Saturday, August 30, 2008

No sour apples

NYC, dude. It's crazy. The big city. Big Apple. Here, the Big Apple eats YOU. Anyhow, we had a slightly irritating, but overall awesome night in New York last night, as the band went down for what was billed as a quiet show at Googie's Lounge, above the Living Room. Matt bought Hot Rods and everything.

Six hours of traffic and a full load-in to the club and then they tell us that they never allow drums and it's an acoustic venue only. Surprise surprise. So, we decided to do the gig anyway with just Mike and I playing electric guitars and the white piano that the club had. A nice crowd gathered -- actually, we packed the tiny room -- and, well, we played really well. The harmonies sounded good, the guitars locked appropriately. It was nice. Good joking around, good vibe. People seemed to dig it. Also, it was a "pass the hat" affair, and there were some VERY generous folks in the audience. All in all, pretty darn good time. Even Matt and Scott had "awesome" nights, so all's well that ends well. The next time we go back, I guess we'll play downstairs in their big room, the Living Room, which is really nice and Scott says named one of the best rock clubs in America, along with the Paradise, by Rolling Stone. Interesante.

SET LIST: The Nadir / Saint Anthony / Set Free / Like Secrets Beneath / Six Hours / Research Boulevard / Seasons / Madeline / Broken Beaten & Blue / Valley of Gold

After the show, we hung out downstairs and caught up with some old buddies (Joe Bug! Este!), until it was load-out time. Hey, man, that's cool. We got a decent sandwich on our way out of the city, too, making it a really good New York nighttime.

Tonight, we're off to Quincy for the beach, and a show with Girls Guns & Glory. Should be so sweet and sweaty. Maybe we'll play some beach volleyball before the gig.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Love ain't a decoy

From Matt via Becky via her friend comes this write-up from, who generally specialize in music with a bit of a harder edge. Nonetheless, they are super kind to us and in a Boston feature that also highlights our buddies Everyday Visuals and Hallelujah the Hills!

Cassavettes (UNSIGNED)
RIYL: The Band, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Old 97s

Those of us who can revel in the softer side of the musical world will find much to rejoice in Cassavettes. For years, these guys have displayed a knack for writing memorable songs in the Americana tradition. Take “Debts”, for example, which brightly illustrates their storytelling ability over an undeniably appealing melody. “Shine a Light” is a lesson in how to write an all-around solid piece of rock music. Thoughtful lyrics, a bouncy beat, and engaging guitar solos are executed gracefully together in this exceptional composition. Finally, people can start to take notice of these talented musicians and enjoy their live sound outside of Boston with their newly released “Animal Friends” record. Give one listen to the bluesy ballad “Like Secrets Beneath” and you’ll be aching to attend a show and sing along.

Anyhow, last night I did an acoustic show at Porter Belly's in Brighton. It was loud, and Irish, and full of drunken BC and Irish kids. I got requests from "We are the champions" to Sublime to "Possum Kingdom" to Jimmy Buffett. I did not oblige, unfortunately (or fortunately in some cases). What I did do was a long set, with plenty of background vocals from the crowd, a guy who brought his own drumsticks and kept time on a nearby table, and a bunch of dudes who tried to harmonize but sounded like a howling dog. All in all, a fun night!
SET LIST (in some order): The Rain's Not Far Behind / Broken Beaten & Blue / A Thousand Ways / Okono Road / Set Free / Like Secrets Beneath / Bad Luck / Home / Just Like You / You Led Me Into Your Love / Alone / Green & White / On Our Own / Shadows & the Gray / Withering on the Vine / Rainy Days / The Nadir / Peaceful Easy Feeling / Til the Wheels Fall Off / Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard / It's Gonna Take Time / If the Devil Steals My Soul / Give Me a Moment / There's A Reason

I forgot/didn't include a couple standards, oddly enough: "Seasons," "Afloat," and "Ambivalent Farewells." Oh well.

NYC tonight. Quincy tomorrow. Big time fun in the big city and the beach.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Loving love

Check out this write up from last week's big QUINN GOES 30 show at the Lizard Lounge. Those folks sure do love Quinn, and why not? He's a great guy!
The evening was a huge success as friends, family and even members of The Click Five and The Will Daily band came down to show their support. After the Domestiks stepped down, bands and friends the Prigs, Cassavettes and Frank Ciampi kept the fans rocking until the early morning hours.

Good times!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Consistency, consistency, consistency

We need to focus on consistency, Matt said. Yes, I couldn't have said it better myself.

After a string of solid practices and a couple of solid shows that had our peers saying "Wow, you guys have been sounding tight lately," we blew it at Olive's in Nyack, NY. Big time. I'm not trying to offer hyperbole here, but we were cut-off. After EIGHT songs. The cause of all this was some pre-show drinking that caused some sloppy play, but we don't need to get into specifics here. Suffice it to say, it was an enormous waste of time (8 hours of driving), energy (on almost no sleep), and money ($60 pay + $75 bar tab, but spent $65 on gas there -- a bit too generous from the club for this show). Either way, I'm not interested in making anyone feel bad or anything, this is just a reality check. We still have a lot of work left to do.

Sometimes it seems like we went from undervaluing ourselves to overvaluing ourselves pretty quickly. We're still young, we're still getting better, but we have to keep working on it to make it happen. We're still focusing on playing well, but we also need to focus very hard on two areas: Professionalism and consistency. Sure, drinking is part of being in a band, and plenty get away with it. But in a "pro" band, if a set is ruined a few times by the culprit which is alcohol, it could warrant some serious ramifications for the offending party. Now, to be clear, this band isn't like that. We wouldn't do anything to anyone, and to be honest, there's nothing you really can do (for example, how would you suspend the pay of someone who's basically donating their time and effort?). We'd never kick anyone out of the band (and we're certainly nowhere near that point); it just wouldn't be the same. So, it's up to all of us to act professionally when necessary. Like Matt told me, I can't impose a no-drinking rule, and I wouldn't. But I can ask that we all (note that this says ALL) watch it a little bit more, and I have. More professionalism will lead to increased consistency. After all, that's why we're playing these weekend warrior shows -- to tighten up, to get better, to make mistakes and learn from them. To get more professional and more consistent. Photos to come...
SET LIST (to the best of my recollection): A Hard Rain / You'll Be Crying Soon / Debts / The Devil's Arms / Empire Central / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Shine A Light

That being said, the Wellfleet Beachcomber show was actually pretty cool. I'd never been out there before, and we enjoyed a full day at the beach. We went swimming and did flips in the sand. Really beachbummed it. Or beachcombed, whatever.

It was definitely a solid afternoon, and a pretty good night. I think by the end of the season, most of the staff is pretty worn out at these vacation destinations because no one seemed thrilled to have an act that night (besides the sound guy, who was extremely cool and did a soundboard recording for us). But we played a pretty solid set and got some really positive feedback, which makes it all worthwhile. I'd love to go back next summer earlier in the season and really feel the good vibes flow. That'd be sweet. Photos from Fritz here.

SET LIST (this may be wrong): Lights On / Madeline / I Come From the Water / Trouble From the Start / On the Lam / Ordinary Girls / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

Next up: Finishing mastering my record tomorrow (new songs coming soon, I promise) and this weekend we're in NYC (Googie's Lounge, above the Living Room) on Friday and back at the Beachcomber in Quincy on Saturday. Should be good!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Birthday surprise

Last night, we gathered at the Lizard Lounge for the second time as a band for what Scott would deem our "best show at the Lizard Lounge ever." That's true.

It was Quinn Strassel's big 3-0 birthday, so we celebrated properly. The show sold out early, but get this unforeseen perk: PEOPLE STAYED! All night, we were ready for the mass exodus but a lot of folks stuck it out until we played at midnight, and drank and danced. Totally awesome. Either way, we sounded pretty tight -- the Lizard Lounge has some of the best soundguys in the city -- but I was experiencing a few problems on my side. Nothing to worry about, though. We jammed on "The Devil's Arms" (can't remember when we played that last) and "Shine A Light," during which I used Caitlin's arm as a guitar pick. It was pretty rocking. No photos, though, because Fritz just didn't come. Here's a nice write-up on the show's good intentions by Aaron at Enough Cowbell, including the following photos.

SET LIST: The Nadir / Madeline / The Devil's Arms / Don't Get Me Wrong / Lights On / Trouble From the Start / On the Lam / Whitewashed / Golden Fleece / Shine A Light

Tonight, we head for the Beachcomber, a club I've always wanted to see, let alone play. We'll be toasting you all from the sand dunes!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rolling rock

For the past two weeks, I've been on email and the phone pretty much nonstop figuring out shows we can/can't play, bookings, and most importantly, the recording schedule (also, working out a deal to buy a new guitfiddle, which I did, and it was an insanely good deal -- straight up from a Grammy-winning bluesman who had customized an Epiphone Riviera to ES335 standards). In the midst of all this, I was paid two of the finest compliments that a band could ever wish to hear. The first came from a particular talent buyer who said that we have a "spotless reputation in Boston" and "are just good guys." He used words like nice and considerate, and that is always incredible to hear. Obviously, it means something if you're able to maintain a good reputation in a cut-throat industry. I like that a lot. Furthermore, he was going OUT OF HIS WAY to help us, by making a couple calls to some folks he thought may be trying to use our name to get ahead. Why they would do that, we'll never know. But that was his concern, and he was way more mad about it than I am. And that kind of passion, he said, was because we've been so good to him. Heartwarming, right?

The second compliment comes from a long-lost high school comrade who now lives in Brooklyn and says she is just incredibly proud, and that a friend of her who is a music journalist was extremely excited she knew us because he 1) has our CD and 2) loves it. Pretty sweet, eh?

Anyhow, there's even MORE good news: the band is really at a good point right now. We're sounding good in practice (the dynamics may be better than ever) and we're sounded ready to take steps toward the album. We've finally agreed on a producer, and a game plan after I sent out a lengthy email detailing our options. Unfortunately, money is a main concern, so we won't be able to do this as quickly as we had hoped, but it's still going to rock. Fear not.

The band's tightness comes at a good time, for sure. We're hitting the road soon, where we will only get tighter. We've confirmed new shows in Dewey Beach (9/25) and are so, so close to a Providence gig. Also, we are working on a big holiday mixer -- any particular weekend work best for you crazy fools? We will NOT be playing Halloween, however, because it'll just be too tough to get a cover set together whilst also learning our OWN songs for the new record.
Our schedule this weekend is...
Tonight -- Lizard Lounge, Cambridge
Tomorrow -- Beachcomber, Wellfleet
Saturday -- Olive's, Nyack, NY

Anyhow, we're at a good place. It's going to be an interesting ride coming up!

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Extra surprise

A few days ago a co-worker was asking me what T-shirt I would wear onstage at the Allman Brothers gig. I told him I didn't think about it. I mean, sure, on the day of the show you occasionally put some thought into what shirt would be comfortable (i.e. not too hot) and fashionable (i.e. not too sloppy), but never days before. He couldn't believe it. Quote this co-worker: "You're going to want to wear a shirt where years from now you can say, 'This is the shirt I wore onstage when I opened for the Allmans.'" The reason I tell this story is because I think we all had expectations that were fairly low, I don't mean to sound unappreciative necessarily, but just not thinking that it would be THAT big of a deal. This co-worker argued that this was our biggest show ever; I contended that the headlining the Paradise (strictly because that was OUR show and something we didn't fathom possible too long ago) or the Kings of Leon show were bigger. This Allman Brothers thing, I reasoned, while at a large venue and with incredibly notable acts, was just us on a side stage out of the way. The other bands probably didn't even know about us. The whole band felt the same way, I think, but our expectations were, incredibly, surpassed.

Not only was the stage big (one of the bigger ones we've played on) but the sound was uncommonly good (at least for me) and the crowd kept growing (from a meager handful of folks to an estimated 100 by the end of the show). Best of all, the band sounded great. TD took a couple grainy videos on my camera, and even in poor quality, you can tell the band sounds like we've just gotten off a six-week tour. It does not sound like a band that just took a month off. We nailed a jam section of "Shine A Light" (Scott says it's possibly the best we've ever played the song), did the best-yet take on "Lights On," and really got the party started with "Ordinary Girls." Despite the fact that I was breaking strings on my SG left and right, I luckily remembered to grab my spare archtop and was able to pull off most of the usual solos, etc.

All in all, I was fairly pleased with the way it worked out. And it might have been even better. Word has it that Matt was able to get backstage and meet the Allmans. I have yet to confirm, but if true, this would be quite the coup for such a jam band fan.

SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Golden Fleece / Madeline / The Nadir / Lights On / On the Lam / You'll Be Crying Soon / Debts / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Don't Get Me Wrong / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

Next up, let's see if we can be quiet, yet dynamic this Thursday at the Lizard Lounge. See you there?

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Back on track

Last night the band got together for the first time since....since...who knows how long? We did some trio stuff (minus Mike when he was on his honeymoon; minus Scott when he was in Texas) and Matt and Mike got together when I was recording and Scott was in Texas, but it's just not the same. So, we're getting the band back together. And actually, it sounded better than it did where we left off, in my opinion.

Generally, the band plays a bit better when we're all really hurting to get back to the groove. The long break made the heart grow fonder, I suppose, because we tackled some rockers last night and it was not only fairly tight (especially for taking such a break) but a lot more fun than practice has been. We've really got to buckle down and start getting ready for making this record, but the road should tighten us up considerably and Matt is working hard on dynamics lately, which I'm extremely appreciative of. If we play half as well as we did last night at the Allman Brothers' show, we'll be good. Speaking of, how weird is it that we got included in the LiveNation email (screen grab below, with misspelling or a cutoff)? Yes, we're on the side stage, but we're being promoted as legit. I like that! We were in the LiveNation emails (and many people took note and sent me emails about it) with our own picture when we headlined the Paradise last month, but this just feels bigger for some reason. Like we're REALLY on the show with the Allmans and Grateful Dead guys.

A lot has been happening on the recording front, but it's too complex to get into now. But the main idea is that, due to studio concerns (not on our end), we can't go to Knoxville. So we're staying up here to do the record, and we're looking at November as our window. Producers and engineers are being considered -- three to be exact, and there's a chance we might use all three (except we don't have a huge budget...). Either way, it's a conundrum, but one that will sort itself out soon.

The second major issue I've been addressing this week is booking. Not only in booking myself to get this solo thing rolling, but the band, too. For a while, I was all about spacing out shows for draw concerns. I still am, except that I'd like to not hold to that line so firmly, because I'd rather play more often and get tighter for the record. Once it's out, then we can go back to every 6 weeks or so locally. For now, I'm likely filling one local show per month for us and doing the best I can with road gigs. I booked us on the Vital Might's CD release on Oct. 4 which is awesome for two reasons: 1) we get the play the Middle East Upstairs again after a LONG hiatus, and 2) we get to play with the Vital Might again after a LONG hiatus. Should be good!

I'm balancing working full-time for the band right now with somehow finishing this solo record. In some ways, I like to be distracted. I don't want to overthink this record (in fact, I haven't even heard it since we finished mixing -- no lie) and I always want to improve. So, it's a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I'm always striving to be better and thinking forward; on the other hand, I can't focus on the project while I'm in the midst of it. I wrote 5-10 new songs in the studio for Cassavettes when I probably should have been working on mixes and what not. Oh well. But then again, being a bit spacey on the project is good for building relationships. I'm learning to trust the folks around me, like Todd and Jack, to do what they hear, and then I can come in with fresh ears and see if it matches the sound in my head -- or possibly it's even cooler. So maybe it's best to be distracted and to work hard on improving my writing and the band's prospects on shows, etc. I like that idea. Anyhow, the album is mixed and just waiting to be mastered. I'll post some tracks tomorrow that I get from Todd, and hopefully you'll enjoy them.

Finally, if anyone out there has any spare carpet or rugs that they want to donate to us (doesn't matter if they're stained or ugly), we are currently soundproofing our rehearsal room a bit and we are in need of heavy carpets and rugs. Any help is appreciated!

You know what else is back on track? My blogging. I'm 3-for-3 the last few days. I hope I didn't just jinx it.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Love in the blogosphere

More nice news from Ryan at Ryan's Smashing Life, as he gives us some props for the Allman Brothers gig (and gives Mike some love, too). Check it out here. Here are the words but still click the link for music and pretty pictures.

Boston's Cassavettes to play with the Allman Brothers and Bob Weir's Ratdog

An Opportune Moment: Cassavettes will play the Comcast Center Saturday

Boston's Cassavettes will open this Saturday (August 16) for the legendary Allman Brothers and Bob Weir's (Grateful Dead) sensational Rat Dog. That's one great opportunity to play in front of a large audience. Get there early. Tickets are still available.

Congratulations are definitely in order for the band, who just released the digital live album, "Animal Friends." You should check this one out. We also hear that Cassavettes guitarist and singer Mike McCullagh and his best girl, Julie, have tied the knot. Congratulations to the couple! (This is probably the best wedding gift that Mike could have asked for!)

Totally cool! Also, we're considering taking another stab at a Halloween show (get the pun?) this year. Last year, we went as Neil Young and co. Any suggestions for who we should be this year?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How did we get here?

It's been awhile, but I haven't given up on this blog.

There's plenty going on in Camp Cassavettes, so let's start with this weekend: We will be opening for THE ALLMAN BROTHERS and BOB WEIR (of the Grateful Dead -- know him?) and his band Ratdog this Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Mass. How the hell did that happen? We'll be on the side stage, doing a quick set to get the party started at 5 p.m. before the big shots take the stage at 6, so get there early. And yes, there are still seats available (and some good ones circulating on Craigslist). Get them here:

Next week, we'll be back in Boston playing a birthday party for our buddy Quinn Strassel at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge (between Harvard and Porter Square). It's only $5 in advance ($7 day of) and features The Prigs and Frank Ciampi. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. and we'll take the stage a bit later in the evening, so come by for a drink and buy one for the birthday boy while you're at it. Link:

Also, for those of you outside Boston, we haven't forgotten about you. Cassavettes is hitting the road, weekend-warrior style, for the next six weeks. Keep an eye on for the latest tour dates (there are plenty more to come!), but here are a few of interest just to get you excited:
8/22- The Beachcomber, Wellfleet, MA
8/23- Olive's, Nyack, NY
8/29- Googie's Lounge (above the Living Room), New York, NY
8/30- The Beachcomber, Quincy, MA
9/5- One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME
9/6- The Oasis Pub, New London, CT
9/10- The Parkside Lounge, New York, NY
9/11- Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn, NY
9/13- Grog & Tankard, Washington, DC

Finally, please congratulate our very own guitarist and singer Mike McCullagh and his new wife, Julie, who officially tied the knot last Friday! Word from the wedding was that the dance moves were hot, the bride was beautiful, and the MC never learned to speak correctly. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. McCullagh!

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