Dar Williams with The Nields

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By Emily Edelman

It recently occurred to me that this year is the twentieth anniversary of the release of The Honesty Room, the first album by singer/songwriter Dar Williams. I purchased the album soon after it came out (even though I’d only heard only one cut from it on the radio) and played it so much that I broke the tape and had to buy another copy about six months later. The song that was the reason I bought the album remains one of my favorites of Dar Williams’ pieces, but it was outshone for me by another track, one with a lilting and melodic refrain that included back-up vocals by two other musicians whose album I also decided to pick up: Katrina and Nerissa Nields.

The music of both artists was a constant for me through out my adolescence and well into my twenties. The raw, personal lyrics of Dar Williams were memorable and difficult and the high-energy folk rock of the Nields helped me drown out certain parts of my world. I still remember every word to each song on all of their albums I’ve ever owned.

Katrina and Nerissa Nields will be opening for Dar Williams at Infinity Hall on January 30 and I am definitely looking forward to the show; the teenager I used to be would never forgive me if I didn’t attend.  Get your tickets here!

Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul

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By Emily Edelman

I’ve been listening to a lot of Celtic music lately, due in large part to the Celtic Connections music festival–a yearly event in Glasgow, Scotland–that is going on as I write this. I’ve been listening to live online radio broadcasts and reading music blogs, immersing myself as much as I can in the performances and culture.

That is part of the reason I am very excited about January 31, when Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul will take the stage at Infinity Hall. Eileen Ivers is a multi-award-winning fiddler. She was a founding member of the all-female Irish-American traditional band Cherish the Ladies and toured for several years with the Broadway show Riverdance.

Watching Eileen Ivers perform makes me very conscious of the fact that the utilization of a musical instrument is referred to as playing: her movements and facial expressions show how much she enjoys her craft, and the addition of her signature blue fiddle makes the tone of her work that much more lively.

Perhaps I’ll make it to Glasgow for Celtic Connections one day but, in the meantime, I’m more than happy to make the short trip to Infinity Hall to see my favorites.  Click here for more details about the Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul show.

Tufts University’s Beelzebubs

Untitled-1By Emily Edelman

My first encounter with Tufts University’s Beelzebubs was about 12 years ago when I was given a collegiate a cappella compilation album that included the Beelzebubs’ cover of Pink Floyd’s “The Trial.” That song has always struck me as intricate and complicated and the fact that an a cappella group would choose to cover it seemed laughable to me at the time as I just couldn’t imagine that being a good idea. The tune wound up being my favorite from the record. The arrangement was just as intricate and complicated, not to mention seamless, as the original. My already fervent interest in a cappella music was heightened when I discovered that track.

Since then I’ve felt that the Beelzebubs were the cream of the collegiate a cappella crop. The group changes every year with the graduation of seniors and subsequent induction of new members, but the quality of the vocals and performances is consistently high. The group tours all over the world and was the first runner-up on the first season of the vocal competition TV show The Sing-Off.

The Beelzebubs will perform at Infinity Hall on January 26 and will be joined by the Uharmonies, an all-female a cappella ensemble from the University of Hartford. I’m hoping there will be a Pink Floyd cover involved but, with tight harmonies and fun vocal acrobatics, a Bubs show is always fun.  Click here to get your tickets!

Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets

marshallcrenshaw.jpegBy Emily Edelman

I once read somewhere that Marshall Crenshaw considers himself a musician first and a writer second, and I take issue with that because I’ve always liked his songwriting. With such hits as “Someday, Someway,” “Cynical Girl, and “Something’s Gonna Happen,” it’s very clear that Marshall Crenshaw definitely has a way with a catchy tune. Perhaps what he meant was that tunes come easier to him than words do, but I think that, as far as songwriting is concerned, melody is just as important as lyrics as far as what sticks in a listener’s memory. His most recent full-length album, 2009’s Jaggedland, may be darker and moodier than its predecessors, but it still contains its share of notable material.

Marshall Crenshaw will perform at Infinity Hall on January 24 and will be joined by the Bottle Rockets. The two acts are touring together this winter and seem like a great pairing: Marshall Crenshaw took a bit of a foray into the altcountry arena on Jaggedland, the sound of which fits nicely with the Bottle Rockets own legacy in that genre, and I’m excited to hear what they will sound like together. I’m not sure if the match-up will beget anything more than this tour at the moment but, at any rate, it should definitely be fun to listen to.  Tickets are still available for this show!

Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen

By Emily Edelman

A friend and I had a recent discussion about concert attendance and she was surprised when I told her that I don’t actually go to shows for the music–if that was what I cared about, I could save a little money by staying home and listening to an album. The reason I see concerts is for the entire experience, and the music, to me, is only part of that. Songs are, of course, great but, if I am familiar with an artist, I know the songs and am not likely to hear something new.

Singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen is the sort of concert experience that I enjoy. Many of his fans are quite invested in him, have been following his work for a long time, and are very acquainted with his style. They attend his shows not only for the music but also for the stories he tells and the funny and smart ways in which he connects with them.

Robert Earl Keen is what might be called a songwriter’s songwriter in that he writes the sort of material others wish they had thought of. He relates to an audience through his honest lyrics, thoughtful observations, and engaging tales of his life and experiences. I feel that that’s just that sort of personal touch that makes for a great show. Robert Earl Keen will perform at Infinity Hall with his band on January 19. We still have some good seats left: http://www.infinityhall.com/events/robert-earl-keen/

Junior Brown

timthumb.phpBy Emily Edelman

Junior Brown hasn’t been on my radar for long, but I really wish I had known who he was about 15 years ago. I was making a lot of musical discoveries in my late teens and one of the genres I latched onto for a time was classic country–with particular emphasis on Patsy Cline, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Johnny Cash. About 30 seconds into the first time I heard Junior Brown’s music, I was making comparisons to those artists, as well as being thrilled that there was a modern performer who seemed to take up their mantle.

Junior Brown, like many musicians, is more versatile than he first appeared to me. The difficulty of switching instruments during a song led to his invention of the guit-steel, a double-neck guitar combination of electric and lap steel, which he plays while standing behind it. And Junior Brown’s latest EP, Volume Ten, includes the songs “Apathy Waltz” and “Hang Up and Drive,” which are cutting little commentaries on current technology.

I’m always excited by artists who find ways of bringing older styles of music back into popular consciousness, especially when they are as talented and engaging as Junior Brown. Junior Brown will be performing at Infinity Hall on January 18.  Tickets are still available here!

ON SALE: Jane Monheit, Ana Popovic, Al Stewart, Amy Helm Band, The Delta Saints

timthumb.phpJane Monheit

Friday, April 26th • 8:00 pm  

Grammy Nominee Jane Monheit has performed at most of the major concert halls around the globe. She has released seven albums and two DVDs, and has appeared as a guest artist on many others. Jane has also been a featured performer in the nationally televised Christmas at the White House, the Capitol Fourth of July Celebration, and The National Memorial Day Celebration. Monheit spends most of the year on tour with her band, which currently includes Michael Kanan on piano, Neal Miner on bass, and Rick Montalbano on drums.

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anapopovicwebcalendar2013Ana Popovic

Saturday, April 5th • 8:00 pm

Tagged as the female reincarnation of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ana has been singing n’ playing blues guitar since the time she could talk n’ walk. Born, raised and now a super-star in Europe, she continues her assault on the US market with a new album, a new band and show that has been receiving rave reviews from all the major critics.

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alstewartwebcalendar2013Al Stewart

Sunday, April 6th • 7:30 pm

Al Stewart is a singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician who rose to prominence as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s. He has developed a unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history.

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amyhelmwebcalendar2013Amy Helm Band

Sunday, March 30th • 7:30 pm

The daughter of music legend Levon Helm and singer/songwriter Libby Titus Fagen, Helm wields a powerful voice that can both stir and soothe, whether she is singing traditional gospel, blues standards or her own heartfelt compositions.  Amy Helm’s deep musical roots were enriched by a lifetime of exposure to the finest expressions of American musical tradition. Combined with her stunning vocal and other creative gifts, those roots have grown up to reveal a spellbinding artist who moves easily through a broad range of musical styles.

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deltasaintsweb2013The Delta Saints

Wednesday, February 12th • 8:00 pm

The Delta Saints are not what they say they are. Delta? Absolutely. But saints? One might call them “cautionary tales” long before the term “saints” ever came to mind; however, there is something devout about their bayou rock, a dirty, distinct sound they’ve zealously refined on their debut full-length, Death Letter Jubilee.

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