Spring is in the air. You can feel it. The sun is out. The Charles smells again. Wierdos fill the Square. Townies line Weeks bridge, asking forcefully for lunch money and beating each other bloody on Saturday nights. Best of all, the red-winged Guy Van Duser (guitar) and speckled Billy Novick (saxaphone, clarinet and penny whistle) will nest in the Winthrop JCR tomorrow night at 8:30 pm.
"Van Duser is easily the best guitarist in the Northeast," Dave Sidman, chairman of the Winthrop House Folk and Jazz Society, the concert sponsors, said yesterday. (Of course, I am told Sidman is given to statements like "Massachusetts is easily the best state in the Union," and "One is easily the loneliest number there could ever be.") But this time he could be right. Berkeleetrained Van Duser specializes in finger-picking--bluegrass, jazz, classical, and an incredible version of "Stars and Stripes Forever" in which he simultaneously plays bass, melody, and piccolo parts. Novick, who played with David Bromberg for a few years, is mainly a jazz musician.
According to Sidman, Van Duser and Novick will cover everything from Irish fiddle tunes to ragtime and swing. Even if you draw ice cream floats, that's a long way to go, but Dave assures me the boys have everything mapped out. $1.50 gets you into this evanescent pre-equinox event. (Novick and Van Duser also play Club Zircon--354-9242--on the 14th.)
Although I have been unable to ascertain the astrological machinations governing such things, precisely 24 hours after the Winthrop concert begins, the Kuumba Singers of the Afro-American Cultural Center will perform in the Lowell House dining hall. (That's Saturday, March 12 at 8:30 pm for those of you without slide rules or pocket calculators.) Count on richly-textured choral and African folk music; $1 donation requested.
After the Kuumba concert ends, spiral backward through space-time on the Red Line to Central Square, Saturday at 8 pm. Get off and ask the MBTA attendant where the Joy of Movement Center (492-4680) is. He'll either say "536 Mass Ave," in which case go there, or "I dunno," in which case ask someone else. Either way, for $2 you can find out about the Joy of Wendy Grossman, Lisa Null, Bill Shute and Donna DeChristopher in concert, about which I know nothing. But the poster says "Folk Music," and who am I to argue with the media?
Sunday at 2 pm, the Boston Bluegrass Union sponsors a concert by Apple Country in the Gutman Library conference room on Appian Way in Cambridge. Admission is $2.50, children free. Banjo workshop and picking after the concert. Call 661-0214 or 965-5785 for details.
April 1 through 3 (the first weekend of spring break), the Radcliffe Women's Center (495-1772) will sponsor the Second Annual Boston Women's Music Festival in Sanders Theater. Here's the lineup: Friday, April 1 at 7 pm you get C.T. and April, Casse Culver and Andrea Weltman; Saturday, April 2 at 7 pm it's Teresa Trull, Hazel Dickens and Holly Near; and Sunday, April 3 at 2 pm you'll hear Willie Tyson, Lucha and Meg Christian. Of these, I have heard only Holly Near, who does fine vocals to piano accompaniment. (Achtung!--the festival is sure to have a strong feminist content.) Tickets are $4.50 for a single performance, $8.50 for two, and $12 for the whole weekend; available now at the Women's Center.
Awright. Let's get down to brass tacks. At the Inn Square Men's Bar (354-8458) this week, True Culture plays reggae tonight through Saturday, Spider John Koerner plays, I am told, a blue guitar (lest you think me affected, I mean a guitar colored blue) on Sunday, and Ina May Wool plays hard to get Monday through Wednesday.
At the Back Room at the Idler (354-9489), beneath the Blue Parrot (lest you think me unimaginative, I mean a depressed bird), Robin Walsh is "soft and gutsy at the same time" when she sings and plays acoustic guitar tonight. Friday it's Lenny Solomon, who is still trying to remove the ham in last week's Idler Special from his teeth, followed by Reeve Little on Saturday and Sunday. Monday, Chris Rhodes and Koko Dee do whatever they did last Monday, only crunchy, and Tuesday the Brattle Streetband performs humorous British Isles folk music. Wednesday, Jon McAuliffe "does a lot" with the "rasping, Dylan-quality in his voice" and a guitar--some reggae, too. In short, folk guitar tonight through Monday; other stuff Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tonight at Peasant Stock Restaurant (354-9528, reservations necessary) the Cheap Trills String Band does it to anyone within earshot with a violin, mandolin, guitar and bass. "Bluegrass, Irish, swing and classical" influences here--could be interesting.
Phil Sraiman and Steve Hollis start things rolling at Sword-in-the-Stone (523-9188) tonight, both with traditional folk on acoustic guitar. Friday you got Linda Long doing folk and pop and Rodney Mashia playing original folk on flute and guitar. Saturday Jeff Brodsky plays standard acoustic folk, followed by the B Natural Boys with--yeeeeeeehaaaaw!--country and western. (They play some bluegrass, too.) Sunday and Tuesday it's an open stage; Sword is closed Mondays.
Tonight through Sunday, $3.50 gets you past the Passim (492-7679) bouncer see Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer, both quiet folkies. Tuesday and Wednesday Musica Orbis play an unusual fusion of classical, folk and rock, admission is $3. (Don't forget the live concerts on WCAS Sunday afternoon at 2 pm.)
If you've ever wondered what a unique five-string banjo sounds like, go to Common Grounds (661-1640) tomorrow night at 8:30 pm, because Jeff Aumiller promises to play same. Saturday at 11 am the Talking Bear performs children's music and magic, and Sunday at 3 pm Temple Tones strike "percussive rhythms and mantras with recorders, flutes, etc."
Monday night at the Black Rose (523-8486) Peter Johnson hosts an open hoot. Tuesday, the 15th through Saturday, the 19th, The Black Rose-- a very authentic foursome, between them playing guitar, fiddle, mandolin and bodhran--perform traditional Irish music at the Black Rose. (Clever, eh?) Rose opens at noon on St. Patric's day; don't go, it will be jammed. See the listings page for other nights.
Tonight at Reflections (547-9281) Pepe Sanchez plays Spanish folk and attempts audience sing-alongs with occasional success. Tuesday, bluegrass fans can catch the Bunker Mountain Fiddlers.
This is a big weekend for free coffee houses. The Nameless, of course, at 3 Church St., opens Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm. But there's also the Harvard-Radcliffe Student Center at 20 Arrow St., which is sponsoring a coffee house Friday only from 8 pm to 1 am. And if past weekends are any guide, you'll find the Freshman coffee house in Parlor B of the Union from 6:30 to 8:00 pm Friday night. (We have received announcements of this coffee house for two weeks running, both times one day too late for inclusion in the appropriate issue of What...? I'm counting on their intrepid press secretary to come through again.)
If you need some companionship, look into the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston (FSSGB). FSSGB (646-6062) holds a group sing every Wednesday night at 8 pm at the Interfaith building, 490 Beacon St. in Boston. If no one answers when you pound on the door, go around back and signal with the buzzer hanging out the window.
The 350-member society sponsors one major concert a month from September to May, members get reduced admission. FSSGB also publishes a monthly "Folkletter," distributed to members, containing songs, articles and a folk music calendar. Membership costs $4 per person, $6 per couple and $8 a family and runs from September to September; fees are reduced for people joining now. If you're interested, call 646-6062 or write FSSGB, Box 492, Somerville, Mass. 02143.