Monthly Archives: October 2011

Guster/Ray LaMontagne/Rogue Wave 8/11/2006 Concert Review

Guster/ Ray Lamontagne/ Rogue Wave
Bank ofAmericaPavilion –Boston,MA
August 11, 2006

 Of Bands, Venues, and Fans

            As Guster ripped through the first single from this summer’s Ganging up on the Sun, “One Man Wrecking Machine,” with lead singer Ryan Miller voicing desire to “relive adolescent dreams,” the obvious question was whether this largely teen crowd had adolescent dreams to relive. For many, the lo-res recordings on cell phones and consumer digital cameras would provide the memory. Cell phone faceplates provided a sort of third-party light show throughout the night. Earlier, as Ray LaMontagne provided the stark opening set, the question had been whether they could appreciate the straightforward approach of a folky singer songwriter.

            But hey, this was a crowd of young girls, and girls just wanna have fu-un. So, Guster gave it to them at every turn, never mind the mood of the particular song. And Guster’s songs are good, so is their show, which makes the songs its focal point. But Guster’s got the girls, and an image of wacky college hijinks to uphold, and so the gimmicks: The band entered bedecked in blinking helmets and matching Member’s Only jackets, winding the aisles on Segways to the soundtrack of “Born to be Wild,” and Ryan asked the audience to call them out for their encore by “snapping their fingers and muttering curses under their breath.”

            Still, what Guster gives in constant antics, they recover in providing more-than-clever pop with a little depth. An hour and a quarter of great songs were met with spontaneous eruptions of applause and genuine delight. The band hit the whole canon, including the latest, Ganging up on the Sun (“Lightning Rod,” “Captain,” “Ruby Falls,” “One Man Wrecking Machine,” “Manifest Destiny,” “C’mon,” “Hang on”), 2001’s Keep it Together (“Amsterdam,” “Diane,” “Come Downstairs and Say Hello,” “Red Oyster Cult”), 1999’s Lost and Gone Forever (“Fa Fa,” “What You Wish for,” “Barrel of a Gun,” “Happier,” “I Spy”), and 1996’s Goldfly (“Airport Song,” “Demons”). The lone exception was 1994’s Parachute, which Ryan says the band is trying to leave behind.

            For co-headliner, Ray Lamontagne, the primary question was whether the mumbling, smoky shanty singing, and plain strumming could translate to a big, airy summer stage. Basically, it didn’t. Ray 4/4’ed one slow ballad after another, standing statue-still, without benefit of any pyrotechnics, fronting a roadhouse country band of bass, drums, and pedal steel. Frankly, it hit all of Ray’s winning points: authenticity, snub of gimmickry, seriousness. But, despite polite, if not enthusiastic response to the early numbers, rising to a roar with the later, progressively upbeat numbers, the crowd talked through the set and largely ignored the rising icon for musical truth. To wit: two teen girls spent the better part of Ray’s set deeply enthralled in comparing cell phone pictures. Yet, at set’s end, they leapt to their feet, screaming their approval.

And so it was with the crowd as a whole. As Twain said about the classics, they’re “books that everybody wants to have read, but no one wants to read.”

            What an unlikely pairing. It’s hard to imagine that either act has anything to gain from the other. Guster’s association with Ray doesn’t add to their street credibility, and Ray can hardly expect the teen-preen set to warm to unadulterated folk esthetics.

            Rogue Wave played a short opening set.


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Heavy Horses Plays Heavy Duty Rock ‘n’ Roll

Heavy Horses
Friday, October 28th
JJ’s Sports Bar
380 Southwest Cutoff
Northboro, MA 01532

Heavy Duty…Rock ‘n’ Roll

You can tell a lot about a culture – about a person – by what they throw away, and by what they try to preserve: traditions, fossils, even vinyl records. Preservation was on my mind this weekend while I attended a concert by Dead On: Live at the Berklee Performance Center, as they performed note-for-note recreations of The Dead’s Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty (both released in 1970), and while talking with local act, Heavy Horses, which also wishes to preserve a bit of the past, playing faithful reproductions of ‘70s rock tunes in the hopes of, as they say (with some Spinal Tap-like irony), “saving the world, one song at a time.”

Heavy Horses, to be more specific, worships at the altar of stadium rock, unabashed histrionics, Ian Gillian-type howling that reaches even the catatonic stoners in the last row of the upper balcony, and the ambitious (or audacious, depending on your point of view) – and often lengthy – arrangements that define the early part of that decade. No, Heavy Horses isn’t running into a burning building to salvage just any songs. “That Tony Orlando crap isn’t going to save anyone from a hangnail. We’re mining a quarry of rock so hard that you could cut other rocks with it,” says guitarist Roger Lavallee with the sincerity of Nigel Tufnel. “That’s super hard, if you actually visualize it. And what are you left with? Ask yourself. It’s sand. And who doesn’t love sand?”

“The era of 70’s rock that we play doesn’t need to be saved, as it is saving you, and your readers. When is the last time an Air Supply song got you out of a jam with your old lady?” (I had to admit that one hadn’t.) “The answer is not recently. Rock music since the 70’s is all out of love, man. We’re so lost without it.” (To argue was futile. Their case is airtight.)

Needless to say, Heavy Horses is having fun with this rebirth of ‘70s ethos. Who else would blast the Worcester Common with the circus-like, razor blade lead guitar of “Hocus Pocus” by Focus (simultaneously voted best and worst instrumental in a Rolling Stone readers’ poll some years ago), as Heavy Horses did this past summer?

Between the hilarity with which they speak of their utterly noble quest, hides bits of truth: “We put tireless hours into absorbing the music of all the greats: Led Zeppelin, The Who,Styx, Heart and Depeche Mode.” (True) “We recreate all the vocal hieroglyphics, every shining chrome Morley wah wah, every nuance of the cigarette stuck in the guitar strings (though we use modern electronic water vapor cigarettes)” (partly true) “and every tornadic, cape-sporting Minimoog solo.” (True, except maybe the cape) “We have pored over the details with such scrutiny that some songs, we’ve even improved upon, making the rock power of them have more power.” (Somewhat true) “We may even release an 8-track tape (we’re currently in negotiations with Columbia House).” (Unconfirmed)

Led by a roster of respected and longstanding primary members of the local music scene, Heavy Horses includes Tom Hurley – vocals (Joe Rockhead, Drunken Uncles), Craig Rawding – vocals (Delta Generators, Sugar and the Cane Breakers, Beg, Scream & Shout), Dawn Sweet – vocals (Pet Rock, Scott Ricciuti and Pistol Whipped), Ron Mominee – basses (The Curtain Society), Ed Barnett – drums (guitarist with The Bee’s Knees), John Donovan – guitars (w/Scott Ricciuti and Michael Thibodeau, Green Street Music Series), Roger Lavallee – guitars (The Curtain Society, Flock of Assholes, engineer at Tremolo Lounge), and Mike Warren – keyboards. From Pet Rock to the Green Street Music Series to Roger’s work at Tremolo Lounge, the common thread is a meticulous approach and tireless work ethic. So, expect spot-on versions of these classic rock staples.

JJ’s, in Northboro, they say (paraphrased from their back-at-the-hotel-scene-of-Pink-from The Wall-oblivion hyperbole) is a great place to catch the band, as it offers live music with no cover, room to dance, and lots of good food (they wanted me to remind you – No Cover!).

So, save the date tomorrow night, as the life you save just might be your own.

Worcester Magazine 10/27/2011 Version

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Confessions of a Cover Bander

April 24, 2007

“Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right,” Jerry sings, in one of my favorite Dead tunes. Playing music for the past twenty-five years, I’ve found nothing truer.

And nowhere have I felt it deeper and more often than in a band I have been in since the mid ‘90s – an acoustic cover band of the most sordid variety – the type in which we play the villainous pop resuscitated in the karaoke era: “The Gambler,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “Jesse’s Girl.” We play anything and do so shamelessly.

It all happened one summer, when, while on vacation with a friend, we began running through tunes and writing down any that we could get through. We came up with about a hundred.

We landed a weekly gig at a pub. Soon we were playing a few times per weekend, sometimes more than once in a day. We played until the manager kicked us off the stage. We played at colleges and in seedy bars, on parade floats, in living rooms, at backyard barbecues, on decks overlooking the ocean, at frat parties, on booze cruises, and even at weddings. We played early in the morning and late at night. We played indoors and outdoors, for the elderly and for kids. People had a ball at our shows, responding to our interaction and self-effacing approach with great candor, relaxation, and spontaneity – something sorely missing from years of serious, original gigs.

An evening’s set list included tunes we disliked (wooden nickels, as we called them) as well as those we did (our own list inclusions, from an array of styles, years, and backgrounds). And, you know what? We found that audience tastes covered a broader range than we (musicians, radios programmers, record labels, and bar owners) often give them credit for, and opportunities to perform all kinds of stuff occurred.

Plus, the thousands of hours spent crammed together in tight, smoky spots, with unassuming, unsuspecting audiences created genuine moments of energy and spontaneity that I would guess touring acts never experience. We’d launch into Neil Young’s “Hurricane,” because one of us heard it in the car on the way over. We’d laugh our way through Pete Yorn’s “Strange Condition,” shouting the chords back and forth during the song, despite that it hadn’t been requested (or rehearsed) in years.

There was so much time to explore the songs, and to experiment with sonic and rhythmic roles – us being limited to acoustic guitars – that great epiphanies occurred on many a deep and late night. I found inspiration in the rigid, new wave conventions of the rhythm guitar role on Tommy Tutone’s overplayed “867-5309” or Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.” I found new appreciation for swing idioms bashing out the rhythm to the jump tune “Yes, Yes,” or a Louis Jordan tune. I could even have fun comping out the persistent syncopation to the inane (but more fun to play than it is to listen to) “(That was a) Crazy Game of Poker,” by OAR.

We’d still be playing as the crowd filed out at closing, and even to the employees after hours, our voices flat and sore, our fingers pained. And though the crowd more often than not preferred the wooden nickels, they’d stand at attention as we squeezed out heartfelt versions of Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna” (a personal favorite). One guy used to turn up occasionally and request the Richard Manuel/ Bob Dylan classic “Tears of Rage,” which I gladly obliged.

No one expected much, so we did what we wanted, playing anything, no matter how obscure or ridiculous, at a moment’s notice. We goofed on ancient songs dredged from the recesses of memory (“Come Sail Away” and “Aqualung,” for example), and lampooned one-hit wonders and spurious genre pieces (Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” and George Michael’s “Faith”). In short, we got to play so many songs never available to a musician of any cache.

Playing the music of dozens of artists from across the spectrum of genres forced learning, and demanded a respect for songs that, though trite, or just worn by overexposure, contained germs of genius or at least suggested ideas outside the purview of a single mind. The result was a broadening of taste and appreciation, and subsequent improvement in my own listening, playing, and writing skills. Forced to play first and judge later, I had to surrender ego and deliver on every song – a useful accompaniment, harmony, or lead vocal. I found a cool slide part in Fleetwood Mac’s “Monday Morning” and Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken”; indulged my love for harmony on Paul Simon’s “Cecelia,” CSN’s “Suite:Judy Blue Eyes,” and America’s “Ventura Highway”; and enjoyed my buddy’s plain old kickass acoustic guitar soloing (acoustic guitar!) on marathon jams like “Free Bird,” “Blue Sky,” and “Comfortably Numb.”

Though we played mostly bad music to often tasteless, complacent audiences, I enjoyed some of the most intense performance experiences of my life in those filthy dives, plying my trade to folks whose hearts needed to be stirred up and won over every night.

Best of all, an inverse proportion of our time was spent directly on music. We never had to promote ourselves, or cold call for gigs, and no media outlets had any interest in a cover band, so we inhabited our own world. No one spoke of us in music circles. No one voted us best anything in the press. Maybe I resigned myself to this, maybe I rationalized it away, or maybe I just didn’t care, but either way I was playing a lot of music, some of it pretty good, and having a great time with a good friend – no ego battles, no vying for the spotlight, no success to get between us and spoil things.

Long before age 13, when I started bugging my parents about getting a guitar and launching my rock star dreams, I harbored longings to succeed in music. My initial role was as vocalist for a combo we organized in a friend’s cellar. There, as an extant tape remembers for me, we bashed out horrible versions of “Purple Haze,”  “Wild Thing,” “Ziggy Stardust,” and “Down by the River.” And, you know what? We had a boatload of fun.

My dreams were simple: stardom – chicks, blinding light and screaming fans, great records, and all that. Little did I know that the dream would be realized, but on small, cramped, hot stages in crowded rooms with guitars and a good friend, and not in front of untold millions on theIsle of Wight. Perhaps the world will never know us, but each night, in a small room, in a small corner of the globe, we’re stars of a sort.

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Guster Is Ganging up on the Past

This is a review of Guster’s Ganging up on the Sun, written after an interview with Ryan Miller just prior to the release of the album in June, 2006. It was never published.

The only fact not drawn either from Guster’s website, or directly from my interview with Ryan Miller, is about the Walmart ban, which I got from the band’s concert at Holy Cross College onApril 2, 2006, where they held a “Fuck” chant in protest of Walmart’s ban on their CD for the word’s inclusion on the single “Manifest Destiny.”

                                                Prepare for Something New

            “I am so unapologetic,” says Ryan Miller, Guster’s gangly, Texas-bred, Tufts-educated lead singer – with more than a hint of frustration, and a tinge of impatience – about moving on from the band’s old material and potentially alienating legions of faithful early followers.

            June 20th marks the release of Guster’s latest, Ganging up on the Sun, an album that might leave some behind, but shouldn’t shock fans who’ve stuck around through 1999’s Lost and Gone Forever and, more so, 2003’s Keep it Together, from which Ganging seems a logical progression.

            “The older records have less dynamics and nuances,” he says before settling the matter: “our new records are better.” To be fair, Guster’s earlier work is excellent (and dynamic), an impressive collection of quirky pop gems with lots of sonic ingenuity, at once thoroughly modern and deeply allusive to pre-Pepper’s ‘60s and skinny tie ‘80s.

            But Ryan remains unsentimental. “The new record is my favorite,” he says, adding, “early reviews are supporting it. And we produced it ourselves.”

            Many of those former trademark elements are evident on recent work, too, such as on Keep it Together’s “Careful” and “Ramona,” each of which implies huge influence by ‘60s-era harmony and structure, as well as pre-punk innocence. But the times they are a changin’ and the band has a lusher sound with more instruments competing for sonic airspace, and a full drumset where pseudo-beatnik hand percussion used to roam the aural landscape, or create the frenetic meter.

             Those fans who prefer to live in the halcyon days of the band’s Tufts years, will find the new CD lacking the unique voicings of the original trio, Brian Rosenworcel’s infamous hand percussion (“I’ve gone from being an innovative and special percussionist to a mediocre kit drummer,” he said to VH1.), and songs dominated by acoustic guitars. The band no longer embraces these underpinnings that once helped to distinguish them (as on 1994’s Parachute and 1996’s Goldfly), and now explores the sonic space of a full trap drum kit, multi-instrumentalist (and studio wizard) Joe Pisapia’s array of sounds and textures, electric guitars, and a heavier, brooding atmosphere.

            Not that Guster itself has ever looked back. Since the beginning they’ve “always look[ed] up, never look[ed] down” (“All the Way up to Heaven”), declared that the “past is passed” (“Great Escape”), and scorned anyone who lived on memories of dubious former glories (“Homecoming King”).

            With over a decade behind them since graduation (the three matriculated together in 1994 fromTuftsUniversity, where they met as freshmen) and the launch of their career, though, the group allows itself an occasional glance in the rearview mirror. As in the new single “One Man Wrecking Machine,” in which Ryan ironically dreams of using a time machine to visit the homecoming queen and his high school friends, to “get in her pants,” and, in general, to “relive all his adolescent dreams inspired by true events on movie screens.” The past, still alluring, offers valuable lessons about stagnation and living vicariously, and Ryan remains healthily skeptical of its value.

            “Our sights are on making a classic record,” he says. The band’s idea of a classic record might surprise many of their fans, though. “Radiohead and Wilco are where we want to be,” he says, citing them as bands that have charted tremendous musical growth and forged livelihoods that thrive independently of the media machine. “Their music comes from a place of integrity.”

            And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then perhaps it’s not just imagination that hears faint strains of Wilco’s “Radio Cure” in the dire churn and discordant melody of “Empire State”; and “Hummingbird” in the decidedly anti-rock staccato piano intro to “Manifest Destiny”; and the Woody Guthrie sessions in the syncopated jangle and banjo of “The Captain.”

            No apologies, then, is a promise for bold innovations and personal challenges. The road they’ve chosen is not an easy one, and trades flavor-of-the-month hype and grandiosity for the slow steady climb. In such a career, patience is key, as is learning to recognize the merits of albums that might be simply passing tones en route to, or downwind from, a masterpiece. And, perhaps, that’s where Ganging up on the Sun fits in: not as Guster’s piece de résistance, but as a great mid-career addition along a discography that will reward the fans who stuck around long after the “Fa Fa’s” and the “Airport Songs” they bopped along to in college. The band members themselves have aged, after all. 

            The rewards for the band include a loyal fan base and freedom from mass media dependence to ensure the success of a record or a tour. And, of course, they include the rare pleasures of recording something beautiful. Ryan points to a personal favorite on the new record, “RubyFalls.”

            “It has a heartbreaking trumpet solo at the end of a seven-minute song,” he says, savoring the personal milestone. The trumpet solo quietly resurrects Miles Davis’ tone and provides an outro for one of the disk’s centerpieces. In fact, “RubyFalls” has stumped the band, who withheld performing it this spring for lack of a trumpeter. Ryan seems to enjoy these challenges, however, preferring to embrace them and to locate positives in every situation. Perhaps a timely solution will allow for the song’s inclusion in the summer tour.

            And while changes in the lineup may leave the band sounding a little less original, the songs pack depth, withstand repeat listening, and possess a maturity befitting the 30-something bandmates – a tempered, guarded cheerfulness. While addressing the darker issues, the band forever looks ahead, scorning the past and the trap it represents.

            Those who dismiss the band as lightweight or cartoonish haven’t heard the earnest intellect of Ryan Miller and haven’t listened hard enough to the band’s impressive repertoire of musically and lyrically sophisticated pop masterpieces. Though jaded as all in this generation (“How did everything get so fucked up,” Ryan sings on “Manifest Destiny,” meriting the band a ban from Walmart), Guster nevertheless exudes hope. And that’s nothing to apologize for.

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A Streak of Evil

The Evil Streaks
With The Throttles, Thee Icepicks and The Skintights
Ralph’s Rock Diner
Friday, September 23, 2011

Get a jump on Halloween this year with The Evil Streaks, at Ralph’s on Friday, September 23. It’s a little early, perhaps, but, hey! We’re talking about America’s fastest growing holiday in the home of The Halloween Outlet and a large and devoted metal and punk fan base. And while this show might be better suited to The Halloween Outlet itself, Ralph’s is the next best thing as Worcester’s original Garage and Punk Rock Preservation Society.
The Evil Streaks (Myra Graverobber, lead vocals and guitar; John Kozik, guitar and vocals; The Rev, bass and vocals; and Sloth, drums), Myra’s third band, was formed out of the ashes of Ghouls Night Out, The Crimson Ghosts, and Gein and the Graverobbers, and combines the “trashy garage sound of the ‘60s with the dark punkabilly sound of The Cramps,” according to their Reverb Nation page.
In other words, they play it loud, tight and fast, with unabashed barre chords and fuzzy Mosrite-tone rhythms over pounding drums and 16th-note bass and a visual profile of all black and white, Myra in a poodle skirt or mini dress and the men in vests, ties, and trousers, and matching candy-red guitars.
It’s a traditional punk sound that fans of Sleeter-Kinney and Link Wray, but also The Motels, will love, but with a sinister underpinning. And despite their Cramps influence, the music is less campy (though their EP is called Go Go to Hell) and puerile; and less ‘50s and more ‘70s.

The Evil Streaks are fascinated with – what else? – evil, in the form of classic slasher films, like “Psycho,” according to Myra, who, appropriately enough, adopted her stage name from a platinum blonde British serial killer from the ‘60s with a bouffant hairdo: Myra Hindley (kind of a Sadist’s Marilyn Monroe).
On “Stay With Me,” from the band’s 2011 Necro Tone 7” EP Go Go to Hell, a mid-tempo rocker with edgy, reverb-drenched rock ‘n’ roll guitar, Myra assumes the persona of her namesake, singing, “In your drink so much poison ivy. I’ve got your finger in my pocket and an ear on the shelf. Oh, no, there won’t be anybody else,” followed by the double-entendre call-and-response gang backup vocal on the chorus’s “Stay with me.”
“All Good Things” is straight-up punk that makes an unromantic declaration of the end of a relationship. Of course, with The Evil Streaks, the end takes on a new meaning as Myra sings “I’m going out of my head. Yes, you’re gonna be dead.” The twist is when this bad lover learns that he is in the hands of Myra Hindley and that “the end” means being mutilated and dumped in Saddleworth Moor. “No one will hear you moan. I’m going to kill you, ‘cause all good things come to an end.”

This is great, old-school punk and garage with an innovative thematic twist, taking old lyrical and musical tropes and giving them new life with eerie and often fatal meanings, which, when you think about it, have been a popular aberration of the arts for centuries, from The English and American Romantics to the earliest filmmakers. Even rock grew up alongside the B-movies and early slasher films. Now, the sub-genre has two thriving limbs in punk and metal. It’s a fascination deeply rooted in us.
Then, it’s not so surprising to find The Evil Streaks in 2011 carrying the torch for a vein of music called variously voodoobilly, psychobilly, necrotone, sickabilly, and punkabilly. After all, you’ll be so busy slamming and dancing to the tunes, you might never hear the macabre lyrics!
The September 23rd show will be a night of the frenetic and frightening, with support acts The Throttles, Thee Icepicks and The Skintights.

Worcester Magazine Version

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Your Roots Are Showing

The New England Bloody Roots Festival
Saturday, October 22, 2011
1 P.M. to 2 A.M.
Ralph’s Rock Diner
95 Prescott St.
Worcester, MA

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” said Thomas Jefferson, and, while it might not surprise you to hear American politicos heatedly debate Jefferson’s meaning, you probably wouldn’t expect to hear a festival organizer invoke the quote. But local musician James Keyes finds Jefferson’s quote an apt expression for maintaining a vital thread of America’s cultural past.

“The Liberty Tree is an iconic piece of New England history, and what better symbol for roots music than something that signifies not only our own heritage, but is also a symbol of defiance and rebellion,” says Keyes, in defense of the name choice for his new festival, an all-day and night (1 P.M. to 2 A.M.) celebration of roots music, with artists and vendors, at Ralph’s, on Saturday, October 22, 2011.

Even Keyes, though, draws distinctions about the meaning of “roots” that might incite debate on the town common: “Your parents’ roots bands tend to be more traditional folk, more laid back,” he says. “The current crop of bands…have been influenced by rock and punk…and it’s not uncommon nowadays to see banjo and mandolin players sporting tattoos and piercings, but playing totally traditional styles of music.”

Technicalities aside, though, Keyes confesses, “Rock ‘n’ roll was built on a foundation of blues and country and I love it all! To me, it’s just music,” adding, “there’s a growing national underground movement of roots bands, deep blues, [and] real country music that’s really gaining momentum and there are a bunch of great bands from around here that are doing it really well.”

Area hill country blues guitarist, Jon Short, one prominent local act on the bill, agrees. “There are a lot of people [in Worcester] who are interested in live music, and there are a lot of [local] musicians who are interested in roots music.”

“I thought putting all of these bands together would really showcase the amount of talent we’ve got right here in New England,” says Keyes. “People can expect a day of really great roots music,” he says, adding “the musicians and bands…are all top-notch performers and writers” and each is “a headliner in their own right. Most of them tour regularly,” have “multiple records under their belts,” and together “will cover a huge swath of American music, traditional and modern. Anyone who’s a fan of country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and folk will love these acts.”

Keyes says that he has been “putting on shows and hosting events for a while,” but that he “wanted to do something more adventurous,” and the New England Bloody Roots Festival is the result. He says he’d like to make it an annual event, perhaps with spin-off versions throughout the year.

How did the bill come about? “I picked all my favorite bands that do this kind of music and asked them to play,” Keyes says. Those favorites include Worcester bands, like The Ten Foot Polecats (“a blues/punk combo….like Howlin’ Wolf come back from the grave”), Jon Short (“who plays a pre-war style of Delta Blues”), The Farmers’ Union Players (“old country music and gospel”), Scott Ricciutti and Pistol Whipped (“a very melodic Americana style, what modern country should sound like”), and Geo Poor and Amy Levine (of Great Whiskey Rebellion) (“They bring a Middle Eastern/ Celtic gypsy funk to the table”).

In addition, several regional and national bands will appear, including South Carolina’s Jeff Norwood (“a bluesman who plays Worcester whenever he’s on tour”), Rhode Island’s Sharks Come Cruisin’ (“big rock versions of traditional sea chanties…incredible live – all energy”), Northampton’s Angry Johnny and the Killbillies (“a murder ballad in human form”), and Boston’s Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers and the Sarah Levecque Band (“an old-time blues, juke joint, honky tonk, swingin’ kind of thing”).

As for the venue, Keyes says, “Ralph’s is a great place to see bands at any time. They’re part of the music community in Worcester. We’ll have the solo performers downstairs and the full bands upstairs, so there’s no down time between set changes. Ralph’s has tons of parking, room for everyone to get around, a patio to hang out in, and three bars. Perfect.”

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Welcome, Music Fans!

Hi! I’m Matt Robert. Welcome to Koffee With Kommie!

This blog will be home to articles about a range of things – mostly music. I intend to include articles on local bands and shows, etc.

Please post your comments and you can reach me at if you know about an act or something that I should look into.

Thanks! Enjoy!

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