REVIEW: Currently on tour, The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow raised the roof at Club Passim for album release party

Part of what makes folk music fascinating are the inflections of various genres weaved into each track.  Add some insightful lyrics and it creates its own unique journey.  Unlike other music genres, folk experiments a wide variety of eclectic rhythms.  Currently on tour, rock and roots folk music band The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow does one better.  Each band member writes and performs their own songs, voiced from their own perspectives.

Very much a collaborative band, The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, made up of singer-songwriters and musicians Greg Smith, David Tanklefsky, Billy KeaneTory Hanna, and banjo picker Chris Merenda all have distinctive styles, but when they collaborate, it is spot on.  They have attended songwriting retreats together and collaborate on each of their compositions in various stages of completion, so everything syncs with the band’s sound the way it should.

Whiskey Treaty Roadshow Tour Schedule 2019

The “Band Together” tour schedule Photo courtesy of The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow returned to Club Passim celebrating the release of their new album, ‘Band Together‘ and played for some familiar faces on June 7.  With band members hailing from different parts of Massachusetts including the Berkshires and Boston, the sold out crowd was thrilled as each of its five members made their individual entrances onto Club Passim’s stage.  Click here to see where The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will appear next, here for an interview with band member, David Tanklefsky, and here for more on Club Passim.

Sam Chase from Scituate opened for the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, and there was a brief intermission before the band took the stage.  From quiet, horn-infused reflections in ‘Reasons‘ to the rolling and the ebb and flow rhythms of ‘Jimmy the Whiskey Boy,’ ‘Rock n Roll Déjà Vu,’ and ‘Perfect Day,’ to the lightning-fast, freestyle tempo of ‘Born to Pick Bluegrass’ to observations on the current state of the world with ‘Hey Lady,’ ‘Close to the Edge,’ and ‘Pass the Peace,’ The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow delivered a variety of insightful, optimistic songs as each band member took the lead to tell their story.

Telling jokes, improvising, and revealing some inspiration behind their songs, it is easy to see their breezy camaraderie as they make the most out of Club Passim’s intimate stage.  Dressed casually in jeans and distinctive hats (one band member in a signed tank top), their music travels an eclectic emotional spectrum, from acoustic to electric with lyric-heavy compositions tinged in rock, reggae, roots, country, and blues.  Passersby outside peaked into Club Passim’s lower level concert space as the band performed for an enthusiastic crowd.

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow band

Whiskey Treaty Roadshow – Billy Keane, David Tanklefsky, Tory Hanna, Greg Smith, and Chris Merenda Photo courtesy of Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

Though The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow has an easygoing vibe, they have been hard at work having just released a new album and are currently on a national tour.  They also boast a Berkshire-based, award-winning short documentary, Whiskey Treaty Roadshow:  Of Brotherhood, Music, and Fine Spirits that can be found here.

After a few encores, Whiskey Treaty Roadshow’s Billy Keane playfully sung an uplifting love song, Leave Your Light On with lyrics such as “If you admit I try and damn, look how much I’ve done/And my love for you is strong, look at the lengths in which I’ve gone,” a fitting end for a band that you should leave your light on for in the future.

This memorable, fun evening marks my first time concert experience at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Convenient to the Harvard Square T stop, Club Passim features daily live concerts from promising to professional artists with some hailing from Passim School of Music.  Concerts are situated with table seating with their own restaurant serving appetizers, sandwiches, and more.  Click here for more about Passim and all the venue has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Grammy award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir makes a mesmerizing and festive Celebrity Series of Boston return

It was a special evening for the Soweto Gospel Choir having recently learned that their latest album, Freedom has been nominated for a Grammy on December 7.   Marking their 15th anniversary as a group, this Grammy award-winning South African Gospel group has toured all over the world and shared the stage with legendary performers such as Bono and Queen.

Celebrity Series of Boston presents Soweto Gospel Choir 'Songs of the Free'

Soweto Gospel Choir Photo courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston

Marking their sixth appearance since 2005, Celebrity Series of Boston welcomed back this renowned group to the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, MA for one night only to pay special tribute to the late Nelson Mandela who would have celebrated his centenary this year, Aretha Franklin, and perform a bit of James Brown’s fancy footwork.  Combining African Gospel, reggae, and American pop music and sung in six of South Africa’s eleven official languages, The Soweto Gospel Choir’s expressive rhythms, mesmerizing harmony and lively choreography is amazing to behold.  Click here to find out where the Soweto Gospel Choir will perform next and here for more information on Celebrity Series of Boston’s 80th season and more.

Accompanied by a keyboardist, slide whistle, and a drummer who performed a captivating drum solo, the concert’s first half was dedicated to depicting the realities of apartheid as well as perform songs from their latest album.  Dressed in colorful, coordinating traditional garb, The Soweto Gospel Choir’s energy is contagious whether they are sharing a powerful message or joyfully ringing in the Christmas season.

Celebrity Series Soweto Gospel Choir Dance

Photo courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston

Though each song delivered flawless harmony and the captured the spirit of their message, a few of the particular highlights were Sabashiya a Abuzai, Sabela, Thua Mtanami Medley, Johnny Clegg and Peter Gabriel’s Asimbonanga/Biko, and Letta Mbulu and Mbongeni Ngema’s Freedom Songs Medley:  Jikiela, Rolihlahla Mandela.  They also sang a heartfelt Amazing Grace in smooth harmony and beautiful baritone.

The second half delivered a wide range of Christmas Carols including an enthralling version of Go Tell in On the Mountain/He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands and a partially acapella version of Silent Night.  Soweto Gospel Choir delivered a spiritual Wade in the Water which included a drumming dance competition.  What makes this group unique is the joy and power they evoke though their music, their compelling rhythms, and their freestyle, free spirited choreography that will make you get on your feet.

Celebrity Series of Boston Soweto Gospel Choir 2

Soweto Gospel Choir Photo courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston

Ending the evening is was a grateful, heartening version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, dedicating the song to their latest Grammy nomination.  With talent like this, Soweto Gospel Choir has a lot to be grateful for.

Celebrity Series of Boston is currently offering big savings for the holiday season, which expires on December 28.  Click here for information about that special offer.

A few of the Celebrity Series of Boston’s 2019 highlights include the debut of guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas in January, Mark Morris Dance Group and Mnozil Brass, Cirque in February, Voci Angelica, and Castle of Our Skins in February, and the return of NPR’s Rob Kapilow’s What Makes it Great on Bands of the Swing Era in March.  Click here to see all that Celebrity Series of Boston has in store.

REVIEW: Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s lighter ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ a stunner

Kicking off their 49th annual summer musical series with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s uplifting Joseph and the Amazing Technical Dreamcoat, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston unveils an everlasting world in rich, glorious color.  An interactive, endearing, and humorous production, Joseph nears its 50 year mark with exuberance and a bit of modern subtlety stirred in the funniest and unlikeliest of places.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston proudly presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through Sunday, June 18 at Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Based on the Book of Genesis, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat explores the incredible journey of Joseph and his brothers as Joseph discovers his destiny.  Click here for more information and tickets.

Joseph 'Any Dream Will Do'

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Peter Mill as JOSEPH with children’s ensemble perform ‘Any Dream Will Do’

Bursting with vibrant, dynamic costumes by Goodspeed Musicals, wardrobe supervisor Amelia Fitch not only rose to the occasion, but makes a distinct, daring, and memorable impression in each spectacular ensemble and most notably in Joseph’s magnificent coat. From stunning, glimmering headdresses to brightly colored, heavily-embroidered designs that recalled another era, the costumes were consistently remarkable.  The scenic design by Peter Colao and Richard Shreiber and David Wilson’s lighting design further enhance the show’s visually spectacular nature in multi-colored lights and innovative sets.  The versatile and brilliant music, by the Academy Award-winning team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, offers a wide spectrum of music for every taste from calypso to rock and roll, accompanying the unique retelling of a sacred tale of treachery and unceasing hope.

Joseph Photo Joseph and male ensemble

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Peter Mill as JOSEPH and male ensemble perform “Joseph’s Coat.”

With wide eyes and an unassuming demeanor, Peter Mill portrays humble, yet forthright Joseph with instant likability.  Peter gives a multi-dimensional, powerful performance as a naïve outsider who is transformed by his destiny.  Peter’s versatile, soothing, vocals master signature numbers Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door, his tone heart rendering and sympathetic.

Waltham native, singer, and American Idol contestant Ayla Brown returned and delivers a powerful performance as Narrator, ten years after she last performed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Reagle.  Clever, sunny, and engaging, silvery soprano Ayla Brown has a relaxed charm with each cast member, but was particularly sweet with the Children’s Choir, a small group of boys and girls.  Carefully arranged as a coordinated rainbow in pinks, greens, purples, blues, yellows, reds, the choir’s angelic, soaring voices blend in perfectly at different points in the songs.  Their choreography, helmed by Susan Chebookjian, mix well with Ayla during the number, Go, Go, Go, Joseph, as the kids performed the hand jive.  It is also worth mentioning that one of the child singers at intermission was dressed like a mini-Joseph, wearing a lit multicolored hat and a cleverly designed mini Technicolor Dreamcoat made entirely of beach towels.

Joseph Ayla Children's choir

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Ayla Brown (right) as NARRATOR with children’s chorus performing A Pharaoh’s Story.

Charming and funny even whether they are rejoicing or scheming, the united choreography between Joseph’s eleven brothers reflects the wonderful camaraderie between each of them.   This was most evident during a country themed tune, One More Angel in Heaven with Bernice Baldassaro, who does a wonderful job chewing the scenery as Judah.  Another excellent number that depicts the brothers’ united front was delivered by Taavon Gamble as Naphtali, a catchy, amusing song called Benjamin Calypso.

Joseph Photo Joseph Brothers

Bernie Baldassaro (center) as JUDAH with male ensemble.

Rock n roll royalty takes on a new meaning in the show’s rollicking, show stopping number, Song of the King, featuring Andrew Giordano’s  always impressive comedic talent and zany charisma as Pharoah.  It’s a shimmering display in blue and gold as Andrew flawlessly captures the essence of a certain king in a high energy number not to be revealed here.   It is one of the great highlights of the show in every joyous, silly moment.

Joseph Ayla and Andrew

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Ayla Brown (left) as NARRATOR and Andrew Giordano as PHARAOH

The cast wearing sunglasses and a unconventional journey to Egypt are just a few of the subtle, modern touches added to this lighthearted production that had its share of stirring moments, but offers so many more uplifting, spirited moments, it’s difficult to feel down for long.

Joseph Photo7

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Male ensemble performs “One More Angel in Heaven”

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues at the Robinson Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts through Sunday, June 18.  Click here for more information, tickets, group rates, and more.  Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to get updates on its stellar summer musical season.

Tickets for 12th annual Duxbury Music Festival, featuring live seaside concert music & more, go on sale June 1

For the past twelve years, South Shore Conservatory’s Duxbury Music Festival (DMF) has welcomed summer with seaside entertainment and extraordinary live music along the South Shore of Massachusetts.  With more than a week-long concert extravaganza exploring reggae, jazz, classical, and blues, the Duxbury Music Festival kicks off their summer series at a seaside tent on Duxbury Bay at Freeman Place for Blues on the Bay Cabaret Concert on Friday, July 14.  The evening offers cocktails and appetizers featuring live music from Sugar Ray and the Blue Tones at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1.  Call 781-934-2731, ext. 11 or click here for the full list of events and tickets.  Follow Duxbury Music Festival on Facebook for updates.

Duxbury Music Festival Logo

Photo courtesy of South Shore Conservatory

Set in in several locations in Duxbury, Massachusetts, the Duxbury Music Festival will be held from Friday, July 14 through Friday, July 28.  On Sunday, July 16, the Duxbury Music Festival continues at the seaside tent at Freeman Place with Festival Overture Concert and Reception featuring works from Haydn and Hurnik at 6:30 p.m.

Duxbury Music Festival Sunday-in-the-Park-2015

Photo courtesy of Kathy Dixon

Founding Duxbury Music Festival faculty member and soloist Oxana Yablonskaya returns to the festival on Tuesday, July 18 for the All-Rachmaninoff Faculty Concert at South Shore Conservatory, Ellison Center for the Arts, 64 George Street in Duxbury, Massachusetts at 7:30 p.m.  This special concert funds scholarships for Duxbury Music Festival students.

Duxbury Music Festival - Tent crowd shot

Photo courtesy of Kathy Dixon

Travel to Duxbury Town Green and enjoy Reggae on the Green featuring the Berklee Reggae Ensemble with opening act and South Shore Conservatory rock band, Toast on Friday, July 21 at 7 p.m.  Other events on the Duxbury Town Green include Rhythm and Blues on the Green Dinner Dance with party band In the House Saturday, July 22, Family Fest with plenty of kids entertainment and interactive activities featuring South Shore Conservatory’s ImagineArts band followed by Picnic in the Park featuring live entertainment from DMF students, lobster roll, and concessions on Sunday, July 23.  Back at South Shore Conservatory in Duxbury, take in Duxbury Music Festival’s All That Jazz featuring quintet Elan Mehler and a Duxbury Wine and Spirits tasting on Wednesday, July 26.

The Duxbury Music Festival concludes with a Winners Concert and Farewell Reception including a Duxbury Wine and Spirits Tasting on Friday, July 28. Tickets go on sale June 1, but subscriptions are now available.  Call 781-934-2731, ext. 11 or click here for tickets, see the full schedule, and all that the Duxbury Music Festival has to offer.