Local Rhythms – Going the distance

gdbThe greatest book ever written is nine sentences long – and I can’t wait for the movie.

I discovered Maurice Sendak’s magical Where The Wild Things Are when I had children of my own. For a time, reading it to each of them was a nightly ritual.

Every child understands the story. Rowdy Max is sent to bed without supper, and escapes to an imaginary world – what kid wouldn’t get that?

The 48-page picture book was a bit like a hit song you can’t get enough of, but eventually you do. And great music, like a compelling story, lights a spark that makes you wanting more.

When the movie version opens in theatres Friday, I’ll be there.

Stories lead to novels and more, just like songs lead to albums – at least the great ones do.

One of my favorite satellite radio stations is Deep Tracks. Their pithy slogan, “we’re not single-minded,” sums up what I’m looking for in music – a body of work.

The other day I fired up the Gabe Dixon Band’s eponymous 2008 album, on the recommendation of another music writer. I was floored – there isn’t a bad moment on it. Piano-driven rock informed by elements as disparate as Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Jason Mraz and Ben Folds, Gabe Dixon’s music is addictive.

This experience, a record without a bad track, isn’t as rare as the cynics would have you believe. There are a lot of good full-length works out there. Claiming otherwise is a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to the purchase of a lot of junk music.

No one spends their whole life reading nothing but picture books, yet they often do it with music. That’s the equivalent of eating a candy bar because healthier options are too much work.

Someone said to me the other day that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ longevity surprised them. “They seemed like throwaways back when,” he said. “Now they’re the keepers of the flame.”

At some point, people moved from thinking about particular songs to the Tom Petty sound.

When they went to see him in concert, they weren’t hoping he’d play one thing – they wanted to hear everything.

I’m not going to be a crusty curmudgeon and claim that career musicians like Tom Petty are a thing of the past.

They just exist in an alternate universe.

Cross the galaxy. Find these artists, like Gabe Dixon, and demand nothing less.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, Oct. 15: Spencer Lewis, Hartness House – Looking ahead on the calendar, there’s a lot of music scheduled at this historical Springfield restaurant. I’m very sad that Layah Jane, scheduled to perform last Sunday evening, canceled at the last minute. But I’m pleased that this pastoral guitarist is playing. In the coming weeks, look for Sylvan Lewis, Folk by Association and The Harper & The Minstrel, among others.

Friday, Oct. 16 John Sullivan Band, Silver Fern Grille & Bar – Springfield rocker Sullivan, a commanding singer and accomplished guitarist, toggles between classic rock, current hits and big bluesy originals with his four-piece band. He’s been playing in one form or another since the 1960s, and has released a couple of independent records, Many Voices and Touch the Sky. His latest project is a Christian rock effort.

Saturday, Oct. 17: Paingivers Ball, Claremont Moose – This is really about easing pain, not inflicting it; the name is a reference to show organizer and tattoo artist Rick Bellimer’s profession.  The musical lineup includes Stonewall, Soul Octane Burner and Roadhouse, along with Boston’s Last Regret, and it’s a full-on costume ball. Wear something crazy, and bring a non-perishable food item to replenish depleted area food banks.

Sunday, Oct. 18: Bob Merrill w/ Chloe Brisson, Canoe Club – This 14-year old prodigy has been singing since she could talk. Matt Wilson and Fred Haas (who coached her at Interplay Jazz Summer Camp in Woodstock for several years) joined Brisson on her debut CD, “Red Door Sessions.” Piano player Merrill, a mainstay at backing area vocalists, provides wonderful accompaniment to the young singer.

Tuesday, Oct. 20: Adam McMahon Trio, Windsor Station – A top-notch blues player with an interesting biography. While deployed in the Middle East with the Air National Guard, he began an open microphone night. How cool is that? The Maine native also played in fellow Iraq veteran Larry Dougher’s band for a stint. The two still do occasionally get together to make music. McMahon’s three-piece configuration draws from the genre’s greats like B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Local Notes:   Mark and Deb Bond are now Wednesday regulars at Ramunto’s Pizza in Claremont. Check them out, and keep live music alive!

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