René Marie: Music for These Times

RenéŽ Marie
MotŽma Music, RubyBird Studios – Brooklyn
December 17, 2015,

My favorite artist of 2017 didn’t even release an album this year. René Marie first came to my attention in 2013 with the release of “I Wanna Be Evil,” a collection of songs originally recorded by Eartha Kitt. Later that year I saw here in Tree of Life, a production of the remarkable SPARC Live Art Series.

I was impressed, but it wasn’t until I picked up The Sound of Red, her most recent CD, released in May of 2016, that I really began to appreciate when a gigantic talent she is. Of course I digitized the CD and listened to it constantly on my iPhone, but if it had been back in the day and I owned the vinyl album, I would probably have worn out the grooves by the beginning of 2017!  I was completely unaware of the other 9 albums she had released.

Then I stumbled on a YouTube video in which she performs the most poignant version of “Oh Shenandoah” I’ve ever heard. Continue reading

Man of La Mancha: New Rep Theater

Though I go to the theater often, I’ve not reviewed any theatrical productions on this site,  but a couple weeks ago I saw the New Rep’s production of Man of La Mancha, and really want to laud the production here.  Man of La Mancha was the first musical I remember seeing performed live.  It was a production at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA. I don’t remember very much about that performance except that it was completely enthralling. The idealistic young man I was found himself identifying in with the madman trying to change the world. I was also enamored with the idea that a writer can be a force for good in the world, simply by inspiring others.

I’ve been obsessed with the musical ever since. I was so fascinated by the story that I read the original novel by Cervantes.  But it’s really the musical I’m obsessed with. I’ve seen several productions, including the film adaptation, and I own the cast recordings of most productions that I haven’t seen.  Each version has it’s merits, but the New Rep’s production is really something special. Everything about this production works, from the effective use of the performance space and the integration of the musicians into the ensemble, to the lighting and set design. Continue reading

Christopher Paul Stelling at Thunder Road


This gallery contains 21 photos.

What Christopher Paul Stelling can do with a guitar, including playing it behind his head, qualifies him as a virtuoso. His lyrics are thought provoking and emotionally evocative.  Jonah Tolchin, a pretty amazing guitar player in his own right, played … Continue reading

Prince and the Soundtrack of My Life

Prince at Coachella.

Prince at Coachella.

It was my best friend from the neighborhood who first introduced me to Prince. Hanging out at his house one day, he played one of the earliest albums, either Controversy of the self-titled debut album. At that time, I was a good Catholic school boy trying to fit in, and Prince was kind of out there for me, with his erotic lyrics and a reputation for performing in underwear. I don’t remember my reaction as I listened to the songs with my friend, but my determination not to like this man’s music did not last long. Those songs stuck with me, echoing in my head.

Prince kept churning out great music, scoring bigger and bigger sales. Soon enough, even the suburban prep-school kids whose opinions I was too concerned about, were also listening.  It would be hard Continue reading

Gallery Cory Branan and Chuck Ragan at the Sinclair


This gallery contains 36 photos.

I don’t know of anyone who can rock and acoustic guitar as well as singer-songwriter Cory Branan, even all alone on stage!  He was a powerhouse opening act for Chuck Ragan and the Camraderie.  The gravely voice of this Punk-infused … Continue reading

Boston Calling


This gallery contains 36 photos.

The Boston Calling Festival is, in my humble opinion, the best annual music festival in this area, since the Life is Good Festival ended at least.  City Hall Plaza is a great setting, the music is an nice mix of … Continue reading

Concert Gallery: The Contenders at Lizard Lounge


This gallery contains 9 photos.

Guitarist Jay Nash and drummer Josh Day are The Contenders, and they have recently released their debut EP. It’s a fantastic collection of original Americana songs with strong, evocative lyrics, that are set to tunes that are both soulful and … Continue reading