Helping Ground Zero

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This week’s Hippo

Nite Spotlight: Alan Jackson, Studio 99 moves, Brooks Young Band, Cabaret Boheme, Recycled Percussion

Todd Carey – breaking through the tech for a real connection

It’s a sad fact of modern life that often the tools that make certain things easier make others impossible. That’s the conundrum Todd Carey explores in a new song about the ways cutting edge communication doesn’t cut it.

An emoticon isn’t a real smile, it’s just typing. Sometimes, only the human touch will do:

“No more phone calls, no more texts
No more IM, I don’t want to guess
I need you in the flesh
Not on Facebook
Not online
Camera phones won’t do this time
It’s true – I gotta be next to you”

Gotta Be Next To You, Todd Carey

Vienna Teng’s old soul

The sweep of history moves in both directions on Vienna Teng’s most recent album, Inland Territory.

“In Another Life” describes the life and afterlife of coal miners, revolutionaries and soldiers, with clarinet and bassoon accompaniment straight out of a New Orleans funeral. “Antebellum” employs Civil War imagery to tell its love story.

A needle dragging across a phonograph record serves as percussion in the opening bars of “Last Snowfall.” The young singer-songwriter (she only recently turned 30) becomes an old soul, imagining her dying days with the clarity of someone twice her age.

Compass features

Players
Local Music Spotlight

Who: Larry Dougher
What: Blues scholar with a rock and roll heart
Sounds like: Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Larry Dougher has a passion for the blues that extends well beyond his prodigious guitar talents. He plays with the authority of someone who’s been knocking around bars since he was 14, but has a knack for unearthing blues history with every note. On a recent night in Claremont, he unearthed nuggets from Charlie Patton and Tommy Johnson’s 1927 ode to Sterno drinking, “Canned Heat Blues” (the song that gave the band its name).

When he plays live, Dougher usually brings a bass player and a drummer, but he’s equally talented playing solo on a Takamine guitar. His recently released album of original material, Let Me Stay, is a tasty blend of Chicago blues and high energy songs like “I Wanna Know” and “I’ll Always Be.”

The 27-year old Dougher also coaches JV basketball at Stevens High School in Claremont, works as a technology specialist in the Windsor school system and last year took time away from music for a tour of duty in Kuwait with the U.S. Air National Guard.

Upcoming gigs:

Silver Fern Grille and Bar, Claremont:

October 23
November 28
December 11

Beyond

Worth driving out of town

Eastern States Exposition
West Springfield, MA

Distance: 100 miles
Why: The Big E
When: Daily through Sunday, October 4
Tickets: $12-$15 Adults, $8-$10 Children
http://www.thebige.com

Freaky food like a bacon cheeseburger on a glazed donut bun is one reason to attend this, the largest fair in New England and one of the 10 biggest in North America. There’s also a lot of free music, which this weekend leans country. Honky-tonk heartthrob Lane Turner performs on Friday, September 25. The following night it’s Little Big Town, sounding a lot like Fleetwood Mac. On Sunday it’s back to pure country with Jamey Johnson, who penned hits for George Jones, Trace Adkins and George Strait.

The final weekend rocks, with Poison front man/reality TV bad boy Bret Michaels appearing Sunday, October 3 and South African hard rockers Seether closing things out the following night.

Along with that, there’s a European-style circus and the regionally themed Avenue of the State. Of course, there are rides with names like Spinout, Crazy Flip and Fireball, which are probably best experienced after downing the fair’s signature dessert, the Big E Creampuff or a glazed donut bacon cheeseburger.

Horizon
Mark your calendar

Who: Vermont Symphony Orchestra
Where: Bellows Falls Opera House
When: Thursday, Oct. 1, 7:30pm

Last year, Ray Massucco realized his dream of bringing the VSO to Bellows Falls for the first time, a black tie affair complemented by glorious acoustics. Even non-fans of classical music got caught up in the magic. Immediately afterward, Ray got busy locking the symphony in for another performance. This 2009 Made in Vermont Music Festival tour is led by conductor Anthony Princiotti, and features an arrangement of a Mozart string quartet, Quartet in C Major, KV 157; Bizet’s Jeux d’enfants (Children’s Games); and Haydn’s Symphony No. 82, commonly known as “The Bear.”

Each year, the Symphony commissions an original work by a Vermont composer to premiere during the fall tour. For this program, Derrik Jordan, of East Dummerston pays tribute to the yearlong Lake Champlain Quadricentennial with Odzihozo and the Lake, which is based on an Abenaki creation story.

The tour stops in nine Vermont cities, including Woodstock on October 4. But you’d be hard-pressed to find one of them as proud as Bellows Falls. It’s truly a big night on the town.

Local Rhythms – Autumn is my favorite color

When I first came here, autumn in New England meant nothing to me. Born and raised in California, I only knew two seasons – raining and not raining.

But after 30-plus years, fall’s crisp dawns, metallic blue skies, wood smoke and turning leaves thrill me as much as any native.

I know, I’m still a flatlander.

Of course, the sheer volume of festivals in late September and early October is another reason I love this change of season. Here are a few I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks.

All of them pretty close to home:

The Sunapee Chowder Challenge, always a tasty battle, will be held this Sunday, September 27 on the harbor. Bubba’s in Newbury won the People’s Choice award last year, while the Anchorage took the judge’s prize. If you’re not a fan of seafood, this year’s competition will also introduce a “soup master” category.

Yum – comfort food.

Speaking of which, the Claremont Fall Festival on Saturday, October 3 includes a chili cook-off and an apple pie contest. It’s being held for the first time in the new Visitors Center Park. Downtown, 18 students and 7 adult actors will present an all-day living history performance called “The Pride of Pleasant Street.”

Windsor’s Moondance is always a lot of fun, with dueling LED hula-hoops, a microbrew beer garden, Celtic music and stories from Jennings and Ponder. Club Soda also performs at the event, which happens from 5-10p.m. on Friday, October 9.

The 62nd Warner Fall Foliage Festival, held October 9 through 11, is in a word, huge. It literally covers the entire town. There’s a midway with carnival rides, a farmer’s market, parades, crafts and an oxen pull. There’s also music from the East Bay Jazz Ensemble, Fountain Square Ramblers and others.

The annual Harpoon Octoberfest, held at the Windsor brewery on October 10 & 11, includes a German oompa band and plenty of Bavarian food like sausage and sauerkraut. Oh, and there’s lots of good beer. What more could you ask for?

The family-friendly Springfield Apple Festival also happens on the 10th and 11th, with cider, fried dough, crafts, pony rides and other distractions – most of them edible.  There’s also music, including local favorite Alli Lubin.

Finally, the Newport Opera House Masquerade Ball with Last Kid Picked on Halloween night typically sells out. With an extra hour due to the end of Daylight Savings Time, it should be a gas.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, September 24: Jason Cann, Harpoon Brewery – The expanded brewpub is, it turns out, a great music venue. Jason is the perfect choice for entertainment, which is why he’s a regular Thursday attraction. He covers the Grateful Dead and Dave Matthews, reinvents Michael Jackson songs, and does “Please Come to Boston” better than Dave Loggins, who wrote it. But I like his originals, like “I Want,” a free download on his jasoncann.com website.

Friday, September 25: Community & Youth Connect, Broad Street Park – Chris Kazi Rolle is a playwright, rapper and motivational speaker whose life is the subject of a movie, The Hip Hop Project. That’s also the name of Rolle’s after school music project, which travels the country and stops today in Claremont at 4p.m. Rolle’s performance is followed by a local battle of the bands at 6p.m.

Saturday, September 26: Gatsby Gala, Cornish Colony Museum – Though a bit pricey at $75 a ticket, this re-creation of a night at a Roaring Twenties speakeasy is nonetheless intriguing. The Downtown Windsor location is a secret that’s only revealed (along with a password) after guests RSVP for the event. It’s all for a good cause, with dinner and music by the Gerry Grimo-led East Bay Jazz Ensemble.

Sunday, September 27: Stolen by Gypsies, Parker House (Quechee) –Samantha Moffatt sings and plays accordion, with Mike Gareau on fiddle and mandolin and the ubiquitous Dave Clark on bass. Stolen by Gypsies plays French folk music, the kind that goes well with cheese, a piece of crusty bread and a glass of good red wine. This is an outdoor event, held weather permitting from 6-10p.m., so be sure to call ahead of time.

Tuesday, September 29: Traditional Irish Session, Salt hill Pub – If you live or commute to the Upper Valley, there are few better ways to end the work day than this song circle, which starts at 6p.m. and takes a different form every time it happens. It’s led by Chris Stevens, Roger Burridge and Dave Loney, but things really get fun when guests begin showing up.

Wednesday, September 30: Mark & Deb Bond, Ramunto’s – Yippee, another music venue in Claremont, something I’d always for this riverfront pizza/sub sit-down restaurant.  The bar’s great, the beer selection is first rate, and the calzones are fantastic.  How great that music’s been added to the mix.

Thanks to Jesse Baker for this week’s headline!

This week’s Hippo – 17 September 2009

Music Roundup – World’s greatest DJ, Hornsby, local band with Big 80’s sound, Jeffrey Gaines & So You Think You Can Dance tour.

Happy Doom – Eternal Embrace calls itself “a gothic doom metal band” that plays dark, brooding music. It’s a sound more orchestrated than most metal, but still pretty downbeat. Keyboard player and bandleader Eleanor Moyer likens it to “Theatre of Tragedy mixed with a band like Cradle of Filth.”

Doom metal has more time changes than death metal, which is “all the time aggressive,” Moyer said. To the uninitiated, this may seem like the distinction between being run over by a car and being machine-gunned. In a niche-rich genre like metal, however, it’s an important one.

Woodstock Redux – The organizers of the first Woodstock festival had to wait 25 years for a do-over. For the second Great Bay Music Festival, it only took a year. This weekend, a tasteful blend of national acts and homegrown talent will gather in bucolic Dover, N.H., for a summer-ending “three days of peace and music.”

There’s more than a fleeting connection with the 1969 event. Michael Wadleigh, whose documentary film had as much to do with Woodstock’s cultural impact as the actual event, was living on Back River Farm, Great Bay’s site in Dover, as last year’s festival unfolded.

J. Geils Band Bass Player Danny Klein – Interview

DannyKleinMichael Witthaus interviewed Danny Klein by telephone from the bass player’s home in Boston on 8 September 2009.   Look for Michael’s story in this Thursday’s  Hippo Press.

MW: What are you working on tonight?

DK: We’re just doing a Full House rehearsal, we don’t have a ton of gigs coming up and we’re working on some new stuff.

MW: I remember seeing you with Geils in San Francisco at Winterland in the early 70’s. When the house lights came on, we still wouldn’t let you leave.

DK; Bill Graham was always good to us.  The first time we played, I think it was Winterland.  We were opening for Eric Burdon and War. We walked in off the plane.  It was our first time in San Francisco. War started playing Slipping Into Darkness. I wanted to pick up my bass and my bag and go back to the airport and go home – because they were killer.

MW: They were a good band, but I imagine you guys recovered enough to deliver a respectable showing.  In those days there were a lot of bands that were on top of the bill over you that wished it was the other way around.

DK: It’s always nice, when somebody would have a little ego thing and stomp and pout and want to end the night, we’d tell them, sure.  I’d rather go on before somebody.  You go on last, when everybody’s tired.
MW: Who’s in Danny Klein’s Full House?

DK: Besides me, there’s Dave Quintiliani on keyboards and vocals.  He’s also the music director, which means he gets all the crap work.  Anything I don’t want to do I tell him to do.  We have Steve Gouette on guitar and vocals, Artie Eaton lead vocals, Jim Taft on drums and vocals, and Richard “Rosey” Rosenblatt on harp.  He use to own Tone Cool Records, and he’s a great harp player.

MW: So it’s a J. Geils type configuration?

DK: Right.  Sometimes we use horns, but for the Great Bay show were using a six-piece like the original Geils Band.  It’s a celebration of Geils music is what it is – basically all J. Geils music.  When I first started this, I was doing some gigs with James Montgomery and Friends, and we did some charity stuff.  I knew some people that did it, and I would sit in on a couple of blues songs, and we’d play a Geils tune or two.  Then we decided (a couple of guys who were playing there) why don’t we do all Geils things, so that’s what we did.  At the time I started this thing, two or three years ago, Geils hadn’t gone out since ’99 on tour, and nobody was playing it. So it seemed like the perfect thing to do.  I miss playing the music.  Since then, the original Geils band, minus Stephen Jo Bladd, has gotten together for five gigs, and hopefully we’ll get together for some more.  We opened the House of Blues in Boston.  But before that there wasn’t anybody else doing it, so that’s why I started doing it.

MW: You have another musical project.

DK: There’s a thing called Rockphoria we’ve been doing with a number of other guys, both guitar players are from New Hampshire originally (Mike Smith is one).  It’s a mixed media classic rock kind of thing.  It’s gonna be like three video screens and we do 60’s 70’s a little bit of the 80’s.  It’s less playing all the songs than playing a lot of medleys, parts of songs that morph into other ones. We’ll do some mini-sets by the greats like Dylan and the Stones, then an outro which will involve three or four singers.  We’ve been working on that for a while now, for a couple of years.  We’re looking for funding now.  We played the intro up in Gunstock, Full House also played.  That’s where I met Chris Smith of Soak, who’s also doing the Great Bay Festival, that’s how my playing the festival all came about.  This Rockphoria thing should be really interesting.  It’s interesting for me because the only music I ever really played was blues and R&B, from the 60’s and starting in the 40’s and I know that fairly well.  But I never did cover band stuff in high school or anything.  I didn’t start playing until I was 21.  All this classic rock stuff is great, because everybody else in the world has played this in a band in high school or something, and I never played anything – Stones, Hendrix, or anybody. So I’m learning all this stuff and it’s great for me.  I really enjoy it.  (the show debuted in Gilford at a benefit for the Ryan Charland Memorial Scholarship Fund at Gunstock last June 27, where it was billed as a “multimedia explosion of the age of classic rock through video and live performance”)
MW: What about Stone Crazy?

DK: We’re no longer playing together.  We put an album out that Jay actually produced and played on a little bit, and Seth played a couple of cuts on, and you can still get it at CD Freedom.  I left music for about 10 years after Geils stopped.  I was a chef, I still am a chef – when I have to be.  I started to get back into music, I lived in Fitchburg, and I wanted to play again.  I did some local gigs with some local people and one of the guys was Babe Pino on harp.  At ensuing gigs his brother Ken who plays guitar would come and play with us.  He was Johnny Copeland’s guitar player for 10 years.  Kenny got me a gig playing with Debbie Davies, a blues artist, she plays guitar, she’s still around and doing stuff.  We went on the road for a couple of years, then we decided we’d start our own band – which was Stonecrazy.  We did that for about 10 years and did the album, and we haven’t since I started this other thing we haven’t really done anything.  Blues is great, and I love the music, but I can’t do a two hour drive, four hours at the gig, and make a hundred dollars if I don’t eat or drink, and then drive home for two hours.  Everybody says it’s great exposure, and I tell them you can die from exposure. It was a lot of fun, but the blues scene is rough, even nationally, but especially here.  The pay isn’t there and I ain’t getting any younger.

MW: I talked to James and he talked about the benefit he did and the all-star benefits he did.  That must have been fun.

DK: Yeah, I know James from years ago, because he’s a Detroit guy originally, so we know him from when we played out in Detroit and Boston, and crossed paths for I don’t know, it’s gotta be more years than I even want to mention.  30 or so anyway.  We see other once in a while and cross paths. Yeah, it’s always fun to be with James, he’s a great guy.

MW: This was the catalyst for Full House?

DK: Yeah, we started doing a few Geils tunes and said why don’t we do a lot of them.  I said, OK, I happen to know those!

MW: Give me something I know, not Hendrix which I don’t know.

DK: Right.  But it’s funny, because then Geils got back together.  We did five gigs, a couple at House of Blues, two in Detroit, and we played Atlantic City and we might do more but I said to myself, well I’m in like Flynn now.  I know all the Geils songs.  Until we started rehearsing and changing the keys and arrangements.  So I have to remember which Geils band I’m in when I’m playing.  I was snakebit.

MW: So what are the odds that Geils fans are going to see them on the level of 1999? Is it just a fun thing right now?

DK: Well, for the time being, there are five original members, Stephen doesn’t play drums anymore, and he didn’t play in 1999.  We have Marty Richards on drums and Duke Robillard is on guitar, and Mitch Shinoor is doing backup vocals.  We decided we’d ease ourselves into it and play a gig here and a gig there.  See how we felt and how the people felt and that’s pretty much what we’re doing right now.  I wouldn’t count out that we do a tour, but for the time being I think when we go out we’ll probably do two or three or four and then take some time off.  Do it that way, ease ourselves in.  We’re still great on stage, but we’re older than pepper at this point.

MW: You didn’t lose a step on the 99 tour.

DK: The feedback we’ve gotten from the shows we did is that we haven’t and especially in Detroit which was always our second home and we played everywhere in Michigan.  The feedback we got from there was that we were just as good as before and we try to be.  So yeah, I think there will be more shows.  I don’t know if there’s demand for a whole tour, but right now we’re gonna do a few at a  time and keep doing it because there’s no substitute for being with the guys and doing the original stuff.

MW: You’d definitely say that considering the band you’re working with is a Geils tribute band of sorts.

DK: That’s true.  But you know what would happen … the great thing about the guys in the band is that they’re all Geils fans, which is great, and they know the music, and we have a lot of fun just playing together and doing it.  It’s not like work which is why I’m doing it.  If for some reason J. Geils Band got back together and we did tours and we were back in the scene then I think I would probably still do gigs with Full House.  But then we would probably branch out and do other material that’s not Geils – blues, R&B, stuff like that.  We could still be together as a unit and not have to do all Geils.  I don’t see disbanding one in favor of the other.

MW: This unit’s been together 3 years?

DK: Yeah, we’ve done a couple of personnel changes lately, new lead singer, new drummer.  Taft drummed with Fools briefly.  The rest have been there the whole time.  Yeah.

MW: It’s your first time at Great Bay – are you looking forward to it for any other reason than the fun of getting out and playing?

DK: Well that the main reason you do it.  A new place and I guess this is the second year and it’s nice to get in on the ground floor and do a local festival kind of thing. I mean, it would be great to do Comcast Center or any of those things, but it’s nice to do the local scene thing.  You know when you do grassroots stuff, that’s where national people come from is the local thing.  If there’s no local scene, you run out of national acts.  It’s good to support local things.  Like we played Market Days in Concord a couple of years ago and we did Blues & Jazz in Manchester, we’ve done Heritage Days in Cohasset, that kind of stuff.  It’s good to support the local thing because that’s really where it all comes from.

MW: Where are you living these days?

DK: I live in Hyde Park.  I like to say I live in Boston – we have the same Mayor.

MW: You’re a partner in a restaurant in Cambridge?

DK: You know, that’s done and gone already.

MW: Really?

DK: It was a couple of years, I had a small investment in it and I was the pastry chef there.  It was doing well in Harvard Square, then they expanded to Post Office Square and Kenmore Square and overextended a little bit I think.  It wasn’t that we weren’t doing a lot of business, it was just the conglomeration of them trying to pay all the bills and the economy. It’s too bad it’s not open, but on the other hand, I am very thankful I’m not getting up at 4:30 in the morning to cook anymore.  Now I can get back to my usual go to bed at 4:30.  I’ll never get skin cancer, I’ll tell ya, because I don’t see that much sun.  The restaurant business is my second love in that when I left Geils I went into cooking school.  I did the chef thing on and off for a while.  I’m not a great chef, it’s all right, but it’s a rough business.

MW: I saw you once at a baseball stadium in Oakland, California opening for Journey.

DK: I remember that, I have the poster on my wall. Bill Graham actually sent out a picture for everyone that played there of that giant stage with the clown and stuff, and Bill was dressed up as one of the clowns walking around the back.

MW: I was working at a record store in Alameda at the time of that show, and Bill Graham’s people called looking for circus music, which we didn’t have in the store, but I drove all over the East Bay tracking down circus records, and I got to sit behind the stage as a payment.

DK: You were backstage?

MW: No, in the VIP section, not the actual backstage.

DK: OK, so I don’t owe you any drugs or money then?  I forget haha.

MW: I think Phil Lynott got everything that day actually.

DK: Ha ha.  Another funny thing about that gig, we always did something different on each tour, and for that one Peter rode out on a motorcycle in a sidecar.  Of course, the whole picture of the band is there, he’s right in front of me.  You can see the tip of my bass and that’s it.

MW: You opened for the Stones in 1981, right?

DK: Yeah, we did their whole European tour, and some west coast shows.  At the LA Coliseum, one of the first acts was Prince and he came out with a leopard loincloth and they threw shit at him, and he went like four songs and he was off the stage. It was embarrassing.  I love his stuff, I still do.  He’s just a musical genius.  I don’t know if he’s easy to get along with, I hear he’s not, but he’s not gonna call me anyway so it don’t matter.

MW: He may need a bass player, you never know.  Then you’d have to learn Prince songs, after learning Zeppelin, Stones and Hendrix.

DK: They’re easier than Prince songs, that’s for sure.

This week’s Hippo – 10 September 2009

A run, a shave and a party
Wild Rover raises money and celebrates Irish/Scottish culture with Celtic Fest

For the first annual Celtic Fest, Manchester’s Wild Rover takes to the streets with an afternoon-long block party and a couple of big charity events — a “holy trinity” celebrating all things Irish and Scottish. It takes place on Sunday, Sept. 13, which just happens to be about six months away from the biggest day of the Celtic year.

From Rihanna to Reba
Hometown girl finds Heaven on Earth with country

Ashley Alexander has been onstage at the Palace Theatre before, when she was 17. However, it was under much different circumstances than her Thursday, Sept. 10, appearance, opening for country hunk Chuck Wicks.

Weekly Music Roundup

Reggae, Metal-odic music, Great Bay Festival, Red Molly and Disco Biscuits