The most egregious collection of catching-up mini-reviews the world has ever seen! Featuring such luminaries as Goblin, Secret Chiefs 3, the Dresden Dolls, Bill Frisell, Jason Webley, Chris Thile, and more.

So… in the last 5-6 weeks, I’ve seen 29 concerts (and spent 17 nights away from home doing so). I managed to review 21 of them, which is respectable – but it still leaves me pretty far behind. Some of the shows were particularly good (and there is some good video footage) so I didn’t want to leave them completely unblogged, but I really can’t remember them all well enough at this point to write full reviews. So: to the mini-reviews! I present them to you in chronological order.

Sept 20, 2013. Bill Frisell, Sam Amidon, Jason Moran, Alicia Hall Moran: The show was entitled “Gershwin & Beyond” and was part of the Frisell-curated “Roots of Americana” series at Lincoln Center. The concert was in the absolutely beautiful Allen Room (it’s hard to imagine a prettier place to see a show, for my tastes) and I had a front-row seat. Perfect, right? It was the first concert in my 10-day trip to NYC for Zorn@60, and unfortunately it was a poor match for my mood: I was EXTREMELY EXCITED about that week, I’d been looking forward to it and making plans for months, but the concert was almost universally downtempo and often sad music – I had a hard time switching gears. There were a few very pretty songs, though. I remember really liking “Shenandoah,” sung by Alicia Hall Moran. I unfortunately deleted, by accident, a bunch of videos and photos from that show. (Sorry…)

Sept 24, 2013. The Tri-Centric Orchestra: This event was at Roulette in Brooklyn, on the Tuesday night during our Zorn@60 week when John Zorn apparently decided to take a night off. I like Roulette a lot, but don’t get to go there very often. I was attracted to the show by the orchestra lineup, including 30 or 40 musicians and vocalists – lots of names were familiar to me (Taylor Ho Bynum, Jessica Pavone, Marika Hughes, Ken Filiano, Nate Wooley, Curtis Hasselbring, etc.). They performed three new works (by Ingrid Laubrock, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Mark Taylor) as well as premiering an Anthony Braxton piece written in 1973 but never performed, Composition No. 27. This was a fun night of new music and I especially liked the Mark Taylor composition, even though he was the only one of the composers I’d never heard of before. I’ll have to check out some more of his work.

Oct 7, 2013. A Tribute to Rebecca Rosenthal (including the Dresden Dolls, Jason Webley, etc.): This was a concert organized as a fundraiser and memorial/tribute to a local woman, Rebecca Rosenthal aka Becca Darling, who died unexpectedly and far too young. (You might have seen her in Amanda Palmer’s “Oasis” music video – NSFW – or Neil Gaiman’s short film, “Statuesque,” both of which were screened for us during the concert.) There were many performers during the night, including friends and favorite musicians of Rebecca; but the headliners would probably be considered the Dresden Dolls (with Jason Webley as, er, runner-up headliner). I really liked both of their sets, and filmed some of it. See Jason Webley by clicking here and/or watch the Dresden Dolls here:

If you are interested in making a donation to a scholarship in Rebecca Rosenthal’s memory – click here.

Oct 9, 2013. Secret Chiefs 3: The next concert I went to, at the Sinclair in Cambridge, was Secret Chiefs 3 opening for Goblin. (more…)

Concert Review (sort of): Sam Amidon (6/19/2013)

I’ve been putting off writing this review for days now, because I’m pretty confused about how to write it and what to say. It would have been a rant if I wrote it right away, so I gave myself a few days. It might be a rant anyway. Sorry.

I went to see Sam Amidon at a club here in Cambridge called T.T. the Bear’s Place. T.T.’s is both upstairs and next door to another music venue called the Middle East. They’re both well known on the local rock scene. They are both kind of divey, but in a way that many locals are fond of. I’ve seen good and bad shows at both of them.

The problem is that sometimes the Middle East likes to turn the volume up too high. And when I say “too high,” I mean loud enough that it is literally shaking the venue next door. We were all at T.T.’s eagerly awaiting an acoustic-guitar-playing singer/songwriter opening act (Alessi’s Ark, according to the website – I couldn’t hear her well enough to catch her name during the show). When the band downstairs started playing, it shook the floor so much that everyone around me got startled, looked around, looked at the floor, etc. because it was honestly alarming to have the building shake like that for no apparent reason. It quickly became obvious that it was due to the venue downstairs (the Middle East) turning their sound system up as far as it would go.

This music bleeding in from downstairs was so loud and distracting that it made it genuinely difficult to listen to and appreciate the concert we were trying to experience, and I’m guessing it made it even more difficult to play. Can you imagine being a drummer trying to keep your own beat while the band downstairs is shaking the room to an entirely different rhythm? How obnoxious that must have been. I really felt embarrassed for the Cambridge music scene. If I were them I would (more…)