[originally published in The Noise, a most excellent Boston-area music magazine published by T Max – you can read the original here]
There is no way NO WAY to write a summer preview that isn’t entirely heinous. It’s just a given. Summer previews are, almost without exception, a week off for writers so they can just put in a list of projects, interspersed with liberally quoted press releases, and thus not have to say or invent anything real for a change. Also a week off for readers, who are best served by a quick scan of the list to note anything they’re remotely interested in, so they can catch up with it later when it’s actually happening and being written about by someone other than publicists. Summer previews suck—it has always been thus.
And with that let’s see what’s happening on the tiny peninsula of Cape Cod, an area that, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, scarcely exists except for two or three months a year, and whose greatest contribution to the world of pop culture in the last 50 years was made by Moulty & the Barbarians.
Or was it? I have to admit that there’s actually a larger amount of music being made by regular people out here that doesn’t suck than I’ve ever perceived before (and I’ve lived out here for, like, seven, maybe eight hundred years.) I offer, as evidence, Tripping Lily, Patty Larkin, the Greenheads, the Parkington Sisters, Kami Lyle, the Spampinato Brothers, the Ticks, Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias Bossi and whatever they’re called this week, Sarah Swain, Fred Fried, Bruce Maclean (aka Link Montana), Polka Dan & His Beetbox Band, and all my stupid bands [Ed: readers should know that some of the bands that Chandler, I mean Thurston, plays in are the Incredible Casuals, the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, & Three-O, and the Catbirds].
And christ, what I really wanna say more than anything else is, to whoever I forgot in my journalist schmear, I love you and you are great and good and I’m so sorry if I haven’t included you, but I have 20 minutes to finish this fucking thing now, and fuck off (but in a nice way.)
God, I can’t believe I’m doing this! This is such a bad idea…
So, anyway, if you can see any of these people, you really should. Let’s see why and where or something: Tripping Lily—very appealing young quartet (counting the bassist, the always estimable Laird Boles, tho who does count bassists, anyway?) (and I speak as a bassist, myself, a really fucking bitter bassist.) (And don’t think I won’t be using that word “fuck” again pretty soon, to pep things up as needed) (and more parentheses! parentheses are great) with great harmonies working around a single mic. My favorite song of theirs is a Christmas song called “Santa Will Find You” that’s just such a stunner, go buy it now, please. Do yourself a favor, NOW!! I’ll wait here.
Take all the time you need.
Right. They’ve got a handful of shows up on their website, trippinglily.com, two with the Cape Cod Symphony (which they did last year, too, so it must’ve gone okay; and a couple of Citizens Bank Summer Concert Series appearances, in Hyannis and Chatham for free outdoor shows on July 3 and August 8.
(I’m definitely never doing this again. I shouldn’t be doing it now.)
Oh, crap: end of first page, one band covered. I told you this would suck. Stop reading, NOW! JUST STOP.
Okay, your life…
Well, the Greenheads I like so much I stole their guitar player. And their bass player frequently rides horses with my wife, the humblingly lovely Mrs. Kelp, the brazen slattern for whom shame is just the name of a Western hero mis-spelled; or, at least, did until she got (as the Unknown Hinson would say) “pregnunt again.” I speak, of course, of Sarah Swain, who’s in about 12 bands, and just finished up her second album (recorded at David Minehan’s Woolly Mammoth studio, with her band, Jerry Smith, Liam Hogg and Ron Siegel as well as special appearances by Terry Adams of NRBQ, Steve Wood of the Greenheads/ Catbirds, the Ticks, and Monica Rizzio of Tripping Lily.) Sarah even covers one of my fabulous songs, poor thing. She’ll be doing a handful of jobs this summer and then having Stanley.
The Greenheads guitar player I stole is Steve Wood, who is a brute, and who plays with Rikki Bates, Dinty Child, and myself in the Catbirds—we’ve got a new album, “Catbirds Say Yeah,” coming out in about twenty minutes. I’ve stolen him before; he’s ridiculous. We’ll be working at the Juice in Wellfleet, the Starvin’ Marlin in Brewster, Bubala’s in P’town, the Beachcomber in Wellfleet… anywhere with the requisite $45.
Oops, forgot singer/ songwriter/ fab guitarist Patty Larkin, who’s, like, clearly one of our best and brightest and has been all along. Patty plays rarely locally, but when she does it’s always a special occasion, and she’s a very special and magnetic performer. Looks like we only get a couple of cracks at her this summer in Massachusetts, August 2 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and in Wellfleet (her hometown) at the Congregational Church on August 9 (a benefit for Peaked Hill Trust.)
Speaking of maddeningly gifted guitarists, if you’re a guitar player and you really want to feel like shit and a total slacker, check out Orleans jazz guitarist Fred Fried, who plays the eight-string guitar (I’ve told him this is cheating, having extra strings; he does not care.) His wizardry is not of the lightning-fast ilk, but of the crazy chord clusters family, and can be experienced Wednesdays at the Lyric in Yarmouthport and at Bubala’s in P’town (in that order, perhaps); and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at Mooncusser’s in Harwichport, Stewart’s in Eastham, and the Harvest in Dennis, respectively (all nice restaurants that also serve music, the pick of the litter being Bubala’s and the Harvest Gallery Wine Bar.)
Look, this is running long, I can’t get all these people in here, I’m totally screwed!
You’ve got to see Kami Lyle, whose husband, bassist Joey Spampinato (NRBQ, Keith Richards) accompanies her, along with guitarist Tad Price; Kami’s a keyboardist/trumpetist/total babe and one of the funniest people in the world, and she’ll be playing Wednesdays at Bubala’s (although that’s what Fred said, too—one of ’em has to be lying) and a whole lot of Mondays at the Harvest Gallery Wine Bar in Dennis, as well as some Arts Foundation of Cape Cod Summer Concerts at Brooks Park in Harwich at 6pm, Monday, July 16,and at Peg Noonan Park in Falmouth on Friday, Aug. 10 (also 6pm, also free).
Carla Kihlstedt is the violinist and singer for (until recently) a largely instrumental band called Tin Hat (formerly the Tin Hat Trio) and she, too, is just a ridiculously exquisite musician with an extraordinary range, which her husband percussionist, etc.-ist, helps her exploit to the fullest in a variety of settings (among them, the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Now You, and other exotically named projects. Tin hat’s new album, which Carla describes as “the usual tin hat intimate chamber vibe with the occasional well-placed doozy of a horn or string arrangement,” also includes some e.e. cummings poems set to music, and the previews I heard last spring were exceptional; as is their new Rabbit Rabbit Radio project, a subscription series where, for a dollar a month, you get a (usually fairly elaborate) new song, plus a new video, and some blogs, but presented so nicely, the word “blog” won’t even occur to me. This stuff is definitely on the edge-y side for the land of cod, but fascinating, and YAY!
And Zoe Lewis, jesus, you gotta see Zoe, whose voice reminds me of a young Ella Fitzgerald (and higher flattery doesn’t exist.) She’ll be playing the Viking Princess Sunset Cruise out of MacMillan Wharf in P’town every Wednesday, as well as occasional appearances at the Velvet Lounge and Cabaret (in P’town), Bubala’s, Welllfleet Pres Hall and the Harvest. They’re also bringing back her musical, Snail Road, which will return to an undisclosed location in Provincetown (perhaps the Art House, which is where it was last year) for two weeks in September.
And now I’m just fucking out of room, but check out one of the Cape’s goodest r’n’r bands, the Spampinato Brothers, July 8 at the Wellfleet Beachcomber with the Baseball Project, July 19 for free at the Nauset Beach gazebo in Orleans, and July 20 at Passim in Boston. And Bruce Maclean AKA Link Montana, who sometimes plays with dem Spampinatos and they with him, at the Pearl in Wellfleet every Sunday afternoon, as well as Joe’s Beach Bar in Orleans, O’Shea’s (a fairly fab Irish bar), the Sandbar, and the ubiquitous Harvest in Dennis. You may sometimes spot my drummer, Rikki Bates, tapping along gently to Link’s island rhythms.
I’ve completely left out the Parkington Sisters and Polka Dan’s Beetbox Band, respectively one our loveliest and least lovely local products. You should find out where they’re playing and go. (The Parkingtons do the Facebook/ Myspace thang, and their albums and live shows are full of wondrous moments; the Polka Dan bunch also do the Facebook thang, and their drummer David knocked a bunch of stuff over last Christmas, and they’re kind of hilarious.
And the Ticks, omigod, the Ticks, how could I forget the Ticks! The Ticks are the cutest band ever, probably even cuter than the Elbows… it’s like if Jonathan Richman had three girlfriends, and then disappeared himself! They must be playing somewhere… quick, check theticks.com.
You may also spot some of my 12 bands, including the previously alluded to Catbirds, the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, Philharmonette, and Three-O, and even the Incredible Casuals, most of whom will be relentlessly underfoot throughout summah, 2012, at many of the afore-mentioned venues. (Sorting may be accomplished at surprise!… chandlertravis.com).