The first gig on my first ever trip to Boston falls within hours of my landing! The full premise behind the trip can be found in the overall report, so let's just talk about the gig here. After landing, meeting "mine host" Ed Valauskas and dumping stuff at his place, we pick up his pal James Horrigan from the apartment in Tremont Street he shares with Pete Caldes and Pete Stone. A cool, brick-lined 2nd floor terrace (sorry, brownstone) apartment strewn with CDs, papers and magazines, mainly of the “rock” persuasion, and dominated by a huge framed “Beatles” poster. James and Pete both initially strike me as being totally crazy, with James in particular being extrovert and entertainingly verbose, an impression which, I was to learn, wasn’t too far wide of the mark. Back at the car, Pete challenges us all to lift ourselves horizontally from the ground supported by a street signpost; I fail hopelessly, and Ed strains his shoulder in the attempt!
Hit the Burren at 10.30. My first night in Boston and I’m in an Irish bar! Arina and Katie are onstage playing stripped back bar-room blues, which is not my cup of tea, so I chug into some beer, mainly for the sedative effect as I’m so awake it’s frightening. The Burren actually reminds me of the “Fleece and Firkin”, so I feel at very much at home, despite being “carded” for ID of my age on the way in (this I later find out is normal for Boston bars and clubs, so I take to carrying around my passport). Conversation revolves around Boston bands. James, who later signs my gig book as the quintessential “ageing scenester”, which just about sums him up, is incredulous that I know so much about Boston rock, after I mention that I knew the Sheila Divine won the “Rumble” last year (the local radio station WBCN’s version of “Battle of the Bands”). With his obsession for facts already starting to show, I start to get the impression that James might be the Boston equivalent of, erm, me. Meet Ed’s girlfriend Carrie and her friend Kate. Both very friendly and chatty. Pete is in high spirits and keeps trying to chat Carrie up. I hope he’s joking about.
Meet the Colonel, the “Pope of Pop”, Mr. Connecticut Jed Parish himself. Taller but less thick-set than I expected, he reminds me very strongly visually of my friend Clive. I immediately feel at ease with him, despite my admiration of his talent. This talent is evident in his acoustic set of the evening. Jed includes the Gravel Pit’s “Drink You Up” (including a verse from “Cool Water”, which brings back teenage memories of mother playing Frankie Laine and me scuttling for my room) and “The Judas Lament” in his set, the hookline of which (“I sold my soul for thirty bits of silver!”) I sing along to raucously, prompting strange stares at the crazy Brit from my Boston companions. How much beer?!? I take a photo of Jed (which unfortunately is too dark to come out) and he flicks me the finger, then remembers I’m British and makes it 2. Jed’s set is actually great, and prompts a re-appraisal of his solo album, which I was initially disappointed with. The man can bloody well sing, no messing.
Jake Zavracky, the singer of Quick Fix (this name comes up later) and a very tall man, who has to stoop a great deal when Ed introduces him to me, then does a short but sweet solo set, then Jed joins Arina and Katie for a couple of final numbers.
Hit the hay in Ed’s room at 2 a.m. (that’s 7 in the morning in UK money), as Ed is staying at Carrie’s. Despite being awake for 24 hours, I can’t sleep, which isn’t helped by Ed’s sub-letting roommate Toirm watching TV at 3 a.m. I’m in Boston now, and the fun is only beginning…