Remembering Danny Pearl with music
by Seth Rogovoy

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., October 17, 2002) -- Had he not been murdered by Muslim terrorists in Pakistan earlier this year, today would have been Daniel Pearl’s 39th birthday. A former reporter for the Berkshire Eagle and the North Adams Transcript who was with the Wall Street Journal at the time of his death, Pearl was also a musician -- a classically-trained violinist who also played piano and mandolin and who performed with orchestras, bands and chamber groups and in informal jam sessions wherever he found himself, including here in the Berkshires.

Today, in the U.S. and in China, India, Israel, France, Thailand and elsewhere, Pearl will be memorialized in formal and informal musical settings as part of “Daniel Pearl Music Day.” The Daniel Pearl Foundation, established by Pearl’s family and friends “to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communications,” is encouraging such efforts, calling on local orchestras, bands and music venues to dedicate performances to Pearl and his legacy.

Here in the Berkshires, the “Off the Beaten Track” radio program on Connecticut radio station WKZE (98.1 FM) is devoting its entire, hourlong show beginning at 10 a.m. to Pearl’s memory. The program will include recordings featuring Pearl on fiddle and mandolin. At 12:30, the Springfield Symphony String Quartet will perform in memory of Pearl at Western New England College in Springfield. And tonight at 8 at Symphony Hall in Boston, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will dedicate its performance of works by Weir, Ravel and Prokofiev to Pearl’s memory.

Also tonight, an open microphone will be dedicated to Pearl at the 19th Hole in
Pittsfield at 9. Tomorrow, Ozzie’s Steak and Seafood in Dalton will dedicate its
open- mike program at 7 to Pearl.

A good suggestion comes from musician and “Off the Beaten Track” host Todd Mack, who knew and played music with Pearl. Mack asks that everyone, musician or otherwise, do something musical today with Pearl in mind. “Sing, dance, shout, bang on a pot, whatever,” said Mack. “Danny will be listening.”


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Robin O’Herin

Robin O’Herin of Lee jokes that when she was growing up her parents actually paid her not to sing -- not because she was a bad singer, but because she was an incessant singer.

Parents should know better than to discourage their children from doing something, because more often than not that means they will just continue. O’Herin’s parents couldn’t stop her, nor could motherhood and the demands of a full-time job. Now, after several decades of performing at open-mikes, church basements and folk coffeehouses, O’Herin is ready to celebrate the release of her first recording, Red, White and Blues, with a CD release concert this Sunday at 3 at the Berkshire Blues Café on Route 102 in South Lee. Admission is free.

O’Herin’s CD, recorded by Robby Baier at his SoulTube Substation Studio in Housatonic, is subtitled “Blues, Gospel and Originals Done in the Tradition of Country Blues.” Indeed, the recording is a pleasant mix of well-worn standards like “Abilene,” “Corinna, Corinna,” Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues” and Thomas A. Dorsey’s “Precious Lord” with half a dozen O’Herin originals that blend right in with the standards.

An acoustic, rootsy effort that alternates solo numbers with full-band arrangements by an all-star Berkshire cast including drummer Terry Hall, vocalist Vikki True, bassist Darren Todd, keyboardists Peter Schneider and Dave Carter, and Charlie Mead on harmonica – all of whom will be on hand on Sunday to perform with O’Herin – “Red, White and Blues” is an easygoing, laid-back effort, a tribute to tradition that extends that tradition forward in a personal vein.

It also highlights O’Herin’s deft fingerpicking and slide-guitar work on numbers like Willie Moore’s “Old Country Rock” and her committed vocals on “Abilene” and a few humorous, original tunes, including “Junkfood Junkie Blues” and “The Driving Song (Commuter Blues).”

If you can’t make it to Sunday’s gig, O’Herin returns to the Dream Away Lodge, where she occasionally performs, on October 18 at 9.

Backstage bits

Best known for his work with Dinosaur Jr., Amherst native and rock singer-songwriter and guitarist J Mascis returns to his home region tonight for a show at the Iron Horse in Northampton featuring songs of his latest CD, Free So Free (Artemis). Time finally catches up with the Neil Young soundalike on his third solo CD, which has a classic-rock edge that he says is inspired by his latest hobby: skydiving.

Part of the show will be in the parking lot tomorrow night at Club Helsinki. While the country-punk outfit the Demolition String Band is scheduled to perform inside the Great Barrington club, outside look for several cars destined for the demolition derby by the team of Great Barrington drivers sponsored by the New York-based band.

The Bronx is about as far away from the Mississippi Delta as you can get, but through the miracle of recordings, a Jewish-Italian kid grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s steeped in the blues, r&b and rock ‘n’ roll to such an extent that listening to him today, he sounds like he just stepped out of a riverside juke joint. So what if it’s the Hudson instead of the Mighty Miss? Ted Horowitz now goes by the name of Popa Chubby, and on his most recent album, The Good, the Bad and the Chubby (Blind Pig), he plays some inspired blues and soul, including a 9/11-inspired rocker, “Somebody Let the Devil Out.” Chubby performs at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington next Thursday, October 17.

Bob Dylan got his fall tour off to quite an unusual start last week in Seattle. In addition to a few of his own Sixties hits and more recent songs off last year’s Love and Theft album, Dylan performed three songs by singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, who announced two weeks ago that he is dying of cancer.

Among the few known Dylan-Zevon links that might explain the tribute is Dylan’s appearance playing harmonica on Zevon’s Sentimental Hygiene album. It is also possible that Dylan borrowed the unusual phrase, Time Out of Mind, for his Grammy-winning 1997 from Zevon’s song, “Accidentally Like a Martyr,” which was one of the three songs he played last Friday night in Seattle (the others were “Boom Boom Mancini” and “Mutineer” – the next night he played “Lawyers, Guns and Money”). Dylan also performed a rendition of “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones, and played electric keyboard for half the show. Dylan’s fall tour – which is looking to be quite different from previous ones -- comes closest to our region on November 17, when he stops at the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center.

Add the progressive-rock group Yes (November 4) and the reconfigured Guns ‘n’ Roses (November 27) to the Jurassic arena-rock acts stopping by Albany’s Pepsi Arena this fall.

[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on October 10, 2002. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2002. All rights reserved.]

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