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

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

Hayes Carll at Club Passim


This gallery contains 8 photos.

Hayes Carll, whose song “Hard Out Here” inspired the title of this site, played a great show at Club Passim, one of my favorite venues in the area, on July 16. The sold out show was his second in the … Continue reading

The Steel Wheels at Club Passim


This gallery contains 18 photos.

I’m a huge fan of the Steel Wheels, and not just because they hail from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, my home state.  In fact, it was an article about their tour on bicycles that made me check out … 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

Adam Ezra Group Release Better than Bootleg 2 at the Sinclair January 2

The Adam Ezra Group

The Adam Ezra Group

The Adam Ezra Group is celebrating the release of Volume 2 of the Better than Bootleg series with a show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA on January 2. Like its predecessor, Better than Bootleg, Vol 2 is a live recording, but while all the songs on Volume 1 came from one single performance, the recordings on this collection are taken from different shows. (Cl

In an interview conducted on December 13, Adam Ezra explained that it is not a live album” in the usual sense, documenting a single concert from beginning to end.  Rather the collection represents the band’s ongoing experiments at finding the best way to engineer recordings that “translate the energy from our live shows into a recording.”  I quite like the approach taken to this collection.  A live recording of a show on a single night is documentation of that specific night’s, but this approach feels more representative of the band’s live shows in general.  It mixes things up.  The tracks include performances of some of the bands best known songs such as “Burn Brightly” and “Steal Your Daughter,” one cover of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James,” as well as some of the newest songs in the band’s repertoire. (Click here to jump to a video of “Hippy Girl,” another song from the album.)   Continue reading

Concert Gallery: Ryan Bingham in DC


This gallery contains 39 photos.

It’s no secret I think Ryan Bingham is one of the most exciting artists touring today.  I said as much 4 years ago in a post on my Random Thoughts and Ideas blog, and many of you agreed.  That post was … Continue reading

Lucero at the Sinclair


This gallery contains 32 photos.

Almost a month ago I caught the last night of a three night series of Lucero shows at the Sinclair in Cambridge, MA. The band played an acoustic set followed by an electric set. At one point front man Ben … Continue reading

Books, Beer, & Conversation with Jason Myles Goss


This gallery contains 11 photos.

Plus a gallery from a great concert with unexpected audience participation! Narrative songwriting is a staple of American music, but it’s not easy to do well.  The charts are full of derivative, clichéd, sentimental songs that do sell well enough, … Continue reading

From the Bayou to the Red Sands: Pine Leaf Boys and Hassan Hakmoun at the Lowell Folk Festival


This gallery contains 25 photos.

Summer in Massachusetts has been mild this year, too mild for my tastes!  But on one Friday evening a few weeks ago, the Pine Leaf Boys hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana and Hassan Hakmoun, originally from Marrakech, heated up the night … Continue reading