Jay N. Miller
Summer is the time for big outdoor venues, and since most music fans feel like we’re still coming out of lockdown, concert season seems to be in full swing. But the club scene is still going strong, and on Friday night Brighton Music Hall hosted Boston punk rock legends The Nervous Eaters, perhaps better known as “the house band” at The Rat, the dirty joint in Kenmore Square that was the recognized center of Boston punk. stage.
In fact, it’s always been a bit of a misnomer to call The Nervous Eaters a punk band, since the quartet’s style was more classic garage rock – scruffy and unassuming, of course, but also far more melodic and musically adept than most punk bands. . The Eaters started in the mid-1970s and peaked for about a decade, but since breaking up around 1985, they’ve reunited for frequent revivals. Back in their prime, Ric Ocasek of The Cars produced a series of demos for the band which led to them being signed to Elektra Records. Probably their most popular track was “Loretta”, originally released in 1976 as the B-side their fans grew to love on live broadcasts. The Eaters opened for bands such as The Ramones, The Police and Iggy Pop from the mid-1970s through the 80s.
Little Steven Van Zandt has signed the Eaters to his Wicked Cool Records label, and there’s a new album, “Monsters and Angels,” coming out later this year, and already a new single and video for the song “Wild eyes”. A sort of mid-tempo homage to one woman’s multi-faceted personality, the song’s video features Boston singer Kelly Knapp in a series of Boston locations.
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The current lineup of The Nervous Eaters is vocalist/lead songwriter Steve Cataldo on guitar, Adam Sherman on guitar and vocals, Brad Hallen on bass and David McLean on drums. It is a group of stars. Sherman played with the band Private Lightning, McLean played drums with Willie “Loco” Alexander, and Hallen’s bass was heard with Ministry, Ocasek, and early work by Norwell native Susan Tedeschi.
On Friday night, The Nervous Eaters squeezed 20 songs into their 75-minute set, and the most striking impression was what a powerful musical force they still are. Cataldo’s voice was loud and clear, and his guitar work, with Sherman on 12 strings all night, was simply dazzling. They opened with the new single, and “Wild Eyes” got a little heavier in performance, as the foursome, dressed all in black and all but McLean having big manes of gray hair, clearly enjoyed their work. Hallen and McLean created intense beats throughout, but the guitar interplay and precise arrangements were truly effective on numbers like the expansive “Hooked” and the all-out rave-up “On the Avenue.”
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On a track that would be called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Your Heart,” the guitar dynamics were so powerful it reminded us of The Who’s rock operas, condensed into less than five minutes. One of the most electrifying songs of the night was “The Girl Next Door,” a midtempo sizzle that harkens back to their 1980 debut album. For the grand finale of “Loretta,” opening acts Robin Lane and Linnea’s Garden performed all rushed to the stage to sing along with The Nervous Eaters for a rousing finish. It might be heresy for punk fans, but The Nervous Eaters’ sound is much more reminiscent of the no-frills basic Rolling Stones/Who rock style.
The Nervous Eaters have several dates scheduled in the area, including August 11 at the Music Room in Yarmouth, October 15 at Geno’s Rock Club in Portland, Maine, and November 5 at the Burren in Somerville.
Danny Klein’s packed house
There are endless audiences in these parts for the music of the J.Geils Band, and founding bassist Danny Klein and his band Full House do a wonderful job of celebrating this music, as they will on Sunday afternoon at East Bridgewater. Trading Club. Klein’s band is full of top-notch pros, but the toughest job might be singer Jim Taft’s, as he has to play the role immortalized by the Woofa Goofa himself, Peter Wolf. At 6-foot-2, and with a linebacker build and a completely bald head, Taft doesn’t physically resemble Wolf, but he’s a versatile vocalist who not only handles the wide array of material deftly, but also brings that sense of ineffable joy that Wolf displayed himself (and still does in his personal exhibitions).
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Taft came to Boston in 1986 to attend Berklee College of Music and stuck around, now living in the Berkshires. But his main musical identity was as a drummer before that. When one of Taft’s bands opened for Full House in 2008, he was asked if he would consider serving as a backup drummer should the need arise. The following year, Taft was their full-time drummer. In 2015, health issues sidelined Full House singer Artie Eaton, and Taft became frontman.
“The hardest part was remembering all the words to all the songs,” Taft said. “But Peter Wolf is known for sometimes forgetting words, and he’s good at changing on the fly. The challenge with this music is to embody the energy it contains. You can’t stand there and sing. I’ve always been kind of a show-off, I guess, so I like to dance and move. It’s always a pleasure to do. It’s not hard work, and I’ve done construction, so I know hard work. Our main goal is to keep this music alive, not as a note-for-note tribute act, but as a ‘celebration’ of it, as our posters put it.”
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Klein and his homies talked about making their own album, not Geils Band covers, but old blues and R&B chestnuts. And while no one in the band can match Klein’s seemingly endless closet of iridescent suits, there are still nuggets in this J.Geils Band songbook that they haven’t yet probed.
“Everybody knows the obvious hits, and we all do them,” Taft said. “But there are so many more that we haven’t touched yet. I would love to try ‘Flamethrower’, for example, so it’s always a really fun project to do, and we all have a lot of fun doing it.
Weymouth’s Psaros is nationwide
Weymouth tunesmith Jay Psaros has had an eventful summer so far. After opening gigs for Three Dog Night in South Dakota and Minnesota, he stopped by Martin Guitars headquarters in Nazareth, Pa., to record promos. There, he was able to play guitars used by Kurt Cobain and Johnny Cash, which are part of the on-site museum. Psaros and his magic van are touring the area this month, opening for Three Dog Night Friday at the Cape Cod Melody Tent; opening for Little River Band at the Hampton Beach Casino on Saturday; then firing a Sunday from two irons, opening Three Dog Night in the afternoon at Indian Ranch in Webster, then driving south to Norwalk, Connecticut, where he opens Gordon Lightfoot’s show tonight -the.
Remembering Hawk Rocco
We’ll put a quarter in the jukebox in memory of vocalist/harmonicist Joe “The Hawk” Rocco, who passed away last week in Providence. Rocco was a staple at Nickanee in this town and had a lot to do with this cozy tavern growing from the occasional gig to hosting music most nights. Rocco persuaded owner Stephanie Finizia to let him start a Monday night blues jam with guitarist Jim Kelly. In a short time, this humble jam attracted musicians such as Duke Robillard, Mark Cutler and members of Roomful of Blues, and became a huge social mixmaster. Rocco had a colorful past, including working security at the old Hartford Civic Center, which he did when a band was looking for someone to practice with their vocalist. That’s how Rocco took Mick Jagger for a run on his favorite wooded road. Mick continued for the first 3 miles or so but begged when he realized that Hawk was usually 8-10 miles. Rocco loved the humorous Rick Estrin & the Nightcats song “That’s Big!” and his own version was hilarious, which is how we’ll best remember him singing and laughing.
Gunpowder and Lead at Hingham
The free Thursday night gigs at Hingham Launch are underway, and Gunpowder and Lead are rocking it this week… Chicago guitarist Toronzo Cannon hasn’t played in the Boston area since 2019, so his Friday night show at Fallout Shelter in Norwood should be a killer…Remember Joe Perry’s draft was added to Friday’s ZZ Top show at the Leader Bank Pavilion…Country hunk Keith Urban arrives at the Xfinity Center on Friday…Washington Nighthawks , DC are bringing their 50th Anniversary Tour to the John Alden Sportsman Club in Plymouth on Saturday afternoon.
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