David Massengill goes home
by Seth Rogovoy
(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., April 1, 2004) – When singer-songwriter David Massengill was fishing for material for his latest album of songs, he didn’t have to look far. In fact, he looked homeward to the town he grew up in – Bristol, Tenn. – and to the people who populated the town for the last hundred years. The resulting collection, “My Home Must Be a Special Place” (Gadfly), is a collection of 14 stories and songs, many which Massengill has been sharing with audiences for several years. A little bit Flannery O’Connor, a little bit William Faulkner, Massengill’s Bristol comes alive, brimming with memorable characters and gothic stories. Massengill is the featured performer on Saturday night at 8 at the Common Grounds Coffeehouse at the First United Methodist Church, 55 Fenn St., in Pittsfield.
Berkshire husband-and-wife musical duo Eric Underwood and Eladia have been busy in the recording studio experimenting with new songs and new sounds, as well as with new musical partners, including singer/violinist Imani Coppola. While the duo has yet to release anything, a listen to a few demo tracks shows the group expanding its rhythmic and instrumental palette with several songs hinting at Beatles-like structures and glam-rock touches. It certainly whets one’s appetite for the duo’s show on Friday night at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington where Underwood, as the group now calls itself, performs at 9. Underwood’s producer/instrumentalist Don Dilego, no slouch himself in the psychedelic roots-rock category, will be on hand to warm up the crowd and presumably to sit in with Underwood. Incidentally, when Eric and Eladia aren’t making beautiful music together, they are hosting an ongoing, teen songwriting workshop for UNITY, a North Adams-based youth organization.
Mike and Peggy Seeger
Siblings Mike and Peggy Seeger have been icons on the folk scene for nearly as long as their more famous brother Pete. Peggy Seeger, best-known for her songs “Gonna Be an Engineer” and “The Ballad of Springhill,” has long specialized in traditional Anglo-American songs and folk protest. The multi-talented sister plays six instruments, including piano, guitar, five-string banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp and English concertina, and has recorded 19 solo albums. For 35 years she called England home, where she lived with legendary English folksinger Ewan MacColl, who allegedly penned “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for her.
As a recording artist, producer and folklorist, Mike Seeger has long been devoted to preserving and perpetuating traditional American music. Both Peggy and Mike Seeger continue to enjoy vital performing and recording careers. Last year Peggy released “Heading for Home” (Appleseed), a collection of traditional folk songs including “Girl of Constant Sorrow,” a feminist rewrite of “Man of Constant Sorrow” by Sara Ogan Gunning. Mike’s recent “True Vine” (Smithsonian Folkways), a collection of 23 old-time songs and ballads, is a testament to Seeger’s tireless efforts and love for roots music, as well as his wit. The Seeger siblings perform a rare show together on Friday night at 8 at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio’s Linda Norris Auditorium, 339 Central Ave., Albany, N.Y.
As heard on her recordings including “Memories of Love’s Refrain” and “This Time It’s Love,” vocalist Patty Carpenter boasts an organic, relaxed, folk-like tone, an unerring rhythmic sense and masterly dynamic control. Carpenter’s repertoire includes standards, blues, rock, gospel, ballads and Brazilian. When she’s not fronting her own group, Carpenter performs with her ex-husband and their daughter, Melissa Shetler, as the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band. The Pioneer Valley singer will be fronting her own quartet, featuring Chris Bakriges on piano, Dave Shapiro on bass, and Dave Roitman on drums, on Saturday night at the Castle Street Café in Great Barrington.
Dulcie Taylor’s new CD, “Mirrors and Windows” (Black Iris) kicks off with the very Byrds-inflected “Blackberry Winter” courtesy of Duke Levine’s 12-string electric guitar. From there, the album evinces Taylor’s South Carolina upbringing with the hardcore country of “Ice Melts,” a Tammy Wynette-George Jones style duet with Tony Recupido, the bluesy “Woman I Used to Be,” and the more muscular, Mary Chapin Carpenter-style folk-rocker, “Out of My Blood.” The sulky-voiced Taylor is at Club Helsinki on Sunday night at 8.
On its upcoming CD, “Radios Burn Faster” (Fenway), Amherst rock quartet Read Yellow (pronounced “red yellow”) resurrects Pixies-style indie-rock by way of The Strokes, with crunchy guitars, dissonant chords and clarion calls of alarm. The CD, produced by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Hole, The Pixies), isn’t due out until June 8th, but the group plays two shows on its native turf in the coming week: next Wednesday at the Flywheel in Easthampton and next Friday at Pearl Street in Northampton.
Christopher Watkins, aka Preacher Boy, is a 20-something Californian who has immersed himself in the sound of early acoustic roots and blues music and come up with an original take on it served especially for the post-Nirvana generation. Fresh from a tour with Eagle-Eye Cherry and with a new batch of songs from his recent release, “Demanding to be Next” (Coast Road), Boy headlines a solo show at Club Helsinki next Thursday at 8.
[Common Grounds, 499-0866; Club Helsinki, 528-3394; WAMC, 800-323-9262 ext. 4;
Castle Street, 528-5244; Pearl Street, 586-8686; Flywheel 527-9800.]
[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on April 2, 2004. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2004. All rights reserved.]
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