Lori McKenna’s life used to include arena concerts, radio tours and appearances with Faith Hill on Oprah. Those heady major-label days are in the past, but otherwise life is much the same. McKenna still writes songs at home — in an office, not at the kitchen table — and flies to Nashville every few weeks to work with other songwriters.
If anything, she’s busier.
“I’m a little bit more organized with it now,” McKenna said. “I have it down to a science — flying down, getting myself around town. I’m going down more now, but it’s easier because I’m almost always familiar with who I’m writing with. I’ve done so much co-writing over the last two years that I’ve sort of found a home there.”
One advantage of living close to the Massachusetts border is frequent visits from Berklee School of Music alumni. The Boston arts college has an embarrassment of talent, and many of these bands choose to play out in New Hampshire. The latest is Nini+Ben, a young sextet with an original repertoire that melds folk pop, rustic Americana and country rock.
Named for leaders Christina “Nini” Fabi and Ben Gebert, the band released a full-length album, The Reasons We Try, last November, and it’s a gem. Frequently, it’s hard to translate a good studio effort to a live setting, and vice versa, but Nini+Ben have no such problems. They have an easy onstage chemistry, and possess a knack for performing note-perfect versions of the album’s songs in concert.