Tag Archives: blogbetterboston

#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.