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This message is quite different from our usual. I am responding to an urge to
pass along that yesterday, Tuesday, May 1, 2012, was the 70th wedding
anniversary of my mother and father.
I am in Maine for the occasion and am otherwise on duty around the clock seven
days a week for the foreseeable future. There would be an opportunity to
compile newsletter issues if the time could come in big enough blocks and
dependably: two very big ifs.
The big music news here in central and northern Maine, unfortunately, is the
recent death of rock musician Dean Levasseur, which has been ruled a suicide.
It seems to me there must be more to this news story that the police may know
but that readers of the local newspapers do not.
I have been offline until late yesterday and only got news today (Wednesday) of
the death of Kenny Roberts. "Yodeling Kenny Roberts," as he was often known,
was a long-time big star of New England country music. Roberts was a fine
singer and expert yodeler. Back home in Vermont I have some nifty Kenny Roberts
memorabilia. At some point, in the 1970s I think, Roberts issued a vinyl LP of
his latest recordings on one side and his first recordings on the other. It
seems to me the title was "Then and Now." The early recordings were terrific.
Also I have a test pressing of a real gem of an LP Roberts recorded for the
Palomino label, then out of New Jersey. He was a very capable country artist
and a wealth of information about New England country music.
Kenny Roberts also had an unusual part in early rock 'n' roll history. I am
going entirely on memory here. As I recall, probably shortly after World War
II, Roberts was drafted. His place in the Down Homers, a country outfit that
had notable radio appearances in Hartford and especially Keene, New Hampshire,
was filled by a young Bill Haley. Haley resided in Keene for a while. He
married his first wife, a Brattleboro, Vermont, gal, in Brattleboro. Haley's
departure from the Down Homers was not entirely a happy one, but the experience
was a big one for him. Sometime - I'm thinking a couple years later - he formed
a new ensemble patterned after the Down Homers. This last part is according to
Haley's own account, published in Rolling Stone if I remember right. The
Saddlemen band transformed into Bill Haley and His Comets. Kenny Roberts was
involved in lots more of all of this than just being the guy who got drafted.
Kenny Roberts will be tremendously missed.
The loss of Kenny Roberts and of the great John Lincoln Wright, not so very long
ago, calls to mind Cliff Murphy's book about New England country music, which
continues working its way through the publishing process. Cliff just told me
his hoped-for publication date; but I am on duty at the moment and am a bit
distracted. I'll probably remember the date right after I click "Send."
Bangor, Maine, has had a little flap over a coming Ted Nugent booking. Nugent,
I am sad to say, strikes me as pretty far out of it. It is a little hard for me
to imagine why he was booked in the first place. But he WAS lined up; and calls
for his show to be canceled, after he came to the attention of the Secret
Service, don't seem to me to be consistent with the spirit of America.
Personally, I am all for going ahead with the concert.
I have been conducting a highly un-scientific poll of people in the Milo, Maine,
area, and so far not a soul I have asked has ever heard of Nelson Bragg, the
"Merry Mayor of Milo, Maine." This is bad business, the people of Milo, the
little town of my birth, not knowing of their Merry Mayor of years gone by.
Bragg's son, also named Nelson Bragg, has been a key player in one of the best
recording and concert rock groups out there, the Brian Wilson Band. Nelson
Bragg, Sr., was a producer and the announcer of a short-lived but otherwise
terrifically important radio broadcast, Boston's WCOP Hayloft Jamboree.
This, no doubt, is far from everything; but it is nearly everything coming to
mind at the moment.
Happy 70th anniversary to my mother and father, Liston F. Lewis and Roberta D.
There is no telling how soon or how long it will be before I get back to you;
but trust me, it is a miracle that I am online at all, here beyond the outer
Best of luck to you all.
We have readers who did not see the Boston Globe's obituary of John Lincoln
Wright back in December, so I am sending this message with the direct Web
address to the Globe piece.
John Lincoln Wright, 64, voice, soul of country music in New England
December 10, 2011 | By Steve Morse, Globe Correspondent
I once pulled together a cassette of live John Lincoln Wright recordings which
had been issued on vinyl records, mostly on one or more compilations and on
other artists' releases. There were nine or ten cuts in total, including one
that was probably made in a studio but that featured crowd noises. Wright had a
reedy voice that it seemed to me would be best when singing alone. As it turns
out, though, he was very good at singing duets and in group efforts; and his
parts were generally the best on those recordings. He was a diverse talent who
deserved to reach a wider audience.
Then there is the matter of Keith Lockhart, who has managed to put together a
most amazing booking for his little band, The Boston Pops. It seems one of our
favorite groups, The Dropkick Murphys, will be joining the Pops for a couple
songs on Red Sox Night, May 24. Woo woo!
The DKM/Boston Pops press release appears below. But first, I have a question
for anyone out there who is game. Though my current location is well beyond
Pluto, the demoted planet, I am able finally, by virtue of a high speed Internet
connection, to listen to radio online. You may be sure that I will be tuning in
JoEllen's broadcast on WMFO the fourth Wednesday in May. Meanwhile, if you have
a favorite online station to suggest, I would be very interested.
I have been spinning the online dial, so to speak; and so far the only station
that I have deemed worthy of bookmarking is WRSI-FM The River, which has a
Brattleboro transmitter. While it is great to be listening to WRSI way out
here, from any other point of view, I really haven't gained any ground at this
time. Your suggestions would be most appreciated.
Some of the other recent popular music news stories I know of are these.
CBGB's looks for new location, plans NY music festival Reuters - Tue, May 8,
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York's legendary punk-rock music venue CBGB's may be on
its way back -- in a new location with new music. New club investors are
currently pursuing … More »CBGB's looks for new location, plans NY music
Willie Nelson declines to be Roseanne Barr's VP Tim Molloy - Reuters - 21 hrs
NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - After what we can only assume was careful deliberation,
Willie Nelson has turned down Roseanne Barr's Twitter invitation to be her
running mate … More »Willie Nelson declines to be Roseanne Barr's VP ...
Linda Ramone poses next to statue of husband Johnny Ramone.
Ramone memoir reveals charming, grumpy punk icon John McCrank - Reuters - Mon,
May 7, 2012
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Johnny Ramone, guitarist for seminal punk band the Ramones,
pioneered a fast, no-nonsense sound that made him one of the most influential
guitarists … More »Ramone memoir reveals charming, grumpy punk icon ...
Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch dies of cancer, aged 47 Bob Tourtellotte - Reuters -
Fri, May 4, 2012
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Adam Yauch, a founding member of pioneering hip-hop
group the Beastie Boys who captivated fans with their brash style in early hits
like "Fight ...
"Music News Headlines : Yahoo News"
accessed Wednesday, May 9, 2012.
Now, here is that Dropkick Murphys and Boston Pops press release.
Dropkick Murphys to Perform Two Songs with Boston Bops in Tribute to Fenway
Park's 100th Anniversary on May 24 "Red Sox Night"
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 2:22 PM
"Boston Pops Press Office"
DROPKICK MURPHYS TO PERFORM TWO SONGS WITH BOSTON POPS
IN TRIBUTE TO FENWAY PARK'S 100TH ANNIVERSARY ON
MAY 24 "RED SOX NIGHT"; CELEBRITY GUEST CAMEOS TO INCLUDE
RED SOX PERSONALITIES AND WALLY, THE TEAM'S EVER-POPULAR MASCOT
SYMPHONY HALL TO TAKE ON BALLPARK ATMOSPHERE
WITH HOT DOG STANDS, FENWAY-STYLE POPCORN,
A T-SHIRT CANON BLASTING BOSTON POPS GEAR, AND
POP FLIES INTO THE AUDIENCE
PERFORMING FROM THE STAGE OF SYMPHONY HALL, FENWAY PARK ORGANIST
JOSH KANTOR TO ENERGIZE THE AUDIENCE WITH FAVORITE FENWAY JINGLES
"RED SOX NIGHT," PART OF THE BOSTON POPS'S CITY OF CHAMPIONS CONCERT SERIES,
WILL ALSO FEATURE NARRATION BY PATRIOTS LEGEND ANDRE TIPPETT
[Ann Hampton Callaway]Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops will celebrate the
100th Anniversary of Fenway Park with the help of The Dropkick Murphys at a
special "Red Sox Night," on May 24, headlining the "City of Champions" concert
series May 23-25. This baseball and sports-themed concert appropriately opens
with "The Star-Spangled Banner," before pro football Hall of Famer Andre
Tippett, steps up to the plate to narrate "Freddie the Football," a tale of
pigskin beleaguered by its oval shape. The Boston Pops will also present John
Williams's "Olympic Spirit" with a video celebrating female Olympic athletes and
the performance's first half will culminate in the onstage appearance of several
New England Gold, Silver, and Bronze-winning Olympians. When Maestro Lockhart
and the orchestra break for intermission, Josh Kantor, Fenway Park's organist
since 2003, will energize fans with the charms of ballpark-style jingles on
Symphony Hall's organ.
BOSTON POPS PAY TRIBUTE TO RED SOX NATION AND 100TH ANNIVERSARY
OF FENWAY PARK
[Ann Hampton Callaway]The second inning of "Red Sox Night" is a full-force
tribute to Red Sox Nation, beginning with "Fanfare for Fenway," a John Williams
composition, which recently received its world premiere by the Boston Pops at
Fenway Park's 100th Anniversary on April 20. This set will also feature baseball
music from the movie Field of Dreams, alongside a narrated essay by journalist
Mike Barnicle, about Boston's beloved ballpark. As a performance of "The Boston
Baseball Cantata" transitions into John Philip Sousa's "National Game March,"
Red Sox personalities will make on-stage cameos to bat plastic balls from t-ball
stands into the Symphony Hall crowds. Fans not lucky enough to catch one of the
balls will still be treated with the Boston Pops debut of The Dropkick Murphys,
who will perform two songs, "Tessie," and "I'm Shipping up to Boston," as the
concert reaches a crescendo with a Pops rendition of "Sweet Caroline."
Throughout "Red Sox Night" Symphony Hall will take on the timeless appeal of a
ballpark with food vendors in baseball caps hawking Fenway-style popcorn, snacks
from hot dog stands, a guest appearance by Red Sox mascot Wally, and a Keith
Lockhart-run T-shirt cannon blasting Boston Pops gear into the crowds.
Tickets for Red Sox Night run $22 to $92 dollars and may be purchased by calling
888-266-1200, at the Symphony Hall box office or at www.bostonpops.org. For more
information, including ticket information, photos, and artist bios, please visit
MORE ON THE DROPKICK MURPHYS
Since they first hit the scene in 1996, this seven-piece Celtic-American punk
rock group has racked up record sales in excess of 3 million worldwide. Their
smash hit single "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" exceeded platinum status and was
featured in Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-winning film, The Departed. Their
2007 offering, The Meanest of Times, debuted in the Billboard Top 20, marking
the band's highest chart entry to date and heralding the formal arrival of their
independent label Born & Bred Records. The band has sold out shows worldwide and
cultivated one of the most fervent fan bases in rock music. They even penned
"Tessie" the theme song to the first Red Sox World Series win in 86 years. The
band's most recent album, Going Out In Style, released in March 2011 on Born &
Bred Records, is both explosive and endearing. Although, the Boston Pops
released an orchestration of "I'm Shipping up to Boston" on The Red Sox Album,
"Red Sox Night" marks the Dropkick Murphy's Boston Pops debut.
THE BOSTON POPS AND THE BOSTON RED SOX
[Ann Hampton Callaway]The Boston Pops and the Boston Red Sox have had a storied
history of working together in recent years. In 2009, the Boston Pops Orchestra
released The Red Sox Album, produced in conjunction with the Boston Red Sox and
Major League Baseball, on opening day of the Red Sox 2009 season. In
celebration of the release, Keith Lockhart and members of the Boston Pops were
featured in a performance during the Red Sox opening day festivities. Boston
Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams, Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, and
Boston Symphony Music Director Laureate Seiji Ozawa have also had the honor of
throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Red Sox game.
The music of Laureate Conductor John Williams, whose "Fanfare for Fenway" will
be featured at the "City of Champions" and "Red Sox Night" concerts, has had a
long-time connection to the team and ballpark. A portion of the 2005 Opening Day
Ring Ceremony, celebrating the first Red Sox Championship in 86 years, was set
to a John Williams medley that featured the "Main Theme" from Star Wars,
"Raiders March" from Indiana Jones, and the "Theme" from Jurassic Park,
performed by musicians from the Boston Pops. Williams' music was also featured
prominently during the 2008 Opening Day Ceremony as players received their World
Series Rings and the second World Championship banner in four years was hoisted
to the composers "A Hymn To New England," performed by the Boston Pops Brass
Ensemble. That opening ceremony also featured the "Main Theme" to Superman,
"Throne and End Title" from Star Wars: Episode IV, and "Raiders March" from
Additionally, various members of the Red Sox, both past and present, have
appeared in performances at Symphony Hall including former Manager Terry
Francona and 1967 Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg. Various Pops ensembles have
also performed at Fenway Park during some of the Red Sox' most memorable
moments. On July 4, 2007, right in the middle of what would become a World
Series-winning season for the Red Sox, Keith Lockhart led members of the Boston
Pops in the "The Star-Spangled Banner." Later that fall, for Game One of the
2007 World Series, the ensemble returned to Fenway Park for another performance
of the National Anthem, this time under the direction of John Williams.
For more information about Fenway Park's 100th Anniversary, visit
fenwaypark100.com. For information about the Boston Pops, visit bostonpops.org.
2012 BOSTON POPS SEASON OVERVIEW
The Boston Pops 2012 unifying theme, Visions of America, inspires a season
dedicated to celebrating many of this country's greatest musical traditions,
culminating in a multimedia "Visions of America Photo Symphony" program to end
the season on June 14, 15, and 16. These special concerts will feature R&B
sensation Patti Austin, jazz vocalist Steve Tyrell, photographs by Joseph Sohm,
music by Roger Kellaway, and lyrics by the unrivaled team of Alan and Marilyn
Bergman, with a recorded narration provided by Clint Eastwood.
During the 2012 spring season, the Boston Pops will usher in a series of
exciting talents to pay tribute to a wide range of American musical genres.
Comedian, author, musician and all-around king of artistic versatility Steve
Martin will pluck the strings of his banjo for his Boston Pops debut with The
Steep Canyon Rangers on May 29 and 30, and for "Presidents at Pops" on May 31.
John Williams, who celebrates his 80th birthday in 2012, will lead the
ever-popular Film Night on Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, featuring music
from many of the cinematic masterpieces that launched the Boston Pops Laureate
Conductor to worldwide acclaim. Mr. Williams also shares the podium with Keith
Lockhart for "Presidents at Pops" on May 31. Gospel Night at Pops celebrates a
milestone as well, when conductor Charles Floyd raises the voices of the Boston
Pops Gospel Choir on the 20th annual performance of this transcendent program.
The Saturday, June 9 Gospel Night concert will feature FOX Network's American
Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle, winner of BET Network's Sunday's Best Crystal
Aikin, and Boston Pops cellist Owen Young. The Pops pay tribute to Barbra
Streisand on May 15 and 16 with captivating vocals from Ann Hampton Callaway, a
great interpreter of the American Songbook. Cole Porter, one of the most
prolific contributors to the American Songbook, will also receive a Boston Pops
salute with the dynamic husband-and-wife Broadway showstoppers Jason Danieley
and Marin Mazzie on June 5, 6, and 8. This season also features a Wild West
Night on June 12 and 13 with the three young members of the genre-trailblazing
string trio Time For Three.
Tickets for the 2012 Boston Pops season at Symphony Hall are priced from
$22-$92. All performances start at 8 PM, except for the Family Matinee on May 12
at 3PM. Tickets for "Opening Night at Pops" on May 9 are priced from $41 to
Tickets may be purchased online at www.bostonpops.org or by phone through
SymphonyCharge at 617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200, Monday through Saturday from 10
AM to 6 PM (with a $6.25 handling fee for each ticket ordered online or by
phone). Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Symphony Hall box office,
open 10 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday, and noon to 6 PM on Saturday. On
concert days during the Pops Season, the box office remains open until 8:30 PM.
Most major credit cards and cash are accepted at the box office. For Group Sales
of 25 or more, please call 617-638-9345 or 800-933-4255.
The Boston Symphony has a dedicated line for disabled patrons who would like to
purchase tickets to BSO, Boston Pops, or Tanglewood concerts, or who need
information about disability services at Symphony Hall or Tanglewood. This line
can be reached by dialing 617-638-9431. For access via TDD/TTY, please call
617-638-9289. Patrons with disabilities can access Symphony Hall through the
Cohen Wing on Huntington Avenue or through the Massachusetts Avenue entrance.
Opening Night at Pops and the entire 2012 Boston Pops season are sponsored by
Fidelity Investments. The June 5th Cole Porter Tribute concert is sponsored by
The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012. The
Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel is the official Hotel of the Boston Pops. The City
of Champions Series (May 23-25) is sponsored by Arbella Insurance Group
Charitable Foundation. Commonwealth Worldwide is the Official Chauffeured
Transportation Provider of the Boston Pops. American Airlines is the Airline
Partner of the Boston Pops.
BOSTON POPS 2012 SEASON LISTING: CITY OF CHAMPIONS MAY 23-24
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Saturday, May 25, 2012
City of Champions
Red Sox Night (May 24)
Keith Lockhart, conductor
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor
Andre Tippett, special guest
James Demler, guest artist
Additional special guests from the Red Sox TBA
Bernadette Horgan, Director of Public Relations (bhorgan@...) 617-638-9285
Kathleen Drohan, Assoc. Director of Public Relations (kdrohan@...)
BSO | 301 Massachusetts Avenue | Symphony Hall | Boston, MA 02115 |
It is with tremendous sorrow that I just learned of the death of one of my
all-time favorite rock singers, Donna Summer, who was both born and raised, as I
recall, in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Though the world dance music star phase of Donna Summer's career, which most of
us mainly know, got under way in Europe, she was a Boston gal: she was Boston's
"queen of the discos" before she was known anywhere else and she was a veteran
of such 1960s Boston hotspots as the Psychedelic Supermarket.
I am drawing a momentary blank on the song written for Summer by Bruce
Springsteen - he played lead guitar on her recording of it - but I would stack
that one, "Bad Girls," "She Works Hard for the Money," no doubt others, and
especially "Walk Away" against any records made by anyone in the rock era.
Donna Summer was a classic artist.
Evidently Summer died of cancer at age 63. The best sources I saw online said
this is a breaking news story and urged us to check back.
I am sending this quick message against the possibility many of our readers have
not yet seen or heard this news.
Donna Summer, 63
R i P
We have a few things that may be of interest.
First, I must say it would never have occurred to me that Donna Summer EVEN
MIGHT NOT be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What in heaven's name does it
take? Donna Summer was one of the biggest international dance music stars ever.
Much more could be said, but I am on duty and have got to be quick.
Second, while I do not have details at hand, Tom Rush has arranged for one of
those big shows he is in part known for at Symphony Hall in Boston. Please
check TomRush.com for details.
Third, I just checked, and I can't get at the URL for a great Patty Larkin
video. If you are a Patty L fan and want this viewing/listening experience,
please write me at
and I'll send the direct Web address of forward the announcement.
Sorry I can't do more on this. I thought for sure I had forwarded the press
release to our newsletter's GMail account. Appears I was wrong.
Fourth, right now I am listening to JoEllen's latest WMFO-FM Boston local music
broadcast. If you would like to do the same, go to
and click on the link that says something to the effect of Play Archive. As far
as I can tell, the WMFO archive has been expanded. I'm checking in with JoEllen
on this question. More later.
JoEllen's latest broadcast is positively up my line, and I am telling lots of
people about it.
Fifth, we have received a press release having to do with JJ Rassler. Rassler
is an amazing rocker. His 1970s Boston punk rock band, DMZ, was one of my
favorites, along with Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band. Much more
recently, with his retro band The Down Beat 5, Rassler recorded quite possibly
the most authentic 1950s rock and roll guitar instrumental I have heard since
the 1950s. Rassler's career has had many ins and outs, ups and downs, and
arounds and arounds. As they used to say of Bob Dylan, he has been through a
lot of changes. What holds it all together is that Rassler is terrific.
If you check out the press release which appears below, happy reading!
Here is hoping I can be back in touch soon. Sorry this is extremely rushed.
PRESS RELEASE - JUNE 15
Friday June 15 @ Bayside Bowl
Somewhere along the border between historical and hysterical,
rides the Boston guitar-slinger known as JJ Rassler.
Forming his signature feral sound in the legendary 70's
garage band, DMZ, Rassler went on to front the Odds,
worked as songwriting collaborator, guitarist and producer for
punk stalwarts, the Queers in the 80's and 90's, contributing
to some of their highlight releases according to All Music Guide.
In 2000 Rassler started the Downbeat 5 which brought him and
his then wife, now Jenny Dee, to prominence and a much wider
audience. Gracing the same stage as many of rock's current
national and international bands, and many living legends, the
Downbeat 5 wrote their own chapter.
Today, in addition to his shows with The Downbeat 5 and an
occasional DMZ onslaught, Rassler has brought together some
valued friends & cohorts to form JJ Rassler & Thee Cuban Heels,
a project inspired by all the rock & roll he grew up with on the
streets of Philadelphia in the 50s and 60s. A perfect mix of R&B,
Soul, Country and the straight ahead ragged Rock & Roll he is
known for, Rassler is right at home with longtime friend Mike
Yocco on bass, upstart Julian Hammond on guitar and
legendary drummer Dan Styklunas. A must-see group!
Their latest release, Behold!, is out now on Green Mist records.
As dangerous as a street fight and as steamy as the romantic
aftermath, Thee Cuban Heels bring home to audiences,
what real rock & roll is all about.
Also on the bill are The Flipsides who perform a mix of early
R&Beat and Rock originals, all designed to fill the dance floor.
The Flipsides are fronted by Portland's own Chris Horne,
singer, songwriter & guitarist of the legendary all-girl band,
The Brood. Rounding out the line-up are Doug DelleFemine,
Joe Potter & Mick Majka, all veteran musicians who know how
to keep it rocking & fun. Their brand of up-tempo madness
can best be described as Chuck Berry meets "Louie-Louie"!
Opening the night is special guest Bart Joy, who steps away
from his role as lead guitarist of The Heeby-Jeebies to go solo.
Presenting an acoustic collection of songs that would make
Townes Van Zandt proud, Dino Valenti swoon, and Neil Young
sit up & take notice. Bart Joy sings and plays straight from
the heart, handling all the musical intricacies with ease.
SHOW STARTS AT 8PM
BAYSIDE BOWL - 58 Alder Street
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