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.

Oneside – First, To Last

A hoedown mood opens Oneside’s new album, signaling a shift away from the country jazz permeating their earlier work.  New banjo player Chris Hersch picks out a spare figure, backed only by Ned deBary’s delicate acoustic guitar, then handclaps.  The singer begins, and a kick drum roughs up “The Letter,” the first track on the Boston-based band’s new CD, “First, To Last.”

Then, as deBary wryly sings, “don’t tell me I’m going down the wrong path,” there’s a crackle of snare from drummer Jake Brooks, and the song is off and running.  Within the short space of four minutes, Oneside moves across time, beginning at Cold Mountain and ending at the Moondog Show.

Oneside covers a lot of musical ground in “First, To Last.”  “Oh Sun” is a spiritualized Americana rave-up, while a reworked “Got To Go” (the song appeared on an earlier EP) is a pure slice of country pie.  “Lisa” suggests that someone in this band listened to a lot of Gram Parsons at one time or another.  Since the entire band is given songwriting credit for each of the album’s 11 songs, it’s hard to know just who.

Anyone who says the long player is dead should listen to this, and think again.  Apart from one desultory instrumental (“Four Corners”), there’s not a wasted moment here.  Standout tracks include the jazzy “Out of My Tree” and “Josephine,” a roiling murder ballad that’s evocative of Gregg Allman’s “Midnight Rider.”

The band produced itself, and they show off their studio talents on  “Into the Night,” which starts small and ends big. “Our Song” is a guardedly optimistic ode to the musician’s life.  The interplay between the four band members – deBary, Hersch, Brooks and bassist Grafton Pease, is stunning.  No one element dominates, and what results is a gorgeous balance of flourish and restraint.  “Feel the song from both sides,” sings DeBary, and indeed they do.

The record’s tour de force is “Last Radio,” a darker look at the musical profession. The song metaphorically buries what’s left of the business, and waits to see what grows.

“Put your ear to the ground,” they sing, “listen a million miles down, hear a brand new sound, melodies escaping.”  As the Band and the Grateful Dead did, along with their modern disciples Wilco and Son Volt, Oneside is setting out to mine the deep.

Like those bands, they’ve burned their maps and manuals, preferring to work on instinct.

Or perhaps a better analogy can be found in the kitchen, where the trick is reconstructing familiar ingredients in new, inventive ways. Oneside has stepped away from being Bela Fleck acolytes to charting a different course.  With this effort, Oneside distills a long American musical history into its pure essence.

Oneside plays Friday at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon.  Show starts at 9 PM.