Thursday, April 13, 2017

APRIL 2017 The Beauty Way with Jim Bouchard and Sev Grossman, Procol Harum, Fred Gillen Jr. Hummingbird Syndicate

1)Procol Harum  NOVUM

Gary Brooker, voice and piano
Geoff Whitehorn, guitars, vocal
Matt Pegg, bass, vocal
Josh Phillips, Hammond, synth, vocal
Geoff Dunn, drums

Release date 21 April 2017
Pete Brown, words
Dennis Weinreich, producer

I Told on You, Last Chance Motel, Image of the Beast, Soldier, Don’t Get Caught,Neighbour, Sunday Morning, Businessman,Can’t Say That, The Only One, Somewhen; bonus track Honour on the Japanese version


2) What She Said
Fred Gillen Jr.

The "she" referred to in the title, What She Said, is not H. Rider Haggard's infamous She - more likely it is the Statue of Liberty,  a third or half 

That's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses
Let's club 'em to death

Lou Reed, Dirty Boulevard

Fred Gillen Jr. Review on TMR Zoo

Fred Gillen Jr. opens his masterfully produced album, What She Said, with “Prayer for America” giving time and space to refugees, philosophy and the iconic Statue of Liberty only partially visible, as if sinking in the sand in Charlton Heston’s original Planet of the Apes.   That philosophy, seeded throughout the variety of ideas, include possibly not believing in God but finding the need to pray.  See how he brings Palestine to Baltimore on track nine, discussed a few lines down. Gillen’s grasp of a hook, eloquent essaying and his veteran vocals make for an all-around strong performance, hitting all cylinders.  Remember Paul Kantner’s 1987 video and song for the KBC band, “America?”   Thematically we are still in the same place, if not more critical with the plethora of skewed headlines, and like a good outing for Law and Order: SVU, the songwriter/singer pulls pertinent ones together for his musical OpEd.  “Return of the Buffalo,” also coming in at three minutes plus, is a standout.  Great song, great hook, and reminiscent of Elton John’s second American album, Tumbleweed Connection, where lyricist Bernie Taupin utilized Elton’s voice and music to record his purported interest in the wild old west while working on conquering America as Roxy Music tried with “Prairie Rose,” and David Bowie succeeded with when he danced with the “Young Americans.”    Gillen’s voice gives this important melody what it deserves creating a moment that is both memorable and unique. This is an American singing about America, not a Brit experimenting with our country’s ideas (not that we mind that…it’s just that we’re the ones experiencing this world.) It glides in and out quickly like a pure pop song should, with staying power and also reminding those so inclined of the Star Trek episode, “The Man Trap,” the first episode to ever air.
Over the dozen tracks – which I’ve played in my car repeatedly – the vision is clear – a political statement on life in 2016/2017 with.  My computer skipped up to “Baltimore Burns,” track 9, and it actually works quite well after “Return of the Buffalo” in retrospect. It is one of only three of the dozen compositions which are in the four-minute mark, the other nine three minutes plus, Gillen Jr. smartly giving his commentary within a pop structure that makes for a more dramatic impact.  “She Loved” is folk/acoustic with country leanings, going back to where country radio was in the 1960s and 70s, including a line about her like for John Denver and Johnny Cash.  “Julia,” co-written – as is track 3, “Future Americans,”  with the equally talented Matt Turk (the pair also perform live as “Gillen and Turk,” )  is a change of pace, undercurrents of CSNY’s “Ohio” mixed with Robin Gibb’s popular classic solo outing, “Juliet.” Elegantly packaged in a six-panel cardboard, eco-friendly case, Gillen has taken a turn here from previous recordings to read – almost like spoken word over smartly crafted instrumentation.  That’s expressed carefully in “Some Call it Karma, Some Call it Grace,” always with a chorus to underline the thoughts being expressed.  “Where Are You Tonight Fallen Angel” concludes this next chapter in Fred Gillen Jr’s impressive journey calling out for a damaged someone, remembering the better aspect of a special friend who’s lost their way. A great conclusion to a thought-provoking disc that is worth your time exploring more than a few spins.
Worth noting from the P.R.: What She Said (2017) Full-length, solo, studio album #10, released on the 20th anniversary of album #1. 8 new Fred Gillen Jr original songs, and 4 co-writes with Abbie Gardner, Steve Kirkman, and Matt Turk.

3)The Beauty Way
     Original Blue Oyster Cult's Jim Bouchard, Sev Grossman of the Boom Boom Band, this amazing group has delivered a dozen tracks produced by Dan Cardinal at Dimension Sound, where Craig Leon produced those phenomenal Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band demo tapes for MCA, the tapes that actually should have been released AS the album.
"Sixes and Sevens"  opens with drummer Peter D'Angelo's "boom boom" sound straight out of David McLean from Sev's iconic band.  Bouchard's slinky guitar nicks some Creedence - "Fortunate Son's" riff, but that mutates and evolves into a driving stomp.  Terrific stuff.













4)Kenny Selcer

Artist: Kenny Selcer
CD       I Simplify
14 tracks

On Kenny Selcer’s long-awaited ambitious effort, I Simplify, New England’s veteran acoustic / Americana minstrel has put together an album that fuses Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street nuances with Grateful Dead guitar/keyboard interplay.   Those Stones’ nuances are subtle, an undercurrent on the opening track, “I Know It’s Not Too Late,” Selcer’s philosophical observations rife with intentional simple word structure a la Bernie Taupin in Elton John’s classic “Daniel,” taking the “rain in Spain” cliché rhymes and using them to good effect.     “It’s All Around You” was in release a few months before the album (an electronic, internet single, of sorts) and it is beautifully constructed with Steve Peabody’s drums giving the reggae flavored love song it’s march along beat.   The production is exquisite, Selcer the former owner of a recording studio in Boston back in the 1980s and live sound engineer who has worked with too many name artists to list here, places instrumentation and voice perfectly. Each song is over four minutes, so the fourteen tracks make for a lengthy listening experience, about seventy minutes or so.
The four and a half minute “Evelyn” is a standout and has Selcer on mandolin and most instruments a la Emmit Rhodes and Paul McCartney, Rob Rudin helping out with some of the drum programming. For the Americana Pop that the song is, there’s a flavor of blues in the singing and lyric.  
The title track at 5:39 is the longest, an epic with the rhythmic beats accented, a heavy reggae boost with Selcer choosing multiple light guitar licks and backing vocals to boost the vibe.  Mixed by Matt Hayes at Wellspring Sound in 2016 with the studio owner, Eric Kilburn, handling the mastering, the love and care put into this project is clear, as exhibited in the Celtic instrumental “Kenny’s Tune,” a truly inventive mix of sounds that is compelling bringing to mind when voiceless pop songs would rule the airwaves, Paul Mauriat’s “Love is Blue,” the timeless “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” by Sounds Orchestral, the airy, catchy, splendid sounds before Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” developed the hard rock instrumental as a hit record.   Final track “Stay Awhile” features Stompers/Fox Pass bassist Steve Gilligan, with keyboards from Chris Billias and Mike Migliozzi on drums.  The use of a band brings another flavor to a mostly self-performed album though players Roland Ochsenbein on piano, conga/percussionist Manolo Mairena and bassist Andy Solberg add their talents throughout, this is mostly a self-performed project with Kenny Selcer bringing to life some of his BMI administered catalog featuring music and words that span fifteen years, from 2001 to 2016.  (Joe Viglione)



6)Hummingbird Syndicate

Artist  Hummingbird Syndicate
Title  Pop Tricks
12 Tracks

Review by Joe Viglione

The members of Hummingbird Syndicate are a pure pop collective and their opening track to the Pop Tricks album, “Romance,” is as sweet a confection as you’ll find.  Jon Macey’s production work for Elektra records as well as his two albums with Tom Dickie and the Desires on Mercury – along with his perfect ear – oversees a project that Archies vocalist and Barry Manilow producer Ron Dante would have totally immersed himself in during the ‘60s.  Lynn Shipley as creative partner helps bring the harmonies and melodies in sync with the lyrics, and they generate a full and entertaining sound.
“After Stephen Foster” switches hats from that exquisite pop to pure Americana with the harmonies of Shipley, Mary Jaye Simms and Jennifer Lewis Bennet adding some gospel to the acoustic number.
Seven of the dozen songs are under four minutes, which makes for extended play when it comes to a serious and happily light-hearted outfit whose CD Baby page declares proudly:  ABBA meets the Ramones, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris… Mamas & Papas sing the Velvets” and it’s so true, with the Abba leanings more geared towards Don Kirshner pop.   “You Don’t Know (Much About Me) wander into territory owned by The Band with Marianne Faithful on vocals, splendid guitars bring it all to life in a wonderful way. As much as the music stretches over the individual artist careers of the parts that make up this whole, to anyone aware of Boston rock and roll, it is Macey who is the central figure with Stompers/Fox Pass rhythm section Lenny Shea and Steve Gilligan who add their talents along with Tom Hostage of Macey’s Parade, with the string slingers indulging in “electric and acoustic guitars, mandolins, mandolas, 12-strings, and B-Benders” according to the group bio. To that point, “Haley” is pure Macey’s Parade, more so than Fox Pass and Hummingbird Syndicate, which is fine, because this amalgam of Shipley/Macey/Gilligan/Hostage/Shea/Bennet/Simms etc. modern rock mixed with the long-established (over four decades) sounds these performers and recording artists have developed can shape-shift and blend in the communal spirit that their name indicates.  A music mafia of colorful birds with iridescent feathers – which is why this review is in the Arial font…I think.
Along with the 12 songs on Pop Tricks there is also a CD single “Waterfall Away” b/w “I Want You To Stay” on Actuality Records.    You can find the two additional songs on Soundcloud  and they are as vibrant and exciting as the music on the full lengthy.   As stated, the production is as state-of-the-art as the musicianship. With Chris Maclachlan of Human Sexual Response, L.A. guitarist Dan Coughlin, Andy Hollinger and Pop Gun’s Jim Melanson it is more like the Mamas and the Mamas and the Papas and the Papas, an ensemble that has delivered music distinctly different from anything on the New England music scene, a wonderful invention of multiple chefs drawing from the same palette in unison, never stepping on anyone else’s space.   Remarkable.


APRIL 12, 2017


10)The Brigands

Artist: The Brigands

Title:   Night Patrol

16 songs

Produced by the Brigands, this sixteen track disc has a local slant as “The World’s Last Honest Man”  walks along Mass Ave, is found in Kenmore Square, while the band steamrolls along in minimal fashion, a chorus that borders on a chant. Peter Parcellin (guitar) and Brian Sullivan (drums) share the lead vocals and on songs like “She’s So Hot” two voices mix in interesting fashion a la Kenne Highland’s Gizmos, less the naughty lyrics.  “Looking for Lewis and Clark” (with its line “Louie, Louie, Louie, Louie…)references the old Boston Garden while the guitars churn away.  Brigands approach their work like a working man’s rock band with a Ramones’ approach mixed in with more traditional sounds.  The backing vocals are supplied by 2nd lead guitarist Michael “Scott” Stewart and bassist John Skinner.  Track 3, “Supersonic” is a standout and an alternative version of the tune closes out the CD.  With an MC5 attitude over climbing guitar chords this is the direction that succeeds the best, no nonsense rocking out.  On most of the disc it sounds like the boys are having fun at a frat party straight out of Animal House, a rock and roll mission to have a good time.  The cover of Bo Diddley’s “Pills,” most likely found in the New York Dolls’ catalog, is durable, while “Acid Test” and the title track, Night Patrol, are key moments as well.  Tracks recorded and mixed by Rayboy Fernandes, former drummer with the Atlantics. (Joe Viglione)
11)Thirty Silver   Welcome Home


February 3, 2017  Club Bohemia, downstairs at The Cantab Lounge
Haley Katrin, Billy Quill, Dionysia, Mike Morrissey

A very impressive show on February 3 with Haley Katrin backed by guitarist Adam Sickler – an entertaining mixture of sounds seguing from acoustic to pop rock with a heavy backbeat. Katrin’s authoritative voice punctuated each note with the precision of a pro, but rock and roll enough to let the band drive with a nice ragged edge.  Haley’s set consisted of Be Your Girl Skate By Sheep Sugar Water Angel from Montgomery Half Past 3 23 Tinder Hipster Prince.  Shade Tramp from Stains of a Sunflower records and provides the drumming for Haley. Have to get a Sunflower live review up soon.
Also on the bill were Mike Morrissey, Billy Quill and a superb band called Dionysia.  Morrissey’s aching vocal works over interesting guitar weavings, the space in between the strums and the voice play with the imagination in a nice way recalling hit artists Norma Tanega, Tim Buckley and Janis Ian.  It was a complementary diversion from Katrin’s powerful approach, Morrissey using subtleties to make his point, and a good transition for the audience.  Morrissey’s set went from She Smiled, Unseen, Arrive, Heartbeat, Puppets, Hands, Miss June, Fool's Gold, and Rainy Days in that order
Billy Quill’s voice and compositions are drenched in bluesy pop with a solid groove with words that combine insight with introspection.  The instrumentation sometimes dangles in the air, as does his voice, to good effect.
Dionysia played songs from their CD The Breach and issue their musical statement with polish and sometimes lots of angst.  Songs like “Zombie,” “Glory” and “Doorstep” have one-word titles which push the pop envelope with catchy chord changes and clever riffs.  (Joe Viglione)


Melissa Weikart at Club Bohemia  Thursday April 27, 2017

Downstairs  Kate Taylor-Mighty, Rollo Tomasi Quartet, Melissa Weikart
Upstairs – The Chicken Slacks

Though originally a four band bill, Kate Taylor-Mighty made her Bohemia debut followed by one of the Bohemian favorites, Rollo Tomasi Quartet.  The name Rollo Tomasi, of course, is the invisible assassin from the 1997 film L.A. Confidential and Boston’s RTQ pretty much has a residency monthly at the club under the Cantab and the group’s jazz-inspired rock has become popular in Central Square.  This writer has caught them on many occasion but was only able to catch the third and final act.

It was an evening of pop with heavy cosmic jazz influence as Melissa Weikart brought a dreamy sound into the Club Bohemia cavern that is usually noisy and loud.  With Adam Tuch predominant with his smooth and inviting keyboards over Zach King’s drums and Devon Hurt’s bass, Weikart played to a substantial and appreciative crowd on a beautiful Thursday night in Central Square.

The diva’s voice reached amazing heights over Matt Okun’s liquid guitar strums with bass, drums and keys all generating a symphonic, airy bit of mystery, embracing Weikart’s lyric in a pleasant and entertaining way.  Engaging renditions of her “Our Room,” White Dress,” “New Normal” and “Broken Records” gave way to Weikart sitting down at Tuch’s piano to perform solo.  “Unconventional, but it’s happening” she noted as they were able to get the stand-up microphone at the right height for “Humans.”  The solo material, in particular, seem perfect for a new Twilight Zone, odd piano sounds and a vocal sound that went contrary to the notes she plucked off of the keyboard, quite difficult to pull off.  The audience, all the tables and chairs filled, but still intimate, kept quiet during the solo portion.  Pure artistry at play and a very welcome change of pace for our cellar full of noise in the cavern under Massachusetts Ave.

Chicken Slacks upstairs were downright frighteningly good with a more than average rowdy crowd stomping to pure rhythm and blues.  This writer gets to see the Slacks almost every week, but this night, April 27, was more intense than usual.  The club was getting filled to capacity and the room and floor were shaking…with a line of more people outside.  I snapped one video which captured the craziness, but had to get out of Dodge as it was, “just too many people” (thank you, Melissa Manchester) for me at midnight…had to get home to catch the last part of Perry Mason.

iPhone video Mary Weikart 4 27 17 IMG 1168 Video, not Facebook Live
Facebook Live


May Top 40 Mare Winningham, Planet of the Apes, Andy Mendelson

  Happy Birthday Mare! Years ago Mare Winningham and her husband saw me at the Paradise Theater in Boston, a club I booked for many years....