Favorite Calvin & Hobbs
(yellowed from years in the wallet)
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
how I ended up standing on the Welcome stage at 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
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.
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 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 , 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 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.
stands still abuzz over Mulcahy’s set,
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
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.
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.
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