Hotline to the Underground January 6, 2020 By Joe Viglione

Photo by Joe Fortunato

Congratulations Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn, 32nd Mayor of Medford inaugurated on January 5, 2020. The photograph is by Joseph Fortunato, one of the legends of access television in Massachusetts. Breanna is an attorney and cares about the people of Medford. The arts community will flourish under the leadership of Lungo-Koehn. When this column ran in Musician’s Magazine back in 1978, 1979 it was all about rock and roll. Forty-one years later we understand the significance of having city and town halls supporting the music, film, writings and other expressions from artists that document all walks of life and liberty and all the stuff Superman/Clark Kent stood for! Now where’s the couple of photos Malden Mayor Gary Christenson took with me at a Malden Access TV party?
The Slapback Band keeps you Funkin’ Rockin’ according to the group’s business card and the six selection CD of brand new material ended up in our mailbox prior to release! Michele Gear-Cole worked with Mercury recording artist Jo Jo Laine and was produced by legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller back in the day. Miller would have adored this new direction for Michelle’s music – indeed – Miller’s forthcoming biography (some decade, still being written!) was titled by the man himself as Fever in the Funk House. The website describes the group in this fashion: “a rock band with a funk edge, a splash of blues and a dash of jazz.” Song titles: “I Made It Out Alive,” “Standing Tall,” “Tears Are Runnin’,”, “Timeless Friend,” “Guardian Angel” and “The Mirrored Glass” feature Michele Gear-Cole – Vocals –percussion, her husband Steve Cole on Bass, Mark Macrina playing the drums and background vocals, Jerome Higgins on the guitar and background vocals. The longest track, “Guardian Angel” has a smart guitar riff around its pop setting. Michele’s voice is direct and endearing. The musicianship is top notch. This will be a band to watch in 2020 and you can watch them at The Jungle, 6 Sanborn Court (behind the Independent in Union Sq.) Somerville on January 20, 2020 thanks to Heather Timmons and the wonderful people at Tiny Oak Booking – see the bands The Humans Being, Kingdom of Funk, Slapback and The That @ The Jungle 7 pm $5.00 at the door and 21+ adults only! Of course!

Over at Club Bohemia at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Mass Ave in Central Square, Cambridge on Friday, January 10 it is Soaked in Strange, Mad Painter, The Rollo Tomasi Quintet and the End Connection while Saturday evening’s entertainment brings you Tripp Hammer and the Waterwheel, Gaviil Formes and Johnny Sahula at 8 pm both evenings, 21+. Mad Painter is getting lots of airplay for its song The Letter on Lonely Oak Radio, Only Rock Radio, a live broadcast Dec 28 on WMFO with DJ Brian Young, Radio TFSC, Cox Music Show and more!
Back in the 1980s the band L-88 with Artie Knyff was on my record label, Varulven, and opened for Blue Oyster Cult at the Worcester Centrum Wednesday March 28 some year in the 1980s. And here’s my old friend Ken Shelton playing the song “I Want You” on Boston Rock & Roll Anthology #2. Check out the broadcasts Artie is busy working on solo recordings of Joe Black from Ball n Chain. The instrumental of the album’s title track, Blackenstein, is phenomenal.
JANN KLOSE EXPLORES THE REVERIE The twelve songs on Reverie are fully realized adventures that allow Jann Klose to tell his story over magical instrumentation. Reverie is truly one of those discs where you can jump into any random tune and find captivating rhythms, compelling imagery and the singer in full control of the words he is spinning. “All These Rivers” takes the listener to a place Boz Scaggs should have indulged in, so many different sounds running through the melody. “Watching You Go” is intellectual modern AAA pop, chords that breathe under Klose’s matter-of-fact voice.
Does he have elements of British? Irish? Aussie? in those vocal tones?? That and more, and it is the guessing game your mind plays with his voice that makes repeated spins essential. Closing track “Beginning” gets a bit heady but that’s ok, the music steers it into other uncharted and ever revealing waters…and that’s the beauty of Reverie – some kind of signature Joni Mitchell branded onto music in the seventies gets…perhaps not reinvented but – re-imaged. “Clouds” has those intangibles, as does the splashed-in reggae of “Hold Me Down”. There’s a wistful once lost/now recovered sound that pop fans from the mid to late sixties still adore, and it’s the traces of that aura which keeps things moving in the right direction. “Beautiful Dream” is the opening track, and the one getting airplay as the album makes its way to the inevitable radio stations that like to take a chance on something this smart.

It’s another moment that could have shimmered on Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records imprint lo those years ago. The production is top notch while the backing vocals and musicianship are more solid than most of what commercial radio is dishing out. Like stated at the beginning…fully realized – and definitely worth your time.

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