting himself in various places (knees, face, chest, etc) and even reached over the drum set to bang on the bass for a bit (and on the bass player too, for that matter).

The encore number was, in his words, “well, you’ll know what it is” – i.e. Freight Train. The first part was the way I learned it, but not after that!! His right-hand technique is something to behold on this one, as he played with a pick and was all over the strings with ease.
A great ending to a spectacular night of music.
P.S. That guitar he plays is a Linda Manzer “Blue Note” that he’s had since he was 11 yrs. old. There was an article in the Fretboard Journal about him I read again last night. It can sound really acoustic or really electric depending on how he plays it. He does set up with both a Fender Twin amp (I believe) and a mic in front to get the acoustic sound.

Lowell Folk Festival 2010

On Saturday, July 24, we met our friends Dave and Lisa at the Lowell Folk Festival, a free 2 day event in the old mill town of Lowell, MA. The setting is very nice, in the middle of the oldest part of the city surrounded by the long-gone manufacturing buildings of the industrial age and the workers’ dormitories. They spun a lot of cotton in Lowell back in the day….it’s surrounded by canals that were built to harness the Merrimack River.

From Lowell Folk Festival 2010

It was an extremely hot and humid day, about 92 F. Our first stop of the day, conveniently located right outside the Market St. garage, was the Quebecois band, De Temps Antan. Just 3 guys, but what a big sound. The picture below shows them cranking out a tune on fiddle, harmonica (chromatic style), and guitar. The harmonic player also played accordion. I think they could play the same tune for hours, getting to a fever pitch before stopping on a dime. You’ll notice in the picture that the fiddle and guitar player are sitting down. That’s so they could tap with their feet the rhythm of the tune as they played. It really added some depth and drive to the music, which I find to be a weird blend of Cajun, French, and Irish, but which they would probably just call Quebecois. The guys are native French (Canadian) speakers, but also spoke English to the crowd and were quite engaging. We caught them on the big stage later in the day, too.

(you can see more pics in my picasa web album)
The great thing about Lowell is that the crowds are pretty manageable. You can get right up close to the stage, the sound is great, and it is very relaxed. I never felt like I was overwhelmed with people, partially because the 5-6 stages are spread out and partially because I think a lot of people are on vacation….also, did I mention it was hot??!!
After this show, we met up with Dave and Lisa and headed over to JFK Plaza to see Steep Canyon Rangers (who backed up Steve Martin and did so at the Newport Fest just last weekend). The only problem with JFK is that there is absolutely no shade and it’s all concrete/brick, which makes for extra baking. There are a lot of food stands here, so we grabbed some food (Greek, Laotian) while we were at it. The band was in suits and I really don’t know who anyone could play in that weather, but they were awesome. It was too hot, so we moved on after a few tunes (they usually play 45 min sets anyway).(Guitar note: I do believe that was a Collings that guy was playing….:) )

Next up, we went to the amphitheater at Boarding House Park (so named because that’s where the workers stayed, I guess). We listened to Bua, a young Irish group who were good, but didn’t seem as dynamic as De Temps Antan. It’s somewhat challenging to get a seat in this venue, so you have to wait for the changeover to go nab a seat, which we did. We listened to De Temps Antan again cuz our friends missed them the first time. I didn’t mind. πŸ™‚
Somewhere in there we checked out the Kings of Harmony shout band. The cool thing about Lowell is that the music is not just “folk”, but also gospel, soul, reggae, bluegrass, armenian, egyptian, korean, and so on. We’ve always discovered new music here that is worth going home and buying for the collection (Kekele comes to mind…). This band was like gospel, New Orleans brass bands, and funk, all wrapped up in one! You had to get your feet moving (but I was tooooo hot to move much besides my hands). It was mostly trombones, with a couple of sousaphones and drums thrown in. They worked the crowd up big time. It was very joyous music.

The highlight of the festival was The Hot Club of Cowtown, an Austin, TX based trio doing a blend of Bob Wills and Django Reinhardt in their own style. I knew I wanted to see them after seeing their videos on Youtube. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!! Go check ’em out. They’ve made a bunch of records, too and I snagged their first and last ones from Amazon when I got back home. We saw them in the so-called Dance Pavilion, which is a tent with a dance floor. While some people were actually dancing, we just bulled our way to the front and sorta stood-danced (remember, it was hot and humid). It appeared to us that they didn’t have a set list, but were just calling out tunes based on their mood and the crowd. I like that – it shows confidence in what you can do. Again, I don’t see how they could play as well as they did with the heat/humidity. I got some good photos, too.
All three of the musicians were excellent and got ample solo time. The fiddle player, Elana, also sang…she always seemed to have a smile on her face. The bass player was slapping like crazy and driving it all forward. The guitar player was ripping off solos left and right!! It was spectacular, really. They even traded 4’s at one point and seemed to really enjoy it. (Guitar note: looks like a Gibson 175 from the late 40s to me).

Hot Club of Cowtown

Slap that bass!

Play that fiddle!

Shred that guitar!
In between all this, there are food stands, crafts, and kids games throughout the venue. For example, there was a one-man-band dude, who made his own instruments.

Eric Royer, one man band dude.
And a guitar maker, William Cumpiano, showing off his Puerto Rican Cuatros. This is the same guy who wrote the guitar making bible!!

We finished off our day with dinner at a vegetarian restaurant, called Life Alive, which was quite good. I felt so healthy!!
All in all a fine day!
Chris

Wayne and Chris Have Some Late Nights

A couple of weeks ago my good friend, Wayne Goins, came back to Boston to visit the gang here. I first met Wayne at Camp Encore/Coda in Bridgton, ME in 1985(?) where we were both guitar instructors. Back then, he played a strat and his main guys were Hendrix and Prince and the blues. I was a pure jazzer with my Gibson ES-175 and Berklee degree. We got along instantly, talking guitars, playing 24×7, or on the basketball court.

Now…he’s gone on to get his PhD (Dr. Goins!) and I’m at IBM. Wayne still has amazing chops and musicality, big ears, and a warm personality. Luckily, we got a chance to play while he was here. He borrowed my 175 and I never heard it sound so good…certainly not in my own hands! πŸ™‚ We got in some good times playing with Jamie Saltman, owner of the aforementioned Camp and a great pianist, too.
Wayne and I hung out a couple of late nights. The first night we stayed up until 3 am watching Wes Montgomery videos on youtube. We hadn’t seen these before and there were even some where Wes was speaking (“this is not a perfect instrument“) about how difficult it was to keep the guitar in tune. We decided he sounded like Quincy Jones. There’s another one (End of a Love Affair) where he’s teaching the piano player the tune in rehearsal – watch at the end where the pianist wants to take it up a notch, tempo-wise, and Wes is saying, “alright, let’s go”. Wes is so cool and effortless when he plays; the music just flows out of him like a spring, with endless ideas. He’s often looking around, offstage or wherever, as he plays, just killin’ it! He even stopped to light up a cigarette during the real take of that tune. :0 We kept trying to see how he was actually using his thumb so fast – it was like a butterfly on the strings.
On Memorial Day, we had a bbq at our house before heading over to Jamie’s to play a little – this time, adding in renowned local musician, Bo Winniker, who also lives in the neighborhood and who’s son just graduated in my son’s class – small world dept. I thought we were just going to play through some standards for a few hours, but it turned into a real lesson! Bo had been talking at the bbq about a tune he’s been “working on” for a few years (!) and called that one up first – The Dophin. I had seen this one in the Real Book, but never really stopped to play it. It’s got some gnarly twists and turns in it. If I looked down off the page, then there was certainly danger of skipping a line and getting lost! We played that one for about 20 min, going around taking solos, feeling it out. There is a video of that one that I got, but it’s too big to post.
The next one Bo called was “Airegin“, by Sonny Rollins. Yet another one I hadn’t played that much, but of course heard alot via Miles and Wes Montgomery. Well, we played that tune for an hour and 20 minutes straight! Deborah (Goins) got about an hour of it on video before it ran out. We just kept going around – Bo, Wayne, Jamie, me – one chorus at a time. I can tell you that I got pretty tired (on bass, no resting between solos) and was lucky that Wayne kicked in some rhythm when I was starting to drag – hehe. That tune is also pretty tricky in parts with the various II-Vs (which is why Wes loves that song, no doubt) cycling thru a few keys in rapid succession, but is fun to play. Bo (on trumpet and flugelhorn) sounds amazing – so tasty and smooth, soulful. It was a pleasure to hear him play this pure jazz.
Later on Wayne and I went back to my house to hang out and partake in some Hennessy(his new drink of choice). Funny that no one else wanted to go with us… Even though I was already tired from playing earlier, I wanted to play some more with Wayne, so we went to the basement and went through a couple or three tunes – a blues in G, Beautiful Love, and Someday My Prince Will Come. This time, I played the upright bass instead of electric, which is always more challenging for me since I hadn’t played it that much in recent months and I’m out of shape on that physically demanding instrument – it’s not something you can just pick up and play. I got my customary blister for the effort. I flipped on the Zoom H4n recorder and got some of it.
Blues in G – (click to load the mp3 in your browser) You’ll hear how great Wayne is on this one!!
Beautiful Love – I’ve listened to Bill Evans play this tune about 4000 times, but haven’t played it much, which is why I made Wayne play it with me.
Not sure if I want to post the last one yet…”Some day…” was interrupted by a phone call from one of his students.
Again, we stayed up til 3 am chatting and I spent the next day at work recovering. Allegedly there were a couple of empty Hennessey bottles found in the morning. (I blame Lucas.)
Chris

Pat Martino – Scullers 2nd Set

I almost forgot that we had tickets to Pat Martino, until Mr. Johnson rang me up to confirm a meeting time. 10 pm set on a Friday is risky due to the lack of sleep during the week, but we went anyway. I’m glad I did! It was the first time I’d seen him and I don’t think I ever listened to him too much, but obviously knew about him. He was playing his Benedetto signature model guitar, a solid body model with 2 pickups although he only used the front one.

Seating was general admission so we got a decent table a few “rows” back. It’s a small club anyway, so not a bad seat in the house. The classic trio consisted of Pat, Tony Monaco (B3 organ) and Jason Brown(drums).
When they started to play, it was kind of a shock because the guitar was really loud and muddy – I always wonder whether the sound person has lost their hearing because it is so obviously wrong. Would it hurt to add a little treble into the mix?
The music itself was great! They came out smokin’ with a boppish tune which I didn’t know, followed by a blues which he seemed to call on the fly to the organ player (ah, just found that blues on youtube here), and a latin-ish tune. I think Blue in Green was next, with many liberties taken with the melody, but the signature tune intact.
The odd part of the night came when Pat called up his wife, whom he is clearly smitten with, to play 2 Wes Montgomery inspired songs with him – Heartstrings and Bock to Bock (also on a Derek Trucks album, btw). She’s been playing “for a few years – 3 or 4, i think” and it looked like a student/master recital where the student plays some medium difficult chord changes while the master does his thing and makes it sound good….only in the first song, she couldn’t find the beat to save her life. I just tried to concentrate on what Pat was doing instead.
Thankfully, the band returned and they killed another Wes Montgomery tune: 4 on 6. Tony Monaco is a sight! His facial expressions are priceless and animated – you could read the emotions (mostly joy) in his face and clearly he was enjoying himself at the B3 – relishing in the cheesiest sounds possible, then laying out a monster dissonant chord for emphasis. This was a highlight of the night for me.
They finished the night with Oleo, but it didn’t seem like they were playing the standard thythm changes – I think it was more open than that (a la So What or Impressions) which gave the soloists more room to maneuver.
After the show, J somehow ran into Pat and shook his hand and gave him a few bows of worship. When we asked what his hand felt like, all he said was, “Boney.”

Red Molly Concert


On Sept 26 we went to the Homegrown Coffeehouse, in Needham, MA at the UU church to see Red Molly, an excellent group who we saw the past summer at Club Passim. Before the show, we went to eat at Sweet Basil, around the corner, a place that does not take reservations! Therefore, while we were waiting the 20-30 minutes, we went over to the church to see if we had to pay or what (Emily had ordered tickets online awhile ago).

While trying to figure out where the entrance was (on the side), I saw one of the group (Abbie) in the window and gave her a vigorous wave, to which she replied with her own wave. Then we went in and up the stairs to see the place and Abby and Laurie came out and chatted us up a bit. The guy in charge let us go in and put our coats on some seats in the front, which was fortuitous because when we came back to go in there was a big line, even at 7:30. The church is so small that there really wasn’t a bad seat.
Of course, I can’t remember the entire set list…but at the end, when we went up to the stage to chat them up some more (J had questions about the dobro – a Scheerhorn Wechter – and I wanted to get a closer look at the acoustic bass guitar – a $400 Dean), they said they had 16 songs over the 2 sets. Some of the songs that they did were, in no particular order:
Caleb Meyer (first song – Abbie in lead)
Summertime (by Carolann)
Wayfaring Stranger
A solo by Carolann
Long Ride Home (Patty Griffin)
The Mind of a Soldier (winner of the John Lennon songwriting contest)
It’s Good-bye and So Long to You
A Tim O’Brien learned song I don’t know the name of…
May I Suggest (a stunning a capella song that they did as an encore and in the center of the church with no mic’s…a religious experience right there!)
Jud Caswell, of Brunswick, ME, opened the night with an excellent set. He sat down front without amplification to do “Blackberry Time”, which made it all feel so cozy. He also came out in the middle of the Molly’s set to sing the song that gave them their name, by Richard Thompson.
Red Molly comes up to the Boston area a few times a year, so make sure you go check them out when they do, before they get too famous and you won’t be able to get close to them!
Chris