“Here You Are,” John and Rachel Nicholas’s new CD, which John recorded himself in his home studio, has been three years in the making and is a tribute to their 32-year journey together. The ten songs on the album, all written by John, with input from Rachel, are thoughtful and bittersweet, reflecting their growth through time, geography, music, and life’s trials and tribulations; they express, above all, their love and support of each other and their family and friends. The lyrics are intelligent and poetic, and the music, in a soulful acoustic Americana folk style, with a touch of rock and showcases both of their voices and blends the two in compelling harmonies.
Archive for the ‘folk music’ Category
Monday, March 29th, 2010
Saturday, March 29th, 2008
Grange Coffeehouse Offers Evening Of First-Rate Music And Congeniality
By MARILYN J. ROWLAND
Originally published in the Enterprise on March 28, 2008
Sandwich can be pretty quiet in the wintertime. Four years ago, Mark Wiklund and his friends decided to remedy that situation by providing a place for people to go—in Sandwich, in the off-season—to hear good music and enjoy an evening out with friends. They decided to start an informal coffeehouse, and the result is the very successful Grange Hall Coffeehouse, which brings diverse styles of traditional and contemporary music to the appreciative residents of Sandwich and surrounding towns. Concerts are held once a month from September to May (except for December, January, and February, when the weather is just too unpredictable).
A recent concert featured the Back Bay Guitar Trio, a very impressive group of guitarists who delighted the audience with their unique blend of classical, contemporary, and Brazilian jazz music, played on classical guitars. The program began with Annika Lückenbergfeld, a young professional classical mandolin player from Germany, currently studying improvisation at Berklee College of Music, and also included a talented Sandwich High School sophomore Anna Gannett, who played classical guitar.
Ms. Lückenbergfeld played mandolin flawlessly, gracefully, and delicately, offering a range of musical styles from an 18th century French composition to a 21st century Japanese piece, a Brazilian piece, and a work by a German composer written just for her. The pieces were intricate, featuring quickly changing moods and dynamics and showing off the full range of the instrument, as well as occasional use of rhythmic, percussive slapping of the instrument. For those used to the mandolin as a bluegrass instrument, this was a wonderful introduction to the classical and modern potential of the instrument.
At this, her first concert in which she spoke English to the audience, Ms. Lückenbergfeld exhibited a wonderful stage presence, keeping her composure when a string broke while she was tuning on stage. “And now I play for the first time on a seven-string mandolin,” she smiled.
The Back Bay Guitar Trio was formed about seven years ago by David Newsam, John Mason, and Steve Marchena, three very versatile guitar players who play together with remarkable technical precision and an expressive sense of unity. Though they all began their musical lives on the electric guitar, they all gravitated toward the classical guitar, attracted by the sound of the instrument and by the music of Brazil and other lands and eras.
The trio began with three folk songs from Brazil, by turn happy, meditative, and jazzy, featuring rhythmic handslapping of the strings. This was followed by a Mozart medley, an arrangement of two pieces written by Leopold and Wolfgang for piano. The music was exquisitely played, and the good feeling was augmented by the smiles from the performers, especially Mr. Mason, a very talented musician and former student of Mr. Newsam’s at Berklee, who maintained a vibrant smile throughout much of the evening, communicating with the other musicians through his eyes, his face, and his very expressive body.
The guitar players had trouble with tuning too, on this rainy night in March, triggering a comment from one of the players: “Guitarists spend half their lives tuning and the other half playing out of tune.”
The quality of the music more than made up for these minor distractions. The concert continued with a medley of works by Argentine composer Astor Piazolla and Spanish composer Fernando Sor, and selections from Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’ studies for Segovia, the last of which was dark, moody, and contemporary. There was more Brazilian music: a gentle, soothing melody from Antonio Carlos Jobim, and a more energetic and rhythmic based on folk melodies.
Each of the three members of the trio played a solo, and there were also several duets, in various combinations. A highlight of the evening came when Ms. Lückenbergfeld joined the trio on stage. The interplay of the guitars and the mandolin was very satisfying, and I enjoyed the rhythmic handslapping of the guitar in response to mandolin phrases.
Jazz was well represented by the trio’s transcriptions of a Gershwin piano prelude and a Dave Brubeck composition. Mr. Marchena added harmonica to a couple of numbers, and all three participated in an intricate piece featuring a great variety of guitar-slapping percussion: on the strings, on the front, back, and sides of instrument, providing a whole new range of percussive effects.
The performance ended with an amusing encore: the theme from the Mario Brothers video game. It is hard to believe, but the Back Bay Guitar Trio made even this otherwise annoying theme sound like beautiful music.
Careful selection of talented performers has done much to make the Grange Coffeehouse a success, but there is more to this place than great music. The concert was made all the more enjoyable by the setting, the comfortable, friendly, and intimate Grange Coffeehouse, 91 Old County Road, East Sandwich East Sandwich. Built in 1889, the hall has been a social center for the community for years and currently hosts a wide variety of social and cultural events.
As the Grange Coffeehouse, the building is set up with rows of card tables and chairs (dating back to the 1950s), creating an authentic coffeehouse setting. The tables are covered with folksy tablecloths, in different patterns and colors. Coffee, tea, and other beverages are sold, along with tempting desserts. The stage is small, but warmly lit, and nicely decorated with artwork and plants. It is a friendly place to be, and you can tell that a lot of the audience members know each other and enjoy the congenial atmosphere.
The next concert at the Grange Coffeehouse is April 12, at 8 PM (doors open at 7:30), featuring Aztec Two-Step. The duo consists of Rex Folwer and Neal Shulman, who have been playing and singing jazzy acoustic folk music together since 1971. Known for their “intellectual lyricism” and “ethereal harmonies,” they are sure to attract an enthusiastic crowd to the Grange Coffeehouse. Tickets at $22/person. For more information, contact the coffeehouse at 508-418-0888 or visit http://www.grangehallcoffeehouse.org.
Friday, March 28th, 2008
Coffeehouse Offers Folk, Acoustic Music for All Ages
By MARILYN J. ROWLAND (Originally published in the Enterprise on March 14, 2008)
The Third Fret Coffeehouse [Third Fret's MySpace page includes audio files of upcoming or recent performers] springs to life once a month with the sounds of acoustic music and song. Concerts are held from September to May in the friendly, folksy and comfortable atmosphere of Liberty Hall in Marstons Mills. Built in 1859, Liberty Hall has long served as a community center for Marstons Mills and it is well-suited as a coffeehouse. It is located near the center of town at 2150 Main Street right next to the Marstons Mills Library.
My husband and I visited the Third Fret recently to see blues guitar legends Paul Geremia and Bob Martin. Considered to be one of the best country blues finger pickers, Mr. Geremia did not disappoint. He played six- and twelve-string guitars, harmonica, and sang songs of his own composition and songs made famous by legendary blues performers like Ledbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, and others. He also told entertaining stories about meeting early blues musicians, or playing in places where they had played.
Mr. Geremia, whose home is in Rhode Island, was accompanied by Cape resident Robbie Phillips on a “strung trombone,” sort of a one-string washtub bass that Mr. Phillips was very adept at playing. The two have known each other for 35 years.
Opening for Mr. Geremia was Bob Martin, another old-time blues guitarist and harmonica player. Also a songwriter, Mr. Martin sang a song he wrote for his father, a housepainter who always wanted to be a tap dancer. Another memorable song was “The River Turns the Wheel,” which Mr. Martin wrote about the mills in his hometown of Lowell.
Liberty Hall has been used as a coffeehouse off and on over the years. The Third Fret Coffee House was run by Eileen DiBouno for the past three years or so, but operations have recently been taken over by Tracey Delfino and Larry Zarella. They are enthusiastic about bringing quality folk and acoustic music to Marstons Mills and giving musicians a great place to play. Many appreciate playing in a coffeehouse in a concert setting, instead of a bar where they must compete with loud conversations and other distractions.
The hall holds about 100 people, fewer if tables are set up for guests and goodies. The goodies are a nice touch. Coffee, tea, and homebaked goods are included in the cost of admission, though donations are also appreciated.
Ms. Delfino’s son, Trevor, helps out too, acting as stage manager, helping with sound checks, supplying the musicians with everything they need; he sets up tables and chairs, and generally makes sure things go smoothly. “He does a pretty amazing job,” says his proud mom, and he is only 9 years old.
Ms. Delfino enjoys the coffeehouse herself, appreciating not only the music, but also the ambiance. Because no alcohol is served, parents can bring their kids.
The next concert, the first one booked by Ms. Delfino and Mr. Zarella, is March 22. It will feature Mr. Zarella, a singer-songwriter whose warm folk-style voice has been compared to James Taylor, and the acoustic folk pop group, Tripping Lily. A native of Cape Cod, Mr. Zarella lived in a remote area of Alaska for 15 years, playing music in a band and as a solo artist. He moved back to the Cape a couple of years ago and has been touring in the area and elsewhere. His CD, “No Place Special” features his original music.
Tripping Lily is a Cape-based folk pop quartet consisting of Demetrius Becrelis on guitar, mandolin, and ukulele, his brother, Alex, on mandolin and guitar, Monica Rizzio on violin, and Laird Boles on string bass. All band members sing, and all write songs, a unique blend of pop, folk, jazz, bluegrass, and classical music. Their influences are diverse, from James Taylor to Nat King Cole to pop singer Colbie Caillat and rock band Starting Line, and their enthusiasm for their music is infectious.
The combination of Larry Zarella and Tripping Lily should be a treat for traditional and contemporary folk music fans. The show is March 22. Doors open at 7 PM, and the show begins at 7:30.
Another upcoming show of special interest to singer songwriter fans is the Songwriter’s Series on April 19 at 8 PM featuring Danielle Miraglia, Jacob Johnson, and Chris Ayer.
For more information on either show, contact Tracey Delfino at email@example.com.
Thursday, March 27th, 2008
I love coffeehouses. I’m not talking about the kind where you plunk down $4.50 for a caramel-apple-pumpkin-spice cappuccino with extra whipped cream. I’m talking about the kind where music is the central focus, the small, intimate concert hall that offers up acoustic music, along with a cup of plain old coffee and some homemade cookies, to an attentive audience.
Usually housed in a quaint, old building, perhaps a community hall or a church dating back 100 years or more and seating 100 people or less, most coffeehouses on the Cape host concerts only once a month or so to showcase local talent or bring in well-known performers from elsewhere.
I’ve been to four or five coffeehouses in the area recently and have reviewed a couple of them for the Enterprise. I’ve been impressed with the dedication of the people who run these coffeehouses, their love of music, and their commitment to bringing good music to their communities. I have talked to the performers and found that many of them prefer to play at coffeehouses and similar venues, rather than in bars (where people aren’t really listening) and in large concert halls, where amplification is necessary and something is lost in the connection between the audience and performer.
Benefits to audience members are many. Coffeehouses offer a wide variety of music, from folk and fiddle to classical and jazz and all those undefinable new genres. You usually don’t have to travel far to find a coffeehouse. Locally, you’ll find them in Falmouth, Marstons Mills, Sandwich, Woods Hole, and elsewhere. All seats are close to the performer in a venue that holds only 50 to 100 people; you hear every note and you see the expressions on the faces of the players, giving you more of a connection to the performers than you might have in a larger hall. Finally, coffeehouses are friendly. You’ll probably see people you know or you’ll make new friends. You’ll probably get refreshments–coffee or tea, cookies, cake, or cheese and crackers. Some coffeehouses have seating arranged in standard rows; others have tables, so friends can gather around and so you’ll have somewhere to put your cup of coffee (or, sometimes, a bottle of wine).
If you haven’t attended a local coffeehouse, I encourage you to give one a try. If you have, please share your opinions and recommendations in the comments below. In future posts, I will share my reviews of various coffeehouses, and coffeehouse-like venues (even those actual coffee places that offer entertainment). For now, here’s a list of some venues you might want to check out: