Monday, October 24, 2011

Joel Brown back with new Libertyport mystery

In downtown Libertyport the other day. You know, that achingly familiar, desperately quaint and picturesque and oh-so-hip New England seaside community? Ran into Joel Brown, the Boston Globe scribbler sidelining, these days, as a crime novelist. He was hanging in Foley’s, the iconic newsstand/coffee shop with the red and green neon sign and the old-time soda fountain, the funky rival the evil corporate bean-roasters just a couple doors down the street. Near, um, the Thirsty Lobster, that "defiant anomaly among the art galleries and boutiques?" Just across the street from the gently curving red-brick blocks of Dock Square, a mixed-use landscape of stores and restaurants on the ground floor and offices or apartments above, with awnings, signs and flower boxes adding color and variety, a public space that “just worked in a way that was hard to explain, like Fenway Park,” as the Port resident writes in "Mermaid Blues," his latest Libertyport mystery. But it doesn't work that well for Joey Durst, the hard-partying, not-so-hard-working son of a local fisherman, who turns up sleeping with the fishes in one of those surprisingly seedy walk-ups above the Whale — I mean, the Lobster.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Big news Brewing for Amesbury rockers

Wow, they've been sitting on this for months now, not saying a word, despite endless badgering from reporter-types, and unauthorized posters offering more than they could deliver, but they promised it would be the most ambitious project they've ever been involved in, but something they just couldn't talk about, even though you could tell they were dying to spill it — and it turns out that they were telling the truth: Next month, the Brew will release "A Garden in the Snow," the first title of a three-disc, 30-plus song collection called  "Triptych. The other two albums — "Light From Below" and "Hard Enough To Break" — will officially drop in December.  The albums will be released in separate shows in three venues in two states.  Word is that "Triptych" is composed of three interlocking sets of songs that compress the many influences and experiences of the Amesbury-based quartet, which has been gigging and writing together since forming nearly a decade ago in Amesbury. "A Garden in the Snow" is an impressionistic, indie-rock album that explores the possibilities of song craft without restrictions.   "Light From Below"  is the heavier-hitting release of the project, reflecting the band's commitment to live, improvisational rock — and includes a blistering cover of  Led  Zeppelin's "Going to California," paying homage to Zep while making the song their own.  "Hard Enough to Break," the third album, showcases the band's  obsession with the golden age of FM radio, paying tribute to the pop form with tight arrangements that pay tribute to pop form, while maintaining the band’s passion for going all in. All of "Triptych" features The Brew’s notable use of three- and four-part vocal harmonies, situational lyrics and fat-ass hooks. The albums will be released on the band’s Riverwood Records label. All three albums are available on the band's web, as is a detailed tour schedule, but here's are the bare-knuckle facts, down and dirty: "A Garden in the Snow" comes out Nov. 4  at The Brighton Music Hall, which, despite its name, is in Allston. "Light From Below" will be released on Dec. 9th at Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine. "Hard Enough to Break" will have a local release on Dec. 17, when the band turns up at the at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The storied career of AJ Mungo

You can call him AJ, you can call him Andrew ...
Call him AJ. Not a lot of people do these days, at least not in our little city where he a local celebrity — famous, you could say — where everybody knows him by his given name. The nickname goes back, way back, to the days  when he was a young punk and promising juvenile delinquent growing up on the wrong side of the river, back to his father, who people also called AJ, although the initials meant something else.  The father was Andrew Joseph, the son was  Andrew John. That became an issue at his christening, when the parish priest insisted that, to avoid a lifetime of confusion Andrew John have "Jr." tacked on to his name, which is why the name on the box of "Thanks for Listening, a Memoir" says, "a film by AJ Mungo and" — talk about a name — "Amie Spiridigliozzi-Keefe" instead of "Andrew J. Mungo Jr." It's also one of the stories Mungo tells in the film, which gets a proper big screen premiere this week at the Screening Room, the city's hip, alternative cinema, which he owns, and which, after three decades in fashionable, trendy Blueberry Port, has propelled him to superstar status or, at least, relative fame, but only within the city limits. He still has to pay cash in Strawberry Port, and in Raspberry Port he has to show a photo ID. The movie, the film-maker and -shower says, tongue squarely in cheek, is his bid to bust the fame game open — beyond the Merrimack, even. And, at the same time, goose his rep here, in the most delicious of the Ports, because fame can be fleeting, and while most folks may know who he is, this guy behind the camera, or the popcorn machine, or, depending on the day, the ticket booth, what do we actually know about him? And, while we're talking about him, what's the deal with his freakishly large head?