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Concert Reviews

Three Bands, a Writer, and the Red Light Café

The Red Light Café hosted the John Driskell Hopkins and Balsam Range “Daylight” CD Release Party. The cozy, intimate setting was perfect for an evening of music that tugs on heartstrings and embraces fans’ souls.

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The Red Light Café hosted the John Driskell Hopkins and Balsam Range “Daylight” CD Release Party. The cozy, intimate setting was perfect for an evening of music that tugs on heartstrings and embraces fans’ souls.

The night began with the pitch perfect harmonies of the Best Brothers Band, who played sans drummer.  “Lovely Lady” echoed the sounds reminiscent of an old Wurlitzer organ.  “Love, Love, Love” was just finished that afternoon, and I must say, it “loved on me that night.” I look forward to more performances by Best Brothers Band.

Next on the list, Brian Collins Band, who opened the set with “Any Other Way.” The Douglasville native has a knack for composing lyrics that express emotion and embraces the heart. Brian Collins has played with a myriad of folks, but his successes are not limited to those in which he is involved; they extend to the growing number of fans who are moved by his music.  The soulful quality of his voice gives meaningful expression to songs that bend the lines of genre between Americana, southern rock, R&B and blue-eyed soul. And we can’t forget about Mike Hankins on the keys. Mike provides sultry bass lines and subtle shadings of color and hue to the sound.

With a heart as big as his lyrics are strong, Brian Collins and his band are on the road to GREAT THINGS!

“Sweetwater,” “Good Things,” and “Some Friends” (a personal favorite) were on the playlist. So was “Darkest Hour,” which is part of Brian’s PSA for Soldiers’ Angels, a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, veterans and their families. As Brian began to sing “She Will Ride,” a song co-written with John Driskell Hopkins, in memory of Brian’s baby sister who died of leukemia, you could hear a pin drop.  Filled with emotion, his moving lyrics brought tears to everyone’s eyes, including his parents who were in the audience of lovingly loyal fans.  Because this song is so very special, Brian & John are partnering Steve Shor, CEO and founder of the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation to help raise money to find a cure for this deadly disease. Details about the special project are forthcoming.

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The evening ended with the velvet voice of headliner John Driskell Hopkins and Balsam Range“Runaway Train,” “I Will Lay Me Down,” and “Daylight,” the title track, were only the beginning of what may come.


Being a lover of music, I must say, sweet sounds whispered in my ears and I loved every minute of it!

So TBB readers, grab a copy of these artists’ CDs and EPs … you’ll be glad you did.

Photos By Brian Harris

Concert Reviews

Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad

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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.

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Concert Reviews

Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair

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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.

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Concert Reviews

Years & Years at Royale Boston

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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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