Category Archives: Shows

Billie Joe Armstrong & The Quartos

These! Paper! Bullets! Yale Repertory Theatre

These Paper Bullets, the Yale Repertory Theatre world premiere which features new Beatles-style songs by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and a script (adapted from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing) by Rolin Jones, who’s written for TV’s Weeds and Friday Night Lights, opened March 20 and closes April 5.

Those who need Billie Joe Armstrong to be all Green Day all the time won’t know what to do with his Lennon-McCartney pastiches (circa 1964). But these are sturdy, catchy numbers that you want to hear over and over. In the show, they’re played live and loud, with convincing Beatlesque harmonies and guitar jangles, by The Quartos—actors David Wilson Barnes, Bryan Fenkart, James Barry and Lucas Papaelias. All The Quartos play their instruments for real. Barry is a member of the first national tour of the rock musical Million Dollar Quartet, Papaelias was in the original cast of the stage musical version of Once, and Fenkart has released two albums as a singer-songwriter.

A couple of Armstrong’s songs are contained in video ads for the show found on the Yale Rep site, here. A couple of numbers, like the second-half showstopper “Regretfully Yours,” really need to be seen in the context of the show (and its romantic Shakespearean plot) to be fully appreciated.

There’s nearly an album’s worth of music in this show—besides Armstrong’s songs, there’s incidental music composed by Broken Chord, the New York company which also is in charge of These Paper Bullets!’s overall sound design. No word on whether any of this will get released, or if These Paper Bullets! has a life after Yale. But Billie Joe Armstong’s recent foray into harmony-based pop suggests that fans can accept him outside of his ’80s punk persona. Having his Beatles-theater songs out there wouldn’t be any kind of stretch. And they’re songs you want to own.


Hard Rocking Ray Hardman

Blanco and the Radiation

Who’d have thought that the smooth-voiced WNPR host Ray Hardman would harbor the heart of a garage rocker? Count me among the “not I” camp. It’s like finding out Miami Dolphins’ resident bully Richie Incognito collects butterflies or knits.

For those who still don’t believe, allow me to introduce you to Hardman’s band, The Radiation, seen here in this video clip with Blanco in a massively hot version of the Bellrays’ “Blues for Godzilla.”

And here they are performing a cover of Love’s “7 + 7 Is.”

The best news of all is that you can behold Ray Hardman in the flesh, along with The Radiation AND Blanco AND the Blanco Brothers, next Saturday, March 29, at Sully’s Pub in Hartford.

Above is the handsome poster for the show.

Your WNPR listening experience will change forever.

Gathering of the Vibes 2014 menu revealed


Pretty extraordinary how Gathering of the Vibes has become such a major Deadhead/jamband festival. Think of it. We’re on the other end of the continent from which The Grateful Dead emerged. Connecticut’s hippie community cred had been compromised since the Powder Ridge Rock Festival never happened in 1970.

The 19th Gathering of the Vibes is already selling tickets for its July 31-August 3 fest in Bridgeport’s Seaside Park. Details here.

On Saturday, organizers revealed a major chunk of the 2013 Gathering of the Vibes line-up, and did so in a special ceremony onstage at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY.

Don’t think anyone’s arranged these alphabetically yet, so here you go:

Dark Star Orchestra

Deep Banana Blackout#

Donna the Buffalo*#


John Fogerty*

Grateful Grass (Keller Williams, Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band and Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green#)*

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead*

Kung Fu

Langhorne Slim & The Law*

Leftover Salmon*#

Maceo Parker

Ziggy Marley


Rhythm Devils (aka Grateful Dead drummers Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann, who’ll play alongside Disco Biscuits#)

Rodrigo y Gabriela*

Ryan Montbleau

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros*

Slightly Stoopid*


Umphrey’s McGee

Wavy Gravy# (host)

Widespread Panic*

You’ll notice a lot of Connecticut-based bands in the mix. That’s something to be proud of, and something to commend the Vibe bookers for.

* = an act that hasn’t played Gathering of the Vibes before. (Seriously. Widespread Panic. Never played.)

# = an act that is named after some kind of food.

Firehouse 12′s Spring Jazz Series Announced


Firehouse 12, the nationally renowned modern jazz listening room run by the noble Nick Lloyd on Crown Street in New Haven,  has announced its Spring 2014 jazz series.

It begins March 21 with hometown-boy-made-good Ben Allison and his trio. (The bassist/bandleader was born in New Haven, attended the Educational Center for the Arts magnet program and performed in the city’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas in 2012 alongside poet Robert Pinsky).

The complete sched:

March 21: Ben Allison Trio

March 28: Kevin Hays New Day Trio

April 4: Kneebody

April 11: Thumbscrew

April 18: Bad Touch

April 25: Rudy Royston 303

May 2: Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet

May 9: Noah Baerman and the Jazz Samaritan Alliance

May 16: Russ Nolan Quartet featuring Manuel Valera

May 23: Barry Altschul and the 3dom Factor

May 30: For Living Lovers: Brandon Ross and Stomu Takeishi

June 6: Linda Oh Group—Sun Pictures

June 13: Satoko Fujii Trio + 1

With just a few dozen live shows a year, Firehouse 12 has been very savvy in making sure that the artists it books space out their appearances. While there are some returnees on this schedule, it’s been a while since they’ve played New Haven. Allison, for instance, played there in 2006 and 2009. Even Taylor Ho Bynum, a close associate of Firehouse 12 as a partner in its Firehouse 12 Records operation, hasn’t done a show there in two years. Some artists have appeared fairly regularly, but only because they play in a lot of different ensembles. Drummer Rudy Royston appeared with two different Bill Frisell projects in 2010 and 2012 and with the Dave Douglas Quintet in 2013; besides his own Rudy Royston 303 show on April 25, he’s part of the Linda Oh Group Sun Pictures show on June 6.

Pianist Noah Baerman played Firehouse 12 with Playdate in 2010. Another pianist, Kevin Hays, was at the club/studio space with Donny McCaslin in 2012 and Scott Colley in 2011. Drummer Barry Altschul was with the Ullmann/Swell combo when it played Firehouse in 2007 and 2011. For Linda Oh, this is her fourth Firehouse 12 appearance in as many years, but the first where she is leading the group; Oh was here previously with Chris Dingman’s The Subliminal and the Sublime in 2013, EJ Strickland’s quintet in 2012 and Fabian Almazan’s Trio in 2011. (Her June 6 show is, by the way, the first time Linda Oh has been part of Firehouse’s spring jazz series and not its fall one.)

Tickets, details and other good vibes can be found at the Firehouse 12 website, here.

Meriden Daffodil Festival 2014 Line-Up Announced


For the last few years, Meriden Daffodil Festival music-booker Rob DeRosa has given me an exclusive first look at the line-up for the festival, which has happened during the last weekend in April at Meriden’s Hubbard Park for the past 35 years, and which has grown to become the biggest and best local-band gathering in Connecticut.

DeRosa tends to stagger the bookings so that few if any bands play two years in a row. At least of couple of acts from last year are back this year, like Mark Mulcahy and Violent Mae and of course The Manchurians. Those returning after a bit more of a break include Big Fat Combo, Farewood, Goodnight Blue Moon, Lys Guillorn, The Foresters and James Velvet’s Mighty Sparrows.

Bands making their Daffodil Festival debuts range from long-lived local acts such as Happy Ending and Greg Sherrod to much younger groups such as the Wesleyan-based Grand Cousin, with acts like Them Damn Hamiltons somewhere in between.The tradition of having a designated kid-friendly act continues with Steve Elci & Friends.

The two-day festival includes 35 music acts in all, on three stages.

The complete list (augmented with my own descriptions of the bands) is at my personal site,, here.

The Brian LaRue Radio Attempt


Brian LaRue wrote about local music for the New Haven Advocate for over a decade. He’s also the leader of the Tyler Trudeau Attempt, Women’s Basketball and other great indie bands. He left Connecticut years ago to live in Brooklyn, but still champions Connecticut sounds.

This Sunday, Brian’s making a guest appearance on the venerable WPLR “Local Bands” show hosted by James Velvet and Rick Allison.

According to Velvet, LaRue will “be spinning and talking about Connecticut bands that have migrated to Brooklyn.” The show starts around 10 p.m., Jan. 5 at 99.1 FM or You can also find it archived at the “Local Bands” show’s own site, here.

Brian LaRue’s got taste and style and hometown pride. Should be a good show.

Murphey’s Law


If you listened to AM radio in the early 1970s, Michael Murphey’s “Wildfire” was inescapable. An ode to freedom and passion and horsiness, the song ruled Adult Contemporary radio and hit #3 on the overall Billboard pop charts. You couldn’t mosey into a drugstore or waiting room without hearing it.

Some of us who survived the onslaught of soft rock in those tender years of four decades ago might just be ready to hear “Wildfire” again. The artist now known as Michael Martin Murphey is blowing through Cafe Nine in New Haven on Jan. 13. Tickets are $20 & $25.

“Wildfire” wasn’t MMM’s only hit, by a long shot. Before establishing himself as a performer, he wrote songs for The Monkees (“What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ ‘Round?”), Bobbie Gentry, and Kenny Rogers. Murphey’s solo hits included “What’s Forever For,” “Still Taking Chances” and “Don’t Count the Rainy Days.” He also wrote the official state ballad of New Mexico, where he’s been an activist in farmers’ and ranchers’ rights. Murphy changed his stage name to Michael Martin Murphey in 1981 to avoid confusion with the actor Michael Murphy (at a time when Murphey was making his own inroads into screen acting).

Since the 1990s, the singer-songwriter has been concentrating on his self-styled “Cowboy songs” and “Buckaroo bluegrass.” He’s the kind of iconoclastic performer—a hitmaker who’s settled into his own groove—that’s a ideal match for the “musician’s living room” vibe of Cafe Nine.