Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New website

Last week we unveiled our new sound system. This week, we unveil our brand new shiny website. It's all part of ongoing effort to be the best of the best. Let us know what you think. Your opinions are valued and important.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We got super sound

The Narrows has always been known as a place with great sound. I am very pleased to announce that we have just purchased and installed a state of the art, creme de la creme, top of the pops, brand spanking new sound system. The system was funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. This new D&B sound system represents the finest technology available. It was installed by Scorpio Sound. One of,  if not the finest sound company in the United States. We think we are going to blow minds with this system. Let us know what you think. Here are some pics of the install

Friday, January 6, 2012

Best of 2011

For anyone who says music isn't as good as it used to be, I say you are not listening to the right stuff. There was a lot of great music made in 2011, both live and in the studio. Here's the best of what I saw and listened to. Please feel free to share your lists as well. It's more fun when you do

Best Narrows shows 2011(in no particular order)
Justin Townes Earle
Lake St. Dive
Dave Alvin
Rosanne Cash
Bruce Cockburn
Christian Scott
Leo Kottke
The Wood Brothers
7 Walkers
Rodney Crowell
David Johansen

Other Live shows that blew me away
Wilco at Wang Center sound and band were incredible
Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Peace Love and Twang at Great American Music Hall featured Buddy Miller, Ryan Bingham, Jim Lauderdale, Steve Earle and Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Best Albums of 2011(no particular order)
Tedeschi Trucks-Revelator
Shelby Lynne -Revelation Road
Justin Townes Earle-Harlem River Blues
Wilco-The Whole Love
Eilen Jewell-Queen of the Minor Key
Gillian Welch-The Harrow and The Harvest
Lake St. Dive
Amy Black-One Time
Tom Waits-Bad as Me
Dave Alvin Eleven Eleven

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Johnny Winter: Rock and Roll Royalty

John Dawson Winter was born in Beaumont Texas on February 23, 1944. By the time he was 15 he formed his own band with brother Edgar age12, called Johnny and the Jammers. At 17, he pestered BB King in letting him sit in where he got a standing ovation. His big breakthrough came in 1968, when rolling Stone featured him in a piece about the Texas Music scene.A bidding war ensued and Johnny signed to Columbia for a $600,000 advance, supposedly the largest advance given to rock act.

He has super impressive chops with the heart of a bluesman. In the late 70's, he helped resurrect Muddy Water 's career. Winning a Grammy and bringing Muddy to a larger audience and big pay days For over 40 years, he has blazed a trail of lightning quick licks and fiery solos. He's an original to say the latest. On Friday December 30, the Johnny Winter Band play the Narrows Center for the Arts. As of this writing we have about 40 tickets left. Johnny is looking and playing better than ever. Come out and greet rock and royalty.

Here are are few classic you tube videos of Johnny through the years

Here's Johnny ripping it up at Woodstock

Here's a totally rocking Jumpin Jack Flash form a UK TV show in 74

Johnny and Muddy circa 78

Johnny B Goode 84

Johnny in 2011 at the Coach House, in California

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Steve "The Emcee" Hug: The end of an era

Saturday's Savoy Brown concert marked the end of the Steve Hug era at the Narrows. Steve informed me in late November that he was retiring from his volunteer position at the Narrows. I was surprised and disappointed but totally understand that nothing lasts forever. Steve has been an integral part of the Narrows since our humble beginnings.

I first met Steve at the old Narrows aka The Renaissance Gallery in 1997. We had started an open mic and Steve would come down to play some tunes. We became fast friends. We both shared a passion for music and politics. We then went on to work on some campaigns together and had a total blast ripping those who crossed our path. When we moved to our new and present home on Anawan St., Steve was the one of the first  people to step up and help the cause. In the early years, many of the shows were done by just Steve, my wife Maggie and myself. Steve was there early and late. We loaded out alot of bands and had a great time conversing and hanging out These were lean times for the Narrows but Steve was believer and dedicated to the cause.

As things progressed, more people came into the picture and Steve became our resident emcee. His vast knowledge of music and his FM DJ voice made for the perfect fit. In 2005, he started his Backstage at the Narrows blog. At that time, nobody really knew what a blog was . Steve was pioneer in the blogging movement. To date he has posted over 1,300 entries. A few years later, Steve brought his significant other, Laura McNamara to the cause. Laura always brought a smile and her warm personality to the Narrows.

Things change, time moves forward and nothing lasts forever but Steve Hug made a lasting and positive imprint on Narrows lore.

Thanks Man

Friday, December 9, 2011

Justin Townes Earle Nails it at Narrows

It was a balmy Sunday in December when Justin Townes Earle armed with just his guitar played to an enthusiastic sold out crowd,. It should be duly noted, that three years ago JTE played to less than 50 in this same venue. With his tall lanky build and piercing eyes, JTE prowled the stage. He started the show with a couple of new tunes which were quite good. He then played a couple form his great new disc "Harlem River Blues" What struck me was his loping and intricate finger picking which perfectly complimented his stark and passionate vocals. Other highlights were "Mama's Eyes" ,  They Killed John Henry" and "Christ Church Woman" He brought the house down with the Lightning Hopkins cover"Automobile Blues" This was a real blues shouter with some great guitar playing. All in all one of the best shows of the year by one of the truly great artists on the scene today

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A November to Remember

November 2011 marked the 10th Anniversary of the Narrows Center for the Arts. Looking back through the years, a flood of great times, great friends and a strong sense of accomplishment permeated the air. We had a great line-up of musical acts as well as the fantastic Art of a Brick Lego exhibit, all the makings for a great celebration

We started our 10th anniversary weekend with Sonny Landreth and Danielle Miraglia. Danielle opened the show with her distinctive folk 'n blues. She is a charismatic performer and she set the stage for the Sonny Landreth power trio. We have hosted Sonny numerous times and he always brings his "A" game. This show reminded me alot of a Jeff Beck show. Lots of instrumental riffing with Sonny's unique approach to slide guitar on top. The following night was the David Wax Museum with The Parkington Sisters opening the show. The Parkington Sisters are 4 genuine sisters with beautiful harmonies and an interesting chamber pop sound. David Wax and company  were the buzz band at this year's Newport Folk Festival and this show lived up to the hype. They mix traditional Mexican folk with a contemporary take on americana. Great songs and an interesting blend of instrumentation with high energy. You will be hearing much more from this crew in the near future. On Friday, the legendary Jorma Kaukonen brought his elegant guitar stylings to the Narrows. Accompanying Jorma was multi instrumentalist extraordinaire Barry Mitteroff. Jorma played selections from his 50 plus career in music. Highlights included, I Know You Rider, Good Shepard and a smoking Water Song.

We concluded our Anniversary weekend with Rosanne Cash and Jeffrey Foucault. Jeff has played our venue many times and he never disappoints with his smart songwriting and deft guitar playing. Over the course of our ten years, I have had the pleasure of working with some high profile acts, but I must admit I was a little nervous about hosting Rosanne. Being the daughter of the legendary Johnny and a major star in her own right, I wasn't sure what to  expect. She was a complete joy to work with. She had a warm personality and she seemed genuinely impressed with the Narrows as a venue and what we stood for. She was accompanied by her husband John Leventhal. Rosanne has the voice of an angel and her set was well paced with songs from her latest release The List, and a career retrospective. Highlights were Long Black Veil, Hasn't Happened Yet, a spellbinding Ode to Billy Joe, Tennessee Flat Top(which showcased John's exquisite guitar stylings). She ended the show with the haunting 500 Miles with John moving to piano. We have had many outstanding shows in the last ten years but this is absolutely in the top ten. Thank you Rosanne and John for making the Anniversary so special.

We had many other great shows in November. Abilgail Washburn wowed the crowd with her intricate and soulful banjo playing. David Bromberg romped through his set with old favorites and great new songs. The old hippies loved this one. Shemekia blew the roof off with her powering voice and Dave Alvin absolutely ripped it up on a Sunday night(Top ten show of 2011), We had our annual Friends of the Narrows event with Seth Walker. This was a great evening of music and friendship. Newgrass legend Sam Bush and his spot on band played impeccably. We ended the month with our old friend Sarah Borges and new friend Amy Black. Both classy ladies who rocked the house.

As great as the music was, it is the people that came to the shows and the great volunteers that really made the month and the whole Narrows experience so memorable. Thank you all for being there.