• November 22, 2013

    Celtics Player Power Rankings Week 4

    Celtics Player Power Rankings Week 4 by Matt Martinelli

    All season long we’ll be judging the players in terms of value in The Improper’s Celtics Player Power Ranking. The healthy players will be judged based upon their on-court performance, while also keeping in mind their age, contract and appeal to another team in a possible trade.  … More>

  • November 22, 2013

    Our Cover shoot with Jenny Dell

    Behind the scenes of our Holiday Shopping cover shoot with NESN's Jenny Dell… More>

  • November 21, 2013

    Weekend Ideas

    Weekend Ideas by Paul Robicheau
    Jazz icon Wayne Shorter tops action with his star-studded 80th birthday fete at Symphony Hall. Photo by Robert Ascroft.

    It's a weekend to honor sax legends between the annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert at Northeastern and a festival-worthy assemblage of musicians to toast Wayne Shorter's 80th birthday celebration at Symphony Hall. But there's also a female-centric streak of fine concert options in Canadian indie-folk singer Basia Bulat, spunky Illinois-bred pop-rocker Lissie, funky dance-jammers Rubblebucket and neo-soul songstress India-Arie… More>

  • November 21, 2013

    JFK's secret: The best presidential golfer

    JFK's secret: The best presidential golfer by Matt Martinelli
    JFK's 4-iron / Courtesy of USGA

    Friday will mark 50 years since Brookline native President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The legend of Camelot has had its ups and downs since then, but Kennedy’s love for golf—aside from a Seinfeld reference—has been mostly overlooked. USGA curator/historian Mike Trostel, a Pembroke native, shared some stories about his fellow Bay Stater’s connection to golf… More>

  • November 19, 2013

    An Optimist's Take on Pats' Loss

    An Optimist's Take on Pats' Loss by Matt Martinelli

    In the light of day, it is fair to view last night’s Patriots vs. Panthers game as one of those games that will be defined by the final call. Pats’ fans will not soon forget the picked-up flag at the end of the game as tight end Rob Gronkowski is getting wrapped up in the end zone. But last night’s game had a lot more than a controversial ending, and since it’s not a season-ending loss, it’s worth taking the long view on what actually happened in the game. It might be easier than watching the GIF of Gronkowski in the end zone for the thousandt… More>

Improper Now

Brush Strokes of Genius: Boston Calling's 'Blank Canvas' winners on their inspirations

Peep the five Boston Calling mural contest winners, pre-fest.

Now in its fourth installment, Boston Calling is experimenting with new ways to get the community involved and amped about the bi-annual music festival (as if the consistently excellent lineup wasn’t enough). To that end, earlier this summer they put out a call for art for their Blank Canvas contest, which challenged local artists to create a mural to be displayed at the fest come Sept. 5. The winning murals are quite different, but all have one thing in common: love for music and this city. We caught up with four of the five winners** to ask about their inspiration — musical or otherwise.

Kyle Hebert, 26, graphic designer

The inspiration?
“Remember when every blank canvas, whether it be the walls of your bedroom or the soles of your shoes, was covered with the artists and musicians that you loved?”

Soundtrack to the art?
“I’m always listening to music while designing. Typically, I listen to artists that I’m going to see in concert soon. Boston has some amazing venues and events, and there are always great bands coming through. There wasn’t a particular song or artist that influenced this project, but I’m sure I listened to the National in preparation.”

Psyched to see live at Boston Calling?
"I’m stoked to see The National for the first time."

Eric Byers, 19, student

The inspiration?
“The inspiration for my mural can best be summarized by the connection that the festival creates between the city and its people.”

Soundtrack to the art?
“When I'm working on art and design I don’t usually listen to anything in particular. While creating this specific design I happened to be listening to my current favorite artist, Cherub.  No certain song or artist inspired me while I was working—sorry to be boring!— but rather my experience last year at the festival, and what I saw.”

Psyched to see live at Boston Calling?
“I’m most excited to see Lorde this year. But, also, Childish Gambino, The National, Nas, Sky Ferreira, and Bleachers.”

Corey Corcoran, 28, admissions counselor at MassART

The inspiration?
“Really, I've always wanted an excuse to draw a duck boat!”

Soundtrack to the art?
“I'm always listening to something when making art. Usually, it's music or comedy podcasts. I'm a huge fan of WMBR in Cambridge and discover a lot of great music through them. In hammering out the design for the mural, I listened to the new album by the War on Drugs to try to plug into the spirit of Boston Calling.”

Psyched to see live at Boston Calling?
“In addition to the War on Drugs, I love Future Islands - they put on a truly awesome show.”

Michelle Stevens, 17, student

The inspiration?
“All attendees of the festival become connected with the city through being part of this special display of Boston culture, even the performing artists.”

Soundtrack to the art?
“I always have music playing when I’m working on my art, it helps me to get into my own little world and block out distractions. Foster The People is my typical go-to band, their sounds have a way of getting my creative juices flowing. However, the playlist going as I worked on this Blank Canvas mural was heavily the Vaccines, the 1975, Sam Smith, the Pillowmen, and Bleachers. When it gets to be really late at night as I’m working I’ve been putting “Salt” by Bad Suns and the Knocks’ remix of “Girls” by the 1975 on repeat—they keep me awake!”

Psyched to see live at Boston Calling?
“I’m excited to see Bleachers. I saw Jack Antonoff with fun. at the first Boston Calling; I’m looking forward to seeing him as a frontman. I think Strange Desire is a great record. The 1975 is one of my favorite bands—I saw their show at Royale earlier this year, so it will be awesome to see them again in a festival setting. It will be quite an experience to see Lorde. Some others I’m excited for are Gentleman Hall, Lake Street Dive, Childish Gambino and Twenty-One Pilots.”

**The fifth winner, Tim Murley, was out of the country at the time of this piece, so we couldn't tap him for his inspiration, but you can check out his winning mural below!

For more info and tickets visit bostoncalling.com.











Q&A: Being Charlie Davies

The Revs' striker opens up during a long conversation on his comeback, five years in the making.

Photo by David Silverman

Charlie Davies was so close to realizing his dream of the World Cup. He was only a few years out of Boston College and playing for the national team in 2009 before a late-night car accident killed a woman in the car he was a passenger in. The tragedy left Davies, now 28, scarred and with a long road back to the soccer field. He opens up in an exclusive conversation with The Improper on the toughest part of his recovery. Wearing a Muhammad Ali T-shirt and lunching at Alma Nove in Hingham, the kid who grew up in New Hampshire reflected on playing with the Revs, what his recent revival means, the best parts of living in Boston and much more.

Matt Martinelli: This past month you’ve been resurgent on the field. How does that feel for you?
Charlie Davies: It feels great to finally feel injury free, healthy and also fit. And then to be producing on the field at the same time is like bringing me back to where I was in the past. I’m taking it game by game. I think I’ve improved with each game, and I just hope it continues. It’s a great feeling to know that all the hard work is finally paying off.

What do you think has been the most important part of it?
I guess it’s been my mental strength with staying healthy. And just making sure that when I got the opportunity I took it. I wanted to make the most of it. I was so ready for the chance.

What did it feel like when they told you that you were starting for the first time a month ago?
It was an awesome feeling. To finally start, and then to score in my first home start. It was special.

Does your family get to go to the home games?
No, but they will this fall. They’re really looking forward to that because they haven’t seen me play yet with the Revolution. 

Were you drawn back to the Revs because of your ties to the region: Growing up here, going to BC, having your wife here?
Yeah, I wanted to be back here. It was more attractive and easier for me to go through it because of the adjustment period that I would have to go through was much less. It was easier for me to come back, knowing that my wife and I had already bought a home here and that we’d live one mile from her parents. It was one of those moves that you feel comfortable making not just professionally, but for off the field as well. It’s been unbelievable to be back, and now I’m a part of helping out with the BC men’s soccer team. Getting able to meet up with and see so many people who I grew up with and went to school with has been fantastic.

How does the BC coaching on the side work, timing wise?
We get a lot of time off in the afternoons. We’re normally just busy from 8 am till noon. With that extra time, I thought it’d be great for me to get extra experience with coaching to see how I liked it. And knowing that I could really help out the kids at Boston College transitioning maybe into something professional and knowing I could try to get the best out of them in the college ranks. It’s been an awesome experience so far, and hopefully, in my first year with them, we can win something.

Do a lot of the guys on the team try coaching? I know A.J. Soares was working with Harvard.
That’s what kind of sparked my interest is A.J. told me he had a great time with Harvard, and so I figured BC would be great. And so the coach I had when I went to BC is still the coach. And he gave me a call and put in my head about coming to help out and coach the guys when I could. It was an easy decision for me. I feel like I’m back in the BC community, I get to go to football games, and so I’m excited.

You met your wife there. How’d you guys meet?
Christian theology class, in the first semester. We had to introduce ourselves in the class and say where we went to high school. And she said her name and where she went to high school. She went to Noble and Greenough School, which is a rival high school of mine. So that was my “in” to kind of introduce myself to her. It took me probably a month and then we started dating. It will be 10 years at the end of September.

Wow, so did she follow you when you were playing internationally?
I left after my BC season in junior year, and she stayed to finish school and graduate. Then she moved to Sweden to be with me.

What went into that decision to turn pro?
It was one of those bittersweet moments just because you’ve sort of prepared yourself to do everything you could to be a professional. But at the same time you’re coming from a boarding school where school is the priority and athletics are second. Your dream is kind of always to get a college degree. It was a tough decision because I felt like I always wanted to be the first person in my family to get a college degree. And at the same time, knowing that why you go to school is to prepare yourself for the future and set yourself up for your job. I knew that soccer was going to be my job and it was one of those moments and opportunities that I knew I couldn’t pass up. So I had to leave, and I had to tell my wife—well, girlfriend at the time—that I had to pursue my dream and see how far I could take it. It worked out in the end. It was the right decision, and hopefully now I can start taking a class here or there to put my foot in the door to start finishing up my degree.

What do you think it was last year that made it tough to break through? Was it coming to the Revs midseason?
Yeah, it was coming over midseason. And they also had in their minds that Juan Agudelo was that center guy, which is the position I’m playing now. And they wanted to play only one striker and they wanted to put me on the wing, which I had never played before in my career. Having to adjust to learn a new position and a new formation was pretty difficult. I never got into rhythm and never got settled. It was kind of what I expected, coming here so late and with the team on a good run to make the playoffs. So, I guess my main goal was to be settled and ready for the next season because I knew Juan was leaving. And I ended up getting injured for most of the preseason. I missed three quarters of the preseason, so that also made it extremely difficult because by the time I was catching up, guys were already fit and playing games. Then it becomes an issue of just catchup for the first part of the season. I came back and I did well in the first game of the season but my body wasn’t really prepared physically. And I kind of got injured again. It took me awhile to get over that as well. Finally, I got fit again, and I had to wait for my chance again. He gave it to me. And the rest was history after that.

Yeah, you guys needed a spark there. It’s been a streaky season.
Such a streaky season. The good thing is, as streaky as we’ve been, we’re still right in it. This Saturday is probably our biggest game that we’ve had in awhile. (Ed. Note: They won 3-0.) So, I think Jermaine (Jones) will play in the game, too. I don’t really think he’s even fit or ready yet because he’s been in vacation mode since the World Cup, but it’ll be interesting for sure.

Did you watch a lot of the World Cup?
Almost every game, and usually with teammates. My wife was pretty into it. We were able to watch almost every single game. If I wasn’t able to watch it live, I recorded it and watched it later.

Did you watch it in 2010 or was that tougher?
That was very difficult. It was probably one of the most difficult times in my whole life. But I was able to watch it and support them, but it was extremely difficult.

Do you still have the national team on your radar?
Yeah, for sure. I’ll never give up that desire to kind of come full circle. I feel like I’m on the right path. If I continue to improve and continue to produce then I’ll get the chance again. It’s exciting because I don’t think it’s possible for me to get complacent because of everything I’ve been through. I’m always trying to get better and working as hard as I can. And that’s probably been my problem is I’m always doing too much extra, I wouldn’t be able to recover and that’s when I’d get injured.

Is this the best you’ve felt since 2009?
Yes. Without a doubt.

Do you feel like it’s all one big, five-year comeback? Or has it been smaller steps?
I think it’s been all one big thing. There’s definitely been some victories along the way. It’s a lot of highs and a lot of lows. And it’s just me balancing the ups and downs. It’s been difficult at times, but I think I’ve finally managed to know how to get through it and continue to get better. I think I’m finally on the right path. I know my body and when to stop and when to go. I think I’ve finally mastered that part of preparation. It should be hopefully smooth sailing from now. Now it’s just a matter of me producing every game instead of me having to worry about when my body’s going to break down.

Was there a low point for you in all this?
I’ve had many low points, but the lowest was definitely the call I had from Bob Bradley right before the 2010 World Cup to tell me that he couldn’t take me to the camp before they made the cuts for the World Cup because he didn’t think I’d be ready. And he said, as painful as it was, that I had to keep going and keep working and that I’d be able to get back if I continued to work hard. That right there, having felt like you’d reached the ultimate goal, the thing you dreamed of as a kid. To finally participate, and have it really be the defining moment, and it was taken away from you. And knowing that everything you worked hard for, you’re not going to get what you hoped. That pain and sadness and depression kind of all hit me then. That was May 2010. It probably lasted a month—the depression. And then it was kind of like, I went to the Bahamas for a week and my wife was like, ‘You’ve had your time to sulk. It’s expected. You shouldn’t feel bad that you feel this way, but now it’s time to get back on the horse and keep going. You’ve made it this far and nobody ever thought that was even possible. Now you know you can get back. It’s just going to take time. It’s time to power through it, and we’re in it together.’ And as soon as I got back from the Bahamas, I was like, ‘OK, I’m ready to go back at it. It’s been a bumpy ride and it’s been a long road, but I think you know, good things come to those people who work hard for it, but I’ve been patient and I’ve definitely put in the work to have success. So I’m starting to see a little glimpse of it now. Hopefully the tide turns and things continue to be positive for me.

Where were you when you got that call?
I was in France, just in my apartment. It was kind of late. I remember kind of, as soon as I heard him call, and I heard his call, tears started coming down my eyes. I just knew where the conversation was headed. And I knew the inevitable pain that was coming. Tears started to flow, and my wife knew right away what the call was about. That was a real rough time.

Did you expect that or were you planning to go to camp?
I was planning to go to camp. I had hoped to just go. I probably didn’t think I was going to make it, but I hoped I’d have a chance to go in and show the guys that I’m working my way back. And I was hoping to put the camp in good spirits. And there’s also the little hope that if you’re in camp you can make the 23. Even if I’m the twenty-third guy picked. I really thought that I would be a part of that camp. That’s what hurt. There was a little bit of a shock involved.

How long were you in the hospital after the crash?
I was there about a month.

So was everything after that sort of at a quick pace as far as your recovery?
It felt extremely slow, but with each week I would do something that I couldn’t do before and it gave me that push to go through the next week to get through the tough times. Each week I would improve, and that’s how it would go throughout, up until May. I felt like I was always improving in something, but I knew I was far, far away. I was always improving in something, but I wasn’t anyway near where I was. Mentally I was checked out because I didn’t have the speed, I didn’t have the strength, the coordination was gone. The instincts I had were gone. I had to relearn how to do everything. I felt like I really had to learn to shoot and pass again.  To run, to cut, everything that came to me naturally was not there. I was hesitant on everything I did.

Did living abroad make it tougher in the recovery?
Yeah, nobody spoke English, and I wasn’t great at French. It was extremely difficult. I felt like I wasn’t improving as fast I was in the States because I wasn’t doing soccer things yet. Once the ball came into play, it was like a crazy, crazy challenge. And it was something I hadn’t done and prepared myself physically for how tough it would be.

How was the experience living abroad overall?
It was an amazing experience. I’ve learned so much from it. You see all the different people, the different cultures, people speaking different languages, the different food. We traveled a ton. That was the best part, getting to travel and experience the different cultures and cities and the different foods and the history. I was so glad and thankful that I got a chance to do that. And I would never change a thing just because the experience was that good.

What was your favorite trip?
Rome. Rome just blew my mind. All the history and the people were awesome, the food was awesome. You’re going to the Colosseum, you’re going to the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, all these never ending things to see. I was just like, this is paradise. This is—for me—the best city in the world. I loved Italy in general, but Rome was fantastic.

How long were you guys there?
We stayed there for four nights. I think we walked around the city one day for 10 hours.

Yeah, the food, you can just go in anywhere…
Yeah, and it’s just unbelievable.

And the wine …
Yup, for days. 

Have you played with Jermaine before now? 

No. I met him in 2010 when he started with the national team. Whenever they would go on trips, I would go to dinner with the guys. And we built up a pretty good relationship. Before he came here, he was texting me for a couple weeks about, ‘What’s the city like? How’s the city? Do you really like the city?’ Obviously I told him what the city’s like and where to go, what to see, what to do. I think it’s like that in any city. When you have someone who knows the city well and can guide you through the ins and outs, you can really appreciate the city. I feel like a lot of people don’t ever get to appreciate the South Shore, and obviously the Cape. And then you’ve got Boston. Like Teal (Bunbury) on my team had never been to the North End before. Last week he went and said, ‘This place is awesome.’ I said, ‘You’ve been here for this long and you’ve never been to the North End?’ It’s just getting them to experience different parts of the city. The North End is fantastic. I try to go there with my wife maybe once every two weeks.

Any particular spot?
Prezza has always been our favorite. We’ve tried a bunch of different spots in the past year, though. We’ve tried Nico, we’ve tried Mamma Maria. Trattoria di Monica. We tried the other Trattoria on Hanover. Umm…

They’re all Trattorias…
Yeah, and they’ve all been unbelievable. I still think Prezza is the best, but I want to say if you want homemade Italian, I probably wouldn’t choose Prezza since it’s a bit modern. For that, Mamma Maria was amazing.

Do you care to weigh in on the eternal Mike’s vs. Modern debate?
We just go to Mike’s all the time. Do you?

Well, there’s a place a couple blocks away called Bova’s that’s great.
Better than both? I gotta try it then.

Is the North End the neighborhood you always go to in Boston?
Well, we’re foodies, so we like to eat everywhere. The North End is a big part of it. The South End, we love to go to. We had our rehearsal dinner at Mistral, so we love Mistral. The Butcher Shop. We love meats and cheeses, and they have a great charcuterie board and great wine there. Sorellina is very good. We love the Seaport. Strega and Empire in the Seaport. Legal’s if you want to go on the rooftop is nice. We love Indian food, so our closest one in Quincy is unbelievable, Punjab Café, but if we’re ever in the city we eat at one on Newbury. It’s great because we try different restaurants, but we like our favorites. Oh, and we love Barcelona in Brookline. We ate there Monday and Tuesday night this week. I like Barcelona because they have more meat plates and I feel like the other ones don’t fill me up enough.

What else do you do on offdays, outside of soccer?
The beach is a big thing. If we have a day off, it’s probably guaranteed we’re going to Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth because my wife’s parents have a house there. It’s literally a five-minute bike ride to the beach. That’s probably the biggest thing that we do. Otherwise, we’ll go to bowling at Jillian’s. Usually we play (Revs) games on Saturday, and so Sunday and Monday are free. On Sunday we try to get as many guys as we can for brunch. And we’ve gone recently to Toast in Hull. It’s a fantastic breakfast place. Unbelievable. Open till 2 pm. And usually we’ll take the boat in from there and we’ll go to Jillian’s to bowl.

Who is the best bowler on the team?
I want to say I am. Usually it’s competitive, but usually I end up with the best score.

What do you usually score?
Usually 175, at least 160 and up. I’ve bowled a 240 before. 

Are you able to catch movies and watch TV?
We have a movie theater right here. We’ll walk over. It’s $5 Tuesdays. It’s really convenient. We usually see every movie that comes out. TV shows, we’re big into Ray Donovan and Homeland.

Who do you hang with mostly on the team?
Lee (Nguyen) and Teal (Bunbury). 

Lee’s had a good season, too.
He’s had a fantastic season. He’s really done well. I think he’s exceeded his own expectations.

The wave of popularity hit this year with the World Cup. Do you think it will level off?
No, I think it’s still progressing. I think the league speaks for itself. The revenue that the league is making, the TV rights. And the new teams. Vegas just put up stadium plans for a Las Vegas team and it looked unbelievable. There’s two new teams next year. New York City FC and they partnered with the New York Yankees and Manchester United so that’s going to be a fantastic team, and going to New York City twice is awesome; and then Orlando, which will have Kaka from Brazil. That will be an awesome team to play against. Atlanta the following year, and Miami is supposed to be in that same timeframe with David Beckham being the owner. And I guess there’s a couple spots up for grabs. I heard the Minnesota Vikings are trying to put a team in their dome, and Vegas is making a strong case for a team. I can’t imagine having to play a team in Vegas with 110-degree heat at 2 pm.

It would have to be a dome, right?
Yeah, and we’ll see how the players can last a full year in Vegas. Make sure they’re not broke and living in the stadium. 

What do you think the tipping point for the MLS was?
I think when they got David Beckham that was kind of catalyst that got people thinking: This team is for real. They’re really trying to do it. And soccer is the most played youth sport in America. So I think as time goes on, as these kids grow up, they’ll start to understand the game. More people are starting to follow the teams from England and Spain, so more people are understanding the game of soccer more. Where as when I was a kid people were like ‘what’s offsides?’ Or they’re calling you ‘soccer buddy’ because nobody else plays soccer. Literally nobody played soccer growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire, so I had to play Pop Warner football and then that justified me playing soccer with my friends. They would say, ‘Oh, he’s good at Pop Warner football, so I can’t really talk trash to him.’ So I tried to play every other sport. I wrestled as well. Now, the popular thing to do is play soccer. With these MLS academies, where kids can play, people are starting to see how cool soccer is, and with the culture and what the World Cup means, I think it’s really picking up and catching on. I think it’s only going to continue to blow up.

Is there anything they could do to grow the game more?
Not really. I think they’ve done a great job. I’m thinking back to when I first started to watch the Revolution in the mid-90s and they had these five-second shootouts. You could run up and score if the game was tied. You had to start from 35 yards and you had the ball. And you had a clock to score in 5 seconds. And that was how they thought they could get the American public interested in the games. So it’s come a long way.

Did you used to go to any of the Revs games?
Oh yeah, I loved watching the Revolution. I was a fan. It was surreal to join them. It’s crazy to be scoring goals in Gillette Stadium.

Are you seeing an uptick in crowds and enthusiasm?
Yeah, I think the crowds have been great, but the stadium is just too big for our team. You get 20,000 to 25,000 people to a game, and that’s a great crowd. But in a 75,000-seat stadium it looks empty. It kind of takes away the atmosphere and the environment. If you had a 30,000-seat stadium or even 20,000 seats, and you could enclose it like a European stadium, you would keep the sound inside. That builds the best atmosphere, the best environment for the games. I think the Krafts are working real hard to get us a soccer-specific stadium because they know what a difference it can make. But in the meantime it’s still been good to be there. I love the stadium. It’s just lacking that base you’d get from other fans like in Kansas City because the stadium is so small. Or Portland. Seattle has a football stadium, but they fill it.

So is Gillette busier with the Patriots around?
Yeah. I enjoy it. I like seeing the guys walk around because I’ve always been a Patriots’ fan. For me it’s cool every time you see Tom Brady walking around the stadium.

Do you interact with any of them at all?
Not really. A couple of the guys on the team are friends with some of the guys. If I go to Cafeteria on Newbury, I know the manager there. He’s got a good group of friends within the Boston professional teams, but I’m not close with any of the guys from any of the other pro teams.

Are you the player Jermaine knows the best on the team?
Yeah. I’m taking him out to dinner tonight, I think to Del Frisco’s. I gotta head to a massage after this.

Oh, where?
In Quincy. This place changed my life. It’s called Thai Health Spa. Lee’s the one who kind of introduced me to it. And they walk on your back and dig their heels in your pressure points.  They crawl on your back with their knees and they full on go at these spots. They usually hit every trigger point that’s been bothering me. Usually it’s my lower back and my hamstrings. They just kill it. It makes the biggest difference for me.

When did you start going there?
About a month ago. (Laughs.) 

Now we know your secret.
Ha. That’s been a thing we do every week now. It’s definitely helped a ton. I really feel a big difference after going there.

What was it like the first time when they’re walking on you.
It was weird. They have a little bar on the ceiling, and she was on it and digging her feet. She was cracking my back with her toes. She was adjusting my back like a chiropractor. I was like, ‘Oh, this is weirdest thing I’ve ever done in my life.’ And then it was a crack. And then the other side, ‘Crack.’ And I was like, ‘What the hell?’ But after I left there I was like, this is the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time. I felt really loose and not tight anymore. Just dehydrated and had to drink a ton of water after it. There’s points where I’m trying not to tense up since it’s a good amount of pain, but I guess it’s the good pain—if there is a good pain.

Is it just Lee and you who go there? You gotta get the whole team going.
I’ll eventually transition into getting one guy in and another guy in. I’m not sure how other guys might like it.

What are you thinking post-soccer career?
Well, I could see myself being a commentator. Or being involved in TV somehow. I see myself being involved in coaching, too. I've got the year at BC and I'll see how I like it. Maybe I want to coach professionally. Living here and coaching at Boston College is pretty ideal. That'd be a fantastic option. It's tough to see because it's close, but it's still not that close. I'm nowhere near being able to think about it. I'm confident I'll be able to transition into anything. I'm like a people person, I love talking and helping people out, so I think my skillset will help me with most jobs. I'm not nervous about it, and I'll welcome it when it does come.

Sound Ideas

Live Review: Tom Petty Charms the Fenway Park Faithful

“They’re playing it in Boston,” Tom Petty drawled on Saturday, recalling what he was told in the wake of initially flat response to his Heartbreakers’ 1977 single “American Girl.” So Boston became one of his favorite cities to play, from the Paradise Rock Club to Fenway Park, where Petty & the Heartbreakers held court on Saturday, capping their two-hour set with the ringing chords and universal euphoria of “American Girl.”

In his decades-long career since recording that song, Petty has endured as a sort of garage-rocking Dylan, adopting Americana-shaded folk and jam-rock with a sly smile to offset the sneer. And he’s mostly done it with the Heartbreakers, a band that he called “the closest as I have to family,” still anchored by first-call session keyboardist Benmont Tench and now-dreadlocked lead guitarist Mike Campbell.

On Saturday, Campbell stood out with his unique tone, from his pinched cry in “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” -- following a lovely piano intro by Tench -- to his sitar echoes in “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” But perhaps the comfort level that Campbell and Petty have honed over a 44-year-partnership was most evident when, rather than play different guitar models for ego-fueled contrast, they wielded matching vintage axes on the newer “I Should Have Known It” and outcast anthem “Refugee,” confident to complement each other as one.

The Heartbreakers came out kicking with the Byrds raveup “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” whose 12-string Rickenbacker sound also inspired the Florida-born, LA-based Petty. Not that the 63-year-old frontman acted much like a star, laconically pacing the no-frills stage in his jeans and suede boots with slow, sweeping hand gestures. He followed with “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” its nod to marijuana sliding home when the song concluded and Petty asked the sprawling audience, “How are ya feeling?”

Fans were already feeling alright after opener Steve Winwood, who still sounded great at 66, focusing on his Traffic catalog in an hour set that also sported ’80s pop hit “Higher Love” and Spencer Davis Group gems, all driven by a grooving bass-free band. There was no letup as the singer switched between organ and guitar and fueled such classics as “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Empty Pages,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Gimme Some Lovin,’” though it would have been nicer in a smaller space. Petty, by contrast, risked floating a mid-set, acoustic-tinged lull, though likely engaging diehards with deep tracks “Rebels” and “Angel Dream (No. 2).”

Nonetheless, Petty touched most of the bases (ha, another baseball cliché), even if a handful of nuggets like “Listen to Her Heart,” “Breakdown” and “You Got Lucky” went unplayed. You couldn’t blame the inclusion of three hearty tunes from the Heartbreakers’ chart-topping new Hypnotic Eye, peaking with the gritty “U Get Me High,” where the Heartbreakers dug into an AC/DC-like riff grounded by drummer Steve Ferrone, who Petty called the “greatest musician that I’ve ever met.” And so the family circle widened, with fans joining the clan to pipe the chorus to “Free Fallin’” as if they were hypnotized in a final salute to big summer concerts at the ballpark -- though Jack White’s on deck for a smaller “Bleacher Theater” show on Sept. 17.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Labor Day weekends tend to be slow for concerts, but a couple of festivals and a Fenway Park show bolster this year’s landscape. For starters, there’s Campfire, a Club Passim marathon of dozens of sets from Friday through Monday, featuring veterans like Jennifer Kimball (ex-the Story) and former Treat Her Right frontman David Champagne as well as up-and-comers. Here’s the Campfire schedule.

Down in Charlestown, R.I., zydeco and Cajun music still enliven the multi-stage Rhythm & Roots Festival at Ninigret Park with the likes of CJ Chenier, Steve Riley and Terrance Simien. But performers also include roots-rockers Donna the Buffalo celebrating their 25th anniversary, heartfelt R&B survivor Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires (maybe worth the trip alone), bluegrass rockers Leftover Salmon with Little Feat’s Bill Payne, and elusive troubadour Jim Lauderdale. There’s also a Family Stage, plus the daily Mardi Gras parades with the Hot Tamale Brass Band. Here’s the website for Rhythm & Roots, which lasts Friday night through Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, up in Newburyport, there’s also the free Riverfront Music Festival sponsored by 92.5 The River, this year featuring worthy locals Will Dailey (celebrating his worthy new album National Throat) and Air Traffic Controller, plus acoustic act (and One Direction songwriter) Jamie Scott, stylish folk-rockers Delta Rae and reborn pop hitmakers Toad the Wet Sprocket, who've been around ocean themes before. Here’s the website.

But Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers headline the weekend’s big show at Fenway Park on Saturday night behind their chart-topping, riff-rich new album Hypnotic Eye, which deserves the live airing of a few tracks like this. Should be a great night of classic rock in the ballpark, especially with Steve Winwood as an opening act.

Alas, the also-classic pairing (especially for guitar fans) of ZZ Top and Jeff Beck at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion has been cancelled because ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill fell in his tour bus and injured his hip. Maybe it’s rubbing salt in the wound, but for my Thursday Throwback, I’m going back a few weeks to ZZ Top jamming one of their biggest hits with Beck, a virtuoso who’s always welcome back with his own band.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

August may be winding down, but this weekend’s just winding up -- at least on Friday. The two biggest shows couldn’t be more different. Swedish electro-pop princess Robyn teams with Norwegian electronic duo Royksopp at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion for separate sets as well as a collaborative finale based on their joint EP Do it Again. Expect sweeping, pulsing soundscapes with alluring vocals and some questionable play clothes. Then, over at the Sinclair, the Strypes invigorate garage R&B/rock that’s far beyond their years. The Irish teenagers tore up Great Scott in March, even adding a Ramones cover. They’ll probably be only better this round, and the time after that, and the time after that. Hell, they’re impressive now.

Also on Friday, ex-Bostonian rockers Hooray for Earth get loud, dark and synthy for the Wavelength series at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on the waterfront. And local rock icon Peter Wolf brings his Midnight Travelers to Lowell’s Boarding House Park (not sure if Wolf will serve this bluegrass twist on one of his J. Geils Band nuggets) while New Wave survivors Martha Davis and the Motels (with old sax man Marty Jourard also aboard) assume total control at Johnny D’s Uptown in Somerville.

On Saturday, local folk-blues journeyman Chris Smither plays Prescott Park in Portsmouth, N.H., celebrating his fine career retrospective Still on the Levee. And Sunday presents another mixed bag of returning veterans of different stripes. It’ll be the last return for Motley Crue, which rocks Mansfield’s Xfinity Center with all their metal hits, plus a drum solo on an overhead rollercoaster and a fire-shooting guitar and, hell, you get the idea. At the opposite end of the spectrum, New Age-y keyboard guru Yanni gets orchestral at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. Also, ’80s synth-rock fans can check out the Retro Futura show at the Wilbur Theatre, featuring Howard Jones, the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and ex-Ultravox singer Midge Ure, who also helped spearhead Band Aid (“Do They Know It’s Christmas?).

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, with the original X back to resurrect its vital roots/punk at the Sinclair next Tuesday (and frontwoman Exene Cervenka likely toning down her political conspiracy views), here’s X in its commercial heyday.  

Sound Ideas

Live Review: Arcade Fire Levitates Xfinity Center in Mansfield

Arcade Fire’s cultivated carnival at Mansfield’s Xfinity Center on Tuesday night was a source of much reflection. Literally, for starters, there were glittery congas in the expanded 11-piece band, an overhead bank of hexagonal mirrors, a dancing mirror man that popped up in the crowd, and Regine Chassagne panning the pavilion with hand mirrors during “Reflektor.” As she and frontman/husband Win Butler sang in that title track from the band’s latest album, “We fell in love, alone on a stage, in the reflective age.”

An age where Arcade Fire reflected the danceable commonality between the electro-wash and Afrobeat of respective openers Dan Deacon and Antibalas as well as the disco sheen of Studio 54 and arty big-band tribalism of Talking Heads, given an extra splash of Haitian rhythm that nods to Chassagne’s heritage. An age where Arcade Fire showed considerable growth since the group played cozy T.T. the Bear’s Place a decade ago, evolving from indie-rockers to arena rock stars.

Ironically, the songs that reached the greatest heights on Tuesday were ones that Arcade Fire played at T.T.’s , anthemic numbers from its 2004 breakout Funeral like “Rebellion (Lies),” “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” and grand finale “Wake Up,” where wordless choruses reached giddy crescendos. The same went for “No Cars Go,” which revved into a triumphant bellow undercut by Chassagne’s accordion.

Arcade Fire has since grown stranger and deeper in ways that didn’t always cut through on Tuesday, despite showy trappings. The title track of 2010’s Grammy-winning The Suburbs reflected on a bored life as more of a plod until Butler got worked up at the end, crying “I would waste it again!” And even a throbbing encore of “Here Comes the Night Time,” with a cast of extras wearing papier-mache heads that mimicked the Pope and Obama as well as band members, seemed ponderous until it exploded into overdrive with a blizzard of confetti.

As a towering frontman who’s apt to borrow a fan’s camera for crowd footage, Butler’s normally the focal point of the Montreal-based group. Yet he seemed somewhat subdued or detached during much of Tuesday’s action. Of course that’s easier to do with so many players – some as life-size puppets -- swapping instruments and lending a hand, even if the sense of abandon was more reigned in than in the past. Butler remained the frisky ringmaster, climbing atop his monitor speaker, and resonated with Bryan Ferry-esque cool in the funky glide “We Exist,” which he introduced with the declaration, “The right to marry is a human rights issue.”

Actually, it was Butler’s spouse who shined brightest, as Arcade Fire’s comparatively hidden weapon. Chassagne mesmerized with her pantomime moves, both with a face mask and without. She sang “It’s Never Over” in the crowd while a skeleton-costumed character waved arms behind her, filmed to create a spook visual effect on the backdrop. And when Chassagne strutted to center stage to sing “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” she flashed a voice and personality that reminded of Bjork, another arty singer who mixes well with electronic icing. Then she swirled about the stage, waving florescent streamers, while fans in the pit waved tiny Canadian flags.

In additon to all the reflectors, masks and violins, plus a smattering of ticket-holders in costume as requested, Arcade Fire connected with the crowd by covering a favorite local band as it has in cities across its tour. After a fakeout of papier-mache imposters miming to Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” the group broke into the punky rush of the Pixies’ “Alec Eiffel,” with Butler’s effusive brother Will throttling the bass. Many in the crowd likely didn’t recognize that lesser Pixies track. Yet Win Butler foreshadowed his love, announcing earlier that Partners in Health -- a charity that aids Haiti and receives a dollar from each Arcade Fire ticket sold -- was “the coolest thing to come out of Boston, except for the Pixies.”

As a guy who spent time around Boston, starting with high school at nearby Phillips Exeter Academy, Butler knew his subject matter, even if that order of priority -- like the show -- was delivered with brash playfulness.

Go With the Flow

Charting the Patriots' 2004 Coaching Staff

The 2004 Patriots’ season culminated with the franchise’s third title in four years, but the team’s two coordinators left for head coaching jobs before the confetti had even finished falling on the Super Bowl celebration. Bill Belichick’s staff of 13 assistant coaches that year included four future head coaches (denoted by bigger logos below) and four other future NFL coordinators. Some of the assistants (Matt Patricia, Ivan Fears) have stayed with New England for all 10 years, while others left this offseason (Dante Scarnecchia to retirement, Pepper Johnson to Buffalo). Here’s a look at what the most well-traveled coaches from that legendary staff have done in the 10 years since the Patriots’ last title.

Graphic by Mallory Scyphers

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Tori Amos digs the nuance and dynamics of solo performance, and piano-heavy material from her fine new album Unrepentant Geraldines fits an intimate indoor space like the Opera House, where she plays on Friday. Straddling her bench between two keyboards, Amos has been shuffling setlists, including covers from Depeche Mode to Billy Joel to this interpretive run. The same night, the David Wax Museum should swing from playful to romantic with its Mexican-flavored folk-rock to the Center for Arts in Natick. Eclectic rapper Moe Pope and producer the Arcitype toast their new project STL GLD with guests including our recent Music Issue cover artist Dutch Rebelle at the Brighton Music Hall.  And Boston ska pioneers Bim Skala Bim bring their annual New England jaunt to Wellfleet’s Beachcomber on Friday and then Hookfest in Portsmouth, N.H., on Saturday. Here’s a flashback to last year’s Bim bash at the Beachcomber as well as a jump to my recent interview.

Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center remains a hidden jewel on the northern shore, hosting jazz and pop as well as classical acts. And it’ll groove all weekend with the Rockport Jazz Festival, which presents pianists Donal Fox (doing his cross-genre “Mashups in Afro Blue”) on Friday and elegant post-bop master Kenny Barron on Saturday, while premier bassist Christian McBride closes it out Sunday evening after a 2 p.m. matinee of swing guitarists led by the legendary Bucky Pizzarelli. Also on the festival front north of Boston, the free annual Salem Jazz and Soul Festival takes over Salem Willows on Saturday and Sunday with acts that include Delta Generators and the Berklee-bred upstart Alissia Benveniste.

Lyle Lovett cast a unique shadow on the alt-country scene at the dawn of the ’90s, deadpanning his way through horn-laced tunes like “Here I Am” with his Large Band, which he’ll be fronting at Lowell’s Boarding House Park on Saturday. And the dance-savvy indie-rockers Miniature Tigers hit the Brighton Music Hall on Sunday.

This week, we saw one slice of what a future without the Allman Brothers Band will be like as Warren Haynes teased some Allman gems with his band Gov’t Mule during a jam-sprawled set at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. After serving in the AAB for more than 20 years, Haynes certainly can lay claim to that catalog. However, for my Throwback, with this weekend being one of the last chances to catch the AAB at the Peach Festival in the Poconos, here’s a vintage chunk of the Allman Brothers back in 1970.

Q&A: Being Patrick Chung

Patriots' safety opens up about his charity, love for music and his post-NFL dream of firefighting.

Patrick Chung returned to New England this year after one season in Philadelphia. (Photo Courtesy of New England Patriots)

Patrick Chung, 26, played for the Patriots for his first four seasons, before leaving to play for the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent before the 2013 season. After one year away, the former second-round pick is back in New England, hoping to solidify his spot on the roster. He's also working on his charity, Chung Changing Lives, which collaborated with the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center to hold a free, six-week intensive SMART camp (Summer Music Academy for Real Teens) for kids to get immersed in music. It's the second year of the camp, and it culminates with a performance in the Chung Jam Session on Aug. 17 at the Hard Rock Cafe. Doors open at 6 pm, jams begin at 6:30, and tickets are $50 (VIP, $250) at ticketweb.com, with proceeds going to SMART. And Chung assures us that some of his famous football friends will be in attendance. The Jamaican-born player opened up to The Improper on the program, his mom's musical stardom, returning to New England and his possible post-NFL plans.

Matt Martinelli: Is Chung Changing Lives primarily focused on music?
Patrick Chung: We just started out with music. Hopefully we can branch out into other things. And it can be like academics and athletics. But right now we’re just starting with music camp, and the finale is Aug. 17 at Hard Rock Cafe. And you can watch the kids perform in the finale for what they’ve been working on since July 7, when the camp started. They can perform for family and friends, and everyone who buys tickets. There’s going to be some performances by local artist Louie Bello, JAM’N 94.5’s Maverick. It’s going to be a good turnout, and hopefully the kids have fun.

How often is the camp?
Every day since July 7, they’ve been working, doing their producing, laying down their vocals, and learning how to do video and that stuff. Everything that has to do with music, and every aspect of music, they’ve worked with, and finally they can display what they’ve been practicing and learning. I talked to Louie the other day, and he said there are lots of talented kids, and they’re really good.

Have you gotten a chance to swing by the camp at all?
Oh yeah. My wife and I have been by, and we were there for some activities. We were hanging out with the lyric class, watching them learn how to write lyrics. It was fun. There are a lot of kids there, and they’re having fun.

How many kids are in it?
There’s 30. There were 15 last year, and now there’s 30, so it’s doubled a bit.

What got you into music?
My mom was a famous reggae singer (Sophia George-Chung), and my dad was her producer. It kind of just grew on me. I love music. It’s kind of a stress reliever. You have a bad day, you write about it. You have a good day, you write about it. I just like music. It can change your whole mood sometimes. If you hear your favorite song on the radio and you’re having a bad day, it makes it a little better. I just want to keep the art in school. Some schools are shying away from art in school, and I’m trying to keep it in school. It can be constructive in kids’ lives.

Are you listening to anything in particular these days?
I listen to everything. I listen rap, hip-hop, country, alternative, rock—as long as it has a story, a message and a good vibe to it, I like it.

Do you still listen to your mom’s music?
Yeah, I listen to everything. Every once in a while, her song will come on the iPod.

Even though you were not playing in New England last year, this camp has been in Boston both of the past two years. Was there any reason behind that?
We started it out here in Boston. I feel like I’m going to help the city that helped me. Boston and the New England Patriots gave me my first opportunity, so I feel obligated. Even if I didn’t feel obligated, I think it’s the right thing to do to help the city that helped me. Given my opportunity here, I’ve been able to have certain things in my life. So I can give back to the community and do everything I can for this community that helped me.

What’s your favorite part of living in New England now that you’re back? Was there anything you knew you had to visit when you got back here?
Not anything like that. I just like being back. My family’s here. My friends are here, and I was here for years. I just like Boston. It’s a cool place.

Are you here in the offseason as well?
I’m sort of scattered around, mostly wherever I’m training.  But I’m here a fair amount.

What brought you back to New England?
Philly didn’t work out, and I started just working out and training and being ready for whoever calls. I wasn’t really angling to go somewhere. In the NFL, you don’t get to pick a team, they pick you.

Has there been anything different since you were here for the 2012 season?
Nah, it’s pretty much the same. You just work hard and stay out of trouble. That’s what they preach here.

Take me through an offday for you.
Well, you go to the sauna, steam room, veg a little bit. Not too much. You just gotta get your body back right—kind of chill out. I like to barbecue every once in awhile. It all depends. I watch a little film.

What do you barbecue?
Everything. 

And you get to see a little more of your family on the offdays as well?
Absolutely, as soon as I get done, I come home and just chill out. Wrestle with the little man—he’s crazy.

What was it like leaving New England?
It was just a business thing. The past is the past, and I’m where I want to be now. I’m not really worried about anything else. The guys we have in this locker room are good, on and off the field. I’m just happy to be back here.

Is there anything that stands out in your career as the biggest highlight to date?
Well, going to the Super Bowl was awesome. Going was a good experience, but I can’t really call that a greatest moment—you want it to turn out better. So, I’ll put that on hold, right now. I don’t have any yet.

You had that Monday Night game against Miami a few years back that was great, right?
I loved that game, but as far as greatest moment—I got a couple more years, so hopefully there’s a big one coming soon.

Do you have any post-NFL plans in mind?
I think about going into music or coaching or firefighting.

Firefighting?
My best friend just got called up as a firefighter. He’s worked very hard, long hours, but it’s a great job. Why not go out there and try to help save some people.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

There’s a broad, mainstream-tilted slate of concert options, mainly on Saturday. Maine’s Kahbang Festival has run into troubles that prompted its relocation from Bangor to Portland as well as cancellation of some events. Yet art-rock goddess St. Vincent, who’s done cameos from Nirvana’s Hall of Fame induction to subbing as sidekick to Seth Meyers’ late-night TV show – will grace Portland’s intimate State Theater on Friday. And get this, the bill also includes hardcore rap veteran DMX.

Closer to home, Saturday takes off most obviously with the Tennessee band of brothers Kings of Leon getting anthemic at Mansfield’s Xfinity Center, while singer and pianist John Legend gets romantic at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. Despite recent cancellations blamed on his health, Gregg Allman’s also headed to Lowell’s Boarding House Park for a bill with his jazz-influenced Allman Brothers bandmate Jaimoe’s own band Jasssz. The Allman Brothers Band hasn’t been able to nail down a Boston area date on its short swing of farewell appearances (the closest being Aug. 16-17 at its Peach Music Festival in the Poconos), but Gregg Allman’s still mining that catalog along with his solo fare. And Allman Brothers percussionist Marc Quinones plays in Allman’s band as well.

Also on the north side of town, the Gloucester Blues Festival stirs up that seaside city on Saturday with an afternoon lineup including Tinsley Ellis, Debbie Davies and Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, where that local harp journeyman’s joined by matured guitar prodigy Mike Welch. And in the western part of the state, the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival serves up a free Saturday program that includes saxophonist Phil Woods, his prodigy Grace Kelly, and singer Charmaine Neville, appearing with her Neville Brothers-famed father Charles on sax. She also pulls into Somerville’s Johnny D’s Uptown on Sunday.  And the Mavericks rock their country-soul party at Webster's Indian Ranch, a show that was one of my top summer picks.

Saturday’s club picks include the return of Seattle's indie-pop oddballs the Presidents of the United States of America (remember the ’90s hit “Lump”?) at the Paradise Rock Club. That band’s singer/bassist Chris Ballew once lived in Boston, where he worked with Morphine’s Mark Sandman, picking up his minimalist string techniques. Montana resident Laurie Sargent, who coincidently sang with the Sandman tribute Orchestra Morphine at the Lizard Lounge this week, sticks around her old hometown for a 4 p.m. Saturday solo set at Atwood’s Tavern that's sure to feature many of the same bandmates. And Boston-based soul shouter Barrence Whitfield's sure to keep Johnny D's Uptown hopping that night with the Grits and Grocery Orchestra.

Impopular

"My Drunk Kitchen"'s Hannah Hart, unfiltered

The YouTube star on drunk cooking, the Internet and her #NoFilter comedy tour

Comedian Hannah Hart became Internet famous by filming herself cooking things while drunk and putting them on YouTube. Now, her YouTube show My Drunk Kitchen, has earned her millions of "likes," a recently-released book of the same name and a spot on a comedy tour, #NoFilter, with fellow Internet comedians Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart, hitting the Wilbur Theatre on August 15. In advance of the show, we checked in with Hart to talk drunk culinary skills, her favorite YouTube videos, Instagram and more. 

So, essentially, you cook stuff — while hammered — on camera.  It sounds a little…dangerous.

Um, well, yeah.  [But] You know, I say that it’s not that dangerous because I try to make sure I don’t hurt myself. And it’s pretty fun. Basically, My Drunk Kitchen started as a joke for a friend. I was living in New York and I made a video as, like, a ‘hey, I miss you dude. I hope you’re doing well!’ sort of thing, and put it up on YouTube, and then discovered that people had “shows” online, via the comments section of this video. And I was still trying to figure out why strangers were commenting on a video that I had put online! [Laughs] 

What was the first thing you ever drunk-cooked? Publicly, at least.

Yeah [laughs], publicly, at least, right?  It was a grilled cheese sandwich. But, unfortunately I forgot that I didn’t actually have any cheese.  So it was really a hot-buttered-toastwhich. 

Did you eat the whole thing?

Yeah, duh.

So now that you have a more professional operation what sort of safety precautions do you have in place when you’re filming?

I would say I make sure that there’s a sober person who will be seeing me later that night. You know, it’s good to have a destination. I find drinking too much and staying in all night is super, super depressing, so having something to go out and do really lifts the spirits.

Do you ever watch the show Drunk History?

I saw it for the first time the other day, actually, as embarrassing as that is to admit. I love it. I’m dying for a chance to get on there and kind of spout my storytelling as well. It’s so, so funny, and I like it so much because I think it’s so useful to give people information that they didn’t know. Like, My Drunk Kitchen always tries to have a self-help parody-esque message in it. And I think Drunk History also has that info-tainmet aspect to it. 

Yeah, I love it. I read something behind-the-scenes about that where they talked about how drunk they actually get, which, apparently is pretty drunk.  How many drinks do you usually have before you film one of your segments?

Oh my God, I am a lightweight beyond lightweight. I have zero drinks before [starting filming] and if I have started drinking before it’s incredibly obvious, because those become the more drunk episodes. [Laughs]

So was it kind of trial-and-error at first, to see how many drinks you could have without it being too much of a mess?

Yes, and I wish that I had exacted more of a science behind it. But it’s funny because people always say, ‘oh, are you really drunk when you cook?’ and I always say, ‘I am exactly as drunk as I appear.’

What do your parents think of your show?

Oh, I’m sure that they’re very, very, very proud.

So when I was in college, whenever I came home drunk, for some reason I tried to cook stir-fry, and I ended up eating a lot of semi-raw chicken. What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever cooked drunk and eaten? 

Oh God, you don’t want to eat raw chicken at all!  That sounds terrible. 

I know, but I survived.

Ok, good. Thank God. Lived to see another day. Actually, I’ve been talking to a zombie all along. 

What’s your best tip for cooking while drunk?

Um…cook in good company?

How about your go-to drunk food?

Oh man, I’m a big sucker for burritos, tacos… I guess it would have to be Mexican cuisine.

I read that one of the recipes in your drunk cookbook is a pizza cake? That sounds like the best thing ever.

That’s because it is! Pizza cake is both a pizza and a cake. Basically, you take frozen pizzas, and you stack them one on top of another, and you cook them for a few additional minutes until they’re fully cooked and crispy on the outside. Then you slice it, like you’re slicing out layers of a cake. 

So you cook them stacked so that they melt together?

You know it.

How did you come up with that? 

Well, if you really ever actually want to make it, the best way to do it is to cook them so that the bottoms get brown, and then start stacking them, and then let the finished product mesh together….but anyway, that’s just a real tip How did I come up with that? I don’t know, I just thought of it.  [Laughs]

What’s one of your favorite viral YouTube videos of all time? 

Fail Cat. It’s like only 20 seconds, and it makes me really happy.

Do you still go back and re-watch it?

I’m probably going to watch it the second we get off this call.

I probably am too, because I don’t think I’ve seen it.

Oh man, it’s so great.  Oh also, ‘I Am Your Grandma,’ which is another video I really like. 

I don’t think I know that one either.  I need to get up-to-date on my YouTube videos.

Oh these are all super old. Trust me, I’m not a cool, hip Internet kid. I’m like the big sister of this whole group.

Are you friends with other YouTube celebrities?

Oh yeah.

So who would you count among your YouTube friends?

Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart are friends of mine; they’re other YouTubers. We’ve done some live comedy shows together and we released a movie online together last year. And then, Tyler Oakley is a sweetheart. John and Hank Gree, the Vlogbrothers, and the Fine Brothers. I guess those are my only Internet friends. 

Do you guys hang out IRL, or just online?

John and Hank live far away, but when we’re in the same state, we hang out in real life.

So they say, as an online journalist, you shouldn’t read the comment section. Do you ever read negative comments and get upset?

You know, blessedly, the community that I’m a part of has been kind of self-policing, so I actually feel really fortunate that when I’m glancing through my comments they are very happy and positive and sweet and encouraging. It’s like getting all these affirmations from strangers, and I wish that everybody had something like that that they could check in to every day. 

On the reverse end, then, do you ever find yourself getting a big head?

I mean, ask my friends, right? I’d like to hope not, but like, maybe.  You try and stay grounded, but it’s easy to lose perspective.

You, Grace and Mamrie are coming to Boston for the #NoFilter tour. Can you tell me a little bit about the live show—do you guys do your YouTube bits live on stage?

Not really, fortunately.  You know, My Drunk Kitchen is a dangerous thing to try to do live, but we just do play improve games with the audience, and do a little bit of stand-up, a little bit of sketch. It’s just kind of a raunchy variety show.

So you will not be drunkenly cooking. 

I could be, though. Put it in. Maybe I will. Maybe I’ll try and cook My Drunk Kitchen live for the first time on Boston’s beautiful stage. 

And then you could serve pizza cake to the whole audience.

Oh my God, you’re right! [Laughs] Dude, you have just inspired me to serve pizza cake, or silver dollar pancakes…oh, it’s all so beautiful.

The show’s called #NoFilter. What’s something you’ve said recently that, in retrospect, maybe you should have put a filter on?

I think I made a promise to cook live on stage for a Boston theater recently, that I maybe should have put a cap on before it got out of my mouth.

Well played.

Thank you.

Last but not least, you’re pretty active on Instagram, what’s your favorite Instagram filter?

Ooh, I’m going to go for Lo-Fi.

I like Lo-Fi. You what filter I don’t think anybody has used, ever? Kelvin.

Ugh.  I can’t even believe you said the word ‘kelvin.’ Didn’t we make that pact, when we all downloaded Instagram, never to speak of it? 

It’s like Beetlejuice. If you say it too many times your whole life will get filtered in kelvin. 

Yes. [laughs]

Sound Ideas

Review: Masada graces Newport Jazz Fest

Launched in 1954, before the birth of rock and other music festivals, the Newport Jazz Festival expanded upon its legacy Friday by kicking off its 60th anniversary weekend with an opening third day that truly pushed jazz in dizzying directions.

Friday's centerpiece was John Zorn’s Masada marathon, a two-and-a-half hour spin through nine configurations of virtuoso musicians associated with that prolific, maverick composer/saxophonist. It marked an extremely rare convergence of players from New York's downtown avant-garde scene -- less than 90 minutes from Boston. Yet wherever one turned on the grounds of Fort Adams State Park, there was an ensemble cooking on a comparable plane of adventurous, top-flight musicianship that pulled from a range of ethnic influences.

Zorn’s original Masada group with trumpeter Dave Douglas, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Joey Baron began the marathon in the fort’s open Quad tent, tapping the same instrumentation as Ornette Coleman’s radical late ’50s quartet while drawing on Jewish folk scales under its bursts of feisty improvisation. Across a 20-minute slot, the quartet shifted from spirited to whimsical, from free skronk fest (led by Zorn on alto sax) to a burning bop solo by Douglas. From there, composer Zorn deftly directed the program’s mix ‘n’ match pool of musicians associated with his Tzadik label in some of the hundreds of songs in his Masada repertory.

Bar Kokhba first suggested a chamber group with bassist Cohen, cellist Erik Friedlander and violinist Mark Feldman. As a conductor, however, Zorn egged on guitarist Marc Ribot (Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Tom Waits) to seize the lead in a scorching Latin-rock jam with gleeful basher Baron. A duet by violinist Feldman and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier shared precision and attitude, flashing classical technique and Astor Piazzolla’s modern-tango flourish. The band Dreamers introduced drummer Kenny Wollesen on vibes and built a dreamy sound into fierce rock grooves. And the young quartet Abraxas brought the noise level to extremes with its heavy Moroccan-metal mash around Shanir Blumenkranz’s bass-like sintir, bookended by refreshing, intricate changeups from both string trio (conducted by a sitting Zorn) and a Friedlander cello solo. Finally, Electric Masada brought the largest ensemble to a cathartic boil akin to Miles Davis’s Agharta period. Jamie Saft laid overamped ribbons of Rhodes piano over the cushion of drummers Baron and Wollesen, sweeping percussionist Cyro Baptista and laptop sonic colorist Ikue Mori. And if Zorn grew overly busy in cuing quick-cut changes, he had the players to execute it.

If the Masada marathon was the main event, it was easy to forget upon a stroll to Friday’s other stages. There were premiere big bands in Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society (its empathic spread of dynamics leading to a Levon Helm homage) and New England Conservatory professor Miguel Zenon’s “Identities” Big Band, which folded rich, contrasting horn layers in pieces that explored Puerto Rican heritage. Asia informed the music of Indian-American alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa (whose Charlie Parker Project mixed its bop with Mahavishnu-like energy) Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir El Saffar. The horn and keyboard-driven ensemble Snarky Puppy hit some interesting moments with its more mainstream fusion, while Jon Batiste & Stay Human went all out with a populist New Orleans-styled repertoire that went over the top with a guest sax spot by local favorite Grace Kelly. And the oddly named Mostly Other People Do the Killing lent off-kilter personality, from a piano solo that wove mayhem and quoted standards (even Elton John) to a banjo attacked by violin bow.

Perhaps the day’s most radical inclusion might have been Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, which neatly recasts the repertoire of big bands from the 1920s and ’30s. After tracing the history of “The Sugarfoot Stomp” through King Oliver and Fletcher Henderson, tuba leader Giordano noted he “had nothing to do with” a Pete Rock hip-hop remix of his version, suggesting there were limits to what was proudly flown under jazz’s tent on Friday.

After a rainy Saturday with a strong bill ranging from the challenging bandleader Dave Holland’s Prism to New Orleans upstart Trombone Shorty, the 60th edition of the Newport Jazz Fest closes Sunday with another fabulous lineup the includes the Mingus Big Band, Bobby McFerrin, Gary Burton, Danilo Perez, David Sanborn and even the Newport All-Stars led by 88-year-old pianist George Wein, who founded the whole thing. Like the festival itself, Wein offers us, as Zorn said in salute, “Living history.”

Thoughts on Sox D-Day

The good, the bad and how Boston positioned itself for the future.

Jon Lester racked up 110 wins for the Red Sox before being traded to Oakland. (Michael Ivins / Boston Red Sox)

The Fenway frenzy of the past few days, which culminated with four trades Thursday, came just as quickly as the season fell apart. Remember when they had a few series' victories sandwiched around the All-Star break? Me neither. 

You know those big roundup stories you see in every season preview, the one with the list of all the players lost and gained from each team during the offseason? Well, the Sox got rid of four guys who would've been in that season preview under “lost,” and in return they got two outfielders having bad years, one middle-of-the-rotation starter, one struggling 21-year-old prospect, a Top 75 draft pick and a little bit more. Aside from John Lackey, it's all from trading guys who would've walked away from the Sox for nothing (aside from a Top 40 draft pick for Lester) in two months. You simply can't complain about trades like that, and it's why Sox fans can't be too upset despite their favorite team trading away a homegrown ace who beat cancer, won two World Series rings and made three All-Star games. They've seen every homegrown guy leave, from Clemens to Nomar, and Vaughn to Ellsbury. Heck, even Dwight Evans played for Baltimore late in his career. It happens in pro sports today, and you take the best compensation you can get for the player. Let's look at the outgoing players and the incoming ones from the past week, player by player and random thoughts from the trade deadline:

Outgoing

Jake Peavy, SP, 33 (free agent to be)

Felix Doubront, SP, 26 (arbitration eligible in 2015)

Jon Lester, SP, 30 (free agent to be, would get qualifying offer)

Jonny Gomes, OF, 33 (free agent to be)

John Lackey, SP, 35 (1 year left at $500,000 salary)

Corey Littrell, SP, 22 (yet to start six-year control clock)

Andrew Miller, RP, 29 (free agent to be)

Stephen Drew, SS, 31 (free agent to be)

Incoming

Heath Hembree, RP, 25 (yet to start six-year control clock)

Edwin Escobar, SP, 22 (yet to start six-year control clock)

PTBNL from the Chicago Cubs

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, 28 (1 year left at $10M salary)

Joe Kelly, SP, 26 (arbitration eligible in 2016)

Allen Craig, OF/1B, 20 (signed for 3 years/$25.5M)

Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, 21 (yet to start six-year control clock)

Kelly Johnson, IF, 32 (free agent to be)

Top 75 pick from the Oakland A’s

- It’s obvious simply by looking at the list of incoming players that the Red Sox got younger (but not too young) during the trade deadline. None of the players they received who will be on the team next year are older than 30. But they gave up three 30+-year-old starting pitchers.

- It’s not unreasonable to think the Red Sox won’t have many free agents this offseason. Koji Uehara, Burke Badenhop and Kelly Johnson stand as the three right now, but Badenhop and Johnson could be dealt at the waiver trade deadline.

- I hope Giant Glass has someone on-call for the Lansdowne Street garage. Cespedes hits the ball as hard as any player—outside of Giancarlo Stanton—since Gary Sheffield. He’s a beast. And, while there’s been much hand-wringing over his low OBP, it’s in part due to his poor BABIP, which can be traced to his high FB percentage. If that was too much alphabet soup for you, let's put simply: He’s not going to play as many games in Oakland (or Seattle for that matter) and he should see more of his fly balls become homers or doubles. Call it the Adrian Beltre Theory.

- Doubront looms as the biggest loss at the trade deadline. It’s easy to say he was in the bullpen and floundering, but this is a guy whose peripherals compared to Jon Lester’s last season (and let’s assume that same valued xFIP stat is what led the Sox front office to believe Lester was only worth 4/$70M), and who had a string of 16 starts under 3 earned runs during a stretch of 18 games last season. He had one bad relief appearance after getting yoked around by the team, and they jettisoned the next three years of team control for nothing? There has to be more to this than they’re letting on. He goes from being one of the biggest assets of the franchise to almost nothing in 12 months. This could really be the stinker of the trade deadline.

- The return for Miller was one of the best prospects traded during the deadline. While Rodriguez is having a tough season in Double-A, he’s only 21 and his peripherals are still impressive. It sets up an all-lefty generation of Rodriguez, Escobar, Brian Johnson and Henry Owens, who are all slightly younger than the all-righty generation of prospects (Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo). Even if there's only a 33 percent success rate, that's still three starters.

- Craig is worth a gamble at a low price. The upside is his All- Star self, and the downside is his current self, who is useless. Craig’s inability to turn on pitches has been well-documented, and while wrist speed is the first thing to go with aging players, let’s not forget the case of Adam Lind, a similar-age player who was thought to be all washed-up (and someone the Sox might have to eat the contract of in John Farrell compensation talks). Lind is now tearing it up again for Toronto. It’s worth taking a risk on a guy for $8M a year. The Sox did it at a higher price for Shane Victorino in 2013, and it worked out.

- Speaking of Victorino, the absolute best-case scenario for the Sox would be to have Lester suffer a similar post-deadline fate as Victorino did after being traded to the Dodgers in 2012. He completely hit the skids that year and ruined any free-agent value he had. If Lester—sans the help of David Ross—does the same in Oakland, it would be nice. The only problem is Oakland is a pitchers’ park. A post-deadline skid would be far more likely if he were traded to the Orioles and had to pitch at Camden Yards.

- The compensation pick from the A’s is being overlooked in all this. It’s only about 35 spots lower than what the Sox would’ve gotten if Lester had walked as a free agent…plus they got 14 months (maybe 15 months?!) of Cespedes.

- Not that Kelly Johnson will help much this season, but I’ve always thought of him as the RFP in VORFP. He’s always been the 13th best player at any position in fantasy baseball. He’s always available on the waiver wire and always picked up a few times a year, and he's useful in that role. He’s the ultimate Replacement Fantasy Player.

- While there’s been a little buzz about Lester coming back as a free agent, I just don’t see the Sox putting out the amount of money needed to get him as free agent. He’s getting something like 6 years, $150M after putting up the best season of his career. It might look good in 2015 or 2016, but don’t forget this is his best season. At age 30. It’s unlikely he’ll do this for too long.

- But while we’re at it, would Cespedes take that same 4 year, $70 million extension?

- You have to give props to the Red Sox front office for having the conviction to go all out and sell off the team's free-agents-to-be. Look at teams like the Phillies or the Diamondbacks that sell off one or two pieces (or none if you're the Phillies). What’s the point? Or on the flip side, look at the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have a Top 3 player in baseball and are unwilling to give up much of value at the trade deadline every year. The result is they never do much, and acquire over-the-hill veterans to surround Andrew McCutcheon. Ben Cherington and Co. had a plan and followed it. The Sox will be better of for it in 2015.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

We’ve got another blockbuster weekend of music festivals, from the shores of Rhode Island to the shores of Connecticut, plus a huge event on our own island of Nantucket. And we’re talking rain or shine, even on Saturday.

It’s the 60th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival, rising to the occasion with a stellar three-day lineup. Unlike its folk cousin last weekend, Newport Jazz also has tickets available. The fest has added a cutting-edge Friday afternoon slate at Fort Adams State Park, centered by a two-hour-plus Masada marathon conducted by saxophonist/composer John Zorn and sporting shuffled lineups that include Marc Ribot, Dave Douglas and Joey Baron, while Friday’s program also includes Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Charlie Parker Project, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Jon Batiste & Stay Human, Miguel Zenon’s “Identities” Big Band and fusion cats Snarky Puppy. Saturday taps both adventurous bandleaders like Dave Holland and Robert Glasper and such crowd-pleasers as the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (also at the Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport Casino with Dee Dee Bridgewater on Friday) and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Dr. John keeps the New Orleans vibe alive on Sunday, joined by fine jazz groups led by Vijay Iyer, Danilo Perez and Gary Burton among others. Look here for the full Newport Jazz rundown.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue also join the jam-band crowd flocking to Bridgeport, Conn., for the annual Gathering of the Vibes. That weekend-long fest at Seaside Park also features John Fogerty, Widespread Panic (who have collaborated in the past), Umphrey’s McGee, the Disco Biscuits (with the drummers from the Grateful Dead), moe., Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Dispatch and Ziggy Marley. Here's the full schedule.

Dispatch (which has headlined Boston’s major arenas) and Edward Sharpe & his Magnetic Zeros also serve as headliners for the two-day inaugural Nantucket Music Festival. Steel Pulse and Ben Taylor head the rest of the bill joining Dispatch on Saturday while Guster and Entrain join Sunday’s bill at Tom Nevers Field overlooking the Atlantic. Here’s the lowdown on the biggest fest to hit the Islands in some time.

Of course there are other non-festival concerts to consider. David Gray returns to croon at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion and Mark Eitzel from American Music Club graces Johnny D’s Uptown while KISS (with a moving spider-like lighting rig) and Def Leppard rock a double bill at the Xfinity Center on Friday. Plus pop songbird Katy Perry stages her wild wardrobe party at TD Garden on Friday and Saturday. Saturday also brings emotive R&B singer Keyshia Cole to House of Blues, which explodes Sunday with the return of the ’90s hip-hop group Jurassic 5, a vaulted mix of MCs and DJs that include Cut Chemist.

Finally, for my Thursday throwback, with the James Brown biopic “Get On Up” hitting theaters, here’s the Godfather of Soul’s full 1968 Boston Garden concert the night after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. To quell riots, Mayor Kevin White had WGBH-TV broadcast the event and made a passionate onstage plea for peace at the start, while Brown did his part to cool the situation when people from the crowd climbed up and police tried to step in. And then there’s the performance itself!

Sound Ideas

Review: Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden slug away at Xfinity Center.

Nostalgia’s not big in the heavy, contrasting worlds of Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. NIN mastermind Trent Reznor has sporadically retired that group and pursued other projects that include award-winning soundtracks. For NIN’s 2013 comeback Hesitation Marks, Reznor dabbled with electronic bleeps and beats closer to EDM than his early industrial rock -- and he’s a continual pioneer of theatrical staging. In turn, Seattle grunge kings Soundgarden have been very workingman-like since their return a few years back, touring a lot and quickly hatching a substantive new album in King Animal.

However, it’s the 20th anniversary of career-defining albums for each group -- The Downward Spiral for NIN and Superunknown for Soundgarden -- and that fact was not lost on the crowd that packed the Xfinity Center on Tuesday for the groups' current co-headlining tour.

Given that Soundgarden has played Superunknown in its entirety for a smattering of shows behind a deluxe reissue, it was not surprising that half of the quartet's Tuesday set was culled from that album. Even though the band played two songs from King Animal, you couldn’t beat classics like “Outshined,” “Black Hole Sun” and “Jesus Christ Pose,” where fill-in drummer Matt Chamberlain earned his keep by pounding cyclical patterns and screamer Chris Cornell crossed his mic stand with a feedback-rung guitar.

Alas, Soundgarden suffered from a muddy (beyond grunge) sound mix, burying the Superunknown deep track Like Suicide, though the album’s title track still soared with its power-swing and Kim Thayil’s fuzz-guitar finesse. Soundgarden should have left fans' jaws dropped there, rather than ring their ears with “Beyond the Wheel” (from the band’s metallic 1990 debut), which lapsed into an interminable noise-guitar coda.

Nine Inch Nails -- far from the instrument-trashing force that hit the same Mansfield shed on 1991’s inaugural Lollapalooza tour -- instead began its closing set in sleek, minimalist form. A fit, head-bopping Reznor emerged alone at a small podium of electronics to rock the new “Copy of A” before his three bandmates took contrasting posts to add to the synthetic pulse.

Even when Reznor flailed on guitar and the band fully kicked in, their loud washes of sound were spread in broad dynamics, and almost as many songs hailed from Hesitation Marks as The Downward Spiral. Wide distribution extended to one track from 2007’s government-critical concept album, “The Great Destroyer,” which essentially dropped into a noisy EDM faceoff. Again though, one couldn't deny the intense impact of vintage warhorses like “Terrible Lie” and “March of the Pigs,” which was flailed into submission by drummer Ilan Rubin (an MVP who shifted to bass and guitar) apart from eerie breaks where Reznor crooned, “Doesn’t that make you feel better?”

If stripped down from last fall’s NIN arena tour, the set still boasted spectacular staging, hinged on a bank of panels that moved -- even during songs -- and served as projection screens that flashed silhouettes, static (morphed like medical imaging) and geometric shapes. For the resurrected “Closer,” the hidden Reznor’s pixelated face throbbed on the screens as he sang, only for those panels to part and reveal him as he leaned into into a camera lens to spit the song's carnal thrust of a chorus -- seemingly an apt jab at our reality TV culture.

However, much like Soundgarden eventually pushed its sound mix to bothersome extremes, Nine Inch Nails brought its own barrage to a peak – if not so much with volume as with rows of blinding strobe lights that made it difficult to watch the stage by final diatribe “Head Like a Hole.” Both bands explore pain and aggression in their music, but they didn’t have to overload the senses of the crowd to drive that all home.

Sound Ideas

Review: Newport Folk Fest Serves Folk of All Stripes

Usually it’s the indie-folk whippersnappers who dominate the collaborations that now grace Rhode Island’s revitalized Newport Folk Festival.

Usually it’s the indie-folk whippersnappers who dominate the collaborations that now grace Rhode Island’s revitalized Newport Folk Festival. But in celebrating her recent 75th birthday, headliner Mavis Staples wasn’t about to cede her reign and miss out on whimsical possibilities at Fort Adams State Park this past weekend.

The gospel-soul icon, who debuted at Newport with the Staples Singers in 1964, proved robust in personality and voice, testifying with her band on Sunday to chase away the sporadic rain. Yet Staples was busy visiting other stages on all three days of the festival, sitting in with the Boston-bred Lake Street Dive on Friday and then Lucius, Puss N Boots and Jeff Tweedy, the producer of Staples’ latest albums.

Lucius’ Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, who turned heads with their Berklee-trained band’s mashup of girl-group vocals, grungy sonics and tribal percussion on Saturday, also enjoyed their popularity. They returned Sunday in matching glittery dresses and platinum-blonde bobs to sing with both Staples (for a delirious sendup of Talking Heads’ “Slippery People”) and Wilco leader Tweedy, who’d drafted the Lucius gals for his upcoming solo album with drummer son Spencer. The Tweedys’ band dipped into that material Sunday along with Wilco gems capped by “California Stars,” a song spun from Woody Guthrie lyrics. And Staples rounded out her set with guests that included Tweedy, Lucius, Trampled by Turtles and Norah Jones (who dealt modest charms in Puss N Boots the day before), closing with “We Shall Overcome,” a salute to festival favorite Pete Seeger, who died early this year.

Before Staples’ triumph, the festival seemed to revolve around the rock star-like presence of Jack White. He strode the grounds on Saturday to check out various stages (at times accompanied by actor-performer John C. Reilly) and during his day-closing set, White said he was impressed by how people didn’t bother him. Not that he was that inapproachable. When one fan with posters waved toward the briskly walking White, the musician motioned to catch up for a quick autograph. White’s set proved a bit shambolic though. He romped about the main stage, swapping between electric and acoustic guitars as he mixed and mashed blues standards with tunes from his White Stripes and solo catalogs, sounding like Led Zeppelin on ADHD with a likewise-manic foil in off-kilter drummer Daru Jones. White also played piano on two tunes, including a momentum-stifling “The Rose with the Broken Neck” (from the soundtrack-ish Danger Mouse project Rome that also featured Norah Jones) before ripping up his Raconteurs rocker “Top Yourself.” On the other hand, he tickled with the Stripes’ country two-step “Hotel Yorba” (co-sung with fiddler Lillie Mae Risch) and the lovely “We’re Going to Be Friends.” And for his finale, he invited out folks including Pokey LaFarge and the Milk Carton Kids for “Goodnight Irene.”

White (who saved his own sit-in to join Beck in Providence that night) also unleashed an odd diatribe against the dangers of seeking authenticity. “Authenticity is a phantom,” he warned Saturday’s crowd at the long-soldout festival. “It doesn’t matter about [someone’s] clothing or hair. It’s about the music.”

That comment made sense with Valerie June, who took the smallest stage in a maze of dreadlocks, a sparkly dress and turquoise cowboy boots, and began with the solo banjo blues of “Rollin’ and Tumblin.’” The Tennessee native’s keening vocals had an Appalachian twinge, though her country-folk (filled out with fiddle and standup bass) echoed modern R&B as well.  Other audience-building upstarts included Shakey Graves (a singer/guitarist who played a suitcase kick drum with his heel) and Hozier, an Irish singer/songwriter who led a larger band with cello but relied on resonant low dynamics and piqued interest with his viral hit “Take Me to Church,” which targets orthodox hypocrisy. Guitar fans soaked in bluesy rocker Benjamin Booker and the stomping flamenco duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, who were a crowd-thrilling whirl of motion and metallic fret-speed on acoustic axes.

Newport returnees also impressed, from the fiddlin’ folk-blues of Hurray for the Riff Raff (led by the beaming Alynda Lee Segarra) and rambunctious bluegrass of Trampled by Turtles to the delicate folk-pop of Milk Carton Kids, a hushed duo of harmonizers in the Simon & Garfunkel mold, all on the middle stage inside Fort Adams. Others graduated to early main-stage slots, including Shovels & Rope, a husband/wife duo that swapped guitar and drum kit only to sound full and feisty, and Rhode Island’s own maturing Deer Tick, who arrived in matching white sailors’ outfits, backed by a horn section. Back from a seven-year hiatus, the popular bluegrass-rooted trio Nickel Creek mixed deft picking and streamlined pop appeal with its hit “Destination.” And the charismatic Conor Oberst forged one of Sunday's best-sounding sets, with smart backing by the band Dawes and well-balanced orchestration from horns and backup singers.

And that was just a taste of what was happening on Saturday and Sunday around the walls of Fort Adams, where you could also browse the vendors booths and see the Decemberists’ Chris Funk hanging out, looking easier to talk to than Jack White. From lineup to settting to vibe, Newport Folk continues to earn its stripes.

Beer for Beethoven

Original Gravity concert curator Keith Kirchoff pairs local brews with classical masterpieces.

Classical music isn't confined to the concert hall. Lately, we’ve heard it performed in local bars and living rooms, and this Wednesday brings sweet strains to some new terrain: a brewery. Pairing works by local composers with local brews, the Original Gravity concert series kicks off at 7 pm on July 30 with a night of works by Boston-based composer Peter Van Zandt Lane and beers from Somerville's Aeronaut Brewing Company. Eventually, the Original Gravity crew aim to have composers working with brewers to create beers to suit their specific sounds. But in the meantime, we tapped concert curator Keith Kirchoff—a pianist, composer and avid home brewer himself—for his musical matches for four choice local brews.

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Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes + Trillium Brewing Company’s Fort Point Pale Ale

Liszt's Transcendental Etudes are the quintessential piano studies. They are incredibly flashy and entertaining, wildly virtuosic, easy to digest and understand, and when that last note is played, the audience immediately leaps to their feet clamoring for more. 
     What better beer than Fort Point Pale Ale? A virtuosic ale if there ever were such a thing, the drinker is hit in the face with flashy citrus hop aromas that just dance out of the glass. It's easy drinking, and when that last drop is sipped, I'm immediately jumping to my feet and reaching for another!

Wagner’s Prelude to Tristan und Isolde + Jack's Abby Brewing’s Coffee Framinghammer

I cannot think of a more soulful composer that sums up the profundity of human emotion than Wagner. With Tristan und Isolde, Wagner expresses deep love, intense longing and overwhelming loss; I have never listened to this heart-wrenching piece without crying by the end. This piece will take a listener on a very deep journey and force him or her to confront potentially painful truths about themselves, their relationships and the world around them.
     For such a profound work, I suggest Jack's Abby's Coffee Framinghammer. One of the most profound beers I've ever tasted, this barrel-aged Baltic porter is rich, thick and deep. It is a slow sipper that encourages private contemplation. With subtle coffee notes and rich flavors of chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and oak, it's not a party beer any more than Tristan is party music. 

John Zorn’s Aporias: Requia for Piano and Orchestra + Night Shift Brewing’s Art #21 Farmhouse Bramble

Perhaps best known for his work as a jazz composer, John Zorn is also a highly prolific and tremendously creative composer of classical music. Like most of his music, his piano concerto Aporias blends dozens of different musical genres, ranging from classical to rock, jazz to metal, blues to minimalism. The piece balances so many diverse styles that it is a difficult piece to classify: Is it classical? Or is it more of a rock concerto?
     Wildly creative, Zorn refuses to be boxed into committing to any one style or way of doing things. And there isn't a better brewery to pair with such an aesthetic than Night Shift Brewing. They similarly refuse to be boxed into one style or conform to style regulations, and their beers blur the lines between IPAs, stouts and sours. (They have previously released a white stout and currently are pouring a summer porter.) And though many of their beers would pair perfectly with the music of Zorn, I feel Farmhouse Bramble might just be the best fit for Aporias. The beer is a barrel-aged dark saison that combines blackberries and grape musk. Like Aporias, it's fun, entertaining, a little challenging and a tad brooding. 

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 Enlightenment Ales’ Transcendence

With the very first notes of its ethereal opening, this piece grabs the listener by the ear and entices him or her into a sense of anticipation and active listening. It’s not long before these suspenseful opening phrases blossom and reveal the power and majesty of this piece, taking the listener on a truly epic journey unlike any other in music history…. Besides this immediate impact, the symphony's depth, intricacies and subtleties are what has kept it alive in our musical culture nearly 200 years after its composition; no matter how many times a person may listen to or perform this work, the listener or performer is always discovering something new.
     To pair with such a piece, one needs a beer that can also evolve over time. Because of the symphony's length (the work clocks in at around an hour), the corresponding beer must be one that has an immediate impact and draws in the taster, but also contains so many details and nuances that it remains interesting and new to the very last drop. Transcendence from Enlightenment Ales does exactly this: There is an immediate fruitiness to the beer that draws one in, and the wild yeasts lend such a menagerie of funky flavors, it may take that full hour to fully wrap your head around this magnificent beer.

 

Improper Now

Spotlight on 2014 Boston's Best: The Morning After

Best bets for recovery after a big night out


With all the great spots to dine, drink and revel on this year's list of Boston's Best, your options for a big night out are endless.  However, sometimes a big night out is followed by a....big hangover. But did you really think we’d send you out for a wild night without giving any thought to how you’d recover? Check out these Boston's Best picks for the morning after a wild night on the town. 

iFix Your i [Best Tech Repair]
It’s pretty much inevitable: someone’s iPhone will be inadvertently dropped, thrown or run over (or any combination of the three) during a night of bar-hopping.  How else do you think the techies at iFix Your i run such a lucrative business? They offer same-day repairs for iPhones, iPads, iPods and other smartphones and tablets. A more relaxing alternative to Apple’s Genius Bar? We think so. Plus, you can drop it off and pop over to any number of Newbury Street restaurants for a Bloody Mary while you wait for them to work their magic.

Massage at Bliss [Best Massage]
Living up to its name, Bliss will transport you directly to your happy place.  Your first stop should unquestionably be the relaxation lounge, stocked with tea and brownies—morning after necessities.  The massage table should follow, where you can choose from treatment options to remedy dry skin or blast away the beer belly bloat.  Destination: relaxation. 

Brunch at Mistral [Best Brunch]
Brunch in the Hub (or any metropolitan hub, that is) is an experience akin to the Hunger Games—pun intended—but it’s the Young Urban Professionals Edition. Good luck snagging a table without reservations or hour-long lines. Skip the usual hectic brunch spots and visit this chic, understated French bistro instead. Go ahead and indulge: order the egg white frittata under bubbly tomatoes. And to wash it down? We hope we don’t even have to tell you to skip the Bloody Mary and go for the Valrhona hot chocolate instead. 

Holly Cleaners [Best Dry Cleaning]
Red wine, a white dress and dance floor: three things that, when combined, don't always make for a happy (or clean) Not to worry: if your clothes bear the battle scars of a great night out, Holly Cleaners has you covered. They'll pick up your stained garments and deliver them back in pristine condition, as long as you’re within 20 miles of Boston.  You did brunch and a massage; your clothes deserve a little R&R too.    

Exotic Flowers [Best Florist]
So maybe not every part of last night was a mess: there’s a new number in your phone that belongs to a certain someone that you vaguely remember—or, more likely, someone that you don’t remember at all. Ok, this one could go either way, but let’s assume you want to see this person again: Exotic Flower is the way to their heart.  Their colorful arrangements and unexpected Designer’s Choice bouquets can’t be beat.  (And if this turns out to be love that’s meant to last, they make wedding reception centerpieces, too!)

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

You can't go wrong in picking a multi-day festival to attend this weekend.

It’s festival weekend, from Lowell to Newport and Boston in between. On Friday, House of Blues hosts one of the planet’s best live bands, gypsy-punk outfit Gogol Bordello, fronted by the wild Eugene Hutz. But Friday also kicks off the three-day Newport Folk and Lowell Folk fests, followed by Boston’s Summer Arts Weekend.

Newport Folk’s been reborn in recent years as one of the country’s premiere mid-size fests, held within the striking confines of Fort Adams State Park on the harbor of that Rhode Island city. Friday’s lineup includes Ryan Adams, Band of Horses, Lake Street Dive and Jimmy Cliff. Saturday peaks with the hottest spread of acts, led by rockers Jack White and Kurt Vile, bluegrass-pop pioneers Nickel Creek, Puss N Boots, hot duo the Milk Carton Kids, Deer Tick and art-pop wonders Lucius as well as upstarts Shovels & Rope, Benjamin Booker and J. Roddy Walston. Sunday more than holds its own with soul legend Mavis Staples, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy (out in his solo band that includes his son, plus a near-certain cameo with Staples), Conor Oberst, flamenco-rockers Rodrigo y Gabriela, bluegrass modernists Trampled by Turtles, Dawes and Peggi Young, whose husband Neil could tag along in her band if they want to add to Newport history. Here’s the whole lineup.

But if you can’t land tickets to sold-out Newport Folk, you can’t go wrong with two free fests this same weekend in Boston and Lowell. The Lowell Folk Festival takes over that nearby northern city for three days of shuffling sets by a diverse world of artists including Sun Records rockabilly survivor Sonny Burgess & the Legendary Pacers, Moroccan gnawa sintir master Hassan Hakmoun, Louisiana’s Cajun outfit the Pineleaf Boys and funky original D.C. go-go band EU. Check out the website.

Finally, right here in Boston, Summer Arts Weekend rocks Copley Square Park with Grammy-winning headliners Los Lobos and country veteran Ricky Scaggs & Kentucky Thunder on Saturday and Sunday respectively. They’ll be joined by a cross-genre lineup also including New Orleans brass band the Soul Rebels, jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, Canadian flamenco rocker Jesse Cook and fellow acoustic guitar virtuoso Shun Ng. And here’s the full schedule.

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, with Nine Inch Nails about to rock the Xfinity Center with Soundgarden on Tuesday, let’s flash back to a mud-caked NIN annihilating that mud-caked crowd at Woodstock ’94.

Five Questions for the Red Sox at the All-Star Break

Lester, Pedroia, trades and more!

The second half of the Red Sox season begins tonight, with more uncertainty than in past years—yes, even during the Bobby V. era. Here’s five questions that the Red Sox face at midseason.

1. Will they trade Jon Lester? Wow, that escalated quickly. There was plenty of commenting to the media from both Lester and the front office on contract negotiations. Contract terms were leaked that ranged from 6 years, $104 million to 7 years, $175 million. The “respect” term was bandied about, and now it looks more and more like Lester might be pitching for another team in 2015. If that’s the case, his tenure her went downhill almost as quickly as Nomar Garciaparra’s in 2004. The problem with any proposed midseason Lester trade, is that the Red Sox’ return for the ace pitcher will likely be less valuable than the first-round pick compensation the Sox will get if he leaves as a free agent in the offseason. It’s no longer about, what he’ll re-sign for, it’s about what the Sox can get when he leaves. If that’s the case, you’ll be seeing him on the Fenway mound for the next two months.

2. Can Xander Bogaerts break out of his slump? Yes. There’s simply no conceivable way to think he will keep hitting below .150 with a K/BB ratio of 8/1. His minor-league play was not a mirage. His All-Star worthy first two months did in fact occur. He will get back to it. He simply needs to learn how to adjust midseason to slumps. He can take heart in fellow rookie Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been hot the past few weeks (including the best sign of all, double-digit pitch walks!) after reaching lower depths than Bogaerts.

3. Who will get traded? Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes are the two most obvious candidates. The two free-agents-to-be play positions where the team might face a numbers crunch, which would force them to likely go with the younger option. Some more intriguing trades could include Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller and John Lackey. All three would bring back actual useful players, but that’s because all three are above-average players who any team (including the Sox) might want to keep around.

4. Can the rookies carry the Sox to contention? If only they could play Houston all the time, right? The team hasn’t lost a game that Christian Vazquez has started, but that’s only three games so let’s not get carried away. Still, it appears Brock Holt, Bradley, Bogaerts and Vazquez will comprise 4/9ths of the starting lineup each day, with a little Mookie Betts sprinkled in. Add in Rubby De La Rosa in the rotation, and the opportunity for the rookies to carry this team will certainly be there.

5. Will Dustin Pedroia break out? WAR says he’s still a mighty valuable player (2.6 WAR to date), but you can’t deny he’s slipped. All of his offensive numbers have been in downward trend the past three years, and the aging curve for second baseman is notoriously poor. Remember when Chuck Knoblauch was considered a sure-thing Hall of Famer? Now, he’s known more as a joke. A strong second half of the season from Pedroia will give everyone a little peace of mind about his future.

Improper Now

Welcome to Your Weekend

JP Porchfest, a Harry Potter pub quiz and more!

Purveyors of local art and culture, rejoice! This is the weekend to explore Boston’s more creative side, with community-centered art projects, festivals, and parties popping up all over the place – both indoors and out. Share some neighborly love while perusing the local talent and the tireless innovations of the people that make our city so vibrant and diverse.

FRIDAY | 7.18

WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR DREAMS

Blanket forts: they’re cool again! WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR DREAMS is the brainchild of Kevin Clancy (artist-in-residence at Mobius, Inc. in Cambridge), a three-week-long slumber party for “collective dreaming and utopic visions.” The last Dream Session is tonight, complete with a sunrise dance party starting at 3am with artist and DJ Ethan Kiermaier. You might want to pack some Red Bulls – ‘adult sleepover’ just took on a whole new meaning.

55 Norfolk St., Cambridge | 6pm, free | weareresponsibleforourdreams.tumblr.com

ArtBeat Festival 2014

Live bands. Dance troupes. 75+ craft vendors. Food! Art! Everyone’s favorite arts festival kicks off this afternoon in Davis Square, and invites the city to converge and transform the neighborhood into a launching pad for expression. This year’s theme: “hatch.” Births, breakthroughs, bursts, ArtBeat’s covering it all, and they want you to bust out of your shell and join the creative fun. All Lost references are welcome and encouraged.
1 Davis Sq., Somerville | 6pm Fri. – 10pm Sat., free | somervilleartscouncil.org/artbeat/2014

SATURDAY | 7.19

1st Annual Jamaica Plain Porchfest

In a stroke of community-oriented genius that just further proves the fact that JP is awesome and everyone should live there, Porchfest 2014 was conceived by Marie Ghitman and Mindy Fried. The family-friendly event will host 60 bands on over 30 porches throughout the neighborhood, and the music will range from Afro pop to classical to rock n’ roll to draw fans from every genre and celebrate JP’s diversity. Check out the website for an interactive map (and directions to the afterparty!).
Jamaica Plain (MBTA: Orange Line to Green St) | 12pm-4pm; afterparty, 5pm-9pm, free | jpporchfest.org

The Geeky Cauldron: A Harry Potter Pub Quiz

If last week’s internet meltdown over that new short story J.K. Rowling posted on Pottermore is anything to go by, the Harry Potter fandom is still alive and kicking. The time has finally come to capitalize on all that useless knowledge – this comprehensive pub quiz hosted by Geeks Who Drink is definitely not for ignorant Muggles. The winner gets a hefty cash prize, so study up on those novels, films, and spellbooks! Mingle with your fellow witches and wizards at White Horse Tavern and knock back a butterbeer or five – then Disapparate the smirks off of your opponents’ faces with your Dumbledore-level wisdom.

116 Brighton Ave., Allston | 3pm, $5, under 21 admitted if accompanied by adult | geekswhodrink.com/198

CHEAP SEATS 19: “Saturday Night: Live”

Self-described as “an open source salon for the radically inclusive and artistically adventurous,” Cheap Seats is your one-stop variety show packed with recklessly original performance art. The mission: bring artists from divergent scenes together. Musicians, comedians, poets, and thespians are invited to showcase their unique talents – especially if it breaks from convention and defies identification. Despite its loose and laissez-faire approach, this menagerie is no joke. Interest is healthy, and 20 to 25 five-minute acts are packed into one frenzied night at the Cambridge Y’s Theater. It’s fun to stay at the YMCA!

820 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge | 7pm-10pm, $5 | facebook.com/events/501447189985587

SUNDAY | 7.20

Cobra@119

119 Gallery invites the public to this 30th anniversary celebration/performance of “Cobra,” the unpublished and enigmatic composition from avant-garde composer John Zorn. Created for a group of improvisational musicians and a prompter, “Cobra” consists of a set of cues – and depending on the number of players, instruments used, and length of the session, the piece sounds different each time it’s played. Confused? Chances are, everyone is. But they’ll have fun trying.

119 Chelmsford St, Lowell | 1pm-3pm, free | facebook.com/events/312455248915969

Her Aching Heart

What better time for the consumption of pulpy romance novels than the slow, hot days of summer? In this witty romp of a play, audiences can enjoy a send up to the most classic of guilty pleasures (with the added comfort of air conditioning). Young actresses Lynne Guerra and Aimee Rose Ranger seamlessly portray a range of characters as they are transported into the Victorian world of their dirty imaginations – and an absurd, hilariously indulgent tale of desire unfolds.
450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge | 2pm, $15-$49 (full listings online) | centralsquaretheater.org

 

Improper Now

Spotlight on 2014 Boston's Best: On the Cheap

Deals and steals

There are plenty of places in this city — and among our Boston's Best winners — where you can drop some serious cash. Sometimes, however, we like to feel like we're getting a deal. Luckily, our winners have that wish covered too! We rounded up just a few of the restaurants and shops on our list where a little goes a long, long way. 

Charlie’s Kitchen [Best Dive Bar]

This 50s-style bar/restaurant, with a punk edge — they often have live bands playing in the upstairs bar — does triple duty as a prime place to score greasy-spoon grub, a plesamtly dingy watering hole and a Beer Garden with a full bar, menu, 18 draught beers and a beer stand. Just prepare to jostle for standing room on summer nights — the beer garden is always packed. 

Clery’s [Best Wings]

Ain’t no thing like an inexpensive — and perfectly fried and sauced — chicken wing. Paired with the classic carrot and celery stick combo and served extra crispy, Clery's wings pair perfectly with an ice cold beer and some serious post-work chilling. 

Covet [Best Consignment Shop]

No need to covet Hanadi Hamzeh's enviable wardrobe of designer clothing—she’s sharing! As owner of this fabulously decked out shop, Hamzeh offers high-end clothing at 20 to 30 percent below retail. Dream big, ladies.

Courtside [Best Karaoke]

Not only do they offer pitchers of cheap beer, the employees at Courtside actually want to hear those pipin’ hot pipes of yours after you've sufficiently lubricated 'em. Brush up on the shower tunes this week and show them what you can do when the Inman dive hosts karaoke Thursday through Saturday.

Brookline Booksmith [Best Bookstore]

The Coolidge Corner mainstay serves as a kind of modern-day trading post. The store buys back gently used books and sells them at discounted prices. In a matter of minutes, your something old becomes something new. Plus, they host free author events on the regular. 

Explore the rest of our 2014 Boston's Best for more places to eat, drink, shop and more — on the cheap, or otherwise! 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

A major music and yoga tour coming to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Friday – has it really come to this? Well, yes, it makes sense when you’re dealing with the guru-like Michael Franti and his band Spearhead.  The singer, peace activist and avid yoga practitioner isn’t only bringing his uplifting blend of reggae, funk, pop and hip-hop to the tent that night on his Soulshine tour with guests like SOJA, Brett Dennen and Trevor Hall. Franti also leads an afternoon yoga session for those who show up early with their mats to work out to the guitar-strumming pied piper. The weekend weather looks perfect to breathe in the harborside air.

Other cult-like parties include island-fun pirate Jimmy Buffett’s annual convention of Parrotheads at the Xfinity Center on Saturday and Barenaked Ladies’ good-humor sessions at Rhode Island’s Newport Yachting Center on Friday, Lowell’s Boarding House Park on Saturday and Webster’s Indian Ranch on Sunday. Sarah McLachlan should have her own worshippers on Saturday at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, where the Lilith Fair founder might get her howl on like this. And apart from N’Sync holdovers in the crowd, Justin Timberlake should transcend cultdom with his soulful, snappy song-and-dance extravaganza at TD Garden on Saturday.

At the other end of the spectrum on Saturday is Somerville’s daylong Starlabfest V of local bands headed by the surfy marauders Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion and garage-pop upstarts Blinders as well as the busy second day of ArtBeat 2014, which takes over Davis Square with other fine locals including art-rockers Guillermo Sexo and frisky Rumble co-finalists Petty Morals. Heavy-pop rocker Matthew Sweet also returns to the Paradise with a bagful of his great ’90s hits like “Girlfriend,” and smart support from compatible ’80s singer/songwriter Tommy Keene. And for a real blast from the past, the Tubes take over the Violet Jam at the Verve in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Natick. The San Francisco art-pop hitmakers still boasts originals members in guitarist Roger Steen, drummer Prairie Prince, bassist Rick Anderson and singer Fee Waybill, even if his “White Punk on Dope” shtick has gotten tame compared to the ’70s. Sunday rounds out the weekend with the beguiling, romantic Scottish pop-rockers Camera Obscura hitting the Paradise Rock Club behind their fine album Desire Lines.

Finally, for my Thursday throwback, with Adam Lambert fronting Queen at the TD Garden on Tuesday (as well as Mohegan Sun this Saturday), here’s a full-show flashback to the great Freddie Mercury on his final Queen tour in Budapest in 1986 -- amazing quality to match the performance!

Spotlight on 2014 Boston’s Best: Treat Yo Self (Well)

Bostonians are a hearty bunch. With the city landing at a bunch of big-name listings of healthiest American cities, it’s no surprise that our Best winners include homegrown fitness and health food hotspots. From salads to spin class, we’ve got you covered.

City Sports [Best Sporting Goods]

From November Project workout fanatics to hot yoga gurus, City Sports has something for everyone looking to sprint, serve or swim. From standby brands like Patagonia and Nike, to funkier options like Vibram five finger running shoes or GoPro cameras, a trip to City Sports will leave you good to go, whether your destination is a rocky mountain trail, a kayaking trip down the Charles or the championship game with your rec-league softball team. And with in-house offerings like their outdoor boot-camp workouts and a CrossFit series, the sporting goods store takes the term “one stop shop” to a whole new level.

The Handle Bar [Best Exercise Class]

The Handle Bar is looking to raise the bar on a normal stationary bike experience. From funky mood lighting to dance-party worthy soundtracks, the studio offers classes fun enough to please even the most workout-phobic riders. With energetic instructors like Elise Petersen, Lena Rakijian, Sara Maguire and Cara Tramontozzi leading the charge with these disco-like workout sessions, this is not your mom’s spin class.

Root [Best Vegetarian/Vegan]

Weather you’re looking for a hip green cucumber, kale, green apple and lime juice, or just want the comfort of old friends like quesadillas and fries, the menu at Root proves that veganism doesn’t have to be all about tempeh and macro bowls… though that’s there for you if you’re looking for it. From their commitment to locally sourced products to the fun decor and friendly vibe of their Allston location, there are a lot of reasons to feel good about experimenting with veganism at Root.

SkinHealth [Best Local Product]

From contradicting information about sun exposure and skin products to the confusingly charged topic of SPF ratings, trying to figure out how to take care of your skin can feel like wading through a minefield of science and conflicting advice. SkinHealth takes the stress out of caring for your skin.

Stephi’s in Southie [Best Salads]

Stephi’s collection of spot-on dinner salad offerings prove that, contrary to popular belief, it is actually quite easy being green. From offerings like the Asian yellow fin tuna salad to their own take on classics, this menu shows just how much much more these dishes can be than iceberg lettuce and stale croutons. And with protein add-ins like marinated sliced tenderloin beef or grilled shrimp, they’re nutritious enough to power you through a workout at nearby Handle Bar, or even just a stroll around the neighborhood.

Spotlight on 2014 Boston’s Best: Pies in the Sky

Think pizza can’t be a delicacy? These pies are ready to change your mind. No longer just a street-food staple, Boston pizzas are certainly elevated. Each of these 2014 winners offer their own take on the Italian classic—though these are a far cry from your standard slice of pepperoni. Word to the wise: you might want to go alone. These pizzas are just too good to share. 

Nebo [Best Restaurant: The Greenway]

With views both in and outside the restaurant (think high ceilings with exposed industrial fittings and the sweeping Rose Kennedy Greenway), it might be hard to close your mouth long enough to chew. That is, until you get a whiff of Nebo’s mouthwatering selection of entrees, like the Bianco pizza with marinated tomatoes, prosciutto, ricotta, mozzarella, arugula and parmigiano. Just the sound of those words are delizioso. 

Pastoral [Best Restaurant: Fort Point]

In line with its super-hip neighborhood, Pastoral has pizza (gluten-free crust available) with out-of-the-box toppings. Be the first to discover foie gras, cherries, taleggio and scallion pizza, or if you’re feeling a little less adventurous, try the not-so-standard take on margherita (hand-torn mozzarella, anyone?). Here you’ll find spiritual guidance in the form of a pizza pie—it’s that heavenly. 

Picco [Best Pizza]

Along with Picco's extensive pizza menu is a pick-your-own toppings section—but why would you want to when you already have to choose between drool-worthy options like the fig, bacon and gorgonzola pizza and the Alsatian?  Forget it—get both. No matter what you decide to get on top, you can’t go wrong with Picco’s secret two-day cold fermentation process that makes for a delightfully chewy yet light crust. Sounds like you might not need any toppings at all. 

Posto [Best Restaurant: Davis Square]

If you refuse to eat pizza from anyone other than a certified master, look no further than Posto, which makes its dough according to the principles of Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. That’s Italian for “Darn Good Pizza.” This Davis Square ristorante puts a spin on the classic pizza with menu stars like the Porchetta with fennel-roasted pork, fontina, asiago, red onion and oregano or the Zucca—zucchini, fontina, tomatoes, sweet corn and basil purée. Leave this one to the pros.  

Is This Red Sox Season A Redux Of '96?

Pivotal year for the franchise bears similarities to this year.

Cue the script: A Red Sox team coming off an unexpected postseason run. An ace pitcher facing free agency. Top prospects coming up at shortstop and in the outfield. And a Red Sox front office looking to trade off assets, but holding out hope they can compete next season. Sounds like the 2014 Red Sox, right? Sure—but it was written back in 1996, too.

Nowadays, it’s easy to look back on the Darren Bragg-Jamie Moyer trade as one that went poorly for the Red Sox. Moyer went on to pitch 15 more seasons after he was traded to Seattle, finishing with 269 wins and often posting seasons with 200-plus innings and sub-4 ERAs. But in 1996, when the Red Sox offloaded Moyer for Darren Bragg, it was a spark that made the end of the 1996 season far more interesting than it looked in July. Making his debut for Boston on July 31, 1996, Bragg went hitless in his first game, but he reached base in the next 17 games. During those 17 games, the Sox went 12-5, raising their record from 47-58 to 59-63. The team went on to finish 85-77, going 39-19 after the Bragg trade. The 26-year-old Bragg didn’t exactly put up All-Star numbers for the Sox post-trade, finishing the season with a .722 OPS. The contributions of Mo Vaughn, Reggie Jefferson and Roger Clemens were far more valuable, but Bragg provided a spark for an otherwise lifeless crew of Sox players. Could the addition of Christian Vazquez (or, actually, the subtraction of A.J. Pierzynski) provide a similar spark? The team has won 4 of 5 games since Vazquez was called up from Pawtucket.

That 1996 season followed a 1995 edition of the Red Sox that made the playoffs when a bunch of free agent and waiver wire acquisitions put together an out-of-nowhere run. Players such as Troy O’Leary and Tim Wakefield made an impact, while youngsters such as Mo Vaughn, John Valentin and Tim Naehring contributed some valuable offense. In a way, it was a bit like 2013.

The 1996 season concluded with a September burst from Clemens that saw him strikeout 20 batters in a game for the second time in his career, in addition to tying Cy Young as the team’s all-time wins leader. This year’s edition of the Sox includes Jon Lester, putting up one of the best seasons of his career in a contract year.

Making their major-league debuts in 1996 were Trot Nixon (a cameo game for the former first-round pick) and Nomar Garciaparra, who shot through the minor leagues at a Mookie Betts pace. Youth won the day on that 1996 squad, which got its most valuable contributions on the offensive side from the 20-something crew of Vaughn, Valentin, Naehring, O’Leary, Bragg and even Jeff Frye. Garciaparra’s one month of play set him up for his dazzling 1997 rookie year, and the 1998-99 playoff appearances for the Sox.

A repeat of the 1996 season, which included an action packed final two months, a ton of playing time for the young kids, and an exciting charge by the free-agent-to-be ace pitcher is about what Sox fans should be hoping for at this point. Oh, and if the Sox go on a run to win twice as many games as they lose (like they did to end 1996), that would put them at 88 wins. It might be good enough for a division title in this parity-filled year. Maybe something might be a bit different from 1996 after all.

Spotlight on 2014 Boston’s Best: Seize the Day

What’s a perfect day in Boston like? The answer to that question is probably a bit different to every person, but we think that this itinerary comes pretty damn close. This old city has a lot to offer, and this sampling points out just a few of the many options that lay waiting right outside your door to explore—or rediscover.

Workout With November Project [Best Phenomenon]

The perfect day starts early! Trust us; exercise is good for you. Yes, it hurts now, but you’ll feel like a million bucks afterwards. Also, nothing feels better than free – which is what it costs to participate in this grassroots organization’s tri-weekly workouts. Check out the Project’s Twitter page to see where they’ll be meeting, show up armed with water and a positive attitude, and let the energy of the group push you to reach your goals.

Delivery From Union Square Donuts [Best-Kept Secret]

Hopefully this perfect day falls on a Thursday or Friday, because that’s when the legendary doughnut shop will deliver freshly-made perfection right to your office door. Hey, you completed your workout already—isn’t it time to treat yourself? All you have to do is make sure to place your order online by 1 pm the previous day. Talk about motivation to push through those last hours before the weekend!

Listen to VanyaRadio [Best Radio Show (Streaming)]

For the savvy contemporary music consumer, the digital magazine VanyaLand is an indispensible resource of news. Now the sagacious listener need never miss a beat thanks to VanyaRadio, which streams everything hot, from local up-and-comers to global chart-toppers, 24/7 right out of Allston. Power through the workday and expand your taste with this free resource.

Lunch Break at Samsøn [Best Gallery]

Take a break from the grind and refresh your eyes and inspiration with a stroll through this hip South End spot. The space recently turned ten years old, but it shows no signs of its age with its ever-evolving aesthetic. Visitors can expect to enjoy work from young, unknown artists as well as fresh pieces from established names. Stop by Samsøn for a quick, fun dose of culture.

Happy Hour at Parlor Sports [Best Sports Bar]

Work’s over and it’s time to unwind. Parlor Sports provides all of the easy comfort of a sports bar—without the stifling posturing of a sports bar. Catch the Sox game on one of the many flat-screen TVs while perusing a menu of foodie-friendly bar food that really raises the, um, bar.

Rock Out at the Sinclair [Best Rock Club]

It’s been open for barely a year, but this Harvard Square venue really knows what it’s doing. Perfect for date night—or flying solo—the Sinclair proves itself to be an invaluable addition to the city’s music scene with it’s killer space, solid cocktail menu, and a lineup that caters to even the most judicious show-goers. Then stumble home tipsy and satisfied, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Spencer Shannon

Why Danny Ainge was Smart to Help Cleveland Land LeBron

The Celtics' GM grabbed a first-round pick and might have cost himself Kevin Love—but he made the right move.

The feeling around the NBA back in 2004 when Danny Ainge helped facilitate a three-team deal that landed Rasheed Wallace in Detroit and gave the Celtics a first-round pick (Tony Allen), was that Ainge was indirectly instrumental in creating an NBA champion. Ten years later, he might have done it again.

Ainge’s maneuvering this week has left Boston with a young center and a first-round pick—and helped Cleveland garner enough cap space to sign LeBron James to a max deal. And with James’ latest decision to join Cleveland, Ainge might’ve helped create an NBA champion.

But it would be wrong to blame Ainge for the deal. If he didn’t make the move, the Utah Jazz or the bottom-feeding Philadelphia 76ers surely would have eaten some salary in return for a first-round pick. James’ decision is expected to also lure Kevin Love to Cleveland. In his article on SI.com, James mentioned many young Cavs players, but he didn’t mention Andrew Wiggins, who is rumored to be the center of a deal for Love. It would be easy to then say that Ainge cost himself Love. But that’s rather incorrect. Some other team would have helped Cleveland clear cap space.

The ripple effect of LeBron’s decision will be strongly felt during the next few weeks and will change the NBA for the next 10 years. Love to Cleveland? Chris Bosh and Chandler Parsons to Houston? Wiggins to Minnesota? Dallas and Miami with cap space to lure others? Does Carmelo Anthony go to Chicago and try to win right now while LeBron is busy going through growing pains with a young team in Cleveland? And what becomes of Dwyane Wade?

Boston’s dream of unloading a boatload of assets for one stud player was helped this week when they got a first-round pick for nothing, but it will be ultimately hurt if Love goes to Cleveland. It’s normal for Celtics fans to wonder if Ainge will ever be able to land that stud player, and if that failure in turn will lead to a trade of Rajon Rondo. But it’d be unfair to blame Ainge for helping free up Cleveland’s cap space. If he didn’t, someone else would have.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

From guitar firebrands to the first advance sellout of the Green River Festival, it’s a full weekend for summer concerts. Nearly 40 years since Frampton Comes Alive burned up the charts, Peter Frampton sports short-cropped white hair instead of his old curly mane, but his six-string skills haven’t diminished. And while he plays the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion with the Doobie Brothers (still led by singer/guitarists Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons) on Friday, Frampton’s also game to expand nostalgia to a somewhat more contemporary cover. The same night on the blues side, journeyman singer/guitarist Joe Louis Walker holds court at Johnny D’s in Davis Square. Also on Friday, the Felice Brothers stir up the Sinclair with their crowd-pleasing roots music and on the waterfront, the Institute of Contemporary Art kicks off its Wavelengths outdoor concert series with the darkly dreamy solo work of singer/songwriter Dean Wareham (ex-Galaxie 500 and Luna). Don’t miss opener Quilt, whose “Tie Up the Tides” is one of 2014’s most enchanting songs.

Saturday’s only crazier. Pioneering neo-soul singer Maxwell charms at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Andrew Bird blends violin and whistling virtuosity within the country-folk weave of his band with co-singer Tift Merritt at Lowell’s Boarding House Park, and the ornery Robert Pollard leads indie-rock veterans Guided by Voices at the Paradise Rock Club. The local rock scene also bubbles on Saturday night with Shawn Wolf Wortis’ annual Bastille Day A-Go-Go, this time hitting Atwood’s Tavern with guests including Jenny Dee and Chris Cote.

On Saturday’s festival front, the Levitate Music and Arts Festival brings reggae legends Steel Pulse, crooning surfer dude Donovan Frankenreiter and the art-funk ensemble Rubblebucket to Marshfield, while the Martha’s Vineyard SOUND fest keeps Oak Bluffs happy with island favorites Ben Taylor, Willy Mason and Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish. But the big event is the Green River Festival, which boasts hot-air balloons as a backdrop to the music at Greenfield Community College. Saturday features Trombone Shorty, Lucius and Puss n Boots, while Sunday offers Josh Ritter, Trampled By Turtles, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and the ex-Blasters brothers Dave and Phil Alvin, who also play the Sinclair here on Saturday night.

And it’s also this Sunday at Indian Ranch where you can catch the legendary B.B. King (despite shows that have grown a bit more shaky at age 88), pedal-steel hotshot Robert Randolph and his Family Band, and robust vocalist Shemekia Copeland. A second stage of regional acts will provide non-stop blues on the shore of Lake Webster.

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, with John Fogerty primed to tap his Creedence Clearwater Revival catalog at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion next Wednesday, here’s a vintage CCR set from London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1970.

Spotlight on 2014 Boston’s Best: The Great Outdoors

Ride out this heat wave at one of our Boston’s Best picks where you can enjoy a cold beverage and work on your tan. Winter will be here before you know it.

Bistro du Midi [Best French]

On Boylston Street, get a taste of Provence en plein air. With Hermès a stone’s throw away, a view of the Public Garden and a few cocktails down the hatch, you may just think you’re in France.

Boston Harbor Hotel [Best Summer Scene]

Decisions, decisions. There’s plenty to make at BHH, with its multiple options for wining, dining and entertainment. Enjoy sangria with a side of live music on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and catch classic flicks on Fridays. 

Brownyn [Best Neighborhood: Union Square]

No biergarten is complete without a sausage smoker, which you’ll find in this Union Square hangout. Perch on picnic tables assembled from Maine driftwood while sampling pretzels, schnapps and other German goods. 

Deep Ellum [Best Neighborhood: Allston/Brighton]

House-made pickles, poutine, truffled Gorgonzola fries—we'll take one of everything. At this craft beer hotspot, you can take in the relaxed vibe under the shade of the back porch’s umbrellas.

G20 [Best Day Spa]

This year, G20 celebrated its twentieth anniversary, underwent a renovation and joined forces with sister property Emerge. Join in the festivities with a trip to the spa’s penthouse roof terrace. Once you swap sandals for slippers and a robe, ask to see the lunch menu.

Legal Harborside [Best Neighborhood: Seaport]

Work your way to the third level for a spectacular view of the Harbor and boatloads of sushi. The good news? With the retractable roof and walls, you can enjoy this space year-round. 

Merrill & Co. [Best Neighborhood: South End]

Sip on a Pimm’s slushie or a chai tea fountain soda while the sun shines and chef Jason Cheek fires up the grill. May we suggest a pitcher of ‘Gansett and gin to warm up the vocal chords for Sunday afternoon karaoke?

Rooftop at Revere [Best Rooftop Bar]

Seven stories up, you’ll find a 16,000 square foot slice of heaven. Retreat to ventilated cabanas, take a dip in the pool or try your hand at a surfing-inspired workout. And don’t forget to order Jell-O shots. 

Sterling’s [Best Patio Bar]

When the clock hits five o’clock, march straight out of the office onto this sprawling patio overlooking Faneuil Hall. Mingle amongst the after-work crowd, grab a high top with friends or keep to yourself—you’re in for some prime people watching.

Trade [Best Neighborhood: The Greenway]

Help Trade break in its brand-spanking-new patio. With general manager and wine director Elissa Rae’s extensive list of rosés to sample, you can make it a whole day affair.

Improper Now

Spotlight on 2014 Boston's Best: Oh, You Fancy, Huh?

Let's get luxe

Bostonians have always been pretty picky about how they spend their money—just think back to 1773, when a bunch of them made the Harbor into a big salty mess to prove it. Now that we’re rid of the burden of those pesky tea and stamp taxes, we're free to invest in that $3,800 Chanel handbag or act on our desperate craving for sturgeon caviar. Well, some of us are. Our swankiest Boston’s Best winners have you covered from lashes to Louboutins—and of course, the drinks you’ll need after to soothe the stress of all that exorbidant consumerism. 

Bond at the Langham [Best Watering Hole For The Well-Heeled]

A Saturday night at Bond has all the makings of a good Lana Del Ray hit. Bright young things traipse about in expensive shoes, and dishes like pork and ginger shaomai and duck flatbread sit on tables as glossy as the mouths of the patrons. From extravagant chandeliers to expensive bottle service, Bond is the spot to see, be seen and spend. 

Chanel and Valentino [Best Upgrades]

In December, architect Peter Marino decked out Chanel’s retail digs with tweed couches, Swarovski-covered deer and other touches that make the shopping experience about much more than double C stamped clutches. Months later and a block away, David Chipperfield brought another successful meeting of design and decor to Valentino. These stylish upgrades certainly kept the “new” in Newbury.

Joseph Gann Jewelers [Best Fine Jewelry]

When in the market for some bling, you can trust that all that glitters within the walls of Joseph Gann Jewelers is definitely at least gold… with a respectable karat count to boot. Whether you’re looking for a timepiece or a tennis bracelet, or—gulp—getting ready to drop three months salary on an especially glittery rock for engagement purposes, these jewelers have it all. And their expertise in all things shiny, cultivated in over 80 years of experience, will make even the most nerve wracking shopping experience enjoyable.   

Lash L’Amour [Best Lashes]

At Lash L’Amour, divinity is in the details. This salon, with locations in Newton and Boston, prides itself on reforming every part of the eyelash extension experience. Bid farewell to sticky glue mishaps thanks to their safety and sanitation training and say hello to customized lash styles that last up to 60 days and put their drugstore counterparts to shame.

Louis [Best Men’s Clothing, High-End]

At Louis (pronounced the French way, as every fancy thing should be), it’s never too hard to strike a balance between trendy and timeless. The gents amongst us can find zany pieces like Melinda Gloss multicolored patterned trousers to pair with classic items, like handmade Italian loafers from Harry’s of London.

MZ Skin Care [Best Facial]

For all its infinite charm, New England is not always the best place to cultivate a healthy complexion. From the painful dryness that accompanies harsh winter winds to the sun damage we all cringe to associate with an otherwise blissful day spent basking in July, the severe weather of our beloved region renders a glowing visage hard to come by. This is where MZ skincare comes in. The salon prides itself on customized services that go way beyond a standard 60-minute facial. Founder Marianne Zullas and her fellow skin gurus provide everything from lifestyle advice to product recommendations to help clients feel not only comfortable, but also confident, in their own skin.

Saks Fifth Avenue [Best Handbags]

Satchels and clutches and totes, oh my! From Neoprene Tory Burch beach totes to crystal studded McQueen clutches, the handbag department at Saks definitely carries what you’re looking for, regardless of how many decimal zeroes you’re willing to see on the price tag—but those looking for deals can head to the recently opened Assembly Row outlet.

Top of the Hub [Best Drinks With a View]

Whether your drinking to celebrate or to forget, the scenery from the Top of the Hub is sure to help you accomplish your mission. Don’t write off the spot as a destination for tourists and Valentines Day—you’d be surprised what changing your view can accomplish.

L’Espalier [Best Place to Go When Money is No Object]

If you’re looking to put your money where your mouth is, there’s no better spot in the hub than L’Espalier. From their own take on the Burrata cheese trend (coupled with Grilled Maine beef rib eye with slow cooked green tomato, burnt eggplant purée, and sunny side up quail egg) to New England staples, L’Espalier stands to prove that you can buy happiness, at least for as long as it takes you to eat dinner. 

Viola Lovely [Best Women’s Clothing, High-End]

Ultimate fashionista Carrie Bradshaw said it best when she explained, “I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet.” If you take after Carrie in that your ideas of worthwhile investments come with names like “Marant” and “Brown,” Viola Lovely is the spot to scout. And with owner Lisa Cancelli-Picard’s renowned sixth sense for emerging brands, you’re bound to enjoy favorable returns.

Still greedy for more Boston's Best winners? Check out all the best of shopping, dining, beautifying and more!

Improper Now

Spotlight on 2014 Boston's Best: 'Point' of Interest

Fort Point is poppin', as is evidenced by some of our Boston's Best winners

Once an overlooked wasteland wedged between the Financial District and Southie, Fort Point has become a dining and drinking destination in its own right with the arrival of eateries and bars including Row 34 and Pastoral, as well as the craft brewery Trillium (plus mainstays like craft cocktail haven Drink). Populated by classic brick artists’ warehouses, Fort Point retains a funky identity that sets it apart from its commercial neighbors. The area has come into its own in recent years and, with this year’s victory as Boston’s Best Revitalized Neighborhood, we’d like to highlight some standout spots that have long been, or are fast becoming, favorites among locals and visitors alike.  

Blue Dragon [Best Ban Mi]

The brainchild of master chef and restaurant owner Ming Tsai, Blue Dragon serves up a tapas-style menu of East Asian small bites. Drop in from 2 to 5pm, however, and the menu offers hefty banh mi sandwiches—crusty rolls filled with generous servings of crisp, pickled vegetables, pâté and your choice of protein. Options include roasted pork, confit chicken, black pepper shrimp and slow-cooked lamb.

Drink [Best Neighborhood Bar]

At the cornerstone of every great neighborhood is a killer local bar. Chef Barbara Lynch helped catapult Fort Point to the hip status it enjoys today with her bar’s cultivation of Boston’s craft cocktail scene; the city’s up-and-coming bartenders apprentice under expert mixologist and historian John Gertsen. Custom drinks and a quirky culture elevate this spot to mainstay-status.

Pastoral [Best Neighborhood Restaurant]

Constructed inside one of the brick warehouses that are indicative of the area, Pastoral brings classic Italian comfort food to the fore with wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza and homemade pastas. The menu is rounded out with a sturdy cocktail menu and beer list, as well as 2014’s hottest new bar trend: wine on tap.

Row 34 [Best Raw Bar]

Workingman’s oyster bar Row 34 pairs seafood with an impressive selection of beer. With their raw offerings harvested by the Island Creek Oysters team, the menu is always fresh and presented with professional finesse. Matched with their collection of unique sauces—such as the chili-cilantro mignonette—it’s an experience that is refreshingly exquisite. 

Hungry and thirsty for more great neighborhood spots? Check our our Best of Bars + Clubs and Food + Drink to see what's good in your 'hood!

Improper Now

Spotlight on 2014 Boston's Best: Just Desserts

Sweet winners from across categories in our Boston's Best issue

Today the gourmet cupcake world suffered a big loss when Crumbs Bake Shop, the famous New York chain that once stood at the frontlines of the fad, announced that they would be closing down all of their shops. Cupcakes are out, people. So, what’s in? Let these standouts from this year’s Boston’s Best Food + Drink give you some ideas. You’ll be ahead of the curve on dessert’s Next Big Thing— the Boston’s Best winners have got you covered (in sugar).

Clio [Best Dessert]

For those nights when scooping spoonfuls out of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in your pajamas just doesn’t cut it, head over to Clio for desserts that bring a whole new meaning to the word decadent. Pastry chef Monica Glass impresses the more discerning sweet tooth with complex, organic creations that arguably could be found in a museum over a plate. Thankfully, you’re allowed to look and touch. 

FoMu [Best Ice Cream]

Alternative. Small-batch. Local. Kosher. All are words that we now use to describe ice cream. Thanks to home-grown efforts like FoMu, ice cream is becoming a big contender for the dessert craze throne. The vegan recipe—which builds off of a base of coconut, organic agave and unrefined cane sugar—is deliciously dairy-free (read: guiltless spooning). With flavors like sweet lavender, mango habanero, and salted caramel, you may never go back to traditional ice cream again.

The Future of Junk Food [Best Pop-Up]

Indie chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O’Leary (formerly of jm Curley’s and O Ya) want to feed you crap. Call it culinary humor, call it a subtle lesson on responsible eating – the duo’s irreverent new project is both entertaining and delicious. Their palate-expanding spins on classic snacks include a “Snickers bar” made with Thai basil, crunchy peanuts, Vietnamese caramel, dark chocolate, and chicken liver pate. Sinful eating just got next-level.

Modern Pastry [Best Pastry]

Summer nights in the North End means two things: classic Boston charm (and classic Boston tourist gridlock) paired with classic Boston pastries. The recently expanded Modern consistently delights a line of customers that snakes out the door down Hanover Street, known best for their cannoli—both plain and chocolate-dipped—piped full of fresh, cool ricotta.

Tatte [Best Bakery]

A Brookline staple, this Paris-inspired bakery produces pastries that are as beautiful as they are delicious. You’ll be hesitant to put them in your mouth, but those reservations won't last long. Sweet, buttery croissants, bright, refreshing fruit tarts, and thick slices of clafoutis will win you over in no time.

Treats on Washington [Best Biscuits]

This sunny bakery has all the bases covered when it comes to sweets. Their menu boasts “Treats for Breakfast,” “Treats for Lunch,” and “Treats for Anytime.” But the real crowning jewels of this establishment are their biscuits, baked lovingly to perfection in a variety of sweet and savory flavors. With their fluffy, chewy insides wrapped up in a gently browned exterior, we won’t judge you if you find you can’t eat just one.

Still hungry? Check out the rest of our Boston's Best Food + Drink winners!

 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Hurricanes, fireworks and outdoor music really don’t mix well. But while the Boston Pops pulled the trigger a day early for its July 4 extravaganza on the Esplanade, revered Berkshires-based troubadour James Taylor and his stellar band (seen in this recent clip) play Tanglewood’s main shed on Friday, with fireworks to follow.

After the storm blows over, the New Bedford Folk Festival kicks into gear with local and national performers across the city – and main events at the beautiful Zeiterion Theatre. Saturday offers a tasty stretch with John Gorka, the humorous team of Christine Lavin and Don White (seen here), Jonathan Edwards and an Everly Brothers tribute that includes Gorka, Pete and Maura Kennedy, and Cliff Everhardt. Gorka and Eberhardt also join a Sunday afternoon songwriters circle with Kate Campbell and Chris Smither, who performs later that evening as well. Here’s the schedule.

Country-folk traditions live on as well in the music of Rosanne Cash, who sings on Saturday at Prescott Park in Portsmouth, N.H. The Brooklyn dream-pop gals of Au Revoir Simone rock out at the Brighton Music Hall on Saturday. And the blues come alive Sunday in a huge bill at Indian Ranch, headed by the legendary B.B. King (despite shows that have grown a bit more shaky at age 88), pedal-steel firebrand Robert Randolph and his Family Band, and robust vocalist Shemekia Copeland. A second stage of regional acts will provide non-stop blues on the shore of Lake Webster.

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, with the band Yes hitting the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Tuesday, here’s a full-concert look at the 1991 Union tour that combined two eras of Yes – and made ironic use of the revolving stage. Lead singer Jon Anderson has even been replaced at this point, though with guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire still aboard, it’s hard to go wrong with the current tour’s complete airings of the Fragile and Close to the Edge albums.

Improper Now

Welcome to your Fourth of July Weekend

Happy Birthday, 'Murrica: Here's what's going on in Boston

FRIDAY

Free Boston Duck Tours
Quack, quack. Courtesy of your friends at Yoplait Greek Yogurt, free duck tours will be available through July 5. In exchange, you’ll get to engage in a yogurt taste test. There’ll be 390 tickets up for grabs on July 4th and 480 on July 5th. To snag a seat, just visit one of three Boston Duck Tour ticket venues (at Prudential Center, the Museum of Science or the New England Aquarium) the day of and request your free ticket (it’s first come, first serve, 4 tickets max per person).
http://www.yoplait.com/yoplait-in-action/yoplaitducktours | YoplaitDuckTours@conecomm.com | opens 8 am, free

Harborfest 2014
One of Boston's longest-running 4th of Joo-ly tradition, Harborfest events include cruises, historical walks down the Freedom Trail, and explorations of historical landmarks and vehicles. Get a deeper appreciation for Boston’s rich history in this history-rich, family-friendly event that runs through Sunday the 6th.
Downtown Boston (see website for listings) | http://www.bostonharborfest.com/ | 8 am-10 pm, free

The Fourth of July Mixer: Red, White and You
Mingle with 100+ guests over appetizers, drinks, and hot tracks at Naga in Cambridge. This is a themed party, so remember to dress accordingly in your most patriotic red, white, and blue attire.
450 Mass. Ave, Boston | http://bit.ly/1qvGytW | 4 pm-8:30 pm, 21+, $10

SATURDAY

Parvenu at W Boston

What's better than a party? A free party. Dynamic DJ duo Parvenu will be headlining at this completely free event – all you have to do is remember to RSVP via Facebook or email by the 3rd.
100 Stuart St., Boston | http://www.wboston.com/parvenu | 10 pm-1 am, 21+

Epic Saturdays at the House of Blues
Celebrate the freedom to...express yourself with wild abandon at this weekly epic dance party at the House of Blues, which will be turnt up even more this weekend in honor of 'Murrica.  There’s no dress code (though we're sure any patriotic fashion is welcome), so feel free to let your freak flag fly. Spinning courtesy of NYC-based DJ Escape.
15 Lansdowne St., Boston | http://www.chrisharrispresents.com | 10:30 pm, 21+, $10

Snowpiercer at Coolidge Corner Theater
Temperatures are creeping up into the 90s this week, so why not cool down with a post-apocalyptic thriller set on an Earth that’s been reduced to a frozen wasteland? The star-studded cast of this unique independent project (from director Bong Joon-Ho of The Host) includes Tilda Swinton, Chris Evans, and John Hurt, so it’s sure to be a wild ride.
290 Harvard St., Brookline | http://www.coolidge.org | 11:59 pm, $10.25

SUNDAY

Snoop Dogg at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
The true artistic chameleon of our time, Snoopzilla (seriously) née Snoop Lion, née Snoop Dogg — which is what we will continue to call him, 'cause, c'mon — takes the stage at Hampton Beach to wrap up this long holiday weekend right. Say what you will about the man’s identity crisis – his Grammy-nominated album, Reincarnated, proves that he’s still the dopest (and dopiest, probably) rapper on Plizzanet Earth.
169 Ocean Blvd., Hampton Beach, NH | http://do617.com | 8 pm, $47

 

Sound Ideas

Expanding the Groove: Phish floats new gems in Mansfield tour opener

New albums are viewed with hopeful skepticism by fans of bands with a long-cherished repertoire, and Phish’s Fuego was raked over coals even before it was recorded. The Vermont-born group debuted that new material last Halloween in place of an expected cover album -- a cocky trick largely forgotten now that Fuego has been filtered through ex-Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin, its live, organic feel coupled with risky turns that makes it Phish’s most democratic and intriguing album since the ’90s.

Opening its summer tour at the Xfinity Center on Tuesday, Phish wasted no time in throwing down the gauntlet, tackling the album’s 10-minute title suite as the night’s second song. “Fuego” shifts from prog-rock with hearty choruses and odd lyrics (“Read a little book about Vlad the Impaler”?!) to a brisk breakbeat iced by pianist Page McConnell’s bubbling organ -- and Phish nailed it. It foreshadowed a first set structured around four new songs, culminating in the dreamy gem “Wingsuit,” which swelled into Floyd-ish rock behind Jon Fishman’s deep drum fills and faded as Sudbury native Mike Gordon subtly vibrated a power drill against his bass strings.

A few old songs emerged in the middle of the first set. “The Wedge” included a call to “Take the highway to the great divide” that likely spoke to diehards who look beyond this weekend’s three-night stand in upstate New York to the tour’s August finale in Colorado. During a slithering “Stash,” fans interacted with the band through cued hand claps that evolved when Phish conquered the same shed 20 years ago to kick-start its second decade. And band members must have opted for the perky “Bouncing Around the Room” in response to the crowd batting a mammoth balloon before their eyes with the message “Thank you for 31!”

Just as newer songs dominated the first set, however, the second set flipped the equation to balance the night with an old-school blowout, from the set-opening surge of “Mike’s Song” through to the abstractly jammed funk of “Ghost,” which sped up and seamlessly dropped into “Weekapaug Groove.” Then a magnificent “Harry Hood” grew to 18 minutes as guitarist Trey Anastasio patiently steered into uncharted space with ping-ponging textures between the song's neo-reggae wobble and gliding coda. Yet tucked in the middle of it all was another one of the best tunes from Fuego, the unusual ballad “Waiting All Night,” with Fishman taking the plaintive lead in band-wide vocals that split the gap between soulful and sappy with earnest sincerity.

Such a sense of naivety can be one side effect for musicians willing to step out on improvisational limbs and float new ideas. Tuesday proved a quick-settling clinic in jam-rock as Anastasio soloed with relaxed bravado, Gordon plied his spidery bass counterpoint, McConnell dug into his clavinet, and Fishman boldly churned away at his now-center-stage perch. Whether or not Fuego remains a true keeper, one can give these guys credit for trying -- and on a night like this, it’s pretty effortless for them to keep rolling into a zone that most bands of their ilk only dream about.

Bradley's Deal Perfect For Celtics

In Defense of Boston's Best Defender

The Boston Celtics publicly have said for months that re-signing restricted free agent Avery Bradley was their top priority. True to their word, they inked the guard less than 36 hours into the start of free agency. The 23-year-old will make $8 million a year through the end of the 2018 season. Cue the outrage. Oh, how wrong those doubters are.

The Celtics signed a young, improving, two-way player to a contract that will take him through his pre-prime years and cover part of his prime years. If he stays exactly the same player he is, it will be a good deal (especially in an NBA that will likely see salaries soar after a new TV deal is negotiated next year). If he improves, as many young players do, it will be a steal.

Bradley began his NBA career going 1-15 from 3-point range, and didn’t hit his second 3-pointer until March of his second season. But once he hit his second, it was on. He finished that 2012 season shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc, and after he was recovering from shoulder surgery in the 2013 season (31.9 percent; slightly above 34 percent for the final two months of the season), he improved back to 39.5 percent this season. Yes, in two of his past three seasons, he’s nearly at the lifetime 3-point shooting percentage of The King of Three (Ray Allen, 40 percent). So, it’s safe to say he’s a very good shooter.

But is he more than a spot-up shooter? Yes, he is. Bradley’s shown a knack for moving without the ball and cutting to the hoop, easily snagging a pass from whoever is playing point guard and converting a high-percentage layup. The one trick that keeps Bradley from reaching an All-Star level is his inability to create his own shot off the dribble. But that’s not necessarily a fatal flaw.

Saving the best for last, let’s talk about Bradley’s defense. Bradley made the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team in 2013, and while he dipped a bit to the untrained eye last season he was still the top defender on the team, and a game-changer when the situation called for it. A defensive anchor for the Celtics, he’s also started crashing the boards a bit more, grabbing a career-high 3.8 rebounds last season—a good number for a shooting guard.

The one knock on Bradley has been his health, but he’s gotten a bit of a bad rap on that front. During the 2012 lockout-shortened season he played all but two games. In 2013, he missed 32 games recovering from offseason surgery for a separated shoulder. This past season, he missed 22 games because of an ankle issue (admittedly, ankle issues caused him to fall to the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Draft). But let’s not make Bradley out to be Greg Oden. He’s more like Dwyane Wade, who has missed 20-plus games in four of his 11 NBA seasons.

Wait, you say: “Rival GMs” are reportedly laughing at the Celtics for the Bradley contract. (Are you sure it’s not Billy King?) Let them laugh. Jodie Meeks, a similar shooter, who is a worse defender and worse rebounder just signed a three-year deal that will pay him $6.5 million per year for his age 27, 28 and 29 seasons (prime years, perhaps, but also years when he’s likely not improving). I know it’s difficult to quantify defense, but can we agree that a lock-down defender is worth at least $1.5 million more than an average one? And if you really want to go back in time, Bradley profiles as a similar offensive player to Kerry Kittles (and a better defender). Kittles averaged $8.6 million in salary after his rookie deal expired. And he did it while being the fourth best player on two NBA Finals teams.

The NBA is full of teams with cap space, and the cap will only rise in coming seasons—possibly astronomically with that new TV deal. The Celtics just signed a player who can be a starting shooting guard for an NBA contender, who is only 23 years old, and who you can easily envision as the fourth-best player on a championship team. Stop the griping—this is a good deal.

Sound Ideas

Live Review: Billy Joel Has Fenway Feelin' All Right

“There’s a pretty good crowd in Fenway,” Billy Joel sang in our old ballpark during his set-closing standard “Piano Man” on Thursday, winding to the realization, “It’s me they’ve been coming to see, to forget about life for a while.” But a concert that could have simply amounted to a stadium-sized, nostalgia-by-the-numbers jukebox proved more spontaneous to the setting – and of embracing life in that moment.

Two of Joel’s eight bandmates sported Red Sox jerseys and the singer/pianist sprinkled his two-hour-plus set with snippets of “Sweet Caroline” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (as well as the Lovin’ Spoonful’s fitting “Summer in the City”). Then, putting aside the Sox/Yankees rivalry, Joel told the sold-out crowd, “Being from New York, we know how you feel after what happened in Boston, and just want to say, our hearts are with you." And he invited the young area teen Emma Stanganelli out to sing “Boston State of Mind,” his New York-themed hit as it was locally reworked to help raise support for the One Fund. The kid carried it off quite seamlessly, her smile mirrored in the look on Joel’s face.

That wasn’t the only surprise that Joel had up his suited sleeves. Zac Brown came out a night early to his own sold-out Fenway gigs to duet on “You May Be Right,” one of a few superfluous encores (well, maybe “Uptown Girl” jives with “Jersey Boys” craze). But by that point, it was gravy to a wonderful main set. Joel dipped deep into his catalog for the bouncy “Everybody Loves You Now” (from his 1971 debut Cold Spring Harbor) as well as “Summer, Highland Falls” and his Western soundtrack homage “The Ballad of Billy the Kid,” its crescendos riddled with Chuck Burgi’s drum fills. Similarly, after a shout-out to a Park Plaza eatery, Joel’s band nailed “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” as saxman Mark Rivera graced its majestic shifts, from dusky tenor to ribbon-like soprano and back again.

Seemingly healthy and happy at age 65, Joel sounded better than ever, at home with his hearty, huskier voice, whether chugging through “Allentown” (miming the sound of machinery) or serenading the crowd with “She’s Always a Woman” showing women in the crowd on the huge, scattered stage screens instead of the band. Joel marveled at how he’s “still doing this job” after 20 years without an album -- and “a long way from Paul’s Mall,” where he first performed in Boston. And when the bulk of 36,000 fans took over the last verse of “Piano Man,” their voices rang as clear as a jukebox, with personal investment on this comfortable night, which signaled the start of concert season at Fenway Park.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Will the Zac Brown Band pull out its satellite-stage version of “Piano Man” at Fenway Park right after Billy Joel does it at the same venue? We’ll see when the Grammy-winning Georgia boys, who also have their way with a range of covers, roll into Fenway for shows both Friday and Saturday. Lowell’s Summer Music Series at cozy Boarding House Park also shines those nights with a pair of roots-rocking women not to be messed with (but definitely to catch live): the gritty Lucinda Williams on Friday and the fiery, impressionistic Neko Case on Saturday. Case’s show, in fact, made my Top 10 outdoor-music picks for this summer, linked here.

On Saturday, one may consider catching solo singer/songwriters at different ends of the spectrum in local folk favorite Ellis Paul holding court at Club Passim while, up over the border, onetime punk-rocker Elvis Costello pares it down and pumps it up at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, N.H. And Sunday offers two very different options. One’s an afternoon trip out to Webster Lake to see country renegade Jamey Johnson delivery his grizzly tunes at Indian Ranch, or an evening at the Wilbur Theatre with the legendary Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion, glimpsed here in a recent concert. And here’s a jump to my recent interview with the notoriously difficult Mr. Baker.

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, Phish has recently been playing as well (or better) than it did during its ’90s heyday. So, with the Vermont jam-band kicking off a summer tour at Mansfield next Tuesday (behind new album Fuego, which is also probably its best since 1996’s Billy Breathes), here’s a glimpse back to a 1995 show. That’s two decades in a 30-year career, including a hiatus and breakup.

Boston Celtics Draft Preview

Everything you need to know to watch the NBA Draft.

The much-anticipated NBA Draft is upon us—well, not quite yet; it's hours away (7 pm Thursday)—but here's a quick preview to get you up to speed and help you keep your Dario Saric analysis straight from your Marcus Smart analysis. Actually, there's no guarantee of smart analysis here, but we'll do our best:

What’s at Stake?

The Celtics have the 6th and 17th picks in the NBA Draft. After trading away cornerstones Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett during last year’s NBA Draft, this is the day most Celtics fans have been looking forward to for a year. This year’s draft is as loaded with talent as any in the past decade, and there’s enough trade rumors floating around to think a franchise savior has a chance to be walking through the Celtics’ locker room doors.

Where to Watch

It takes place at the Barclays Center in New York. Celtics season ticketholders will be watching at an exclusive party at TD Garden, while most people will be tuning in at home on ESPN, on the radio at 98.5 FM or watching Celtics-centric coverage on Comcast SportsNet. Bostonians can also attend a draft-night party at the Renaissance Boston Hotel’s Capiz Lounge, which will include a Celtics-themed drinks, bar bites such as bone marrow popcorn and a live podcast from CLNS radio.

The Scenarios

Since we don’t have a spare 30,000 words, we can’t touch on them all, but here’s a recap …

Keep the picks, and trade Rajon Rondo - Under this scenario, the Celtics can hope that uber-talented Joel Embiid (No. 6) and Dario Saric (No. 17) fall to them because of injury and foreign-contract issues, respectively. But taking two players who wouldn’t contribute to next year’s team would likely spell the end to Rajon Rondo’s Celtics’ career (via a trade to Sacramento for the No. 8 pick, plus other assets). With the No. 8 pick, the Celtics could gamble on someone like Elfrid Payton Jr., or trade back and take Zach Lavine as point guard with high upside.

Keep the picks, and keep Rondo - This means, you need to draft players who can coexist around your current roster. Arizona’s Aaron Gordon fits in at the small forward position and could be available with the No. 6 pick. With the No. 17 pick, drafting anyone from the scoring group of T.J. Warren, Rodney Hood, P.J. Hairston (who comes with off-court baggage) would help. Celtics GM Danny Ainge always makes minor trades to move up and down the draft board, so that’s a definite possibility if he keeps the picks.

Trade the picks for Kevin Love, and keep Rondo - Love’s headline-grabbing vacation to Boston a few weeks ago was billed by some as him checking out the city (and confirmation he was coming!), while others dismissed it as just a normal vacation. Minnesota is said to be holding out to land restricted-free-agent-to-be Klay Thompson in a trade from Golden State. But Thompson’s been rumored to go to the Lakers for the No. 7 pick, and if he’s such a hot commodity, then someone will surely offer him a 4-year, $60 million deal. Is he worth that? Or would the Wolves be trading for a contract-albatross-in-waiting? And if he’s worth only the No. 7 pick, then surely the No. 6 pick that the Celtics are dangling to Minnesota for Love is more valuable. It’s enough to make your head spin, and that’s not even contemplating Love teaming up with any of the available free agents.

So What Will Happen?

We know Rondo is in the final year of a steal of a contract that carries a minor cap hit ($11 million) for a player of his stature (there’s only one other active All-Start point guard who has a championship ring; his name is Tony Parker). Now is the time to use that minor cap hit to fit in other players under the cap (hence, the Love, Carmelo Anthony, Rondo fanboy rumors that have been floated). If you’re not going to use the low cap hit to your advantage, the best bet is likely to trade Rondo for a pick in this year’s stacked draft and beg, barter and steal your way into Dario Saric, Joel Embiid and another player. It’s a tough pill to swallow such a long rebuild (and that’s what the Celtics are asking Minnesota to go through again if they trade Love), but in this case—barring a Love deal—it might be the way to go. Option one: trade for Love; option two: trade Rondo. Tonight will go a long way to figuring those two options out.

Behind the Scenes of A Summer Spin

Here’s a peek behind the scenes of our Summer Style issue’s fashion shoot, “A Summer Spin,” which had our production team working their magic at Hull’s historic Paragon Carousel, the last remaining amusement from the bygone Paragon Park. 

But first, we started staging at the nearby Nantasket Beach ResortCulinary delights from executive chef Kevin Colby of the resort’s Paragon Grill kept the crew fueled through hair, makeup and wardrobe changes, and with three miles of sandy beach stretched outside the door, the setting could not have been more appropriate to highlight summer fashion.  

Behind-the-scenes photos by Scott Noble.

Improper Now

Welcome to Your Weekend

From cult film to 90s beats n' BBQ to Bob Saget, we've got your weekend covered



FRIDAY | JUNE 20


BEACHING: Matan Golan
The great thing about art is that you don’t have to totally understand it to enjoy it. Israel native Matan Golan presents video and sculpture in ways that are at once surprising, unsettling and playful in this new solo show at recently opened gallery Sweety’s in the South End.
Sweety's, 59 Wareham St., Boston | 7 pm, free | facebook.com/events/814839771889983


Phantom Gourmet BBQ & Music Festival 2014 (Friday-Sunday)
Can’t make it to the beach this weekend? Phantom Gourmet has you covered, with a Plaza-wide smorgasbord of food-centric activities including a Nathan's hot dog-eating contest (Saturday) dancing, not one, not two, but THREE beer and wine gardens, and all of the chicken, ribs, pork and shrimp you can eat, done up in every way imaginable – pulled, braised, deep fried, grilled, you name it, they’re serving it up. Plus, they're serving up a variety of musical guests: season your 'cue with 90z hip-hop/R&B duo Salt-N-Pepa (get it?), along with Jersey rockers the Gaslight Anthem, hometown heroes the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (what, no Dropkicks?), and more. Plus, Jimmy Kimmel was just added to Saturday's billing.
City Hall Plaza | Fri, noon-4 pm, free, 5-10:45 pm, $15; Sat, noon-4 pm, $10, 6-11 pm $32.50; Sun, noon-6:45 pm, $10 | phantomgourmetbbq.com


Wet Hot American Summer
After we catch the midnight screening of David Wain's comedic masterpiece, we're going to go home and fondle our sweaters. What? Uh, fondue with cheddar, we said we're going to make fondue with cheddar. Time-honored one-liners aside, this cult flick is worth watching for the star-studded cast alone (young Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper and Molly Shannon, to name just a few), who you'll see in 35mm glory thanks to Coolidge’s @fter Midnite series.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St, Brookline | Fri + Sat, 11:59 pm, $10.25 | coolidge.org

Chefs in Shorts 2014
It’s summer in the city, which means we can finally start barbequeing again! However, it’s also summer in the city, which means cooking outside can feel a lot like a trip to the sauna. Thanks to this annual event hosted by Harpoon Brewery, Eden Ice Cider Company and other quality libation suppliers, you can watch local celebrity chefs sweat over the grill so that you don’t have to. And, of course, reap the tasty rewards – including complimentary beer and wine.
Seaport Hotel, 1 Seaport Lane, Boston | 7 pm, $80 (registration required), 21+ | seaportboston.com


In the Groves: A Summer Solstice Journey
Season finale of Game of Thrones got you down? Get your fill of myth and magic (without the gratuitous violence) at the Arboretum on Friday and Saturday evening, as enchanting storyteller Diane Edgecomb spins haunting tales about trees while Celtic harpist Margot Chamberlain sets the mood.
The Arboretum, 125 Arborway, Boston | 6:30 pm, $25 | arboretum.harvard.edu

SATURDAY | JUNE 21


Bob Saget at The Wilbur
Long-abandoning the wholesome persona of Danny Tanner, Bob Saget The Person is famous for his astonishingly crude humor that consistently fills venues and, perhaps on a smaller scale, his candidly glib Twitter feed (“Orange you glad you used a tanning bed?”). Brace yourself for more genitalia references than you can shake a, ahem, stick at when he stops in town for a stand-up set at the Wilbur.
Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston | 7 pm, $29-$43 | thewilbur.com
  
SUNDAY | JUNE 22


The Past Is a Grotesque Animal: A Film About Of Montreal
This documentary serves as a “personal, accessible look” at the enigmatic genius Kevin Barnes, frontman of the Elephant 6 indie-pop assembly Of Montreal, whose transcendent, psychadelic beats have earned cult-like droves of fans. The film tackles Barnes’ unique struggle as he begins to “value art over human relationships…he’s forced to reconsider the future of the band, begging the question: is this really worth it?” Ah, the exquisite pain of artistic genius.
Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge | 9:45 pm, $7-10 | brattlefilm.org

 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Summer officially begins with one of those weekends where there’s way too much going on (which is a good thing). So I’ll waste little time in getting to the point – and some representative videos of concert options. Friday’s the lighter night with a blues-rocking guitar pairing at House of Blues with Kenny Wayne Shepherd (back after his turn with Stephen Stills in the Rides) and pedal-steel firebrand Robert Randolph. And one of Boston’s veteran jazz big bands, the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, returns to the Cambridge YMCA for a program by resident composers Mina Cho, David Harris, Bill Lowe, Warren Senders, Norm Zocher and Darrell Katz, who’s scored a concerto for marimba (played by art-rocker Vessela Stoyanova) and violin.

The biggest outdoor event on this beautiful-weather weekend comes with a side of pork. The Phantom Gourmet’s BBQ and Music Festival on City Hall Plaza kicks off Friday with New York's veteran hip-hop ladies Salt-N-Pepa (and the Timberfakes) pumping the hits, while Saturday gets lively with local ska-punk heroes the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, celebrating frontman Dickey Barrett’s 50th birthday (he's now the announcer for Jimmy Kimmel, who'll be on hand as well). Plus the Bosstones will be joined for Saturday’s more filling plate by New Jersey rockers the Gaslight Anthem (who played City Hall Plaza at last fall's Boston Calling) and our own smoking R&B shouter Barrence Whitfield & the Savages.

Another locally-bred talent, singer/songwriter Patty Griffin follows her recent House of Blues stop with a riverside Saturday set at Prescott Park in Portsmouth, N.H., while the Lowell Summer Music series at Boarding House Park keeps busy with brassy, sibling-heavy folk-rockers Delta Rae (with local guest Will Dailey) on Friday and brooding folk-rocker Amos Lee on Saturday.  Art Garfunkel holds court at the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday to share his scripted anecdotes (hey, did you know he taught Paul Simon how to sing?), a bunch of songs and a Q&A session, while Australia's Jon Butler Trio jams its acoustic rock at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. Meanwhile, over at the Sinclair, soul-funk rockers Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds take flight, seen here in a recent performance, and here’s a jump to my interview with frontwoman Arleigh Kincheloe. Finally, still talking Saturday, hallowed ’90s alt-rock trio Buffalo Tom (primarily fronted by singer/guitarist Bill Janovitz) returns to the Paradise Rock Club -- with its own hearty catalog, I can't say that Buffalo Tom will reprise this offbeat New Order cover. And John Powhida International Airport delivers soul-rock pizazz at the Lizard Lounge to toast Airport Life, its local, lanky and lauded singer’s first album in six years.

Lucius, one of my favorite -- and musically and visually unique -- new pop groups, is doing the festival rounds this summer. And if you don’t want to catch the band in a more casual setting than the upcoming Green River and (sold-out) Newport Folk fests, consider a shorter Sunday road trip to the weekend's Granite State Music Festival in Concord, N.H.  Lucius, seen here in one of their most intense tunes, will headline Sunday evening, and just before them on the main stage will be the great Boston-reared group Kingsley Flood, which splits the lines between Bob Dylan and the Clash. Also on Sunday night, there's a Music Drives Us fundraiser at the Paradise with a classic local cast including James Montgomery, Danny Klein, Charlie Farren, Barry Goudreau, Bearstronaut, Shake the Faith and Lizzie Borden & the Axes. Jaes Montgomery & Supergroup, Danny Klein (J. Geils Band), Barry Goudreau, Charlie Farren (Farrenheit), David Hull, Hirsh Gardner, Bearstronaut, Lizzi
Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, with Billy Joel kicking off summer concerts at Fenway Park next Thursday, here’s a vintage 1976 set from Joel and his band. The weather's heating up as the season kicks in with live music.

Fresh Face for 2024 Olympics

Boston Needs A New Leader For Its Bid.

The wave of local cynicism that arrived with last week’s news that Boston is a U.S. finalist to bid on the 2024 Summer Olympics should come as little surprise to most people. After having lived through the Big Dig, any project that arrives with a price upward of $20 billion will come with some hand-wringing about who’s out to make a quick (or in this case, long-term) buck. That’s why the only solution to win over the public with a Boston 2024 bid is for them to put a new public face on the project.

Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish has been instrumental in growing Boston and keeping the city out of the Great Recession. As the new chair of the chamber of commerce, he’s more than qualified to speak broadly about Boston’s potential. But he’s the wrong guy to have out in front for the Olympic bid.

Forget about the class warfare that’s been ongoing for the past five years, and how it looks for a multimillionaire such as Fish pushing for public money to stage events such as equestrian and rowing. Fish is a developer, and there’d be billions of dollars in development up for grabs if Boston landed the Olympics. It’s a massive conflict of interest that the public wouldn’t stand for from a public official, so why should it be OK for the person spearheading Boston’s Olympic bid? To this point, he hasn't held any official job and appears to be volunteering his services with the ambitious (and self-serving) goal of showcasing Boston to the world. The bid likely would never have gotten off the ground without him pulling together local business leaders, but he must step into the shadows now for the bid to survive.

What Boston needs, if it wants its 2024 Olympic bid to stand a chance in the public arena, is an impartial, above-it-all figurehead. It’s unlikely a politician such as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh would want to risk too much political capital on the Olympics by serving in such a role. Ending up on the wrong side of this issue is the type of thing that could cost him his seat. That’s why Walsh has been slightly in the shadows on the Olympics. Mitt Romney was the face of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, but he’s unlikely to reprise that role since he’s still heavily involved in the national political scene. New Balance founder Jim Davis might make a good leader. He’s a co-founder of Major League Lacrosse, a Newton resident and someone who wouldn’t benefit directly from the bid.

Under the leadership of someone like Davis, the 2024 Olympic might not be viewed quite so cynically. There are many reasons to want the Olympics staged in Boston. A bid would force the MBTA and commuter rail to move forward on many stalled projects. The Olympic Village could revitalize an area of the city that needs it (East Boston? Perhaps using the air rights over the Mass. Pike from Back Bay to the edge of Chinatown?). Cruise ships could be brought in to accommodate any overflow, giving Boston the impetus to better mark and connect its underutilized Harborwalk. The Esplanade could get the stunning makeover its association has been wanting for years. An Olympic stadium could later be downsized to host the New England Revolution. Other venues and accommodations could be retrofitted for use as schools, hotels or (gasp!) middle-income housing.

The odds of the U.S. landing the 2024 Olympics are fairly good, and so whatever city is selected from the four finalists will be in the driver’s seat. NBC just renewed its multibillion-dollar partnership with the IOC, and it might have enough financial pull to dictate that the Olympics be held in the U.S. at least one year during that period. And after the uncertainty surrounding Russia this year and Brazil in 2016, it would make sense if the IOC opted for the safer choice (i.e. the U.S.) in 2024.

If Boston 2024 wants any chance of having its bid gain steam at home, it needs a new face out front. John Fish just won’t cut it.

Sound Ideas

Expanded Family

On the surface, few things seem more predictable than concerts by the grizzled American icon Willie Nelson. Now 81, yet looking and sounding as sturdy as always, the Texas troubadour took the stage at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Tuesday and broke into his perennial openers “Whiskey River” and “Still is Still Moving To Me,” fingers snapping his battered gut-string acoustic guitar. And behind him as usual were 40-year accomplices Mickey Raphael on harmonica, Paul English on percussion, and Nelson’s sister Bobbie on piano.

Yet Nelson's Family band embraced a new generation with the night’s inclusion of his sons Lukas on electric guitar and vocals and Micah on percussion. Plus there was someone else playing electric guitar off to the side Tuesday, likely unrecognized by many in the packed tent. Johnny Depp, who’s been filming the Whitey Bulger biopic “Black Mass” in town and sat in with Nelson’s band in March at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, was onstage the whole set. Musically, Depp (seen here in photos on his Twitter page) mainly made himself known with a twangy, resonant solo turn during a Lukas Nelson-led cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Texas Flood.”

That song was one of a few twists in an 80-minute set still weighted toward Nelson chestnuts, highlighted by a segued roll through “Funny How Time Slips Away” (where the singer deftly mixed brash chords and jazz runs on guitar), “Crazy” and “Night Life,” of which he affirmed, “It ain’t no good life, but it’s my life.” But he threw in the title track from his new album Band of Brothers, even though it sounded much the same as early Nelson fare. And Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” lent a more contemporary surprise, with Nelson and son Lukas looking into each other’s eyes as they sang mortality-conscious lines like “Everything you gave, hold me ’til I die. Meet you on the other side.”

Family spirit extended to the rest of Tuesday’s sweet bill, centered by a classy 80-minute set by Alison Krauss & Union Station. The Grammy-decorated Krauss certainly could have shifted her career into any direction. But like Nelson, she’s loyal to her original musical vision and bluegrass combo, spreading the spotlight among guys who she’s played with for around 20 years. So while Krauss sang soft ballads like a songbird (“Baby, Now That I Found You” stood out) as well as spry fiddle, she was fully balanced by her Union Station mates. Guitarist Dan Tyminski even took the lead vocal for “Man of Constant Sorrow” from the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Are Thou,” and dobro ace Jerry Douglas served a virtuoso solo mash of Paul Simon’s “American Tune” and Chick Corea’s “Spain” with his slide. Finally, with the founders of Rounder Records (who signed Krauss at age 14) on hand in the audience, members of Union Station all wove in and around a single microphone for a partly a cappela, gospel-styled wind-down that movingly peaked with “Down to the River and Pray.”

Rising country opener Kacey Musgraves, a Krauss fan raised in Nelson’s home state, balanced the program even further. Performing in cowgirl fringe with her mariachi-jacketed band on a cactus-motif stage, Musgraves split the difference between ’70s Texas country-folk and California country-pop a la Linda Ronstadt. She seemed a bit stiff as she faced the scattered early crowd in her 35-minute slot, raising a hand to accent some of her songs less naturally than Nelson. But her girlish timbre hit home on material from her acclaimed album Same Trailer Different Party and she loosened up with her band for an cappella reading of the ’50s-vintage Dale Evans and Roy Rogers signoff “Happy Trails.” That one isn't likely to make the setlist for Musgraves' upcoming tour dates with pop star Katy Perry, but it fit this roots-oriented evening.

The crowding-around-a-microphone camaraderie reached its logical conclusion at night’s end when Krauss (who'd changed to a puzzling quilt coat on a warm, clear night) and Musgraves (in contrasting T-shirt and short cutoffs) reappeared with their bands to sing along with Nelson’s crew on “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When  I Die” and Hank Williams' “I Saw the Light.” And as if it wasn’t enough for to have the stealthy Depp aboard, local rock hero Peter Wolf also showed up to join the mob. And most everyone onstage joined in a prolonged applause as they watched Nelson depart, the same as the night’s lucky audience.

There’s certainly no guarantee that the same program will include guest(s) Depp and/or Wolf north of the border this Friday at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook  -- or when Nelson’s Family returns alone at Webster’s lakeside Indian Ranch on Sept. 20. For that matter, Nelson’s sons don’t always sit in with the band. But this night was special.

Q&A: Being D.J. Williams

Patriots TE opens up on offseason conditioning, his love of piano and post-NFL plans

Patriots tight end D.J. Williams spent two seasons with Green Bay before he was released for last season. After a short stint in Jacksonville, he was signed by New England, who cut him and then later re-signed him in December. The 25-year-old Texas native and former John Mackey Award winner (top college tight end) opens up to The Improper about fighting for a roster spot, the Patriots’ weight program, dreams of his first touchdown and his love for playing piano.

Matt Martinelli: How’s your offseason been?
D.J. Williams: It’s going good. It’s been productive. It’s probably been the most intense offseason I’ve been a part of, as far as my first two years in Green Bay and working out in Jacksonville as well. Coming here, I’d say this offseason program is very physically demanding. They also carry it with a smart approach where they’re not trying to get anyone injured, but it’s very intense and high-tempo as far as conditioning and weightlifting. It’s done a lot different here than other places I’ve been to and heard of.

What’s the toughest part of it?
I wouldn’t say the toughest part, but usually in high school and college it’s always about getting stronger. You’re always putting max strength on the bar, and you’re always figuring out what the max weight is that you can lift. When you get to the NFL, a lot of teams usually stay away from that. They usually lighten up the loads and do more repetitions and try to sustain the body for what it is. Here they’re constantly trying to push the body to its peak. In 11 of the past 12 seasons the Patriots have won the AFC East, so you can’t complain with the results.

Any highlights for you this offseason away from football?
I started dating this girl. Here name’s Ally. She’s a little sweetheart. She’s a redhead, so, of course, with sweetness comes attitude. But it’s great. And we just got a puppy together. A bulldog named Talulah.

So are you making your home in New England now?
Well, I just got a one-bed apartment to tide me over. I’m one of those players who has been in the NFL, but I’m in a situation where I’m still trying to find that home, find that groove. I’m a big fan of the program, the head coach and the leaders and personnel of this organization. I’ve bounced around from place to place. So as far as getting my feet wet and getting comfortable, I really haven’t done that yet. I feel like I have to earn that felling of comfortableness. That’s what I’m trying to do now.

Last year you spent time with three different teams during the season. How much more challenging does that make your job?
It’s tough. It’s hard to not let outside things come in and interrupt your focus. You’re moving from city to city, getting bills paid, moving furniture, having all your loved ones and people who care about you calling you 24/7 to make sure you’re OK and the world’s not falling apart. There’s a lot of outside distractions that come with the job, and that’s just part of it. It’s something I had never really been through before. Last year was just a learning experience, and I’ve done nothing but build myself up from it, and it’s given me a whole different perspective on how to carry myself through a lot of different situations.

How often do you get to keep in touch with your family? You said they called all the time last year.
Well, if it was up to my mom and my sisters, we’d be on the phone every day. A phone call maybe once a week, or a like on Instagram or tweet shoutout here or there, that will do it for me. Text messaging is usually the best way. But family will worry about you. I try to tell them to, “Sit back, relax and everything will be good.”

Take me back a couple of years. You get your first NFL paycheck. What did you do with that?
I’m not a big splurger, but I got this really neat piano/electric keyboard type thing. I’m really into music, and writing music. It’s kind of my escape, and I have a great time with that. And I got my mother a house in the best city in America: Little Rock, Arkansas.

Did you lug the keyboard from city to city last year?
I didn’t. The keyboard is not that easy to move all around, but I do have a little miniature keyboard that I bring with me from place to place.

So do you play it on roadtrips?
The only time I play on roadtrips is if they have a piano in the hotel lobby. But because I move around so much, not too many people know that I play. So it’s a fun little surprise to them when I bust out a jam: Anything they want, I got.

Who are your musical influences?
What really got me into loving the keyboard, or wanting to know how to play, would be Alicia Keys. When “Fallen” came out, I was just sitting in the car one day and the groove just hit me. There was this one girl—it’s always something with a girl—and I thought it would be awesome if I could play her something like that. So I figured it out, and I was ready to roll after that.

You’re about to enter your fourth NFL season, and the average career length for an NFL player is a little over three years. Does that make this a make-or-break season?
I guess if you go by the books, that’s what you’d say. After going through what I went through last year, it just really makes you look at everything different and approach everything in a more professional manner. I understand that in this business it’s going to come down to, how bad do you really want it. Some people may be talented, some people may be bigger, may be stronger, may have all that. Still, at the end of the day, it’s really how bad do you want it. You’ve always seen people with talent and ability who don’t make it. And you hear stories of people who don’t run a 4.3 40, who go through NFL Europe or Canadian ball, and eventually they make it. The difference has been the people who’ve sacrifice the most, and not been selfish, and stay dedicated. That’s what I’ve started to see and realize, is you really make what you want out of it. That’s what I’m doing this year.

Do you ever think of post-NFL plans?
Of course. I’ve always been interested in broadcasting. That’s always seemed fun to me; I’ve always been interested in chitchat, talking, being personable, meeting people. The reason I would like being a broadcaster in sports is to have that perspective. In college, I was “blah, blah, blah. Mister Everything. Top tight end.” Then you get to the NFL and you go through those bumps and struggles. So I can be a firsthand witness of being at an all-time high, and then being at an all-time low. Getting called to the office three times and having coaches tell me I’m not good enough. I’ve had it from both ends of the spectrum, and it’s been a blessing because I appreciate what I have so much more. It’d be awesome if I can have a career in which I can express that to other people, too. I think that’d be incredible. 

What would say the best thing about playing in the NFL is?
The ability to take something that people say is so dependent on so many things, and make it yours. You hear stories of some people say they didn’t know the right people, or he just had a bad break. And I think after going through what I went through, I was one of those people. I’d say: There’s a guy ahead of me they really liked, or I hurt my hamstring and I lost my chance there. And I used to let those things make me feel comfortable about getting cut sometimes. Then I had a real look-at-myself-in-the-mirror moment and realized those are excuses. I’m the one who can decide those things. And it’s all in my control. That’s why I want to be successful in the NFL, so I can be a person who can sit back and say that the only person who can stop you is you.

You’ve worked with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Can you compare the two?
They’re both incredibly talented. Understanding the game is the most impressive part. In all the years I’ve been doing this, you really start understanding the game on a different level. You hear people say they have the answer to everything, but you really can’t understand it until you’ve been through it. Just how they can manage the game and anticipate what’s coming before it actually comes. It’s because they’ve been there before. That gives them a competitive edge. Then you combine that with the ability to get it done. Aaron throws an incredible ball. He has a laser-rocket arm, incredible accuracy. The most impressive thing I’ve seen about Brady is his ball location. If on a rainy day he doesn’t want to risk his ball getting intercepted, then all of his balls are going to be waist and below. It decreases the chance of an interception. If it’s a nice day outside and he has somebody beat, he’s going to give them a chance to go high on it. He has the ability to put touch on the ball 60 yards down the field. He has a lot of different throws in his arsenal.

Do you ever think about what it would be like to get your first NFL touchdown?
Oh, I already know. I really, really want one. I’m not going to lie. I’d be disappointed to hang up the cleats before I get a touchdown. It’s something I’m working for, and I want to accomplish. It’s almost like, as soon as I cross the goal line, the hands are going to go straight up in the air. Usually I put up the touchdown sign with my own arms and celebrate with my teammates and watching basketball games, soccer games. It’d be nice to put the hands up for my own effort.

You’ve been outspoken in the past about how your dad’s domestic violence has affected your life. Do you have advice for people in those situations who might not have the courage yet to leave?
I think the biggest thing, especially that I got from my mom, is that people just don’t know if they were to leave and get away from that situation, what’s next. They don’t know what the first step is. I would say what’s most important is reaching out to some people. A lot of people feel like it’s an embarrassment or people feel like they’re going to put someone in an awkward situation and make them feel uncomfortable. It’s not like that at all. I feel like it’s human nature that you always want to help people. I feel like once someone in that situation can reach out , then people understand that you’re trying to help people, and give them incredible encouragement and give them support, and let them know that they’re not on their own. Then you start feeling like you can accomplish more than you ever could. So you feel like you’re not on your own. And that’s the biggest step: Letting go of that fear of embarrassment or feeling like nobody’s going to be there for support because that’s how people are.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Widespread Panic never reached the popularity of Phish in the Northeast, but the Georgia sextet has been around as long, another alumnus of the inaugural 1992 H.O.R.D.E. tour that took those jam-bands to arenas for the first time. Widespread’s done it without long hiatuses as well, steadily churning earthy blues-rock grooves with folksy, downhome charm, surging melodic threads and Latin-tinged percussion, despite losing co-founding lead guitarist Michael Houser to cancer in 2002. In fact, the group’s been particularly strong for the past several years with guitarist Jimmy Herring (the Dead, Allman Brothers Band) aboard to add his quicksilver flights. Here’s a recent live two-fer where frontman John Bell wraps his whiskey-toned voice around an Otis Redding favorite as well as a nugget from Widespread’s 1988 debut, Space Wrangler. The band brings its laidback crackle to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Friday with funky New Orleans opener Galactic, whose members have variously been sitting in with Widespread this tour.

Grammy-winning singer/guitarist Melissa Etheridge surveys her catalog with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on Friday, and it’s a pretty good weekend for jazz, blues and fusion as well. Another Grammy winner, singer/pianist Diane Schuur can switch from melodious ballad or free-scatting freakout, but her latest album tribute to Frank Sinatra and Stan Getz sounds like the nice fit for the Regattabar, where she’ll appear Friday before Rhode Island-bred bluesman Duke Robillard brings his guitar finesse to the same club on Saturday. Fans of bass guitar should consider Saturday’s Summer Bass Bash at the Berklee Performance Center, where virtuoso pals Victor Wooten (Flecktones) and Steve Bailey reprise their funky Bass Extremes project with drummers JD Blair and Derico Watson. Here’s a peek at one of Bass Extremes’ similar summits. And my sleeper pick for the weekend arrives Sunday with the local debut of House of Hats at cozy Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge. Live and on its striking album This Love, that British acoustic/folk combo’s ensemble vocal harmonies evoke such acts as both classic Fleetwood Mac and Fleet Foxes. Here’s a taste of what to expect from House of Hats.

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, with the exciting news that Jack White will rock the Newport Folk Festival on July 26 and Fenway Park’s “Bleacher Theater” on Sept. 17, here’s the mercurial singer/guitarist in a classic 2003 White Stripes set from Australia.

Improper Now

Improper Agenda

Mark your calendar with our upcoming picks: Pride parties. music, film, theater and more

PARTY



Boston is a proud city. We’re proud of our history, we’re proud of our sports, we’re proud of our diversity and we’re proud of our ability to throw a damn good party. We’ll be celebrating those last two points of esteem at this year’s Boston Pride Parade and Pride Festival, the culmination of a week of colorful, jubilant festivities in the name of love and equality (and beer—don’t forget beer). The 44th annual parade kicks off June 14 in Copley Square and marches to City Hall Plaza for the big fest, where revelers will enjoy live music, a beer and wine garden, food from area restaurants and more. Those who want to keep the pride party going can head to post-fest dance parties at Underbar, Machine or the House of Blues. And if you’ve got the stamina (and we know you do), wrap up this year’s Pride Week the next afternoon at a block party in JP or Back Bay and one last blowout at Royale. bostonpride.org

MUSIC


Born to blind parents, William Fitzsimmons grew up surrounded by music—his childhood home featured a pipe organ handmade by his dad—but he started his career not as a musician, but as psychotherapist. Now, he’s the one sharing intimate confessions. The singer/songwriter’s brand of wistful indie-folk is both stirring and melancholy (think: Damien Rice, Sufjan Stevens), and his lyrics draw upon personal experience, from his parents’ divorce to his own. He’s expressed plans to take his music in more upbeat directions in the future, but misery will love company when he plays the Sinclair on June 15. boweryboston.com

FILM



Can’t afford a trip to New York to see Neil Patrick Harris star in the raved-about Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch? The Coolidge Corner Theatre has the next best thing: a screening of John Cameron Mitchell’s film adaptation of his 1998 off-Broadway play. True to the stage production, the film tells the tale of Hansel, an East German boy with an affinity for rock music and his mother’s clothing, who dreams of escaping his Communist homeland for fame and fortune. Years later, after enduring a botched sex-change operation, Hansel-turned-Hedwig fights for love, music and her identity as she leads her rock band on a cross-country tour of America, telling her life story to audiences in dives and diners  as she follows a former flame who found rock stardom by using her songs. The riotously entertaining—and moving—cult film hits the Coolidge on June 16.  coolidge.org

COMEDY


Anyone who’s seen Bob Saget’s bit in The Aristocrats knows that the comedian and actor can tell a mean dirty joke. And anyone who’s seen Saget perform standup (hell, anyone who’s seen Saget do just about anything) knows that the man’s real-life persona could not be further from that of his Full House character, Danny Tanner, the uptight, clean-freak patriarch of the family. Saget’s standup material is anything but clean—the longtime comic specializes in a particularly bawdy brand of humor that, while often offensive, is also downright hilarious. Touring in support of his new memoir Dirty Daddy (probably what the Olsen twins called him behind his back on set), Saget drops by the Wilbur Theatre on June 21 for what is sure to be a decidedly un-family-friendly performance. thewilbur.com

ART

New York’s subway cars and city walls served as Chris “Daze” Ellis’ first canvases. The graffiti artist turned painter took his work from the sidewalk to the studio in the ’80s, but it still reflects the streets where he got his start. Now he’s serving as artist-in-residence at Andover’s Addison Gallery of American Art, where his recent large-scale paintings in spray paint, oils and acrylics depict energetic urban scenes like concrete playgrounds and the Coney Island pier. See such works juxtaposed with selections from the Addison’s permanent collection, handpicked by Ellis himself, in Street Talk through July. andover.edu/museums/addison

LIT


Dan Mazur and Alexander Danner are the hip history teachers you wish you had in school. The duo’s debut, Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present, looks beyond the Sunday comic strip to explore every subgenre of the multifaceted medium, from graphic novels grounded in the everyday to fantastical dreamscapes populated by superheroes. More than 250 images from all over the world illustrate the authors’ analysis, which shines new light on one of the world’s most accessible, but oft-overlooked, art forms. Marvel at the men behind the mask (er, book cover) on June 13 at the Harvard Book Store. harvard.com

Red Sox at Crossroads for 2014

A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the final 99 games.


Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester could be on the trading block if the team continues to struggle. (REDSOX.COM PHOTO)

A ninth-inning comeback win is followed by a 4-0 loss the next night. It’s a microcosm of a season in which the Red Sox lost 10 in a row, won seven consecutive games and then lost five more. The script has certainly turned for the Sox, who last year enjoyed the best-case scenario outcome on their season with a World Series title. This year, they seem mired close to a worst-case scenario.

Looking back on the organization during the past three-plus seasons, it’s been all-or-nothing. In 2011, they started out 17-20 (Best Team Ever?), and then went 65-31 (free ice cream for everyone!) before finishing the year with a disastrous 8-21 record (pink slips for everyone!). What followed was 2012's disaster, and last year’s euphoria. It’s been more than three years of extremes, so it’s worth examining what the extremes might look like for the Sox the rest of this year.

Worst-case scenario 

They could go 0-99 to end the year, right? Let’s be generous and say they go in the tank (40-59 down the stretch), which allows them to become sellers at the deadline, as well as give prospects some time in the major leagues. If the Sox become sellers, then who is available? A.J. Pierzynski, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Jake Peavy and David Ross all are free-agents-to-be with limited futures in Boston. They would certainly be available, but you wouldn’t be getting much in return. The windfall might be someone like George Kottaras, who the Sox got in return for David Wells in 2006.

Would underperforming younger guys such as Felix Doubront, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Nava and Will Middlebrooks be jettisoned? They’re all under team control for a few more years, so there’s value there, if not immediately.

The more appealing trade targets, however, are players who the team would have a harder time giving up on. How much would Koji Uehara, a historically good closer but a 39-year-old free-agent-to-be, fetch? How about John Lackey, who would only cost teams $500,000 next season? And there’s also Jon Lester, who has pitched like an ace for most of this season and will be a free agent after this year. The three players could garner enough assets in return to make a top farm system even deeper and go after a big name via trade (Giancarlo Stanton) at a later date.

Then there’s the process of fielding a team. If the Sox are giving up on the season, Xander Bogaerts should be moved back to shortstop. The live-and-die reaction to every at-bat for Jackie Bradley Jr. should end, and he should be given the time to make adjustments at the major-league level. Players such as Mookie Betts, Garin Cecchini and Christian Vazquez should be called up in August, while rotation possibilities such as Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and Matt Barnes should be given spot starts in the majors. It will be ugly, but there will be an active building of a foundation for the future, which will hopefully pay off in the later part of this decade.

Best-case scenario

While a run at the division title (10.5 games back) is not out of the question, a wild card is the far more attainable goal. Once you get in the postseason, anything can happen. But getting there will be the hard part for this team. If Clay Buchholz returns to the rotation and starts pitching like it’s early 2013; if Mike Napoli goes on one of his patented hot streaks; if Shane Victorino returns to the lineup healthy and hitting; if Jackie Bradley Jr. readjusts to major-league pitching; if Dustin Pedroia recoups some of the 100 slugging points he’s lost from his slugging percentage in the past three years; if Stephen Drew starts hitting like mid-2013 and not like October 2013. If all that happens, the Sox might be a factor in the division. If some of it happens, they’ll contend for the wild card. Notice how most of those problems had to do with hitting? Despite the hue and cry, the team is actually only slightly below the league average for runs per game (4.02 vs. the average of 4.17), and farther from league average in runs allowed per game (4.33 vs. that same 4.17). That means, the pitching needs to improve as well. While the bullpen has sprung leaks at inopportune times, it’s still been solid. The real problem lies with the rotation after Lester and Lackey. Buchholz, Doubront and Peavy have combined to give up 117 runs in 177 innings. Replacements Brandon Workman and De La Rosa have fared better, but once Buchholz and Doubront return, they will likely be sent back to Pawtucket. The Sox really need stable performances from Buchholz and Doubront.

If all of this happens, playoffs would likely be in the picture. But those are big “ifs.”

Either way the Sox go, what will be truly unfortunate is if the Sox coast along right below .500 during the next six weeks with no motivation to add another player at the deadline, and fearful of angering fans by trading away players in late July. The result would be veterans clogging up roster spots and then leaving the Sox with nothing in return this offseason. The Sox have been an organization of extremes for nearly four seasons, and they’d be better off not changing now.

Sound Ideas

Live Review: Dave Matthews Band at the Xfinity Center

Surprise treats

Changeups can shake magic out of musicians’ commonplace practices. Yet the Dave Matthews Band only kept unfurling surprises when that perennial headliner at Mansfield’s newly renamed Xfinity Center notched a show to remember on Saturday.

For starters, in tune with the format of this tour, DMB served as its own opening act with a 50-minute acoustic set that missed the volume but not the dynamics of its usual sound. Carter Beauford even pumped a basic drum kit behind congas and bongos as spry crowd-pleasers “What Would You Say” and “Ants Marching” buffered the mellow “I’ll Back You Up” and a jaunty blues cover of Sixto Rodriguez’s “Sugar Man.” Though the focus of the sold-out crowd wavered as fans settled in with the sun still up, people throughout the venue basked in a soundtrack and vibe that matched the picture-perfect weather.

With casual fans likely satiated by the night's initial song mix, singer Matthews and his band dug into diehards’ dreams, launching a second set with back-to-back nuggets “Granny” and the elusive, hypnotic “Seek Up.” One of DMB’s jazziest opuses when the group broke beyond the jam-band scene two decades ago, that piece dropped out of rotation after the 2008 death of saxman LeRoi Moore, but emerged in full bloom as a near-20-minute ride. Matthews’ skeletal guitar figure laid the base for Rashawn Ross and Jeff Coffin to patiently trade off solos on trumpet and soprano sax until they erupted in tandem waves against Beauford’s multi-cymbal slams before the first vocal crept in. Then violinist Boyd Tinsley added a ghostly, sawing solo to extend the early-set adventure, which was complemented with spacy, laser-swept lighting more akin to Phish or Pink Floyd.

After the set jumped to sensory assault with stage-wide backing video and the music toggled between the bombastic (“So Right,” “Don’t Drink the Water”) and the benign (“Satellite”), Matthews sprang the night’s most unexpected treat – and climactic highlight. The Lovely Ladies – DMB's former backup singers Tawatha Agee and Cindy Mizelle, with newcomer Sharon Bryant – came out to join the band for the first time since 2001 (Tinsley later tweeted that the singers would pop up for a few other dates). The trio got a rock-star reception from the crowd, which spontaneously began to sing “Hani, Hani, come and dance with me” from old song “#36” over the band’s developing groove. And the Ladies graced both the country ballad “Long Black Veil” and the syncopated R&B shaker “Stay (Wasting Time),” sealing a wicked kickoff to summer at the shed.  

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

The Rock and Blues Concert Cruise offers a novel way to enjoy live summer music, and its season opens Friday with local roots-reggae futurists John Brown’s Body departing the World Trade Center Pier for a Boston Harbor excursion aboard the Provincetown II. That’s one of many concert highlights on a busy first full weekend of June. Also on Friday, local jazz/world/groove collective Club d’Elf welcomes both keyboardist John Medeski and slide guitarist Dave Tronzo (as in this clip) as its virtuoso guests for two shows at the Lizard Lounge. And rounding out the night, veteran roots-rockers the Bottle Rockets plays an early show at Johnny D’s Uptown and Brooklyn’s Red Baraat shakes up the Sinclair with its boisterous blend of Indian bhangra and New Orleans-style brass.

Saturday starts cooking with the annual Cambridge River Festival from noon to 6 p.m. Relocated to Central Square, the free festival features such bands as banjo rocker Bow Thayer’s band, pianist Laszlo Gardony (leading a sextet that includes saxophonists Bill Pierce, Don Braden and Stan Strickland) and the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, as well as dance and theater, on multiple stages around intersections of the square. It's like the return of the old Cambridge World's Fair. More info here.

The Dave Matthews Band changes up its formula at Mansfield’s newly renamed Xfinity Center on Saturday, playing two sets, with a full-group acoustic set to open the night with rarities as well as warhorses along these lines. Other intriguing options grace the same night, starting with Morrissey. The singer scuttled two shows this week due to a virus that’s reportedly hit him and his crew, but he said Thursday on his Facebook page, “The tour will resume as originally scheduled, without question, at the Boston Opera House on Saturday.” Two all-female groups also shine on Saturday: bluegrass upstarts (and onetime Improper cover gals) Della Mae pick ‘n’ sing at the Middle East Downstairs while ’90s pop favorites Luscious Jackson return from hiatus to get funky at the Paradise Rock Club. Here’s a recent live clip of Luscious Jackson and here's a jump to my recent interview. Also, the energetic South African rap-rave outfit Die Antwoord pumps up House of Blues, and shape-shifting songstress Meshell Ndegeocello bridges soul, hip-hop and rock at the Sinclair the same night. 

Sunday brings the alluring Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit to the Paradise, surging black-metal outfit Deafheaven to the Sinclair, and reggae scion Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, who broke out with his 2005 hit “Welcome to Jamrock,” to the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on a bill with Atmosphere. And the Allman Brothers Band plays its closest likely appearance before packing it in this fall, performing its first two albums just across the border in Hunter, N.Y., to close out the weekend-long Mountain Jam.

Finally, for my Thursday throwback, I turn to King Crimson, since tickets go on sale Friday for Sept. 15-16 shows by the prog-rockers' latest edition at the Emerson Colonial Theatre. For this revived combo, guitar guru Robert Fripp is retaining Pat Mastelotto (as part of a three-drummer lineup) and bassist Tony Levin, and bringing back early ’70s winds player Mel Collins. I’m still partial to this 1974 Crimson with drummer Bill Bruford, violinist David Cross and singer/bassist John Wetton.

Improper Now

Welcome to Your Weekend

From Morrissey to adult proms, David Sedaris to hot dogs, we've got your weekend covered


FRIDAY | JUNE 6 



 Official Pride Launch Party feat. CAKES DA KILLA (NYC)

‘Twas the figurative rainbow flag waved ‘round the world this past week when the POTUS declared June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Thanks, Obama! Not one to ever turn down an excuse to party, OBERON will be hosting an officially-sanctioned party to kick off Boston Pride Week 2014. In typical OBERON style, it’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be crazy and it’s gonna be loud. DJs Leah V and Begbick will be spinning some choice tracks, with Cakes Da Killa (NYC’s resident neon-soaked rising LGBT star) headlining.
2 Arrow St., Cambridge | 10 pm, $12 floor, $20 tables | americanrepertorytheater.org

SATURDAY | JUNE 6



Morrissey at the Boston Opera House

Moz has never been one to censor his, er, prolific creativity — whether it's in his music or his politcal views. And we love him for it. The Smiths frontman burst back on the scene with a new album slated for mid-July release, and a video with Pam Anderson to boot (not to mention a new book). Sad punks everywhere, rejoice, for his is a light that never goes out. We're trying not to get our hopes up: though he's set to perform in Boston this evening, a string of recent show cancellations (including a just-canceled stop in Atlantic City the night before) does not bode well for Boston. However, we're going to go ahead and hope he doesn’t go about things the wrong way, we are human and need to be loved, after all. [SEE WHAT WE DID THERE?]
539 Washington S.t, Boston | 7:30 pm, $55-100 | ticketmaster.com

David Sedaris at the Harvard Book Store

The acclaimed memoirist/essayist/speaker returns to Boston for a reading and signing to celebrate the release of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls in paperback. Unfortunately (but not unsurprisngly) the official event is sold out, but once ticket holders have the chance to get their books signed, the line will be opened up to the public and he's promised us personally [check out our interview here!] that he'll stick around until every last book is signed, and every last fan has been met. Daw.
1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 5 pm, Free | harvard.com


35th Annual Cambridge River Festival

The River Festival is an annual celebration of the arts, attracting 200,000 each year for a smorgasbord of jazz, folk, roots and world music performances, dance, art demos, family craft time, and more than 150 merchants selling eclectic wares. Due to construction going down by the actual river, this year’s fest will take place in Central Square. Darn you, public works! The Man is always bringing the free spirits down. Luckily, Central Square has officially been sanctioned as a Cultural District, so the fest will be in good company.
Central Square, along Mass Ave. & Sidney St. | 12-6 pm, free | cambridgema.gov


Phantom Gourmet Hot Dog Safari

This is a dilemma we come across all too often in the summer: We're at a cookout and, after just two hot dogs, we're still hungry, but have reached the limit of what’s considered polite (and not gluttonous). Thanks the the annual Hot Dog Safari, we hot dog lovers can feel free to finally let loose, without shame or fear of being unceremoniously ousted from a classy BBQ situation for hoarding franks. For this delicous safari, Lansdowne Street will host five celebrity chefs, parties, kids’ activities, and hot dogs raining down from the sky. Or, you know, from the grills. All proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, so it’s basically guilt-free gorging.
Lansdowne St, Boston | 12-4 pm; $15 advance, $20 door, free for kids under 9 | hotdogsafari.com

Enchantment Under the Sea Prom

Nostalgic for that special, dreamy evening, when you got to drop 400 bucks on a dress or tux you've never wear again, get drunk off vodka some kid had siphoned from his parents’ stash, and make out in the back of a car outside the gym? Sure, you are! You can do it all over again tonight—but this time without the burdens of chin acne and crushing self-esteem issues! And you'll be able to purchase that vodka legally, like an ADULT. There’ll also be a silent auction— preview items include a necklace/bracelet set and a three-night stay at a resort in Aruba. At our prom, all we got were plastic sunglasses.
Wakefield Rotary Club, 1 Newbury St, Peabody | 7 pm; $30 stag, $50 couple, $250 table of 10 | wakefieldrotaryclub.org

SUNDAY | JUNE 8

Silents, Please!: Buster Keaton’s The Navigator

Somerville Theater kicks off their summer silent film series with the classic 1924 comedy about a shipwrecked duo at sea, followed by the shorts ‘Convict’ and ‘Electric House.’ The folks at Somerville are going all the way with authenticity, projecting the film in 35mm film on their big screen, complete with talented musician Jeff Rapsis playing the organ, in an effort guaranteed to make you see how people first fell in love with film. So vintage!
55 Davis Sq, Somerville | 2pm; $15 adult, $12 seniors and kids | feitheatres.com/somerville-theatre

Sound Ideas

Live review: Ray LaMontagne at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

Shy Supernova

Colorful, digital paint swirled on the stage backdrop, evoking flowers and jellyfish to match the psychedelic hues of Ray LaMontagne’s latest album, Supernova. But when LaMontagne opened the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion’s season on Friday, his first of two nights at the harborside tent, he largely remained the earthy, rural New England troubadour who found overnight success with his 2004 debut Trouble.

“It’s crazy – it’s been a decade,” the usually taciturn LaMontagne said, thanking fans for changing his life during a mid-set acoustic duet with bassist Zack Hickman. The packed crowd’s applause had swelled as he sang “Jolene” and the title track from that debut, and one could see the denim-clad singer's breath in the cool, shower-cleared air as he soulfully barked the latter’s refrain, “I’ve been saaaved, by a woman!”

His poppy leap to singing “I want you to be my girl” in the title track of Supernova capped a show-opening stretch dominated by restacked tunes from that album. Yet the paisley haze of the record, which was produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, proved more muted in Friday’s mix, even if songs took on a robust life of their own in the hands of LaMontagne’s four-piece touring backup.  Drummer Barbara Gruska, who joined her brother Ethan (one of two guitarist/keyboards) in double duty after opening the night with the Belle Brigade, drove the thumping accents of “She’s the One” -- not the Springsteen song, though LaMontagne resembled a young Bruce in his wool cap and beard. “Julia” also rode a romping riff that evoked “Gloria,” the garage-rock classic by LaMontagne influence Van Morrison’s old band Them.

The camera-shy bandleader ceded much of the spotlight to his curly-mustachioed musical director Hickman, a local fixture associated with Josh Ritter who switched between acoustic and electric bass. He and LaMontagne took turns injecting the percussive, breathy vocal parts that marked new songs like “Airwaves.” But the audience seemed more enthusiastic across a home stretch of the near-two-hour show that featured older material, peaking with “Hey Me, Hey Mama.”

Like Jason Isbell and his alt-country band the 400 Unit, which rocked with sobering authority in the night’s middle set, LaMontagne went about his business, seemingly ignoring the colorful trappings of performance and popularity. With his outfit and attitude, he could have easily stepped off a fishing boat to sing his songs.

Improper Now

Tickets On Sale Alert

Hot tickets for the week of May 30

Sam Smith plays the House of Blues on Sept. 15

ON SALE NOW

Kitten
July 7 at The Sinclair
$15
boweryboston.com

Lemaitre
July 27 at Great Scott
$10 - $12
boweryboston.com

Sam Smith
Sept. 15 at the House of Blues
$32.50 - $45
livenation.com

Black Lips
Sept. 28 at the Paradise Rock Club
$18 - $20
livenation.com

Bombay Bicycle Club + Milo Greene
Sept. 15 at the House of Blues
$22.50 - $25
livenation.com

ON SALE SATURDAY AT NOON

Nekrogoblikon
Aug. 5 at Brighton Music Hall
$12 - $14
livenation.com

Yelle
Oct. 9 at Paradise Rock Club
$20 - $22
livenation.com

O-Town
Nov. 10 at Paradise Rock Club
$22 - $24
livenation.com

 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Several years young, the sonically and lyrically smart Boston group Hallelujah the Hills celebrate their excellent new album Have You Ever Done Something Evil? at Great Scott on Friday. Unfortunately someone in Oakland, Calif., answered that question on the rockers’ recent West Coast tour by stealing their luggage and merch out of a van, giving extra reason to support the Hills’ gig or buy the album. On Friday and Saturday, Ray LaMontagne tries out the psychedelic folk-rock shadings of his new album Supernova in a great double bill with Southern country-folk tunesmith Jason Isbell at the newly renamed, harborside Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. And the pride of Hoboken, N.J., the Feelies resurface for one of their weekend visits to the Sinclair on Friday; expect hypnotic folk-rock that balances jangle and tension, broken with sporadic covers of the Beatles, Stones and Iggy (of Stooges fame, not Azalea).

With summer looming, it’s also time for country blowouts (king George Strait, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill team up at Gillette Stadium on Saturday) and radio-station parties. Jam’N 94.5’s Summer Jam brings Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B. and Juicy J to the Xfinity (ex-Comcast) Center on Friday, while Kiss 108’s Kiss Concert 2014 takes over there the next night with the likes of Ariana Grande and Boston’s Karmin. Jennifer Lopez also appears both days. However, if you want to see a middle-aged woman truly shake what God has given her, don’t miss Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Jones has returned after cancer treatment and, based on this recent clip, the gritty soul singer seems more wound up than ever in fronting her R&B group behind their aptly named new album, Give the People Want They Want. Jam veterans moe. aren’t the first of their ilk to struggle with securing a studio groove to equal their live flights. Yet moe. has developed separate personalities, honing clean but straightforward rock originals on recent albums like the new No Guts, No Glory while remaining more expansive in concert. The band isn't playing closer to Boston than the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, N.H., this Saturday, but that’s a place that moe. has traditionally played raging shows.  And English singer/pianist Jamie Cullum, known for playing his own free-wheeling shows that bridge jazz and pop, rounds out the weekend on Sunday at House of Blues.

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, given that Queen’s coming round with singer Adam Lambert next month (including TD Garden on July 22) and talking about releasing old tracks with Freddie Mercury, let’s go back to the prime years. Here’s a 1974 Queen show with vocal icon Mercury as ringmaster, at home in London.

How The Times Have Changed For Sox Since 2004

Fans and front office have altered perspectives in the wake of titles.

Photo via boston.redsox.mlb.com

As the Red Sox honored Curtis Leskanic and friends last night for their 2004 World Series championship, it was a reminder about how much things have changed in the decade since that October miracle, not simply for Red Sox fans but for the front office as well.

The live-and-die-with-every-pitch mentality that surrounded the Sox for the final decades of their 86-year World Series drought is gone for most Red Sox fans. In its place is a detached sense of privilege, something that’s best seen in the drama of the past two weeks. While the Red Sox were racking up a 10-game losing streak, sports radio had a field day but the actual streak of futility seemed to be a bit of a footnote to the day for many Bostonians, rather than something that might elicit a “Red Alert” front-page headline at The Boston Herald. If the Sox finish dead last in the division one year, it’s written off with little alarm—they just might win the whole damn thing the year after. It’s a boom-or-bust view of things in which the “bust” scenario plays out with little passion from fans, and there’s less pressure (aside from the effort to keep up TV ratings and attendance) to have the “boom” years. This was an inevitable effect from breaking an 86-year drought, and an effect that was further hammered home when the Sox won two more World Series titles in the next 10 years. Most fans can die knowing they saw the Sox win a World Series, something that was a mere dream in the middle of October 2004.

On the heels of the Sox winning the World Series in 2013, the front office seems to have taken this tranquil outlook rather than adopting the previous urgency.

“Let the kids play,” has been a common mantra from Red Sox management. And that has meant a few things that were good, and a few that were bad for this 2014 team. The Sox put their faith in a highly rated prospect such as Xander Bogaerts who was an on-base machine in the minors, and he has a .383 OBP in the first two months of his rookie season. The areas where the Sox were most lax about upgrading or finding replacements, however, were third base, catcher and backup center fielder. This is where the “let the kids play” or a PR pitch about the future got the best of the team in the offseason.

Jackie Bradley Jr., much like Bogaerts, was skilled at getting on base in the minors, but despite starting the season showing plate discipline, he hasn’t drawn a walk since May 7. Luckily for Bradley, his superb defense has been enough to keep him in the lineup every day. Well, that and not having a competent backup. While Chris Young has struggled for the Mets, he fit the profile of a player the Sox should’ve pursued harder in the offseason. He’s a platoon center fielder who could face lefties while Bradley gets a respite. Instead, the Sox rolled the dice with Grady Sizemore, a far riskier proposition, and a guy who is a liability in center field.

In addition to needing to find a more dependable reserve center fielder, the Sox also dropped the ball on a better third-base solution. Will Middlebrooks has been given a chance to play every day in the majors for three seasons now and has put together two impressive months, and far more months that would make even Mario Mendoza cringe. He was never going to be the answer at third base, especially with highly rated prospect Garin Cecchini breathing down his neck in Pawtucket. What Middlebrooks should have been was a trade chip to get a veteran third baseman in the final year of his contract. Think Chase Headley or Aramis Ramirez. Those teams get Middlebrooks and another prospect, while the Sox get the better player for this season and future draft pick compensation when the veteran leaves as a free agent after 2014. This was more of a move the Sox might’ve pulled after the 2012 season to shore up every position on their roster, but after 2013, it was a missed opportunity.

The final misstep from the front office came in the form of letting Jarrod Saltalamacchia walk away for a 3-year, $21 million contract, while the Sox brought in A.J. Pierzynski and spouted lines about the great minor-league depth at catcher. That depth is certainly real, but let’s play out the best-case scenario, knowing that catchers (unlike other prospects) almost always move up only one minor-league level per season. By bringing in Pierzynski, the Sox showed they have no faith in one-time prospect Ryan Lavarnway, so let’s leave him out of the equation. They were banking on Christian Vazquez being ready for 2015 and Blake Swihart being ready for 2016. And that’s fine, but you still needed one catcher for 2014 and will need a catcher to platoon with Vazquez in 2015 before letting Vazquez and Swihart team up in 2016. A two-year, $20 million deal for Saltalamacchia certainly was a commitment the Sox could’ve made. They didn’t, and they paid for it with Pierzynski’s six-week struggle to start the season.

That’s three positions in which the Sox opted for a cheaper solution, with more of a wait-and-see approach. It’s a far cry from before the 2004 season when the Sox were trying to upgrade every position, bringing in Keith Foulke and Curt Schilling, trying to trade for Alex Rodriguez, and eventually trading Nomar Garciaparra in midseason. Those were all bold moves from an organization that was desperate to win. The Sox had a similar mindset before 2013 when the front office tried to fill every need on the team. That was not the case for the 2014 season, and it’s an approach that former Sox All-Star Johnny Damon knows all too well. On hand for the 2004 celebration last night, Damon drew parallels between this year’s approach and the post-2004 approach in an interview with WEEI.

“Whenever a team wins the World Series, it’s very easy to let the fans know you’re looking to the future. So it’s a difficult thing [to keep a team together].”

The post-2004 “let the kids play” approach led to the 2007 championship, so here’s hoping the long-term plan from this season yields the same results. But in the meantime, the up-and-down seasons make it hard to build momentum with a fan base that’s already gotten more than it could’ve hoped for. 

Impopular

David Sedaris really does want to sign your book

The author talks writing, mice, pet peeves and more



When I call up David Sedaris at his home in the UK it's midnight, his time, and he's busy listening to a book on tape—The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer— and cutting up photos to paste in his diary, a habit of his. Far from being sleepy, however, the acclaimed memoirist/essayist/speaker is as talkative and as forthcoming as both his readers and podcast listeners have come to expect. He took a break to talk about his writing process, his favorite line from literature, unique gifts from fans and the fact that he really does want to talk to his readers (really!), among other musings, in preview of his stop at the Harvard Book Store to read from Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls on June 7. 


Yes, I usually go to bed around 2 am.


I get up and I go right to my desk. I work until like, 1:30, and then I go back for an hour at 8.


Yeah, I mean, I never have to force myself. I never think, “Oh, I forgot to go to my desk today!” [laughs] I just get up and go right there.


I think I don’t know any writers who don’t feel that from time to time. You know, when you’re convinced that you don’t have another word to say. But then—I finished a story last week, and then I found something that I wrote two years ago that I just got frustrated with, and I just put it away. It had just been kind of buried for two years. I pulled it out and I thought, ‘Oh, I know how to do this.’ Sometimes you just need time away from something. Other times, you don’t, you can just turn something right around. But sometimes, you need to put it away and then you can see it.


I wrote it over the course of six or seven years. So I would write just a few of them [short stories] a year, and I would just put it in a file. And then, one day I thought, ‘Oh, that file is kind of big, it feels big enough for a book.’ What I liked about writing those was writing in the third person. You know, giving it a bit more distance. Because sometimes I listen to other people—like this novel I’m listening to now—and I think, ‘God, she’s so wise.’ Like, how do people get like that? But sometimes I think that if you write in the third person instead of the first person, a lot of times those observations just kind of come out in a way that they don’t if you’re writing in the first person. Because you don’t want to sound show-offy… Well, I don’t know. Sometimes you just take a step back and you speak through a turtle instead of through yourself. And then maybe you have insights that you didn’t realize you had.


You know, I have to say that I never felt that way. I mean, I read things all the time and think, “Oh, I’ll never be as good as this person.” But, I don’t know, I guess I just don’t phrase it that way. I think I feel just grateful that that person is in the world. I feel so grateful that that person is alive, and writing, and they can inspire people. I don’t get jealous of them. I think it took me a while to realize…I think when you’re a young writer, you imitate other people. You know, it’s just part of it. And I think it took me a while to realize that you just come to peace with the fact that you will never be those people, and think, ‘Well, OK. That’s something that this person does, and this person was seemingly born to do. And I have this over here that I do.’ So, I think it was just coming to terms with that.


I remember when my first book came out, I went to my hometown, and I was in a bookstore giving a reading, and this woman who lived in the house next door to me growing up said, ‘That’s fine, but when are you gong to write something serious?’ And I looked at her and I said, ‘Never!’ And it felt so good! [laughs] It felt so good to say that. Because I would spend a lot of time over at her house growing up and I really got exposed to a lot at her house. She had books that we didn’t have in our house. And they made a profound impact on me. But by the time my first book came out, I had sort of stopped pretending to be other people. You know, I just sort of kind of found a niche for myself, and kind of accepted that this was the writer that I am. I accepted it.


Oh gosh, I heard this somewhere the other day—I don’t know if it was a podcast or what—but I think maybe they were talking about visual art, and they said that ‘Art can’t be taught, but it can be learned.’ And I thought, ‘If you got rid of the word ‘art’ you could just put anything in there.’ Writing can’t be taught, but it can be learned. I mean, I guess I feel like a clever person will learn about writing by reading. You know? A clever person will, at one point, say, ‘Why did this make me feel something? And this over here did not make me feel something? And why did I feel suspense here? And over here, in this other book, I didn’t?’ I think it’s important for an observant person to be around bad writing, or amateur writing, too. You know, to learn from that. I mean I think you learn from other people’s mistakes just the same way you can learn from something that’s great. But that said, I mean I basically just had one teacher, and he taught me an awful lot—just basic things. Like, you need to indent when someone’s talking. [laughs]

I taught for a brief while…And sometimes you meet someone and you can just tell if they’re the real thing or not. Sometimes they’re young, and they’re just in that kind of an awkward phase or something, but you still see it, you can still tell. That’s why it makes me sad sometimes when I see somebody who’s, like, a talented painter, and she’s young. And then it’s like, she listened to those people who said, ‘You need to have something to fall back on.’ So now she’s back in school for something to fall back on. And I want to say, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t fall back. You’re really good. Why don’t you stop listening to your parents? You’re 25 years old. What do you need with a brand new car? What do you need with stuff?’


I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think it makes a difference whether you’re writing about a fictional doctor, or what happened to you yesterday. I mean, I think that both of them are equally… I don’t know if self-absorbed is the right word. What’s the word I’m looking for? So you created a doctor, you’re writing about a fictional doctor saving someone’s life, how is that any more self-absorbed than writing about somebody who knocked on your door the day before yesterday trying to sell you some furniture?


I guess the thing is, sometimes you sit down and write about something, and you say, ‘OK, why would anybody care about this?’ Right? And then you think, ‘OK, well, I have to write about it in a way that people can relate to it.’ I mean, maybe you haven’t been to Sweden. But you have found yourself, oh, I don’t know, going to a place where you decided before you even got there that you love it. And you so need it to love you back. You know? And you’re going to be devastated if it doesn’t. So, Sweden is neither here nor there. I guess I write about stuff all the time that hasn’t happened to anyone, but I don’t know, I usually have a clue that people might find it funny or interesting. I don’t know if that’s instinct, or, you know, sometimes you tell a story around the dinner table and everybody laughs. And you think, ‘I could get four people to laugh, maybe an audience will laugh too.’


I just finished a tour of the UK. I was signing books, and I met a couple—they’re 62, I believe, man and wife—and they both lost their right legs in the same car accident.


Now, they didn’t give me anything. [laughs] They told me that. But that was pretty remarkable. Gosh, I’m trying to think. Somebody gave me a human heart that she crocheted. And it was the size of it that made it so remarkable to me. You know, that it’s the size of a heart. I was so touched because she put so much work into it. And she really did a good job.


Well, as realistic as it can be when it’s crocheted … I was reading through an old diary this morning from 2010. And there was a letter, and I think it was somebody who wanted something from me, but the guy who wrote it was going about it the wrong way. He had been to a reading that I gave, and I had given him a condom. He’d been a teenager and, at that time—I always have gifts for teenagers—but for awhile, I was giving teenagers condoms. Because they’re light, they’re easy to pack…


Exactly. That was my understanding. I didn’t want to embarrass him. It just makes people laugh. Anyway, maybe there was something he’d wanted to talk about when he got up there, and he felt slighted, which…surprised me. Because I don’t feel like I’ve ever slighted anyone when they’ve come up to get a book signed. I know I’ve never said ‘Next!’ or “Well, look, there are a lot of other people in line behind you.; I’ve never done that. Never. Every so often, you’ll get somebody who maybe will talk for like, 10 minutes, which is a long time. You know what I mean? But even then, I would never say anything. There have been times when the book store people have come up and said to that person, ‘All right, we need to move it along now.’ And I am mortified. And I always say to that person, ‘No, no, no, you stay as long as you want to.’ So it surprised me that this person felt like I slighted him. In his words, I just kind of threw a condom at him and said, ‘Next!,’ which I know for a fact didn’t happen. But it made me realize that I always liked signing books because I felt like I was in control. And then I thought, ‘I’m not in control at all.’ People are bringing all kinds of stuff with them to the table. I don’t mean physical objects, I mean expectations, and prejudices, and I can’t control that. There was this young man and this young woman, and I remember them clearly, they were the last people in line in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was their wedding anniversary. She got him tickets for his wedding anniversary, and I wrote in his book, ‘You deserve better than this.’ And what I meant was, I was putting myself down. Like, ‘You deserve better than me for your anniversary.’ And he wrote me a letter, furious, saying ‘How dare you? We waited in line, and then you insult me, and you say I deserve better than my wife? Who the f--k are you?


[laughs] Well, I remember there wasn’t really a bookstore in Raleigh, North Carolina when I lived there. I mean, there was a Walden Books in the mall, but there wasn’t, like, a real bookstore. Then I moved to Chicago and there was a bookstore down the street from me. And I couldn’t believe the authors who came there—real authors would come there. Tobias Wolff, and Richard Ford. I couldn’t believe that I could go and see them in person. And it was a lot of money for me to buy a book, even a paperback. And I just remember standing in line and I’m thinking, ‘What am I going to say?’ And then the author didn’t even look at me. She was talking to somebody else, her publicist or something, and didn’t even look. She just signed the book and pushed it back. And I just thought, you know, when it’s me, and it’s my book, and I’m sitting at that table…it’s going to be different.


Maybe. I don’t know—I seriously enjoy it. I mean, I genuinely enjoy it, I don’t look beyond the person who’s in front of me. Maybe I should.


You’re right. I mean, when I go to the grocery store I don’t want to be one of those people who doesn’t talk to a cashier. But I also don’t want to say, ‘Boy, we sure could use some rain.’ I don’t want to be that person either. I want to have a genuine exchange, and I want them to know that I’m human, and I want to know that they are. I just did my tour of the UK, and English people don’t ask questions as readily as an American audience will. So, I ask if there are any questions, and nobody raises their hand. And I ran my mouth for a while and, finally, a woman put up her hand and she said, ‘Do you have mice?’


Yeah, and I thought, ‘This is such a good question.’ It’s great. I use it at supermarket all the time now. To the cashier, I say, ‘Do you have mice?’ And they either have mice, or they don’t!


Infesting their home. [laughs] It’s such a good question.


It was great because I told her that we had some mice in London. The woman next door to us died, and they’re redoing her house, and she had never had anything done to her house. And her house is attached to my house and when they started doing work, all the mice fled over to our house. And that was fine. I can be fine with mice. But then they started chewing through the wires. And then that’s when it was war!


Gosh, a favorite line from a book. Oh, gosh. Yes. “The monks of old slept in their coffins.” That’s from the Flannery O’Connor story—“The Life You Save May Be Your Own.”


Well, if somebody is just kind of offering it up, it’s just, like, a little piece of wisdom. [laughs] So that’s how I use it. And I say it…I probably say it like four or five times a year. Like, if I’m with you, and all of a sudden we’ve run out of things to talk about, I’ll say, ‘The monks of old slept in their coffins.’


Or if we see a casket, I’ll say ‘The monks of old slept in their coffins.’ [laughs]


Oh, gosh. I mean, it’s not a line from literature, but one thing that drives me crazy is when people say ‘What you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ I think that is just absolutely the wrong approach. Because people like to give other people opportunities and sometimes, when you ask, then it’s like, they didn’t trust you to offer it, or to have good judgment. I don’t know. I never sent anybody anything. I never sent a story to anyone, I never went to a place and asked if I could read aloud there, never. My motto was “Let them ask me.” And I put myself out there so they could ask me, but I never asked anyone for anything. And, I don’t know, I think it’s a good approach. I really do. Sometimes, when I go on a lecture tour, somebody from a local NPR station will introduce me. And sometimes I get there, and there’s no one to introduce me. And what I like to do is to find a teenager, and then I pay the teenager $20 to introduce me. 


Nope. Well, I say, ‘If you get out there, and if you tell them that we met five minutes ago, and that I paid you $20 to introduce me, they’re going to laugh. And you’re going to see what that feels like. You’re going to see what 1800 people laughing feels like. And then you just go with it. Do whatever you want, if you have stuff you want to talk about. You’ll eventually call me, say my name, and I’ll come out.’ And it’s interesting, because sometimes, backstage, the kid will be a little cocky, and then they get out there and they just freak out. But it’s fun because they’ll come with their parents, I’ll say, ‘No, don’t tell your parents. Just come backstage with me.’ And so the show starts and the parents are thinking, like, you know, ‘Where’s Teresa?’ And then she walks out on stage and the parents are shocked. But then what started happening is that people would write and say ‘I know you’re coming to Rochester next week. Can I introduce you?’ And it’s like [sighs] the whole point, the point was not that you’d have a week to write something. The whole point is that you’d have five minutes before you went up there. And the whole point, too, is that it’s my idea! [laughs]

David Sedaris is at the Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, June 7 @ 5 pm, tickets $19.50; include paperback copy of book, harvard.com.

 

 

Sound Ideas

Home Stretch: Boston Calling's third installment is another success

You can’t predict the weather -- or how bands mix across the 10-hour day/night of a huge rock festival on City Hall Plaza. But you can predict that Boston Calling’s here to stay, and thriving on all counts, based on Sunday’s grand finale of its third edition over the holiday weekend, with a more fab September lineup to follow.

Yes, Sunday was forecast as the poor weather day with predicted thunderstorms. However, the only downpour of the three-day fest dampened the Decemberists’ Saturday-eve slot. Sunday turned out mostly sunny and warming into the 60s for Boston Calling’s best stretch of acts, which turned out to flow remarkably well together.

Textural guitar rock ruled the mid-afternoon, a common thread varied through the ebb and flow of Kurt Vile & the Violators, Built to Split and Phosphorescent, while casual concert-goers sat and sprawled across the bricks of City Hall Plaza. Though he opened with apt gem “Wakin on a Pretty Daze,” Vile didn’t fully find his stoner-rock groove until the lurching riff of “Hunchback.” But the two-decade-seasoned Built to Spill likely surprised younger fans with its gnashing three-guitar balance, and Phosphorescent charmed, wavering with Matthew Houck’s mellow country-ish musings before peaking with the melancholy glide “Song for Zula.”

Tegan and Sara became the day’s first set where you felt the push of the 22,000-capacity crowd inside the soundboards between the alternating stages, relocated perpendicular to each other. Stages were nicely balanced visually from the foot of City Hall, particularly in VIP balconies, even if the overall flow was better with facing stages at opposite ends of the plaza before current construction on the Government Center T station.

In any case, the transition to Tegan and Sara came off less jarring than might have been expected, with Tegan and Sara Quin rocking both guitars and leather jackets with their black-clad band, conveying an austere edge much like Built to Spill.  But the twin sisters’ recent synth-pop proclivities became pronounced as the set went on, capped by their hit “Closer,” and setting the stage for the now-mainstream Bastille, which has booked its return to headline Agganis Arena on Oct. 13.

Bastille wasted no time in grabbing the masses with quaffed frontman Dan Smith leading the “Ooooah, Oooah!” chant to the title track of the fast-rising English foursome’s debut Bad Blood and bopping about in his wolf-face hoodie. The anthemic synth-rockers proved entertaining with its Coldplay-wide emoting, though Smith’s drum bashing a la Imagine Dragons grew more overwrought. Brand New followed as another veteran wild card; the alt-emo outfit elicited mixed reactions for its moody, punk-edged onslaught, which culminated in old-fashioned stage destruction, down to the toppling of an amplifier as well as using the edge of a lamp as a guitar slide.

Longtime Northwest indie-rockers Modest Mouse closed Sunday night with leader Isaac Brock passionately barking tunes from across his catalog (including favorites “Dashboard” and “Float On”) with his brashly orchestral ensemble. Given that the band hasn’t made a new album since 2007, it was amazing how fervent the young crowd was, chanting “Modest Mouse! Modest Mouse!” before the group took the stage. Then, when a U.S. Air Force horn section came out first to play the national anthem in an appropriate nod to Memorial Day, fans switched to a chant of “USA! USA!” A minute later, they were back to “Modest Mouse!” I guess that when you spend all day at a rock festival, you should know how to change gears with enthusiasm!

Speaking of which, locals Tigerman WOAH! went from an early Sunday slot before the big crowd at Boston Calling to Ned Devine’s in Faneuil Hall, to join OldJack and other Hub bands in a free club-sized complement dubbed Boston Clawing. Two stages likewise alternated to keep the music going. And when the ambitious slate of multiple short sets fell behind, Tigerman WOAH! took the practical soap-box of a second stage for a mid-point turn and, to avoid shortchanging Parlour Bells, unleashed a solitary song of shambolic hillbilly folk-punk. A lifted upright bass nearly struck a chandelier, and fans shared the mic in a rush of manic momentum, only to get “Thank you, there’s another band coming up.” Both a wicked tease and a complete statement!

There was also talk of doing Boston Clawing again in September when Boston Calling delivers its fourth edition with more diverse heavyweights that include Lorde, the Roots with Nas, the National and the Replacements (single-day tickets on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m.). The more the merrier at either end of the spectrum.

Behind the Scenes of Moonstruck

Take a look behind the scenes of our latest fashion shoot, Moonstruck, featuring the cast of Cirque Du Soleil's Amaluna.

"Moonstruck" - with Cirque Du Soleil - Amaluna: Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot by Michael David Adams from Michael David Adams on Vimeo.

Improper Now

Welcome to your Memorial Day weekend

From music fests to film series, "fire play" to free reign of the MFA, we've got your Memorial Day weekend covered.


In case you hadn't heard, there's a big music fest taking over City Hall Plaza this weekend. (Check out our Boston Calling artist-curated playlist!). But that's not the only fun thing happening this Memorial Day weekend. We've got an extra day to recover so, in preparation of the three-day weekend, we've rounded up just a few of the cool things doing down around town, from other music fests (good ones!), film series, "fire play" and a lot more. 

FRIDAY | MAY 23


The Little Tramp Turns 100

If you’re not too much of a millennial to enjoy silent films in black and white, and you’d like a cinematic break from Zac Efron’s abs, we've got the film series for you. The Brattle Theatre will be celebrating one of the most iconic characters in comedy with a weekend-long repertory series showcasing every short film of Charlie Chaplin’s career. Bring your grandparents and laugh along to skits from a simpler time when comedy didn’t revolve around frat boys’ genitalia.
40 Brattle St, Cambridge | See website for schedule, $8-$12 | brattlefilm.org

WildFire 2014

If you're looking to heat up your weekend—literally—this should be worth a road trip. WildFire, New England’s premier (read: only) "fire arts" training camp will be hosting its first of four annual events this weekend. It features a diverse selection of over 100 classes on various fire-handling disciplines, hosted on a scenic CT campsite where all meals and showers are provided. Thrill-seekers seem to blaze through tickets pretty quickly (only 18 left for sale) so if you can’t catch this one, there will be three more held in June, August, and September.
231 Ashford Center Rd, Ashford CT | Starts Fri at 3pm, $120 | wildfireretreat.com

SATURDAY | MAY 23



Awesome Day Fest 2014

Underground music curators/blog Boston Hassle are throwing an alternative to Boston Calling with Awesome Day Fest, a 15-band, three-stage rock n’ roll block party. Bands including, but definitely not limited to, earthquake party!, Eldridge Rodriguez and Soccer Mom will be melting faces at O’Brien’s Pub, Store 54, and Regina Pizzeria (all convenienty located on the same Allston corner). Befriend your neighborhood punks and prepare for a night of pre-summer revelry.
3 Harvard Ave, Allston | Doors 3pm, $0-$10 | facebook.com/events/847227828625134



US Air Guitar Championships Qualifier

Finally, a recognized celebration of America’s second favorite pastime. Well, some Americans' second favorite pastime. US Air Guitar, the official air guitar association of the United States, is hosting its local qualifiers for their annual national contest. “In a time when US political, economic, military, and athletic dominance faces unprecedented challenges around the world, it is our belief that air guitar represents one endeavor our country can dominate without controversy” – inspiring, no? Pack up your air axes and picks in those invisible cases and lug them out of your parents’ (very real) basement to TT's for a silent sonic showdown.
10 Brookline St, Cambridge | 4pm, 18+, $10 | ttthebears.com

SUNDAY | MAY 25

Wolf Hollow Family Fun Fest

We don’t know about you, but at most of our holiday weekend parties, we often find ourselves thinking, “You know what this party needs? More wolves.” By incredible coincidence, Wolf Hollow is answering our prayers. The non-profit will allow guests the rare opportunity to witness gray wolves in a natural setting, while chowinng down on pizza and trying samples from the Ipswich Ale Brewery. Beats hanging out with ants at a Memorial Day picnic.
114 Essex Road, Ipswich | 11am-3pm, FREE | ipswichalebrewery.com



Boston Clawing

After an opening set (props!) at Boston Calling, indie folk rockers Tigerman WOAH! are heading over to Faneuil Hall to throw their own—free— music fest for all of ya'll who didn't get tickets to the big City Hall Plaza shebang. Supporting bands on the stacked bill including Parlour Bells, Airport, The Life Electric (and many, many more!) take over Ned Devine’s for a night of sharp sounds. (The tourists and bar-bros are in for a treat.)
1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston | 6pm, FREE | tigermanmusic.bandcamp.com

Memorial Day Fireworks at Hampton Beach

Memorial Day. The first of many excuses this summer to watch shiny things explode in the sky. Park your butts in the cool sands of Hampton Beach and be thankful that the bravery of our fighting men and women allow us to do decidely un-brave things like sit around, beer in hand, and ooh and ahh at the pretty lights. (Ed note: we're not entirely sure you can drink at Hampton Beach — might want to look into that. Or pre-game.)
115 Ocean Blvd, Hampton, NH | 9:30pm, FREE | hamptonbeach.com

MONDAY | MAY 26

MFA Memorial Day Open House

Free admission for all, in the name of freedom! The Museum of Fine Arts will be celebrating Memorial Day in style with workshops (Extreme Dancesport, anyone?), performances (the US Coast Guard Band is on at 2pm), Latin American performance art (Experimenten un calidoscopio de cultura latinoamericana en todo el MFA!), Technicolor films (Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz), and various family craft-making activities (first on the list: basket-weaving). Family-friendly tours of the museum will also be conducted every 15 minutes until 11:45am. If it rains all weekend, at least we can soak up some culture, if not sun.
465 Huntington Ave, Boston | 10am-4:45pm, FREE | mfa.org



Family Service Day

Yes, Memorial Day is a time for barbecuing, drinking beer and kicking back - but it’s also a great day to give back to the community. Throw in some cute puppies and kittens, and it won’t even seem like work at all. The MSPCA branch at Nevins Farm will be assigning parents and kids (grades 2-6) three activities: an animal care chore, support chores, and an educational presentation that includes a fun activity and animal meet & greet. It’ll be a bonding experience. Nothing builds character like picking up poop! And the shelter animals will be happy for all of the attention, which is what it’s all about.
400 Broadway, Methuen | 9am-12pm, $20 per adult/child pair | mspca.org

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

The three-day Boston Calling Music Festival on City Hall Plaza only stands as the dominate event on a surprisingly active Memorial Day weekend for concerts.

Funny how America got all freaked out by St. Vincent on last week’s “Saturday Night Live” finale. I wonder what her uncle Tuck Andress thought about that tweet-blown hoopla – or her Nirvana cameo at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony? Andress will be busy conjuring his own sweetly subversive guitar sounds with his singing wife Patti Cathcart when the longtime duo Tuck & Patti play Scullers Jazz Club on Friday. Also that night, Otis Grove jams its organ-trio grooves at the Brighton Music Hall, while the frontman of Cheap Trick moonlights in the Robin Zander Band, which might toss in covers like this Who classic as part of the Violet Jam cocktail party at Natick’s Verve Crowne Plaza hotel. The Lizard Lounge also sizzles with a trifecta of local heavyweights for your holiday weekend. Friday delivers a split double-header, starting with an early show by the Country Soul Revue, featuring guitarists Duke Levine and Kevin Barry, drummer Jay Bellarose (Robert Plant, Ray LaMontagne), bassist Paul Bryan, and vocal guests Dennis Brennan and Chris Cote. Then bassist Mike Rivard's eclectic groove collective Club d'elf closes out Friday night with a cast including slide-guitar alchemist Dave Tronzo and trumpeter Yaure Muniz, before Christian McNeill's soul-rocking Sea Monsters take over the Lizard on Saturday.

Cambridge’s venerable Club Passim presents its annual four-day Campfire marathon, offering dozens of performers from surprising upstarts to higher profile acts like ex-Low Anthem singer Jocie Adams’ new outfit Arc Iris (you can even get a weekend pass). But the weekend’s biggest event remains the Boston Calling rock fest, which takes over City Hall Plaza with an opening night that kicks off with Cass McCombs and features Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and headliner Jack Johnson.  The next two days’ longer lineups include Death Cab for Cutie, the Decemberists, Frank Turner and his Sleeping Souls (who also play the Sinclair on Saturday and Sunday nights), Phosphorescent, Tegan and Sara, the fast-rising Bastille and Modest Mouse. Here’s the full schedule with set times. And then there’s Boston Clawing, where local Boston Calling entry Tigerman WOAH! heads over to Ned Devine’s for a Sunday eve at Faneuil Hall that also features fellow hometown luminaries including OldJack, Parlour Bells and Eddie Japan. It’s free with RSVP through do617.com.

Finally, for this week's Thursday Throwback, I give you the Aquarium Rescue Unit. In the last two weeks, I've seen drummer Jeff Sipe with Warren Haynes' Jerry Garcia tribute and bassist Oteil Burbridge with the Oz Noy Trio, and guitarist Jimmy Herring will be here next month with Widespread Panic. They all played in the ARU with Col. Bruce Hampton, a wonderful character who's kind of like the Capt. Beefheart of the South. If you're a fan of Zappa or Phish, jazz fusion or jam-rock, and never saw this virtuoso cross-genre band, check out this ARU show from 1992. Whacked sense of humor as well, starting with the introductions.

C's Crystal Ball Clears Up Tonight

The NBA lottery results will go a long way to determining Boston's future.

May 20 has been the day that most Celtics' fans have had circled on their calendars for the past several months. It's the day to break out your lucky boxers (or in the case of Celtics' co-owner Steve Pagliuca, a lucky ceramic chicken). The stakes are high tonight, as the Celtics will pick anywhere from 1-8 (not fourth) in the upcoming NBA Draft. By now, the two roads the Celtics can choose is fairly clear. Nothing has changed from when I wrote about the lottery in February:

Whether Rajon Rondo should be traded or kept is a question that won’t be answered until the lottery on May 20. For proof of this path, look no further than the 2007 draft lottery. The Celtics had a veteran All-Star (Paul Pierce) and a chance at a top pick in a loaded draft; the Seattle SuperSonics also had a veteran All-Star (Ray Allen) and a chance at a top pick in a loaded draft. In the days leading up to the lottery, Pierce was quoted as saying he wasn’t sure he would stick around if the Celtics won the rights to select Kevin Durant or Greg Oden. The Celts, however, ended up with the fifth pick, and the Sonics ended up with the second pick. For the Sonics, that meant taking Kevin Durant and trading Ray Allen to pair Durant with a player more his age. For the Celtics, it meant trading the pick (Jeff Green) in order to pair Paul Pierce with a worthy peer in Allen. The two teams both found success: the Celtics went on to trade other assets for a third veteran All-Star (Kevin Garnett) and won a title, narrowly missing out on a second title (damn you, Artest!); the Sonics begat the Thunder who have made one NBA Finals appearance and are destined for more. That’s two teams with the same assets leading up to the lottery, who made firm decisions (win now or rebuild fully) and saw the fruits of it.

This year, the Celtics will be in the same situation. They have one All-Star veteran and a chance for a top pick in a loaded draft. While there is no LeBron James (i.e., immediate impact) in this draft, the top three picks (Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins) are all consensus future All-Stars. The next level of guys includes a few point guards (Dante Exum, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Smart). If the Celtics get a Top 3 pick, they’d be wise to trade Rondo to a team picking somewhere in the 4-8 range (maybe the Lakers who would want a veteran next to Kobe), and pair two young studs (say, Parker with Exum). This would be the start of an all-in rebuilding phase, similar to what the Sonics/Thunder went through after the 2007 lottery. If the Celtics land in the 4-8 range, then the best bet is to use that as part of a package to trade for a veteran (most rumors point to Kevin Love). Celtics fans would basically be living like it’s 2007 all over again.
Either way, it’s two very different outcomes for Rondo’s future with the Celtics. He will either be retained in a win-now scenario or dealt as part of a long-term rebuild. 

Everything that was written in February still holds true, right down to the Kevin Love rumors. But one thing has slightly changed: The Celtics should go for Love, no matter what—even if the 10 percent chance comes through and they land the No. 1 pick tonight. If it's the top pick, it's likely close to enough to land Love all by itself (and matching salaries, of course). Then the Celtics would have Rondo, who will be 28 when next season starts, and Love, who will be 26 at the start of the season.

Add in a possible trade for rim-protector Omer Asik (trade exception and a draft pick), and maybe you can lure back Paul Pierce or engage the Utah Jazz in a sign-and-trade for restricted free agent Gordon Hayward. Either way, with Love and Rondo you have a far younger core than the Celtics did in 2007-08 with the New Big Three. That's the way to go. Is it as enticing as going with a youth movement? Maybe not, but it's more than just a quick fix. If both players agree to contract extensions, they'll be locked in for years to come during their prime. So does tonight's draft lottery mean less if you're hoping to land Love no matter what? No. It's still way more valuable to have a Top-3 pick this year, and landing a pick in that range will mean giving up less in a package for Love.

But if they get the top pick, don't go ordering an Embiid Celtics' jersey just yet. Either way, it's always nice to win the lottery.

Improper Now

May the Fourth be with you

Stop by the Fourth Wall Project for their last big show before they close their doors

It’s no wonder people were pretty bummed to hear that the Fourth Wall Project would be closing its doors this spring. Over the past five years, the independent Fenway art space has hosted consistently unique performance art, live music and exhibits—most recently local artist Kenji Nakayama’s much-hyped first solo show.

We’re hoping the Fourth Wall will soon find a new home, but in the meantime we recommend stopping by the space this month to check out its last big hurrah. Trifecta: Year One is a four-day event produced by local printcollective Trifecta Editions. Featuring an exhibit of works by a host of diverse local artists, it also boasts a stacked schedule of skill shares, live drawing and painting, artist talks, a roundtable with letterpress and screen printers, live music by local bands and, likely, a lot of reminiscing about good times.

Trifecta: Year One runs May 22-25 at the Fourth Wall Project, 132 Brookline Ave., Boston, fourthwallproject.com, Free. 

 

Sound Ideas

Casino Boss

Bruce Springsteen was ready to rock in Saturday’s first of two nights at Mohegan Sun to close out a spring tour -- and he had a longtime ally back in the fold. But guitarist Steve Van Zandt, who’d missed previous dates to work on his Netflix series Lilyhammer, questioned his own stamina after a feisty duet on “Two Hearts,” asking Springsteen if he did this every night. The reply: “Every f---in’ night!”

Well, every night might not be quite as rocking as Springsteen’s kickoff to his only area stop at Connecticut's cozy Mohegan Sun Arena – or as long, at three hours and 10 minutes. But in super shape at age 64, the Boss still knows how to bring it, and then some.

He began the show with the ruminative surprise of “Racing in the Street (’78),” an alternate arrangement of that song, played solely with pianist Roy Bittan until the rest of the E Street Band joined in. Or should we say the E Street Orchestra given the 18 musicians onstage -- including five horn players (with the late Clarence Clemons' nephew Jake on tenor sax), three backup singers, four guitarists with Van Zandt, and the old backbone of bassist Garry Tallent and drummer Max Weinberg. However, that opening song – and others across the night – could have easily benefitted from a more stripped-down treatment.

Then Springsteen bore into the Clash’s “Clampdown” (with guitarist Tom Morello splitting lead vocals and the horn line adding martial drums) and “Badlands,” and the show’s high-energy pace was set – and the setlist flew off script, starting with a string of covers.  After the horns fused with Morello’s guitar on the Havalinas’ “High Hopes,” the title track of Springsteen’s latest album, the Boss counted out Eddie Floyd’s Stax-soul oldie “Raise Your Hand” and strode to a mid-floor catwalk where he even guzzled a fan’s beer before body-surfing back to the main stage. And grabbing a few request signs, a grinning Springsteen flashed a paper plate with clock hands at his bandmates, cuing the Gary “U.S.” Bonds hit “Quarter to Three” to complete a pair of rock ‘n’ soul nuggets that he’d encore with in the late ’70s.

The curves kept coming, first with a sign-requested “Stayin’ Alive,” the Bee Gees disco smash turned into a slick swamp-gospel buildup with the horn players and backup singers roaming the lower stage over a scratchy groove iced with violin.  The Boss then busted out two songs he wrote for Southside Johnny, the ballad “Hearts of Stone” and the horn-stoked “Talk to Me,” working the edge of the crowd like a charmer before rocking The River rarity “The Price You Pay.” If the first night at Mohegan lacked such epic breakouts as “Backstreets” (originally on Saturday's setlist), “Jungleland” or “Rosalita,” the heart of the set proved Springsteen and Co. were having a blast.

More crowd-pleasing fare came back-to-back in “The Promised Land” and “Prove It All Night,” which at least wielded import in its practical Springsteen credo and climaxed with guitarist Nils Lofgren spinning in place while he played a searing solo. The brooding mantra of “American Skin (41 Shots),” a condemnation of authorities shooting unarmed youths from  Amadou Diallo to Trayvon Martin, lent serious contrast -- as did the haunting “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Morello, who once recorded that Springsteen song with his band Rage Against the Machine and recut it for High Hopes, pulled out all the sonic stops Rage-style, pumping his wah-wah pedal to scratch his guitar like a DJ and even slapping the plug into his palm. His presence was quite a plus this tour.

Despite spreading the spotlight to his expanded crew, Springsteen nonetheless commanded the proceedings with his physical and personal connections to the crowd. House lights blazed through a home stretch sporting “Born to Run” (where Springsteen let fans flutter their fingers against his Telecaster as the band wound up the reprise), “Dancing in the Dark” (where he slid into the pit to slow-dance with a dazed woman) and the Isley Brothers' “Shout,” passionate to the end, when he fell to his knees as a prisoner of the “ass-kicking power of rock ‘n’ roll.” Yet that encore run began and closed solo acoustic, with New Jersey’s favorite son waxing about “Growin’ Up” and sounding as resonant as ever in voice, yet letting 10,000 voices carry verses of “Thunder Road.”

Springsteen had joked with Van Zandt about the magic when one plus one equals three rather than two, and you knew the audience was included in that equation.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

The Afghan Whigs broke through in the ‘90s with hard-edged, soulful and literate alt-rock and broke up in 2001. But the Cincinnati-bred group, led by passionate frontman Greg Dulli, reformed in 2012 and returns to the Paradise Rock Club on Friday, behind its first album in 16 years, the convincing Do to the Beast. Here’s a recent live blast of Afghan Whigs. Another middle-American band with ’90s roots, the Faint took its own recent break before its new Doom Abuse, blowing beyond its danceable synth-rock past with a neo-punk freshness that should keep Royale entertained the same night. Also, catch up with some great local bands (including Kingsley Flood, Spirit Kid, Eddie Japan, Will Dailey and Jesse Dee) at the 2104 HarpoonFest at that Boston waterfront brewery. And for a different take on Friday through Sunday at Harvard Square space Oberon, local singer/songwriter Peter Mulvey and the Crumbling Beauties recast Rain Dogs, the 1985 masterpiece where Tom Waits struck a fine balance between his sensitive lyricism and kitchen-sink abrasion. Here’s Mulvey and the combo performing one of Waits’ best-known songs from that album.

Rain’s likely on Saturday morning, but the afternoon looks clear for Radio 92.9’s 2014 Earthfest at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, peaking with an odd combination in Jamaica’s legendary Wailers (yes, once Bob Marley’s backup band) and commercial pop headliner Neon Trees, seen here in concert. Saturday night shows include Canadian indie-rockers Tokyo Police Club stirring up the Sinclair, the electronic-based Metronomy getting groovy at the Paradise, and Swans working extremes between hushed beauty and brute force at Royale; expect to hear expansive Swans workouts like this title track from new album To Be Kind. Finally, for fans up for a road trip (and lucky tickets), Bruce Springsteen closes his spring tour with the E Street Band at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun on Saturday and Sunday. He’s been especially loose with his sets of late, rotating and breaking out songs from throughout his career along with surprising covers, including this Clash gem, which benefits from having Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello along on guitar. And back on the local front Sunday, Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge serves the spunky rockabilly sounds of Kim Lenz & the Jaguars, sampled live here.

Finally, for a Thursday throwback, the Black Keys are back in the spotlight for their recent “Saturday Night Live” slot, Danger Mouse-tweaked new album Turn Blue and a show coming up at TD Garden on Sept. 21. Here’s the Akron duo back in their more roughshod blues-rock days with a 2003 club show in Austin, Texas.

Improper Now

Tickets On Sale Alert

Hot tickets for the week of May 16


Bastille play Agganis Arena on Oct. 13

ON SALE NOW

James Blake 
June 10 at the Berklee Performance Center 
$36 
Country 102.5’s Street Party Feat.: Eric Paslay, Dustin Lynch & Frankie Ballard
July 27 at the House of Blues 
$25
Barefoot Truth 
Aug. 17 at the Sinclair 
$22

ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM

Lily Allen
Sept. 20 at the House of Blues
$25-$35
The Black Keys and Cage the Elephant 
Sept. 21 at the T.D. Garden
$35-$85 
livenation.com 


The Airborne Toxic Event
Oct. 4 at the House of Blues
$25-$39.50
Bastille
Oct. 13 at Agganis Arena 
$29.50-$39.50 

Off the Bench

What History Tells Us About Tonight's Game 7

A look at do-or-die series finales in the Claude Julien era.

It’s all about seven tonight (May 14, or as some call it May 2x7) in Boston with the Bruins facing Montreal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The beauty of Claude Julien’s current seven-year reign with the Bruins is that there is plenty of history to look back on as the organization competes in the playoffs for the seventh straight year. Roster continuity has been fairly strong as a core of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and, of course, Zdeno Chara has been involved during all seven of those years. (Tuukka Rask has, too, but he’s been less of a significant factor in some seasons.) There have been eight Game 7s involving the Bruins during this modern run of success to look back at. So let’s see if any of it gives a hint as to how this game will go.

2008 – 5-0 loss at Montreal
2009 – 3-2 OT loss at Carolina
2010 – 4-3 loss vs. Philadelphia
2011 – 4-3 OT win vs. Montreal
              1-0 win vs. Tampa Bay
              4-0 win at Vancouver
2012 – 2-1 OT loss vs. Washington
2013 – 5-4 OT win vs. Toronto

The Bruins have had an overall record of 4-4, while playing in at least Game 7 each year. In games that ended in overtime, the Bruins are 2-2. The overall goal differential is also a bit of a wash, as the Bruins outscored opponents 14-7 in their four Game 7 wins, and they were outscored 14-6 in their four losses. So, in a greater-picture view of things, there’s not much to be gleaned from Claude’s Core in Game 7s.

However, if you believe in the narrative view of things, the team is 4-1 in Game 7s after they had one of the biggest choke jobs in NHL history blowing a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 Game 7 lead at home in 2010 against Philadelphia. Since then, it’s fair to say that they’ve experienced the worst, and that’s allowed them to play a bit more fearless in Game 7s. Starting in 2011, the Bruins are 4-1 in game 7s, including an overtime win against Montreal, a Stanley Cup clincher and last year’s miracle comeback against Toronto.

So, should we trust the narrative (4-1 in last five Game 7s) or the numbers (4-4, even goal differential in Game 7s during the Julien era)? It’s hard to say, but a 50/50 chance in a Montreal vs. Boston Game 7 seems like proper odds.

Jam-Packed Sports Weekend

Pats, B's, Sox and Revs all garner headlines

Remember those spring days not too long ago when all four sports teams would be “in action” on the same day? For the Patriots, it meant taking part in the NFL Draft; for the Red Sox, it was regular-season games; for the Bruins and Celtics, it was always playoff games. This year, things were a little different. The only day of the now three-day NFL Draft in which the Red Sox and Bruins were also playing was Saturday, also known as most anti-climactic day of the draft. As for the Celtics, well, they didn’t play too many big games this year, and they never had a chance of playing games in May. Nevertheless, from Thursday to this past weekend, the other three major sports teams were in the news, and there was unlikely noise from a fourth team. Here’s a quick rundown on all four: 

Boston Bruins: Something almost seems amiss if the Bruins aren’t playing with their backs against the wall in the playoffs. Trailing 2-1 in the series, they won two straight to take a 3-2 series lead. Of course, Bruins’ forward Shawn Thornton, who squirted PK Subban in the face with a water bottle, overshadowed all of this. Maybe it fires up the Habs, or maybe it’s forgotten in 24 hours.

New England Patriots: Perhaps it was a sign of the Patriots being really happy with their team before the draft this year (they signed guys like Patrick Chung and Will Smith late in free agency to fill out the roster a bit more), but they ended up with a class that could either be a big bust or a huge windfall. First-round pick Dominique Easley has Top 15 talent, but injuries from college could be a factor in the pros. Second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo might fade off the roster in the way Brian Hoyer has, and Ryan Mallett seems destined to. Offensive linemen in later rounds are hard to predict, but the Patriots have done well at that position late in the draft in the past, and took a few more this year. 

Boston Red Sox: One game above .500 without any one position player actually exceeding expectations this year, provides hope that the Red Sox have plenty of upside. Still, it’s hard not to get one of those bad feelings about this year’s team, as the bullpen and the rotation haven’t synched up too much this season (the relievers were awesome in April, but are less so in May; the opposite is true for the starters) and they’ve dropped a few heartbreakers and they took forever to get over .500 again this season. It’s too early to tell what needs they’ll even have at the trading deadline.

New England Revolution: All eyes were on the Revs as they opened the season with one win in their first four games. But they’re now riding a five-game unbeaten streak, with the latest win being a 5-0 win over the mighty Seattle Sounders. The Revs doing well in a World Cup year might really drum up a lot of interest. The only downside to that theory: None of the players were picked for the U.S. men’s team.

Impopular

Magna Carta...Holy Fail: Solange caught on camera assaulting Jay Z

TMZ released video of Solange attacking Jay Z in an elevator

It was a hard knock elevator ride for Jay Z at the Met Gala last week, when he was caught on video getting pummeled by his sister-in-law Solange.

In the super-brief, super-grainy video clip that has since effectively broken the Internet (and will likely soon be wiped from the Internet by the Beygency) Jay and Solange are seen entering the elevator, in which Beyonce is already standing, accompanied by a large bodyguard. Almost immediately, Solange starts swinging at Jay while Bey sort of just stands there looking bored. Which is probably a pretty accurate metaphor for how Beyonce looks whenever anything is happening around Beyonce that doesn't directly star Beyonce. 

The large bodyguard quickly pulls Solange (who, to her credit, has always seemed like the cooler and more interesting Knowles sister) off Jay (who, to his credit, doesn't appear to fight back in any way, past deflecting some nasty blows—and one nasty kick) while Beyonce (who, to her credit, is one unflappable customer) sort of stares off into space.

No word on what caused the brawl—though the Internet rumor mill is already grinding away at top speed—but it looks like Jay has some serious dirt to brush off his shoulder, because Solange's fists offered him a private invitation to f*ckwithheryouknowshegotit, if you see what I'm doing here. (I'm making bad Jay Z song title puns, is what I'm doing here.)

Improper Now

All Together Now

Stand-out acts at the 5th annual music fest

It’s been a long, hard winter, and for music fans, the arrival of summer signals more than balmy temperatures— it’s festival season. For kandi kids moored on the East Coast with no access to globally-attended events like the Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland, Together Boston throws a formidable party in our own backyard.

The weeklong celebration and exploration of the integration of music, art and tech, now in its fifth year, takes over Cambridge and parts of greater Boston on May 11. This year’s lineup is is stacked with more than 70 artists culled from around the globe and right here in Boston. We’ve rounded up just a few of the local and international acts that stood out from the huge list of DJs and producers – focus those good vibes and get ready to rave.

Casey Desmond (BOS)

Desmond is a true product of the DIY generation – she writes, sings and has a hand in producing all of her own music, which always begins in her built-from-scratch home studio. Her prolific creativity isn’t relegated to music alone – she also puts out original artwork, photography and clothing designs. Desmond initially put a pause on the release of her first EP for a short stint on NBC TV’s The Voice. Since her return, she’s brought her focus back to meticulously building upon her performances, where she says her heart really lies, with electric wardrobes, stunning visuals, and tripped out stage effects.

CASEY DESMOND / MAY 18 / TT THE BEAR’S PLACE, 10 BROOKLINE ST., CAMBRIDGE

Glowkids and FUSE (BOS)

Touching down from some far-off star system, interstellar DJ duo Glowkids and FUSE take spinning to the next level with multilayered performances that combine throbbing, glittery beats with psychedelic light shows and otherworldly imagery for an immersive audience experience. The duo boast that their unique aesthetics allow them to move audiences like no one else, creating something that can only be described as “full bodied” and totally out of this world.

GLOWKIDS AND FUSE / MAY 16/ RISE AFTERHOURS, 306 STUART ST., BOSTON

Major Stars (BOS)

The six-part Major Stars is a local behemoth in psych-rock, having steadily building a following since 1997 with international tours and appearances at South by Southwest in Austin and All Tomorrow’s Parties in the UK. The band’s sound is defined by murky, acid-rock sound: an assault of noise and heavy, lurching guitar that threatens to melt faces with its overwhelming presence. 

MAJOR STARS/ MAY 15 / LILY PAD, 1353  CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE

Neptune (BOS)

Their Facebook page offers up the following explanation, and no more: “Scrap steel guitars, hobo electronics, found objects.” Neptune challenges and blurs the line marking the separation between what constitutes music and what constitutes just plain noise – most notably by building all of their instruments themselves from scavenged materials and found objects. As well as guitars built from scrap metal, the inventors-cum-musicians also employ the use of custom-built drums and electric lamellophones. The result is a sound that is at once perplexing and fascinating.

NEPTUNE / MAY 18 / LILY PAD,1353 CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE

Sleep Crimes + Thrust Club (BOS)

Sleep Crimes is a female-fronted riot doom project, their room-shaking, fuzzed-out sound influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. They'll be joined onstage by Thrust Club, an unlikely all-female dance rock quartet who met at Ladies Rock Camp in 2012 and decided to keep the party going after their weekend at camp was up. The two bands will join forces as a supergroup they’ve playfully dubbed Thrust Crimes for a performance with double the drums, double the axes and double the badass girl power.

THRUST CRIMES / MAY 13 / LILY PAD, 1353 CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE

Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) (NYC)

Dante Terrell Smith aka Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey has long been in the game for longer than a lot of Together-goers have been alive. An actor and hip hop artist hailing from Brooklyn, his long, illustrious career has defined him as a leading force in the underground hip hop movement of the '90s, and he still finds success today as a solo artist, designer and actor in film and TV. Smith embodies the tenants of Together’s mission – promoting innovation in music, art, and technology – constantly challenging himself and evolving, recently evident with the reveal of his current manifestation as Yasiin in 2012.

YASIIN BEY/ MAY 15 / WILBUR THEATRE, 246 TREMONT ST., BOSTON 

Tensnake (DE)

German DJ Marco Niemerski, known professionally as Tensnake, rocketed to fame in 2010 with his track “Coma Cat,” which reached number 85 on the UK charts that year. Since then, Tensnake has captured, and held, the attention of clubbers and music aficionados alike withhis highly accessible style – a seamless coalescence of retro disco and house sound with contagious, contemporary beats. His glittery, funkadelic sound is impossible to resist, and his ability to draw thousands out to the dance floor make him a must-see at this year’s festival.

TENSNAKE / MAY 16 / BIJOU, 51 STUART ST., BOSTON

Chet Faker (AUS)

Nicholas Murphy aka Chet Faker enjoys a rare duality as a musician at the crossroads of two very different genres. Murphy is a unique artist who revels in creating acoustic tracks that are alternately organic and soulful and marked by sexy electro-dance cuts. Faker employs raw, silky vocals with flowing, mechanical beats to produce a sound that is at once both infectiously catchy and irresistibly sensual.

CHET FAKER / MAY 14 / PARADISE ROCK CLUB, 967 COMM. AVE., BOSTON

For tickets and the full lineup visit togetherboston.com

 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Spring pops with way too many shows to pick from, starting with a crazy Friday. It’s hard to live up to a monster hit like Foster the People’s 2011 earworm “Pumped Up Kicks,” but former jingle writer Mark Foster’s giving it a good shot behind new album Supermodel as his group plays a smart mainstream pairing with St. Lucia at House of Blues. But there’s also the crowd-stirring Mediterranean world beat of the Israeli outfit Balkan Beat Box at Royale while subtly riveting indie-rocker Angel Olsen casts her terse spell at the Sinclair behind her excellent latest album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness.

On the jazz front, vibist Brian O’Neill leads Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica through its exotic, global chamber music at the Regattabar on Friday, while veteran pianist Ramsey Lewis entertains the in crowd on both Friday and Saturday at Scullers. World Music/CRASHarts also keeps busy with rejuvenated old-timers as Detroit folksinger Sixto Rodriquez (subject of the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”) steps up to the Orpheum Theatre on Friday and the legendary French rocker Johnny Hallyday makes his Boston debut at the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday as part of his first bonafide U.S. tour.

Saturday’s a crowded rock field as well with Scottish post-punk pioneers Mogwai finally making it stick at House of Blues, English alt-rock upstarts the 1975 hitting Royale and the ever-intriguing EMA (aka Erika M. Anderson) at Great Scott, behind her stark, somewhat more electronic new album The Future’s Void. Then the Mavericks, led by the golden voice of Miami-born Raul Malo, ride into town on Sunday to twang and charm the Wilbur Theatre with their eclectic, individual brand of country.

Finally, for my Thursday throwback, in anticipation of Television’s return to the Paradise Rock Club on Monday, here’s a vintage clip of Tom Verlaine and the CBGBs-bred boys doing their 1977 classic “Marquee Moon.”

Improper Now

Boston Calling Summer Block Parties Kick Off Tonight

Free food, free music, booze... what's not to like?

Free is a word that always catches our attention. And, when it's affixed to words like "live music" and "party," well, we're all in.

CrashLine Productions, the people behind Boston Calling music fest (taking over City Hall Plaza, once again, this Memorial Day weekend) recently announced they'd also be behind a weekly summer block party series in Dewey Square, the first of which kicks off tonight. Did we mention that it's free?

Along with gratis eats and beer (for sale), they'll also be tapping local bands and DJs to provide the weekly tunes to eat, drink and revel to, which they'll update on their Facebook page as they slot 'em. (Got any suggestions? Post it to their page; you never know.)  

According to the Weather Channel, whose site we've been refreshing periodically throughout the day, the weather is supposed to be just fiiine for the inaugural block party, which starts tonight at 5, with music by the Swinging Johnsons. 

Improper Now

Spice Up Your Cinco de Mayo

No matter how you like to party, we've got your May 5 celebrations covered

Sometimes, when it comes to parties, how you choose to revel is a matter of taste. So, in honor of the one day of the year on which it's socially acceptable to run around town in a giant sombrero and get blasted on tequila on a weekday (a Monday no less), we've ranked your Cinco de Mayo options in terms of spice: from mild to might have to sign a waver.

MILD

Almost Margaritas at J.P. Licks

OK, this is less of a party than a tasty treat but, hey, call it a party in your mouth. J.P. Licks is unveiling two appropriately themed flavors that you can sample for the rest of the month: frozen margarita sorbet and avocado ice cream. jplicks.com

MEDIUM

Telemundo takes the Beehive

The always-buzzing South End bistro celebrates the fifth with the help of Telemundo star Veronica Robles and her mariachi band, whose music diners can enjoy while sipping tequila cocktails and digging into Mexican-inspired dishes. Food and drink are served from 5 pm to 1 am; live music s ongoing from 8 pm to midnight. Reservations are recommended.
The Beehive, 541 Tremont St., Boston | 617-423-0069 | beehiveboston.com

HOT

Score cool swag at Border Café

Why limit the fiesta to just one day? Border Café in Harvard Square starts early this evening, and extends the celebration through the weekend, for which they'll be raffling off the weird and varied items that hang from the restaurant’s ceiling. Lucky diners can score metal coolers, beach chairs or even a bike (but don't drink tequila and drive, er, pedal), and everyone can enjoy samples of Corona, Dos Equis and Jose Cuervo on Friday through Sunday.
Border Café, 32 Church St., Cambridge | 617-864-6100 | bordercafe.com

EXTRA HOT

Fajitas & ‘Ritas’ 25th Anniversary Block Party

Things heat up on Saturday as Fajitas & ‘Ritas celebrates 25years in business by barricading off West Street and the adjacent parking lot to throw an old school neighborhood block party. Read: great street food, cheap drinks, cool bands and an appearance by the Rev Girls. The 21+ fiesta from 6 to 9:30 pm.
Fajitas & ‘Ritas, 25 West St., Boston | 617-426-1222 | fajitasandritas.com

MUY CALIENTE!!

Mojitos does Cinco de Mayo

Get into the true Mexican spirit(s) at Mojitos, where you can start your night at 9 with a salsa lesson ($10), followed by a five-tequila tasting at 10 (call for price) and a margarita making class ($10) where you can enjoy your Patrón creation. Then, dance the night away while enjoying food and, um, more tequila, with drink specials. The party rages Thursday through Saturday, with the tequila tasting and margarita class offered on Friday and Saturday only. $10 cover.
Mojitos Lounge, 48 Winter St., Boston | 617-834-0552 | mojitosboston.com

Drinko de Mayo at Howl at the Moon

The dueling piano bar makes May 5th a Monday Funday with specials on Dos Equis and Jose Cuervo shots. True warriors can opt for a massive 86 ounce Mega Margarita that’s being offered for $20 (friends to share it with not included). The party kicks off at 4 pm, because, why not? 
Howl at the Moon, 184 High St., Boston | 617-292-4695 | howlatthemoon.com

__By Rima Butto

Improper Now

Tickets On Sale Alert

Hot tickets for the week of May 2

ON SALE NOW

Fork in the Road Food Truck Festival ft. Township, the Rationales, and Airport
June 14 at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
$10


Jay Z/Beyonce
July 1 at Gillette Stadium
$40.50-$254
Queens of the Stone Age
July 14 at the Providence Performing Arts Center
$39.50-$69.50
Cheap Trick
Aug. 27 at the House of Blues
$37-$49.50
Stromae
Sept. 21 at Paradise Rock Club
$25-$28
ON SALE TODAY AT NOON

The New Deal
Sept. 4 at the Royale
$25
Damon Albarn
June 9 at the Royale
$40

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

The Canadians are hitting town – and I don’t mean our hockey rivals meeting the Bruins in the playoffs. Ontario singer/producer Jessy Lanza brings her seductive electro-R&B to Great Scott on Friday. And the Tragically Hip’s Gordon Downie fronts a different band when he hits the Sinclair on Saturday with eclectic roots outfit the Sadies, supporting their lengthily named project/album Gord Downie, the Sadies, and the Conquering Sun, which still rocks with Downie’s cryptically poetic bluster.

Other alternatives include the singer Martha Redbone, who draws on her Native American culture as well as American roots and funk, in a World Music/CRASHarts show at Johnny D’s Uptown on Friday and British singer/songwriter David Gray at the Colonial Theatre on Saturday, supporting his upcoming album Mutineers.

Fred Taylor’s a pioneering music impresario, from running legendary twin clubs Paul’s Mall and the Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street in the ‘70s to his booking of Scullers Jazz Club for most of its’ 25-year run. Several artists who he’s supported through the years, including Rebecca Parris and Grace Kelly, are expected to perform at Scullers on Sunday starting at 4 p.m. when the non-profit JazzBoston honors Taylor with the Roy Haynes Award, named after our town’s revered jazz drummer. And back, on the rock front, the scrappy Kentucky indie-pop band Cage the Elephant have grown into a hit-maker with tracks like the catchy “Take It or Leave It,” graduating to the Orpheum Theatre as a headliner over Foals.

Finally, for a Thursday Throwback, with Jimmy Page receiving one of Berklee's honorary doctorates and giving the Commencement address on May 9, here's vintage magic from the guitarist's Led Zeppelin supernova on Danish TV in 1969.

B's hold hope in one-sided rivalry

How history in Montreal-Boston matchups isn't as one-sided as it seems.

Tuuka Rask v. Carey Price. Diving. Special teams play. And the looming possibility that the Bruins could have to beat four of the other five Original Six teams to win the Stanley Cup. Yup, there’s a number of Bruins-Canadiens storylines to watch for in the best-of-seven series that starts today, but the one that just about every sports fan will think of first is the storied rivalry.

It’s more than obvious that the results of a playoff series in 1929 will have nothing to do with how this year’s series turns out, but the 33 previous times these two organizations met in the playoffs has colored the fans’ expectations of how this series will turn out. Montreal v. Boston—or in the eyes of many, Montreal over Boston—is one of the defining rivalries in sports. Is it a “tired” storyline? Maybe, but the rivalry shapes how the fans watch the game. For some longtime Bruins’ fans, they can’t shake the feeling of Montreal dominance, no matter what the most recent results have been. But is that feeling of getting screwed over by the Canadiens actually a reality for Bruins fans?

The Canadiens won 18 straight playoff series between the teams, dating from 1946 to 1987, but during that streak of dominance, the Canadiens had the better regular-season record in 16 of those seasons. Basing playoff expectations on regular-season results, the Bruins were only “upset” by Montreal in 1971 and 1984. Sure, the baby boomer B’s fans can recall the Canadiens beating their favorite team far too many times, but they should have expected that result most years. Montreal has won 24 playoff series against Boston, while the Bruins have won nine. Of those nine series wins, the Bruins have “upset” Montreal on three occasions (1929, you remember that one, Pops, right? 1988 and 1992). Of Montreal’s 24 series wins, six were “upsets,” including the aforementioned ’71 and ’84 as well as 1930, 1931, 2002 and 2004. Putting aside all series from before FDR’s administration, Montreal has exceeded expectations four times against Boston, while the Bruins have exceeded expectations twice. For hockey fans under 30, the 2002 series when the Bruins were Presidents Trophy winners (much like this year) playing the 8th-seeded Canadiens still stings. As does the 2004 collapse from the 2nd-seeded Bruins, leading three-games-to-one against the 7th-seeded Habs. But overall in this rivalry, the team that is supposed to win (based on regular-season records) ends up winning the playoff series 73 percent of the time. In the past 80 years of playoff series, that number jumps to 80 percent. For Bruins’ fans, being able to expect the expected should give fans a little extra comfort. 

For the record:

1929 - Bruins win, Canadiens had better record

1930 - Canadiens win, Bruins had better record

1931 - Canadiens win, Bruins had better record

1943 - Bruins win AND had better record

1946 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1947 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1952 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1953 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1954 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1955 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1957 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1958 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1968 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1969 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1971 - Canadiens win, Bruins had better record

1977 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1978 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1979 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1984 - Canadiens win, Bruins had better record

1985 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1986 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1987 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1988 - Bruins win, Canadiens had better record

1989 - Canadiens win AND had better record

1990 - Bruins win AND had better record

1991 - Bruins win AND had better record

1992 - Bruins win, Canadiens had better record

1994 - Bruins win AND had better record

2002 - Canadiens win, Bruins had better record

2004 - Canadiens win, Bruins had better record

2008 - Canadiens win AND had better record

2009 - Bruins win AND had better record

2011 - Bruins win AND had better record

Improper Now

Push it again: Salt-N-Pepa are playing Phantom Gourmet Fest

You read that right. The '90s hip-hop act are getting down in Boston.

We have just one word for you: SHOOP. OK, we have a few more than that.

According to a press release that just made its way into our collective inboxes "throwback hip-hop sensations Salt-N-Pepa will reunite and take the stage at City Hall Plaza for Phantom Gourmet’s BBQ & Music Festival" on June 20.

Throwback is right. We now have "What a Man" spinning on repeat at the Improper HQ (fun fact: related artists on Spotify include Rob Base, Kris Kross and Vanilla Ice — we are officially having ourselves a dance party down memory lane) and, as we remembered, it's pretty awesome. 

If someone starts a Kickstarter to get Vanilla Ice to cameo at this thing, you couldn't keep us away with a 10-foot-bleached blonde hair spike. 

Impopular

Top Chef to film Season 12 in Boston

Bravo show to get things cooking right here in town

Chefs, pack your knives and go... to Boston. It turns out the rumors are true! According to a post on Bravo's blog this morning, season 12 of the critically acclaimed Top Chef will indeed be shooting here in Boston.

To which we say: it's about time. Boston has quietly but steadily been proving itself as a culinary powerhouse, with talent aplenty and enough diversity to rival, say, one island of note. (See: newcomers like Alden & Harlow and Merrill & Co., for example.)

Contrary to what Buzzfeed listicles about Boston compiled by someone who is 100 percent not from Boston would lead the world to believe, our food scene is not just about chowdah and Dunkies. Also, if we could call a moratorium on ever using the words "chowdah" and "Dunkies" ever again, that would be great. Thanks, kehd. 

No word yet on when exactly the new season will begin filming, though Bravo has confirmed that Padma, Tom and the gang will start production this spring. Which, contrary to what the weather would have you believe, is right about now.

Stay tuned for details, we know you're hungry for them. 

Improper Now

A Stitch in Time

Hand-painted neon, pastel, or with polka dots and gold leaf, these 16” buttons don’t exactly fit on a coat. But they do capture our city’s past—and future. Though Fort Point was an industrial center in the 1830s, today the waterfront neighborhood is a modern hub of upscale restaurants, condos, galleries and boutiques. Its creative culture attracts people like Ari Hauben—a multimedia artist and high school art teacher—who wanted to open a gallery with his brother Seth, engineer Will Rusin and industrial designer Craig Rubino. Hauben brainstormed the buttons after acquiring an old building to use as an exhibition space. After digging through vintage photographs in the library archives, Hauben realized the building was once the Boston Button Co., a button manufacturer that dismantled in 1872. Hauben paid homage to history by naming the space the Boston Button Factory and making, you guessed it, big button art pieces. His exhibit “Button Up,” which opens April 26, features 100-150 buttons and doubles as the Factory’s first public unveiling. Industry meets art at the Boston Button Factory Thursdays and Saturdays through May 29.

-Elissa Bernstein

Sound Ideas

Goddamn Winners

Even after the Goddamn Draculas were announced as the winner of the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, it was hard to tell which band was champion on the crowded, champagne-soaked stage at T.T. the Bear’s Place.

No one immediately stepped forward to accept the tackily decorated crown. Await Rescue frontman John Cutulle sat with a grin at the drum stool, where he’d played rimshots to accent the praise heaped on organizer Anngelle Wood. The Draculas' singer/guitarist Chris Duggan was dancing with friends at the back of the stage. And when his bandmate J.R. Roach finally donned the crown as if by default, fellow drummer Lauren “LoWreck” Recchia playfully jumped up to wrap her legs around him in a celebratory hug. Only she was a member of runner-up Petty Morals, whose singer Tai Heatley also was dancing at the edge of the stage.

Sure, the Goddamn Draculas got the nod from Friday’s judges for their tight, boisterous set of jet-turbine rock, capped by Duggan climbing on someone’s shoulders to part the crowd and hop onto the bar, where he had liquor poured into his mouth. But Petty Morals still stood out as a six-woman juggernaut, casually mashing synth-rock and garage-punk into infectious pop with joyful pluck, setting the night’s tone by sharing “friendship” badges with their competitors. They also gave a shout-out to Feints singer Amy Douglas, who pulled out of the Rumble semi-finals on doctor’s orders to rest her voice. And while the gimmick-free Await Rescue felt short in Friday’s field, the band roared with grungy muscle and steely melodicism.

If there’s a Rumble curse (the perception that most Rumble winners fare worse than the losers), the Draculas represent as an aptly named outfit. The real winners of the Rumble were all 24 bands who were tapped to share their music and sweat before enthusiastic fans old and new, culminating in an advance sellout for the finals. How fitting, in turn, that Friday’s guest act during the ballot-counting wasn’t an out-of-town headliner but the Information, a 2004 Rumble semi-finalist reunited for the occasion. If you look at Boston rock history over the past 35 years, you can use the Rumble as a timeline to plot many of the city’s great bands, ones that realized it’s not who wins or loses, but who enjoys the game.

Improper Now

Welcome to your weekend

Nerd fests, scavenger hunts, free music and more!

SATURDAY


3rd Annual Laffenhaus Beer & Comedy Festival

Forget food—beer is best paired with comedy! Sip icy brews while enjoying performances by funny people at this Improv Asylum-presented, 21+ beer tasting and comedy show. The festival runs 1–4 pm, $40-$50.
LaughBoston at the Westin Boston Waterfront, 125 Summer St., Boston | 617-263-6887 | improvasylum.com

7th Annual Bookish Ball and Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration

Enjoy Shakespearean performances, bookstores, the Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, and free cake in Harvard Square! The Bard;s birthday bash kicks off at 2 pm.
Winthrop Park, JFK and Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge | 617-491-3434 | harvardsquare.com

Berklee Spring Fest

This free public concert runs all day and features Berklee bands about to make it big. Listen to local talent like Irma Seleman, whoseR&B/soul sounds evoke Mary J. Blige, and Robert Gould, the soulful singer who performed the national anthem at last week’s Red Sox game. Soon, you'll be able to see you saw them "way back when."
Boylston Plaza, 800 Boylston St., Boston | 617-747-2560 | facebook.com/berkleespringfest

SciFest Block Party & After Party

Geek out at this free street-wide bash, which includes half price admission to Brooklyn Boulders, tours of Artisan’s Asylum and Greentown Labs, and circus aerial art workshops. Afterwards, join the 21+ crowd at the after-party hosted at the new Aeronaut brewery. The block party runs 12-4 pm; the after-party runs 4-6 pm.
Tyler St., Somerville | cambridgesciencefestival.org

SUNDAY

Victory Programs’ Dinnerfest Party + Auction

Nibble hors d’oeuvres and order a glass of wine at this dinner/auction night, which includes restaurant packages to 100+ acclaimed Boston eateries like Mistral and L’Espalier. The party runs from 3–6 pm, tickets are $70, $60 at the door. All proceeds benefit Victory Programs.
Red Lantern Restaurant, 39 Stanhope St., Boston | 617-541-0222 | vpi.org

Scavenge the Square: Central

Explore Central Square’s nooks and crannies while winning prizes from a local businesses—like Harvest Co-op and Danger!Awesome—in this free scavenger hunt, which begins in Lafayette Square and ends at the Phoenix Landing. GAME ON. 3-5 pm.
Lafayette Square, Cambridge | facebook.com/CambrivilleConnects

__By Elissa Bernstein

Impopular

A zonkey is a real thing

And it is as cute as it sounds

There are times when playing God is a dangerous game. Like right-wing crazies condemning strangers to burn in eternal hellfire for their lifestyles, for example.

Then, there are times when playing God is an adorable game in which everyone wins. This is one of those times.

Because it is Friday, and because when we stumbled across this on our ventures through the Interwebz this afternoon we sort of squealed at our desks a little, we present: A ZONKEY.

This is a totally real and not manufactured by Dr. Seuss thing that just happened. A zoo in Mexico bred a donkey and a zebra. The fruits of that rare union was just born, and its name is Khumba, and it is one of the very, very few of its kind.

But hopefully not the last. Because, did we mention that it is adorable? Refer to the above video for your Friday afternoon dose of feels. You're welcome.

Culture Shack

Cali Comforts

Midcentury California design hits the Peabody Essex Museum

Mad Men’s California sojourns have been a bit of a downer. A sunnier take on the state at midcentury waits at the Peabody Essex Museum in California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way. On view through July 6, the exhibit features 250-plus objects—a sleek 1964 Studebaker Avanti, bathing suits made from parachute silk, an ice crusher that looks like a weapon wielded by a comic book hero, early Barbie dolls, cheery ceramics, clean-lined furniture and other mementos of movements that aimed to democratize design, uniting craft and mass production. We tapped curator Austen Barron Bailly for insight into a few of the exhibit’s furnishings—and an ideal of beautiful, comfortable living that resonated far beyond the Golden State.

This plywood pachyderm designed by Charles and Ray Eames may be a charming toy, but it owes its existence to war. California was at the forefront of defense manufacturing, and the molded plywood techniques the Eames developed while designing lightweight leg splints for the Navy during WWII later featured in their famed chairs and this 1945 piece. “To appropriate what had been war materials to the home and ordinary life was a huge goal,” Bailly says.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

“There was this popular syndicated columnist, Eugenia Sheppard,” Bailly says, “and she wrote that the cocktail table was the heart, soul and center of the home, the one piece of furniture that a housewife might splurge on.” This multifunctional specimen circa 1950 certainly seems worth a splurge. Designed by Milo Baughman, it’s equipped with compartments for cigarettes, magazines and even a planter.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


“One of the things about the mindset of Californians,” Bailly says, “was the freedom to experiment and embrace different influences,” notably from Latin America and Asia. Consider this 1968 Lotus Chair designed by Miller Yee Fong for Tropi-Cal, known for sculptural, pool-deck-ready rattan furniture. As Bailly puts it, “The indoor/outdoor living, the color, the texture, the kind of informality and casual glamour really is what distinguishes the notion of California modern.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Richard Neutra, Kaufmann House, Palm Springs, 1946. Photo by Julius Shulman, 1947. Getty Research Institute. © J. Paul Getty Trust . Used with permission. Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library at the Getty Research Institute (2004.R.10); Charles Eames and Ray Eames. Molded Plywood Division, Evans Products Company (Venice, 1943-47). Elephant, 1945. Eames Collection, LLC. © The Eames Foundation. Courtesy Eames Office LLC (eamesoffice.com); Cocktail Table, circa 1950. Collection of Jill Grey. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA; Lotus Chair, 1968. Manufactured in Hong Kong. Gift of Fong Brothers Co. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA. 

 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Who’ll win the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble? We’ll know on Friday after the three remaining bands rock out in the Rumble Finals at T.T. the Bear’s Place (and while the Information plays a closing guest set). My odd-on favorite remains Petty Morals, the spunky all-woman sextet that transcends its Go-Go’s-in-black vibe with its giddy love for synth-rock and punk-pop. But that’s also because the other two bands come off as high-testosterone blasters.  Wild card Await Rescue summons its thick, tuneful sound in a post-Soundgarden vein, distinguished by John Cutulle’s hoarse howl. And the Goddamn Draculas loudly won its semi-final night with streamlined muscle and a sense of humor, starting with monogrammed shirts that jointly spelled “We Came to Suck.” Still surprised that Tigerman WOAH! didn’t make the Final round, but that’s the Rumble. You never know who’ll triumph.

If you get shut out of the Rumble, move next door, where Mean Creek rocks the Middle East Downstairs, celebrating its new EP Local Losers, where singers Chris Keane and Aurore Ounjian crank their guitars like they’ve just gotten a fresh fix from their old Replacements albums.  Or step up to the Paradise Rock Club, where singer/songwriters Aimee Mann and Ted Leo merge their respective pop and punk instincts into the melodic crunch of their surprisingly simpatico band the Both, which also covers Mann's old Rumble-winning band.

Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider conjures long-form pieces that sonically recall some of fellow Midwesterner Pat Metheny’s in the way they sound both complex and natural. Except that Schneider gracefully brings them to life old-school with her longtime orchestra, which she’ll conduct in a Celebrity Series concert at the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday. She’s also a fierce protector of artist’s proprietary rights in the digital age, even fighting unauthorized use of her work on YouTube, though you can find some clips of Schneider's group in action. You can also jump to my recent interview with Schneider here. In a similar sphere the same night, Mark Harvey also directs his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra in a free program at MIT's Kresge Auditorium that includes official Jazz Week unity song “No Walls,” Sun Ra tribute “Spaceways” and the world premiere of “Commemoration (Boston 2013), an homage to victims and survivors of the Marathon tragedy.

Finally, for my Thursday throwback, I did mention the Replacements, and in honor of that band (without original drummer Chris Mars but with our Neighborhoods guitarist Dave Minehan aboard) playing the September edition of Boston Calling, here’s a roaring early clip from 1981.

Improper Now

Tickets On Sale Alert

Hot tickets for the week of April 25

Modern Baseball play the Middle East on June 7

ON SALE NOW

Modern Baseball
With Tiny Moving Parts, The Hotelier + Sorority Noise
June 7 at the Middle East Upstairs
$12
boweryboston.com

Andy Grammer
June 25 at the House of Blues
$18.50-$33.50
livenation.com

ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM

Maxwell
July 12 at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
$34.50-$90
livenation.com

Kings of Leon
With Young the Giant + Kongos
Aug. 9 at the Xfinity Center
$29.50-$69.50
livenation.com

Ed Sheeran
Sept. 9 at the Xfinity Center
$22-$52
livenation.com

ON SALE FRIDAY AT NOON

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls [Boston Calling after-show]
With Rebuilder
May 25 at the Sinclair
$30
boweryboston.com

De La Soul
July 17 at Paradise Rock Club
$25-$30
ticketmaster.com

Presidents of the United States of America
Aug. 9 at Paradise Rock Club
$25-$30
ticketmaster.com

Echo & the Bunnymen
Aug. 14 at Paradise Rock Club
$29.50
ticketmaster.com

ON SALE FRIDAY AT 4:20 PM

Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy, Tyga + more
Aug. 2 at the Xfinity Center
$27.50-$72.75
livenation.com

ON SALE MONDAY AT 10 AM

Boston Calling ft. The National, Lorde, The Replacements,
Nas x The Roots, Neutral Milk Hotel + more
Sept. 5-7 at City Hall Plaza
$100-$250
boweryboston.com

Sound Ideas

Calling up to the Majors

Before City Hall Plaza rocks Memorial Day weekend with the likes of Jack Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, the Decemberists and Modest Mouse, Boston Calling has announced the Sept. 5-7 lineup for its second downtown festival of the season – and of the four held so far, it’s the best edition yet.

Grammy-winning pop avatar Lorde joins the Replacements (in their first Boston show since 1991), and the National (whose Aaron Dessner curates Boston Calling) to headline the end-of-summer event at City Hall Plaza. Other acts include Neutral Milk Hotel, the Roots (both alone and collaborating with Nas), Childish Gambino, Spoon, Girl Talk, the Hold Steady, the 1975, Lake Street Dive, the War on Drugs, Sky Ferriera, White Denim, Future Islands and our own Gentlemen Hall. Early bird tickets go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. bostoncalling.com.

This caps what’s shaping up as a particularly rocking festival summer. The Green River Festival at Greenfield Community College has announced a July 12-13 slate that includes Josh Ritter, Trombone Shorty, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and the Lone Bellow as well as several acts including Lucius, Trampled by Turtles and Hooray for the Riff Raff that also play the mostly long sold-out July 25-27 Newport Folk Festival, which has also added such artists as Kurt Vile, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Jimmy Cliff (there’s also the Aug. 1-3 Newport Jazz Festival, which ranges from John Zorn’s Masada to Wynton Marsalis and Dr. John). There’s also the July 31 to Aug. 3 Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, Conn., with Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, Disco Biscuits and Ziggy Marley. Now there's even an Aug. 2-3 inaugural Nantucket Music Festival headed by Guster, Bruce Hornsby and Steel Pulse. Start your engines.

Improper Now

Welcome to your weekend

Rumble semi-finals, Lou Reed pizza covers, Marathon parties and more.

Panama Wedding play the Sinclair Friday

FRIDAY

Rock ‘n’ Rumble Semi-Finals

Let's get ready to...keep on rumbling. The 35th annual Rock ‘n’ Rumble rages on with night two of the semi-finals tonight, with so-far-victorious bands Goddamn Draculas, Tigerman WOAH, Feints and Barricades vying for a spot in the finals... and plenty of bragging rights. Catch some or all of the action at T.T. the Bear’s Place this Friday. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
T.T. the Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge, 617-492-0082

Panama Wedding 

Long Island native Peter Kirk has come a long way from working 11-hour days and performing for one-person audiences. The solo artist, who recently inked a deal with Glassnote Records, unveiled his new band, Panama Wedding, at SXSW, generating all kinds of buzz with their hit single “All of the People." Their uptempo, sunny sound recalls equal parts Peter Gabriel, Vampire Weekend and a little something all their own. Feel the love when they open for Dan Croll at the Sinclair tonight. Doors at 8, show at 9 p.m. Tickets $15.
The Sinclair, 52 Church St., Boston, 617-547-5200

SATURDAY

The Pizza Underground

Macaulay Culkin has come a long, weird way from battling bumbling home invaders in Home Alone. More than two decades later, the actor is now a kazoo player and drummer (if you consider a pizza box a drum kit) in the Pizza Underground, a pizza-themed, Velvet Underground tribute band. Pretty sure you have to see/hear this to believe/fathom it. Get a preview with our recent interview before heading over to Church for the show. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets cost $15. (Maybe that ticket price will even include a slice or two)
Church, 69 Kilmarnock Street, Boston, 617.236.7600

International Record Store Day

Every April, indie record stores across the globe prepare for RSD with sonic treats including limited-edition releases and special artist appearances, signings and shows. Recordheads should stop by Newbury Comics or Nuggets Records this Saturday to embrace the fact that some fan over in Germany is also smiling ear to ear when he snags that rare EP out of the bin. 

SUNDAY

Boston Marathon Pasta Dinner

If you can’t run like a marathoner, at least you can eat like one. On Sunday night, mingle with runners, family, friends and spectators while you overload on a buffet of penne marinara, four cheese baked rigatoni and Toblerone chocolate. The carb overload is the perfect preparation for a day of running or, for most of us, a day of drinking. The Boston Athletic Association’s dinner runs this Sunday from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at Boston’s City Hall. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance.
Boston City Hall, 1 City Hall Ave., Boston, 617-635-4000

Midnight Marathon Bike Ride

We're pretty sure the only thing that could get us through a 26.2 mile, midnight bike ride is the promise of a towering stack of pancakes at the end of it. (Face it, you can often find us chowing down on pancakes at 1 am anyway.) If you can’t physically run the marathon route, bike the miles instead, alongside 1,000 other cyclists at the sixth annual Midnight Marathon bike ride. The friendly ride begins in Southborough at midnight, finishes up on Boylston Street, and tops off with a pancake after-party at Boston Common Coffee Co. until the T opens in the early morning. At that point, you may as well stick around to cheer on the runners. Registration is free and the race begins at midnight.
Boston Common Coffee Co., 515 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-0595

Final Mile Drinks

Embrace your lack of athleticism (we're right there with you) and sip cocktails while watching other, heartier folks finish up the marathon at mile 26. Positioned right in the middle of the marathon’s final mile, Eastern Standard’s window and patio seating offers front row spots without the chaos of Kenmore Square. With a strict 90-minute table rotation, the restaurant staff optimizes how many diners can enjoy the view. Get there early and snag a seat, and enjoy some specialty cocktails, beer and wine on Monday morning.
Eastern Standard, 528 Comm. Ave., Boston, 617-532-9100

__By Frankie Barbato

 

 


Celtics Player Power Rankings - Season-Ending Edition

From Rondo to Wallace … and Everyone In Between

There was a time 20 years ago, when the Celtics missed the playoffs for the first time since Larry Bird began playing, that they gave out shirts to all the fans for being “the best fans in the world.” That motto was repeated a lot as the Celtics closed out a losing season on Wednesday. In those 20 years, the Celtics have now gone through three of these “rebuild and hope for a good draft pick” seasons. It’s fair to say that fans know how it goes now. We’ve been ranking players all season at The Improper based upon their salary and on-court value. In a season in which the main goal was about collecting and improving assets, we looked at each player and his salary to come up with the season-ending player ranking:

1. Rajon Rondo – The Celtics guard returned nearly one year to the day after tearing his ACL (an injury that he played through in the fourth quarter of a game last year). The results were up-and-down. By the end of the season, he looked more explosive to the hoop and he did have double-digit assist totals in 8 of his final 10 games. It’s hard to overlook, however, that the team was 6-24 in games he played this season and that a lot of the problems with closing out games stemmed from Rondo having to direct end-of-game situations, as opposed to just giving the ball to Paul Pierce and clearing out. His only public off-court transgression came from skipping the flight to Sacramento, a move that marred what was by all accounts a step-forward season from Rondo as a leader. He’s got one season left on a submarket deal, so the Celtics will need to make a decision whether to put veteran talent around their point-guard leader, or trade him away before he hit free agency. With a salary-cap hit of only $11 million, this offseason is the best time to pair a high-priced veteran with him and fit under the cap. Soon, he’ll be making nearly $20 million a year.

2. Jared Sullinger – The second-year player was asked to shoulder a lot of the load for this Celtics season and he flashed plenty of promise. As is befitting of a player who had logged only half a season of play, he was at times inconsistent. Asked to develop a 3-point shot, he put up 208 tries from behind the arc, making 27 percent of them. It’s not a “don’t ever shoot” percentage, but more of a “work on this more” mandate. After a January stretch of seven straight games in double-digit points, he only had 16 points in the next three games. Sullinger, who showed up looking physically fit in October, was a little rounder by the end of the season as well. Effort, weight and consistency seem to be the three things that could push Sullinger to an All-Star level. With plenty of quality power forwards in the league, Sullinger could also be easily replaced or upgraded—perhaps as part of a larger offseason trade. There’s no denying he has plenty of value.

3. Kelly Olynyk – If you look up “late-season improvement,” you might find Olynyk’s picture. Or you might find it next to “garbage-time improvement.” It’s hard to figure whether Olynyk’s average of 26 points in the final three games of the season represented true improvement or was a matter of getting extended minutes with a lineup that had few scoring options. It’s likely a little bit of both, with a lot of “small sample size.” Still, he consistently improved, and while he will never be a plus-defender, he showed a deft passing touch. Coming from a rookie class with little All-Star potential, he might be one of the few standouts three years from now.

4. Jeff Green – A scorer by trade, Green scored in double-digits in 68 games this year, but it’s those 14 games when he didn’t that has left many fans scratching their heads. Making $9 million a year, but with an opt-out after next season, he’s likely paid the exact salary he should be. The salary of someone who is a fourth or fifth best player on championship team. As the most consistent offensive threat this season, however, he struggled. It remains to be seen what Green’s worth is across the NBA, but he is a candidate to be dealt this offseason.

5. Avery Bradley (RFA) – The Celtics get the right to match any offer on Bradley this offseason. Based upon the tepid restricted free-agent market last season, he likely will re-sign with Boston. The oft-injured guard was exactly as advertised this year. He was streaky offensively, coming into his own later in the year, while being the best defensive player on the team. And he missed 22 games. He is a legitimate NBA starter and coming back on a 4-year, $24 million salary would make sense for the Celtics.

6. Brandon Bass – The Red Auerbach Award winner played every game this season and gave the Celtics consistent two-way production. Another free agent after next season, he’s due to make $7 million in 2014-15. That’s an overpay for a rebuilding team, but for a contender looking for a third or fourth big man, he could be worth it in return for some dead salary.

7. Phil Pressey – The Celtics have had a fair share of undrafted/late second-round point guards during Danny Ainge’s tenure (Lester Hudson, Orien Greene), but Pressey stood out during his rookie campaign as a solid passer and defender. Part of it was being given the backup PG role all season, but if you close your eyes you can see Pressey as a longtime backup PG in this league. And the Celtics have him for two more nonguaranteed years.

8. Keith Bogans – A veteran who was upset at being kept on the bench, he was sent home midseason. So why is he high up on this list? His $5 million nonguaranteed deal. To make salaries match, he can be paired in a trade with someone like Brandon Bass or Jeff Green and be cut to offer salary relief for the receiving team. He could be the final part to a trade for Omer Asik or restricted free agent Gordon Hayward.

9. Kris Humphries (UFA) – Humphries will likely bolt in free agency to play for a contending team, but a shout out goes to a guy who seemed not only like a throw-in to the Brooklyn Nets trade, but also somebody who might not be a great fit in the locker room. That storyline was wrong, as Humphries consistently brought the energy of a guy who was hungry to prove critics wrong. Depending upon how quickly the Celtics plan to rebuild, he might be worth bringing back at a lesser salary.

10. Chris Johnson – The 23-year-old swingman was chucking up 3-pointers for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers when the Celtics signed him to a 10-day contract in January. His energy and sporadic bursts of offense helped him avoid DNPs, while his long-distance accuracy proved useful. Johnson is signed for three more nonguaranteed years, so he could be packaged in a trade to offer the same type of relief as Bogans.

11. Vitor Faverani – Do you realize that “Skinny Sinbad” started the season opener? And had a double-double in the home opener? There’s no doubt that Danny Ainge went through hoops to get the 25-year-old Brazilian on the roster, but he showed an inconsistent effort and poor defense before he was sidelined by injury. He will be paid $2 million a year for the next two years.

12. Chris Babb – Babb, by all accounts, provided a nice energy and spark to the Celtics’ practices. He got very little playing time, however, and he was one of those nonguaranteed deals that Johnson and Bogans have. If he’s not traded, he will have to earn his way onto the team in training camp.

13. Jerry Bayless (UFA) – Bayless provided that offensive spark that the Celtics have been missing since Nate Robinson was traded. While he was a better locker-room influence than Robinson, he also had the same inconsistency. And when the shots weren’t falling, he was a liability on the court. He will likely be playing elsewhere next season, but he did provide some excitement in his short stint here.

14. Joel Anthony – Why the Celtics picked up Anthony in return for Jordan Crawford (and some paltry second-round picks) remains a bit of a puzzler since Anthony will likely opt-into his contract next year and pick up a salary near $4 million. He only played 18 games, and at one point, you could argue the Celtics might’ve been trying to freeze him out so he didn’t want to play here next year, even if it meant giving up guaranteed money. But recent news reports indicate he’s returning.

15. Gerald Wallace – It was a rough off-court start for Wallace, who was M.I.A. in the offseason after being traded from Brooklyn. He then proceeded to chew out his teammates to the media on multiple occasions until he was told to shut his trap. He provided effort on every occasion, but he also provided signs that he’s a long way from his days as an All-Star. Two years, $20 million for the guy whose season was ended by injuries. Swallow hard Celtics’ fans. The first of three first-rounders from the Nets comes this season.

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

You want anchovies with that? A wide plate of options awaits your concert-going weekend, from Boy George to a band with Mccauley Culkin that does pizza-themed covers of the Velvet Underground.

In addition to rounding out the second straight night of semi-finals in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble at T.T. the Bear’s Place, Friday kicks off the weekend with a Latin-tinged flair in the spicy, experimental dance-funk of the Venezuelan group Los Amigos Invisibles at the Paradise Rock Club and the alt-rock verve of famed Texas troubadour Alejandro Escovedo and his Sensitive Boys at the Brighton Music Hall. (Escovedo then moves down to the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on Saturday).

Saturday offers four other distinctly different experiences. Ex-Culture Club frontman and ’80s celebrity Boy George has regained his soulful footing to croon at Royale, while indie-rockers We Are Scientists carry on at the Brighton Music Hall. And self-described “flower punk” rockers the Black Lips stir up the Paradise, even if the Atlanta band no longer engages in the destructive stage behavior of their earlier days. There is, however, word that the Lips will be bringing a scent machine to provide an appropriate aroma for the show. Still, the weekend’s oddest event belongs to former “Home Alone” child star Culkin singing about slices with his Pizza Underground cohorts in the quaint confines of Church in the Fenway. What would Lou Reed think?

Alas, for my Thursday throwback, I bow to the mighty AC/DC, whose rhythm guitarist and songwriter Malcolm Young has taken leave from the band due to illness (reportedly a stroke that has left him unable to play). And play he has for 40 years, as the driving riff engine behind younger brother Angus’ lead guitar antics, seen here in the exhausting momentum of “Let There Be Rock” at England’s Castle Donington in 1991. Supposedly, AC/DC will soldier on without him in the studio next month, though it seems less likely that the band will tour without him. Granted, the band’s biggest album – Back in Black – came after Brian Johnson replaced original lead singer Bon Scott, the above video includes replacement drummer Chris Slade, and even Malcolm’s spot was filled on a 1988 tour by nephew Stevie Young. But it’s going to be hard to replace Malcolm’s heart and soul.

Improper Now

Tickets On Sale Alert

Hot tickets for the week of April 18

The Kills play the Paradise on July 8

ON SALE NOW

O.A.R. and Phillip Phillips
July 10 at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion 
$45.50-90.70
livenation.com

Justin Timberlake 
Dec. 13 at Mohegan Sun Arena 
$75-$195
mohegansun.com

ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM

Darius Rucker

Sept. 12 at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
$51.85-$90.70
livenation.com

ON SALE FRIDAY AT NOON

Howie Day
June 14 at the Sinclair
$22-$25
boweryboston.com

Alice Smith
June 26 at Brighton Music Hall
$25
crossroadspresents.com

The Kills
July 8 at Paradise Rock Club
$33
crossroadspresents.com

!!!
Aug. 1 at Great Scott
$18
boweryboston.com

Q&A: Being Craig Breslow

The Red Sox reliever muses on the "smart guy" label, the MCATs and pediatric cancer.

Craig Breslow, 33, is one of the few pitchers who is a legitimate threat every year to have an ERA lower than his IQ. The Red Sox reliever and Yale graduate has thrived out of the bullpen, posting one of his best seasons last year in Boston’s run to a World Series championship. A Connecticut native, Breslow started the Strike 3 Foundation, which provides money for pediatric cancer research and will hold Sip Happens May 19 at the Boston Children’s Museum. The Improper Bostonian is one sponsor of the food and wine tasting, which still has tickets available. Breslow talked with The Improper about “smart guy” labels, studying for the MCATs and his connection to pediatric cancer.

Matt Martinelli: You’ve had a bit of job security the past few years, which is hard to come by as a reliever. How does that compare to when you first started out?
Craig Breslow: Last year was the first year I had a multi-year deal. Knowing where you’ll be more than one year in advance is the biggest thing for me. The commitment they made to me. It was a great thing for me, especially it being so close to my home.

Did the proximity to home make it easier to re-sign here?
It’s obviously nice to pay closer to home. Your family and friends have an opportunity to see more games, but the biggest factor to me re-signing was the two-year commitment, along with the chance to win. The Red Sox ownership is going to put together the best team they can possibly field. At the trade deadline last year, they saw an opportunity to secure an upper-tier starting pitcher in Jake Peavy, and there was no hesitation to go out and get him. The confidence in knowing that year in, year out, they’re committed and they’re going to make an effort to win the World Series is the most attractive thing about it.

You’ve gotten a lot of accolades for being the smartest guy in baseball. Do teammates try to stump you?
I wouldn’t say stump so much as if there’s a question, it invariably filters back to me, even if it’s a topic of which I have no idea.

You played for Billy Beane—would you say you’re smarter than him?
Until my playing days are over, or until my baseball career is over, even sometime after playing, I don’t think I’ll answer that. Billy is a very, very sharp guy. I learned a lot while playing for him. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the job he’s able to do, even with limited resources. I don’t believe that the adulation and admiration that he garners is unfounded.

Does the “smart guy” tag get annoying at all? Does it make people overlook your talent?
It never gets annoying. Ultimately, being called smart is a compliment, and being complimented that much is never an insult, especially when you consider how quickly celebrities and professional athletes get criticized. But certainly, I feel like there are times when my accomplishments on the field have warranted more attention than they’ve gotten. So, I’ve kind of made a commitment to my teammates when I step in the clubhouse that I’m going to be the best baseball player I can be. I think as my career has unfolded, there’s really been a shift from: Here’s a really smart guy who plays baseball to here’s a guy who plays baseball. 

What’s the toughest thing you’ve ever done?
Was it 
pitching in the World Series?

The World Series was very difficult, and it was an incredible experience. I don’t think I would call that the most difficult thing I’ve ever done because it was doing the same thing that I was doing when I was 10 years old and playing Little League baseball. The only thing that was different was the number of people watching. Hmm, the most difficult thing I’ve done? Making it to the major leagues was incredibly difficult, but that kind of falls into the same realm of you’re just continuing to play a game. Taking the MCATs was really difficult.

Were you studying while you were in the minors?
I took them very, very early on in my minor league career. I was balancing playing baseball while I was reviewing biochemistry.

This past World Series, you had some uncharacteristic rough outings. What’s going through your mind after those games?
To be perfectly honest, now that it’s 2014, I haven’t looked back at all.

You grew up in Trumbull (Conn.). Did you play sports with Chris Drury growing up?
He’s three years older than me, so I was obviously very aware of the success of that Little League team and his hockey career. I remember him umpiring some of my games, but I never actually played with him. When he was in New York, we exchanged emails since we were two professional athletes from the same small town. I got a chance to connect with him.

Do you have a favorite spot to go in Boston?
If I had to say I have a favorite spot, it’d probably be Newbury Street. If we get an off-day or have a day game and we have a chance to walk down the street, we always go. It’s a great street, with a lot to do, and a lot of character.

What’s your favorite road trip?
I always enjoy going to New York. It’s the only place outside of Boston that’s even closer to home. It’s always fun. Yankee Stadium is another tremendous venue and a team rich in tradition and history. The media makes so much of the Yankees-Red Sox series. It’s great.

Your fundraiser comes up on May 19. How important is the mission to cure pediatric cancer? I know it’s very personal for you.
My sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 13. She’s a few years older than me. I was 11. When you’re 11 years old, it’s hard and incredibly scary to hear someone has cancer. I remember questioning whether she was going to die the day I heard she had cancer. Fortunately, her diagnosis was OK. She was treated at Yale and I’m fortunate enough, as a baseball player, to have established Strike 3. We’ve dispersed over a million dollars in grants. Inclusive in that is a $50,000 research grant to research doctors that allows oncology fellows to actually pursue their research. Last year, we sponsored one. This year, we’re going to sponsor two of them.

Are you able to follow up a little bit on how the grant goes?
Yeah, we exchange emails and get profiles of the work. We get progress reports on the exact project that we funded. It’s a really neat thing for me, for our staff, our donor base to be able to keep up with this tangible project that we’re funding. We also gave $500,000 to Yale University Children’s Hospital. We were the founding sponsor of their Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation Program, which is the only one of its kind in Connecticut. They had their first patient in Sept. 2011. It’s one thing to support an organization that’s doing work, but it’s a totally different feeling to look and say, 'Wow, a program we started five years ago is now accepting patients.'

If you ever went back into medical school, would it be pediatric oncology?
I’m not sure. I always imagined that my medical career would probably take me down a path of orthopedics, but I felt like that was probably just a result of me being a professional athlete. At this point, it certainly could be that. Ten years from now, after raising all this money for cancer research, if I go to medical school. I don’t know. 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Spring’s in the air, and so’s a buzz about London Grammar, the ambient British trip-hop trio that plays the Paradise Rock Club Friday as part of a sold-out 12-date American tour. Here’s a taste of what the under-the-radar fuss is about. On the local scene, Friday and Saturday also mark the closing nights for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble preliminaries (in which Tigerman WOAH, Goddamn Draculas, Barricades and Western Education have so far punched their tickets for the semi-finals). Pick up the action at T.T. the Bear’s Place; the Rumble lineup info’s here.

Saturday cooks with a few shows of note, including two longtime area favorites. Boston’s psychedelic reggae-rockers Spiritual Rez stoke up the horns to get the Sinclair hopping. And talk about longevity: having jammed for more than 40 years (way before Phish and the jamband scene developed), Max Creek plays Church on the heels of guitarist Scott Murawski’s recent tour in Phish bassist Mike Gordon’s band. And at Johnny D’s Uptown, Simon Townshend -- a sideman in his brother Pete’s band, the Who -- shows the power of family genes in a solo showcase.

Sunday offers the pick-of-the-weekend at House of Blues when singer Emmylou Harris celebrates the expanded reissue of her shimmering 1995 album Wrecking Ball with its producer/guitarist Daniel Lanois, with bassist/guitarist Jim Wilson and drummer Steve Nistor filling out their band. Lanois, who’s also famous for co-producing U2’s greatest albums, will also perform as the opening act.  Here’s the album’s lovely title track, a Neil Young tune, performed by Harris and Lanois at a 2012 Canadian festival. The same night, Chelsea native Chick Corea, who played keyboards with Miles Davis before streamlining fusion power with Return to Forever, stretches out in a solo piano concert at the Wilbur Theatre. And ’80s rock darlings the Psychedelic Furs love their way at the Sinclair.

For my Thursday throwback, in honor of tonight's Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction of Nirvana, I’ve been one of many people musing about the legacy of the late Kurt Cobain. He always seemed like a candle that was going to glow bright and burn out, and this full-show video from an infamous 1991 Dallas club show sees Cobain in a typically on-the-edge moment when he tussles with a bouncer who pulls him back from a stage dive. This show took place weeks after Nevermind exploded; on the eve of the album’s release, I saw Nirvana headline a WFNX show at Axis with Bullet LaVolta and Smashing Pumpkins that proved saner if still wild.

Impopular

Stephen Colbert named as Letterman replacement

Colbert will host "The Late Show" when David Letterman retires

Well, it looks like Suey Park, “Twitter activist” and human who doesn’t understand satire (or deliberately misunderstands satire in order to further her “Twitter activism” agenda) has gotten her way. Colbert has been canceled. In a manner of speaking. 

A couple of weeks ago Park started the hashtag #CancelCobert in response to a joke taken from The Colbert Report, and tweeted by Comedy Central, that she deemed racist. And, sure, if taken out of the context of The Colbert Report, it sure was. But, um, as I assumed the entirety of the free world knew, The Colbert Report deals in satire (which is a fancy way of saying “jokes used to make fun of bad things by pretending to be that bad thing.” Bad things like, you know, racism). Anyway, Park and her legions of Twitter followers failed to get the joke and called for the cancellation of Colbert. 

And now it looks like it's going to happen. Well, sort of. 

It was announced today that Stephen Colbert will be stepping in to fill the much buzzed-about vacancy on The Late Show when David Letterman retires. As of yet, no date has been set for the passing of this lofty baton, or the #cancellation of The Colbert Report, but Colbert had this to say about the big announcement:

“I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

No word yet if any Twitter crusaders for the fair and ethical treatment of the dentally challenged have taken up Internet arms about this latest statement, which should definitely be taken completely seriously. 

Improper Now

Tickets On Sale Alert

Hot tickets for the week of April 11

Phantogram play the House of Blues on June 21

ON SALE NOW

Fleetwood Mac
October 10 at the TD Garden
$53-$189.50
livenation.com

ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM

Phantogram
June 21 at the House of Blues
$23.50-$33.50
livenation.com

“Mad Decent Block Party” with
Diplo, Flosstradamus, Chance the Rapper + more
August 10 at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
$44.50-$75
livenation.com

ON SALE FRIDAY AT NOON

The Antlers
June 25 at the Sinclair
$18
boweryboston.com

Converge
July 22-23 at the Sinclair
$20
boweryboston.com

The Deadly Gentlemen
with Sarah Jarosz
May 25 at the Sinclair
$25
boweryboston.com

 

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Friday’s a night for local legends. Al Kooper has distinguished himself in so many ways. He wrote the 1960 pop hit “This Diamond Ring,” led the original Blood, Sweat and Tears, played organ with Bob Dylan (starting with that iconic part to “Like a Rolling Stone”) and produced Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first three albums. Recently, the retired Berklee professor oversaw a box set of the late guitar great Michael Bloomfield. And on Friday, Kooper (who has lived in Somerville since the late ’90s) will celebrate his 70th birthday at the Regattabar with his Funky Faculty.

In the early ’80s, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters emerged as one of Boston’s most heralded bands, releasing three major-label records and appearing on MTV. Lane had sung on Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere before moving to Boston and getting swept up in the post-punk scene, and today she helps female survivors of abuse through music. Filmmaker and Chartbusters drummer Tim Jackson tells Lane’s story in his new documentary “When Things Go Wrong,” titled after the group’s best known song, and the film screens on Friday at Arlington’s Regent Theatre, a benefit premiere to help pay for music clearances. Lane and Jackson will answer questions after the film, then perform with the Chartbusters and friends including Barrence Whitfield and Tanya Donelly. Here’s a vintage clip of Lane and the Chartbusters performing at the Rat, one of Boston’s most legendary rock clubs.

Speaking of legends, Fats Waller was a giant of jazz, advancing stride piano with a flair for entertainment and leaving classics like “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Honeysuckle Rose” in his wake. Modern piano innovator Jason Moran brings his own vision to the pianist/singer’s work with his Fats Waller Dance Party, combining jazz piano trio and contemporary dance music, with bassist/singer Meshell Ndegeocello in the lineup at the Berklee Performance Center on Friday. Here’s a taste of Moran’s tribute party, complete with hulking Fats Waller head mask.

Saturday offers heavy-hitters of a different genre. A cappella sensations Pentatonix get vocal at House of Blues while the Sinclair hosts the old-timey country-folk of Hurray for the Riff Raff, led by singer/songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra, and fellow New Orleans upstart Benjamin Booker before they both return to the Newport Folk Festival in July. Likewise, on Sunday, Lake Street Dive invades Royale, another sold-out club (like the Sinclair before it) on the exploding New England Conservatory-bred quartet’s road to bigger stages like Newport behind its new release Bad Self Portraits. In a World Music/CRASHarts program on Sunday, tabla maestro Zakir Hussain brings his latest Masters of Percussion lineup to Symphony Hall with jazz and ex-Journey drummer Steve Smith joining the Indian percussionists. The same night, BeauSoleil avec fiddler Michael Doucet brings its unique Cajun/zydeco gumbo, as seen in this recent show, to Johnny D's Uptown in Somerville. And Sunday marks the first of six preliminary nights of the 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble at T.T. the Bear's Place with a particularly strong opening that includes Tigerman WOAH and Guillermo Sexo. Here's the whole schedule.

Finally, for a Thursday Throwback, speaking of Al Kooper helping to launch Lynyrd Skynyrd, here are those Southern rockers in their early glory at a full 1976 concert, capped of course by "Free Bird."

Improper Now

Improper Agenda

Mark your calendar with our upcoming picks in music, film, theater and more

MUSIC



To call the Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble a mere “battle of the bands” would be like referring to the Olympics as a glorified “field day.” The annual throwdown for sonic supremacy is both mutual lovefest and all-out war, and to the victor go the spoils — namely, bragging rights worth a neckful of gold medals. Sponsored by WZLX’s Boston Emissions, the 35th annual Rumble’s 24-band bill is stacked with local talent, including indie fixtures Guillermo Sexo, free-wheelin’ Americana jammers Tigerman WOAH, jangly guitar-driven rockers Airport and many more. As usual, it all goes down in this area’s unofficial music capital, Central Square, at T.T. the Bear’s. It kicks off with the first of six preliminary rounds on April 6 and rages on all month. Let’s get ready to rumble.



New Orleans-bred, Juilliard-trained pianist and vocalist Jon Batiste serves as the artistic director at large for Harlem’s National Jazz Museum, but that isn’t his only outlet for musical outreach. With his band, Stay Human, Batiste brings jazz to the  streets and subways of New York, staging impromptu performances they call “Love Riots.” The goal: to encourage deeper appreciation of music and connection with one another. That same spirit drives their first full-length album, Social Music. Join the revolution when their tour in support of that album hits the Sinclair on April 8

BOOKS



He’s like a next-level Martha Stewart— if Martha was a buzzed-about Norwegian dude covered in ink. Prop stylist extraordinaire Paul Lowe found fame when he expanded his Internet portfolio into the food/craft blog and online magazine Sweet Paul. Six years later, Lowe’s cooked up his first book, Sweet Paul Eat & Make: Charming Recipes and Kitchen Crafts You Will Love. The book features well-crafted recipes (a highlight is breakfast polenta with hazelnuts, pears and honey) alongside easy-to-follow home projects (such as bent-fork bookends and vegetable-dyed tablecloths) that don’t require a culinary degree or art fellowship to master. Gastronomy meets glitter glue on April 10 at Brookline Booksmith.

FILM



Even in the Eternal City, living “la dolce vita” has to come to an end. Such is the case for onetime novelist and serial playboy Jep Gambardella in The Great Beauty. The Roman hedonist’s life of excess starts to crumble when Gambardella learns about the death of an old girlfriend on his 65th birthday, prompting him to reflect on his debaucherous party years. The most recent winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars and Golden Globes, The Great Beauty juxtaposes pulsating dance scenes against the city’s ancient ruins. Catch it in a double feature with the film that inspired it, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, on April 13 at the Brattle Theatre.

THEATER



There’s a reason bread is referred to as the “staff of life.” A culinary staple in virtually every culture, bread has long been a familiar staff upon which all can lean. Not by Bread Alone plays upon that theme in a performance that features 11 deaf-blind actors from the Tel Aviv-based Nalaga’at Theater Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble, who bake bread on stage while recounting stories of lives spent in darkness and silence through movement, spoken word and surtitled sign language. At the end of the show, audience members are invited to sample the bread, which serves to represent the commonality shared by the actors , the audience and people everywhere. Come see—and taste —this unique theater experience at the Paramount Mainstage through April 6.

ART



There were no classrooms or teachers at the New York School, and it issued no degrees. An avant-garde movement that made the Big Apple an international art powerhouse in the 1950s, the New York School was made up of artists who refused to paint by numbers, rejecting traditional styles in favor of abstract, messy, expressive strokes. Manhattan’s James Gallery, directed by artist James Gahagan, was among the first to feature the modern movement. The space closed its doors in 1962, but now the Artists of the James Gallery exhibit has brought its works, including Gahagan’s own
Jubilant Harvest (pictured here), to Boston. Find your inner bohemian at ACME Fine Art through April 26.

 

Improper Now

New books to commemorate the Boston Marathon tragedy

We've rounded up just a few new tomes that pay tribute to the Marathon bombings

On the eve of the 2014 Boston Marathon, writers from both here in town and across the country commemorate the tragedy at last year's marathon through newly released books. 

4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners by Hal Higdon 

After the first bomb went off 4 hours, 9 minutes and 43 seconds into the race, many marathoners kept running—not toward the finish line, but toward loved ones, to help the injured or to safety. 4:09:43 tells their stories. Compiled by Runner’s World contributing editor Hal Higdon, the book weaves a single narrative from the perspectives of 75 runners who experienced the tragedy firsthand, taking readers on a particularly personal journey from start to finish.

26.2 Miles to Boston: A Journey Into the Heart of the Boston Marathon by Michael Connelly ($18.95)

While the events at the 2013 marathon certainly shook our city's foundation, we're still standing — and the world’s oldest annual marathon isn’t going anywhere. In 26.2 Miles to Boston, local writer and runner Michael Connelly recalls the marathon’s rich history in 26 trivia-packed chapters — one for each mile. This all-new edition also explores the marathon’s future, including interviews with runners prepping for 2014 who are out to prove that Boston’s runners are as resilient as Boston itself.

The Boston Marathon: A Celebration of America’s Greatest Race by Tom Derderian ($22.95)

Though the Boston Marathon attracts runners from around the globe, it has always retained a distinctly hometown feel. New England Runner Magazine writer Tom Derderian explores the marathon's deep local roots in this book that traces the marathon’s route through Hopkinton, Framingham, Newton, Brookline and more, through trivia and vintage photos that intertwine Massachusetts history with the marathon’s evolution.

Stronger by Jeff Bauman ($26)

Waiting for his girlfriend to cross the finish line, Jeff Bauman locked eyes with Tamerlan Tsarnev. Ten seconds later, a bomb went off at his feet. Within minutes, a photograph of him being rushed away in a wheelchair, both legs gone, had gone viral. The survivor’s powerful new memoir recalls the horror of the attack, Bauman's role in identifying the suspects and his inspiring road to recovery.

Boston, You’re My Home by Suzie Canale ($15)

How do you talk to kids about tragedy when even adults have trouble making sense of it all? This children’s book takes a step in the right direction with Caroline, a little girl worried about moving to Beantown until her parents explain why their new home is “Boston Strong.” The bedtime story tackles tough topics without actually mentioning the bombings, and benefits the One Fund, helping kids—and parents—feel proud to be Bostonians.

By Elissa Bernstein

Improper Now

When words fail

'102 Hours' tells the story of the Boston Marathon bombings through iconography alone



They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s certainly true of one new book recalling the events at last year’s Boston Marathon.

On the eve of this year’s marathon, Cambridge design firm Tank Design is releasing 102 Hours, an entirely iconographic book that tells the story of that day and those that followed. “The tragedy at the finish line, paired with the response from our local and federal governments over the next few days, was unlike anything we’d ever seen before, and it was happening in our neighborhoods, outside our windows and pouring out onto our phones, televisions and computer screens,” says senior designer Elanie Blais. “We thought it would be an interesting challenge to simplify the story to its core, strip it down to just a series of events, with no words. Iconography is the simplest human language we have; it transcends all language barriers, and most cultural ones, too.”

All profits from the book sales will benefit Youth design, a Boston-based nonprofit that educates and empowers urban youth to become the next generation of designers.

“Something clicked when I found out how young the two Tsarnaev brothers were,” Blais explains. “It resonated with me how important it is for us to provide mentors for our youth. It seems that every time there’s an incident like the one last April, it happens because people feel rejected, as if their community doesn’t care about them. This project is more about solving the problem from its roots.”

 102 Hours ($20) is available for purchase at 102hours.com.  

Plus: Check out our roundup of even more new books commemorating the Boston Marathon!

Improper Now

The Stoked guys want you to want...their pizza

Music buffs know Scott Riebling from Boston alt-rock outfit Letters to Cleo, but the bassist-turned-producer has been making pizza almost as long as he’s been making rounds on the local club circuit. These days, he can be found behind the wheel of Stoked Wood Fired Pizza Co., a new food truck he started with Toirm Miller (of defunct vegan cart Jack and the Bean Bowl).  

“When I moved to Boston, I fell in love with the city—it’s my favorite city in the U.S.—but I couldn’t find pizza as good as where I grew up,” Riebling says.

“Scott’s been making pizza for 20-plus years, and I’ve been partaking in his pizza parties,” Miller adds. “We’re doing something different. It’s a little bit off the beaten path as far as traditional food trucks.” 

That’s because their truck is equipped with a wood-burning oven. “I was on the Internet for at least three days just looking for trucks that could handle the weight capacity,” Riebling says. “It’s not much fun parking it, but driving it seems to be no problem.”

He and Miller are confident that any logistical challenges are worth it. “What we’re trying to do is provide a three-minute pizza that’s very different, texture-wise, than, say, your typical Papa Gino’s,” explains Riebling, who admits he’s dragged his family to Naples simply to try the pizza. 

Papa Gino’s, this is not. Priced around $6-$9, the 10-inch personal pizzas are made with high-end ingredients like sea salt, imported Italian tomatoes and organic herbs. They also offer a vegan pie, as well as a soy-based, dairy-free mozzarella option. And they’ll be slinging that ’za till midnight Thursday through Saturday: Stoked is part of Mayor Walsh’s new late-night pilot program for food trucks, launching within days of the debut of the T’s late-night service. 

“Pizza, college kids and late Friday nights is a pretty good combination,” Miller says. “I always thought that last call and everything closed down way too early, especially the T service. I think having it will get more people into the city, in the city later and will trigger more of the restaurants and business. It’s a long time coming.”

No arguments there. But we have one more question: Won’t it get unbearably hot in that truck in the summer?

“Worst case scenario, we’ll just have to come up with some creative outfits,” Riebling says with a laugh. “I’ll be out there in my Speedo, come August.”

Sound Ideas

Weekend Ideas

Phish tickets go on sale Friday for the jam kings’ annual summer tour, which kicks off July 1 at the Xfinity Center (Great Woods). But in the meantime, Phish fans can see bassist/singer Mike Gordon’s solo band play House of Blues on Friday. The Sudbury native has tightened his musical bonds with guitarist Scott Murawski (Max Creek) on his new album Overstep and current tour, on which Gordon is sprinkling a few Phish nuggets, including that band’s long-shelved “Spock’s Brain.” Also on Friday, Grammy-winning songwriters Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin team up at the Berklee Performance Center for “Songs and Stories: Together Onstage,” a showcase for swapping tunes and duets that’s likely to contrast his alt-country verve with her more impressionistic pop-folk. Here’s Earle performing one of his songs that Colvin often covers. And alto sax prodigy Grace Kelly toasts her 10th anniversary of playing Scullers Jazz Club. Expect bebop with some slight pop flavor.

On last year’s standout album The Silver Gymnasium, Austin indie-rockers Okkervil River struck a bit of an ’80s E Street Band tone behind singer/songwriter Will Sheff’s poetic waxing about his small-town youth in Meriden, N.H. The band had some trouble conveying that storytelling sprawl at Boston Calling last year but should be more in its element when Sheff leads Okkervil River in the small-club environs of the Sinclair on Saturday. Over at House of Blues Saturday, comedian/rapper Donald Glover (Troy on NBC’s Community) lets his musing music flow under his stage name Childish Gambino. And on Sunday, Asif Ali Khan & Party carry on the devotional Sufi tradition of his Qawwali mentor, the late, great vocalist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center, a World Music/CRASHarts booking.

Finally, for today’s Thursday Throwback, seeing the young Irish lads of the Strypes at Great Scott last week made me think of catching the first tours by U2. Before they return with a full new album’s worth of hype, here’s a glimpse back at when the U2 guys were just beyond their teens.

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