On Thursday I went to see a show at Cafe 939 in Boston, featuring Ruston Kelly (solo), Sean Rowe (solo) and Marcus Foster (with his band). I had seen Sean Rowe do a short opening set last year in Cambridge, and I really liked him; he was the reason I was attending this concert. I hadn’t heard the other performers before.
Cafe 939 is in many ways an excellent music venue – it’s run largely by students from Berklee College of Music, which can give it a bit of an amateur feel, but the sound and lighting is really good, and it’s overall a nice place to see a show as long as you do not require much in the way of refreshments. It’s all-ages and alcohol-free, and you have to go outside into the cafe part to get water or juice.
Ruston Kelly was the first act, and I was very pleasantly surprised by his performance. Usually the first of three bands in a $15 concert is someone you’d rather skip over – but when he started singing, I was immediately glad that I’d come early enough to see him. He is a very good singer with a nice voice (and I give him bonus points for having Robert Frost poetry written on his guitar). He’s quite young (early 20s) but I think he might be someone to keep an eye on. He is already writing some pretty good songs and I imagine he’ll only get better from here.
You can download his album for free (or pay a few bucks if you want) right here: http://noisetrade.com/rustonkelly
Sean Rowe was up next, and the first song he did was “Signs” from his latest album “The Salesman and the Shark.” It just happens to be one of my very favorite songs he’s written, so I managed to get my camera out of my pocket in time to film almost the whole song:
I absolutely love that deep voice he has. And he’s been writing some seriously good songs lately. He played a really solid set overall, I enjoyed it very much. Like the other time I saw him, he played a Leonard Cohen cover to close out his set – last time it was “Bird On A Wire,” this time it was “Chelsea Hotel No. 2.” His voice is perfect for singing Cohen songs, he really gives them the weight and depth that they need. I am already looking forward to seeing him again at Passim’s in June. (He is doing quite a bit of touring in the US and UK in the next few months, so check his tour schedule and see if he’ll be in your neighborhood!)