Sunday, February 16, 2014

What's brewing? You can ask Dave Drouin

Ever wonder what’s going on with The Brew since the summer, when the boys   closed the books on the band — forever, irrevocably — ending a decade of creative work that took the Amesbury-born, Newburyport-based quartet from free-form psychedelic jam band to road-hardened festival-headliners who shared the stage with their musical heroes, people like the Allman Brothers, Levon Helm and Bruce Hornsby, becoming a creative force capable of creating “Triptych,” a massively ambitious three-disc box set? 

Yup, us too. Well, next week still-jonesing Brewsters will have a chance to put the question to someone who should know: Dave Drouin, the band’s flashy guitarist, seen here in this marvelous Joey Walker photograph on the left, from the band's last lives show. He'll be playing a solo show of classic rock and modern covers from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the 17 State Street Café, which is located at … um, 17 State Street, Newburyport. Try not to pester him all night for Brew songs. That’s our job.  For more information on the 17, call 978-948-3456.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Blues Party laying down the Laws on Sunday

Willie J. Laws, is kicking it at the Grog
this week. Kendal J. Bush photography 
Ladies and gentlemen, "The Last Prophet of the Funky Texas Blues," Willie J. Laws, is in the house after long and adventurous journey from the Gulf Coast of Texas to Massachusetts, becoming, along the way, one of the Bay State’s best bluesy treasures. And what a ride it’s been. Laws has toured the world with blues legend Phillip Walker and opened shows for the likes of Koko Taylor, Etta James, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Warren Zevon, Albert King and James Cotton. When the guitarist lays down the Laws with Parker Wheeler and the gang at the Grog on Sunday, he’ll be playing stuff from critically acclaimed CDs, the latest of which is "Running Out of Lies," and, of course, kicking out the jams with an all-star ensemble that includes his regular bassist, Malcolm Stuckey, and drummer Osi Braithwaite, as well as Peter Wolf Band keyboardist Tom West and two, count them, two saxophonists: Amadee Castenell and Henley Douglas Jr. Awesome.  It all gets under way at 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Grog, 13 Middle St., Newburyport. There’s a $7 cover. And the guitarist, by the way, will return the favor next month, when he taps Parker Wheeler and Castenell as Willie J. Laws Band sidemen for Flashback, a benefit dance, party, auction and fashion show for the Lynn Shelter Association, at 7 p.m. March 22 at R&B Consignments, 270 Lynnway, Lynn. For more info on that show, check out

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Birdsongs: Flock of finches rocking at Peabody Essex

French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's exhibit has birds interacting 
with humans — and creating music — at The Peabody Essex Museum. 
Wicked Local Photo / J.C. Lockwood 
Three things, at least, that everyone should take away from "FreePort [007]: from here to ear," the new exhibit by acclaimed French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at the Peabody Essex Museum: First, you have never heard bird songs like this – never. And probably never will again. Second, words cannot even begin to distill the oddly intriguing sonic and visual world of the piece, the museum’s first major foray into contemporary art under The Present Tense initiative. It has to be experienced. Of course, since we’re in the word business, for better or word, we’ll will give it a go. And, third, this jaw-dropping exhibit, on display through April 13, is simply the coolest thing this side of MassMoCA, the contemporary art museum known for big, courageous and, occasionally, odd exhibits. So, then, what’s "from here to ear" all about? Well, imagine the sounds of a cat walking across a piano keyboard. Now imagine the Ramones or AC/DC covering the resulting "song," the wobbly, tentative tune replaced by big, crashing power chords.

Read more here.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Freddie II: A 'Great' new play by Port's Joshua Faigen

Don't get tripped up by the title, or by the picture on the poster. “Frederick the Great,” the play, is not about Frederick the Great, the fun-loving 18th-century Prussian warlord, er, king and patron of the arts who wrote more than 100 sonatas for flute and a couple of symphonies, including some to glorify his conquests, like when he and his BFFs to the east sliced up Poland that time. Frederick the Second?” Joshua Faigen, the Merrimac Street playwright laughs. “No, no, no,” he says. “It’s not that Frederick the Great!” Okay, but before you laugh too hard, Mr. Playwright, it seemed like it might fit. This, after all, is a Joshua Faigen play, so you don't know what he’s going to throw at you, but a lot of the time they have something to do with music, like those cranky downstairs neighbors in “Zoltan,” the playwright’s last production, who are sick and tired of listening to the music of the Hungarian composer Kodaly from upstairs. Or, “Book of Snow,” which features three piano pieces written by a young Richard Strauss, with the music firing up the emotional tenor of the piece, and, in fact, actually adding something to it, like a character — in the same way as the playwright built his ironically named “A Very Simple Play” around Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbundlertanzes,” a glorious piece by a fabulously insane composer written to defend the Romantic movement against the classical thugs Schumann imagined lurking in the wings.