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Above The Basement - Boston Music and Conversation

Above the Basement offers casual and candid discussions with musicians, artists, producers and others from Boston and beyond. The conversations offer experiences ​from those shaping Boston's music community and for whom music is a passion. You'll hear their stories, hardships ​​faced and overcome...and why they love what they do.
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Above The Basement - Boston Music and Conversation
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Apr 23, 2018

ON YOUR FEET! The musical is a story of rhythm and resilience.

It covers the lives of Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio Estefan to and through success, and tells a story of setbacks and love. The foundation is built upon music and at its core is the legendary Miami Sound Machine.

We sat down with Jorge Casas and Clay Ostwald of the original members of the Miami Sound Machine, who help bring all these iconic songs to the Broadway stage. We talk about the tour and the transition of pop-Latin-jazz to theater, the accident that changed everything, and the recovery and success of “cross over” Cuban American Music that Gloria, Emilio and the Miami Sound Machine brought to the world.

The show is currently playing at the Boston Opera House through April 29th, 2018.

Go to www.boston.broadway.com for more information.

Song List:

All songs from On Your Feet: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Song 1: Get On Your Feet
Song 2: Conga
Song 3 Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

Photo credit: 2480: ON YOUR FEET! Band featuring members of the Miami Sound Machine: Clay Ostwald (Music Director/Keyboard), Jorge Casas (bass), Edward Bonilla (percussion) and Theodore Mulet (trombone), (c) Matthew Murphy.

Join us at Above The Basement!
Go to www.patreon.com/abovethebasement for more information.

Apr 20, 2018

What is the first song that comes right to your mind?

When you think of the world around us, or a social issue - why does this song resonate?

These are the kinds of questions we asked the students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School as part of a music and society discussion.

While we always try to raise these important questions during our conversations, we can’t take credit for this one... it was senior Natalia Ruiz who spotted an ATB sticker somewhere in Cambridge, looked us up and proposed a collaboration. We were honored to ask questions, facilitate discussion with, and most importantly learn from these inspiring juniors and seniors about what music inspires them, why it moves them and what artists create the music and lyrics behind it all.

Along with the students we were joined by two staff at Cambridge Latin, a teacher and the assistant principal, who is - fittingly - an accomplished jazz saxophonist himself.

 

Join us at Above The Basement! Go to www.patreon.com/abovethebasement for more information

Apr 11, 2018

We first saw Ryan Montbleau back in 2012 in Boston on a Rock and Blues Cruise that featured the Ryan Montbleau Band. It was a full boat and was packed with Ryan Montbleau fans and the band totally rocked the house. Or rather the boat.

The singer-songwriter and bandleader has been a relentless road warrior. His last album called I Was Just Leaving is a bit more introspective than his previous but certainly shows off his songwriting chops. His most recent project is a duo with the wonderful Hayley Jane called Yes Darling.

Our occasional co-host Ike Walker joined us at our usual location in Concord, MA and we talked jury duty, moving, writing, dreams…uh…eggs…lots of stuff!

Song List:

Song 1: Moving Too Fast (I Was Just Leaving)
Song 2: Fast Car (feat. Tall Heights - All Or Nothing)
Song 3: Misplaced Anger (Yes Darling)
Song 4: Eggs (Patience On Friday)
Song 5: Bright Side (I Was Just Leaving)

Live Songs:

Song 1: Call Your Mother
Song 2: Looking Glass

Join us at Above The Basement!
Go to www.patreon.com/abovethebasement for more information.

Apr 4, 2018

Internationally acclaimed soloist, composer and educator, Wu Man is a master of the Pipa, an instrument that dates back almost 2000 years. Wu Man co-founded The Silkroad Project with Yo-Yo Ma and has collaborated with many illustrious composers including Phillip Glass, Tan Dun and Terry Riley and has written for The Kronos Quartet.

In 1998 she was awarded The Bunting Fellowship at Harvard University and was the first Chinese traditional musician to receive The United States Artist Fellowship in 2008.

We caught up with her on tour with the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall and had a wonderful talk about Silkroad, the challenges of composing for different instruments and her association with Boston.

Song List:

Song 1: White Snow in a Sunny Spring (Wu Man and Friends)
Song 2: Sound of a Voice Suite (Wu Man/Phillip Glass - Theater Music Vol. 1)
Song 3: Four Chinese Paintings - Gobi Desert at Sunset
Composed by Wu Man on pipa, arranged for string quartet by Danny Clay © 2016 Kronos Arts Publishing ℗ 2016 Kronos Performing Arts Association
Commissioned for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire Produced by Kronos Quartet
Recorded December 2015 at Women's Audio Mission, San Francisco, CA
Engineered by Laura Dean and Terri Winston/Women's Audio Mission Assistant Engineers: Aimee Hamel, Maryam Qudus, Hayley Baysinger, Erin Baumann

Song 4: Huayin Shadow Puppet Band performance excerpt

Join us at Above The Basement! Go to www.patreon.com/abovethebasement for more information

Mar 28, 2018

Jonatha Brooke's first band - the critically acclaimed The Story with the talented Jennifer Kimball was the beginning of an impressive run of beautifully written songs that today culminate in her latest project – a Broadway musical play called My Mother Has 4 Noses.

Currently touring the US, this musical play explores her relationship with her mother who suffered the devastating effects of Alzheimer's.

We caught up with her just before she played a fantastic concert at City Winery Boston and talked first kisses (don’t worry we bleeped out names to protect the innocent), alternate tunings, Woody Guthrie poems and her new life in the theater.

Song List:

Song 1: So Much Mine (The Story - Angel In The House)
Song 2: My Flowers Grow Green (Jonatha Brooke - The Works)
Song 3: Where Were You (Jonatha Brooke - Plumb)
Song 4: Wind (Jonatha Brooke - My Mother Has 4 Noses)

Live Song:

Song 1: Put The Gun Down

Join us at Above The Basement!
Go to www.patreon.com/abovethebasement for more information.

Mar 23, 2018

This is part two of a two part episode.

We met Sir David Minehan when we walked up the stairs to the wonderful rooms of his recording studio Woolly Mammoth Sound to begin recording our Butler Frog EP.

David is in the seminal Boston band The Neighborhoods that won the very first WBCN Rock 'N' Roll Rumble in 1979 and has toured with David Bowie, The Ramones and Cheap Trick among others.

He has since been running Woolly Mammoth Sound for 20 years while also taking time to tour with Paul Westerberg and The Replacements as their lead guitarist.

The Neighborhoods just completed recording a new studio album, which should be released soon!

Listen to Part One at http://abovetheb.libsyn.com/episode-085-david-minehan-part-one

Song List:

Song 1:   Think It Over (The Last Rat - Live)
Song 2:   Prettiest Girl

Join us at Above The Basement!
Go to www.patreon.com/abovethebasement for more information.

Mar 21, 2018

We met Sir David Minehan when we walked up the stairs to the wonderful rooms of his recording studio Woolly Mammoth Sound to begin recording our Butler Frog EP.

David is in the seminal Boston band The Neighborhoods that won the very first WBCN Rock 'N' Roll Rumble in 1979 and has toured with David Bowie, The Ramones and Cheap Trick among others.

He has since been running Woolly Mammoth Sound for 20 years while also taking time to tour with Paul Westerberg and The Replacements as their lead guitarist.

The Neighborhoods just completed recording a new studio album, which should be released soon!

Listen to Part Two at http://abovetheb.libsyn.com/episode-086-david-minehan-part-two

Song List:

Song 1: Pure and Easy (The Last Rat - Live)
Song 2: Prettiest Girl
Song 3: Peeping Tom (The Last Rat - Live)

Join us at Above The Basement!  
Learn more at patreon.com/AboveTheBasement

Mar 16, 2018

This is part two of our conversation with RIPE so if you haven’t heard the first, go to abovethebasement.com/episodes to listen.

Coming out of Berklee College of Music, RIPE has been called many things - from neo-soul to funk/pop to jam band - but whatever genre they fall into, their infectious licks, lyrical grooves and high energy performances made us immediate fans.

We sat with 3/7ths of the band out in Allston, MA a week or so after seeing blow away the crowd a The Paradise. Singer Robbie Wulfsohn and guitarists Tory Geismar and Jon Becker joined us for a conversation about their roots, vision, and the love they have for the fans - which is a palpable entity if you have ever been to a RIPE show.

Song List:

Song 1: Goon Squad (Hey Hello)
Song 2: Down With The Dark Side (Produce The Juice)
Song 3: Caralee (Hey Hello)

Live Song:
Goon Squad

Join us at Above The Basement!  
Learn more at patreon.com/AboveTheBasement

Mar 14, 2018

Coming out of Berklee College of Music, RIPE has been called many things - from neo-soul to funk/pop to jam band - but whatever genre they fall into, their infectious licks, lyrical grooves and high energy performances made us immediate fans.

We sat with 3/7ths of the band out in Allston, MA a week or so after seeing them blow away the crowd at The Paradise. Singer Robbie Wulfsohn and guitarists Tory Geismar and Jon Becker joined us for a conversation about their roots, vision, and the love they have for the fans - which is a palpable entity if you have ever been to a RIPE show.

This is part one of a two part conversation!

Song List:

Song 1: Little Lighter (upcoming release)
Song 2: Downward (upcoming release)
Song 3: Talk to the Moon (Hey Hello)

Live Song: Little Lighter

Join us at Above The Basement!  
Learn more at patreon.com/AboveTheBasement

Mar 7, 2018

Waitress The Musical, written by Jessie Nelson with original music and lyrics by six time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, is currently on a US tour and while the Boston show has completed its run the tour will continue throughout the US over the next year or so.

We had a chance to sit at beautiful Boston Opera House and talk with conductor/pianist Jenny Cartney and cellist/guitarist Nick Anton to discuss the both the challenges and excitement of rising above the orchestra pit to perform on the stage with the actors, their diverse musical backgrounds and hitting the road with the other amazing musicians and actors.

Song List:

All songs from the album What's Inside - Songs From Waitress

Song 1: Lulu's Pie Song
Song 2: Bad Idea
Song 3: She Used To Be Mine
Song 4: Lulu's Pie Song

Mar 6, 2018

We recently published an episode with singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier and talked about her inspiring work with the organization Songwriting with Soldiers.

We wanted to create a separate episode with the conversation we had afterwards with a US Marine, veteran Bill Auger, who shared the story of his first songwriting experience on the retreat with professional songwriter Darden Smith, and how the experience and the songs changed his life for the better.

Bill is joined by Songwriting with Soldiers co-founder Mary Judd, who talks about the genesis, growth and unique aspects of their mission.

Song List: All songs by Mary Gauthier from the album Rifles and Rosary Beads

Available at www.marygauthier.com

Song 1: Soldering On
Song 2: Rifles and Rosary Beads

Feb 28, 2018

Mary Gauthier didn't pick up a guitar until later in life, and although finding success as a Boston restaurateur, certain events forced a change. Ten albums later she continues to tell stories of her past, her own healing, and the search for honesty and truth.

Mary has lived through some challenging experiences and now she shares the songwriting pen and paper with US Veterans to tell their own stories through the Songwriting With:Soldiers program. 

We talked with Mary prior to her acoustic show at Boston’s brand new City Winery.

Afterwards we were fortunate and thankful to meet with a US Marine, veteran Bill Auger, who shared the story of his first songwriting experience with professional songwriter Darden Smith, and how the experience and the songs changed his life for the better.

Bill is joined by Songwriting With:Soldiers co-founder Mary Judd, who talks about the genesis, growth and unique aspects of their mission.

Song List:

All songs off the Rifles and Rosary Beads album

Song 1: Soldering On
Song 2: Bullet Holes in the Sky
Song 3: Rifles and Rosary Beads

Feb 24, 2018

Dr. Jay Keyser is known to many as MIT Professor Emeritus of Linguistics. He’s written several books and countless essays and poems throughout his prolific career centering in his love for language. Jay is a jazz trombonist in the highly regarded Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, which happens to be one of the oldest continuous jazz ensembles in the country.

Whether you know Jay as a writer, poet, musician, philosopher or teacher, it’s clear when you talk with him there is a thirst for knowledge and true love of life.

Jay talked to us about his experience with a life changing event in 2014, when an accident left him without any movement of his extremities at the age of 79.

Defining resilience, Jay candidly reports on his incredible recovery, his difficult yet exciting new chapter in music and writing and also his relationship with his wonderful wife.

Song List:

All songs performed by the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra
Composer Mark Sumner Harvey

Song 1: Spaceways (Passages)
Song 2: March of the Booboisie (Exocations)
Song 3: I Hear America Calling (Evocations)

Live Song:

Song 1: Sunny Side of the Street (music composed by Jimmy McHugh and lyrics by Dorothy Fields)

Feb 14, 2018

Massachusetts native Mark Erelli is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer and has been in the Boston music scene as a professional for almost 20 years.

He just released Mixtape – a compilation of covers from musicians who inspire him.

We had a great conversation covering his high school bands, the link between science and music, his move from entomology to full time musician, his thoughts on collaboration in the writing process and also the importance of reading instructions on smoke machine use.

Song List

Song 1: Brokedown Palace (Mixtape)
Song 2: Basement Days (Little Vigils)
Song 3: French King (For a Song)

Live Songs

Song 1: Ophelia (Mixtape)
Song 2: Against All Odds (Mixtape)

Feb 7, 2018

Chuck and Ron know all their listeners have frequently pondered the following question:

What do their Mom’s think of Above The Basement?

They decided to get to the bottom of it! After a lovely brunch at Woods Hill Table they sat with professional mothers Gloria Clough and Judy Hirschberg. They pestered them with questions and let them tell embarrassing stories about them - all the while fishing for compliments that only a mother could give.

Song List:

Song 1: Maggie (Ron Hirschberg - 1995)
Song 2: Sometimes (After The Frost - Northern Point) - 2010)
Song 3: This Time (Last Call For Opinions - The Butler Frogs)

Jan 31, 2018

We met with David Wax and Suz Slezak - appropriately enough in a guesthouse where they were staying with their own family of four.

They are on a 10 city tour as a duo - humming along the way with new creations of melodies and lyrics while at the same time teaching their kids a thing or two about language, culture and the road.

Their music will both soothe and surprise you, treating the ears with harmonies and often unexpected but pleasant repetitive lines and hooks - – it is an anthropological journey into their own Mexo-Americana connection.

This 2 piece is usually a 5 piece band and - spoiler alert - the upcoming touring show seems to be expanding to a 7 piece in a town near you soon.

Blindfolds optional...

Song List:

Song 1: Every Time Katie (Guesthouse)
Song 2: Wheelbarrow Baby (Electric Artifacts)
Song 3: Guesthouse (Guesthouse)
Song 4: Harder Before It Gets Easier (Knock Knock Get Up)
Live Song 1: Time Will Not Track us Down (Guesthouse)
Live Song 2: Lavender Street (Everything is Saved)

Jan 25, 2018

The final installment of our Boston Children's Chorus episodes! 

We sat with BCC Founder Hubie Jones and a few board members, sponsors and supporters, including Joel and Sue Sherman, Meg Clough and Bob Rivers just before the Boston Children's Chorus Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Symphony Hall Boston.

We also had the unique opportunity to talk once again not only to current BCC singers, but a few alumni as well!

We got their thoughts on the event, the importance of such a wonderful program and the example the kids of the BCC sets for us all.

Song List:

Song 1: A Change Is Gonna Come
Song 2: Pride - In The Name Of Love
Song 3: Before My Time
Song 4: We Are One
Song 5: Amazing Grace

Jan 17, 2018

We talked with Matthew Stubbs as he was just about to take the floor with his band Matthew Stubbs and The Antiguas for his 2017 Boston Music Award winning residency DownBeat Mondays at The Sinclair.

The B-Movies showing on the TVs along with the psychedelic light show and animation coloring the band create a surreal environment – made all the more amazing by the fantastic instrumental mix of what has been called Acid Blues.

While he has two great solo albums under his belt - he just released his first self titled album with The Antiguas (called Matthew Stubbs and The Antiguas).

But you gotta hear these guys live to really appreciate the entire package.

Song List: All songs from their self titled album Matthew Stubbs and The Antiguas.

Song 1: Del Diablo
Song 2: El Segundo
Song 3: Unwinder

Jan 11, 2018

We caught Vancil just before he departed for his 18 month journey as principle drummer on Hamilton: An American Musical.

Hailing from Boston, Vancil is an award winning jazz drummer, producer and musical director. Vancil, or “Coop” talked with us at Charles Haynes’s studio about academic music, sharpening the tools and becoming a listener.

We spoke about his beginnings as an eager 4th grader in the Metco program in Wellesley, MA and his road to becoming a sought after professional musician embarking on a tour with the most talked about musical of our generation.

Song List:

Song 1: Song For My Father (Vancil Cooper/Gabriela Martina)
Song 2: Open (Lindsay Lucas)

Jan 3, 2018

British pianist, vocalist and performer Tom Odell writes and sings from the soul and gives an unforgettable live performance with his band that is both modern and classic at the same time.

We were thrilled to sit at Strongroom Studios in East London where he was putting the final touches on his latest album. The surrounding color and lighting around the instruments made up for the fact that I kicked over his tea and Ronnie left 2 very expensive microphones in the back seat of the Uber we took to get there – which we fortunately got back later that evening.

This was a special trip for us at Above The Basement as two Bostonians visiting England. There was a lot of healing that needed to happen following the Boston bombing in 2013 ¬- and it’s fitting that we sat in Strongroom Studios when Tom’s song Heal was featured in the movie Stronger.

To that end we would like to dedicate this episode and the inspiring music behind it to the healing victims, their families and caregivers throughout our Boston hospitals - in particular the amazing staff at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital – whose motto is, appropriately enough - "Find Your Strength".

Song List:

Song 1: Concrete (Wrong Crowd)
Song 2: Heal (Long Way Down)
Song 3: Somehow (Wrong Crowd)
Song 4: Constellations (Wrong Crowd)
Song 5: Supposed To Be (Long Way Down)

Dec 31, 2017

We all have a voice but seldom can we come together to sing in harmony. The BCC makes this possible literally and figuratively from as early as age 7 and continuing throughout high-school.

From over 100 zip codes in the greater Boston area, this group of 450 young singers meet each week to learn, rehearse and perform under the guidance of artistic director Anthony Trecek-King and executive producer Ben Hires.

This is part two of our conversation as we invited some of the young singers to the conversation and got their thoughts on the wonderful experiences they’ve had with The Boston Children’s Chorus.

As Dr. Martin Luther King day approaches, the BCC not only prepares for their concert in Symphony Hall, they reflect on his legacy and the everyday impact of his message on their own lives and the city of Boston.

Song List:

Song 1: Pride (In the Name of Love)
Song 2: I Will Sing

Dec 30, 2017

We all have a voice but seldom can we come together to sing in harmony. The BCC makes this possible literally and figuratively from as early as age 7 and continuing throughout high-school.

From over 100 zip codes in the greater Boston area, this group of 450 young singers meet each week to learn, rehearse and perform under the guidance of artistic director Anthony Trecek-King and executive producer Ben Hires.

In our two part conversation, Anthony, Ben and several members of this outstanding and creative chorus discuss the connections among new friends, and the power of harmony.

As Dr. Martin Luther King day approaches, the BCC not only prepares for their concert in Symphony Hall, they reflect on his legacy and the everyday impact of his message on their own lives and the city of Boston.

Song List:

Song 1: On My Way
Song 2: Oh Canada
Song 3: Pride (In the Name of Love)
Song 4: I Will Sing

Dec 20, 2017

We sat with Lisa Rodio, Tim Steiner and Fraser Gordon at their rehearsal space in the north of London and discussed why they do what they do and what we can expect from them in the near future.

When you mix musical melodies and rhythm with movement and communication, a dose of humor and shared emotion, the result can be nothing short of magic.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, based in London, has been able to make this possible through the work of professional classical musicians along with music scholars, educators, therapists and healthcare providers.

They created this experience with amazing programs like Strokestra, and The Irene Taylor Trust 'Music in Prisons' through The Lullaby Project.

RPO continues to provide these special experiences to groups around the UK and beyond, as well as to schools with children with disabilities, centers for autism and more.

Check out our website for more information on both of these projects.

Song List:

Song 1: Troyte - Barry Wordsworth conducts Elgar
Song 2: Dead Elvis - Charles Ullery (Michael Daugherty)
Song 3: Lullaby
Song 4: Strokestra
Song 5: Nimrod - Barry Wordsworth conducts Elgar

Dec 15, 2017

We traveled across the pond to London speak with legendary bassist and awesome human Leland Sklar the morning after his performance on tour with Phil Collins.

We sat in his hotel room to talk music, politics (yes...politics), tv theme songs, writing, dirt, gear....the list was endless.

Special thanks to our very first guest, bassist Alison Keslow, for the introductions to this episode.

This is part two of two.

Song List: Song 1: Your Smiling Face - James Taylor
Song 2: Don't Lose My Number - Phil Collins
Song 3: In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins

Dec 12, 2017

We traveled across the pond to London speak with legendary bassist and awesome human Leland Sklar the morning after his performance on tour with Phil Collins.

We sat in his hotel room to talk music, politics (yes...politics), tv theme songs, writing, dirt, gear....the list was endless.

Special thanks to our very first guest, bassist Alison Keslow, for the introductions to this episode.

This is part one of two.

Song List:

Song 1: Stratus - Billy Cobham (off the album Spectrum)
Song 2: The Rockford Files Theme - Mike Post

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