Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Rock Shows of Note XXXI
After helping Jef and TD inventory books stored at Highwater Books North, we grabbed a pint at P.J. Ryan's, formerly the Station, on Teele Square. After that -- and a quick stop home to sort mail, do bills, and relax a bit, I headed out to Toad on Porter Square to meet up with Coco and see a band called Schwang.

I haven't been to Toad for a long time and remembered it as being extremely narrow and crowded. If you get there early enough -- and get a seat on one of the sides -- it's not that bad a showgoing experience. Schwang, a four piece, featured Dave Goodrich on guitar, Anita Suhanin on vocals, Lou Ulrich on bass, and Andy Plaisted on drums. Word is Andy also plays in the Pee Wee Fist.

Schwang specializes in a mix of country swing, torch songs, and rockabilly, and Anita's voice is extremely powerful -- perfect for old-timey love and lovelorn songs. Dave's guitar playing was quite impressive, and because we sat almost in his lap -- his guitar neck almost poking out my eyes -- we got to see him in action up close and personal. It was a solid set -- mostly covers, I'd gather, but good ones, including Merle Haggard and other fine country songwriters.

Next up was the Tim Gearan Band, which was basically the same lineup, only without Anita, with Tim, and with a tenor saxophonist who probably should've been mic'ed. We only stayed to check out several songs -- Coco's seen Schwang a lot but has never stuck around to see Gearan -- and there were several notable differences in the performance. Gearan's tastes seem to run more toward the blues and -- at times -- standard college jam rock, but even though it's not totally my thing, the musicians were still impressive, Gearan has a strong presence, and they do what they do well.

Welcome back to Toad! I'll have to return soon. If you're into area music of this sort, you might be interested in Hellcountry. Their show calendar hasn't been updated since June, but their directory of local bands and venues is useful. It seems they used to host a monthly series at the Kendall Cafe, where I'll be going later this week.

After the show, Coco and I walked down Massachusetts Avenue to see where I used to live on Chauncy Street, the Longy School of Music -- which sports a nice new kinetic sculpture on the corner -- and the neon sign for the Sheraton Commander. In the interest of continuing my thread of nighttime city scenes a la the library on Harvard Common, here are some snaps:

With flash.

Without flash.

Just goes to show that's it always a good idea to travel with a camera.

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