René Marie: Music for These Times

RenéŽ Marie
MotŽma Music, RubyBird Studios – Brooklyn
December 17, 2015, www.johnabbottphoto.com

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

Live Art: Tree of Life-The Most Heartwarming Show I’ve Seen This (or Any) Holiday Season Isn’t Actually a Christmas Show

LiveArt2013logo-webThe performance of The Live Art: Tree of Life at the Landmark Theater on December 22 had a few problems. Among other issues, a smoke machine set of a fire alarm, more than a few dancers missed their marks, and a pianist was slightly off tempo. Yet the show left me completely spellbound from beginning to end! The problems, with the possible exception of the fire alarm, only enhanced the charm of a truly magical evening that celebrated all forms of the arts, and the joy of participation in them, regardless of skill level or ability. Continue reading

Tim Barry on Why He Doesn’t Want to Be a Rock Star, His Secret City, His First Song and More

At the Middle East, July 21st

Among the crowd at the Middle East, July 21st

When I asked Tim Barry how he would classify the style of music he plays, he told me, “I just say it’s Rock & Roll with an acoustic guitar.” I’ll buy that.  I know that his solo set during the show at the Middle East Downstairs on Sunday, July 21st   reminded me of what rock and roll is really about as much or more than did any of the sets by artists with full bands and electric instruments.  He had the nervous energy and desire to please that an aspiring artist might bring to an important audition, yet he was confident and a consummate performer.  He established a rapport with the audience that made it seem like he leading a sing along with a bunch of friends at a pub. This was especially true when he took the microphone stand from the stage and put in on the floor in front so he could sing in the midst of the crowd. This was a guy who was working his ass off to put on a great show, but having a great time at it. He told stories and philosophized, but mostly he played his heart out, and the crowd ate it up.

As he recounted in the post Musicians Egos and…, he had been largely responsible for bringing the show together, and several acts expressed their appreciation to “nice guy” Tim, either from the stage of when I talked to them later.  It was a Sunday night show that certainly didn’t feel like it was happening on a Sunday night! I’ll have more to say about the other acts in later posts, but for now let me tell you about Tim Barry, and incredibly exciting artist I had the good fortune to interview on June 17 by phone from his home in Richmond, four days before the show in Cambridge.

Continue reading