Guster all Squared: Four Shows, Four Albums and….

It is funny how if something happened before google it almost doesn't exist

It is funny how if something happened before google it almost doesn’t exist

My sister recently wrote about the possible resuscitation of her faded love for the band Guster. I really identify with the phenomenon of hearing old music anew through the experience of her child because I have watched my daughter and son learn to love music bit by bit and have had my sense of wonder and mystery reborn through them.

But I also identify with my sister’s confession of perplexity, that something she once loved so much is now so distant and strange. I think that  the nostalgic fit of self-doubt that comes in such moments is in part a function of our own sense of aging and mortality. But there is something undeniably true about the band: their music has changed. But, then again, so have we.

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My love for Guster: Lost and Gone Forever?

Now that my daughter is getting older and is starting to recognize music, I’ve been making a point to introduce new and different music to her. Her tastes have started to change as she has grown, though Queen remains her number one choice, as it has been since about 3 months of age. She now loves Tom Petty and Johnny Cash, but doesn’t like the Aladdin soundtrack or anything by Bruce Springsteen. She currently favors Tchaikovsky over Mozart.

gusterMuch to my dismay, she does not seem to like New Kids on the Block—however, we’ve got lots of time to change that. Most recently, while driving around in my “Grocery getter”, as my husband refers to my SUV, during a fun errand-filled day with my toddler in the backseat, (as a brief aside—I sometimes think it’s easier to defend those charged with murder than be a full-time mother, wife, housekeeper and errand runner—but that’s a different story for a different day),  for some reason, still unknown to me, I decided it was finally time to introduce the little one to Guster.

I plugged my trusty hot-pink iPod nano (which I received for my birthday in 2006 7 ½ years ago and it STILL works—not sure what the deal is with my older brother and his iPod problems!) into the “Aux” cord and let the sounds of Guster fill the car. I was very pleased to see how my mini-me reacted. She clapped her hands and relaxed into her carseat and a very content smile spread over her face, and she sat remaining in that state, calm and happy, as we continued to drive around town.  I mentioned to my brother the elder J that his niece is a fan of Guster and he encouraged me to write about this and to inspire him to finally write about Guster!

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25 Years of Boy Band Love

In the movie Fever Pitch, during an argument following the only Red Sox game he did not attend in 23 years, Jimmy Fallon’s character said to Drew Barrymore’s character: “Do you still care about anything you cared about 23 years ago? How about ten? How about five? Name me a single thing that you’ve cared about for 23 years.”

This quote came to mind after I recently attended my 4th New Kids on the Block concert in 4 years. I never was lucky enough to see them in concert as a child, so the fact that I’ve seen them so much in such a short period of time suggests I’m trying to make up for lost time. Or maybe I’m hanging onto my childhood by a thread—the same way I honestly think the majority of my fellow concertgoers were.

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Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Sharon Jones is the exact result of James Brown and Tina Turner having a love child. I was completely unaware of her until I went to a one-day music festival in Northhampton, Massachusetts called the Royal Family Records Getdown Festival. This is the record label created by the band Soulive that features the related band Lettuce and all of the individual artists’ solo-work. I have seen Soulive a bunch of times since my first show at the spring fest concert at my college in 2006 and have also been fortunate enough to have seen Lettuce everywhere from outdoor festivals to tiny clubs. They are probably the funkiest band on the planet and never disappoint.

So, when I heard about this show I was interested. I loved both bands and the headliner was Soulive and John Scofield, an amazing jazz guitarist. His collaboration with Medeski, Martin and Wood, A Go Go, was a major influence on the creation of Soulive and to see the band with this legendary guitarist was unreal. Charlie Hunter was also there, as well as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, but the real find was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I had never heard of them and my mind was blown.

Just to give a little perspective on this show, I was realizing as we drove in that I had poison ivy. I had it basically all over my body and it slowly became worse as the show wore on. I had stupidly rolled in a patch while clipping back my grandmother’s lilac bushes. The only time I didn’t think about it was during Sharon’s set. She lights your world up. The energy on stages reminds me of James Brown but the dancing is straight Tina Turner. She crackles and pops with electricity her entire set, not a single falter for a solid hour. Apparently, she is over the age of 50 and only has experienced  mainstream success as of late. She has previously worked jobs such as prison guard and armored car driver in NYC. This woman is badass. I could on and on about her but just watch the videos and that will explain it all. I have been lucky enough to see her twice now and she delivers 150%.

Lastly, her band is internationally recognized for their work on the late Amy Winehouse’s smash album Back to Black, as well as countless other contributions to the funk/soul genre and beyond. The power of the horns and tightness of this combo is absolutely stunning and unlike any other live band I’ve ever seen. Go see this band. You will leave the concert a person changed.