New England Music

Current question: What should be the first person, band, or thing (radio station, record label, nightclub...) inducted into a New England Music Scrapbook Hall of Fame?

-- Alan Lewis, January 19, 2003

The NEW ENGLAND MUSIC SCRAPBOOK has started a free e-mail newsletter about the region's popular music, past and present, with an emphasis on the here and now. We're now (Tuesday, April 22, 2003) working on our tenth issue, we have a growing mailing list, and our newsletter is drawing a very nice response from readers. But ... I don't see you on the mailing list. Imagine what you've been missing. Don't be left out! To subscribe or to request a sample copy, simply write to Alan Lewis at

Have you heard about Maria McLaughlin's "Weekly Band E-Mail"? In it, she gives show listings, concentrating on (but not limited to) the Boston-Cambridge-Somerville area. To subscribe, write Maria at

Then, too, have you heard about my friend JoEllen's "Rockin' in Boston" broadcast and Webcast on Allston-Brighton Free Radio? ( Here are some details:


Rockin' in Boston


Every week on Friday


7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.


The local sounds that make our city great

2002 was a great year, in many ways, for music in New England. Some of this is chronicled in our 2002 Year-in-Review.


"The next show of Skypaint: A Popopera will be performed on Saturday, February 22 at The Lizard Lounge on 1667 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA. (under the Cambridge Common restaurant), between Harvard and Porter Squares. For information call (617) 547-0759. Doors open at 9:00. Jennifer Matthews will open up the show at 9:30. Our last show sold out, so it may be wise to order tickets in advance."

-- Alan Lewis, February 17, 2003



We're shooting to publish the first issue of our newsletter around next weekend. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether we'll make it--probably better. All I can say is we're going to try. If you'd like me to add your name to our newsletter mailing list, now would seem to be a good time.

Many of the items that I've posted on this page were in some way time-sensitive; and except for those that come up at the very last minute, such items would not be appropriate for our newsletter. I may continue posting those things here, time permitting.

-- Alan Lewis, February 16, 2003



It became apparent a couple weeks ago that the upcoming Robin Lane and the Chartbusters CD-release party at the Middle East downstairs (on the 15th) was going to attract a good deal of media attention, with features of one sort or another planned by the Globe, Herald, and Phoenix. A great interview aired last Thursday on NPR, and it may be accessed via the Robin Lane official Web site. The interview was conducted with Lane and Tim Jackson. I had heard, read, and enjoyed Lane's interviews many times before; but except for the brief article in the Globe, following the first breakup of the Chartbusters in the '80s, this is the first time I remember getting a lot from Jackson. He's a very thoughtful & articulate interview and a great spokesperson for this vital band. The interview is well worth checking out. The opening groups include Red Chord and Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band. I'm hoping my own review of the latest Willie Loco reissue will run in this Friday's Globe, in connection with the show. The Boom Boom Band, itself, ought to be a big draw this weekend. I always loved that outfit but never thought it was recorded properly. Anyway, sharing the bill with two serious attractions, Red Chord ought to be doing alright this weekend. They're getting a grand opportunity. May they make the most of it. Meanwhile, I'm expecting this show to be an easy sellout, and getting tickets early might not be a bad idea.

Since I posted that item on Wednesday, Ted Drozdowski has published his "Cellars by Starlight" column about Robin Lane and the Chartbusters in Thursday's Boston Phoenix. Among much else, it brought out this telling exchange between Tim Jackson and Asa Brebner:

Jackson The younger music is show business. That idea of 'too old to rock and roll' doesn't mean anything anymore. When it's show business, you want fresh meat out there -- good-looking bodies and fresh faces...
Brebner Itís like porno
Jackson ... like in the movies.

Jackson went on to say, "We're part of one of the first generations that made a living playing rock and roll, and we've got to define that like the old blues and jazz guys did."

Drozdowski's "Cellars by Starlight" column is well worth getting one's hands on and reading.


On the bill with Robin Lane and the Chartbusters at the Middle East on Saturday night is the highly influential Boston outfit, Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band. These guys are reason enough to brave this winter's cold all by themselves. Half the New England Music Scrapbook team will be there. I, alas, am in Vermont, in the shadow of Fort Apache, and am pretty much grounded. But in my ongoing effort to be a part of this show, anyway, I contributed a review of the latest WA reissue to Friday's Boston Globe. (You've got to scroll pretty far down in the review column to find it. It's in the middle in the printed copy.) I wrote short and it was edited further for length. So, expect a really quick read. Nonetheless, Solo Loco was a well-received album and Solo Loco Redux (CD, Captain Trip 410, 2002; original LP New Rose, 1981) is even better. Why not celebrate Valentine's Day with "I Love You 'Cause Your Eyes Are Crossed," "Gin," and "Bebopalula" like you've never heard it before!


A couple days ago, we ran a headline about Fort Apache's move from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Bellows Falls, Vermont. The press release is dated February 11, 2003. Here's the first part.

Fort Apache Moves to Bellows Falls, VT.
Internationally Known Artist Management Firm Announces First Area Show
The Stone Coyotes To Headline March 29th.

Fort Apache, Boston's legendary recording studio turned artist management firm moved to Bellows Falls and opened for business at the beginning of 2003. Originating in Roxbury, Mass., in 1986, Fort Apache Recording Studios produced records by the seminal figures of alternative rock including The Pixies, Radiohead, Morphine, Belly, Juliana Hatfield, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and many others. From 1995 onward, Fort Apache began managing recording artists from their studio roster including Juliana Hatfield and Belly. By 1998, among others, the firm added pop music icon Natalie Merchant to its list of clients.

In January of this year Fort Apache opened its offices in Bellows Falls and welcomed aboard manager Gabriel Unger and his clients, singer/songwriter Lori McKenna and Boston rocker Meghan Toohey's band The So and So's.

Well, welcome to the neighborhood, Fort Apache! I've been in Windham County, Vermont, since 1970. Next time you're in Brattleboro, stop by and say hello.

Fort Apache has often connected with serious talent, and the names mentioned this far into the press release suggest that their winning streak is continuing. A lot of our Boston visitors may not know the name, the Stone Coyotes. But Barbara Keith and family make up one of the best rock bands out of New England. And if you haven't experienced the Barbara Keith Paradox, you've missed a lot. Barbara Keith was in the '60s band Kangaroo with John Hall (and our own N. D. Smart II of Barry and the Remains fame), and she introduced John to Johanna. She wrote "Free the People," which was a hit for Delaney and Bonnie circa 1970/1971 and covered by many artists including Barbra Streisand. Then she had a major-label solo album, Barbara Keith (LP, Warner Bros., 1972), in the first wave of singer-songwriters that followed the success of James Taylor. Advanced word on Barbara is often that she's a folk-circuit singer-songwriter with a little twang in her music. And that is one of the things that Barbara can do. So, you go to a Stone Coyotes show expecting to see a '60s veteran doing a country/folk thing. What you get, instead, is a slender woman with dark hair, sunglasses 24/7, and a really young voice who comes out with her amp cranked and blasting. Drummer Doug Tibbles and bassist John Tibbles give her performances a diesel-locomotive beat. Barbara calls her music punk, and clearly she's a big fan of classic heavy metal. On the Stone Coyotes' latest album, Ride Away from the World (CD, Red Cat 11, 2002), she covers Black Sabbath. A lot of people get a big surprise the first time they hear the Stone Coyotes. The new album made my 2002 Top Ten. Last year's disc was my Rock Album of the Year, and one track was my Rock Anthem of the Year. Needless to say, Barbara Keith and her Stone Coyotes please me ... a lot.

I can't put my hands on my copy of Meghan Toohey's album. So I'd better not comment on that one, except to say that the production of her "Silver," the Meghan Toohey and the So and So's track on Respond II (CD, Catalyst 5004, [2003]), is much improved. I'll be very interested to hear more from her. Lori McKenna's Pieces of Me (CD, Gyrox, 2001) also made last year's Top 10. In my view, McKenna has the talent to be among the nation's greatest singer-songwriters of this decade; and if she does, we'll all be winners.


I never understood the lawsuit, which I believe raged last year, over ownership of the rights to the name, the Beach Boys. Did you? Maybe it's a California thing, though; 'cause now we have John Densmore's lawsuit over the name, the Doors. The issues, if real issues there be, revolve around a tour called The Doors: 21st Century, involving Robbie Krieger & personal fave Ray Manzarek of The Doors (no century specified), Ian Astbury of the Cult, and Stewart Copeland of the Police. You can read all about it in a Los Angeles Times feature that is republished in today's Boston Globe. Well, that's what it's called anyway until the Taylor family sues over the use of the name, Boston Globe. We don't think we should comment on this controversy ourselves, though, when we can get expert testimony from Jim/Roger McGuinn of The Byrds and the Byrds or Paul McCartney of the hit songwriting team, McCartney and Lennon. We'll also ask Yoko Ono, if we can catch her on her way out of her lawyer's office.

-- Alan Lewis, February 15, 2003



We have a bit of a time shortage today. I overslept by a whopping two and a half hours(!) and am now paying the piper. But I feel GREAT! I think I can probably manage getting off to an earlier start tomorrow.

-- Alan Lewis, February 14, 2003



Today's mail brought sad news from Joanne Codi about the death of Marie Goulart, the mother of Peter Hunt who founded the '80s Boston band, the Dream. Our sympathy goes out to the family and to all who knew Marie Goulart and mourn her loss. Joanne's message included this:

Marie Goulart
Of Cambridge and Arlington, February 9, 2003. Loving mother of Eileen M. Hunt of Fort Lauderdale, FL, David M. Hunt of Weare, NH and Peter J. Hunt of Methuen, MA. Funeral from the Keefe Funeral Home 2175 Mass Ave. North Cambridge Thursday at 10 am. Funeral Mass at St. John's Church at 11 am. Relatives and friends invited. Visiting hours Wednesday 4-8 pm. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association 36 Cameron Ave. Cambridge MA 02140.
The Boston Globe death notice added that "Marie was a retired Cambridge School Teacher."


"For Immediate Release February 11, 2003. Fort Apache Moves to Bellows Falls, VT. Internationally Known Artist Management Firm Announces First Area Show: The Stone Coyotes To Headline March 29th."
Fort Apache has relocated to my backyard. I didn't know. This is interesting, indeed. I sure hope to get back to this one. Meanwhile, here's a decent description of the Stone Coyotes from the press release. "They don't really seem to care about the business, about what's current, about which teenaged vixen in a pushup bra is getting attention this minute[;] but they extol the disappearing virtues of wild kids like Jerry Lee Lewis and Joey Ramone."

RIP: Haywood Sullivan, 72.

-- Alan Lewis, February 13, 2003



Today's Boston Globe includes the extensive obituary, "Ruby Braff, 75, jazz cornetist with elegant style." I seldom write about jazz and know Braff primarily for that very elegance of his playing style alluded to in the Globe headline. It seems to me that, buried away somewhere (since moving), we have a number of recordings with him on the Concord Jazz label. Anyway, though the news of Braff's death is sad, no doubt many of our readers will want to see his obituary in today's paper.


"The New Seattle?: Shadows Fall symbolize a born-again music scene that's thriving ... to a point" That's the theseis that Chris Harris presented in the music section of last week's Hartford Advocate. Last week's? Yeah, at the time of this writing, the current issue hasn't been posted yet. If the Chris Harris feature article interests you, you'll probably need to go to the Hartford Advocate's music section, scroll down to near the bottom of the page, and pick it out from among the "Previously in Music" listings. The introductory paragraphs strike me as being full of one false premise after another, but I suspect this article will make more sense to at least some of our visitors. Anyway, ever since the Bosstown promotion of 1968, reading about how our music scene is about to explode has always been fun.

-- Alan Lewis, February 12, 2003



According to today's Boston Globe

A study at the University of California at Berkeley has determined that the volume of information generated in 2001 and 2002 from e-mail messages, government documents, business meetings, Internet sites, newspaper stories, cable programming, and scientific data exceeded all of the information produced throughout human history to that point.
We're proud that you've chosen us to be a part of your information overload.


This just in from former Del Fuegos guitarist, Warren Zanes:

I'm back from my three-week tour with the Wallflowers and now prepare to celebrate the March 4th release of my CD, Memory Girls. . . .


The Skinny at 625 Congress Street in Portland, Maine, hosts its last show tonight. It also happens to be the club's third anniversary celebration. It is, of course, the height of efficiency to plan both events for the same evening. In honor of this occasion, Sam Pfeifle wrote a piece for the current (February 6, 2003) issue of the Portland Phoenix, and we believe his article will be of interest to many of our visitors.

-- Alan Lewis, February 11, 2003



Darien Brahms has been a star of Maine's music community for many years, receiving high praise from the state's press. The Portland Phoenix, for instance, called her one of the area's "most charismatic, hardest working, and most versatile performers." Brahms has called her music "retro-progressive." Her wonderful Little Bundle of Sugar (CD, Red Sparkle RSR 2000-2, 2000) nicely fits that description. The music, at its heart, springs from an abundant late '60s well, set off against country-rock ("Box of Nothing"), ska ("Back Porch"), and a little bundle of punk ("Go Down on You"). Brahms' deep, rich voice is smoky on her catchiest song, "Anyway." We were just informed by e-mail that the followup, Green Valentine, is expected out in May. Can't wait.


Not often, but sometimes, we write up acts from outside the region. I'm particularly open to New Yorkers, because of the tremendous exchange between the club scenes of that city and those of New England. I received Mary McBride's Everything Seemed Alright (CD, Bogan, 2002) quite by accident and immediately thought Martina McBride. Never again. This is one hot country singer. She reminds me of Casey Chambers and, going way back, Lacy J. Dalton. But don't put a lot of stock in comparisons. McBride's music is full of a special grit and fire all its own; and unlike the stars of mainstream country radio, she sings songs worth hearing. The title track is a Fred Eaglesmith collaboration, with whom she has shared many stages. And another highlight is Eaglesmith's "Rev It Up." "Boys" was written with Elizabeth Ziff, who seems to be the same person as one-third of the great NYC harmony group, Betty. Expect to be hearing a lot more about Mary McBride.


As NYC's Mary McBride is staging an acoustic-duo invasion of Vermont this month, so Vermont's Lindner Brothers, Banjo Dan and Willie of Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys fame, are venturing off to Albany, New York, to open for Del McCoury at the Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center on February 14. This is what Dan Lindner had to say in a prelude to a list of the duo's upcoming engagements:

While the rest of the Plowboys are spending the cold months resting on their laurels or other parts of their anatomy, Banjo Dan and Willy are enjoying an active off-season. The Lindner Brothers have several new gigs lined up, and we'd love to have you join us for some good old-time acoustic music. The show features traditional country duets, gospel songs and novelty numbers, along with a few instrumentals and originals--just good down-home fun, the way country music used to be.

-- Alan Lewis, February 10, 2003


BOSTON GLOBE 2/9/2003 :

Today's Boston Globe is just loaded with great material. Cercie Miller is a gifted jazz saxophonist, though many of our visitors may remember her best for her days in the '80s supergroup, Girls Night Out. She has a letter to the editor in the "Letters and Commentary" feature of the Arts section. Scott Alarik has a feature article about the Ribbon of Highway-Endless Skyway tour, which is expected to hit Boston on February 22. The article quotes Sarah Lee Guthrie and Ellis Paul, both who have strong regional ties. I prize Ellis Paul for many things, not the least of which is that he's from farther north in Maine than I am. His latest disc, The Speed of Trees (CD, Philo, 2002), is the best of his records that I've heard and was one of my 2002 Top 20 picks. I have heard altogether too little of Sarah Lee Guthrie, though I love her voice and singing style; and Alarik highly praises her songwriting. I did meet her once, though; and mercy! is she attractive. Her husband, Johnny Irion, was doing a soundcheck, so I didn't meet him. (He sounded great, though.) His look, as I recall, was Happy Traum meets (our own) Allen Devine. Irion is a close family connection of author John Steinbeck, who ranks high in my pantheon for his posthumous volume, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. Alarik also has a piece about upcoming folk music shows, including an April 4 David Buskin and Robin Batteau reunion at the Somerville Theatre, with Mary Gauthier opening the concert. Finally, in connection with a Dar Williams April 12 appearance at the Orpheum Theatre, Alarik mentions a new album (in stores Feb. 18), The Beauty of the Rain (CD, Razor & Tie, 2003), which he described as "her loveliest, most mature, insightful, and kindhearted record yet." I guess she's the new good witch, Glinda! Steve Morse's spring preview is about the gospel music Hopeville Tour, which is planned to be at the Worcester Centrum Centre on Valentine's Day. Unless you live pretty close to downtown Boston, you may not get the City Weekly section in your Sunday Globe; but it's available for a week online. Today's issue has Donovan Slack's "On the margins of love" How do you work Boston's meat markets and not become jaded?" Our setup pretty much means we'll read most of the features sometime the following week; but a quick glance suggests that this one is about Boston's singles scene and appears to be good reading whether the reader is single or not.


Do you remember the name, Paul Arnoldi? Well, if you were around Boston in the '60s or if you've read the classic book, Baby, Let Me Follow You Down, you might. Arnoldi filled in for John Cooke one summer with that venerable Cambridge bluegrass/old-timey music band, the Charles River Valley Boys (who had a reunion concert in Nashville planned for right about now). An e-mail message dated the 5th contained the following:

A new cd is close at hand and want to spread the word, however I can. The cd is a replication of a 12" album from the eighties, pretty much totally redone, and with [the] song, NO MORE WAR, remixed and included. I actually kind of like the whole thing, finally! Just sent it to a Roger Siebel in Phoenix to be mastered.
A number of years ago, he released an album called Arnoldi that rounded up such members of the old Club 47 crowd as Richard Greene, Mitch Greenhill, Bruce Langhorn, and the great Fritz Richmond. The version of "Duncan and Brady" that's included is my personal favorite. And the engineer broke precedent by using an actual microphone to mike Richmond, so he sounds better than I've ever heard him. "John Riley," on the same album, is a wonder in the way it mixes speaking & singing, and it makes me wonder if that performance echoes those of bards of the Dark Ages. Perhaps Arnoldi's got a little Merlin in him.

-- Alan Lewis, February 9, 2003


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