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Our Favorite Calvin & Hobbs (yellowed from years in the wallet)
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Juliana Hatfield with The Gentlemen
Café 9 http://www.cafenine.com
New Haven, CT
Wed. Aug. 10th, 2005  By: G.Gone

A Boo rose from the crowd just after Juliana Hatfield’s 5th song to a maximum capacity gathering at Café 9. Out of context, it was somewhat out of place. The 100+ people that were sandwiched between the bar, stage, and tables against the far wall (where many stood on the benches for a glimpse of this anti-rockstar babe) were loving everything that Juliana and her band was giving to them, as were the unfortunates who were listening to this sold out show from outside on the sidewalk.

The Gentlemen, from Juliana’s native Boston, MA, opened the show with a tight, ripping, 40-minute set of English blues rock straight out of the early days of The Rolling Stones, with a dash of New York Dolls swagger. The Gentlemen’s rhythm section, Ed Valauskas (bass) and Pete Caldes (drums), pulled double duty backing Juliana. It was here, during her introduction of the band, that the Boo sounded out.

Up until that point it was just straight ahead rock - 5 songs in succession that were highlighting the fact that Juliana was getting into rockin’ her guitar, hitting her vocals to a tee, and thoroughly enjoying trading it off with the band, who were jammin’. The trio quickly established a zone in this intimate setting and was working the crowd into a small revered frenzy.

It has been a dozen years and 5-plus releases since Become What You Are broke Juliana away from Evan Dando’s shadow. And while she’s enjoyed moderate success, she just never was comfortable with the rockstar status that she felt was prematurely assigned to her after that LP. Yet it was that springboard release that provided the backdrop for this 21-song set and the cover for the uncomfortableness that the Boo created for the main attraction.

You see, it was the first break in the music, and Juliana, who in the past took much of her reclusiveness on stage with her (some guitar leads were still played with her back to the audience), was addressing the fans. She asked how The Gentlemen were and apologized for not seeing their set, as she was wrapped up in the Red Sox game. She said they were going to play a new song, and then proceeded to introduce Ed and Pete, when someone shouted out “Which one you sleeping with?” – that’s when the Boo came out; the crowd didn’t approve. Here was, granted, a rockstar sex symbol, playing her own music for an appreciative crowd, and while there may have been many in the crowd who secretly desired her, who envied her, who lusted after her, and who may or may not have been jealous of her lover/lovers both past and present, they all respected her for what she was doing at the moment – playing a small intimate club, and laying it all out for her art, for her music, for her fans. And these fans did not like what they had just heard emit from their masses.

Perplexed and a bit confused, Juliana asked what the Boo was for, and one of the faithful relayed the comment. With a toss of her short bob she said something to the band and launched into Supermodel (“5000 dollars a day / is what they pay my baby / for her pretty face”). Maybe it was a rebuttal, but I think it was the familiar territory of the words and music that allowed Juliana to vent without a direct response, because from here on out the show caught fire. Where before the trio laid down an intense groove, here they just smoked it. The sound, while earlier was a tad bluesjam muddy, exploded with the excellence of rock. Segueing right into another Become What You Are cut allowed Juliana to take flight. The light soaring vocals of Mabel only confirmed the great sound, and when she proclaimed “Check out that lady, Check out that lady” you knew she wanted you to see her for what she is.

A couple of new songs, followed by Houseboy and Dame With A Rod, continued to drive home the fact that Juliana doesn’t give a fuck who you think she’s sleeping with, it’s none of your fucking business, so shut the fuck up and listen to the music, maybe you just might get it.

It was non-stop from there, mixing songs from all her releases, playing to an ever enamored crowd and delivering beautiful, soul touching, spot on vocals to such show stoppers as Sunshine and My Enemy (the latter during the encore) off last year’s underrated and subtly great CD, In Exile Deo. The full set and encore totaled an hour and 20 minutes, and when during the final song Juliana’s amp cut out, she simply said “goodnight everyone” and the crowd understood. This seemed to please her, so she wacked her amp a few times and was able to finish the song.

Without roadies, it was up to her and the band to break down the stage, and as they did so Juliana herself sold copies of her latest CD, “Made In China,” released on her own label, straight out of the manufacturer’s box.

It has been 12 years since Become What You Are - at one time Juliana was concerned about how the public perceived her. Unfortunately, the machine that is the music industry has spawned those with preconceived notions, those who are molded to be what someone else wants them to be, and those like the ass that was booed. But Juliana has persevered and has fulfilled her prophecy; she has become what she is, and she’s out there telling it. I for one am glad I was listening.

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Meridan Daffodil Festival
Hubbard Park, Meriden, CT
04-30 & 05-01-05
Photos by: G.Gone

A Review in Pictures

DaffyUnfortunately, rain shortened the line-up for Saturday Apr. 30th.
All acts on the Welcome stage were cancelled. The first 3 acts scheduled in the food tent played
and then gave way to the "Blues Fest" which moved inside from the Bandshell stage on the great lawn.

On Sunday May 1st, after an overcast morning, the sun finally broke through to make the day an
amazing amount of fun. What follows is a review in pictures of the day in music.

Click on photos to view larger images.


The Big Fat Combo
The Big Fat Combo
gets things started Sunday
on the Welcome Stage

Shellye & Dean
Shellye & Dean
of The Shellye
Valauskas Experience

Mark Mulcahy
Mark Mulcahy
sets the mood on
the Bandshell Stage

The Limit
The Limit
Rocks out!

Juliana Hatfield
Juliana Hatfield
headlines the
Bandshell Stage

Roger & Rob
Roger C. Reale
(of The Manchurians),
The Thin Man
(Rob DeRosa), and
The Merchandise Girls

The Furors
Derek & Tom
The Furors

Brutally Frank
Frank Critelli
Brutally Frank

The Great Lawn
The Great Lawn
in front of the Bandshell Stage

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Frank Critelli Presents: "Songs From The Sofa"
Books & Company 1235 Whitney Ave. Hamden, CT

01-30-05 by: G.Gone

I’d like to tell you about a terrific local event that local artist, and all around good guy, Frank Critelli hosts each month, it’s a songwriters series called
"Songs From The Sofa" held at Books & Company 1235 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT 203.288.9449 every final Friday of the month.

After a three month hiatus, Frank and the Sofa returned to Books & Co. this past Friday (
1-28-05) with a show of unexplainable magnitude. Bret Logan & The Jellyshirts were the perfect choice to kick off the ’05 season on a slightly chilly winter evening. I arrived with wife and kids in tow just as the band were finishing setting up. A small but impressive crowd was mingling among the bookshelves and at the coffee bar as the two rows of chairs in the living room style setting began to be filled. In this relaxed, comfortable and personal atmosphere it was easy for Bret Logan to address us with thanks for coming and sorry about the delay of the 7:00PM start, it also allowed for some nice one to one conversations from the band with members of the audience.

Once ready, Bret announced that the band would be playing most of their cannon in alphabetical order (though there were no songs for X,Y, and Z). What followed was an intriguing set of low-amped rock virtuosity. Soaring through not only some of the best known and beloved Jellyshirts and Bret Logan Band tunes (at this point I must point out that the majority of the audience were fans, most known to the band, and were frequently reassured that their “favorites” would be played as they were reached by alphabetical order.), but also at least a half dozen new songs that the recently reformed Jellyshirts have been working on.

To say that all the songs were well received would be an understatement. As the set moved on and gathered steam, the audience grew to the point of standing room only, and seemed to be more and more transfixed and satisfied with each gem of band interplay and jam intensity.

An hour into the 90 minutes performance a bit of music magicalness happened, one of those “you had to be there moments” that should be talked about for sometime (a literal coup for the Songs From the Sofa series); Bret Logan broke a string on the last song before Guitarist Jess Brauner needed to leave. Because the band lacks roadies, Jess gave her guitar to Bret so that he, Mr. Ray (guitar), Nick Appleby (bass) and Scott McDonald (drums) could continue on without keeping the audience waiting. Meanwhile Peter Riccio of The Sawtelles, who was sitting front row right, took Bret’s guitar and restrung it. Bret was more than appreciative when the guitar was handed back to him and asked Peter what he wanted to hear, “Disinclined,” was Peter’s response, and although Bret hedged a bit – something about not playing it in a while, not having Jess, etc, - the Jellyshirts were on a roll, they were here to please, and it seemed like nothing could stop them from playing or doing anything they wanted to do, this was their night, they were on and they were going to give us Disinclined, and with that they launched into such a shattering rendition that by the time the final distortion feedback faded out and settled down the audience was tingling with awe.

I sat in that book store with one daughter sharing my chair, my wife and my other daughter beside us on a frosty Friday night in January, to share an evening of “up close & personal” music with them, in a cozy family friendly setting at a reasonable time (7:00 – 9:00PM) and cost (all they ask for is whatever you feel like
contributing to the tip jar) and as I sent my daughter to put some money in the tip jar, I had to smile, it made me feel good that I had spent this time not only with them, but with Bret Logan & The Jellyshirts, and with Frank Critelli as well.

Thank you Frank Critelli, Thank you Books & Co, Thank you Bret Logan & The Jellyshirts, and Thank you Songs From the Sofa.

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A Day At The Daff.
(a review of the 2004 Meriden Daffodil Festival)
 04-2004 by G.Gone

I report on this year’s Meriden Daffodil Festival from a unique perspective; as that of a volunteer, in which I was asked to manage the Welcome stage. You see, the Festival, which has been held on the last weekend in April every year now for the past 26 years, has three stages of continuous music for 2 solid days, as well as everything that constitutes an old fashion town festival on the green. There’s amusement rides for the kids, arts & crafts, a parade, a road race, and a tent bigger than the parking lot which hosts more food vendors than I can count. The vendors sell everything from Belgium waffles, funnel cakes, and fried dough, to Philly cheese steaks, chocolate covered strawberries, and chowder in bread bowls! And that just scratches the surface. But, in my eyes, first and foremost it is the music (notice how I placed it last ;-), that makes this event.

I’ve been involved with the Daffodil Festival and its music coordinator – ThinManMusic label owner Rob DeRosa, for the past 4 festivals. It is through him that I came to volunteer. I can’t go on enough about the amount of time that the Daffodil Festival committee and all the volunteers give to help see to the success of this down-home community event. And through it all, there is the music.

That’s how I ended up standing on the Welcome stage at 10:00AM Saturday morning this past Apr. 24th introducing Buzz Gordo to the sound man and one or two people walking by. Buzz was one half of the duo advertised as the McCormack Brothers, the other half was stranded in Mass. due to knee surgery. So Buzz goes on solo and plays such an energetic set that the many, many people arriving at the fest in the shuttle buses did stop to take it in. With the beautiful sun shinning and a bit of the early spring nip in the wind it was a glorious day in Hubbard Park and here was a guy entertaining no one in particular, but presenting a show complete with banter and song intros as if the stands were packed. Buzz Gordo was having a wonderful time singing and playing guitar, and it was infectious. Barry the sound guy and I shot each other knowing smiles, because this was starting out to be one of those rare musical days - there were many surprises around the corner…

Before I continue I must explain that while the stage times of all the bands on the 3 stages are staggered, it is virtually impossible to see every band playing each day (though Rob makes sure to catch at least one song by every band). Therefore, I apologize to all the bands that played and I do not mention (well over half), but I just couldn’t juggle managing the Welcome stage while trying to catch a bit on the Food Tent Stage and the Band Shell stage. Though I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to, with a little help from the Welcome Stage, I managed to see most of them.

After Buzz Gordo, it was The Furors and now there were fannies in the seats (and I believe fannies is the appropriate word of choice, for surely it is a type of description that would wind up in a Furors song). With Derek Holcomb failing spastically about on his electric guitar, producing sounds that jumped to life, the late April winds began to blow. Meanwhile, sitting behind a completely oblivious Derek, is Tom Dans. Stoic as ever he attempted to keep the rhythm on his drums while holding the falling over mic and singing his harmonies - even as the ever forceful winds were knocking his symbols and stand into the drum kit - but play on they did, and it was grand.

1:00 brought a certain swagger to the festival, from New Haven The Swaggerts ripped open the day with a searing set of Rockabilly that had the Goths in attendance smiling. Suffice to say the Goths were out in force, and guess what? They were having a good time, and when a Rockabilly band has the Goths smiling, that’s when you know it’s a good time.

At 2:00 I walked through the Food tent where River City Slim and The Zydeco Hogs were tearing it up with their Cajun / Zydeco set. If a band with an accordion and washboard (after which, by the way, you will never look at washboards the same again), can get your feet tapping and head bobbin’ in a brief 5 minute stroll, I can imagine what the whole set must’ve done. I met up with Frank Critelli (musician and fellow volunteer), as I walked over to the Bandshell stage, where The Management had just finished wrapping up. Frank informed me that they were his new favorite band – “An adolescent Stones – They ROCKED”.   Checking and seeing that Green Inside was up next at 2:30, I made a note to drop back and catch some of their set. But first I needed to introduced Mark Mulcahy on my stage (yes, by now the festival of music was soaring, and I was feeding off the proud feeling I had about managing the Welcome Stage, so that I was now referring to it as “my stage”)…

I got back to the stage and ex-Saucer and Miracle Legion artist Mark Mulcahy (local legend) and his band (featuring old Miracle Legion band mates and currently ½ of Frank Black’s Catholics) were setting up, it was 2:15 and fifteen minutes until I was needed to introduce them to a now gathering crowd. I decided to hit the bathroom and grab a bite. Returning with about 7 minutes before show time, I found Mark and the band beginning a song. As the tune slugged along and began to gather steam I walked over to “my” soundman Barry – “Getting a sound check?” “I guess so,” was Barry reply, “They didn’t say anything, but...” But, as Mulcahy and group continued to play it became evident that they were getting it going to a point that they weren’t stopping, and they didn’t. Song after song it became one of those special “one-of-a-kind” events where it just happens, and it did. I think those in attendance were astounded. Barry and I again smiled, the sun was high in the afternoon sky and this festival had just taken on that unique quality that only comes around so often in life, and it was good.

With the stands still abuzz over Mulcahy’s set, New Haven’s Godfather of rock James Velvet took the stage with the Mighty Catbirds and showed once again how roots rock ties together the vastness of the musical genres. At this point, having missed Green Inside, I took off to the Bandshell stage where The Reducers were shaking up the crowd on the great lawn with their original punk sounds of the 70s. I only caught 2 quick songs but it was appropriate with the way they were slamming ‘em down. It made me think of The Ramones and pogo-ing…ahh. Back at the Welcome stage the last half of the Catbirds set was a seminar on how great musicians work off each other. Dean Falcone on electric guitar, Dick Neal on mandolin, and Steve Combs on stand up bass walked in line with James’ rhythm. They coxed such beautiful sounds of majestic quality, that it gave you goose bumps.

Bunji was the last act to take the welcome stage on Saturday. As this young jam band with amazing chops was taking off, I took off, literally. I again sprinted down to the Bandshell stage where The Manchurians were in full flight. Their Chicago barroom R&B was blazing to a point where I could’ve sworn flames were shooting out of Mike Roth’s fingers while Roger C Real took over the stage in all its glory. People were drop-dead blown away as Midnight Train (my personal favorite) barreled through the speakers and had ‘em wailing in the aisles (on the lawn).

Dodging those rushing to the merchandise table for a copy of The Manchurians CD “One For All,” I made my way back to the Welcome stage and caught the final 15 minutes of Bunji’s, Dave Matthews tailored jams. Listening to how tight they were made it all that hard to believe that these were a bunch of teenagers, they played like they have been together for decades.

After closing the Welcome stage for the evening, I wandered into the Food tent. Lulled by the Traffic-like groove that Deep City Elm was laying on the crowd, I quickly found a seat, and mellowed into a sax-laced vibe. About the only thing missing here was an ice cold brewski.

Completely unwound by Deep City Elm’s excellent set, I gathered myself up and began my trek out. This led me by the Bandshell as Elvin Bishop and his band were playing the final set of the evening. Now, being one who has never been a fan of Southern Rock, and who never really followed Elvin Bishop, I had no desire to stick around (after all, beating the traffic was more of a concern to me at this point – hell, I already had 12 + hours of some dynamite music!). But, I did stop to take it all in; The Great Lawn that stretched out from the stage, the crowd of people groovin’ to a good time party band - and as I stood there, something began to happen – The Music – The music, of which genre I’ve never really cared for, began to move me. Before I knew it I was boppin’ along to Elvin and the 7 piece band of veteran artists, who I knew not of, but who I am sure many others could have rattled off their semi-famous names in a heartbeat to me. It all proved one thing, that no matter what style/genre you want to peg on it, if the music and the artists playing it are good, then damn they’re good. And, if the music is coming from the artists at an event that is presenting them, then Damn that event is good!

The Meriden Daffodil Festival, Rob DeRosa, all the performing Artists, and each and every volunteer make this musical event that damn good. I suggest you do not miss the next one. I’ll see you there in April, 2005.

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Frankie Does Daffodils
(a review of the 2002 Meriden Daffodil Festival)
 04-2002 by Frank Critelli

Coffee in hand (Dunkin Donuts french vanilla, light and sweet), wife in tow (Linda, the web-maintenance mistress) and already excited about the day's events, I rolled into Hubbard Park at 9am on Saturday and paced from empty stage to empty stage for the next two hours.
 As busses filled with families arrived and daffodil enthusiasts were greeted under colorful balloon arches by festival volunteers, a crowd began to gather in front of the Welcome Stage for CHICO & FRIENDS. Carlos "Chico" Gonzalez led his six-piece band of friends through an energetic set of covers and originals. The band (tight, semi-Latin flavored, almost jamband-esque) benefited greatly from Nicky Pinto on bass and a guest appearance by the young Joey Gonzalez on percussion.
 Meanwhile, KAT ROBERTS, backed by an acoustic trio (comprised of members of the Gonkus Brothers and County Line) played several sweet selections from her CD, Longest Day. Despite having reeled in only a tender amount of years, Kat's songs songs show a country-tinged voice of experience.
 We were off to a pretty good start...
 HIGH LONESOME PLAINS began their set right on time as
 the Daffodil Parade marched in behind the bandshell. Chris Buskey's writing has been labeled everything from folk to alt.country to plain ol' rock n' roll. HLP fits neatly into any of these categories while simultaneously defying them all...he's strong and eclectic, better than Ryan Adams and almost as good as Alex Chilton. Some of his songs are so simple and beautiful ("Apple Red") that it makes the listener wish they were four times as long. This set was an early musical highlight of the Daffodil Festival.
 The GONKUS BROTHERS held the sweet spot in the Food
 Tent Stage (12:30=lunchtime!). These guys have been around long enough to qualify as a Connecticut institution, and their set proved that experience counts for a lot. Even still, it was hard to stay in the Food Tent knowing that THE FURORS were about to begin on the Welcome Stage. But the Gonks were personable and fun, and as shit-kicking as it gets.
 The quirky, Almighty FURORS have been a Connecticut band for going on 30 years. Cool and wildly respected, they drew longtime New Haven musicians and scenesters like Hank Hoffman, Shellye Valauskas, Matt Reale, Kathleen Cei (and her sister, a newly converted Furors Fan), Chris Arnott, Kathleen Rooney, Dave Gouge, and Chris Buskey...not to mention CT
 Congressman Jim Maloney who enjoyed a song or two before heading off to schmooze somewhere. The Furors unique style of pop songs delights many, confuses some and leaves others twisting in the wind. Passers-by clapped or smiled in bewilderment; one young marching band drummer from the parade even offered his percussive additions while tagging along behind his parents. Always intriguing performers, The Furors are the subject of an upcoming local tribute record (called GET FURIOUS! on the ThinManMusic label), a two CD set of local artists covering Furors songs. A bigger testament to the appeal and greatness of this band I cannot imagine. Derrick danced like a young Pete Townsend and Tom shook himself loose through a strange and superb hour-long set. More! More, I say!!
 THE TROLLOPS!? Late...in true young, sloppy rebellious rock n' roller fashion. Duo for the first song, trio for the next few with drummer Pasquale D'Albis (of Mark Mulcahy), and finally, all members present, the Trollops broke into loud, charmingly out-of-tune, annoy-your-parents swagger. Move over Frank Sinatra!
 "These guys are good," Linda said as we sat in the cool grass in front of THE MANCHURIANS. Matt and Roger Reale and Mike Roth have enough industry credits (written songs for Buddy Guy, BB King) and rock n' blues balls to headline a festival like this. The green hill by the Band Shell Stage filled with music fans as Bob Orsi breathed a hurricane into his harmonica, Mike Roth manically strangled his lime-sherbet colored Stratocaster, Roger Reale selflessly gave his fat-bottomed bass and gravel voice and Matt Reale pounded a heavy heartbeat with gloved hands. Heads bobbed like apples in a bucket, children danced and the sun shined during this afternoon highlight.
 **Special Observation on Mark Mulcahy..by Chris Buskey:
 The Furors and MARK MULCAHY woke up on the Mayflower together to perform a stirring version of the song
 replete with "Ba-Da-Das" provided by Dans, Holcomb and the rest. In this version "Mister Ray" became "fat Old Ray." And this time, Ray really had gotten himself outta here. My favorite new Mulcahy hit is a sort of swinging bluesy take on the "ABC Song." Syncopated and with background vocals by some kids in the crowd, the song took on a whole new feel. Although, I'm not sure if anyone else was laughing as much as I.
 Just after Mulcahy, the grass in front of the Band Shell Stage began to thicken with people salivating for ROGER McGUINN. Armed with a 12-string acoustic and his familiar Rickenbacker, McGuinn played a mix of old folk songs and favorites by Bob Dylan and the Byrds. Was it 8000? 9000? 10,000 people that sang along? I have no idea...I just know that every person on that hill was dumbfounded when McGuinn sang or spoke, exploded into applause and cheers as he raked the final chords to each classic tune and was silent again as they waited for his next song or story. In front of me, two long-lost friends reunited to the songs they remembered from their youth. They hugged while remembering...remembering...but they were so much older then--they're younger than that now.
 Sunday: Rain, rain, go away!
 The Shellye Valauskas Experience braved the Sunday storm and played in full five-piece splendor under the shelter of the food tent. Semi-shy and somewhat waterlogged, Shellye and bassist Kris Santala harmonized in the drizzle. Dean Falcone, red guitar in hand, warmed his fingers on his coffee cup (courtesy of the Lion's Club). In his over-sized leather coat and floppy hat, he almost resembled the Elephant Man, and believe me, he played just as big! Undistracted by the cameraman on stage, the band expertly played selections from The Stupid Truth, their debut CD due out in June. Despite having learned several of the songs within the previous 48 hours, Maya Rossi's violin was a beautiful addition, and Bruce Crowder held everybody together with his steady hands.
 THE NIELDS finished off the festival in delicious two-part harmony and songs about stuffed animals. I'd write all about their performance if I thought they needed the press, but the truth is that everything positive to be said about them has already been said a thousand times. I like them very much, but they sound so much like people from MunchkinLand that I have a difficult time figuring out what they are singing!
 (Incidently, Frank Critelli played a fine set sandwiched between Shellye Valauskas and the Neilds. Somebody needs to look more closely at this unassuming, yet extremely competent songwriter. Please!?)
 Final Thoughts:
 1. Next year is the 25th Daffodil Festival Anniversary.
     BE THERE.
 2. Rob DeRosa, my friend, we all thank you from the bottom of our local-music-loving hearts. You are, in deed, the MAN.

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     If you have enjoyed what you've read, Please stop by here to the Tremens pages often, for we will continue to update these musings at various intervals. If you wish to comment/respond to anything posted to this page, feel free to write us at:   include the word Tremens in the subject line, and we just might post it along side our foray's into the written word.

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