Local folk rock outfit The Mighty Good Boys are out with their second album, The God-King Gerald Ford, and it’s a real banger, as the kids would say. The album represents a superb sophomore effort for the group, whose mature songwriting and ambitious musical arrangements set them apart in a crowded field of local rootsy rock ‘n’ roll bands.
At times, Americana-style music seems to be at risk of becoming a fad, generified to the level of bands like the Lumineers. Like The Band, The MGB inject the traditional music template with their own brand of edge and electricity.
Gerald Ford features decidedly more ambitious material than their debut album, It Ain’t Easy. They move fluidly from bar band blues rock to folk to sprawling, Crazy Horse-style guitar jams that show they’re putting it all on the line.
Lyrically, the album is like multiple Dylan eras rolled into one, exploring themes of Christianity, morality, family and fractured relationships. The meditative “What’s a Man” deals with some age-old questions related to masculinity (“What’s a man to do without a woman to break his heart/what’s a man to prove without a woman to wrench his brain apart”), with an awesome, horn-laden outro to boot. “Jacob” is a beautiful pseudo-hymn ostensibly referencing the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, and “Oh God” wrestles with faith in the wake of tragedy.
The album’s strengths lie in its simple presentation and imperfections; from the rawness and clutter come moments of utter clarity. Gerald Ford feels like a living, breathing organism, instead of content propped up by a bunch of studio wizardry.
That we live in a community where you can head to the local saloon and see a band like The MGB play this kind of earnest, impactful music is good news for everybody.
The God-King Gerald Ford can be purchased at: themightygoodboys.bandcamp.com/album/the-god-king-gerald-ford
Narrows Center Festival of the Arts
Every Narrows festival deserves promotion, because they throw some of the best free events in the area. This year’s headliners are local blues legends Neal and the Vipers and The Iguanas, a New Orleans favorite that mix different styles of Latin music and describe themselves as “distillers of this continental musical mélange.” Also in attendance will be amped-up instrumental act Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas, and jazz guitarist John Stein, as well as Colorway, a Western Mass trio with great rock songs and one hell of a guitar player.
Festival of the Arts happens Sun, Sep 9 from 11am – 7pm at 16 Anawan St in Fall River
Steven Page Trio
Also taking the stage at the Narrows is the Steven Page Trio. Page was the principal songwriter for The Barenaked Ladies, and it’s crazy to think that almost a decade has gone by since he left the band. I’ve always felt The Barenaked Ladies was somewhat underrated, as the megahit “One Week” barely scratches the surface of their top-notch material.
Steven Page Trio takes the stage at The Narrows on Oct 5. And it’s a big month for the Narrows, they’re also hosting guitar shaman Nils Lofgren on Sep 26.
The Jesus Lizard at the Royale is a show I fully expect to be worth the trip up to Beantown. The band released a string of experimental, abrasive albums throughout the ’90s that sound kind of like Nirvana with none of the commercial appeal and all of the wonderful clamor.
The Jesus Lizard hits the Royale on Sep 7.
Outlaw Music Fest
I’m not always a big proponent of the “big box” summer tours, but if you can deal with the $30 beers and horrible parking situation at the Xfinity Center, this year’s Outlaw Music Festival sports a pretty solid lineup. Ultra-produced artists have turned much of modern country music to watered-down drivel, but Margo Price and Sturgill Simpson are two bright lights in the fight against so called “bro country.” Headliner Willie Nelson is a stoned cold songwriting legend, and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats do their own solid brand of soul. The lineup also includes Lukas Nelson + Promise of the Real and Particle Kid.
The Outlaw Music Festival hits the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass on Sep 21.
Tanya Donnelly on WTF Podcast
Give a listen to the recent episode of the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast featuring Tanya Donnelly for some local rock mythology. In a wide-ranging interview, Donnelly discusses everything from her upbringing in Newport and the early days of Throwing Muses with Kristin Hersh, to moving to Boston, palling around with the Pixies and the rise and fall of Belly. The most RI moment? When talking about Newport’s small-town feel, Donnelly said there’s “no way to extricate yourself from the Island.” Earlier this year, Belly released Dove, their first album since 1995. The episode provides an interesting look into what it means to make your living as a musician.
Access the podcast here: wtfpod.com/podcast/episode-944-tanya-donelly-jason-bateman