It used to be that one sure way to check guitar lovers' bona fides was to ask their favorites. If Michael Hedges or Ry Cooder wasn't on the list, you had cause for doubt. Now here's another secret password for the devotees' club: D'Gary (given name: Ernest Randrianasolo), the acoustic maestro from Madagascar. He's not new: Two critics in these pages picked his "Horombe" disc as among the best of 1995, and a couple of years later, "Mbo Loza" arrived with similar satisfaction. Now comes "Akata Meso," which is both the same and different. Read more »
It's not surprising that the jacket of "Mercyland" contains about 40 images of the New Orleans rockers Cowboy Mouth in concert, because live is where they shine. Drummer and band leader Fred LeBlanc is arresting onstage, sweating and spitting, and leaving a semicircle of woodchips -- evidence of what happens to drumsticks at high power. Alas, it's also not surprising -- given previous releases -- that what's inside is just regular rock 'n' roll. The tunes could have been created by any band or even by these boys four years ago; their sound hasn't gone anywhere. Read more »
Coco Montoya has reserved a spot for his mentor and musical father, Albert Collins, on each of his five albums. In 1995, it was Collins's "Gotta Mind To Travel," and the result was one of its hottest tracks.
On the new "Can't Look Back," it happens again: Montoya blisters through Collins's "Same Old Thing," stretching out in a way he chooses not to with most of his own compositions.
Montoya also likes to put some soul into his mix. This time, he takes a run through "Something About You," the Dozier/Holland/Dozier tune popularized by the Four Tops in 1965. Read more »
PROVIDENCE - The typical U2 concert, if such events could ever be called typical, is made up of equal parts of love and politics, showmanship and musicianship, Bono and the Edge.
At the Big Donut in Providence Tuesday night, the band added a heavy helping of good old American patriotism, egged on by the lead singer's numerous allusions to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Read more »
Back when having a five-CD changer in your car was new and impressive, I had one that sat in my trunk and sent songs to my FM radio. It worked on one of only four frequencies, all at the lower end of the dial, but one of them was unused in my area, so it was fine as long as I didn't drive to New Jersey.
That was a long time ago, particularly in electronics years, which has me wondering why the Griffin iTrip, a good-looking iPod attachment based on the same idea, is so hard to get along with. Read more »
There's no veneer to Jean-Luc Ponty, the jazz violinist who's appearing at Berklee Performance Center Thursday night.
You might expect, and could forgive, a little crustiness if you consider his path: decades of performing, thousands of concerts, hundreds of venues, and dozens of tours in countries uncounted. After classical training and a symphony job right after, he helped shape the futures of rock and jazz during stints with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. He's been a successful bandleader and composer for more than 25 years. Read more »
NEW YORK - Oh, you jaded listener. You don't know the name Habib Koite, and you want to know why you should care about one more musician from someplace you've barely heard of. Well, maybe this will put him on your musical map:
On the opening night last month of his 37-city march across North America, fans repeatedly threw money – $10s and $20s, real money - at his feet or, better yet, pasted the bills onto his brow, moist with the sweat of his labor.
Battle that, Eminem. Read more »
In 48 years on the planet, Coco Montoya has been lucky, good, and to the brink of death, three of the many reasons to think he was born to play the blues.
Lucky: Barely 21 and a drummer in a California bar band, Montoya left his kit at the club one night after a gig. The next day, blues guitar legend Albert Collins came to play a matinee, and the club manager let him use the drums. When Montoya came by later and saw that someone had been playing in his seat, he let the manager know he didn't like it. Word got to Collins, who called to apologize, and a deep lifelong friendship was born. Read more »
NEW ORLEANS - To get a clue into Angelique Kidjo, you only had to witness her set at Congo Square, one of the big venues of this city's annual Jazz and Heritage Festival, on the first Friday in May.
It wasn't just that she wheedled the burly security chief until he allowed fans to come up and join her. Kidjo commonly requires fans at her shows not only to dance, as she does endlessly, but to do so with her onstage. Read more »
I still remember my first remote control; at least, the first one to come under my control. It belonged to my Mama Ruth and Papa Solly. It had two buttons, one for channel and one for volume. Both worked only in one direction, from bottom to top; the channels ran in an endless loop; the volume shut the TV off before it went back to soft.
They soon grew more sophisticated and numerous; now everything above a transistor radio comes with one, and coffee tables are littered with them. Read more »