Heavy hitters – Cactus brings muscular rock to Tupelo


Drummer Carmine Appice believes the roots of heavy music — the bruising rock that predated Led Zeppelin — boil down to four bands: Cream, The Who, Jimi Hendrix Experience and his first band, Vanilla Fudge.

“Fudge set the precedent for American bands,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Hendrix was considered English even though he was from here.”
At the core of each group was a solid rhythm section. Vanilla Fudge had Appice and bassist Tim Bogert. Their slowed down, throbbing cover of the Surpremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” hit the pop charts in summer 1967. When the group broke up in 1970, Appice and Bogert formed Cactus, and later played in Beck, Bogert & Appice with guitar hero Jeff Beck.
Complications from a motorcycle accident forced Bogert to retire from music in 2010, but Appice continues to tour with versions of both Cactus and Vanilla Fudge. The latter perform Sept. 22 at Tupelo Music Hall; the reconstituted Fudge appears at Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Mass., Oct. 14.

Read more here.

3 Days of Fun & Market Music

ChelseaPThere’s a squabble on Facebook regarding a newspaper story (not one of mine) that compares the LaconiaFest debacle to the demise of Granite State Music Fest, which didn’t happen this year – it would have been number four. There’s a world of difference between the two events, but that’s not what prompts me to blog tonight. A subset of the discussion asked what effect the failure of GSMF or LaconiaFest has on the local music scene.

The answer: none. Concord is a creative hub that’s giving the Seacoast a run for its money in the arts leader department. This weekend’s Market Days Festival, the subject of my current Hippo feature, offers ample proof. Music all day in Bicentennial Square adjourns to Penuche’s Ale House at 10 p.m. and goes until closing time. All original, all awesome. Bands like The Grebes, People Skills and Pat & the Hats can be found every weekend downtown (and at the Camp n Jam festival in early July), not just the ones promoted by merchant associations. This is a scene that’s in it for the long haul.

New Ha-Hampshire

LavalleyShaskeenI wrote a cover story for this week’s Hippo that is a deep dive into New Hampshire’s comedy scene. There’s a lot of movement, particularly at Shaskeen Pub in downtown Manchester, where the backroom Wednesday night shows frequently attract big names from Comedy Central, SNL, Comedy Bang Bang another cutting edge places.

There are more rooms offering bigger acts more frequently. I love writing about comedy; it may be my favorite art form, because it can’t be faked. You’re either funny or you aren’t – there’s no auto-tune for humor. A long list of comics and promoters talked for the story. If you like my writing on this subject, here are few more stories I’ve done over the years:

Lisa Lampanelli

Gilbert Gottfried

W. Kamau Bell

Bob Marley

Jay Chanoine


Today’s Hippo

This week, check out my big story on how a group of local musicians contributed to Godsmack front man Sully Erna’s solo album. There’s also an interview with Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann where he talks about his new band 7 Walker. Click on the cover picture on the home page to read a story about roots songwriter Brendan Hogan, who performs at Boynton’s Taproom on December 17, the regular Nite Roundup feature, and Angel Roy’s story catching up with 90’s one hit wonders Crash Test Dummies.

Sully and Mama

Today’s Hippo – Rezidudes punk the covers

The Rezidudes don’t want to change music, just rearrange it. A cover band, but not the kind typically hired for weddings, they like to give familiar songs “a swift kick in the ass,” says the band’s rhythm guitarist, Kevin Cornish.

“If you’re 25 to 30 and on up, you inherently know all the words — we just do them Rezidudes style,” Cornish says.

The band is putting the finishing touches on A Beat Off, their second album. Among the songs receiving the double-timed drums and hyper-caffeinated guitar treatment are “Hotel California,” “My Favorite Things” and The Beatles’ “All My Loving.” Easy, fun targets all, but the album also includes selections that every rocker loves — “Fortunate Son,” “American Girl” — done straight up, albeit with the pedal pushed to the floor.


Today’s Hippo

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s eternal story

Trans-Siberian Orchestra built a career from turning it up to eleven; this winter’s tour is no exception. “It’s God-like — bigger, with more toys,” said band creator recently Paul O’Neill during a break in rehearsals. The tour stops in Manchester for two shows on Sunday, Nov. 7.

Michael Franti showers sunshine

Listening to the cheery music of Michael Franti and Spearhead, it’s hard to fathom that he once brought a hard edge and angry attitude to just about every word he spoke or sang. Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Franti fronted the proto-punk/funk Beatnigs and the politically charged Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

And Nite Roundup

Today’s Hippo

Jandee Lee Porter – An old soul with new stories

When Jandee Lee Porter was a young girl in Charlestown, N.H., she’d sing along with her grandmother’s Patsy Cline records while the two baked cookies together. Porter insists her destiny became clear the first time she held a hairbrush and pretended it was a microphone.

“I have been on the stage since I was probably 3 or 4 years old,” she said recently from her new home in Boston, “and definitely it progressed to become something more substantial since I’ve gotten older.”

And Nite Roundup

This week’s Hippo – Vegas Temper, Lucid

Vegas Temper cashes in on “Money”

Vegas Temper wants the airwaves.

Earlier this summer, the Manchester rockers went into the studio to record a pair of songs. They put the finishing touches on one of them in early September and began shopping it to regional radio, which responded immediately. Stations in Boston and Maine, in addition to Rock 101, added “Money” to their playlists, and the list continues to grow.

Lucid expands its territory

The problem with any local music scene is the circuit’s only so big. Lucid, playing the Shaskeen on Friday, Oct. 15, has a large following in its home city of Plattsburgh, N.Y. The six-piece band’s music melds jazzy rock, blues and straight-up funk into a lively, dance floor-filling concoction. Between the college and townies, along with the many clubs that regularly book them in upstate New York, their schedule stays pretty full.

In Nite Roundup, there’s comedy, country, fright, jamming and dim sum with a side of metal.


Focus, focus, focus – Brooks Young makes his move

If desire and discipline were dollars, Brooks Young would be rich. Inspired by his grandfather, he picked up his first guitar at age 11. Two years later, Young heard Eric Clapton’s Unplugged and proceeded to teach himself every note. “I just used to sit in my room and practice that one book,” Young said recently from his home in Franklin. “All my friends thought I was crazy.”

Soon Young, a History Channel buff, was mining Clapton’s roots, exploring B.B. King, Albert King, Muddy Waters and other seminal blues players. “I bought all their records and books to figure out what their story was,” he says. “I think a few of them really stuck with me.”

The other day, Young arranged for Clapton to receive a copy of his first album, Counting Down. “He got it yesterday, and I’m just waiting to get that phone call to see what he says.” It’s not a lofty aspiration considering what the 28-year-old Young has done so far.

Also Nite Roundup

Rocking for a reason – Crüefest fete to help band’s charities

From the Thursday, October 7 Hippo Press:

Tina Jessie is a Mötley Crüe fan; but that
term doesn’t adequately capture her passion
for the band. The self-described “Shouter”
has attended more than 55 shows since the
glam rockers’ 1982 debut, and that doesn’t
count solo gigs. She began logging onto
the band’s website back in the days of dialup,
and her cars sport vanity plates reading
“CRUE 13” and “CRUEZIN” — sadly, no
umlaut was available.
Jessie is also a part-time rock promoter with
a Mötley Crüe focus, the principal organizer
of the New England Crüefest, a fundraiser for
the band’s favorite charities happening Sunday,
Oct. 10, at Milly’s Tavern. Performing
at the benefit are Crüe cover band Shout at
the Devil, local rockers Lords of Audio, the
all-girl metal band Jaded, ’80s cover band
Snakebite, Iron Maiden tribute group Run to
the Hills and the Guns n’ Roses themed Tribute
The event grew out of a 2001 fan gathering
at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles, a
nightclub the band played early in its career.
Explained Jessie in a recent e-mail, “they
decided to celebrate the old days when rock
& roll ruled the L.A. music scene, get some
bands to play, and perhaps raise some money
for the Skylar Neil Memorial Foundation,”
named after band front man Vince Neil’s
daughter, who died of cancer at age four.
“The idea was to bring the fans together
while the band was not touring and help out
their charities as well,” Jessie said. When the
band got back on the road in 2005, the festivals
expanded to Cleveland, Nova Scotia,
Vancouver, Australia, New York City, Orlando,
Chicago, Atlanta and, in 2007, New
Hampshire. In addition to Neil’s charity, the
event raises money causes supported by each
band member. Running Wild in the Night is a
charity run by Covenant House for homeless
and runaway youth sponsored by bassist Nikki
Sixx, while drummer Tommy Lee chose St.
Jude’s Hospital and Mick Mars sponsors the
Spondylitis Association (the guitarist himself
suffers from the spinal/pelvic joint disease).
The first New England Crüefest almost
didn’t happen, when the original venue pulled
out five weeks before the show. “I had to cancel
the bands, give back donations and gave
up,” Jessie said. But she caught a break when
Mad Bob’s Saloon in Manchester offered
to host the show at the last minute. Despite
logistical problems like fans arriving at the
wrong venue and not being redirected to Mad
Bob’s, the event managed to raise a respectable
“We did pretty well considering the window
we had,” Jessie said. “A lot of the bands
had booked other gigs, but some of them
decided to do it for us anyway, which was
rather nice.” But she vowed that the next
time around things would go more smoothly,
and she immediately got busy collecting
raffle items and planning for another show —
which, due to national Crüefest tours, couldn’t
happen in 2008 or 2009.
Now that the New England Crüefest is
finally taking place, Jessie jokes that everyone
who comes will probably leave with a door
prize. Donations include several items signed
by the band: a copy of Nikki Six’s book The
Heroin Diaries (along with a soundtrack CD),
a drumhead signed by Tommy Lee, along
with guitars, ukuleles and other memorabilia
from the band’s management company.
Jesse Acciacca hand-painted a guitar for the
2007 event, which he and Jessie brought to
Vince Neil to be signed. “He was so impressed
that he more or less has been having Jesse
paint all his guitars for the all the tours he’s
been doing since,” Jessie said. “They’re on
display in Las Vegas, and at Vince’s restaurant
in Florida.” Another Acciacca design, originally
done for the 2008 event, will be given
away at the show, with a headstock repainted
with a 2010 date.
The night will be a reunion of sorts for a
few of the bands that either played or were
booked for the first Crüefest. Lords of Audio
guitarist Robby Gagnon’s Project G appeared
in 2007, as did the Hangovers; former member
of that band are in Tribute This! Jaded was
set for the Mad Bob’s show until one of the
members suffered a broken wrist.
Run to the Hills was on the original bill,
but they booked another gig before the new
venue was found; Jessie is excited to have
them on board for this year’s show. “You really
think you’re hearing [Iron Maiden lead
singer] Bruce Dickinson perform,” she said.
“They’ve been together for years and are very
Led by a female vocalist, headliners Shout
at the Devil recreate the Mötley Crüe concert
experience of 1983 right down the smallest
detail. The Maine band, said Jessie, “does the
whole show and she looks and sounds just
like Vince Neil.”
Anyone arriving in ’80s attire will be eligible
to win tickets to see Vince Neil at
Maximum Capacity in Chicopee, Mass., on
Oct. 15, or Trixster’s show next month in Sanford,
Maine. “Last time, just about everybody
went home with a little something, even if it
was a T-shirt,” said Jessie.

Crüefest 2010
featuring Shout At The Devil, Run to the
Hills, Lords of Audio, Snakebite, Jaded and
Tribute This!
When: Sunday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m.
Where: Milly’s Tavern, 500 Commercial
St. in Manchester
Tickets: $10 (21 and up)
Info: www,millystavern.com