Boston Comedy Festival: FINALE
Saturday September 23, 2017 @ 7pm
Combining iconic Comedians with icons-in-the-making, the 18th Annual Boston Comedy Festival Finales will showcase some of the best established and new comedic talents.
The Comedian of the Year Award will be presented to Boston’s own Bobby Kelly. Just the highlights of his amazing career include Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, portraying Louie CK's brother Robbie on "Louie", Bam Bam on Denis Leary’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, as well as the movies, Ghost Town and Good Luck Chuck. Most importantly, he has the unquestioned respect of his peers, Louis CK, Bill Burr and the late, great Patrice O’Neal among them.
The Boston Comedy Festival will also honor the great Barry Crimmins with the Lenny Bruce Founding Father Award. Besides found in the Boston comedy scene in 1979, Barry Crimmins' comedy special, "Whatever Threatens You" was recently produced and released by Louis CK. He was the subject of bobcat Goldthwait's critically acclaimed Netflix documentary, "Call Me Lucky". He's a stand-up comedy legend.
The evening will conclude with 8 top comedians (who have beaten out literally hundreds), competing for $10,000 and the bragging rights that go to the Winner of the 2016 BCF Comedy Competition!
Fresh off Gotham Live, comedian Jim McCue, "Boston's King of Crowd Work", will be hosting this gala comedy event.
This show has sold out for the last 5 years at the Somerville Theater, so get your tickets in advance!
Boston Comedy Festival presents TODD BARRY
Saturday September 23, 2017 @ 10pm
The New York Times describes stand-up comedian Todd Barry as “an impossibly cool combination of Jack Nicholson in his prime and a smug jazz D.J. after a few bong hits.” His sharp, punchy observation humor and biting wit have made him a comic’s comic, and he has worked with such familiar names as Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, and Dave Chappelle. Todd has appeared on most of the late night talk shows, and been featured in several of his own Comedy Central specials. Todd is also an in-demand voiceover artist and has credits on numerous Adult Swim shows such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies
New York City-based comedian and actor Todd Barry is widely recognized for his roles as the bongo-playing “Third Conchord” on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords and Mickey Rourke’s deli boss in 2009 Oscar winner The Wrestler, and renowned throughout the entertainment industry for his nuanced, measured, and thoroughly original approach to stand-up. Drawing audience members in with his deadpan self-deprecation and ability to pile punchline upon punchline, his decidedly low-key stage persona belies a deeply intelligent, often biting, occasionally absurdist worldview, one lauded by discerning fans who seek a fresh yet honest update to traditional observation and social commentary.
Boasting multiple stand-up appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and two Comedy Central Presents specials, and his latest one hour Comedy Central special Super Crazy. Todd’s resume also includes such hit TV shows as Louie, Delocated, Bored to Death, Tim and Eric, Chappelle’s Show, Sex and the City, and even Sesame Street. Among his additional feature-film highlights are Todd Phillips’s Road Trip, Louis CK’s Pootie Tang, and Mitch Hedberg’s Los Enchiladas. You can see him soon at Sigourney Weaver's right hand man in Amy Heckerling's Vamps, and as Paul Rudd's co-worker in David Wain's Wanderlust. Internationally he has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, the Vancouver International Comedy Festival, and Kilkenny, Ireland’s Cat Laughs Festival.
Todd has been heard on both The Howard Stern Show and The Bob & Tom Show, and his albums Medium Energy, Falling Off the Bone, and From Heaven are available from Comedy Central Records, Amazon and iTunes. He has earned the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival’s Jury Award, praise from Ricky Gervais as one of the best comedians of 2009, and accolades from The Onion’s A.V. Club, which declared Medium Energyone of the best comedy albums of the decade.
Todd was the subject of a recent New York Times Arts section cover story, which referred to him as a “master of standup” and noted “when it comes to live performance, few comics are more consistently funny.”
In April 2013 the Todd Barry Podcast debuted. It reached #1 on the iT.
“Comedy savants revere this Conan and Letterman veteran’s hushed, singsong sarcasm.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Piercing, blinding, slaying, violating wit.” – NPR
“Infuses his observational comedy with a wonderfully individual disdain.” – The Times of London
“He doesn't suffer fools, and fortunately for his comedy his definition of ‘fool’ doesn't discriminate.” – Pitchfork.com
“Acerbic wit, deadpan delivery and wickedly smart punchlines.” – Time Out New York
“Barry is so beautifully arid he is positively parched.” – London Evening Standard
“The success lies with the delivery, and in his ability to seamlessly merge ad-libbed material with his prepared schtick.” – The Age, Melbourne
The High Kings
Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 8pm
Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
The High Kings is an Irish supergroup made up of Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey, and Darren Holden. Versatile and skilled multi-instrumentalists, they play 13 instruments among the four of them, bringing a rousing acoustic flavor to brand new songs along with some old favorites.
Thursday October 5, 2017 @ 8pm
All Ages - Reserved Seats - On Sale to the Public on 6/16/17 thru Ticketmaster
Pre-sale info at the Righteous Babe Tour Page
“My last record was very inward-looking,” says Ani DiFranco. “I was pregnant and then raising a screaming infant. But now that kid is about to turn four, so I got out of the weeds of personal space and started looking outward again, being more engaged, more big ‘P’ Political. As an artist, I like to be out in the world, and what initially compelled me was to try to push society to a better place. So when I’m not in heartbreak or motherhood mode, that’s where you’ll naturally find me.”
With her twentieth studio album, Binary, the iconic singer/songwriter/activist/poet/DIY trendsetter returns to territory that brought her to the world’s attention more than twenty-five years ago. One of the first artists to create her own label in 1990, she has been recognized among the feminist pantheon for her entrepreneurship, social activism, and outspoken political lyrics. At a time of global chaos and confusion, DiFranco is kicking ass and taking names, with a set of songs offering a wide range of perspective and musical scope.
She describes a moment during the writing of “Play God,” an unblinking pro-choice battle cry, as a particular breakthrough. (A live version of the song was included in the anti-Trump “30 Days, 30 Songs” campaign alongside tracks from Death Cab for Cutie, Aimee Mann, Franz Ferdinand, and more.)
“When I wrote the line ‘You don’t get to play god, man/I do,’ I paused and thought, ‘Can I say that?,’ “ she says. “It’s not the first time I’ve thought that, but it’s been a while. And in that moment, I thought, ‘I’m back, mothafuckas!’”
“When you make a record about family and relationships, people assume you’re mommy now and you’ve lost your edge, and it’s going to be all buttercups from here on. So that line had the feeling of ‘Take that! My kid is sleeping right now and I want to talk about some shit!”
On Binary, DiFranco tackles the challenge and necessity of teaching non- violence with “Pacifist’s Lament” and the need for empathy in “Terrifying Sight.” Remarkably, though, these songs—recorded, in her usual fashion, in a couple of short full-sprint sessions spread across several years—were all written prior to the 2016 elections and attendant political turmoil.
“I’m not surprised,” says DiFranco. “Over twenty-five years, I’ve found that my songwriting is often full of premonition. It shows me, in a deep and spooky way, how we know things on levels below consciousness. I write songs and then they happen, and later I realize what they’re about. I’m just happy to have some good tools in my toolbox to address what’s happening now—the feminist diatribes are turned up nice and high on this record!”
She notes that Binary’s title track is key to her intention on this project. “I always title a record from the song that seems to be at its core,” she says. “An underlying theme in the songs, and in the feminism I want to engage society with, is the idea that autonomy is a fallacy—nothing exists except in relationship to something else. We are, in some senses individuals with individual liberties and unique powers, but that’s only a surface story.”
Though this concept is closely tied up in our present-day obsession with technology (“Sitting alone at home, staring at a screen, you can’t really know anything, because knowing is engaging,” she says), DiFranco also reveals a growing connection to nature and the physical world.
“Every year on Goddess’ Green Earth, I understand my relationship to it more,” she says. “My early songs were all human drama. I don’t think I noticed the bigger picture at all—I was transfixed by power dynamics between people. Now I see that it’s largely the providence of women to really embody nature, so I do think I’m getting back to basics, and it’s a shift for me.”
The backbone of Binary’s sound is DiFranco’s long-time rhythm section of bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Terence Higgins, but on much of the album, the trio is augmented with some all-star guests. “I knew I wanted to involve some of my brilliant friends this time out,” she says. “We made some calls and got a party going. That was the idea, to reach out and have some other spirits enter.” When it came time to mix Ani turned things over to Tchad Blake (The Black Keys, Pearl Jam), the result a bold sonic imprint elevating the songs to a new level in her canon.
Virtuoso violinist Jenny Scheinman and keyboard wizard Ivan Neville both join in for more than half of the record; “they are so captivating and they elevate my shit whenever they come near it,” says DiFranco. Other contributors include the legendary Maceo Parker, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, and Gail Ann Dorsey, longtime bassist for David Bowie. New Orleans resident DiFranco takes special pride in the Crescent City funk spearheaded by natives Higgins and Neville on a number of the tunes. “Their souls are of this place,” she says. “The feel they bring is something they got in utero.”
For the better part of 2016, DiFranco beat the drum for voter turnout on her “Vote Dammit!” tour, focusing on registering and inspiring people to vote. In the days following the election, fans turned to her for guidance with renewed earnestness, anxious to hear music and wisdom from the longtime activist. Ani encouraged fans to take political action and did the same herself, participating in the Women’s March on Washington and performing at the official Women’s March after party benefitting Planned Parenthood with The National and Sleater-Kinney.
Binary, of course, is being released into a world in which music distribution and consumption have transformed rapidly and dramatically. For DiFranco, a true pioneer in the music industry with her Righteous Babe label, it’s a time to reconsider the possibilities and ambitions of her business.
“While I was precedent-setting at one time with Righteous Babe and my indie crusade, I feel like, in the time it took me to nurse another baby into being, I’ve fallen behind,” she says. “The universe and technology have continued to evolve, and the idea of harnessing technology and crowd- sourcing everything—money, knowledge, revolution—is a very powerful concept that I’m ready to get more involved with. Righteous Babe is starting to grow now into something that will hopefully become avant-garde once again- more of a collective, more dynamic.”
“I’m trying to figure it out daily,” says Ani DiFranco. “Just like always.”
Thursday October 19, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Crossroads Presents: Peter Wolf. All Ages, Reserved seats. Doors at 6:45pm; live show at 7:30pm.
A Cure for Loneliness manifests the same vibrant passion for music that's motivated Peter Wolf for most of his life. Growing up in an artistic, politically engaged family in the Bronx, he became an early rock 'n' roll convert after attending an Alan Freed rock 'n' roll revue that included performances by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Frankie Lymon. His thirst for new and old sounds drove him to exploring blues, soul, country, folk and jazz, inspiring weekly visits to Harlem's Apollo Theatre and leading to acquaintances with many of the music's surviving originators.
Wolf's talent as a painter won him a grant to study at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. While a student there, he experienced a life-changing epiphany after jumping on stage to sing with a blues band at a loft party. He soon talked himself into membership in that band, The Hallucinations.
"I didn't join a band to meet girls," Wolf recalls. "I joined my first band to meet musicians. Painting was a fascination for me, but I was a music fanatic, and sitting in with that band was a born-again type of experience for me. I was transfixed, and myself and some of the guys in the band would check out performances by the musicians we admired so much, like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and John Coltrane and Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers. Those roots stayed with me."
Wolf's natural loquaciousness won him a job as an all-night DJ on the fledgling FM rock station WBCN. Adopting the persona of "the Woofa Goofa," he spun raw rock 'n' roll and rhythm 'n' blues, channeling the spirit of the flashy, fast-talking DJs he'd grown up listening to.
Wolf's encyclopedic musical knowledge came in handy when he and some like-minded Boston players formed the J. Geils Band, much of whose early repertoire was drawn from Wolf's vast record collection. The band soon became a local favorite injecting a much-needed jolt of raw, uninhibited rock 'n' roll into the '70s scene and was soon signed by Jerry Wexler for Atlantic Records. Between 1970 and 1983, the J. Geils Band released 13 influential albums, topped the pop single charts with 1981's “Freeze Frame,” “Love Stinks,” "Centerfold," and earned a reputation as one of rock's most exciting live acts, thanks in large part to Wolf's flamboyant, hyperactive stage presence.
After going solo with 1984's Lights Out, Wolf continued to stake out new musical territory with the subsequent releases Lights Out, Come As You Are, Up to No Good, Long Line, Fool's Parade, Sleepless and Midnight Souvenirs. His solo work has seen him collaborate with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Merle Haggard, John Lee Hooker, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Little Milton, Wilson Pickett, Shelby Lynne and Neko Case. Wolf temporarily reunited with his J. Geils Band cohorts for live shows on several occasions between 1999 and 2015, but his solo career has remained his creative focus, as A Cure for Loneliness makes clear.
Saturday October 21, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Crossroads Presents: VANCE JOY - Lay It On Me Tour - All Ages, Reserved seats. Doors at 6:45pm; live show at 7:30pm.Buy TicketsMore Info
Julien Baker with Half Waif
Saturday October 28, 2017 @ 8pm
Bowery Boston presents Julien Baker with Half Waif. Doors at 7:15 and show at 8pm. All Ages, all seats RESERVED.
Sometimes, things just seem to happen for a reason. The pieces fall into place in unexpected ways, and life takes a turn no one could have predicted. This rings strikingly true for the solo career of Memphis, Tennessee's Julien Baker.
For years, Baker and a group of close friends have performed as the band Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), but when college took her four hours away, her need to continue creating found an outlet through solo work. The intent was never to make these songs her main focus, yet the process proved to be startlingly cathartic. As each song came into shape, it became more apparent that Baker had genuinely deep, surprisingly dark stories to tell from her thus far short life (she turns 20 this fall). Tales of her experiences are staggering, and when set to her haunting guitar playing, the results are gut wrenching and heartfelt, relatable yet very personal. There's something wonderfully hypnotizing about Baker gently confessing her soul with such tremendous honesty.
At the prompting of a friend, Baker ventured to Richmond, Virginia to record a number of her new songs at Spacebomb Studios. The tracks from this session were circulated among Baker's friends, meeting high praise and lots of encouragement for the songs to see a proper release. Soon, she found a home on 6131 Records' increasingly diverse roster, and plans were made to release her debut full length, 'Sprained Ankle.'
To call 'Sprained Ankle' a happy accident would be misleading as to the nature of these poignant, emotive songs. Yet no one, least of all Baker, could have predicted she'd be releasing an album, especially as a solo artist. Thankfully, now the world will be able to share in her passion and sorrow.
Habib Koite & Bamada
Saturday November 11, 2017 @ 8pm
Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
One of the leading figures in Afropop, Malian guitar virtuoso Habib Koité is a modern troubadour blessed with a sweet, intimate voice. He and his band, Bamada, create a modern sound that draws on several styles of traditional Malian music along with touches of blues, jazz, and rock.