Category Archives: Concert Previews

#FridayFinds – Pakistani-Brooklyn World Fusion and Facing the Music

(credits clockwise from top left: sandaraa.com, nickburkaotm, somervilleartscouncil.org, pondly.com
(credits clockwise from top left: sandaraa.com, nickburkaotm, somervilleartscouncil.org, pondly.com

This week started slowly, but then picked up quickly like that first ascent on a roller coaster, and then came down the other side zooming like an eagle possessed, stopping in mid-flight to rock a 25 minute guitar solo that melted so many faces off, before finally leaving us at the corner of Friday night and Saturday morning wondering “what the heck was that?” and amazed that we never once lost our lunch.

Here are a few of the things that made the adventure all the more excellent this week.

1. Tickled Pink on BlogBetterBoston’s {hub}Links

Once a week local Boston Blogger meetup BlogBetterBoston picks a theme and then selects five recent posts from its members to promote in a weekly roundup they call {hub}Links. This week the theme was spring colors, and my recent post on the colors, sights, and sounds of the season was among the posts selected. It’s a cool network to be a part of, full of wonderfully talented writers and doers in the community, and I’m thrilled to represent them this week. I sincerely recommend you check out the work of each featured writer as well. They’re lovely. And they sure know how to take a lot of pretty pictures. I wonder if they give lessons.

  • Around the World “L” shows us some colorful architecture you won’t want to miss.
  • Holly Dolly DIYed and dyed a dress and looks fabulous, of course.
  • Everyday Starlet gives advice on finding your best colors for fashion, hair and makeup…in video form.
  • Cuppajyo models a colorful spring look from local boutique Ku De Ta.

Want to be featured in the next edition? Sign up for the {hub}LINKS newsletter and submit your posts!

2. A Whole New World of Music with Sandaraa

When I’m not writing about music, talking about music, seeing shows, or working, I’m often volunteering at Vilna Shul, a historic synagogue in downtown Boston. It’s a beautiful building with lots of history, and for the last nearly 95 contiguous years there’s been an active Jewish presence there. The main sanctuary is particularly impressive with simple, stained glass windows and a high, vaulted ceiling. Suffice to say it’s got the right acoustics for a choir or chamber orchestra to perform, and I’ve had the chance to see a few groups of that sort perform there. Absolutely beautiful.

But I’d never seen anything like this.

Last night they hosted Sandaraa, a seven-piece outfit from Brooklyn that specializes in music from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the northwestern regions of India, and man did they hit it out of the park.

It was incredible. It’s fronted by vocalist and Pakistani native Zeb Bangash and backed by a band of multi-talented expert musicians from all over the country including clarinetist Michael Winograd and percussionist Richie Barshay. Each musician was a wonder unto themselves, and a few, including Michael, studied music just down the road at the New England Conservatory.

I loved how they used their western instruments to creat a haunting, eastern sound that you could have sworn was completely authentic if you didn’t see the bass, accordion, or clarinet.

And the band looked like they were having a blast up there. They fed off each other’s energy and rhythm beautifully. Even though this was only the second time they’d performed in months, they played as though they’d been doing it for years. Check them out if ever they’re in your neck of the woods (NYC friends, that means tomorrow night!).

3. Covering Up and Saving Face

Another wonderful thing about vinyl records is seeing cover art the way it was meant to be seen. CD and cassette tapes are lovely and portable, but you lose the scope and detail of the canvas that vinyl record covers provide. Some of these covers even have a bit of an “interactive” component as well that makes them particularly unique. Case in point is the cover sleeve for the Rolling Stone’s classic 1978 album Some Girls. The top layer features colorful and gaudy wigs superimposed on a bottom layer of faces that appear to belong to a host of your run-of-the-mill Hollywood starlets. Sliding the bottom layer out, however, reveals that the faces are actually just the members of the band done up in drag.

And speaking of faces, have you noticed how many album covers are just that? Happy faces, sad faces, red, white, and blue faces. Album covers depict the full spectrum of human emotion. This fact is not lost on the savvy social media-using, vinyl-loving masses, and they’ve brought a little extra pizazz to the fold with their hashtag #sleeveface.

The idea is simple: people take pictures of themselves holding these covers in front of them so that they become a piece of the scene. The results are often quite enjoyable and sometimes particularly inventive and impressive in their staging. I’m looking forward to making my own soon enough. Any good covers I should definitely use?

my first attempt at a #sleeveface. it's a work in progress.
my first attempt at #sleeveface. it’s a work in progress.

4. Pickin’ on the Front Porch

One of my favorite local music event of the year takes place tomorrow afternoon in Somerville: Porchfest.  Over a hundred bands from all over the Boston area will be performing on porches and in parks across the town beginning in the Union Square area tomorrow at noon and finishing up near Tufts by 6pm. Some of my favorites from last year like Black Marmot, Sheboom, and Somerville Symphony Orkestar are back again, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else is around.

So go. See. Enjoy and imbibe with all the wonderful, whimsical sights and sounds of this truly Somervillian spectacle. Though you might also want to bring a raincoat too… it’s supposed to be a bit wet. The event isn’t rain or shine though, so if it gets too wet things will take place on Sunday instead. Should be a lot of fun.

Friday Live Wire: Winter Concert Preview 2014

fine folk (& rock, & pop &...)
what  a bunch of fine folk (& rock, & pop &…)

On Monday it was cold, by Wednesday it was nearing 50, and now we’re looking at the chance of snow this weekend. And just when I was ready to talk about how things were “really heating up.”

Oh well. It’s better this way I suppose. More seasonal.

I don’t really mind the colder weather anyhow, though the uncontrollable shivering that starts from the moment I step out the door in the morning and lasts until I’m just minutes away from my destination is a little much. Perhaps that’s more a function of having an aging, rickety car… hmm…

One thing that definitely is heating up in spite of the strange, wintry weather is the schedule of awesome music festivals on tap for the first half of the year. Lineups have recently been announced for big name shows like South by Southwest in March, The New Orleans Jazz Fest in April, and The Governor’s Ball in June, as well as the smaller, not as widely known ones like the Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington state, Shakey Knees in Atlanta, or the Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival in Ozark, Arkansas. Big or small, these shows all boast impressive lineups.

Of course, if you’re like me, you can’t necessarily afford to jet yourself to a different festival each weekend beginning in March (or, as in the case of the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, starting two weeks from now). Lucky for us there’s no shortage of great musical acts coming to towns near us this season, allowing us to save on hefty travel costs and protect us from the temptation of raiding hotel minibars the nation over.

To this end I’ve added a concert calendar page to the site so you can get a taste of what’s coming up on the Boston-area scene and what concerts I’ll be heading to. If you’ve got a concert you’d like to suggest, promote, or go to with someone– let me know, and we’ll be in touch.

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of the shows I’m most looking forward to seeing this season.

1. Swear & Shake – Friday, January 17 @ Great Scott in Allston, MA

I’m tremendously excited to see these guys tonight. They’re a fun little foursome out of Brooklyn whose brand of peppy, genre-bending indie rock has been pounding the pavement of the northeast for the last few years, gaining them a number of followers and admirers. It’s admiration that’s well placed as they’re wonderfully talented songwriters and versatile musicians, emulating, shifting, and combining musical formats from bluegrass to grunge to driving dance pop rock. The track above is from their forthcoming album Ain’t That Lovin’, due out sometime early this year.

2. A Great Big World (w/Secret Someones) – Tuesday, January 28 @ The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA

If 2012 and 2013 were any indication, these guys are on target to have a bang-up 2014 as well. The last two years have seen them playing some shows, putting out a few singles, and catching the interest of Ms. Christina Aguilera, who brought them on NBC’s The Voice to perform one such single, “Say Something,” with them. This subsequently catapulted both track and these two lovable, recent NYU grads into the hearts and minds of TV producers and loving public nationwide (not to mention adding thousands of views to their YouTube channel). They’re also releasing their first full-length album next week. Their music is nothing if not catchy and the messages are universal, making it understandable how their other song “This Is The New Year” got its share of national airtime as well (the track conveniently fits in perfect with a New Year / New Beginning theme, so if you’re still looking for that one last track to put on your New Year 2014 mix… I highly recommend it).

And if that all wasn’t enough to raise my excitement  and anticipation for this show, my friends from Secret Someones are supporting these guys, and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing them at a more big-time Boston venue. What a treat.

3. Josh Ritter – Wednesday, March 5 @ The Somerville Theatre

In March Ritter released The Beast In Its Tracks, arguably his most personal and reflective release to date, dealing as it  does with his recent divorce, the isolation that ensued, and the slow, bumpy road to normalcy, new beginnings, and new love. Then he went out and toured it mercilessly in true Josh Ritter fashion.

Ritter is the consummate performer, and his shows never fail to delight and entertain. I’ve seen him 5 times over the last 3 years— twice last year alone— and each time it’s like seeing him for the first time. Euphoria, love, and compassion— these are the hallmarks of his every show. Touring has always been profound catharsis for him, and is no doubt one of the big reasons that’s he’s now able to face 2014 with open, loving arms and continue sharing his stories with all who wish to be a part of the story with him.

4. Snarky Puppy – Friday, March 14 @ The Berklee Performing Arts Center

As much as I’m looking forward to these other shows, I might be most excited, if not most intrigued and downright curious, to see this group in action. This impressive crew of marvelously talented musicians is known to put on a show that is a full-on hyper-sensory experience. With that in mind, although you can probably get a decent taste of by listening to the track above, you really need to see it to believe it.

Just think: if they can fill your computer speakers with such beautiful grace and form— imagine it live. In my mind, I’m already at the show, cheering in uncontrollable gratitude and ovation.

5. Milk Carton Kids – Wednesday, April 30 @ Brighton Music Hall

Still want a little more? That can be arranged. Comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers are well placed, even if the “Kids” themselves would have you believe they don’t know what you’re talking about. Comparisons aside, these guys are ridiculously talented flatpickers in their own right. Both of their albums are lovely stories, concise yet vivid tales accompanied by dueling arpeggios and galloping runs. Just two balladeers, their instruments, and their delicately wavering voices. It’s a performance that’s perfectly suited for the intimate atmosphere that a small venue like the Brighton Music Hall provides.

Still want a little more? Check out the full playlist of samples from the bands I’ll be seeing, and check out the calendar itself for a look at what else is coming to town.

above photos courtesy of (clockwise from top left): swearandshake.com, ianaxel.tumblr.com, joshritter.com, snarkypuppy.com, and glidemagazine.com.
photo collage courtesy of fotor.com

Friday Live Wire: Concert Preview – The Color and Sound @ TT The Bear’s

Party with The Color And Sound
Party with The Color And Sound

By Kristin Nicholls of Bishop And Rook

The boisterous cavalry of The Color And Sound recently wrapped up their march across the country on Modern Baseball’s Winter Tour and are heading home to play a vivacious set of indie rock on January 31st.

Formed in 2013, The Color And Sound was formed on the idea of integrating the diverse tastes of the members into a cohesive project, which quickly came to fruition with the band releasing the Spring Tour EP three months after their start. On the horizon of hitting the studio to start recording on their next record, the Boston sextet snagged a coveted spot on the now trending Maryland indie rocker’s post FEST Winter Tour, a ten-stop gallivant across the Northeast and Midwest promoting the upcoming full-length album, You’re Gonna Miss it All (Run For Cover Records), available in stores February 11th.

With influences ranging from folk to pop, there’s something for everyone in The Color And Sound’s hyper-audio sound. The five-track Spring Tour EP serves as a pure demo of the band’s abilities to adapt to various genres including the plucky banjo folk rhythm on “Graves” and harder grunge riffs on “Bruised and Battered”.

In a September 2013 interview with Property of Zack, the band explains, “When we do anything related to our band our only goal is to have as much fun as possible…we always try to translate how much we enjoy doing what we’re doing to whoever will listen,” which is successfully executed during the group’s energetic live sets.

Download the Spring Tour EP for free (at a name your price suggestion) on Bandcamp today and catch the infectious wave of good times when The Color And Sound kicks off The Appreciation Post’s Record Release Show with Pretty & Nice and USA USA USA, at TT the Bear’s, Central Square, Cambridge on January 31st.

Bishop And Rook is a Boston-based independent music blog focused on the local music scene in and around the Boston area. With an emphasis on promoting music within the community, Bishop And Rook strives to inform and educate readers about the current scene with the support of record and live show reviews. Come hang with Kristin and friends at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston, February 15th during Bishop And Rook’s Flirty Thirty Birthday Show featuring Save Ends, Laureate, Rebuilder and Shambles!