Got live if you want it

This spring’s roots and concert rundown
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  March 8, 2006

AFRICA CALLING: Uganda’s Samite comes to Johnny D’s on April 12.Mai Cramer was a beloved figure in local roots-music circles. For 24 years she hosted the popular show “Blues After Hours” on WBGH radio and was a tireless champion of the music.

Cramer died of breast cancer in 2002, and her loss is still felt by the blues community. On April 15 at 7:30 pm, some of its most prominent local members — including guitarist Ronnie Earl, piano kingpin David Maxwell, former Roomful of Blues frontman Sugar Ray Norcia and his band the Bluetones, chanteuse Michelle Willson, and the group 2120 South Michigan Avenue — will gather at the Arlington Regent Theatre (7 Medford St, Arlington; 781.646.4849) to pay tribute to Cramer. Proceeds will benefit Boston’s Pine Street Inn shelter for the homeless, one of her favorite charities. The show — one of many notable events on the local roots-music schedule this spring — is a long-awaited return to the local stage for Earl, who though he’s remained active in recording rarely performs and hasn’t played in the Boston area for more than a year. It’s also something of a return for Willson, another home-town performer with an international reputation who’s been absent from the scene.

Cramer’s husband, the gifted six-stringer Peter “Hi-Fi” Ward, will also appear as part of 2120 South Michigan Avenue, who take their name from the original location of the Chess Records studio in Chicago, where great recordings were made by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williams, and dozens of other performers during the music’s transitional years in the 1950s and ’60s.

Although not specifically a blues artist, Cambridge singer AndreaGillis has a voice inherited from the likes of Koko Taylor and Etta James at their strongest and rawest. She opens for punk ’n’ roots legend JohnDoe this Wednesday, March 15, at T.T. the Bear’s Place (10 Brookline St, Cambridge, 617.492.BEAR).

But the roots-music scene reaches well beyond blues this season. Johnny D’s (17 Holland St, Somerville; 617.776.2004) has a schedule that’s shaping up as a microcosmic sampler of what’s ahead. On March 24, harmonica man JamesMontgomery brings in his band; the next night it’s Louisiana’s Cajun-fueled BeausoleiL. On March 28, bluegrass gets its due with Crooked Jade and the Hunger Mountain Boys. A night later it’s flamenco and jazz guitarist Goran Ivanovic. Local champions of the roots scene the Tarbox Ramblers hold the stage on April Fool’s Day, and Austin git-steel fret burner Junior Brown takes over on April 5. The Boston area’s own West African outfit Lamine Toure & Saloum appear for a dance-intensive April 6; the next night it’s a weird blend of ethnic diversity with reggae group the Joint Chiefs and Slavic Soul Party. Folksinger Peter Mulvey pulls in behind his new The Knuckleball Suite (Signature Sounds) on April 8 with opener Chris Pureka. Uganda’s Samite appears on the 12th, and the Soul Band featuring local blues hotshots Mike Welch and Brad Helene play on the 14th. More reggae on the 22nd with Roots Nation and Dub is a Weapon. Then it’s back to Africa, at least sonically, with locals Sankai Sound 7 on April 28.

1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Boston music news: March 28, 2008, Celebrating the blues, Election controversy rocks and roils Boston bluesmen, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Ska, Bonnie Raitt,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   TOM HAMBRIDGE | BOOM!  |  August 23, 2011
    Roots rock is the new country and ex-Bostonian Tom Hambridge is the style's current MPV.
  •   COUNTRY STRONG | SOUNDTRACK  |  January 11, 2011
    This steaming pile of songs is emblematic of the state of mainstream country music — all artifice, no heart, calculated anthems written to formula and meant, like the film itself, to do no more than capitalize on the genre's current success and rob its undiscriminating fans.
  •   MARC RIBOT | SILENT MOVIES  |  November 02, 2010
    This exceptional, eccentric guitarist has traced a slow evolution from screamer to dreamer.
  •   IN MEMORIAM: SOLOMON BURKE, 1940 — 2010  |  October 11, 2010
    Boston-based blues-guitar virtuoso Ronnie Earl seems to be considering his past on his 23rd album as a leader.

 See all articles by: TED DROZDOWSKI