I spent the first night of Chanukah this year at Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA. This was the Boston-area location for the multi-city #ChanukahAction: A Jewish Day of Action to End Police Violence event. I had a number of anxieties in advance, but it proved to be a powerful evening with moments of hope and inspiration.
My concerns began with a Facebook event wall littered with infighting that I feared would travel offline to the actual event. Could we focus on one issue, and keep the focus away from ourselves? Could we raise awareness in our own community without silencing and ignoring those who have already been marginalized? I had been to a protest organized by Black Lives Matter Boston in November, organized and led by people of color. I recognized why Jews needed to rally around the cause, but it was unclear how. Frankly, could we do this without damaging the larger movement?
On the evening of August 14th, I was playing a gig at The Middle East Downstairs club in Cambridge, MA. As per usual, I was in a pretty selfish mode. I was rushing from work, to home, to the gig, where I was going to perform for friends and concert-goers. At some point that afternoon, my partner texted me to ask if during our set I could acknowledge the gathering happening that same evening on the Boston Common. Hundreds of people assembled to honor a national moment of silence, recognizing the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, MO. I had heard rumblings that something would be happening, but I wasn’t quite sure what or where. It was easy enough to quickly check my facts before I made remarks on stage that night during our set. Mostly, I just felt embarrassed. I was embarrassed because I was unaware of actions happening in my own community, and I was embarrassed that in light of these tragic events–and a situation that has only gotten worse–I was hanging out at a music venue. (more…)
New York was pretty good to me. I played some really great shows with some really great bands to include some of my heroes and influences. But, Boston is giving NYC a run for its money. This past weekend I got to interview Boston ska/punk legends Big D and the Kids Table. This was a band I used to open for on a fairly regular basis between ’03 and ’06 while playing in my CT-based ska/punk band Tap Out.
This past Saturday was a reunion of sorts. They played their 1999 record “Good Luck” start to finish and welcomed back to the stage quite a few past members. I ran into new and old friends which just added to the reunion vibe. I had the good luck (pun way intended) of talking to them before their set. They were just the nicest guys and we had a really great chat about the band, their history, the story behind the reunion, and what was next for the band. (more…)
One of the many reasons I continue to see live music as often as I can is the possibility that something out of the ordinary will happen at the particular show I attend. While there will always be the bands that perform a song exactly as it was recorded, I love seeing how bands put new spins on their music live, how new musicians in bands perform, or how a particular audience will react on a particular night. (more…)
Throughout college, Boston was “my city.” I traveled up to Boston from UConn at least once a month for concerts and to visit friends. For spring break of my last year of college, I spent the week exploring and job-hunting in and around Boston. I was convinced Boston was my next step. At the time, I was dedicated to making the effort to work in the music industry. My plan was move to Boston–where I had friends and knew the city–and then move to NYC where I knew there would be more industry work. (more…)
In the early 2000s, I was a student at UConn in Storrs, CT. I had been spoiled by the ska and punk scene in the New Haven area where I’d grown up. Thankfully, there was CT Ska Productions putting together hall shows and the occasional ska show at the Webster in Hartford to keep me entertained. But, I soon discovered that Boston was less than an hour and a half away. Touring acts sometimes came through New Haven or Hartford, but they definitely stopped in Boston. Suddenly, I had new options for shows.
I was also in the habit of arriving as early as I could for shows to catch the openers. The internet was still in its youth, so you had to rely on opening acts and compilations for the discovery of new acts. The only challenge was finding out what shows were happening. I didn’t exactly have access to the newspapers and other publications with venue listings. I was reliant on word of mouth, message boards, and the website Bostonska.com. It did a great job of listing active bands, upcoming gigs, and venues likely to host a ska show. I was hooked. But this was before social media and rss feeds. I had to check all of these websites regularly and religiously to stay on top of upcoming shows. The shows were always high energy and well attended–at least that’s how choose romanticize it now.