This week’s Compass

Horizon – Mark your calendar

What: Eilen Jewell

Where: Boccelli’s on the Canal, 46 Canal St. in Bellows Falls

When: Friday, February 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $16/advance, $18/door available at Village Square Booksellers and other outlets, and online at


Though Boccelli’s closed at the end of last year, it still hosts an occasional show.  This one, featuring the timeless music of Eilen Jewell, is special because it will include dinner service.

The dipped in amber quality of Jewell’s 2006 debut, Boundary County, immediately established her as a talent to watch on the New England Americana scene, a reputation she cemented in 2007 with Letters from Saints and Sinners.  Her appearances at the 2007 and 2008 Roots on the River Festival were among the most well-received for both years, and she’s gone from new sensation to certified star in a very short time.

The demure singer-songwriter has also dabbled in country gospel with the Sacred Shakers and leads a Loretta Lynn cover band, Butcher Holler, which expects to release an album later this year.  Jewell’s last studio effort, Sea of Tears, is a departure from the Appalachian-flavored folk of her earlier work, taking its cues from Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Burnette brothers’ rockabilly.

Beyond – Worth driving out of town

What: Mindy Smith & Peter Bradley Adams

Where: Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA

When: Thursday, Feb 25, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $15


Distance: 69 Miles

Mindy Smith, well known for her version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and the aching, autobiographical “One Moment More,” is the headliner for this show, but Peter Bradley Adams is worth the price of admission.

The Nashville-based singer-songwriter is one of the more neglected musicians working today.  He’s made four albums of beautifully understated folk-pop, including the Robbie Robertson produced Eastmountainsouth, but for some reason he’s forever flying beneath the radar.  His third album, Traces, yielded his biggest song to date –  “For You” a ballad of love and patience that mirrors what Adams must be feeling as he waits for the rest of the world to catch up with his artistry.

Most recently, he recorded “In the Air” with Vienna Teng for the television show Brothers and Sisters.  To check out Adams’ music, go to to download a free three-song EP.  A fourth track, “Los Angeles (Winter ’09)” can be had with a subscription to his e-mail newsletter – a very small price to pay.

Players – Local Music Spotlight

Who:  TranScenT

What:  Alternative metal

Sounds Like: Slayer, Tool and Pantera

Founded in 2001 as a garage band led by Justin “Buzzy” Brown, TranScenT has undergone several changes since Brown’s tragic death in 2006. The band still honors the memory of its former driving force by yelling out “Buzzy” at some point during every performance. TranScenT has appeared locally at the Claremont Moose, Imperial Lounge and Electra, as well as Milly’s Tavern and TJ’s in Manchester.

Fronted by singer Chris Wentworth, the band includes Kevin Barth on bass, drummer Mark Kennett, Dan Gelina on rhythm guitar and lead guitar phenom Antonio Damiani, who also plays keyboards. The band says it began to seriously focus on professionalism when Damiani and Wentworth joined in 2007.

Last year TranScenT played over 60 shows, relying almost exclusively on original music.  Lately, they’ve started working covers into their repertoire, from bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Plunge and Bullet For My Valentine. They are nearing completion of an album recorded at Element Of The Machine leader Chris Mack’s studios in Springfield.

On Sunday, February 21 at 8 p.m., the band will be interviewed on the WFRD 99 Rock Home Brew show.  They were featured on Chris Garret’s Rock ‘N’ Go Morning Show last July.

Upcoming gigs:

Saturday, March 6 – East Buffet, Pleasant Street in Claremont, with Soul Octane Burner and Element Of The Machine ($10 cover charge).

Local Rhythms – Listening room etiquette

There are a few things I can’t tolerate.  Gum chewing during phone calls, people who drive below the speed limit on two-lane highways and idiots who talk in listening rooms.

The other night I went to a club in Manchester to hear Amy Petty and three other singer-songwriters do their thing. Charlestown native Jandee Lee Porter, who belts out country songs like a young Linda Ronstadt, blew me away.

She’s a star in the making.

It was a great night of music – at least the part that I could hear clearly.

For too much of the evening, some schlub at the bar had a long and loud conversation with a few of his friends.  Finally in frustration, I walked over and told him through gritting teeth that I came to hear the music, not listen to him talk all night.

He finally shut up.

Did reality television make this dolt believe his ordinary musings were more important than what was happening on stage?   It was appalling, particularly because it happened at an event that people paid to get into.

It’s much worse at no cover clubs.

So I have a few suggestions for the next time you’re around live entertainment.

1.     Learn the meaning of “stage whisper” – if you must talk, don’t shout.

2.     The longer the conversation, the closer the talkers should be – don’t yak across the table.

3.     If you’re not there for the music, don’t sit next to it.

4.     Remember if you’re at a comedy show, the guy with the microphone is the one being paid to talk.

5.     If you buy a ticket and don’t like what you hear, don’t ruin everyone’s night by staying.

The lack of respect for musicians is ridiculous.  I’m waiting for the day some guy asks a guitarist to hold a beer so he can use both hands while kissing his girlfriend.

Come to think of it, the silence might be worth the trade-off.

At least if his tongue is in her mouth, it can’t be employed to talk about cell phones, car repairs or his latest Facebook status.

I understand that you didn’t come for the music, but there’s no reason that your prerogatives should completely subjugate mine.

Talk all you want, but at a decent volume.

For ticketed events at places like Boccelli’s or the Flying Goose, please take it outside.

Have a good time, but don’t ruin mine.  Is that so hard?

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, Feb 18: Jason Cann, Harpoon Brewery – Salt hill Hanover opened a day too late for Jason’s Local Rhythms-picked appearance two weeks ago, but he’s now a Wednesday regular there. The singer/songwriter, who mixes cool originals with reinvented Michael Jackson songs and a cover of “Please Come to Boston” that’s’ better than Dave Loggins’ version, also plays every Thursday at the Windsor brewpub.

Friday, Feb. 19: Talkin’ Smack Band, One Mile West – A cozy restaurant with a great bar expands its musical offering with a mix of decades-spanning rock and blues.  Lead singer Rich Cortese has a voice that’s equal parts sandpaper and sheen. Their selection of material is especially good.  I can’t remember if I’ve ever heard a cover band tackle Robin Trower’s “Day of the Eagle,” and that’s just one of many nuggets in a typical set.

Saturday, Feb. 20: Ross Robinson, Pleasant Valley Brewing Co.  – Just a short drive beyond Bellows Falls, this pub/restaurant books a steady flow of talented original artists, including this Massachusetts picker, who cut hi teeth busking in Cambridge, and specializes in finger-style and slide guitar. His cover of Hot Tuna’s instrumental gem “Water Song” thoroughly impressed me, but his vocals are also stellar.

Sunday, Feb. 21: IZ Style Winter Tour, Mt. Sunapee Resort – The Pete Kilpatrick Band provides musical entertainment for the concluding day of this weekend event, which is all about the ways winter sports enthusiasts can reduce their environmental footprint. The Reverb Eco-Village features local, regional, and national environmental non-profit groups helping to educate skiers and snowboarders in planet-friendly behavior.

Monday, Feb. 22: The Status & The Bay State, 802 Music – Fans of alternative bands like All-Time Low and Boys Like Girls will like this indie double bill.  I’m particularly intrigued with the Bay State, which began as an acoustic project a few years and back and features the throaty Susanne Gerry on vocals and bass and, surprisingly, Evan James playing viola.  It’s power pop with a difference.

Wednesday, Feb. 24: Eileen Ivers, Hopkins Center – Anyone interested in the intersection of Irish and American culture will enjoy this show. The founding member of Cherish the Ladies and original Riverdance star performs Beyond the Bog Road, a multimedia show that explores the experience of Irish immigrants’ journeys to America, and what Ivers calls their “brilliant transformation from desperate refugees to cultural forces to be reckoned with.”

This week’s Hippo

Alana Susko got into comedy in an unlikely way:

Alana Susko always wanted to be a stand up comic.  Her friends encouraged her, but she couldn’t work up the nerve.

“I’d rather have a colonoscopy or a small car accident,” she says. “It was my greatest fear.”

Then one day, Susko found a way to beat her stage fright – sex toys.

She began hosting living room parties for women, selling ‘novelty items’ for consenting adults.  “It’s like Tupperware, only with romance enhancements,” says Susko.  “I thought if I could get comfortable with the terminology, I could say anything.”

Soon, phrases like “pure instinct pheromone cologne,” “bendable buddy” and “hot licks edible lotion” were rolling off Susko’s tongue, and it was so long, public speaking phobia.

From Lamont Smooth to Otis Jones – a new Concord band starts playing out:

There’s a bit of kismet in the stories of most bands, but Otis Jones came together due to quite a few happy accidents. Guitarist Andy Laliotis started the Grateful Dead tribute band Blue Light Rain after a long run with Concord jam band Lamont Smooth, which broke up at the end of 2007.

And this week’s Nite Roundup looks at a Haiti benefit in Chester, a local jam band’s after party activity, and more.