Here’s some things that happened this year:
Lots of New CDs By Local Musicians: By my count, eleven (counting Patty Larkin, who would be something of a ringer) -which seems like quite a few. The pick of the litter (excepting Patty, whose praises I’ve been singing regularly already, and McCawley Burke, whose recent release I’ve not yet heard) arrived toward the end of the year in the form of debut releases from the High Kings and Anna Whiteley, who have much in common in terms of experience, talent, and promise -not to mention that both Anna and High King Jay Cournoyer hail from the Hyannis band Form Alex.Both of these are assured and interesting pieces of work -and flawed, too; but the flaws are mostly from restlessness and from taking chances, and those are the right reasons. They also share particularly good singing, occasional great songs, and a bit of personality (they also both include tracks from Brewster’s latest addition to the recording world, Aaron Spade’s tiny Shack studio). What should happen is that they’ll get enough encouragement locally to proceed immediately to their follow-up releases, which I’ll bet will be way better; in the meantime, what we have here is pretty good already, and they’re both experienced, fun live acts.The rest of the Class of ‘97 was remarkably varied, including punks (Philthshack, whose lead singer Tom Fettig originated the famous Qua-hawk hair style); rhythm‘n’blues guys (the Journeymen Rhythm Section, whose leader Michael Canfield is one of the best rock’n’roll drummers I’ve ever heard); swooshy synthesizer guys (Bionaut -if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: they’re swooshy!); “mainstream” rockers (Borrowed Time -who can just thank their lucky stars I don’t have anything personal on them -yet); “alternative” guys (the Lucky Charms -who don’t really even live here, but what the heck); interesting, arty acousticians (Eric Carter with fellow San Franciscans Mumble and Peg -he used to live here); slightly southern rock thingbluespeople (John Sedlock -definitely, definitely lives here); and everything else the really bright young people of today care about (Mike Iacuessa’s the “Cape Cod Underground Experience” compilation -about forty teenagers who live in my basement, which my wife, the angelic yet ebullient Mrs. Kelp, says is getting “rather crusty” as a result).
- Some Cool New Bands Started Up: namely Electric Swing Set and Earth Jr., both featuring former members of the Press (I believe); Nikolai Svishov’s Electric-Acoustic Siberian Jazz Trio, who may not be locals in the strictest sense, but for a few satisfying months this summer, they had the same itinerary; Space Posse, risen from the ashes of Space Pussy; and the more recent Come Ons (risen from the ashes of the Incredible Casuals), who debuted only recently (propriety, good taste, and a strict moral code are the only thing preventing me from mentioning the Chandler Travis Philharmonic here; phew, that was close).
- Some Cool Old Bands Packed It In: the afore-mentioned Space Pussy and the Incredible Casuals, though we’ll keep checking for vital signs…
- There Were Some Great Shows By Some Amazing Bands From Off-Cape: like NRBQ at the Barley Neck, the Skatalites at the WOMR benefit, and (most amazingly) Ray Davies at Cape Cod Community College (fellow Kinks fanatics will also want to know that brother Dave Davies has also surfaced for some noisy band shows in the northeast lately -at Lupo’s in Providence, for instance -and that reports were very encouraging). I also heard wonderful things about Burning Spear at the Beachcomber and David Byrne at the Melody Tent.
- It Was the Best Summer for Weather I Can Even Remember: in a reckless display of rapture and enthusiasm, I actually left the house.
- Michael Jordan Won the “Best Dancer” Title Yet Again: nobody does it better than the Second Hardest Working Man in Show Business.
- Link Montana Said That Tim Dickey Was Getting Really Loud and Wild on Guitar: I went back in my house.
- The Barley Neck Re-emerged as a Great Place to Hear Music: after a period of inactivity, owners Joe and Kathy brought the place back as a (much improved) music and dancing room in the off-season. The only other interesting developments on the club scene were the openings of the Riptide in Eastham (hopefully, they’ll survive a first season that was not without growing pains, following a strong opening) and the Sou’wester in Chatham (who did an excellent job of sound-proofing, and who seem to be hanging in there). Otherwise, the status quo was maintained, thanks to the fine efforts of the folks at places like Rick’s in Eastham, The Wellfleet Beachcomber, and the Land Ho in Orleans
- First Year With No Dick: Wetmore, that is, who had the temerity to stay with wife Marge in Florida for the whole year, despite being extensively missed hereabouts.
- Some Radio Stations Got Stronger, Some Evaporated: WOMR got a stronger signal, and WUNX -the modern rock station -went bye-bye.
- Trendy Rock Columnists Got More and More Money For Doing Practically Nothing: I can dream, can’t I?