What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than bargain shopping and drinking beer?
I grew up going to garage sales, flea markets, antique markets, you name it. So I was elated to finally make it to the Cambridge Antique Market.
Allen and I spent a couple of hours perusing five floors of goodies. Vintage clothing, lots of china, old books and board games. Furniture and appliances. A little bit of everything.
We both walked away with one CD; he found a Death Cab for Cutie album for me, and I found a Patti Smith album for him.
Down the road is a craft brewery that we hadn’t been to yet = Somerville Brewing Company. I ordered a flight of its core beers, and Allen ordered a pint of the Trekker Trippel. I’ve tried a few of the beers before and they make me happy.
I have about six weeks left until the birthday and nine things left to do. I got this.
When I came across reduced tickets to a production of Billy Elliot the Musical, I immediately bought them—not only because I love the film and musical, but also because it was being produced by a theater company that I hadn’t been acquainted with yet.
Wheelock Family Theatre is on the campus of Wheelock College. The company has been producing family-friendly theater since 1981. The night that my friend and I went, the large auditorium was almost full. It was great to see children in the audience as well as on the stage. I didn’t get involved with theater until I was in high school, but I danced and sang when I was a youngster, and both were wonderful experiences.
The performance was great. I’m sure that the young man who played the lead will be on Broadway someday. He acted, sang, and danced beautifully. I appreciated the nontraditional casting of some characters and the open captioning for audience members with hearing difficulties.
If you haven’t seen the film or musical, I highly recommend both. It’s a classic story of love and strife among family members, overcoming obstacles, and following your dreams. I also highly recommend this theater company because of its honorable mission.
I went to a new brewery and a new (to me) music venue the other day.
Lamplighter Brewing Company is a hip little spot in Cambridge. A small taproom is connected to its brewery. And there is a “cafe” within the taproom. Genius! You can get good coffee and good beer in the same place.
I was meeting a friend at the brewery before we headed to the aforementioned music venue, so I opted to try one beer vs. a flight. I enjoyed a lovely IPA called Lucid Nonsense and ate a breakfast sandwich that was prepared at the cafe.
My friend and I walked 20 minutes to nearby Lilypad, a performance/community space that I have heard about for years but never stepped foot into. Our former colleague’s band, Steve Thomas and REAL INCOGNITO, was playing that day.
Lilypad is a nice, intimate event space. We had a fun time grooving along to the band’s jazz/funk/reggae beat. A bonus was the sound engineer’s super-friendly dog who walked around and visited everyone during the concert.
Next up: I see a musical at a theater I’ve never been to!
One of my favorite pastimes is seeing live music. I’ve often wondered what life would be like as a roadie. Different towns every night, sometimes the same songs played every night.
Well, I had a glimpse of the roadie life last month, when I saw Guster play four nights in a row.
I’ve never been to a concert four nights in a row before. By the third night, it was starting to feel like a job…but a very good job!
This was a special event, as Guster is celebrating their 25th anniversary and the venue at which they played (Paradise Rock Club) is celebrating its 40th. Guster chose this venue because they played there a lot when they were starting out, opening for bands such as Rusted Root.
Guster chose opening bands for the four-day revelry that they had a long history with, which was nice. I only knew of one: Steven Page, formerly of Barenaked Ladies. It was great to see Steven, whose voice has not aged a day. I was a big BNL fan in college but stopped following them after Steven went down the wrong path for a while. I haven’t listened to BNL in years, so I surprised myself by remembering the lyrics to the few BNL songs he played. And I lost my shit when I heard the first few chords of one of my most favorite songs ever: “Didn’t Mean to Break Your Heart.” It’s one of those songs that you play on repeat when you’re going through a breakup.
Anyhoo, on to Guster.
I had a great spot by the stage for Steven Page’s set. But then I had to go to the bathroom and was meeting a friend who was running late, so I lost my spot. This meant that I didn’t see 95% of Guster’s set. We walked around and around but could never even see a sliver of the stage. One tall guy took pity on us for the last couple of songs and let us stand in front of him.
Second Night: I was determined to get a good spot for Night #2. I nabbed a perfect spot in the balcony. A band from Northampton, MA, called And the Kids opened. They rocked it.
Each night, Guster did something a little different. I can’t tell you what they did the first night…but on the second night, they invited a cellist and violinist to perform on a few songs and they were a great addition.
Third Night: This was my favorite night because they brought out a wheel and determined the set list from wheel spins. This meant that a few lucky fans were invited on stage to sing karaoke style, Guster played half of a song at twice the tempo, and Brian sang the theme song to Cheers. The Bogmen opened and they were fun and rowdy.
I also met Brian for the third time before this show. Everyone who bought a four-day pass was invited to a meet and greet an hour before the third or fourth night’s show. Unfortunately, we weren’t let in until 40 minutes before the start of the show, so I wasn’t sure if I would have time to talk with any of them. But I did manage to say a quick hello to Brian and give him a gift that I had brought for him and the other guys.
Fourth Night: I secured a spot in the balcony again and stood next to a lovely couple with a teenage son whom I had been chatting with in line outside. They mentioned a few other Guster concerts they’d been to, and I kept saying, “I was there, too!” I felt a sense of community with these complete strangers because of these shared experiences we had years ago.
Wesley Stace opened, and I would love to know how Guster initially crossed paths with this British bloke. His lyrics were witty and I appreciated that he shared his vinyl purchases from earlier that day with the crowd.
I could tell that Guster was a little tired that night, but the audience didn’t care. After all, the lads had been running themselves ragged for four days: on top of the shows, they did an interview at the WGBH studio at the Boston Public Library, and they invited fans to bowl with them in Somerville and ice skate with them at City Hall Plaza.
The special guests that night were some brass players who performed on a few songs. They were also a great addition.
Guster ended the four-day hoopla with a fan favorite, an acoustic version of their song “Jesus on the Radio.”
There was a Guster Museum set up in the front bar all four nights. I spent a few minutes looking at the mementos on the third night as I left the show. I loved seeing the Guster Gazette, a printed newsletter that I have a few copies of somewhere, and a copy of a letter that Guster sent out to promoters when they were first starting out. AND a piece of paper with a bunch of potential band names = wow, some of them were terrible. I planned to look more closely as I left on the fourth night, but the museum was already packed up when I walked through.
In conclusion, it was an unforgettable experience and I hope that I’m a merch girl for a band in my next life.
Right before the holidays, two friends and I checked out “Boston Winter,” a shopping/drinking/ice skating situation in downtown Boston. It was the first year that such a situation existed in Boston. I think it was a great start for utilizing the open space and offering people another festive activity during the holiday season.
The big attraction was the ice skating rink, which looked popular. There was also a family-friendly chocolate tasting tent, a wine-tasting tent, and an “urban lodge” tent that sold alcohol. About 30 chalets selling all kinds of gifts dotted the landscape.
It was very cold the night we went, but we still enjoyed the opportunity to do some last-minute gift shopping.
That’s birthday list item #6. Buying a Bessie Smith album a few days later is item #7. Each year, I like to buy an album of a musician’s that I don’t yet own. I’ve been trying to buy more albums of female artists.
Allen and I went to House of Guitars while visiting my family for the holidays. It’s a candy store for music lovers. It’s organized chaos…so I happened upon the blues section as I was wandering and found a Bessie Smith album, Empress of the Blues. As far as I can tell, it’s a random mix of her hits.
I’ve given it a few listens so far. Her voice is just beautiful. And even though the songs were written 80+ years ago, the themes of love, loss, and more love and more loss, still resonate.