Music for Mud Season

Our guest reviewer suggests musical cures for the March muck



Local singer-songwriter Walker Smith's "Great Divide"

We asked our guest reviewer, Rob Azevedo, to offer some musical first aid for anyone with a bad case of the March muck. On his list of sure-fire remedies are two CDs and one tribute concert.

Bradford Bog People

“Fully Peated,” Bradford Bog People

From beneath an old tarp held up by a few tough branches, with a pile of wet wood burning before them, the old-time music of the Bradford Bog People fills the edges of the oncoming night for the weary men camped riverside.

The pelt hunters soon rise up out of their damp huts, sore-boned and hungry, and head towards the fire and Woody Pringle’s banjo while the vocals of Beth Eldridge and Tii McLane blend into one on their CD “Fully Peated.”  

 “Say Darling Say” warms the hunters’ necks and bellies, pulling them away from the toil and trade. It’s a song from 1928, and the Bradford Bog People’s rendition is delicious, like a plate of mush and corn. “Poor Howard” and “Lazy John” inspire the hunters to the kick at the mud and dance with their muskets and furs. “All My Tears” hits the men in the gut, bringing heavy hands to their faces, back to a place they used to be.

The music of the Bradford Bog People, who plan to release their latest effort, “People of the Bog,” in April 2017, will inspire you to break open a barrel of grain now and again and dance with the past, the future, and the promise of a warm night’s sleep.

“Great Divide,” Walker Smith

Sounding like he’s singing from the backside of a hand-cranked phonograph, songwriter Walker Smith opens his new record, “Great Divide,” with a minute-and-half-long intro that could easily take place in a dime store record booth somewhere out in the Great Plains.

A strong image is set by Smith, 32, who over the past five years has become a true standout in the New Hampshire music scene. His voice is butter, just about as smooth as it gets. He works his tail off to be heard. His lyrics are big boy lyrics, fully realized, bursting with intelligence.

The title track comes at us in the shape of a traveling song, and it gets you moving, begging not for space but for some closeness gone missing. An anxious lover wonders if it’s all worth it, working to relive the past yet again. Smith advises her, “When you find it hard to breathe, drive east from the Great Divide.”

“Great Escape” is a sweet little rocker, with echoes of Bruce Springsteen bleeding through it. Smith’s best song to date, in my opinion. The sound of a band backing him with steady drums, the build-up, the conviction, the strong lyrics, Smith letting go, singing hard, putting out the passion.

Waltzing with the Stars

“The Last Waltz” is a great rock documentary celebrating the last concert ever by The Band. It took place Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco, 1976. The great director himself, Martin Scorsese, filmed it.

 What came out of that night was one of the most remarkable evenings in music history.  Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters and many other music legends performed songs with The Band that night.

Every song seems to mean something to someone. Wild songs, stoned songs, blues songs, salty songs. On that night in Frisco, every song was a stinger. And since last summer, 20-plus musicians from all parts of New Hampshire have built a show around that very night, billing itself as “Songs from the Last Waltz.”  

The bands let me tag along and emcee the event because, well, I’m a disciple of “The Last Waltz.” 

Each artist puts their own spin on a Waltz tune and then delivers it with reverence, owning it. They perform as a group, trios, duos and solo performances, covering the same songs that made that night so special.

“Songs from the Last Waltz” comes to the Jewel Music Venue on March 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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