Sunday, January 27, 2008
Two years ago today, Janet and J. Robbins welcomed son Callum into their music-filled world. To Cal, Janet and J. are just mom & dad, but to the rest of us, he's got veritable rock stars for parents, with J. having played in the seminal Jawbox, Burning Airlines, & Government Issue, and alongside Janet in Channels. Hanging around the recording studio will surely feel completely normal to the little guy, as J. spends much of his days in his Baltimore-based Magpie Cage studio, tracking and mixing a whole bunch of damn good bands.
As recounted here, 8 months or so after Cal was born he was diagnosed with the genetic disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or Type 1 SMA. While research into a cure is ongoing, right now it's incurable, and those who live with it are in for costly therapy and assistive medical devices. That's why, as word spread of Cal's diagnosis, the Robbins' friends and fans rallied with benefit shows, the excellent "For Callum" compilation, and even a benefit disc of Jawbox covers performed on cello.
One of those benefits, which took place over two nights last summer at Somerville's PA's Lounge, brought a bunch of Boston-area (and one NY) bands together for Cal's cause. And regardless of reason behind it, the shows were easily in my musical highlights for the year: Solo sets from Mark Robinson (Teenbeat/Unrest/Air Miami/Flin Flon) and Drew O'Doherty. Duos in the form of Dan & Liz from Ida, benefit organizer Geoff Farina (Karate/Glorytellers) & Jodi Buonanno reunited as Secret Stars, and Chris Brokaw with Geoff, dusting off some old-tyme covers. Then the full band performances: the mighty trio Helms, who were absolutely on fire that night, the noisy Neptune, who gave us a bunch of new songs, and an admittedly ramshackle but rockin' set from Thalia Zedek and her band, with Hilken Mancini (Shepherdess/Fuzzy) guesting on a song or two.
Ida served up some old faves, new ones from their almost-out "Lovers Prayers" album (one they played, "Lolo Sang", is the vinyl-only closing track), and a couple children's songs for Cal. Secret Stars gave us magical versions of their best work. Drew played stuff from his "Starts", along with the track he contributed to the "For Callum" compilation. And Mark Robinson even sang us the seldom-heard Lowell, Massachusetts theme song. All in all, eight performances over two nights filled with special moments, appreciative fans, and many warm vibes for a worthy cause.
So here's the deal: I'd like to let those benefit performances keep on giving. As a present for their growing boy, I'm offering up this "Happy Birthday Cal" Mp3 compilation, with 18 live songs from most of bands who played at last summer's Somerville shows, with their permission. And if you download it, or have ever downloaded and enjoyed any of my recordings here on the 'Nac, I'd be psyched if you'd consider dropping a few dollars for the Robbins family in the Paypal bucket (by clicking the button below), or send a check if Paypal isn't your thing (info at DeSoto). I've just kicked things off with a donation of my own, so as you spend time listening to all the great songs below, pretend you were there at the shows with me, and send a cover charge their way...
Happy Birthday, Cal...
Recorded on July 13th & 14th, 2007
at PA's Lounge in Somerville, MA
- download all 18 Mp3s as an 85MB zip file -
01. Drew O'Doherty - "Angels Live In My Town"
02. Drew O'Doherty - "You'll Believe A Man Can Fly"
03. Chris Brokaw & Geoff Farina - "St. James Infirmary" (Animals)
04. Chris Brokaw & Geoff Farina - "It Hurts Me Too" (Meldon London)
05. Chris Brokaw & Geoff Farina - "That'll Never Happen No More" (Blind Blake)
06. Helms - "There's No 'i' In Team But There's One In 'Tina'"
07. Helms - "Fat Bird"
08. Helms - "More Blackouts Than I Care To Remember"
09. Secret Stars - "Shoe-In"
10. Secret Stars - "5,000,000,000"
11. Secret Stars - "Eyelashes"
12. Mark Robinson - "There's A Lot To Like About Lowell"
13. Mark Robinson - "Fantastic and Spectacular"
14. Mark Robinson - "Isabel"
15. Ida - "Little Bird, Little Bird"
16. Ida - "Tellings"
17. Ida - "Lolo Sang"
18. Ida - "Les Etoiles Secretes"
Update 1/29/08: A number of very cool benefit items are starting to appear on eBay, the proceeds from which will all go to Cal's cause. So far, you can bid on items donated by Kristin Hersh (a Toby Snax pack), Geoff Farina (a guitar lesson), Zach Barocas (a drum lesson), and Dan McCarthy (a gorgeous rare screen print). More should be added soon, so keep checking here.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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