Is it last call for Freda Love and Juliana Hatfield?
It’s early evening on a sweltering Sunday in Somerville’s Union Square, and though it’s been years, the waifish figure sitting hunched in front of P.A.’s Lounge isn’t hard to identify. Freda Love, drummer for Boston’s long-gone Blake Babies in the late ’80s, is on a short van tour with the indie band Gentleman Caller from Indiana, her home state for the past decade. Thanks to the heat, the humidity, and a night spent sleeping on the floor after playing a house party in Providence the previous evening, she looks as if she hadn’t seen home for at least in month. In fact, tonight’s gig will be only the third in a tour that started two days ago. “I used to be able to get into a really good groove with touring, but I just can’t anymore,” she admits with bemused resignation. She’s not complaining, just explaining. And she’s pretty sure that one of the last apartments she rented before leaving town for Bloomington with fellow Blake Baby John Strohm (guitar) was just down the street from where we’re standing. It’s the first of many questions that get settled when Juliana Hatfield, the third and most prominent piece of the Blake Babies puzzle, shows up at P.A.’s. Love did indeed live just a few blocks outside Union Square before moving to Indiana.
ROCK OR POP? Hatfield (here with Gluck and Love): “I’ve just always been more inspired by rock music, even though I do love pop music in its own way.”
Hatfield also feels Love’s pain when it comes to touring. “Did you ever read Diary of a Rock and Roll Star by Ian Hunter? It’s so funny because the life of a touring musician is the same for everyone. It’s like everyone goes through all the same stuff. I used to thrive on it. But I definitely understand burnout now.”
Later that night, after dinner and talk, Hatfield and I will watch from a corner of P.A.’s as an upright Love pounds on bass and snare drums Mo Tucker–style, inspiring a small crowd of indie-rockers to, yes, dance. But things could and indeed should have been so different. Love has arrived in Boston on the eve of the release of Crushing Love (Koch), the second and possibly final album by Some Girls, a trio that reunites Hatfield and Love for the third time since 2000, in this case with bassist/multi-instrumentalist Heidi Gluck. “We were going to play at the Hot Stove, Cool Music show,” Hatfield explains, referring to the July 12 Fenway Park extravaganza that included sets by Buffalo Tom, the Gentleman, and Kay Hanley as well as a quick cameo by James Taylor. “And then we would have booked a few shows around that just to let people know that the new record is out.”
But immigration issues got in the way of that plan. As Hatfield explains over dinner at the Independent, “Heidi’s Canadian, and she didn’t get her working papers in order in time. She’s eventually going to get a visa, but her previous visa had run out, and it became apparent that the new one wasn’t going to be available in time for the album to come out. We briefly considered replacing her. But it just didn’t make sense because she’s such an important part of the vibe and she’s so hot and . . . ”
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