Autumn Defense Warms the Narrows Center
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Bob Kendall Band
Rhode Island roots rockers The Bob Kendall Band opened the evening with a well-received set. Kendall led his band through several guitar driven tunes, including the lilting ballad “Midnight Flower,” the title song from their 2010 album. They followed with a new song “Dazed,” a mellow country-rocker from their forthcoming album, Washed Away.
Behind Kendall’s 12 string guitar, the Tom Petty/Byrds influence on the band is clear. But there’s more. Like the headline act, they draw on 60s and 70s pop, the Beatles, and country rock artists like Gram Parsons.
Playing mostly originals, the band kicked it into high gear on “I Wish I was Your Mother,” a 1973 lost classic by Mott the Hoople. Setting the table for Autumn Defense, they closed with their rocker “Athmosphere,” highlighted by a Kinks inspired guitar intro with a Big Star feel. Bob and the band play a lot of shows around town – be on the lookout for the new album and be sure to check them out live sometime soon!
Autumn Defense - Wilco Side Project
The “side project” in the music business serves an important purpose. It allows the artist to step out of his regular role and explore new musical ideas. The artist’s job in the band may change, sometimes they sing lead, and they often play different instruments from their main gig. That’s the case with the leaders of Autumn Defense; with Stirratt moving from bass to guitar and both artists sharing lead vocals.
At the same time, no one really expects a “side project” to become a hit, and with few exceptions that is usually the case. But artists show a lot of excitement and really look forward to these shows. That sentiment was evident Thursday night in Fall River.
At the Narrows Center, fans heard songs from all five Autumn Defense albums, including several from their new release Fifth. They opened with “Calling Your Name,” a mid tempo tune full of pure 1970s pop. The mellow mood continued with three selections from their first album, Circles, including “Written in the Snow,” “Silence,” and the beach-ready “Sun in California.”
Next up was “This Thing That I Found,” which sounded like it was written by (post-Beatles era) George Harrison, complete with Harrison-esque vocals and twangy guitar solos. “Huntington Fair,” an acoustic guitar strummer and crowd favorite from their 2010 album Once Around, followed. “It’s a quiet song for a quiet room,” noted Sansone.
1970s Mellow Rock
The band’s music pays tribute to the classic 70s California pop/rock acts – with influences ranging from Big Star to Badfinger. At times, the vibe is light and airy, but the frequent harmonic shifts and well placed power chord keep the sound front and center. Their lyrics are chiefly about, what else, relationships – successes and failures – and the bumps along the way.
In “Back of My Mind,” a simply perfect pop song from “Once Around,” they sing:
I took a trip to the back of my mind
And found there that nothing was mine
I wanted badly just to see you again
I thought I could just waltz back in time
The mood was mellow for most of the show until the two song encore. The first featured a beautiful version of “Sentimental Lady,” a Fleetwood Mac tune that was a big hit for Bob Welch in the late 70s. They rocked out most on their final song (featuring Sansone’s Townshend inspired guitar windmills), Big Star’s “You Can’t Have Me.” It was a nice shout out to the under-appreciated but hugely influential act.
If you missed this show, you still have time to see the band. Autumn Defense is playing Great Scotts in Allston on Wednesday Feb 12.
Ken Abrams reviews Roots, Rock and Blues for GoLocal. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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Upscale Chefs go "Downscale"
It's an incredible expense of time and money to be among the best chefs around. All of those high-end ingredients cost an arm and leg and the pressure to stay on top is enormous. Most cooks began learning at the feet of their older relatives--moms and dads; grandmas and grandpas. It's this food that calls them back. We see local Chef Jake Rojas rejoice in dropping the tweezers and cooking those SoCal family recipes he grew up eating. Local faves Thames Street Kitchen embarked on a burger concept this year and Providence icon Chez Pascal has its "Wurst Window" serving homemade sausage and comfort food. They're upscale food is wonderful, but this might be their best!
More Gluten Free Options
As we continue to pay the "processed food" price, our nation's food allergies continue to soar. Restaurants have been on the forefront of the movement towards options that take these allergies into account. The gluten allergy has taken the fore as bread and pasta and coated French fries became the first food victims of this allergy. Local establishments such as the Grange have taken gluten free to new heights with terrific vegetarian offerings. On the Hill, Pane e Vino has got an almost 40-item menu of gluten free options. It features everything an Italian meal could need without the worry.
Vietnamese as the "Go-To" Asian Cuisine
Every year it seems as though America "discovers" a new Asian country's food and gets hooked. This year it's the foods of Vietnam. Vietnamese food and ingredients have been a part of local Asian food for years now, but this time it stands on its own. Vietnam's food is highlighted by fresh, simple ingredients treated respectfully and flavorfully. Broths and noodles; lightly cooked meats and fresh vegetables all combine in a balanced meal. Locally we love Pho Horn in Pawtucket and Minh Hai in Cranston. Both are very good local versions of this wonderful cuisine.
Look...here's the problem with us Americans: we only eat the mild stuff. The muscle meat. It's chicken breast and tenderloin and striped bass filets. The problem with this style of eating is what it does to our ecosystem. Local fishermen used to be able to catch a bounty of swordfish BETWEEN the mainland and Block Island, now it's a day's trip to find them. Local chefs and fishermen are working diligently to bring back the mackerel and the sardine and the scup. Fish we have long since forgotten, but helped our forefathers thrive. Check out any of our top-notch "farm to table" spots--Persimmon in Bristol or Farmstead in Providence for example--to try a forgotten yet delicious fish.
As with most things food and beverage, the last 10 years have seen a move towards "smaller is better". Big box stores are gone and chain restaurants are suffering locally. It was only a matter of time until these ideas began making their way into our cocktails and boy are we psyched to see what the future holds. Locally we have Sons of Liberty in South Kingstown, producing small-batch whiskey, single malts and, even vodka. Our state features Coastal Extreme Brewery which makes Thomas Tew rum along with their Newport Storm beer. We've only gotten back into the distilling business here in Rhode Island in 2006 but we think tasty things are coming soon!
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