Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mick Ronson

One of my all-time fave guitar solos. My reaction when listening to it can be seen mirrored by the girl in the audience at about 1:36, even if Mick looks a little Nigel Tufnel in his own expressions.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cover of the Week 13



Bill, Chris Toppin and Mike Leahy of the Bathing Beauties some time in the mid-1990s at TT's


I have said it before and I will say it again: Chris Toppin should be world famous, I mean more world famous than she already is. Aside from being a lovely person – let’s face it, there are plenty of those who should not necessarily be world famous – she has a beautiful voice and is a great, emotionally deep singer, a soulful singer, in other words, with a great texture and versatility to her voice.

Top, as her friends know her, has sung on my three solo records as well as some Buffalo Tom numbers. Additionally, we had a band that never took full flight, a band that perhaps was never meant to take full flight, the Bathing Beauties. I have some tracks that were never released from that band, and as soon as I get them into files I will post some here. In the meantime, you can enjoy this cover of the genius early Bob Dylan song “Boots of Spanish Leather.” And you can sample the Show People, a record of duets between Top and me, about half of which consists of Beauties tracks that never saw the light of the day, and some that were written just by and for the two of us. I will include one of those songs below, but you can also buy the CD here or download it here.

Top is also singing with our old friend, Jim Buni, in the duo Bye Bye Airplane -- and here is their Myspace.

I could do a whole year of weekly Dylan covers, Neil Young covers, Stones, Beatles, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, and Waits’ covers. It would likely not be as interesting, though. But there are likely to be multiples from each of these artists in this space over the course of 2009.

(removed)

My review of the song from years back, on allmusic.com.

The Show People, Vinyl Road MP3


On the Show People record, Top and I trade off lead vocals and often sing harmonies throughout a song. This is one where I take the lead. It was written with the whole group -- Dean Fisher, Phil Aiken, Paul Kolderie, and Mike Leahy.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Toad in February

Hello kids,

Toad on Saturday nights in February is the place to be and don't let no one tell you nothing else. Thursdays are tough for those of us with kids and/or jobs. I understand. We moved the residency to Saturdays for you. How about that?

Cathy Piantigini wrote a fantastic piece on those Thursdays of yore, last June to be precise. You can find it here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cover of the Week 12 (Bonus Inaugural Edition)

Seeing outgoing presidents leaving town on a helicopter will always remind us of Richard Nixon. It is almost never a glorious moment. And yet even George W. Bush, the American who I thought has done most damage to our country in my lifetime, somehow made me feel more sorry for him than anger at him. Like a bad relationship, I’m way past anger; just get the hell out of here and don’t let me see your pathetic face again. And, as he sat there absorbing not-so-veiled blows from his complete opposite -- i.e. Barak Obama as the president who has so far been the most inspirational candidate and now office holder in my lifetime – Bush just seemed like a stupid but ultimately good-hearted guy who got in way over his head, an insolent adolescent getting reprimanded for totaling the car. As Neil Young sings in this week’s bonus Cover of the Week, “Campaigner,” “even Richard Nixon has got soul.” Neil has been doing versions of the song in the past year or so where he had been substituting W’s name for Nixon’s. Yeah, even Bush has got soul.

There have been three or four primary influences on my guitar playing. OK, let’s say five. No wait, let’s say 4.5. I knew I would never be Hendrix. So he was not a major influence to me, though certainly he was someone I tried to emulate, to take in some lessons from listening to repeatedly. But the major guys when I was a kid were Keith Richard and Mick Taylor for rhythm and lead playing, and Pete Townsend for somehow playing both at the same. Jimmy Page was also a guy I studied as well as tons of Southern rock cats. The guy I probably ended up most resembling, though, is Neil Young. I will get to the .5 influence in a paragraph or two, so hang in there, tough guy.

Decade, Live Rust, Comes a Time, Tonight’s the Night – these were and remain huge records for me, as almost all of Neil’s prime records (don’t get me going about Zuma) remain. But it was those four that I got as a kid, like 13 years old, and played early and often. And I could play guitar to a lot of those songs and have it sound reasonable close. Keith’s parts always sounded a bit off in my hands and the hands of other starting guitarists because almost all the classic Stones songs from 1969-onward were recorded in open-G tuning, which takes a bit of practice to master. Most people learn in a standard guitar tuning. Mick Taylor -- well he was just one of the best English blues soloists around. I say he blows away Clapton, who never did much for me, I have to admit. And Pete was all about mastering loud and heavy open-chord rhythm and one needed a lot of room in a band to be able to play like him. So my first bands, which had another guitar player and pianist, would often damper the power-chord style just a little. However, when Buffalo Tom formed, a power trio, it was Pete and Neil time. Because Neil also played a wiry, sloppy, hairy style that veered between rhythm and out-of-control soloing. Control was never something of which I had in good measure; loud, sloppy, domineering, cacophonous, trying to rein it in – this was more my style even as a kid.

But before Buff Tom, the early-‘80s came. Even Neil cut his hair and dipped into Trans for while. The hippy stuff and bloated arena rock were soundly and rightly rejected. However, the baby was thrown out with the bathwater as a ton of people went all Roland Jazz Chorus on us, getting their Andy Summers, David Byrne, and Peter Buck on. Even the crazy guitar stuff was controlled. There was restraint even in Adrian Belew’s wacked-out playing. Of course, I’m generalizing and limiting the scope to what transpired as influences for my immediate circle. There were of course economically heavy dudes like Angus, the Clash, and other loose punk and rock and rollers. And we liked all that immensely, of course. And there were cartoon remnants and descendants of the bloviated-excess era, groups like Van Halen and Rush, which just made me laugh like Kiss did when I was a teenager. But the overall trends were toward newer (and sort of pre-distortion older, more traditional), cleaner styles. And it wasn’t until guys like the hardcore and post-hardcore guys like the Replacements, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and – this brings me to my .5 – Dinosaur (late Dinosaur Jr.) came around was it safe to start wailing again.

So let’s talk about J Mascis, who, to no one’s surprise, I feel is one of the greatest guitarists to emerge since 1984. He is the most talented and lyrical soloist I know. The people who ran places we used to play together in Northampton and Amherst hated him and hated us. These were little pathetic joints that were used to those JC-120s (which I started out with in BT, in full disclosure) and mediocre reggae and cheesy "blues" bands. Bassists played through those little fake bass amps. Drummers played friggin’ rototoms and piccolo snares. It was a bad time, a bad, bad time. Then Mascis came in, barely said a word to anyone, even when or especially when someone at the club told him to turn down, and cranked up these insanely loud old Marshall amps, causing (literally) pieces of the walls to fall off the clubs. But it was not just the volume; he was playing beautiful parts, heavy but pretty chords and 10-minute solos that would not repeat themselves, like great jazz solos, revelatory. People were ecstatic; at least the 25 of us that would go see Dino back then.

Prior to that, I felt like only a friend or two and I were the only ones still listening to Neil Young and stuff like that. In fact, we all had radio shows on low-watt stations out at UMass. One time some friends were sorting records to carry in crates over to the station and one guy joking asked the other, “Hey Bob, can you give me a hand taking Decade out of this box?” The joke being of course that the huge three-LP set was a symbol of the 1970s excesses that they were going to help beat down by playing Naked Raygun and This is Boston, Not LA on their radio show.

But to me, Mascis sounded like a punk rock Neil Young in both voice and as a guitar soloist. But he was his own guy as well, adding more Hendrix-type runs, and Thurston Moore experimental stuff in there. The reason I don’t add him as a full 5th primary influence in there is that I felt pretty flatlined as a guitarist by then. I felt more or less fully formed. I had played 20-minute versions of “Cortez the Killer” before I knew who J was. What J did for me and many others, was to make it safe again to want to be a big rock guitarist. And, yeah, I also learned a lot from J about tone, volume, and equipment. But, as with Hendrix, I knew I could never play so fluidly. Or, I never tried to. I was more interested in strumming rhythm and writing songs. I was never the lead guitarist as a kid. And for some reason, I feel like those older guys had more influence on me. I feel like I have actually made some breakthroughs in soloing even real recently. And I have never stopped learning. So maybe J is more of a full influence up there with those other guys and I just don’t include him because he came in so relatively late for me. I know more listeners hear J in Buffalo Tom’s playing, but while I always felt it was a valid comparison when people pointed out the similarities of us and Dino, I also felt that was a lazy point. Of course we were influenced by the band, we asked J to produce our first two records. Relatively few people went back to notice that we were, I felt, more influenced by the Replacements, Husker Du and those old guys. Like Neil Young. And I felt our songwriting was very different than Dino, more poppy, influenced by REM, the Stones, all sorts of stuff. Maybe not.

We rarely took offense at the suggestion that we were Dinosaur Jr. Jr. Ha ha, very clever. The only time I recall reacting is in Iowa City early on. We had just finished at Gabe’s Oasis in the very early days (probably our second tour) when some annoying drunk dude kept horning in on a chat we were having outside our van with some kids we had met. He kept stumbling and leaning in, sloshing around, slurring out insults. When he finally got in my face and sloppily declared, “Dinosaur IMPOSTERS!” at me, I took my half cup of beer and threw it in his face, something I instantly regretted as he stood there blinking slowly and dramatically, mouth agape, wiping the beer from his eyes. Even as we were pulling out of the parking lot a few minutes later, he was chasing the van yelling that sort of belated “let me at ‘em!”

Neil, like Stones and Led Zeppelin, was also a huge influence as an acoustic guitar player. Until the “Unplugged” days, the guitarists I knew did not make stark distinctions between acoustic and electric playing. We played guitar. But Keith Richards adds acoustic to his overall rhythmic texture while Neil tends to have a slightly different acoustic style than electric, albeit a difference less stark than all the amplification would lead one to believe; except for his wild soloing, his accompaniment all tends to be open, ringing chords on both electric and acoustic. This is perhaps the major influence on my style. I play relatively few bar chords. The open style allows for more space to be filled in a trio with one guitarist. But Neil tends to be all acoustic or all electric. He does not do a lot of overdubs. Page and Richards are quite often strumming acoustic on their most “rock” recordings. It is there as almost a percussion instrument.

We used to sit around as 14 year olds playing songs like “Needle and the Damage Done,” “Sugar Mountain” and “Campaigner.” Like the Stones, Waits, Dylan, Costello, Van the Man, an other major influences, I assume there will be more than a couple of Neil covers during this project. And don't forget these bonus covers later on when I get busy and miss a week later in the year. The winter is dead in real estate (remind me to tell you some real estate stories some time -- they might be more entertaining than my rock stories....maybe) and I don't get out of the house as much so I have had some good momentum in the studio.

So here you go, new President, old one out on a helicopter to go clear some brush just as Nixon walked his beach. A melancholy wistful melody that totally suits the subject matter.

Campaigner MP3

Sunday, January 18, 2009

T-Shirts on the Way for the February Toad Shows








A nice guy named Thomas has a sports apparel company and has offered to make some t-shirts using Stephen Dowling's picture that makes it seem that I rock the stadiums and the coliseums. He might do some fulfillment of mail orders, but we have not gotten that far yet. I think we'll start with 100 for the shows. But if we get a lot of orders, we will make more. Keep your eye on this post and I will edit with more information as it becomes available.

Cover of the Week 11

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Or as this guy I used to work with would call it, “Martin Luther, the King Day.”

When I got out of college in 1989, Buffalo Tom was already on its way to international rock superstardom. But in the meantime, I needed some sort of job that would help pay the bills. I didn’t want a serious career-sort of job, as it needed to be a disposable in case they wouldn’t take me back after extensive touring. I told Arun, the owner of the printing/copying franchise the deal, that the reason I wanted to work at this copy shop in Cambridge after graduating with a B.A. and two minors was because I needed something fast and flexible. I never thought he would take me back after the first 6-week tour, but this went on for two or three years. It was like the mafia; I couldn’t get out of it. He was happy to have someone competent to run the place while he, the laziest business owner I have ever come across, could stay away from the place for days at a time. He wasn’t just lazy; he could get downright cantankerous with customers. He was from India. His wife was a physician. I think he came from a pretty high station in life there. He couldn’t deal with the petty concerns of people who wanted a discount because there was a mark on page 412 of all 120 copies of their document.

It was a place where the customer was rarely right. Arun would send me to the small claims court to collect on overdue accounts that had no intention of paying the few hundred dollars owed. I embraced this aspect of the gig. It was the most interesting way I, now promoted to Assistant Manager (with the business card to prove it), could spend the day. I would have gone into law from there if it weren’t for BT’s skyrocketing rock stardom. He had no head for business, no long-term strategy for keeping the customers that were keeping him afloat. He was just cheap. Even after a good inexpensive sub, salad, and pizza joint opened next door, he would stay on the Hot Pockets diet. And he paid us pennies.

There was one other employee aside from me. His name was Sally (Salvatore) from the North End, Boston’s Little Italy. Sally was the “skilled” worker of the two of us. He ran the offset printing press that was right there in the middle of the floor behind the counter. I don’t know if he was hard of hearing before he began operating the press, but he certainly had lost a lot during the years he worked on the thing. There was one tone of voice. Everything was yelled. But that was also suitable to his temperament. I have not met another who so closely approximated the character of Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar named Desire.” Though he never struck me, violence always hung as a possibility in the air. His breath was foul. He had no sense of humor at all. He had the same middle-parted, feathered hair and black mustache I’m sure he wore during his peak Saturday Night Fever years. And every year he got the same $.025/hour raise added on to his meager hourly wage that would predictably launch him into a tirade in Arun’s office, which had a huge picture window that looked out onto the rest of the shop. So if a customer was at the counter with me, they heard and saw this large menacing guy inches away from the older Indian gentleman in Sansabelt trousers who remained seated and tried to ignore him as Sally yelled his string of obscenities, spittle coming from his mouth along with his hot stinky breath. He would then go to his half-hour lunch break, come back on time, and take his frustrations out on the printing press, though doing so while he carried on with his work, muttering incomprehensible malevolence. After ceaseless complaining to me about Arun after the boss had left, I would get frustrated and ask him why Sally didn’t just leave. Surely he could make more money and be “happy” somewhere else. But for all the guy’s piss and vinegar, he was like a man frozen in place. Sally couldn’t change. It was a mistake for me to call his bluff, because he would sputter out in simmering sadness, with nothing to say and his yelling and complaining – his natural state of being – would sort of stop and he had no way to let it all out and would somehow become more threatening to me over the long-haul, as if applying the sort of logical thought that he seemed incapable of understanding made me more of a target for the day he finally just unloaded on his workplace, another disgruntled worker on the six o’clock news.

“Why don’t we get dis Martin Lootah, da King day off?” He asked me once.

“I don’t know. I think it is an optional retail holiday,” I would respond.

“Who is dis guy, Martin Lootah, da King, and why do we have dis stupid holiday anyways?”

“It’s not ‘the King,’ Sally,” I would say. “It’s Martin Luther King. That was his name.”

“Hmmph. Yeah, well I dunno why it’s a holiday, but if it is, we should get it off except for Arun is so fuckin’ cheap.”

Sally was filled with classic malapropisms. He could get really riled up over politics as they affected him on a daily basis. “So the uddah day I do to get my sub, the same sub I get every day, the SAME FUCKIN’ SUB, and da guy tells me it is $4.24! I’m like, woah, dis is the same ting I get every day, when did your price go up? So he tells me it isn’t da price, it’s da taxes. I’m like, come on, you gottabekiddin’ me! Another tax? He’s like, ‘it’s a ready-active tax.’” Sally asked me, “You know about dis?”

“Ready-active?” I asked, half paying attention.

“Yeah, yeah. Ready-active. That’s what the guy told me. Fuckin’ Dukakis, who YOU voted for, is makin’ dis tax ready-active!”

“Ohhh, you mean retroactive. The tax is a retroactive tax, meaning it also goes back to cover certain things.”

Pause. Stare. “So you know about dis?”

“Well, only what you’re telling me. And what I’ve heard on the news or whatever.”

“But you voted for him,” one of those stated questions that you’re not sure whether or not to answer.

We found some detente in our daily dealings though. We could talk about sports to some extent, though I was barely paying attention to any local teams during these years. He tried, though. And I would often find myself caring more and paying more attention to the sports pages just to make the car pool less awkward. Yeah, I would ride my bike during the OK weather months, but when I started taking the bus, he offered to start picking me up on Somerville Ave., as that was the way he came in every day anyway. I couldn’t say no, as much as I dreaded the trips -- more time alone with him, stinky breath, and the sort of road rage that you might predict. We had to deal with a rotary (roundabout) on the way home and we rarely entered and exited it without some harrowing near-death experience, often accompanied by racial epithets. He was one of the few people in life I knew who still threw out stuff like, “Oh, OK Mister Chinaman! What da fuck?!” to a perceived cut-off in traffic. His terms of bigotry sounded archaic, like something from a 19th century newspaper cartoon, some Kipling-sort of thing.

We also had a clock radio resting on the binding machine that he always had tuned to Kiss 108, the top 40 station that played only the same 20-40 songs repeatedly throughout the day. This was 1989/1990. Stuff like new jack swing, Bell Biv Devoe was one of the few things I could take. But it was music like “Black Velvet,” Rick Astley, Lisa Stansfield. None of this would drive me over the edge on first listen. But after a while, I couldn’t take it. So I gingerly asked if I could switch the radio for a little while after one lunch break. He reluctantly agreed. I put on some oldies or classic rock and we quickly fell into the pattern that he would start the day on Kiss 108 and after lunch I could switch it to something else. I tried not to get too provocative, figuring him as one who would enjoy some oldies. Plus the college stations just didn’t come in too well on that lame radio. But the oldies station, for having something like 30 years of music to choose from, somehow found it necessary to play the same goddamn Frankie Vallee song over and over.

One day we came in and Arun had apparently tuned the radio into the classical station. I could see this working on Sally as he went through his routine of oiling, cleaning, and tuning up the press, cranking up the rollers. It was burning him up. Something had upset the pattern. He simply did not know what to do. I could feel his eyes on me, head down, looking at me askance. This went on for hours. Finally, Arun left around lunch break. Sally sidled up to me.

“Hey. Didju put dat station on?”

“No.”

“Did Arun?”

“I guess so.”

“Well, it wasn’t me,” he said with a mirthless laugh in his voice.

“So, it must have been Arun,” I deduced for him.

“So, it wasn’t you?” he asked, again with that little catch in his voice, staring me down, looking, I guess, for some untruth hidden in my eyes.

“No! I told you it wasn’t me. I would tell you if it was me.”

30 seconds would pass in silence as he considered some more. “’Cause if it wasn’t you or me… it musta been Arun,” he concluded.

“Right.”

“Didju hear dat music? One of doze songs was like, 20 minutes long. Doze were some long songs.”

“Well, it’s classical music. They’re not songs so much as pieces. That’s what people refer to them as.”

Another minute or so and then, more to himself, with a little half laugh, shaking his head, “Doze were some long songs.”

So aside from the MLK day holiday, what does this charming vignette have to do with this week’s Cover of the Week? Nothing. This week I am doing a version of the Rogers and Hart song, “Little Girl Blue.” I’m embarrassed to say I only know a few versions of the song, despite being a huge fan of many of the artists known to have covered it, including Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Hartman. Sam Cooke, Anita O’Day and Chet Baker. And I was surprised to note that the Afghan Whigs covered it, though they have done some great covers. In fact, when I met Greg Dulli for the first time in the early or mid 1990s, I embarrassingly told him how much I liked “True Love Travels on a Gravel Road,” which he casually mentioned was a Percy Sledge cover that I was unaware of at the time (I actually still prefer the Whigs’ version to the one by Sledge, whom I love as a singer).

I have loved the Nina Simone versions of this song for a long time. Her’s is the arrangement I use as my template, though now that I am digging back to these other versions, I note that Baker takes a similar approach to Simone.

Little Girl Blue MP3

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cover of the Week 10

The New Yorker had a nice article about and photo of Will Oldham this week (or last week; I am always behind). If you don't know anything about him, you can read the article and get a pretty good sense. I have been behind also, I must confess, in following his music. I can't believe that this cover of the week came out in 1994 (though it could have come out 40 or 100 years ago. Or today). It is from an EP called "Hope" and I think I scammed it from the guys at Domino records in London around that time. It features Sean O"Hagan on the piano, another musician you might be interested in.

When he recorded this song, Oldham et. al. were using the name Palace Songs, though you might also know him as Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace, Palace Music, etc. I wish I was even 1/8 as enigmatic as Oldham. I'm a f-in open book.

This has been a favorite of mine for a long time and was on my to-do list of covers and I moved it way forward on the occasion of this New Yorker piece.

Agnes, Queen of Sorrow (MP3)


My review of the song from years back, on allmusic.com.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cover of the Week 9 +

I am the oldest of five siblings. Many of you who come out and see the live shows around Boston have seen, heard, met, become friends with, engaged in fisticuffs with, are owed money by, bought watches from, and/or have had your significant others stolen by one or more of my three brothers (a sister is prudently distanced and safely ensconced in a well-appointed home in Georgia). We are all very different. Clearly I am the smart and handsome one. Not sure where that leaves the others, but they do have youth slightly more on their side.

Being the oldest, my brothers obviously and unwisely looked to me for steady and sage leadership, saw me pick up the guitar, and somehow thought that would be a good idea as well. I’m not saying they would not have started on the guitar if I had never done so. But they saw me doing it and though, “well, Bill is not too good at it. I can do it as well, and do it way better.”

We had all been playing guitar in various bands for years before we finally started lugging out the guitars for Christmas sing-alongs. It’s not like we are introverted. I mean, none of us are anywhere near what you would describe that way. On the other hand, the ability to shame the others, especially in the presence of outsiders, is a finely honed talent that we have all developed to varying degrees. As a result, there is a slight – some would say “healthy” -- reluctance that counteracts the burning need to perform for and gain the approval of others. We actually see each other very, very…very often and don’t automatically break out the guitars and doing tunes. For one thing, the kids wouldn’t stand it for too long. Likewise the wives/girlfriends. The only person, in fact, who is at all encouraging, is our mother. Unless Oprah is on.

Nevertheless, the need to perform is an overwhelming one and Christmas is when all hell breaks loose. This year, however, my brother, Scott, announced he would not be participating. Scott grew a beard this year, so he is now known as Country Scott. I think he wants to give up the rowhouse in Somerville for his country estate or log cabin and get back to he land and release his version of Ram or All Things Must Pass. I’m not sure what my mother said to him, but Oprah was not on and in no time he ended up joining the rest of us betraying no sense of self-respect, belting out the songs with vim and vigor and, along with the rest of us, embarrassing the women and children.

But he is talented. Has a lovely boyish tenor behind that gruff, manly facial hair. It was actually for a Christmas show at the Lizard Lounge, when three of us – Paul, Scott, and I, as well as an opening set from Little Tommy – put together a couple of sets of Christmas songs and songs by famous brother acts (Allmans, Beach Boys, Kinks, Bee Gees, Jackson 5, etc.) that included some songs by the Everly Brothers. I think Scott and I sound nice harmonizing on Everly and Louvin Brothers’ tunes. So here is one we did for that show a few years back, “Like Strangers” written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant and performed by the Everly Brothers.

For all of this Cover of the Week project being about a stripped down set-up in the basement, I went a little Phil Spector-Walker Brothers-Sigur Ros-Ocean Rain-Nick Cave-Space Oddity-Joe Meek on this production. I suggest a pair of headphones and your favorite sedative. Some shit happens in this. Now I have overly built it up. It is really not that rich.

As a bonus, I threw in a cover of the Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling” from one of the June 2008 Toad shows, featuring Scott on lead vocals, though it is pretty much an ensemble singing thing, with Phil Aiken and I joining in. Also featured are Mike Gent on acoustic, Billy Beard on drums, and Matt Tahaney on bass. This was recorded by Dan Speca. I fixed up the EQ a bit. But it is pretty raw.

Click to play. Also, a correction on my past instructions, for Mac users, to download you must "option'click" the link, not "apple-click."


Like Strangers Mp3



I've Got a Feeling Mp3


Country Scott sings, albeit at the Lizard Lounge and probably not "I've Got a Feeling"

Hot Stove Cool Music





This has to be my 25th year with this event. Honestly, I lost count. It is natural to feel like it is getting old, stale, and for the participants to be less excited as the years go by. And I can only speak for myself, but this is sometimes the ennui-like winter feeling that sets in each December/January. Part of it is the post-holiday exhaustion and typical winter darkness. But it is precisely that inertia and negativity that we must battle in life. And Hot Stove Cool Music proves year upon year to be the unexpected reward for getting my ass out of the house, meet and chat via emails and phone calls with the main organizers, and rehearse the various segments of which I am part. Just when you think it is time to move on, we end up getting down to the Paradise, seeing old friends, playing great music, brushing elbows with young Red Sox stars on their way up (see me and Wild Thing Papelbon, above) and I end up having one of the greatest times, not just of the winter, but of the year. Get your tickets now. Raise money for a great Boston charity event.

Poster by Gary Greenberg


Friday, January 2, 2009

The Amazingly Talented Mr. Dowling

I am tweaking the look of the page. Thanks in great part to our friend Steve Dowling, a kiwi by birth and temperament, and a Londoner by edict and mayoral proclamation, who has been coming to soundchecks and shows for years and taking great photos. The one I am using as the top shot is from the Netherlands in 2007, just about a year ago. He's a good guy to have on the road, as he is skilled at breaking up fistfights, paying off the local constabulary, and serving out local brews. Links to his page are on the right. Here are some other good ones.












See the link to his page in the links section on the right. From his site, you can also explore his Flickr site, which has many compelling pictures of Buff Tom and bands such as Iron and Wine, Calexico and more.

Nice Mention in Today's Boston Globe

Nice mention of this page (have any alternatives for the word "blog" come to the fore?) here in the Globe today. Thanks to the fabulous Sarah Rodman, whom I believe I last saw roaming the streets of Austin Texas in 2006. Say it ain't so, Sarah!