Local Rhythms – Salt hill Delivers For MDA

A few expressions come to mind when I think of Salt hill Pub. “If you’re drinking to forget, please pay first” is a favorite. “Work is the curse of the drinking class” is another.  The Oscar Wilde quote is printed on the back of the staff’s t-shirts.

“Next time, bring your wife” is written in a frame at the bar.  That’s now much easier for recently married proprietor Josh Tuohy.

My congratulations go out to Josh and his new bride, Meggin.

But there’s one saying that particularly stands out for an inveterate music fan like me – “never a cover charge” for live bands playing 4 nights a week.

This includes regular visits from out of town performers like Oneside, Sirsy and the Churchills, not to mention many local talents – like Pete Merrigan and Dr. Burma, who grace the Pub’s stage this Friday and Saturday.

Once or twice a year, however, there’s a cost to get in – for a good cause.

On Sunday, October 19, Salt hill Pub will host a show to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Hampshire.

Wherehouse, a rock trio led by one of my favorite songwriters, Jason Cann, will count off at 6 PM.  All ticket proceeds with go to MDA-NH, as will 20 percent of pub receipts collected after 5 PM.

“We’re always excited to host Wherehouse at Salt hill Pub,” Josh said in a recent press release publicizing the show.  “Jason, Scott and Shane are gracious to donate their talents to support this great cause.”

He also remarked on the band’s “innate ability to keep an entire crowd dancing all night long,” something I can definitely attest to.

The suggested donation for the show is $8.00 – feel free to give more if you like to this worthy charity.

MD affects all ages and all races.  Money raised will help support efforts like the Dartmouth-Hitchcock MDA Clinic, which provides care and treatment for MD patients.

Donations also support research into cures for the degenerative disease.

The MDA relies primarily on private donations, seeking no government funding, United Way money or fees from those it serves.  It’s efforts like this one that keep it going.

The music community is second to none in its’ support of worthy causes.

Salt hill is a great supporter of music, and with this effort, the two camps are teaming up to make a difference.

They deserve your support.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday: Samirah Evans, Elixir – After Hurricane Katrina, this talented jazz singer moved to Brattleboro with her husband.  Staying in New Orleans became untenable.  The Crescent City’s loss is our gain.  Tonight, former Roomful of Blues piano player Matt McCabe and bassist David Westphalen join Evans.  The evening of song featuring selections from her debut CD, Give Me a Moment, and her soon-to-be released My Little Bodhisattva.

Friday: Roadhouse, Imperial Lounge – A working class band that’s been kicking it for over 15 years – I guess because, like the song, they love rock and roll.  With a Joplin-esque lead singer in front, the band also covers the Joan Jett hit, along with less well known tunes by bands like Drivin’ & Cryin’ (very cool) and Sass Jordan.  They also cover Foghat’s “I Just Wanna Make Love To You,” but I’d like to hear them do Cold Blood’s slow and steamy version sometime.

Saturday: Brand New Sin, Claremont Moose – A band familiar to WWE fans, Brand New Sin recently welcomed Joe Sweet (formerly of Nine Ball) as their lead singer.  They’ve recorded a pair of new songs, which are available on the band’s MySpace page.  The five-band show also features Stonewall, Spectris, Skulltoboggan and Misery.  The all-ages show starts at 5:30, and tickets are 10 dollars.

Sunday: Vermont Fiddle Contests (Lecture), Bethel Middle Grange Hall – Adam Boyce’s presentation, “Old-Time Rules will Prevail: The Fiddle Contest in Vermont,” looks at this homegrown phenomenon.  Fiddle contests have evolved over the years from endurance events to talent contests. According to a press release, the program will include rare recordings of past competitions, as well as some live fiddling by the presenter.

Tuesday: Arturo Sandoval, Spaulding Auditorium – This amazing trumpet player can’t be pinned down to a single genre, playing Afro-Cuban grooves, bebop rhythms and seductive ballads.  One thing is constant, however.  Sandoval does incredible things with his horn, playing impossible to chart runs with staggering speed and precision.  The late Dizzy Gillespie called him “one of the best,” and that’s saying a lot.

Wednesday: Donavon Frankenreiter/Sara Watkins, Higher Ground –
The surfer/songwriter just released “Pass It Around,” which easily moves from coffeehouse folk to SoCal pop.  Fiddler Watkins is on hiatus from Nickel Creek.  The Scrolls, the supergroup that includes Sara’s brother Sean, Glenn Phillips, Benmont Tench and Pete Thomas, have an album due next year.

Saw Doctors @ Lebanon Opera House 3/13

bw-cup-of-tea-sml.jpgThe Saw Doctors’ short, nine-show tour this month will take them to big cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C and … Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Singer and guitarist Davy Carton says there’s a reason for the band’s upcountry detour. The Irish rockers, known for irreverent hits like “Useta Love Her” and “Bless Me Father,” have fond memories of a show they played at the Lebanon Opera House two years ago.

“The sound in the room was just amazing, we could hear everything,” Carton said on the phone from Ireland last Tuesday. “The sound was absolutely unique, it was one of the best gigs we’ve ever done. We were enjoying it hugely, the audience got up and enjoyed it; they were buzzing on the good sound.”

“We typically play in stand-up, dirty black rock clubs,” said Carton. “We generally don’t play sit-down shows at all, and rarely in theatres.”

“It also helped that there was a very friendly bar across the road from it, the Salt Hill bar I think it’s called,” Carton says. “The man there looked after us really well last time. Sometimes they can mess you around, they give you food and drink, but they want to take your picture and the like. But this man was genuinely nice, and we have good memories of it.”

For Salt hill Pub proprietors Josh and Joe Tuohy, the feeling was apparently mutual. The Lebanon restaurant is underwriting this year’s Opera House show.

The Saw Doctors sound is often called Celtic rock, a term they consider a misnomer. “It’s rock and roll with an Irish tinge,” he says. “We don’t do jigs and reels. We sing the way we talk, so you know we’re Irish. But we’ll have an accordion on stage in the same way The Band has one.”

Think of it as brogue-inflected Americana. Carton cites Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty and the Ramones as key influences. “We’re trying to write songs for the next album like classic Creedence Clearwater Revival.”

Over a 20-year career, the Saw Doctors have released six studio albums, and are working on a seventh, which they hope to release in early 2008.

One tune that will probably make it to the record is “Ivana In The Brogue,” a bouncy love ditty about a bar patron’s infatuation with a Polish emigrant. Songwriter and band co-founder Leo Moran’s clever wordplay is at work, rhyming “dance “ with “Gdansk.” and describing the girl as “a cross between Maria Sharapova and Kylie Minogue,” perhaps so the comparison rhymes with “brogue.”

Over the years, the band has cultivated an enthusiastic fan base in the region. In western Massachusetts, they began in the 150-seat Iron Horse Music Hall; now they appear at the Calvin Theatre, which seats 1300. This year, they’ve scaled back their usually rigorous touring schedule to work on the new record,

This is the band’s 14th consecutive St. Patrick’s Day visit to the U.S. Promoters and agents have figured out that Americans celebrate the holiday with more vigor than the Irish. Back home, says Carton, “it’s a day off, and there’s a good lot of drinking, maybe a couple of football matches,” and not much more.

“But we’d go to America and there’s this big exaggerated Irish thing. That was foreign for us,” he says. Strangely enough, says Carton, “the Irish are now imitating the Americans. There are parades and three-day festivals. The razzmatazz has seeped over to Ireland. It wasn’t there 15 years ago.”

Occasionally, the green-toned merriment backfires on the band. One recent St. Patrick’s Day, they sold out a New York show, but ended up performing for a half-full house. “People got too pissed (drunk) during the day and didn’t come to the concert, even though they’d bought the tickets,” laughs Carton.

Despite the city’s famous tradition of dying the river green for St. Patrick’s Day, he doesn’t think that will happen this year in Chicago; the Saw Doctors play the Old Vic Theatre March 17. “We’ve always found a very musical audience in Chicago,” says Carton. “We tend to get very hardcore fans, and the venue is a real rock and roll theatre. I think it will be a great gig, and the fans there will be coming for the Saw Doctors, not St. Patrick’s Day.”