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.
I’m almost embarrassed that I didn’t really start listening to him until I was almost 30. I have to confess, I was never much of a Marley fan. I think at the times in my life that I was discovering my own taste in music, I had him too closely associated with pop music and those who listened to it. These were things I avoided at all costs in high school. As I started listening to punk and ska-punk, I wasn’t yet interested in anything “slow,” and I ignorantly dumped most of reggae and traditional ska into that bucket. As I branched out and gained a love for two-tone, traditional ska, early reggae, and rocksteady, it was only natural I be exposed to songs like “Simmer Down” and “Soul Shakedown Party.” I dug those tunes but never went any further, assuming they were the exceptions.
The title “Love Letters” conjures up images and ideas of a romantic time and space. When was the last time you put pen to paper to express your love, going through through six drafts before you got the words just right? Sure those moments being lovestruck were exhausting in their own right, but they were inherently fun. There’s a special kind of perseverant energy that goes into that kind of love. The kind we need because we’re all so jaded. That’s the aesthetic of this record, the first full length from solo artist Sammy Kay released October 29, 2013.
Continue reading this review at Boston Ska (dot) net. This is my first attempt at an album review.