Past Due has 10 tunes — all of them serene, gorgeous and largely local...
Charlene Arsenault, Worcester Magazine, April 20, 2006
The CD includes: Blackstone Valley, Union Station, The Last Waltz at Enfield, Spirit and other new songs you're sure to enjoy. Check out the Music/CD page for early samples of these new songs. CDs are available here on our website, at concerts.
Thank you Scott McLennan for the article in the Sunday Telegram April 16 edition (see it below). We appreciate your comments, your support and your effort. We do hope you enjoy the CD.
Also, Thank You Charlene Arsenault for your review in the April 20 edition of Worcester Magazine. It was very positive and supportive. She has good taste in music!
We are pleased to announce that Plainfolk was the winner of the "Write-In Vote" in the Roots/Country/Folk category of Worcester Magazine's Turtle Boy 2006 Music Awards. A big thank you to all you Plainfolkies out there who made the effort to register your vote. We appreciate it!
What does Plainfolk have in common with Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Dave Mathews, Kiss, Black Sabbath and Bill Monroe? Read the article published in Jan 13th, 2005 edition of Worcester Magazine (see it below) to find out. For us to be included with such greats reminds us of that old song - "On the cover of Rolling Stone". And as they said in the movie Wayne's World - "We're not worthy" - but thank you Brian Goslow!
And finally, Plainfolk has retired our vast and expensive snail mail Plainfolk Alert list in favor of free electronic communications over the web. Get on our new email list to stay informed of upcoming Plainfolk concerts so you don't mistakenly show up someplace we're appearing - unless you want to of course. Just submit your email address to us on the Contact Info page and we'll do the rest.
Well, that's about it for now. Keep an eye on our schedule. We hope to see you soon!
PLAINFOLK in the News...
April 20, 2006
New songs from Plainfolk
By Charlene Arsenault
When listening to Plainfolk’s latest, Past Due, it’s hard to tell what time period these songs are from, or what their origin is.
That’s a good thing for a traditional folk song. It doesn’t go back or forth — it just stands and speaks. Plainfolk’s songs are quintessential folk songs, sometimes resounding as “drinking songs,” depending on whether or not you’ve had a drink. With that notion, anything could be a drinking song. Marked by lyrics of group struggles that rest within colorfully painted historic scenes often strung with weeping strings, Plainfolk’s tunes swell into thick, harmonious sing-alongs.
“That is the folk tradition — you keep it simple,” says Charles Ball, the band’s leader. “It’s the story, not the tune.”
And Ball writes most of them. He joins Dennis Costello (vocals, guitar, banjo), John Costello (vocals, bass guitar) and Barry Sullivan (vocals, guitar, synth). For Ball, there’s enough acoustic music around where the artist talks about himself or herself. A Worcesterite, he says he can’t help but write about what surrounds him and what he hears. He was a history major in college, too, but “that was a thousand years ago.”
Ball’s timbre and delivery is reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot, one might say, though he doesn’t necessarily second the comparison. “I couldn’t say I sound like anybody,” he says, but does add that he looks up to many of the songwriters of the ‘60s such as Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. Ball’s also a big fan of Stan Rogers and James Keelaghan.
Past Due has 10 tunes — all of them serene, gorgeous and largely local. “Blackstone Valley,” for instance, which opens the disc, was written to connect with audiences in a series of concerts in southern Worcester County. It was instantly bonding with the people in the area, and has become somewhat of an anthem for the Blackstone. Ball came across the very little-known story for “Halifax Down” while shopping for books on a family vacation in Nova Scotia. “Old Stone Walls” morphed out of ideas that stemmed from Ball’s neighbor building his stone wall and giving him a book on the history of such structures in New England. “The Last Waltz” details the building of the Quabbin Reservoir.
Admittedly, Ball is a slow songwriter. But every word, once it comes out, is for a reason.
“Since I’m sitting here in Worcester, Massachusetts,” says Ball, “I’m thinking there are great stories that are local stories and might otherwise be forgotten. If I were to move to, say, Buffalo, I’m sure there would be a wealth of stories there. The longer I live here, and the longer I live, period, these stories just present themselves. Long before people were writing things down or even before we discovered musical instruments, we were passing stories down. The way to do that is to build a theme, which I do, and put in the chorus and pound away at that theme and tell a story.”
Worcester, MA - March 11, 2006:
Thank you to all you Plainfolkies out there who took the time to submit your vote for us to the Worcester Magazine Music Awards. The masses have spoken! Plainfolk is the winner of the write-in vote in the Roots/Country/Folk category. The power of the people.
The 2006 Turtle Boy Music Awards Winners
For our first official music poll, The Worcester Magazine Turtle Boy Music Awards, we didn’t know what to expect. We took the approach seriously and tried to make it as comprehensive and fair as possible. When the ballot went up, the negative contingency had their words, but they were brief and short-lived.
Tabulating the write-ins in each category was grueling. From the process, we learned a few things: Trebek, The Rectangle Club, Craig and CJ/DJ have a ton of eager fans. And whoever was the very first person to log in to vote really loves Craig Rawding. He was at the top of the write-in lists for everything from best metal act to favorite MC. Someone took to writing “I don’t &^%$&” know” for every answer. Another common one was “I do not feel qualified to answer.” Seems it would have been quicker to skip it.
Nonetheless, exactly 2,275 voted in the poll. A work in progress, we hope to find even better ways to make this one of the most credible music polls around. We welcome the feedback (that we have received and that is to come), and will see you all at the event to celebrate the winners — April 6-8 at Tammany Hall, The Lucky Dog and Ralph’s — details to come.
Please look for our music issue on April 6, which will include features on some of our winners.
First Place — The Bee's Knees (42.8%)
Second Place — Chuck and Mud (13%)
Third Place — TIE -- Dave Pike and The Good Ole Boys and Lucky Parker (10.2% each)
Winner of the write-in vote: Plainfolk
Library presents Plainfolk Concert on the Common
by Heather Dubois, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury - For 27 years Plainfolk, a Worcester-based folk band, has been making music and performing everywhere from local pubs to the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and the CBS National News. Now they can add the Shrewsbury Town Common to their list of stops.
The Common became the site of a picture perfect summer evening concert Aug. 25 as hundreds gathered with their blankets and chairs to listen to the music of Plainfolk. The band members are Charlie Ball, Dennis Costello, Barry Sullivan (an alumnus of Walter J. Paton Elementary School), John Costello and Dave Poland.
The band's songs, which have been released on several CDs, are snappy and tell stories such as "Union Station" and "The Smiley Face Song". "Fireman's Prayer" has gained international recognition in the firefighting community.
The free concert was sponsored by the Friends of the Shrewsbury Library. In addition to this event, the group also supports the children's summer programs, guest speakers, the children's room fish tank, and the high school graduate scholarship program.
According to Nancy Colby, the group is always looking to welcome new members and donations of books, videos, CDs, cassettes, and DVDs. Members receive advance notice and advance shopping privileges during all the group's book sales. Anyone interested in joining can stop by the library or contact Nancy Colby at (508) 842-0081 ext. 3.
After a 10-year hiatus, Central MA’s folk scene is on the brink of a resurgence
June 2005 - Over the last 15 years, singer-songwriters have grown in popularity
Thank you to Walter Crockett, Chuck Demers, Mike Duffy, Heidi-Jo Hanson, Gary Kavanagh, and Rob Peterson.
It's always nice to be remembered never mind if it's from 25 years ago! This excerpt is from The Worcester Magazine, Feb 26- March 4, Volume 29, Number 23. The author sent in his version of the Worcester Music Scene in response to the original article published in the magazine a month earlier. This half page article was featured in "YOUR TURN" column. So kudos to Bill Brown for remembering the music scene - the clubs and the bands we recall and remembering Plainfolk as well. We're an icon of the seventies! But somebody should tell him we're still going strong though we don't encourage anyone to stand on the tables - anymore.
It’s all about the music
Recalling other places to feel groovy in the 1970s
By Bill Brown
As a near-50-year-old growing up in Worcester all my life, and being a significant part of the Worcester music scene through half of the ’70s, I found Brian Goslow’s recent cover story most enjoyable and full of flashbacks and great memories (WM, “Feelin’ groovy,” Jan. 15). Enough memories, in fact, to prompt me to write and fill you in on some of the other names and places. These had just as significant an impact on the Worcester music scene of the ’70s, if not more so — at least from observing the crowds at each one of these places when I either went there for a beer or to play my six-string Stratocaster.
...On the outskirts of town you had places like The Fuzzy Grape in Webster, before it was a strip joint. You had The Banjo Pub in Sturbridge, a real hot sing-along place where a lot of us college-age folk would venture. We’d watch Mike Fura’s band — they’d eventually get us standing on the picnic tables — just like we used to do with a lot of bands like Plainfolk and other local single acts like Jim Perry, when they used to play at The Tipperary Pub down on Millbury Street...
Jan 13, 2005 Edition of Worcester Magazine
A recorded look at some of the city's musical highlights
By Brian Goslow
Over the years, various recordings have been released of concerts and club dates in Worcester. While they may not contain once-in-a-lifetime moments like the night Korn joined a young Korn tribute act at The Lucky Dog, Prince jamming at the Crowne Plaza, or The Stones at Sir Morgan's, they do document 40-plus years of live shows in the city.
Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys -- Live at Mechanics Hall (Acoustic Disc)
Recorded on Nov. 16, 1963, when Monroe and company performed as part of a Grand Ole Opry tour, this disc, released earlier this year, captures the father of bluegrass at the height of his career. A then-teenage David Grisman had the good sense to bring a reel-to-reel tape recorder to the show (thank God there weren't any "no recordings" edicts in those days). Highlights include "Muleskinner Blues" and "Blue Mean of Kentucky" and Monroe's daughter Melissa joining in for Buck Owens's "Love's Gonna Live Here." Get you own piece of history at acousticdisc.com.
Jimi Hendrix -- Live at Clark University (Dagger)
This legendary March 15, 1968, Atwood Hall show was first aired later that year on the BBC, portions of which became bootleg folklore before being officially released as part of Rykodisc's Radio One collection in the early '90s. The Hendrix Estate released this CD, which includes hot versions of "Fire," Red House," "Foxy Lady," "Purple Haze" and "Wild Thing" on Dagger Records in 1999. They're complemented by interviews with The Jimi Hendrix Experience that supposedly were conducted after the infamously late show that started well past midnight. Yeah, man! Sound clips and an order form can be found at daggerrecords.com.
The New Riders of the Purple Sage -- Worcester, MA 04.04.73 (Kufala Recordings)
Clark University hosted The New Riders in the middle of an early spring blizzard. The band had just completed an East Coast tour with The Grateful Dead, whose pianist Keith Godchaux joined them for this 25-song set while Donna Jean Godchaux sat in for Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough." The disc features John Dawson's beautiful steel guitar playing on the Dead-like trippy "I Don't Know You," a spirited rocking version of Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou," and concludes with a wild rendition of "Willie and the Hand Jive." Get a taste at songbaby.com/cd/nrps.
Bob Dylan -- The Bootleg Series Vol. 5 Live 1975 The Rolling Thunder Revue (Sony)
Bob Dylan summoned a circus troupe of musicians -- including Byrds' Roger McGuinn, former Spider from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson, Joan Baez and other assorted guests -- for a series of now-legendary shows throughout small-town New England. The Rolling Thunder Revue's performance of "Mr. Tambourine Man" at the Worcester Memorial Auditorium on Nov. 19, 1975, is included on this 2002-released two CD set. Unfortunately, there's no rockin' "jingle jangle" of McGuinn's guitar on the song, which is performed in a stripped down bare style accompanied by Dylan's harmonica even rawer then it was first heard in on "Bringing It All Back Home" in 1965.
Black Sabbath, Purple Sabbath
This Holy Grail for metal fans features Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan joining an Ozzyless Black Sabbath on Nov. 4, 1983. Along with the Sabbath classics "War Pigs" and "Iron Man," there's a metal hall of fame double shot of "Smoke on the Water" and "Paranoid." Tony Iommi reportedly has "an ass-kicking night on the guitar." Regularly found on eBay.
Jerry Lee Lewis, Silver Eagle Presents Jerry Lee Lewis Live (Silver Eagle Classics)
Supposedly recorded in Worcester on Oct. 5, 1984, when Jerry Lee Lewis headlined the Silver Eagle Cross Country Music Show, this CD, released in 1997, regularly shows up on eBay. This 13-song set includes his big hits "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" as well as his take on the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace," the piano-playing on which has to be worth the cost of the disc alone. Still available in stores.
Elton John, Live (MCA)
Captain Fantastic arrived at the Centrum on Nov. 4, 1984, for a show including "Tiny Dancer," "The Bitch is Back," and Bennie and the Jets" that had turned 10 and were headed for the oldies bin while "Sad Songs" and "I'm Still Standing" were rocking WSRS. Now out-of-print, the disc turns up as part of a Japanese reissue on eBay.
Plainfolk, Live at Mechanics Hall
This now-out-of-print release by the long-running local folk band ("New England's Premier Folk Band," according to their Web site) was recorded during a show the group opened for The Wolfetones. It was released in 1986, first on cassette, then on CD, and includes their version of Ralph McTell's "Streets of London" and The Kingston Trio's "Charlie on the MTA." You could probably beg them to burn you a copy via plainfolk.com.
Kiss, Turn on the Night
This four-song CD was accompanied by a video for "Turn on the Night" which was filmed at the Centrum on Jan. 27, 1988. The then-unmasked group lip-synched the song three times during their set that night -- twice after opening the show with "Love Gun" and "Cold Gin" and once before its encore of "Tears Are Falling," "Strutter," and "Detroit Rock City." You want the best? You just have to sit through the video shoot.
The Count Basie Orchestra featuring Frank Foster, Live at the El Morocco (Telarc)
The legendary Count had been dead for eight years when his orchestra, led by tenor saxophonist Frank Foster, pulled into the legendary El Morocco club for two nights on Feb. 20 and 21, 1992. The 18-piece group got things cooking with "Gone An' Git It Y'All," followed it up with "A Night at the El Morocco (Easy As It Goes)," and shut the place down with "One O'Clock Jump" on what would be one of the final great moments up on Suffolk Street.
Live Phish Vol. 6: 11/27/98, The Centrum, Worcester, Massachusetts (Elektra)
"Phish always seems to deliver in Worcester and this night was the jewel of the Fall '98 tour," writes one Wisconsin-based fan on Amazon.com while another states it was "one of the most unbelievable nights of music that I have ever heard." Tracks include "I Am Hydrogen" and "Weekapaug Groove."
Dave Matthews Band -- Live Worcester
Released to DMB fan club members only, this two-CD set captures DMB live at the Centrum Centre on Dec. 8, 1998, on the heels of a show at Foxboro Stadium that summer. According to a review on eBay, it features "set list standards" that "were transcended into virtually new songs" with the highlights being opening tracks "Seek Up" and "Linus and Lucy" plus a long 15 minute version of "No. 41."
Bob Dylan -- Highlands of Worcester
This "very unique music disc" (think the legendary "Bootleg Tapes") captures Dylan at the Centrum Centre on Nov. 14, 1999. According to the Telegram's Scott McLennon, Dylan opened with a selection of gospel and country-flavored acoustic numbers. He reached into his youth for "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," then plugged in for intense versions of "All Along the Watchtower" and "Highlands" from the Grammy-winning "Time Out of Mind." Look for this on eBay.
Godsmack -- Live (Image Entertainment)
This DVD was filmed at the then-Centrum Centre on March 2, 2001. Whoever's trying to get rid of their copy on eBay says, "they pound through such eardrum-busters as "Bad Religion," "Voodoo," "Bad Magick," and "Sick of Life." The Telegram's review the follow day says, "Brutally energetic, with Sully Erna's voice in fine form."
The Commandos -- Fight to Win
"Ladies and gentlemen, all the way from West Boylston -- The Commandos!" Hard-to-find early '80s discs by this once-teenage punk band were selling for high prices on eBay, so a French record label offered to put out a collection of their recordings on limited-edition vinyl in early 2003. When Fight to Win" moved from vinyl to CD, the band tacked on their May 2, 2003, Wormtown 25th Anniversary Celebration performance at Ralph's. After Wormtown Mayor LB Worm's aforementioned introduction, they perform the title track followed by "Stay Out Tonight," "Suburb Rock," and "Operation Annihilation" from their two Beast Records 45s. The live portion concludes with spirited covers of Crazy Jack and the Automatics' "21," the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," and Iggy Pop's "I Got a Right." The disc and a DVD or video of the show is available via thecommandos.org.
Various Artists -- Rotmans Café Fantastique Live: Volume 1
WICN DJ Troy Tyree gathered this collection of highlights from the station's 2002-2003 simulcasts of shows from Rotmans Furniture. Local favorites Chuck & Mud, Valerie & Walter Crockett, Norman Schell, and She's Busy are joined by regional acts Boogaloo Swamis and Anni Clark and national acts Slaid Cleaves and Terri Hendrix, both hailing from Texas. This is a good introduction to today's acoustic roots and folk scene you can inquire about at womp.com.
Undoubtedly, these aren't all the live recordings made in Worcester, including a number of Grammy-winning CDs that utilized the acoustics of Mechanics Hall. Feel free to write us with any we've missed.