It would be as unfair to call the second annual Hot Stove Cool Music benefit concert at Fenway Park a week ago last Wednesday a disaster as it would be to confirm that it was an unqualified success. The original plan had been to use the event as a celebration for the release of Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old, the first-ever solo album by ESPN and Boston Globe sportswriter Peter Gammons. The Q Division production, released by Rounder on July 4, features backing by the Gentlemen and Buffalo Tom singer-guitarist Bill Janovitz and keyboardist Phil Aiken, as well as cameos by Cincinnati Reds (and former Red Sox) pitcher Bronson Arroyo, Sox pitchers Lenny DiNardo and Tim Wakefield, guitarist George Thorogood, and singers Kay Hanley and Juliana Hatfield. Most of these names have been associated with Hot Stove Cool Music since its inception as an off-season club show two years ago, so the event is something of a family affair. But Gammons is still recovering from an aneurysm he was hospitalized for shortly before the disc’s release, so one of the event’s centerpieces had to be reworked. But James Taylor did come to the rescue by signing on late in the, uh, game.
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But, nothing could stop the rain. And, after a quick set by up-and-coming locals Furvis, the Gentlemen were forced to end theirs as the downpour began. If it had been a game, they’d have rescheduled. But with no such option, the organizers did a heroic job of improvising, moving everyone inside to a partially covered area near Gate B where a secondary stage and sound system had been set up. Unfortunately, the sound was poor, and Kay Hanley in particular suffered from a cruel mix. The Gammons-less Gammons set faired better, as Janovitz sang on the Gammons’s rocker “She Fell from Heaven” and the band found its groove. Then Taylor hit the stage for a rocking run through of his “Steamroller” with the Gentlemen and Janovitz. New Orleans roots rockers Cowboy Mouth won over the crowd with a lot of anti-Yankees banter and a couple of raucous tunes that defied the p.a.’s shortcomings. By then, Taylor had exited, and the conditions had taken their toll on the crowd. Better luck next year.
: Live Reviews
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