Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Strange Brew: Band reveals new drummer

That's the guy, on the right: Aaron Zaroulis.
It didn’t look or feel like a Monday night at the Grog, especially one in the dead of winter. The place was packed, the base coming out hard to give The Brew a proper sendoff for its national tour to support “A Garden in the Snow” and “Light from Below,” the first two discs from “Triptych,” an insanely ambitious three-disc unboxed boxed set.  Final tweaks for the third are going on now, for "Hard Enough to Break,” the third album, for those of you keeping score. By this point, everyone had heard the big news. Kelly Kane, the Brew brother, charter member, who had been with the band since the beginning, fresh out of high school, back to the Blue Fungus Brew days more than a decade ago, would not be joining the band on this stomp through the country, and, in fact, had played his last date with the band, and would be hanging up his drumsticks for a while. Why? Sorry, no big scoop here. No personality clashes or creative differences or pilfering or girlfriend stealing. Simple economics. For an emerging band, touring requires a financial as well as a personal and artistic commitment. It costs money, in other words, and when you have a mortgage to deal with, taking off a month and hitting the road, bringing the music to the people can be, well, let’s just say that sometimes the romance of the road sometimes bumps up against some ugly realities. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Miller time: Busy cellist back ... with some surprises

Kristen Miller kicks off Women's History Month at the Actors Studio.
Been a busy time for Kristen Miller, even by the Georgetown cellist’s crazy standards, all quite possibly explained by her previously undisclosed and apparently unquenchable jones for tea, although, granted, she did hint about that as far back as 2003, on "Later that day," her debut album: The past two years have been steeped in creative work.  She's released two albums — “Walk,” a distinctive solo release that mixes world beat rhythms and Eastern melodies with a rock attitude and a beat sensibility, something she calls "cellobrew," and “Winter Loves Company,” a collaboration with Port sound guru Tom Eaton that mixes cello and piano with a Windham Hill sensibility. She’s also written soundtracks for three Maya Deren films, fascinating, mesmerizing silent films that are stubbornly interior, with little in the way of linear plot, and even toured with them. She's also created an original score for “No More Gloomy Sundays,” a short film by Robert Newton documenting the history of the WPA murals in Gloucester, and kept up her own busy performance  schedule. And toured with Ken Bonfield, a Gloucester-based multi-instrumentalist who, like Miller, has developed a style that's difficult to pin down, combining elements of folk, Celtic, classical and blues for acoustic guitar.  And, considering the creative workload, Miller has decided to take a short break from writing,  to catch her breath and regroup before the next big thing, whatever that might be — and if she knows, she’s not telling. But it will be only a break of a sort, seeing how she’s got session work lined up with Liz Mitchell, Conor O’Brien and What Time is it, Mr. Fox? And, before that happens, she’s got something else going on, something that incorporates all the disparate elements in her work, and throws a couple more into the creative stew, for the Actors Studio celebration of Women’s History Month, four weekend performances putting the spotlight on wimmins. And she’s happy to report that a few days ago, when she sat down for, errr, a cup of tea, she “realized how insane that is.” Which, of course, is the first step toward recovery.