Weekend Ideas: July 23, 2015


If you’re a fan of live music, you must be busy this weekend, given the choice of four festivals (three of them free) as well as the final two nights of the Central Square landmark T.T. the Bear’s Place and other great concerts around town.

It’s been a glorious week of bands revisiting T.T.’s for the last time. On Tuesday alone, Evan Dando reconnected onstage with old Lemonheads mate Ben Deily, while the Thalia Zedek Band was joined by her Come guitar foil Chris Brokaw. Now that we’re getting down to the final two nights of the farewell blowout, however, it’s really starting to sink in how much the scene will miss this club. The Dogmatics and the Neighborhoods lead the honors on Friday, while Saturday closes down with Willie Alexander, Randy Black, O Positive and, finally, Scruffy the Cat and guests.

On the heels of the T.T.’s closing comes the likewise-sad word that Johnny D’s Uptown will close early next year. But on Friday, that homey Davis Square club presents Steeleye Span, the venerable English folk-rock group fronted by Maddy Prior, amazingly back after cycles of personnel changes since 1969. And as seen in this Johnny D’s clip, Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller holds court solo on Friday at Atwood’s Tavern. Another veteran British band (subject of the 2014 documentary Revenge of the Mekons), the spirited roots-punk group the Mekons (pictured) close a rare U.S. tour at the Middle East Upstairs on Saturday with a full crew of principals, including singer/guitarists Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh, singer Sally Timms, violinist Susie Honeyman, strings ace Lu Edmonds and drummer Steve Goulding. Downstairs at the Middle East the same night, you can also catch a rare show by the locally sewn hip-hop supertrio Czarface (7L, Esoteric and Wu Tang’s Inspectah Deck), seen here at their last Middle East show, or jump to my recent interview.

But most of the weekend’s “folk” action will take place at festivals. Long sold out, Rhode Island’s Newport Folk Festival carries the biggest profile, with a Friday bill sporting Pink Floyd guiding force Roger Waters as well as the Lone Bellow, Angel Olsen and Calexico, a Saturday throwdown with the Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens and Courtney Barnett, and a Sunday wrapup with Hozier, First Aid Kit, Lord Huron and a ’65 Revisted finale (in keeping with an earlier presentation by Elijah Wald, author of the new Dylan Goes Electric). Here’s the full Newport schedule. To the north, there’s the free downtown Lowell Folk Festival and its plate of ethnic folk variations, this year with Leroy Thomas & the Zydeco Roadrunners, gospel group the Fairfield Four and Malian lute player Bassekou Kouyate. Here’s the full schedule for Lowell. And in Boston, there’s the free Summer Arts Weekend in Copley Square Park, which offers country-steeped duo Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, R&B survivor Bettye LaVette and New Orleans’ Dirty Dozen Brass Band on Saturday as well as angelic Big Easy singer Aaron Neville and Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster. Here’s the full schedule for Summer Arts Weekend.

Prefer jazz? If all that doesn’t fill your schedule, on Sunday, drop by the University Park Commons on Sydney Street for the free Cambridge Jazz Festival with soulful vocalist Nneena Freelon, pianists Laszlo Gardony and JoAnne Brackeen, and Grammy Award-winning Latin percussionist Eguie Castrillo. Here’s the full lineup for Cambridge Jazz. And over at Club Passim, Throwing Muses songstress Kristin Hersh performs on Sunday night.

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