Thursday, September 21, 2017

Can Rami Malek Save The Music?

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body's aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.

I love the theoretical. And I love making music lists. You know. You've had the conversations.. The backdrop this time is a backyard cookout in your neighborhood. Picture yourself with a drink in your hand listening to some vaguely interesting music. All the kids are, for some reason, in the house. Cocktail-talk over a gas grill. "If you could go back in time to see any one band which one would it be?" 

About ten years ago, I changed my bucket list selection to Queen. And it hasn't moved ever since. Freddie Mercury is epic. The new biop, Bohemian Rhapsody could be the most dangerous thing to happen to my mind in a long time.

What's better is they didn't screw up the lead, giving the whole project a chance. Freddie will be played by the gifted Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, Two golden globe nominations.) Slated for a Christmas Day release which will be sure to capture some mainstream media and film festival love. I'll share the trailer as soon as it goes live.

Meanwhile, if a Freddie-Mercury-less Queen is of any interest to you, that band is on a brief break before embarking on an extensive European tour that will span until the end of the year. Australia in February 2018. All the dates are here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The Rationales release the inspired Upstream

NEW ENGLAND - It's hard to imagine a northeast music scene without Boston's The Rationales playing a major role. For the better part of a decade, the punchy American rock band have entertained the city, wowed regional audiences and cheered on their music peers in music halls and performance spaces.

Known for their hooks & harmony and offering up reliably great lyrics, The Rationales have become a live force with the passage of time. The lineup today includes David Mirabella, Mike Mirabella, Sean Black, Chad Raleigh, David J. Lieb, and Adam Hand. This little blue collar band-that-could is executing at best-of-career levels and could be the best stage act in the region today. The Rationales release their greatest work to-date tomorrow: it's called Upstream.

Part of the band's ascension seems to have coincided with the additional of the talented lap steel player Hand (formerly of The Field Effect) but, truth be told, it's also through the entire band's devotion to executing on stage and playing to their strengths. The songwriting this time around is more collaborative. Singing duties are shared and there are some really shining solos in the live set which absolutely destroy audiences. (Editor's Note: Chad Raleigh is a New England guitar god!) I am not a huge fan of comparing artists and genres but they appear to help some folks. I hear elements in these songs that remind me of Wilco, Jason Isbell and R.E.M. with influences as wide ranging as Cheap Trick and Afghan Whigs. 

The power of the live set is undeniable. I've witnessed it myself. In 2016, Adam Duritz and I selected the band to serve as International ambassadors for The Outlaw Roadshow tour - playing dates around the US and across the border in Toronto, Canada. The band earned its way into these lineups, beating out hundreds of others for the chance. And the audiences in these cities absolutely loved The Rationales.  

The Rationales release Upstream in a stellar lineup at the legendary Middle East Club (downstairs headliners) on Thursday, August 3rd. This should not be missed. For those outside the region, grab your download copy of the record by clicking the link below! 

Upstream / Web / Fb / Tw

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Two Good Sides To Gangstagrass

Like all good things on this earth, the bluegrass hip-hop act Gangstagrass, started out as a simple concept.. Solid lines of traditional lyrics and street poetry delivered over real roots music. At the center of Gangastagrass is celebrated the country songwriter Rench who is flanked by capable, multi-genre players who can set just about any room on fire. The power that results on stage from the injection of hip-hop can be inspired. And the instrumentation and use of classic strings is the perfect foil, acting as far more than just a backdrop. (Just Watch This Video.) Gangstagrass is an audio experience, a sight to behold - and definitely something to remember. And they are coming to Boston this weekend. 

A country core act with hip-hop elements is a tough sell for a lot of folks, but their breakout hit "Long Hard Times to Come," the Emmy-nominated theme to the FX television network's song Justified, smoothed over a number of edges. The commercial success of that song aside, a music lover just cannot help but get excited to think they are finding something joyous in music. On the band's Facebook, Rench writes that the act of the band bringing this sound to the world is akin to wrestling and "taming a mountain lion." Believe it.  

Gangstagrass On the Road this July
July 14 The Colonial Theatre - Bethleham, NH
Jul 15 Thunder Road - Somerville, MA
Jul 16 Caffe Lena - Saratoga Springs, NY
Jul 20 Sweet Nolas - Winchester, VA
Jul 21 Rumba Cafe - Columbus, OH
Jul 22 The Hi-Fi - Indianapolis, IN
Jul 23 SPACE - Evanston, IL
Jul 24 The Raccoon Motel - Davenport, IA
Jul 25 The Bootleg at Atomic Cowboy - St Louis, MO
Jul 26 The Country - Nashville, TN
Jul 28 Willie's Locally Known - Lexington, KY
Jul 29 Riverfront Nights Concert - Chattanooga, TN
Jul 30 Motorco Music Hall- Durham, NC

Editor's Note: country-minded folks should have a listen to Rench's new solo debut - Them's The Breaks.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell RIP

Chris Cornell's family has notified fans of the gifted songwriter's passing through his publicist. This come all too soon, as Chris was only 52 and still writing and performing on tour. Along with Cornell's many writing and performance accomplishments, he was a driving force in establishing the grunge movement in America - primarily with his band Soundgarden. He is already missed. 

Web / Wiki

Chris covers Led Zeppelin
Chris Cornell - Thank You
radio performance - free download!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How To Be A Rock Critic

Boston, MA - Long before the term 'taste-maker'  was coined in popular culture (and decades before music bloggers came to bear influence on the industry) there was the rapscallion rock critic Lester Bangs. An unrepentant super-power of creative prowess, the only thing greater than his legacy as a vital '60s and '70s contributor to counterculture, was his apparent unending passion for music itself. 

Erik Jensen is Lester Bangs in How To Be A Rock Critic 

I will readily admit I attend the show curious. But I was thoroughly convinced I had seen and knew everything I needed (or even desired to know) about Lester Bangs.. That was until I witnessed stage and screen actor Erik Jensen's humanizing potrayal of Bangs in the ArtsEmerson production of How To Be A Rock Critic at the Paramount Theater this week. In 70-some-odd minutes, I went from being a passive participant in the same world that Lester Bangs once lived to being invoked to feel and understand some level of the man's pain and his glory. It was an inspired production.

Most music lovers recall seeing Lester Bangs immortalized by the late acting genius Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000) but even that fan-favorite telling largely didn't sway me. It's hard to fight popular tide and old ghosts. And there have been other portrayals of Bangs, each with its strengths. But to put it plainly, Erik Jensen's Lester Bangs is my favorite.  

Let us return to the play: The stage of Rock Critic is a clutter of Bangs' life. At times he paces the stage like a damaged and caged tiger. And at others, he is a music-loving Everyman, playing us favorite songs from his personal collection. 

Here we see a fiery, self-destructive Bangs intermixed with moments of quiet tranquility and grace. We certainly see his flaws. There in his rag-tag apartment, amidst piles of music magazines and LP records - we see the path that killed Bangs. (His drug abuse ultimately led to his premature demise - and his occasionally thrashing of art, a penchant that caused him to be released by Rolling Stone magazine early in his influential career.) And on that same small stage we come to witness and admire Bangs' indomitable character. This is the telling of one man's unflinching dedication to the truth found in music.

If you aren't careful you might miss the key moment of the play. Jensen's Bangs (in the moment of another classic rise-and-fall) admits he is just looking for something real to hang on to. Something in music (always music) that's "moral." And there you have it. A man is rebuilt and torn down and rebuilt before our eyes. Long gone but never forgotten. This is the Lester Bangs for the world to know. I met him this week.  

Limited Shows Remain!

ArtsEmerson / Erik Jensen

Lester Bangs was a rock critic 

Saturday, February 18, 2017