The Blog

  • Rich Kassirer

Our Favorites of 2010

The Avett Brothers at Newport Folk Festival.
The Avett Brothers at Newport Folk Festival.


Hadestown,” Anais Mitchell A concept album in itself is very tough to pull off. A folk opera about the Orpheus myth? Please. Top it off with an incredible cast – Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown, Justin Vernon, etc. – singing the various roles and a band that pulls off an array of musical styles. We can’t think of another album in the last 10 years that has consistently been in our heads nearly every day since its release. It is truly an amazing accomplishment.

SURPRISE CD See above.


“Hadestown” performed live at Passim  We’ve never seen a group of musicians more into what they were doing. Some of Boston’s best musicians crowded onto and in front of the small stage to re-create “Hadestown” from start to finish. It was exquisite. Peter Mulvey, Kris Delmhorst, Tim Gearan and many others along with Anais and backed by Michael Chorney’s band. Even when they weren’t performing you could see how intensely the musicians were listening: bobbing their heads, eyes closed. It was mesmerizing. Read our concert review HERE


Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band, Orpheum Theatre, Boston, and State Theatre, Portland, Maine We should just retire this category. There’s no way to beat friends, family, and Josh Ritter… Unless another band wants to invite us along to ride their tour bus, this is the way it’s always gonna be! Read our concert reviews HERE and HERE


Avetts on the scissor lift at Newport (see above) It captures the band’s free spirit and the surprise of the moment. What the photo doesn’t show is the row of port-o-potties beneath them. See a video HERE


‘Music is entertainment, yeah sure. But it’s also a language. It can be a romantic dialogue. A mournful soliloquy with onlookers. It can be playful, sexy, offensive. The only way to get reactions from people is to connect. That’s the truth.’ – Jackie Greene   Read the full interview HERE


Fort Adams State Park, Newport Folk Festival This may be only a once-a-year excursion, but it is a great festival experience. There may be more scenic venues – Red Rocks in Colorado, the Gorge near Seattle – but the Newport stage looks out on a peninsula of land surrounded by boats and yachts on the harbor, the crowd is more intent on listening than drinking and the acts are diverse, ranging from up-and-coming to legendary. Read our concert review HERE


Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers How does a young woman from Seattle sound like she’s spent her whole life playing Nashville-based country music? Read our CD review HERE

OTHER MEMORABLE CONCERTS OF THE YEAR David Rawlings Machine, Paradise, June 5 “The beauty of The Machine is that they really swing – they almost rock those acoustic instruments. … The beautiful “Ruby” shined with Gillian’s amazing harmony vocals backing his. She and Dave were just meant to sing together. They seem to fill in each other’s empty spaces like no pair I can think of. … They came back for two encores and the crowd was rocking. I’ve seen Gillian and Dave a couple times before but I’ve never seen such a rowdy, excited crowd – and they knew almost all the words to the songs.” To read the whole review, click HERE

Stone Temple Pilots, Bank of America Pavilion, Sept. 1 “All of the worries that the Stone Temple Pilots are rock stars on the decline were blown away when the quartet took the stage. … Opening with fan favorites “Crackerman’’ and “Wicked Garden,” Weiland looked and sounded great. Singing songs through his signature bullhorn, Weiland led his mates through STP classics as well as songs from their latest album. To read the whole review, click HERE

Erin McKeown’s 10th anniversary Distillation tour, Sept. 24 “As hoped, Erin rocked her guitar as the “Distillation” songs called for. … “How to Open My Heart in 4 Easy Steps” was gorgeous, and she hit every note perfectly; the wink-wink of the cocaine-loving tune “The Little Cowboy” was filled with [Dave] Chalfant’s brilliant slide playing; “Le Petite Mort” is always great for its chance to let the audience scream “Oh Estelle”; and “Blackbirds” blew me away as always.” To read the whole review, click HERE

OTHER MEMORABLE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR Josh Ritter, “So Runs the World Away”  “Josh Ritter’s proven to be a natural storyteller. So it is no surprise that on his new album, the focus turns to tales of cursed mummies and ships seeking new worlds. The songs, says Josh, “are larger and more detailed and feel to me as if they were painted in oil on large canvasses.” After the rockin’, brash “Historical Conquests” album, this time we get a much more cerebral one, overflowing with imagery set against a palette of sound, rather than the raucous backing of the past.” To read the whole review, click HERE

Dawes, “North Hills”   “When we first heard Dawes our impression was that they sounded like a California version of the Avett Brothers. … You get the picture: dreamy harmonies, lush acoustic-leaning instrumentation and lyrics of love lost and found. The quartet’s songs are a nice mix of soul and pop that could probably do with a little of that punkish edge the Avetts have.” To read the whole review, click HERE

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, “Grace Potter and the Nocturnals”  Grace has a new female bass player and has added a second guitarist. The new lineup allows for a fuller – and sexier – sound, and a chance for Grace to step out front even more. But don’t be led astray, she’s not putting down her Flying V or forsaking her Hammond B3 chores. That is very clear from the first tune “Paris (Ooh La La),’’ which opens with some screaming guitars. It sounds like a ’70s Heart tune on steroids.” To read the whole review, click HERE

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