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Lovers will get a chance to check out two new things around town this weekend with a special Valentine’s Day show by Dan Burke and the Royal Treatment at Electric Haze, on Millbury Street, on Friday, February 14th.
Dan Burke should need no introduction, as he has been crooning and laying keyboards for years in local clubs with a bevy of acts, from Gamble & Burke and Niki Luparelli and the Gold Diggers to The Orange Ocean, as well as being a regular feature at Nick’s, where he performs solo, guests at shows, such as the Duke Ellington tribute last year, and now appears with his latest outfit, The Royal Treatment.
“My favorite stuff is really chilled out RnB music,” says Burke. “I love singer-songwriter stuff, too.” All this, he says, comes out in The Royal Treatment, but the “main pocket right now is RnB and pop,” both original and covers.
In a world gone roots and vintage, where old is new, what is old is good, and even mainstream acts wield mandolins, banjos, and dusty fedoras, The Royal Treatment is a breed apart.
Burke and company – Jeff Killebrew (drums, backing vocals), Eli Mateo (percussion), Sean Rosati (guitar), and Imer Diaz (bass) – like things just the way they are today.
“We’re not going to be like Amy Winehouse,” Burke says, “trying to record on analog tape or anything like that.”
He says that the band is pretty comfortable with the modern version of RnB, stuff like John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, and, of course, Michael Jackson.
So, while he says band members share a common love of Motown, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson, he adds, “If I had to put us on one side of the spectrum, I would put us on the modern side.”
So, understandably, the band is bright and poppy. Diaz, formerly of local progressive rock act Miars, is a virtuoso, who lays thick but bright six-string bass. (“Imer is an absolutely sick bass player and a super humble sweet guy,” says Burke.) Killebrew, who cut his teeth on the church circuit, playing gospel organ, offers up straight-up RnB grooves that, when combined with Diaz’s smooth bass lines and Rosati’s chorused up skanking rhythm or chunky, fluid jazz lines and Mateo’s latin percussion, should offer plenty to get all but the most sedentary attendees onto the dance floor.
And that’s just what the band wants. The Valentine’s show hopes to get couples moving, and a repertoire of accessible pop tunes (Justin Timberlake’s “Until the End of Time,” Cody Chestnutt’s “Till I Met Thee,” and Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”) as well as some old school material (“disco-y anthems and James Brown,” says Burke), and Electric Haze’s high quality in-house p.a. system, should have the place thumping.
“It’s going to be a dance party,” says Burke.
Add to this a guest appearance by band friend Limaaj, whose presence as a front man adds significant sexuality to the band’s performance, in a manner Burke likens to Andre 3000 and Prince, and you’ve got a formula for driving the chicks wild. Not only can he sing in the upper register style popular in RnB, but he is utterly comfortable before a crowd and engaging the audience.
The Royal Treatment will have recording gear on hand to run the live set direct to Pro Tools for later mixing, and, hopefully, a live release. “I’m psyched about that!” says Burke.
The band has high hopes for this project, about which Burke says it is “the best band [he’s] ever been in.”
“They’re Amazing players!” he says.
Beyond local gigging and recording, the band hopes to get involved in general business, and looks to get hired for functions. Further, returning to the variety show format that gave rise to the band in the first place (they met as session players for the B. Heard showcases held throughout Worcester a few years back), they intend to offer themselves as a band for hire for singers or players needing a backing group for gigs or recordings.
So, treat your special someone (or go stag!) to a night of fresh music in one of Worcester’s latest clubs, and look for the band in coming months for return engagements at Electric Haze, or any one of the band members’ solo shows at local clubs.
To learn more, visit http://www.facebook.com/DanBurkeAndTheRoyalTreatment.
http://media.worcestermag.com/images/470*247/Jennings_Kim_story.jpgBy Matt Robert
Originally appeared in the May 2, 2013, Worcester Magazine.
Local singer-songwriter Kim Jennings may not have picked up the guitar until after college (her instrument of choice since then), but she has had a lifetime of music; and she may be young, but she hasn’t wasted any time pursuing her dreams.
Kim will celebrate the release of her sophomore effort, “Here Now,” with a concert at the Amazing Things Art Center, in Framingham on Friday, May 10, with fellow singer-songwriter and Massachusetts native Jesse Hanson opening the show. “She’s a phenomenal, young songwriter, multiinstrumentalist,” says Kim.
“So, we’ll do the whole thing: vocals and harmony singers and electric guitar and the full drums and all that good stuff and piano and all that – everything,” she says, adding that she’ll feature the “songs on the CD and probably…a couple of more acoustic songs from my last record.”
This rising star has been busy. After a childhood filled with music, she attended Harvard, where, as a member of choral and a cappella groups, she honed her celebrated voice, and performed all over the world.
Since graduating, she has released a four-song independent demo, “Draft,” in 2008, and a 13-song debut CD, “My Own True North,” in 2009; has won the 2010 Pulse Worcester Music Award for “Best Female Vocalist;” has been a fixture on the local circuit, including gigs at the prestigious Club Passim, in Cambridge; and last year completed a mini-tour of the pacific northwest.
If all that weren’t enough, this industrious folkie started her own record label, Birch Beer Records, with friend and fellow artist Dan Cloutier, which now has a stable of about five artists, including Kim, Dan, Levi Schmidt, Oen Kennedy, and Tom Smith, and has released about 12 albums.
But that’s not all! Kim and Dan also founded “I Support Local Music in Massachusetts” (the Facebook page has over 13,000 likes), a clubhouse for local musicians and supporters, with opportunities for writers who can contribute reviews, etc.
The CD release party will feature Kim with a backing band, a direction that follows from her new CD, which branches out from the strictly acoustic “True North”, and into new textures and emotions, many of them veering dangerously out of folk and into rock, backed by Dan, who adds rich, evocative flute and electric guitar; Eric Anderson, doubling on bass and drums; and Eric Salt, who adds percussion, while handling production duties, as well.
“We started the recording process back in October,” Kim says of “Here Now,” “but I’ve been writing music since my last CD came out in 2009. My first record is very acoustic driven whereas this one is much bigger sounding, with a full band and that sort of thing, with a lot of variety. There’s still some acoustic, but it’s much more of a bigger sound.”
“We wanted to do some live recording to get that really organic feel for the music. I wanted it to sound just really authentic and natural and so we were able to do great live drums with electric guitar and a number of vocal tracks as well as my acoustic guitar with piano recorded live.”
At the heart of the new CD is Kim, the folk songwriter, and the tunes still ring with the plain honesty of folk, shunning the platitudes, posturing, and sensationalism of commercial rock. She stills sings beautifully and delicately about things like the home she has built with her husband and child (“I Love You So”) and the innocence of playing outside in the snow (“Angel in Snow”), both of which glow with aching lead vocals and crystalline harmonies, and beautiful acoustic instrumentation.
With “Here Now,” however, she also explores edgier modes, such as on “Valley of the Shadow,” which is driven by fuzzed guitar and crisp drums, while Kim explores Old Testament trials and her pursuit of peace; and the pure rock of the opening track, “Get out of My Head,” on which she sings the regrets of a rocky relationship, while Dan invokes Middle Eastern motifs with tremolo and distortion. Several other tunes rock out, providing a nice balance of energetic numbers and ballads, while maintaining a tonal consistency throughout.
“The song that ended up being the title track was written later in the game,” Kim says. “The song is called ‘Here Now’ and, to me, there’s a sense of people wanting to find a place to belong; people have questions about what choices we have and sometimes we may make choices that are not always the best for us. You come from a place of asking questions about your life and where are you and a lot of it comes down to you want to feel like you belong somewhere.”
The Amazing Things show will benefit a charity organization close to Kim’s heart: “I’m doing a birthday fundraiser for an organization called Carrying Water,” she says, “which does fundraising projects for clean water in developing countries.”
After the event, she says, she will be “working on booking and balancing the rest of life. I’m planning another trip out to the Northwest. A little bit of travel, a little bit of touring and playing out as much as I can.”
“I’ve got a big book of film contract people and I’m trying to wrap my head around how to get some of the songs placed in that way,” she says, “and I’m playing out a bunch locally and figuring out where the music can go.”
The show, she says, will show “how my music has really evolved will be really fun for folks to see. It’s a departure for folks who haven’t seen me for a while, so it will be really fun for them.”
Don’t miss the CD release show for Kim Jenning’s newest album “Here Now” on Friday, May 10 at the Amazing Things Art Center, 160 Hollis St., Framingham at 8 p.m. amazingthings.org.
“We are very proud of our 18 years as we thought it would not last more than three,” says Dolly Vazquez, of Worcester’s Centro Las Americas, about the 18th Latino Film Festival, which runs April 2 through April 7, at Clark University’s Cinema 320 in the Jefferson Academic Center, and College of the Holy Cross’ Seelos Theater in the Kimball Dining Hall.
Despite the group’s cautious initial hopes, the festival has grown into a local tradition for a cadre of area students, film buffs, and the Latino community, and this year will present six films beginning on Tuesday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m at Clark with the 2011 Argentinean comedy “Mi Primera Boda” (My First Wedding), and ending on Sunday, April 7 at 4 p.m with the 2011 Cuban comedy “Juan De Los Muertes” (Juan of the Dead), also at Clark. Inbetween, the colleges will play host to films on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday of that week, at a variety of times, from the 2008 Mexican-American sci-fi film “Sleep Dealer” and Uruguay’s 2009 “Mal Dia Para Pescar” (Bad Day to Go Fishing), to the 2011 Argentinean comedy “Un Cuento Chino” (Chinese Take-Out).
Admission for the films is $6 for the general public and $4 for students with a valid I.D. and senior citizens. Additionally, the lone film at Holy Cross, the Thursday, April 4, 4 p.m. showing of “Sleep Dealer,” is presented free of charge and will include a live conversation via Skype from Los Angeles with the film’s director, Alex Rivera.
“Eighteen years ago Centro Las Americas decided to present a series of Puerto Rican movies and I asked the help of Clark University’s film professor, Marvin D’Lugo, to help organize it,” Vazquez says. “Over the years other colleges have joined in, so this year we have Centro, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, WPI, Assumption College, and QCC.”
“That first year we called it the Puerto Rican Film Festival,” she says. “But the following year we realized that Puerto Rico did not have a big enough film industry and that Centro represents a broader spectrum of Latinos than those from Puerto Rico, so we started calling it the Latino Film Festival.”
“The highlight every year is that people can see films made in Latin America that otherwise they might not see in big theaters,” says Vazquez, “and to engage Spanish students of the participating colleges in an exciting learning experience. Because all films have English subtitles, we want to offer the English speaking audience an opportunity to see films by Latin American countries. We also succeed in uniting Latinos and Anglos in appreciation of Latin-American culture.”
As for the audience attracted to the festival, Vazquez says that “the festival is open to the public in general and we get a big mix. The regular audience of Cinema 320 usually also comes to our films as well as students from the various colleges and a wide collection of friends from the community.”
Vazquez sees dual goals for the festival. “It is a combination of showcasing Latin films as art, but also to get a cross mix of audience together,” she says.
“Without the collaboration with all the colleges involved,” she adds, “this festival could not happen.”
Find the schedule of films at cinema320.wordpress.com.
by Matt Robert/ photo by Louie Despres
“The main concept of this was that it isn’t really a memorial, it’s a celebration of music,” says Paul Dagnello, bassist with late local legend Scott Ricciuti’s longest running band, Huck, about the show Saturday night at Ralph’s that will bring together three of Ricciuti’s most enduring musical projects: Childhood, Huck, and Pistol Whipped. “The focus is on the music. The memorials were very visual for people. This is going to be the audio portion of that.”
Ricciuti’s untimely death in a car accident in April devastated a massive fan base that included among the most ardent fans a sizable core of local musicians, artists and club owners, and left a gaping hole in a scene in which Ricciuti played an outsized role, performing most nights of the week in one ensemble or another, or appearing solo. Numerous emotionally charged memorials were held – the most notable at Vincent’s – and a variety of tributes have occurred since, but none to this scale.
“We could have done a week’s worth of events,” says Dagnello. “He was involved in so many different things…[but we] kind of just whittled it down to those three bands.” The choice to feature Huck, Childhood and Pistol Whipped (and not Friday Farewells, A Pony for My Birthday, or Preacher Roe), Paul says, is that “those were probably the ones he was in the longest,” recalling that Childhood was together for about 10 years, and Huck for 17 or 18 years. Finally, Dagnello says, “It’s a good representation of his different types of songwriting, plus a decision just had to be made on what was possible to do for a night where it wouldn’t get too out of control.”
This event—sponsored by longtime Scott Ricciuti patron, Orcaphat Records owner, and executive producer of Huck and Pistol Whipped’s CDs, Colin Butler (“He was there in the studio with us every single day,” says Dagnello), and organized by Ricciuti’s friend and collaborator, Bee’s Knees (and Friday Farewells) guitarist Michael Thibodeau — faced several obstacles.
“I know, for me, and I think for Danny [Lucas, drummer with Childhood and Huck, and Ricciuti’s longest running collaborator], it’s the first time we’re going to play since…in a club or live. We all have a very hard time doing this, says Dagnello, further citing less obvious and more pragmatic difficulties, some of the material is simply hard to recreate.
“Childhood [is] kind of figuring out how to do Childhood with just the surviving members,” he says, “whereas Duncan [Arsenault], Jeff [Burch], and Scott were the core members of [Pistol Whipped]. And then with Huck [as with Pistol Whipped], we lost our lead singer, our guitar player and our front man, so I know it’s been difficult — beyond just the emotional — dealing with that: How do we actually play a show without a third of our band.”
“We were gonna need help,” he says.
“For this show,” Dagnello says, “Huck is going to have nine members. We have two guitar players playing the whole night, and then we have a couple people filling in vocal duties, and then I’m probably going to do a couple songs up on vocals.”
Additionally, the show will feature (including the numerous Huck extras) several special guests from Ricciuti’s rather large circle of peers, though organizers are loath to reveal them.
“In some ways we want it to be a surprise,” says Dagnello, “because we don’t want it to be part of the promotion for the event…because, as far as we’re concerned, on that night they’re in Huck…. The people that are involved are doing it because of their love for Scott and their love for his music, their friendship. As far as Huck is concerned, all those people are in the band that night, they’re part of the band that night.”
Recreating the original sounds, even with a roster of talented fill-ins, many of whom were familiar and even devoted to Ricciuti’s music, or intricately linked with its production, also proved a challenge.
“We kept everything as close as we could [to] Scott. He had a specific way of playing guitar; he had a specific way of singing and that’s hard to replicate, but the guys working on this are definitely trying their hardest to emulate that, because it’s part of our sound,” Dagnello explains. “Not having Scott there playing guitar, it’s not going to sound just like Huck. It’s going to sound close, but it’s still not going to sound like it.”
“[Ricciuti’s] vocal range, and the power behind it, was tough for people,” Dagnello says. “Danny and I and someone like Roger [Lavallee, who, as engineer at Tremolo Lounge Studios, produced most of Ricciuti’s career output] and somebody like Colin Butler, we’ve sat with these songs for hundreds of hours—recording, playing and everything. And it’s kind of like bringing these people into this world that they’re brand new to. So, they get to see more of Scott than the prior four got to see.”
Lastly, players had to grapple with a notebook of deeply personal lyrics whose genesis was the intimate bonds forged over decades of intensive, and mostly glamourless, work and play in clubs, rehearsal rooms, vans, studios – friendship, love, loss, mistakes, and hopes.
Dagnello notes the particular challenge faced by those who “are going to have to sing the songs. I think the hardest part was all of us all having to sit down and read all of these lyrics….To actually sit back and take these groups of songs, read the lyric and tell the story of the lyric definitely hit a lot of us…as pretty tough. Scott was definitely a magic worker with words. So, that was a real tough part with everybody.”
Even the venue has significance, though, this choice, too, proved hard, as Ricciuti, over the years, could have had his number retired in just about every music room in central Massachusetts. Organizers ultimately chose Ralph’s, though, because, as Dagnello says, “as far as Huck…and Childhood…was concerned, Ralph’s was one of our homes. I think [Huck] played Ralph’s more than any other club. There’s a connection with Vincent [Hemmeter, owner of Ralph’s, Vincent’s, and Nick’s]. He was good friends with Scott. Erick [Godin, owner] from the Lucky Dog was good friends with Scott [too].”
The $10 event will feature Pistol Whipped at 9:30 p.m., Childhood at 10:30 p.m., and Huck at 11:30 p.m., as well as a rolling soundtrack between sets of Ricciuti’s prodigious recorded output.
“We’re going to be playing all of the other stuff that Scott has been included on, like the Pony for My Birthday stuff and the Preacher Roe stuff…Huck songs we’re not playing that night, Childhood songs…and possibly unreleased Pistol Whipped material.”
While no CDs will be made available at the event, those wishing to purchase Ricciuti’s music can visit “Scott’s website where they can go song by song and pick and buy whatever they like,” says Paul. “Everything is online.” Scottricciuti.com.
Catch the celebration of Scott Ricciuti music on Saturday, Dec. 29 at Ralph’s Diner, 148 Grove St. at 8 p.m. Tickets $10.