Saturday, March 10, 2012

Look, it's Tiger Saw. Wow, it's been a while.

Tiger Saw will play its first local show in seven years
March 24 at the Firehouse. 
Photo courtesy Jon Donnell.
Well, anybody hoping to dig into a heaping helping of fresh, interesting news about Tiger Saw, information in advance of the band’s March 24 show at the Firehouse … well, sorry man, you gonna be disappointed because there’s not a whole lot happening with Tiger Saw right now. No tour on the immediate horizon, no new records since “Nightingales,” ten tunes about, or, at least, inspired by the night, and a return to the band’s slowcore/sadcore roots in late 2010, and, so far, no plans to head back to the studio any time soon. Yeah, an unusually slow period for the band, which constantly shifting collective that has zigged and zagged, musically, from the beautiful, hushed, slowcore sound of its early days to indie pop singalongs and basement over the course of its decade-long, 1,000-plus concert existence. Because, truth be told, Tiger Saw founder Dylan Metrano has been dogging it a bit, spending most of the winter on the road, in warmer climes, enjoying some down time, and his friends, and the calendar is quickly coming up on his standing date, his pause/refresh time, when he hides out on Monhegan Island, the artist colony outside Boothbay Harbor. Or, at least, that’s one way of looking at it.
 Another is to say that Tiger Saw, probably the key player on the Port new music revival of the last decade, will be playing its first show in the city in nearly seven years, since the “Sing” era, the joyous, celebratory, everybody-all-together period of the band’s decade-long run, and that the Firehouse Center concert will most likely be the only local show in a while. Or that singer-songwriter Mara Flynn, who, until this month, hasn’t been seen on a Port stage in, like, forever, will be opening. The twin bill represents a gathering of the Port musical tribes over the past decade, from Juliet Nelson, whose voice and beautiful, mournful cello lines helped define the Tiger Saw sound in the early days. But she will be playing with Flynn, not Saw. Then there’s Evan Orfanos, who played drums on «Nightingales,» but goes back to the later editions of Hamlet Idiot, the Metrano/Gregory Moss band that preceded Tiger Saw. Some of the musicians will be doing double duty, performing in both bands, like Jason Anderson, a big part of Saw’s middle years, who will be playing piano with both bands. Or Djim Reynolds, who produced “Small as a Heartbeat,” Flynn’s first record in about a decade and goes back with Tiger Saw to 2004’s “Gimme Danger, Gimme Sweetness” album, who will be playing banjo with the Flynn band and guitar with Saw. And Guy Capecelatro III, who will play guitar with both bands. And then there’s Gregg Porter, who is, like Capecelatro, an Unbunny alum, and who played with Saw back in the “Sing” days, but will be playing with Flynn this time out.
Why now, after all this time, with no product to push or any of that ?
“I don’t know,” says Metrano, “it just seemed like time.”
It’s going to be an old school reunion, a gathering of “all the people who make me look good,” says Metrano, who, when he’s not on the island or on the road mostly lives in Portland these days. No especially good reason, but it just seemed right. “It’s been a while. I feel like I should be playing more down here,” he says. He tried to get something together last fall, but it didn’t work out. It was just easier before, in the early days, when everyone lived in Newburyport. Now everybody is spread out all over the place, busy with their own projects and lives. It’s just hard to coordinate. “It’s about playing, but it’s more about friends spending time together.”
Musically, they’ll focus on “Nightingales,” mostly, the 2010 Burst & Bloom release, a collection of songs about, or, at least, inspired by, night — songs about friends and lovers, about growing up and, ultimately, apart, about worlds left behind, colored by bittersweet nostalgia and the kind of understanding that comes only from distance. It’s rightly seen as a return to the band’s slowcore roots, picking up, many years later, where “Gimme Sweetness, Gimme Danger” and “Sing” left off, exploring themes of friendship, community and love. It’s about the night, but, ultimately it’s a rejection of darkness. But they’ll also dig into their bag of tricks, pulling out a few nuggets from the past, including  “Stall the Night,” which goes back to the beginning, to the “Blessed as the Trials We Will Find” album. “I don’t know,” Metrano says. “We’ll see. I like to mix it up.”
And, fessing up, Metrano hasn’t exactly been sitting on his hands these past few months, as may has been intimated earlier: He wrote the lyrics for an album by Cali-Cali composer Chris Fulford Brown — a very different place, musically, from Tiger Saw, songs that are in the style of the great American songbook. He also played sessions for a new, still-unreleased album by Winter Sons, a band formed in the wake of the break up of Hotel Alexis, mining the sadcore vibe, compared to Leonard Cohen  — and “not a far stretch from what Tiger Saw is doing,” he says. He’s also written some songs. No place for them to go just now. He’s also been exhibiting his paper-cuttings, mostly scenes of Monhegan; where each image is cut from a single piece of paper with an X-Acto blade and glued onto another, but aside from that he’s chilling. Seriously.
JUST THE FACTS, MAN: Tiger Saw and Mara Flynn will perform at 8 p.m. March 24 at the Firehouse Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $15.  For this performance, the band will feature Guy Capecelatro III,  guitar, vocals; Christopher Holt, bass, piano, vocals; Dylan Metrano, vocals, guitar;  Evan Orfanos. Drums; Jerusha Robinson, cello, vocals; Mandy Sabine, omnichord; and Clara Kebabian, violin For more information, call 978.462.7336 or log onto

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