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Somerville hosts Joe’s Jazz and Blues Fest June 19-27

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In his youth, Somerville Mayor Joe Curatone blew some trumpet in the Somerville High School Jazz Band. In tribute to those days, he’s invited the city’s High School Jazz Ensemble to kick off eight hours of free, live jazz and blues at Powderhouse Park, this Saturday, June 19, from 12PM-8PM. Encompassing a broad range of styles, the line-up includes Professor Harp, Brendan Hogan & Band, Evan Marien Trio, The Ben Powell Quartet, Eric Hofbauer and the Infrared Band, Peter Parcek 3 and the Camelia Latin Jazz Sextet.

The Powderhouse Park event is just the kick-off. Local jazz and blues talents will be featured throughout the following week at Somerville venues, Bloc 11, P.J. Ryan’s, Precinct, Johnny D’s and Sally O’Brien’s. On June 27 at 3PM, at the Nave Gallery, the blues will turn to green, as a set by the Ruth Ristich Trio with The Sisters of Swing, serving as a fundraiser for environmental group, Groundworks Somerville brings the festival to a close.

You can find a complete schedule with artist profiles, here.

--Jason Rabin

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Review - Jeff Gaynor - 6/10 @ Lizard Lounge

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No one can say that Jeff Gaynor isn't a team player. On any given night of the week, he's either backing up wunderkind Samantha Farrell in her band, the Love Society, or trading songs with Tom Bianchi and Hugh McGowan, among others, in the all-star mash-up Baker Thomas Band. Oh sure, the spotlight occasionally washes over Gaynor as he drops a honky-tonk piano solo here or throws in a vocal harmony there, but when he plays a solo show, it becomes clear why everybody wants this guy in their band.

Piano-key necktie swinging, Jeff Gaynor played eleven songs at the Lizard Lounge on Thursday night, ranging from the bouncy, anecdotal "Teddy Came In" to the soulful, gospel-tinged "Keep It Off" with some ragtime, blues, and boogie mixed in between. There is something unmistakably macabre about Gaynor; invariably, you find yourself musing, oh gee, I didn't know Tim Burton wrote music. Eyes wild and hands perfectly arched, yet frantic, Gaynor commands the room with a Beetlejuice-like mystique that permeates even his more streamlined pieces (like the Meatloafy "Toothpick Foundation.") Tart-tongued and laced with observational humor, songs like "How's That Workin' Out For Ya?" and "Runner Band Boob Job" display Gaynor's great aptitude for Ben Folds-style sarcasm, expertly straddling a razor-thin line between good-natured ribbing and embittered last-laughing. Gaynor is clever and spunky with lyrics that will appeal to people who were picked on in high school, people who take a principled stance against words like "bro," and people who mumble funny comments under their breath during a play instead of buying into the melodrama unfolding on stage. Bass-heavy and theatrical (Liberace's rapidly undulating wrists come to mind), Gaynor's arrangements sound so fleshed-out that it's almost hard to believe he's playing alone. His charming, oddball brew is steeped heavily in the eighties, with influences ranging from Billy Joel to Journey; in fact, his latest piece, "Wan'drin'," sounds like a distant cousin of "Faithfully" with melancholy piano and an emotive chorus ("Where do you go when you go wandering?").

Most left Jeff Gaynor's show at the Lizard Lounge realizing that he is one hell of a piano player. While it's impossible not to ooh and aah at Gaynor's intricate jazz riffs and thunderous left-hand power, his versatility as a songwriter is truly the thing to admire here. It's no wonder Jeff Gaynor is so comfortable juggling his time between bands that play vastly different styles of music--sticking to only one genre would just bore him.

--Stephie Coplan

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Review - Marie Stella - Trust

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Marie Stella's six song Trust starts with a distorted guitar creeping around and ends with a decaying synth line and in between is 20 minutes of joyful experiments in building and breaking crescendos. The twisting warp and weft of Bryan Bruchman and Matthew Erickson's zipping guitars, the interplay of female vocals (lead: Sidney Bourke, accompaniment: Katherine Hulit), Derek Gierhan's crashing drums (he sat in on the recording, now it's Max Heinz) weave a powerful tapestry. Marie Stella is fluent in dynamic range. Blue Blood starts off simply with Sidney singing over all-or-nothing instrumentation. Guitars, bass and drums kick on and off. She sings "I don't need a lover to bring me down" and the song changes moods, increasing the energy with a steady beat and then, as she affirms her identity, the song kicks into high gear and becomes a thumping, driven machine. The hook grabs, as the band builds into an energetic melee. Bryan's mean guitar cuts a wandering scar on "Taken", which builds itself out of an atmospheric soup into a sinister cacophony of frenzied drums and adrenaline bass. Guitars and synth bounce off each other in a sonic mosh pit... finally resolving into a sincere declaration: "No more shenanigans." Then turns for the chaotic as Sidney and Katherine belt out a punchy chorus. Ron Harrity recorded, mixed and mastered the album at Forest City Studio. He captures the twin interplays of voices and guitars with aplomb. What could be noisy and muddy is instead a beautifully crafted and wonderfully dense soundscape. The interweaving vocals and guitars create two strong cords that Marie Stella climbs and builds on. It's woven with deft complexity and it's worth losing your hearing for. You can check out Trust streaming on their bandcamp page.

--Krister Rollins writes for [dog] and [pony]

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Other Music Festival Day 5: Greg Davis, A Snake In The Garden, Toby Aronson, and more

Greg DavisDay 5 of Burlington's Other Music Festival looks to be the cream of the crop for Burlington's ambient/noise outfits and artists. Burlington's godfather to the scene, if you will, Greg Davis, will be making his festival appearance as well as other veterans of the area A Snake in the Garden, Toby Aronson, and Lawrence Welks & Our Bear to Cross. Another exciting collabartion with Ashley Paul and percussionist Eli Keszler is set to grace the stage. Other performers include Katarina Miljovic, Stencil/Magic, and Ensemble V. Looks like there will also be some sort of open improv session, which is sure to birth some interesting sounds. Everything is happening at 8pm at North End Studios.

--The Deli Staff

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Left Hand Does release new EP, Lusica June 30th at O'Brien's

Lusica, the title track off Left Hand Does' new EP, is a dreamy but heavy tune influenced by 80's rock such as Crowded House, Tears for Fears and The Pixies. I heard Left Hand Does play Lusica at the Lizard Lounge open mic a while back and loved it immediately. Left Hand Does is fronted by brother and sister Luke and Jean Sullivan, who are awesomely musically dynamic. Check out the video above, and check them out IRL at the EP release party at O'Brien's Pub in Allston on June 30th.

--The Deli Staff

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