WUMB May Program Guide

Concerts, Local Music…and PORCHFEST!

Hello, my fellow music fans. Before we get to the Local Music Corner, I just want to share with you that as I write this, I am still feeling the glow of two fantastic live shows WUMB was part of. Our member concert at the Belleville Church in Newburyport last April 13th with The Seldom Scene was a combination of superlative musicianship, goosebump-inducing harmonies, and disarming humor that brought everyone into the circle. And despite expecting it, the Chandler Travis Philharmonic’s performance at the April 18th 3rd Thursday At The Burren show was…wow. After the radio broadcast portion of the show they played a few songs for the people who attended in person. That included one song where the band got off the stage and walked around the audience, playing with no microphones.

Maybe we’ll see you at the next 3rd Thursday of the month live broadcast from the Burren: Jimmy Ryan on May 16th;
And the next Member event: Mary Gauthier, Gretchen Peters, and Eliza Gilkyson (as “Three Women and The Truth”) May 18th at the Belleville Church in Newburyport.

Thank you…


The Local Music Corner

The hot rumor continues to be that it will get warm soon – as in on a somewhat consistent basis. I hope that as you are reading this, the word “layering” is starting to fade from your vocabulary, that you are getting re-acquainted with your sandals and shorts, and that the sunscreen in your medicine chest is starting to take some attention from your wind-protectant lip balm. The weather teasers of April have been frustrating to say the least, with a few good days too often followed by a week of wind chills. To put it with the poetry of Baseball, at the April 9th home opener for the Red Sox I was clearly layered for October Baseball. Springtime in New England…”extended Winter Light.”

And yet, we’ve had the occasional days of sun and burgeoning warmth that brings about “the buzz.” There was a day in Mid-April where Davis Square in Somerville was alive! Across from the Somerville Theatre, people populated the outdoor tables to socialize and eat ice cream. There were kids. There were dogs.

There was live busking music.

Have you ever heard something hauntingly beautiful that seems new to you, yet you think you know it from somewhere? Investigate Sophia Belle on an internet video. Then close your eyes as you listen, and you just may have that sensation. That day in the square she played mostly originals, plus two covers. Her strumming and her voice could have just carried me away. There were two reasons I did not recognize her. The first is that she cut her long black hair and she’s lost a lot of weight since I last saw her busking. She looks terrific. Her songwriting appears to be spreading out like the unfolding wings of a bird as it stands. Her guitar picking is restrained yet evocative. The other reason is that she is going by the name, The Home Despot. Whichever name you search for, check out that voice and the haunting beauty behind it.

Another day in the same town square, I saw a fisherman-hatted figure playing guitar and singing. It was the stalwart Mike Hastings. Mike has been playing the Boston-Cambridge-Somerville scene for many years, both busking and in clubs. His style as a solo is not fancy. He’s not flashy. Even from the first time you hear him – with the way he plays guitar and sings – he feels like a comfortable friend. Then with the Mike Hastings Band, it’s a little different. There are jazz-like licks and phrasing that join the folk/pop guitar sound.

This particular time I heard Mike playing one of my (and his) favorite Tim Gearan songs, “Mostly Love.” That was good news in itself. Even better news: Mike’s been recording. He’ll have two new songs out soon, produced by Christian McNeill. Christian himself is worth checking out. Early in his Boston career, Christian worked with Orchestra Morphine and Jimmy Ryan. There were his bands Hybrasil and the Sea Monsters, plus his solo incarnations. The skinny is that after 22 years in Boston, Christian may be heading back to his native Ireland late this year. So see and hear him now.

In September of 2018 I hosted Guest Mix on WUMB with Darren Buck of the Boston band Hank Wonder (named after Williams and Stevie; they sound like neither). Darren told me about reading Peter Guralnick’s book, Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock & Roll. In particular he related to a part of the book that discussed Charlie Rich. From there, Darren connected the dots to the album, Feel Like Going Home: The Essential Charlie Rich, which includes an absolutely stunning solo piano demo of the title song “Feel Like Going Home.” I would not have been that interested in Charlie Rich. But this version pushed open a new door of broader appreciation for him as a musician. So, when Holly Harris of WUMB’s Spinning The Blues (Saturday nights from 6-9) offered me a CD of Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich – various artists covering Charlie Rich songs – I was curious. It’s really good. There are elements of Rockabilly, Soul, and of course, Country. A few names among the contributing artists grabbed my attention. There is Charlie Rich, Jr. There is Anita Suhanin, who has sung on many albums by Chris Smither of Western MA and former local Peter Mulvey. Wrapping up the album is Boston’s Kevin Connolly. He turns in a smokey stripped down, largely solo guitar version of that title song …that just gets you “right there.”


Getting back to Spring and traditions of the season, May means a Somerville tradition since 2011 that has since spread to multiple cities in the Boston area. It’s a tradition that perhaps connects us to towns like Austin, Texas where you walk around and music is spilling out from everywhere (at least that’s the reputation). Yes, it is time for…

PORCHFEST!!

I love Porchfest, can you tell?

You don’t have to know any of the performing bands to enjoy Porchfest. Just walk around and follow your ears. It’s a smorgasbord of music and sense of community. I certainly don’t know most of the bands or artists who will be playing from the porches of houses. But there are two I do. And they both get the Perry stamp of recommendation: Dan Blakeslee and the aforementioned group Hank Wonder. They’ll be playing at different parts of the city and at different times. For a rough idea of who is playing, at what times, and where, visit: https://somervilleartscouncil.org/porchfest/list/2019.

Other cities having Porchfest this year include Plum Island on May 19th. Newton and Arlington on June 1st. Brookline and Reading on June 8th. Fenway on June 15th. Quincy June 22nd. And Jamaica Plain and Belmont on July 13th. According to Porchfest.info, many other cities will have Porchfest in the Fall as well.

As for May 11th in Somerville, let’s hope the weather is as happy as I am about Porchfest…since much of it was rained out last year (and postponed to the next day).

Thanks for reading…and for listening! As the saying goes, support live music and it supports you.

~ Perry

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