Tag Archives: music

A Farewell to T.T.’s

24 Jul

IMG_2636I’m not ever as stumped at how to start an entry as I am on this one. Maybe it’s because this subject matter truly has a soul to it? I mean, yeah sure, we all love food. Good food pretty much writes its own blog posts. When it’s time to get serious, and do some memory browsing and back-gazing, that’s when stuff gets real.

T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge closes its doors for good this Saturday night. I don’t think I have never referred to it using it’s full name, but there it is. I’ve walked through those wooden double-doors as much as any entryway I may have ever crossed over in my lifetime. I’ve definitely referred to it as my version of Cheers. (The tv show version. Not the actual bar, obviously.)

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I’ve sat at that bar on a slow Monday night scratching lottery tickets as the venue goes acoustic for “The Other Side of the Bear” events. Those were pretty great nights that were made better when I found myself surprised at the talent behind the low-volume vocals catching my attention. Mondays when the stage is closed down and the lights were turned off in the main room. Shari could usually be found working those nights. I remember attempting to concoct new cocktails in plastic cups with $7 bottles of liqueur all too often. This, of course, all occurring after the great Livejournal debacle of 2002.

You see, there was a time when I didn’t know many of the faces at T.T.’s. On this particular night – November 5, 2002 to be precise – it wasn’t my first at T.T.’s, but it is the initial memory I have of my deep friendship with Shari, one of the bar/club’s veteran bartenders. That memory is brought to us by Livejournal, the letter “B”, and raspberry flavored vodka mixed with – if I recall correctly – chambord and Coca-cola.

Hanging out there with my now husband, we were watching Imperial Teen perform on stage. Shari’s name was still unknown but her company was welcomed openly. On this night in particular for whatever reason, I was struck by T.T.’s amazingness. And so, in early 2000s fashion, I commented about the night and Shari in my Livejournal blog (The Friendster equivalent of Tumblr). I of course mentioned the fact that I loved having her be my bartender, as well as commenting on her, umm…see for yourself:

I also saw Imperial Teen at TTs tonite and that was kick ass as well. they rocked, and it was neat seeing them in such an intimate venue. as usual, our bartender chick was sweet and kind and cute (even with her ghetto booty!) rock.

Yeah. I went there. That quote is responsible for a friendship of thirteen years that I can not imagine my life without.

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T.T.’s was always a welcoming place – regardless of the bands playing the stage each night, you knew good folks would be there, and that if you didn’t know them, you soon would. I never felt awkward for even a minute being the gay dude in a rock club, and I love them for it.

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The club made me and Joey feel so secure and comfortable and safe that we asked Bonney, T.T.’s owner of 43 years, if we could host a same-sex marriage music benefit The answer was, as is most often the case with Bonney, “Yes!”.

Joey and I put on several fundraisers there under our now defunct LegalLove.org. The first show featured Ad Frank, Mary Lou Lord and Annie Clark, to name a few. Ad and Mary Lou so happened to have both played their last sets at T.T.’s this week. Annie Clark might have been asked to play during the final week, but I’m assuming she was too busy being St. Vincent to even be considered.

The response from the Boston music scene was incredible. This at a time when gay marriage wasn’t even legal in Massachusetts with fierce opposition trying to shut it down. So many people – too many to list here but – aided with their talent and tones to support the idea of equal marriage rights for all under the law.

T.T.’s wasn’t just a rock club, it was a community of individuals who stood for good things, played pretty incredible (and occasionally crappy) music and enjoyed life while it was theirs to enjoy.

Someone who enjoyed the hell out of life was Jeanne, T.T.’s much loved and celebrated bartender. There was something about Jeanne’s smile, that when you got it, – when you truly received it – you realized you were special. Then you realized everyone got that smile from Jeanne. Although she is no longer with us physically – because cancer is a motherfucker – stepping into T.T.’s you can still feel her greet you as you pass through the doors and glance towards the bar.

Not only have I gained many lasting friendships at T.T.’s, I’ve discovered great music and had an untalliable number of life-affirming experiences here. Picking one is pretty impossible. A few that come to mind however:

Seeing Rilo Kiley open for Meghan Toohey’s The So and So’s and then seeing Tegan and Sara play in all their acoustic glory in the same week.

When Kay Hanley would introduce Letters to Cleo by saying “We’re Letters to Cleo and we’re from Boston, Massachusetts.” in front of the T.T.’s stage backdrop. Every show.

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Hanging with Jenny Lewis, sharing a drink and getting schoolgirlish about Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill.

Mingling with your favorite local talents at the annual holiday party (to which I recall bringing some damn good deviled eggs to one year).

When Lady Lamb had her first gig there and blew everyone’s skullcaps off.

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When I was working the door and charged Juliana Hatfield admission only to feel like a horrid human once I realized who I had just charged admission to.

Or one of my top 5 moments! The time Joey and I took our pug Riley to visit Shari on a lazy weeknight (as one does), had a seat at the bar and then were joined by Hanson (Yes, that Hanson) coming to sit at the bar next to us. The Hanson brothers petting our dog and sharing a drink. A typical night at T.T.’s.

There are lots and lots of memories. I have laughed here. Cried here. Rocked here. Kissed here. Danced here. Fought here. Hugged here. Played Scrabble here. Eaten Hi-Fi here.

T.T.’s will be gone, but the community that has been created by the four-plus decades of being in business will continue. Thanks for everything Bonney – you’ve done this life very right. 

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Happy Record Store Day!

21 Apr



                                            A snapshot of part of my collection

Today is record store day. A day to go out and support all of the small independent record shops around your town. I have to say, it’s been a while since I’ve actually gone out and purchased some vinyl. Ever since Record Hog in Cambridge closed, I just haven’t really found a shop that I loved to hang out at browsing as much as that one. There was always someone I knew looking around for records. And the cats! How awesome were those cats? I do have that shop to thank for a good majority of my collection though, and am thankful to have had it around as long as it was.

So, in no particular order, here are a few gems I can remember buying at record stores over the years that when I found them gave me the feeling only good music can:

  • The Gravel Pit – “Standing in My Way” and “Something’s Growing Inside”
  • There’s a DYKE in the Pit feat. Bikini Kill, Tribe 8, Lucy Stoners and 7 Year Bitch
  • Bonfire Madigan – Backseat Buoy
  • Elastica – The Bitch Don’t Work
  • Sleater-Kinney – Get Up 7″; One More Hour 7″
  • this is fort apache. feat. Dinosaur Jr., the Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Buffalo Tom, Radiohead, Come and Throwing Muses.
  • …and everything nice 7″ featuring Babes in Toyland, Hole, STP and L7.
  • Tuscadero – Mt. Pleasant/Nancy Drew; Angel in a half shirt; Mark Robinson remixes
  • Letters to Cleo  – Anchor single
  • bis / Heavenly – split 7″
  • Ze Malibu Kids – Sound It Out

And here are some I remember buying at shows (better than any other means because usually the artist is directly selling you their music = best way to support music ever):

  • Rilo Kiley – The Execution of All Things (signed “bikini kill ! ❤ jenny lewis”)
  • Wild Flag – Glass Tambourine/Future Crimes 7″ (signed by all members)
  • Land of Talk – Speak to Me Bones / Death by Fire 7″ (last copy left)
  • Tilly and the Wall – Sad Sad Song (#301 of 1000)
  • Aly Spaltro (Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) – Sunday Shoes

And yes, there is the internet. And yes, you probably can find the album you want with a few types and clicks. But is that as fulfilling as discovering an album you’ve been longing for stuffed in between dozens of other albums? Of course not. And you’re less likely to stumble across an artist or band you’ve heard in passing or have long forgotten about when you’re looking for one specific title online.

Was I longing for a copy of The Waitresses Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? Not entirely.  Did I need to buy Boom Boom Boom Bingo by Scruffy the Cat? Of course I didn’t. Was my goal for the day to head out and find Saving Grace by Throwing Muses? I don’t think it was. Am I stoked to have purchased full albums by The Cars, Blondie, ’til Tuesday and The Del Fuegos all for just $4.00? Hell yes.

My point? My music collection grew and grew thanks in part to all the records, compact discs and cassette tapes I happened to come across while out browsing music at my local music shops. You should go do that too. Yeah, Amazon and iTunes may be convenient and direct, but go take a couple of hours and spend it sorting through stacks of music. What you find will most likely excite and educate you far more than clicking once to confirm your purchase with Apple.

(This post was originally published on April 16, 2011)

One small year.

3 Apr

It has been exactly one year since my first post on this blog and I’m completely surprised at how it has gone since then. I really had no idea it would be so food centered. I really thought it was going to be more of a design centered blog. No biggie.

I’ve created some pretty tasty recipes and dozens of photos to accompany them (remember the Bourbon Soaked Cherries or the Cheddar and Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms ?!?). I wholeheartedly enjoy the process of documenting what I’ve made as I’m making it. With that in mind, I think I’ll keep this site going on that same path for the future.

I’ve done interviews with some pretty awesome people about projects they are working on, and even made new friends in the process. (I’m talking about you, Joy Wilson.)

It was also an enjoyment to document road trips and vacations. Like that time I fell in love with Maine and the ocean and swimming in a rock quarry and the food and the people and the sleeping nook.

There have even been times where I thought I was crafty and made some things like these:

I’ll be continuing that all in the future, and add more into the mix as well.

With that said, I’ll be out of commission for a bit. I’m going in for heart surgery on Thursday (third times a charm, right?). With that in mind, I’m guessing I won’t be doing too many blog posts in the next two or three weeks. I promise to use the time to think up fun, tasty and aesthetically appealing content. And then I’ll use the remaining time I’m home from work to get all of those ideas posted up on here.

Also, in the next few months, Joey and I will be launching a new site! We have some pretty great ideas (well, at least we think     so) for content. We also have some amazing people on board to contribute, and I can’t wait to get that going for real.

And, since we’re talking openly, I may or may not change the name of this blog. Do we all like the name of this blog? Do I? I have no idea

Anyway, thank you all for reading, friends and strangers alike. You all rock. And I love that you keep coming back for more.

The Cold and Lovely Pledge Campaign

15 Mar

Ten months ago I brought my first interview to this little piece of the web. It was with the newly formed band The Cold and Lovely, featuring Nicole Fiorentino (of Smashing Pumpkins) and Meghan Toohey (formerly of The So and So’s).

Since then, the duo added drummer Patty Schemel (formerly of Hole) to the mix, and the music has been flowing out of their instruments ever since.

Photo by Andrea Alseri


The band is at 97% of their goal towards making a new album via their Pledge Music site with 6 days left to pledge. I have no doubt they will be reaching that goal shortly, as long as some more music lovers make their way over right now!

Aside from the usual albums, t-shirts and posters most bands offer up, The Cold and Lovely have some other pretty great things. Nicole’s guitar used on tour with Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt. You can write a song with Meghan or have her produce one of your own. How about an autographed set of drumsticks from Patty Schemel? There are plenty more items available as well, so check it out!

You’ll be hearing a lot more from this band in the future, and it would be awesome to say you were part of making that possible, wouldn’t it?

Vinyl Devotion.

4 Feb

I feel weird posting a blog that does not revolve around foodage. What the what? When did this become a food blog?

Sometimes I do think about things other than food. This is one of those times.

I got this lovely piece of equipment at a yard sale back in 2002. I spent $25 dollars on it. Twenty-five. It’s a Morse/Electrophonic AM/FM radio, 8-Track player and record player. It came with about 18 8-track tapes as well. (Including an Elvis Christmas, Heart, Billy Joel, Carl Perkins, and the B-52’s, amongst others).

It lights up to the beat when you play music. Or talk radio. Or NPR.

Ever had an audio/visual experience while listening to Prairie Home Companion? It’s not that exciting. I should probably stick to putting the lights on only when there are strictly songs playing. I’ll work on that. Continue reading

Thinking about… Vivek Shraya

28 Nov

Photograph by Zachary Ayotte

Thinking back on how I was first introduced to Vivek Shraya’s music, and the progression of not only the sound, but the person himself since then, it’s all terribly exciting and exhausting.

I first met Vivek in 2006 while he was visiting Boston working on his album If We’re Not Talking. Since that time, Vivek has released three albums, two short films and authored one book. He toured India a year ago with Tegan and Sara. He’s done a number of readings from his book God Loves Hair across Canada and the United States. He’s screened his first film Seeking Single White Male at various film festivals and events. And he’s always, it seems, looking to do more.

This month, the Toronto-based Shraya released his newest musical venture, an EP titled 1:1, available through iTunes. I talked with Vivek about it and some other things…

You’ve just released a new EP, 1:1. Should your listeners expect the same sound as your past couple of releases, or something different?

1:1 is a pretty big step away from the electro/synth pop sound of my last two efforts. The bulk of the songs were written during a heavy depression earlier this year and it felt important to preserve that raw emotion and spirit. So instead of layering and potentially losing the songs under all kinds of production, most of the record is directly lifted from the demos or retracked/recorded parts from the demos. This was a huge risk for me especially using the vocals parts from the demos. They aren’t “perfect” or pretty and at times even sound ugly or like exposed wounds. This whole project, from the songwriting to the production to even the photos, was an exercise in vulnerability.

Aside from music, you’ve also authored a very well received book, God Loves Hair. Can you tell me a little about it?

God Loves Hair is a collection of short stories that details my experiences growing up with immigrant parents as a gender queer kid in Alberta (which is sometimes referred to as “the Texas of Canada”). Each story is coupled with a beautiful illustration by the extremely talented Juliana Neufeld.

Any plans for another book?

When I first put out God Loves Hair, I didn’t really consider the possibility of a second book. But the confidence I have gained from the wonderful response to the book coupled with a desire to say more has inspired me to keep writing. I am hoping to have a rough manuscript completed in the coming months!

So, you’ve been busy, but I’m guessing you don’t like to remain stagnant. You’ve also made two short films this year. How has that experience been different from music and writing?

Music and writing for me is about working out an idea, an issue or an image with words (and melody). In a way, film is similar because you are always starting out with something abstract, something you experience in your mind. But as a visual person, I love the format because I get to explore working directly with imagery. Both my shorts have also included text and music and I love that film allows for the opportunity to build on my skills as a writer and musician but it in a completely different context.

And what is the subject matter of Seeking Single White Male?

Seeking Single White Male is about my experience in gay bars when I was first coming out, noting the ways in which to be seen, as a person of color, required assimilating to a form of whiteness.

Any other projects on the horizon?

I have spent most of the fall working on a new film project. While my previous shorts have been composed of text and photos, this was the first time I used actually footage, filming 35 people! Now that I am in the editing stage it feels like a huge undertaking trying to condense everything into a 10 minute, visually engaging piece, but I am very inspired by the content, excited about the challenge and hope to have it out by early next year.

Find out more about Vivek at VivekShraya.com

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Middle East Upstairs. 8/18/11.

21 Aug

Here are some pictures I took of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (Aly Spaltro) performing at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, Ma on August 18, 2011.

Photos copyrighted by Matthew Petrelis. (I don’t mind sharing with proper credits.)

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