Next up! Spooktacular!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Summer sun, something's begun, but uh-oh those summer nights

Part 4

The next month features a show a weekend, wrapping up the summer and plowing straight into the last festival of the summer. The Kate is a gorgeous theatre, renovated in the past few years and now a world class music and performance venue. I throw the word special around a lot, but it’s an apt adjective in this case. The Kate was a special show, the band has never failed to surprise me with their level of naïveté and by the same token their guile, they remain keenly aware of the circumstances they find themselves in and still manage to drink in the entirety of the experience. They exhibit a strange brand of wisdom blended with a joi de vivre that you can’t help but find intoxicating. The crowd feels it, their excitement and joy for the band reflected right back to them twofold, the guys giving as they receive. The audience that night contained a fine representation of McLovination, Dave and Elizabeth Bayne, Krista and Paris, Dave Malloy, Dan O and Eve, Dan Tyler and some new southern Connecticut fans helped bring out the best in the band and another wildly improvisational performance was the result.

The next weekend was the Open House at Gengras Harley Davidson and The Mclovins were tapped to provide the afternoon’s entertainment. John Dailey and Dave Malloy both showed up to tape the show, it dad been a few gigs since I’d seen John and his presence has been missed. Jim Cypher also showed up, a gentleman and a scholar who took some amazing pictures of the day’s events. Summer stalwarts Paris and Krista and The 2 Dans and Eve made their customary appearances. Joe Neckbone and Tom Bavarro with his kids in tow made the show. The band turned in a concise and precise set peppering a few returning “Conundrum” songs in to the mix and giving the crowd just what they wanted. If you listen to the recordings you can hear the motorcycles zipping in and out all afternoon.

And now for something completely different; David Malloy is one of the rock-solid fans; I first met him at the Phish Pre-show last summer, and was instantly struck by his easy-going demeanor and musical acumen. David was in charge of handling the music for this year’s Haddam Neck Fair, and he chose to book the McLovins for a Sunday afternoon Labor Day weekend gig. They opened for Aztec Two-Step, and played to an energetic crowd of a couple hundred. This was an agricultural fair so the redolent smell of the harvest, along with roasted chicken and the slight hint of livestock filled the air. A wonderful turnout from the McLovin faithful, Dan O who sat in with the guys On Cissy Strut to start the second set; Wil Kablik, Joe Neckbone, Paris and Krista and dozens of new friends. The band was at ease during the performance, the setting was idyllic and they turned in a wonderfully languid show, lose and experimental, really stretching out and trying some new things. Now we had to wait 2 weeks for the final party of the summer, for next up was WORMTOWN!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer days driftin' away,

Part 3

This is where the summer flies by at a manic pace, a blur really. I ended up after Vibes with a touch of pneumonia and was not at my best for a couple weeks. Granby In the Park at Salmon Brook Park was down the road about 2 miles from the house so the closest show of the summer by far. It was an amazing night of easy-ups and lawn chairs; ice cream and Frisbees. The troops were out in force for this one, Dan, Dan and Eve, Krista and Paris, Dancelovin and his crew, The Girl who Can’t Smell and a couple hundred others. Jeff put the whole night into perspective by saying, ‘In front of the stage, crazy dance party, out in the lawn….old lady picnic.” Wonderful set, a nice reprise of the “Land Down Under from Vibes and for everyone who stayed after the show, a piece of 2nd birthday cake and some more special memories.

A week later and it’s a trip up to Mill Pond in Canton for another Jeff homecoming. The parks and recreation folk had said that these Thursday night concerts usually draw less than 50 people, but within a few minutes of the shows start, the crowd has easily grown to around 500. Another well attended show from the faithful followers, Kyle Mullins, who was instrumental in putting on the Canton High school concert was there, Mike Donagher from Vibes, Joe Neckbone, Tommy Bavarro, Sara from New York, Dancelovin, Krista and Paris and a cast of hundreds. The show saw The Groove Smugglers play twice with the band, the debut of “Whip It!” with the flower pot hats, and the live debut of “Good Catch” featuring the elusive Jeff Howard vocal. Greg h and Bryan did a fantastic job of manning the merch table for the late-arriving Deb Ott and another McLovins dance party works its way into the late summer darkness.

I missed the next weekend which was the whirlwind return to Burlington for back to back performances at the Maritime Festival and Nectar’s. Elizabeth and Dave Bayne represented the Connecticut ragers at the waterfront show. I did manage to catch the Nectar’s show streaming live on UStream, as I tried to moderate the chatroom from the comfort of my deathbed, the respiratory troubles still hanging on... Half-way through the second set, I could see the door behind the stage open and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals walked in, fresh from their performance at the Maritime Festival. Nectar’s has been very good to the guys and they always come bringing their “A” game.

So the next Friday it’s a day off from work as we trek back up the Mass pike to New York and hit the Bella Terra festival. Dan Bennett is cruising down the pike and we wave on the way by, on our way to an afternoon performance. There was a nice turnout, a quick set followed by some interview time and a meeting with Barefoot Truth. BT had played up at the Keene Solar Fest where this summer had started, and we tagged their amazing band trailer with the classic McLovins bumper sticker. The new purple skull stickers had just come in so one had to find its way onto their trailer. Barefoot Truth is one of the best bands that the guys have played with this summer, self-assured and professional, doing the work and getting it done.

We’ve winnowed the summer away, and are now down to just a handful of dates, and looks like summer is scheduled to end right on time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summer lovin' happened so fast..

Part 2

Now where was I… oh yes, Post-Phish McLovins 2010. The next show on the docket was June 26th at The Main Pub in Manchester, a warm-up for the following week’s performance at the inaugural Nateva Festival. The opening act Buzz Universe came up from New York to play pretty much on faith, the Mclovins chatter drawing them up to try and widen their base a bit. Main Pub is turning into the go-to local venue for the band, Keith runs this fantastic room located a bit west of Hartford and more of a sure-thing attendance wise than other local venues. Most of the old guard showed up, Bill Trzpit, Dave Malloy, and a few new pick-ups that would become summer regulars. Krista and Paris Labbe who caught the Phish-After show the week before, Nolan Dionne who only saw part of the show and Joe Neckbone; an internet regular finally seeing what it’s all about. This was a remarkable show, the band setting up in their now-standard configuration with Jason dead center. Everything the band had been exposed to the past few weeks, the Phish shows included; culminating in a barn-burning performance. The highlight of which was the debut of a Tweezer-Rerprise that shook the building as bottles were literally jumping off the shelves.

Nateva was the next weekend, Bryan and I trundled our way up north, picking Kayla up along the way and we pulled into Oxford, Me. around 11:00. I had to smile as I saw Krista and Paris a few cars ahead up as we were parking. We got into the festival grounds and caught up with the band, spent some time street-teaming and handing out bumper stickers and flyers during the Ryan Montbleau set and trying to draw just a few more moths to the McLovins flame. I managed to touch base with Justin Towle, a Maine fan of the guys who was catching his first show, and McLovins regular Dan Bennet, dancing and smiling every time I saw him. Pam Koslov was also working the festival; lavishing the band with attention and treating them like kings! Their now legendary show drew a crowd of over 2,000, many of them first-timers who couldn’t pass up the chance to see the guys play, and which I feel may have been the summer’s most perfect set, a 45 minute wonder climaxing with Tweezer Reprise; tapping into the zeitgeist of Phish’s summer of Tweeprise. As if that wasn’t a big enough day; the band visited backstage at the Main Stage, met Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, were invited to dance onstage in costume during the beginning of the first set and managed to spend the entire show onstage with the band!

The guys caught a breather for a couple weeks while Jeff and his family visited Israel and their next live show was a return to Main Pub for a steamy summer afternoon Anniversary block party. The guys played after The Brothers McCann, who also played when the Mclovins visited StrangeCreek the beginning of the summer. This was another smoking set; no cobwebs from the nearly 2 week layoff were visible, with tons of the Mclovins family present. Mike McCoy, Bill Clifford, Dan and Eve, Tim and Dan Tyler, Krista and Paris, Kayla, Bryan, Ryan Holowesko and Bill T all showed up and helped to make this a very special show. Keith again was super-supportive of the band, gave them a great slot to play and overall just continues to provide so many opportunities for the band to shine.

Vibes… what can you really say, it was massive and it was awesome, we were 2,000 strong and we marched. We were all there in that moment, one heart one soul…and just wait until next year; we’ve just scratched the surface.

And the summer still isn’t over, there’s a bit more to come…

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Summer lovin' had me a blast..

Part 1

Labor Day comes along right on schedule, and it’s re-appearance means that it’s the un-official end of summer.. another summer of The McLovins. Indulge an old man a bit as I stumble backward through the dusty halls of my short-term memory to recap this summer that was.

The summer began for me a little early this year with a late April show up @ Keene State at the Solar-Fest. Back at the scene of the crime as it was, the November show in Keene was the initial push to cultivate a college fanbase and the reception the band received on their return in April was amazing. This show followed the spring recording sessions that would soon become the “Good Catch” album and this performance saw the debut of the “facemelt” shirt and limited WaterWheel poster. We met super-fan Nipper Jellie, hooked up with Keene State friends George Barber, Ian Galipeau and the band shared the bill with Barefoot Truth, a great bunch of guys.

The McLovins debut @ Infinity Hall came next on May 7th, and the fans made this venerable old hall a sell-out. The Groove Smugglers played a set and sat in with the band on the debut of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”. Dan Ogrodnik, Dan Tyler and Mike Lamanga turned in an awesome set, Eve Windebank created an amazing poster for this show, and her limited edition print was a pre-sale premium. Will and Win from the Barn Show made their way down the hill to rage a bit, this was Jim Cypher’s first show and a ton of friends and relatives of the band packed the show as walls just shook.

A week later and it’s up to the bucolic village of Woodstock NY and a performance opening for Max Creek at the Bearsville Theater. The band had traveled earlier in the week up to WDST to record some promos for the new album and to promote their upcoming Mountain Jam performance, and the energy was high for this show. I formally met Jim Cypher, and managed to drag my brother-in-law to the gig (he still thanks me for this), and I met Drew Frankel, WDST dj and a big fan and tireless promoter of The McLovins. Also in attendance was Lori Ann Christina who writes for Coventry Blog and I couldn’t help but smile as she fell under the band’s spell.

May 27th and its back up to Troy New York and the last rock show at Revolution hall presented by Albany based Uber-Promoter Greg Bell. 7 Walkers headlined and were very nice to the guys with Bill Kreutzman and George Porter Jr in particular taken with the energy and professionalism of The McLovins. Jeanette Olsen, Phanart Pete Mason and I think Brock R showed up, all of the Albany crowd who’ve been super-supportive of the band. Scott Decker managed to come down with his daughters and say hi.

Two days later and its up to the wilds of western Massachusetts for StrangeCreek at Camp Keewanee. A surprise jam in the kid’s tent on Saturday afternoon leads to a packed main stage performance on Sunday. The first festival of the summer brings some nice surprises, a Consider The Source performance out in the woods, Jeff Pevar catching part of Saturday and Sunday’s set, and the die is cast for the summer festivals to follow.

The next weekend brought Mountain Jam and it was an interesting beast, a jam festival on the grounds of a gorgeous ski resort. Dodging rainclouds all weekend, the band played before a crowd of about 400 on the Colonels Hall stage, a couple big bust-outs and Jeff Howard hopping on top of a stage case were the highlights of the set. Got to hook up with Brandon Bosserman and Jen Fureman, Dan Bennet was prowling the crowd and I also finally met Pam Koslov who was so kind and attentive to the boys during their Gathering Of The Vibes show last summer. Jeanette Olsen showed up and did yeoman’s work, again helping during the frantic merch table crush after the set.

A week later and The McLovins perform a benefit concert at Canton High School, Jeff’s alma mater. Kyle Mullins helped set up the show, they had a nice hard-core audience, Dan Bennet was there, he’s getting to be a familiar sight on these McLovins weekends.

The next 2 weeks were pivotal for the band as a confluence of events, the Phish tour storming through the northeast, and some old fashioned band team building, set the stage for the direction their music would take the rest of the summer. Phish came into Hartford for a Thursday and Friday night show as The Mclovins played an after-show at Black Eyed Sally’s on the 17th and Jeff caught the Friday night Phish show. The band then played a show at Sullivan Hall in NYC on the Saturday the 19th and Jason, Jake and Jeff caught Phish down at Camden NJ the next week. The BES show was a bit under-attended, the mid-week slot and the length of the Phish show both contributed to the turnout. The band soldiered on, playing their hearts out for the people that were there and turned in a very loose and improvisational show. The Sullivan Hall show was a showcase for some NYC music students and there wasn’t a large contingent of McLovins fans there but again the band put on a solid performance in these less than ideal conditions. The biggest impact of this week and a half had to be the trip down to Camden. Not only did the band get to experience some amazing music as a group, but they also got to spend some time with Cecil and Tom Marshall. In the weeks to come, the influence of this Phishiest of experiences starts to permeate their live performances.