Keep on Moving

Keep on Movin’: A Sonic Synopsis: Music in mansions? Music in parking lots? Check and check.

For this edition of Keep on Movin’, a rundown on some notable fall happenings. The cooler weather brings a lot of great things to do, and an excuse to get inside and avoid the dreaded EEE menace.

Thu, Sep 19 | Ken Stringfellow @ Brown University’s Music Mansion

Ken Stringfellow brings his solo tour to an unorthodox spot for a rock musician: Brown’s Music Mansion, a former residence that usually hosts sophisticated classical music and student recitals. I once watched a solo performer play a whole piece on only a slide whistle there, which the audience seemed to find very impressive. Stringfellow is a power pop songwriter known for his work with the Posies, and he has also joined in reunion tours with Big Star. For this string of shows, he’s revisiting his landmark album Touched.


Sat, Sep 21 | Unnatural Acts Festival @ The Narrows Center

The Narrows’ new festival aims to “celebrate the diversity of music and the arts through a mashup of styles, sounds and ideas.” And if their past festivals are any indication, this one should be a good time. Headlining the event are Ward Hayden and the Outliers (formerly Girls Guns and Glory) and The Proletariat, local punk favorites that started at what was then Southeastern Massachusetts University right down the road. The event will also feature the booming vocals of Julie Rhodes and spoken word by Christopher Johnson, and they’re throwing in some reggae (Errol Strength and the Conscious Band) and jazz (Ken Clark Organ Trio) for good measure.

And they say nothing is more rock ‘n’ roll than improved efficiency in election procedures, which is why the organization Voter Choice Massachusetts will be on hand to advocate for Ranked Choice Voting. More at: 

Sat, Sep 28 | Double Feature @ Nick-A-Nee’s

Starting at 4pm, Nick-A-Nee’s hosts Dylan Harley from the Horse Eyed Men playing some of his songs, along with guest sets. Harley has some excellent solo material in his own right – check out his full length Moirai.

Drink a few beers, then head home for a nap and come back for the Figgs at night. These frequent backer-uppers of Graham Parker have been cranking out solid, pop-tinged rock tunes and hitting the road hard since the early ’90s. They always give their all for a live show, and the damn thing is free!

Wed, Oct 2 | Luna @ Greenwich Odeum

Next month, the historic-sounding Greenwich Odeum hosts Luna, a band that carved out a niche in their own indie-pop idiom. Their earnest, retro rock may not have fit in with the alt rock of the era, but their 1995 album Penthouse is a cult classic for good reason. 

Fri, Oct 11 | Ray LaMontagne @ PPAC

I have always been a casual fan of LaMontagne’s calloused-but-smooth voice of an angel, as well his outsider approach to the music business. He’s supporting his new Part of the Light album, which does sound a bit more produced and slick than past records, but single “Paper Man” is a compelling rocker.

Thu, Oct 17 | Rhett Miller @ Columbus Theater

Old 97s had some really great music of the alt-country persuasion — “Time Bomb” was one I listened to probably 200 times — and Rhett Miller has released quite a few albums of pared-down solo material, most recently 2018’s The Messenger.

New Release Radar

Night Nurses — Etiquette

Night Nurses, the duo of Lee Preston and Chaimes Parker, create a batch of dreamy, Sunday night songs to settle down to, with the help of collaborators like Roz Raskin and Ant Savino. The pleasantly dreamy “Echo Park” sounds like a more upbeat beach house, and “BattleDress” creates a chaotic, noisy noir effect. 

In some cases, like “April’s Fool,” the production smothers everything like a down comforter of reverb during a heatwave, but there’s a lot to like in Night Nurses’ spaced-out, psychedelic sound. Check it:

Museum Legs — It Either Breaks Or It Doesn’t

It Either Breaks… is the second album in Penn Sultan’s Museum Legs trilogy, and builds on the template he created with his debut, Giving the Clock Its Weight, Its Sway. The sprawling, repetitive finger picking and clever instrumentation are boosted by an increase in great vocal contributions from MorganEve Swain. Check out the interesting guitar interplay on “Cold Grease” and the slow, reggae-like groove of “That’s Life, Anyway.” Sultan dives into the culture wars on tracks like “Alternative Warfare,” which basically tells racists assholes to f off and take a different tack. Check it:

And for some proof that the internet is occasionally still an alright place, mention must be made of the single “The Day the Cardi Died” by a group called death by chocolate. It’s a Weird Al-esque take on the death of beloved local furniture magnate Nick Cardi sung to the tune of “American Pie.” An excerpt:

“Bye, Bye Mr. Furniture Guy/Saw a Cardi Brothers mattress that I didn’t buy/And Ron and Pete were eating Friskie Fries, singing ‘Nick Why did you have to die?’

It’s got it all — local references, condolence tweets and the protagonists smoking weed in the Cardi’s parking lot in tribute. It’s just a pared-down piano track probably recorded on an iPhone, but I’m hoping for the full band version coming soon, perhaps accompanied by the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Check it: