WUMB May Program Guide

The Local Music Corner

Hi there! How’s your sunscreen supply so far? Oh, I love outdoor summer music. Three years ago, my jaw dropped at the notion of Aoife O’Donovan, Sarah Jarosz, and Sara Watkins teaming up. The potential harmonies and the potent musicianship between them – “I hope they tour, I hope they tour,” I thought. And they had…one show in Massachusetts that summer. It was at Mass MOCA in the Berkshires. A beautiful place, but a long haul to get out there. I did not make the journey. Fast forward to the middle of July, and the group played at Boarding House Park in Lowell. Finding myself with a late minute opportunity to go, I had to remind myself that you can’t take opportunities for granted. And reminding myself that the haul up to Lowell is nothing compared to heading out to North Adams. So I got myself out there. It was well worth the effort. The trio – who have dubbed themselves I’m With Her – were magnificent. The harmonies and the musicianship were as quality as I’d anticipated. The surprise for me was Sara Watkins. I did not expect her to be the musical force she was. Her violin playing was like the wings the group rode through the clouds on. She sang lead on songs from her solo work (and I think at least one from her Nickel Creek catalogue) as well as for part of the encore, which was a Joni Mitchell cover that all three shared lead vox on. Sara also played a couple of guitars, one with sort of a fuzztone sound. It was a magnificent show. Icing on the cake was that the nice couple I sat next to were huge WUMB fans. They’d driven all the way up from the south shore for this show.

As Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz were part of the Boston area music scene for a few years, that leads us to…

The Local Music Corner

I’d like to thank Laurence Scudder & Ryan Fitzsimmons for a few reminders, after seeing them play at Toad in Porter Square, Cambridge recently. They performed some of Ryan’s songs from what is so far his only full length album, 2011’s Cold Sky. Hearing the songs reminded me of spending some time with the album before Ryan’s 3rd Thursday At The Burren performance last year. It’s one of those albums where the more you listen to it, the more you realize how good it is. And since it is eight years on, that reminded me how I’ve hoped that Ryan will record another. Well, he played at least one of his tunes that I did not recognize. And he said it was one of the many newer ones he hopes to record soon. So good news there. Also from that night’s performance, Laurence took the lead on reminding us all what a treasure of a songwriter Guy Clark was – as he and the band covered Guy’s “Home Grown Tomatoes.” It’s one of only two things that money can’t buy…

Oh right, another reminder from that show? Bass players are not simply frustrated guitar players. Kudos to Jim Larkin playing upright bass that night. He also pulled out the acoustic guitar and sang lead vocals on a cover of The Wood Brothers’ “The Luckiest Man.” Quality song pick, fellas.

Speaking of the 3rd Thursday At The Burren series, you’ve probably noticed the series is taking a summer break for July and August. It is due back with a wrinkle in September. This is good at the very least because September needs something about it to look forward to. That’s a tall order for a month associated with the end of Summer and the beginning of School.

Last month I mentioned the very busy docket of Waltham’s Sam Margolis, he of the band Comanchero and his studio Riverview Sound. Sam’s docket included working on a new album with young bluegrass progressives Pretty Saro. Congrat’s to Pretty Saro for making the cover of Dig Boston at the end of July. With their new album, a new album out from Mile Twelve, the progress of Grain Thief and some other hot bluegrass players from the region, this indeed might be an exciting time to be a Bluegrass fan or just to explore Bluegrass in the Boston area.

End of an era…
For the last three years, Greg Klyma has hosted and/or booked Americana Sundays at Thunder Road in Union Square, Somerville. And for three years before that, it was his Americana Mondays at PA’s Lounge just a few doors down (PA’s is now The Union Tavern). As of this writing, it seems this has come to an end. According to Greg, Thunder Road was thinking about possibly reducing it to two Sundays a month, and otherwise nothing was booked beyond July 28th for Americana Sundays. And since this has been Greg’s baby…it looks like Americana Sundays may have reached its end. And if so, Greg has said “it’s been a good run.”

Sometimes it is time to move on. Greg is doing a rambunctious amount of touring this summer. He won’t have to divide that time with keeping up with booking Americana Sundays (especially for the Sundays he would be out of town on tour). And we will see what Thunder Road may do differently.

Kudos to Greg for keeping up a weekly showcase not just for himself and his music, but for quite the variety of other musicians. He would have a different collection of musicians play behind him. He would book a variety of other artists or bands to host and play when he was out of town on tour. And they all did this under the banner of promoting some of their favorite Country/Americana songs along with their own. Some would play more originals than covers. Greg himself typically played more covers of his favorites. I would sometimes tell him that I wanted to hear more of his own songs. This was especially true around 2017 when he released his album Never Knew Caroline. I really wanted him to give those songs the push they deserved to his regulars.

And regulars he has had between both clubs of his “Americana” showcases over the last six years. Between them and the musicians he’s had play, Americana Sundays/Mondays has built up its own community. That is what Greg seems most proud of, and he is hoping that sense of Community can continue.

As for his own music, Greg has two new albums you can access digitally. For all things Greg Klyma, you can find him standing on the edge of the Information Super Highway – guitar in hand – at www.Klyma.com.

Congratulations to the local musicians playing “The Rooftop Sessions” at Fenway Park prior to various Red Sox games (I only discovered this in mid-July). Among the list of performers, there was Jesse Dee on July 14th and Will Daily on July 28th. Session Americana and Ali McGuirk are slated for the Sept 8th game. For more information, check https://www.mlb.com/redsox/tickets/events/fenway-rooftop-sessions.

Last month I mentioned that Kevin So was about to release his first album in four years, S.O.U.L (Speaking of Universal Language). Kevin played a CD release show at the end of June at The Burren back room. The crowd included many of his friends from the Boston music community of the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s when he got his start. But what you really need to know is that as a live performer, Kevin So’s still got it. He was clearly happy to be playing the show. The joy in his voice rang out like a clear bell. Kevin live is a good example of a “performance” as contrasted with simply “playing.” Weather solo or doing a few songs with Richard Gates on bass or three of his musical friends from the old days on vocal harmonies, Kevin’s playing was…a celebration. The musical playing, the humorous stories to set up the songs, the jokes along the way, the reminiscing of songs created here in Boston over 20 years ago. It was all a celebration. Welcome back again, Kevin So.

There is exciting news from the Liz Frame & The Kickers camp. They are working on a new full-length album at Wooly Mammoth Sound. Look for it late this year or in early 2020. To whet your whistle for their music, you can catch them live on August 22nd in the Haymarket Lounge at City Winery in Boston.

I have just received the new Deb Cowan six song EP, Greening The Dark. Even without hearing it, the cover art has me curious. On the cover is an intriguing photo of a full moon with a slight pink tint, rising through bare tree branches. Photographer Lisa Deupree designed the cover. Dave Mattacks produced the EP. He introduced Deb to Lisa.

Deb has a strong, old-school folk singer voice. It’s a perfect match for story songs. Dave Mattacks has crafted arrangements that add a little flourish and shine to go with Deb’s voice. They compliment each other nicely.

Duke Levine, Joyce Andersen, Mike Barry, John Roberts, Richard Gates, Billy Novick, Tom Palance and Bob Nieske also play on the album.  Get it here: https://debracowan.com/2019/07/greening-the-dark-has-arrived/

Until next time, get out and see live & local music whenever you can. After all – let’s say this together again – when you support live music, it supports you.

Thanks for reading; thanks for supporting WUMB however you do.

Maybe we’ll see you at a show,

~ Perry

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