Wednesday, 9 December 2009

703 HOT STOVE COOL MUSIC - The Fenway Sessions 2006, Fenway Park, Boston MA USA, Wednesday 12 July 2006

Ed Valauskas had put this event on our radar and Michael Creamer obligingly sorted out tickets, so we flew over primarily for this event! The forecast was for unbroken sunshine all week, perfect for this outdoor event at the Boston Red Sox' home, Fenway Park. However, when we arrived at Fenway lunchtime for the stadium tour, it looked ominous, with foreboding black clouds. During the tour it started to rain, including a brief but impressive thunderstorm as we traversed the top of the Green Monster. However it abated during a nice lunch at the nearby Cask and Flagon, and as we waited for our tickets at Will Call, the worst seemed past...Bumped into EdV and Mike Gent whilst waiting for our tix, which were delayed until 20 past 5, 20 minutes after doors, "because of the rain". Did they print them outside then or what? Weird.

Anyway, we eventually got in and took our seats. The stage was set up in the right field corner, facing a bank of half covered, half uncovered seats. We had a great view from our centre stage
seats - a pity we didn't get to use it!

FURVIS, first on, played a reasonable if short set of Stonesy blues rock in front of a tiny crowd braving the drizzle, culminating in a good cover of the Stones "Street Fighting Man". The rain however got harder as THE GENTLEMEN took the stage, and some folk scuttled for shelter. Not us though; we'd flown the Atlantic for this show, and a little bit of rain wasn't about to stop us dancing, so we piled down the front and proceeded to give it loads to the opener, "Top Heavy", Mike Gent strutting around onstage like a peacock to this one. Gent then introduced, "Ed Valauskas!", and the Gentlemen ripped into our song - EdV's composition "Three Minute Marriage Proposal", a song we'd had played at our wedding last year. "That's what we're here for!!" I shouted as we really went for it to this Costello-like number, undoubtedly the Gentlemen's finest moment, and so did the rain! As if in appreciation for this wonderful song, it totally emptied down in almost Old Testament fashion, drenching us both to the skin as we rocked.

And that was that! With rivulets of water flowing into the electrics onstage, it was rightly deemed too dangerous to continue, so the Gents and ourselves fled indoors, having nevertheless constructed an indelible Boston memory before the rains came. We weren't the only ones to think so either, as reporters from both The Globe and The Herald took our stories, and we featured on the following day's Globe in full flow! Everyone waited it out indoors under the bleachers with magnanimous patience; we chatted with Chris Colbourn, Lucky Jackson, USA Michael Eisenstein, and I happily got to introduce Rachel to Kay Hanley. Eventually they did the only sensible thing and move the whole shebang indoors!

An impromptu stage was set up in the concourse under the bleachers, and an hour later, having been entertained with appearances from Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler, coach Terry Francona and Sox GM (and event co-founder) Theo Epstein in the interim, music again commenced with THE CLICK FIVE. Their 4-song set ("Catch Your Wave", excellent FOW-written single "Just The Girl", a new number and "Friday Night") was beset with technical issues as expected, but the boys (especially the keyboard player, who definitely does not own the van!) tackled it with gusto, and their sunshine pop brought a soggy smile to the proceedings.

A smile widened further by the glowing presence of KAY HANLEY, who was preceded by personable Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon auctioning stuff off for charity. With new monitors after the first number, Kay, decked out in a short Red Sox dress, sounded much better, debuting 2 newies before a spiky "Te Amo" and a shimmering, brilliantly sing-along "Awake" closed a tantalisingly short set.

JAMES TAYLOR, however, was even more brief! Playing just one number, backed up by the HOT STOVE ALL-STARS, rumour had it he didn't want to play under these circumstances at all, but was persuaded to keep it, "necessarily brief." The All-Stars (Gent, Bill Janovitz, EdV, USA, Pete Caldes - aptly named, then) then played a Peter Gammons number in tribute to the event co-founder, recovering in hospital from a brain aneurysm.

COWBOY MOUTH were next up, peddling a sort of swampy Louisiana rock which stopped just short of Offspring-like rabble-rousing Nu-Punk. Not so good, so Rach and I took a walk during their overlong set, trying to get dry, hanging out with Gent and running into Dear Leader drummer Paul Buckley. Sat outside in the abandoned seats as the rain still fell steadily and HOWIE DAY played a popular but innocuous strumalong singer-songwriter set, including a drippy cover of U2's "One" which got the young girls squealing. No accounting for taste, I suppose...

The event was stumbling to a conclusion at this point, the soggy but infinitely patient crowd sticking around for the denouement. Well, it's all for charity, after all! The set-up had by now become a full-on temporary stage, so we got a good view 2/3rds back in the crowd for headliners BUFFALO TOM, or Buffalo Theo as they were introduced, thanks to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein joining them on additional guitar. The Tom kicked off with a rambunctious "Treehouse", following up with a Chris Colbourn sung "Rachael". A Neil Young cover was then followed by a real treat; "Taillights Fade", which despite Bill cocking up the chorus lines, was as thrilling and emotive as ever. However, this was even surpassed by a jagged, breathless "Birdbrain", which unfortunately was the final number of this 5-song set. So there was only time for the All-Stars to pile back on for a couple of numbers, including a finale of "Rocking In The Free World", to bring the curtain down on a Hot Stove which was nothing like we'd expected, but unforgettable nonetheless!

Hung around for awhile afterwards, getting to chat to Theo Epstein about England and their poor World Cup 2006 showing! We then hit the after-show party, walking to "Game On" variously with USA Mike and also Bill Janovitz. Hung out there for an hour or so, chatting with EdV, new lady Jen and a voluble Pete Caldes, having a wicked good time, but eventually succumbing to tiredness. So, soggy Stove, hot Music, great memories!

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