Category Archives: Guest blogs

LOCAL: The Blue Ribbons

This is a post from guest blogger, Jeremy Gottlieb, who’s a freelance writer living in the Boston area. He’s written for the Boston Globe, the Eagle-Tribune, the Metrowest News and other local online and print publications.

Somewhere between The Grateful Dead, circa 1973 and some serious Chet Baker, mixed with a few deep, swampy, New Orleans-style grooves lies The Blue Ribbons, a diverse, whipsmart, Boston band currently rocking the local scene. The group, six veteran players deep, melds genres with a polish that in some ways defies description, a fact that isn’t lost on bandleader/front man James Rohr.

“I don’t know what kind of band we are,” says Rohr, who plays keys and is one of three lead vocalists in the Ribbons current incarnation, between sets during one the band’s Tuesday night hangs at Toad in Porter Square. “I want us to be a band in which we can write songs that aren’t beholden to any particular style or parameters. It’s not so straight ahead or right down the middle. I guess you could call us a little country mixed with some free-form jazz.”

Indeed, Rohr, along with his rhythm section of Jeff Charland on stand-up bass and Taurus Biskis on drums, are “jazz guys.” Lead guitarist Mike Castellana also plays with a jazz background, but comes at it from a bit more of a rock perspective, according to Rohr. Together with guitarist/vocalist Steve Mayone (Sticky, Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck), and lap steel player/vocalist Martha Bourne (Nash Satterfield), both of whom joined the Ribbons for this Toad residency, the songs that emanate from the stage cover a wide swath of influences, from the Faces and Captain Beefheart to NRBQ and even George Jones.

“We want to be able to go anywhere,” says Rohr, who also mentioned that the band is currently working on a follow up to their debut album, “Rise and Shine.”

“We’ll throw it all out there. Sometimes it bombs, but we don’t have any fear. We’re open for business.”

Do yourself a favor if you live in the greater Boston area and treat yourself to some Blue Ribbons. They are a tour-de-force, a wildly inventive, shape-shifting outfit capable of navigating so many styles with both an incredibly cool, almost laid back ease as well as fascinating aplomb. Their Tuesday residency at Toad lasts one more month, through March, at 10 p.m.

– Jeremy Gottlieb
photo by Tom McNeill


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LOCAL Music: A Night at the Lizard

**This is the first of what I hope to be many guest blogs from my friends who experience and enjoy the LIVE and LOCAL music in their area.**

This past Wednesday I found myself at Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA. This is one of my favorite music venues in Boston. Located in the basement of Cambridge Common, the Lizard Lounge is an intimate room – filled with low, red lighting, persian rugs and raw talent. Friendly staff, ever-rotating beers on tap, and the ability to hear a pin drop in a packed bar are some other perks of this room, especially when the audience is respectful. Wednesday night’s lineup consisted of  local performers who were all recently in the Lizard Lounge’s Open Mic Challenge Main Event – a final round for a pool of past Monday-night winners. Yet another great perk to Lizard Lounge.

Kicking off the night (and his 30th birthday!) was local singer/songwriter, Erik White. Erik definitely created those pin-drop moments seemingly effortlessly. I recall being intrigued by how far he stood away from the microphone, yet filled the entire room with his rootsy and soulful lyrics. Not to mention his astounding guitar playing. Erik had his friend, Matt Abatelli joining him for a moment on saxophone. The audience was extremely receptive and even sang-along with some of Erik’s harmonies. Erik White can usually be found playing out with local band, Brothers McCann, where he works more of his guitar and vocal magic.

Next up was the comedic duo, Pelvis McGillicuddy.  In addition to Mike Connolly on vocals/ acoustic guitar and Derik Newton on djembe/vocals, they had their friend, Gerod Shea, joining them on lead electric guitar. These guys are fun and they had the crowd laughing and singing along almost immediately. With a funny twist on songs about being the nice guy in the room, being an alcoholic and being depressed, they’re definitely a group that can lighten any room.

The evening finally welcomed Cilla Bonnie Band. I’ve had the pleasure of catching Cilla perform with other local acts, on bass/vocals, but this was my first time catching her with her full band. Her driving bass lines pulled me in right away. Then, she sang… and I was instantly hooked. Her very talented band consisted of Jeff Gaynor on keys, Noah Maltsberger on guitar, and Chris Desanty on drums. Unfortunately, I had to catch the last train home, so I missed the end of their set – but, I look forward to catching more of them in the near future!

by Holliday
photos by Jamie Meditz

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Filed under Guest blogs, LIVE music, LOCAL music