The last weekend in July in Boston is a music weekend. There are all kinds of unrelated festivals going on and I inevitably feel like I’ve missed something.
The Newport Folk Festival is the big one. I have never been. Back when I was a folk performer, I never could afford it. Once I could start to afford it, I was too much of a folk snob and took issue with The Pixies being considered Folk. Now I no longer have these restrictions; I’ve just lost interest. We opt to go to the Lowell Folk Festival which showcases actual indigenous music from around the world. I find this more enjoyable. No names (well, maybe a Chenier or McMaster here and there) and very little singer songwriter angst and ego. Well, they’re musicians, so of course there’s ego… Just great chops.
We saw a Syrian group with oud, canun, violin and percussion who taught us how to do the clap on a samai (a 10/8 Folk pattern), something with which I’ve struggled for the past 15 years. We saw the Sun Ra Arkestra, which is everything you’d expect it to be and more. Not exactly Folk, but not exactly not Folk when you see how it represents an important and crazy sector of African American life. Dewayne and his father were with us and Dewayne loved it. Eric goes more toward the zydeco, but I think he liked it too. There was Memphis soul after that, so everyone can get down with that.
We started out the weekend going to the Summer Stroll in Melrose. The city has a few of these kinds of things where they block off the main drag and all the stores and restaurants sell their wares on the sidewalks and they set up tents where bands play and kids run free and retirees from the many old folks’ homes in the neighborhood cruise around in their wheelchairs with their oxygen tanks and nursing station issued footwear and dance and spin and relish their freedom. Our neighbor Jim was debuting his band, Free Range Chickens. I thought they did very well for a first gig and I think he was very happy.
Needless to say, all the restaurants are packed but I know we can get a seat at Sushi Corner, which is, true to its name, tucked into a corner of a back parking lot where only those in the know can find it. They have some of the best sushi around and when we got there we were the only people in there. They are always doing a serious takeout business, so they are not bored. Fortunately the place filled up while we were there. There are only 17 seats so it’s not hard.
The first rock concert I ever went to was The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble at the Stratford Theater in Connecticut. I must have been 10 or 11 because Abbey Road had been released. Out in the lobby they had a band of teenagers playing and they were doing Come Together by the Beatles, the single of which I had just acquired. I thought it was the coolest thing and I aspired to be like those guys.
I never actually got to play Come Together in a band, though. Until this weekend. My friends Tina and Steve had a party and Steve’s band played and they asked me to sit in on Come Together while Barry sang because Barry would rather not play and sing at the same time. My dream had come true and you can judge the results for yourself.