Why was I surprised? I commented again, as I have for the past four years, on the annual Jamaica Plain Music Festival. I love it, but I am not a slavish schmuck who will defend it in every aspect against all critics.
I thank UniversalHub for its one-sentence citation that produced a thousand or so hits on what was fundamentally a photo spread. Yet, the few commenters who went on and on about how I had no right to dare criticize the audience can stuff it. Sorry, kiddies, I lived 21 years n JP, saw it swing to hipster-lite, and do damned well have that right.
Here’s a word or 12 to the anonymous sorts at UH, come over here or even stay on UH and leave a email. We can deal with your issues.
Regardless, I had a busy day yesterday and didn’t really comment on the third or so of the groups we heard and saw. For a recap, let me spew:
- Red Dog, was not ready for even minor league. It’s a garage band, heavy on bass guitar, that is strong on beat and very low on lyrics. Try again.
- Allison Francis. She does good deeds and has good politics, but there’s a reason she was at the top (lower end) of the bill. Her voice is so-so and lyrics predictable.
- Afro D All Starz. were super hot. Theywere a relative big band with a variety of instruments, voices and words. Expect to hear more of and from them. We loved them.
- Jesse & The Hogg Brothers. We found them entirely forgettable. As Southerners ourselves, we were stunned by their simplistic, clichéd words and sentiments. This was like someone making fun of New England Yankees. No. They exceed the limit of cute.
- What Time Is It Mr. Fox? Shtick or not, these guys win. They have good costumes and far better music. They went far beyond clever, blending camp and good to great music, both instrumental and vocal. We’ll buy their stuff.’
- Peter Sykes. Tinny and under-amplified harpsichordist was perfectly adequate for recital-classic tunes. He was not right for an open venue to engage a large audience.
- Hobo Chili. A fun group came in with lots of horns and other instruments and a variety of vocalists. They were totally fun, but no way would you say they were your weekend listening choice. They are really strong on horns and can likely develop.
- Coyote Kolb. They are better on their website than at Pine Bank. There’s a Black Keys pretense that they did not deliver in JP. I like their recorded tunes, but their JP Fest showing was bland.
- The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library. This was a big hit of the afternoon, both musically and visually. We were amused by the sexy librarian conceit but more pleased by the solid performance and lyrics. Their CDs are well worth the price.
- Merrie Amsterburg. She has a tinny voice, worthy of a student broadcaster on WERS. Nuff said.
Overview of our afternoon, is that we got a lot for free, but not everything was a gem. Do come…every year…and expect fine entertainment. If your go to the Lowell Folk Festival at the end of July, you’ll return with some keeper CDs and at least two new favorites you wondered how you didn’t know before the weekend. The JP Music fest might produce one or two on on great year that are spectacular.
We can do the you-get-what-your-pay-for jive. Lowell is far better, but, hey, JP is free, is local and easy to get to.