The Metamorphosis of Connor Christian
By: April Bumpus, Contributing Writer
Time and time again, I return to see my friend Connor play music in his band, aptly named, Connor Christian & Southern Gothic. My first encounter with Connor was way back in January 2004. I remember the night like it was yesterday…
The weather is cool and I am nervous. I had broken up with my fiancé’ and this is the first time I am venturing out to the bar scene in a long time. I am feeling very nervous, due to being out of the dating world for eight years. I walk into the bar with friends, very unsure of myself and look up to the stage. Hanging from the rafters is a dude with dread locks that reach half-way to the stage below him. He is singing a Rage Against the Machine song, and damn if it doesn’t sound freaking AWESOME! It makes me smile, as we all walk slowly past the stage. The lead singer jumps down and looks dead at all of us and smiles. He announces to the crowd, “I’d like to give thanks to this group of folks for coming out!”… then leads into another song. I get to the bar and order my liquid sedation and feel my nerves calm. The band continues to play, and with a last song, announce that they will take a break. The lead singer bee-lines it to our table and introduces himself. I notice his voice the most when he speaks to me. It is deep and smooth and has a rustic, gravely feel to it. I listen intensely to the sound of his tone, and probably looked a little spaced out because he interrupted my thoughts as he stared straight at me and said, “Um Hi! My name is Connor!,” he laughs, “Did you drink a little too much?” I feel very embarrassed that he called me out on my nice-voice infatuation staring, and with a high squeaky reply, I say, “Hi I am A-p-ril.” A loud baritone laughter of delight returns my name, and I laugh with him until I am almost crying. We shake hands and he announces he has to get to the stage. We have been friends ever since that day, and man have we both changed.
Connor has been involved with music since he was a child. The kind of kid who had notes seeping from his pores. He loves to play, and you can tell he is a born performer. At our first meeting, Connor had dreads down to his booty and was the lead singer for a band called Princess. Yes, Princess. There is a story to the name, but I will let Connor explain, ask him. As the years passed, Connor seemed restless and soon there was a new feel to his music. His voice is multifaceted and can accommodate any music genre. I feel he transformed when he chopped off his trade-mark dreadlocks. He grew them as a youngster and carried them on his head for years. When he decided to cut them off it was a shock. But, it looked really good! I asked, “How does it feel?” He looked at me with relief and said, “ So less heavy, and oh my god…not as hot!” Like a feeling of bittersweet sadness from a break-up or cutting the locks of trade-mark hair; at some point in life one must say, “ I am glad that happened. I am glad I went through all of it, and I am happy that is now all over.” Connor, you and I have grown up, huh? We are older and wiser now, and I have to say is that your show Sunday night was mind blowing! The music you played from the new record, man-oh-man! I couldn’t be more proud of you and the band. I loved it and this is how it all went down:
It’s October2, 2010 at The Peachtree Tavern in Atlanta, Georgia. The weather is a little chilly as I walk past the long line of people waiting to get in. I am alone, yet I feel completely comfortable this time around and am feeling the excitement course through my veins as the sounds within the bar are drifting out to my ears. I hear my friend, now the lead singer for the band Connor Christian & Southern Gothic. I am welcomed in with a nod and smile from Shawn Thacker on drums. I step in time to the music and a smile crosses over my face. I have my camera and take shots of the band. I recognize several faces in the crowd of loyal fans. The place is buzzing, and tonight is not only a great live show but my singing buddy’s birthday. I creep closer to the stage and sally right up to the front and sing along with the entourage of loyal fans. I look up and see a solid band of consummate musicians. Joe Abramson is on Bass, Jeff Spirko is on the lead guitar and also plays the banjo, Elena Martin is tearing up the fiddle and Shawn Thacker is rockin’ the drums. Connor is sitting at the keyboards and busts into a cover of Guns and Roses, “November Rain.” Every time I hear their rendition of this song, and how great the band sounds, I get chills.
Connor announced that a good friend of his, Angie Aparo, an artist from my generation and a damn good musician, and he then sings “Princess”, a favorite tune of Connor’s. Tonight Connor Christian & Southern Gothic played brand new music from their record that is being released in January. I am impressed and I heard a sure hit single off his new record, “Only Need You.” I smiled the whole night, sharing in the accolades shown to my friend and his band mates. Connor, you have made it my friend. I do believe that just as I have changed over the years, so have you. Your metamorphosis has been nothing short of fantastic to witness. You have worked so hard and have finally found the sweet spot!
Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad
Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.
Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”
Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.
The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.
Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair
The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.
What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.
Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.
Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.” The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.
Years & Years at Royale Boston
During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.
Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.
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