This was such an insanely busy week that I managed not to link to this preview.
June 7 at 8 p.m.
The Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA
Ry Cooder’s new album, The Prodigal Son (Fantasy) is one of those works that tempt you to say it was inevitable because it’s so apt and timely. This is always an illusion – concept and execution have to fuse into a set that’s perfect for the moment and the future. Cooder’s basic insight was that traditional gospel songs often have potent morality, righteousness and even anger. They do mean to lift you higher. The Prodigal Son combines fairly well-remembered numbers like Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” with more-faded tunes like Blind Roosevelt Graves’s “I’ll Be Rested When the Roll Is Called.” Best of all, Cooder modifies Alfred Reed’s “You Must Unload” so it chastises the faux-pious wealthy of our time and he enriches the program with acid observations on “Gentrification” (written with his son and the album’s drummer, Joachim). “Jesus and Woody” is even narrated by Christ himself. Can’t deny it – seeing this show will earn you a blessing.
(I know — what is this guy doing? turning into Bourdain?) The finest Italian food I have ever tasted in Cambridge is now at Sulmona Restaurant .
D had porchetta presented as a steak, with lovely roasted vegetables and the creamiest polenta imaginable. The Traditional Lamb Skewers were neither fatty nor dry and I believe US stock — you get six of them and it’s a fine deal. (They are pictured on the “About Us” page — that yummy roasted lemon!) Last week I had a fine Tricolori salad at another new joint, but the one at Sulmona made it look chintzy and clumsy: proper small chunks of Gorgonzola (not mere crumbles) and a very fresh mix of greens and onions (how do they get veggies like this at this time of year?). Knowledgeable, utterly sensitive staff. Even the booth seats were delightful. Sulmona is gonna be mobbed, but you have to squeeze in somehow. The area has needed exactly this for a long time.
I drive past the complex where he lived at least twice a day. More often than not, I thought “Hi, David” as I passed by. Now I will only have the gray thought that he’s not there any more.
The founder of Tower Records. The sad part is that if he had not overextended, the company might not have had such a nosedive finish.
The happy part is that Tower Records taught me how excellent a huge record/music store could be. The Mass. Ave./Newbury St. intersection that included both a three-floor Tower and the lynch pin store of Newbury Comics were my happiest hunting grounds since I discovered Cheapo back before the Earth’s crust cooled. The “World Music” section of the San Francisco store was Heaven incarnated in a forest of racks. I still recall flipping through vinyl and jewel cases for hours with a simmering, dreamy excitement.
PS: I should add that the first time I went into the Tower in Berkeley (I think it was) there was an angry demonstration-line in front of it decrying “corporate music stores.” So I thought, well probably gonna be a Top 40 hellhole. No way. I recall I saw Rock of Ages by The Band, bright and early after release, and snatched it up and have loved it ever since. You protesters are full of the residue from vinyl that they used to dump in rivers.
I do not have bread every day (4-5 times a week, at most). But I was annoyed I couldn’t find a completely acceptable bread item. The smallest Stonefire naans were very tasty and satisfying, but do contain butter and nobody seems to carry them any more (Whole Foods has gone over completely to its 365 brand, which is bleh). One piece of bread makes this teeny nothing of a sandwich. I’ve been told that an English muffin is the equivalent of a single slice, but in truth, I get tired of them before I can finish a six-pack.
Enter the small Bay State Bakery Pita. Comes in a four-pack. I think they’re delicious and can accommodate anything when I cut one in half (can’t deal with the splitting them open business). This is now the go-to sandwich and wrap carb.
As well as a strong early candidate for “local number of the year.”
Dan Pugach Nonet’s debut, Plus One (Unit Records) includes an inspired remake of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” with a vocal by Nicole Zuraitis and an arrangement that at once transform and preserve the musical and emotional landscape of the work. Highly recommended.
(And I was deeply out to lunch to not know about Zuraitis — though a couple other performances here are more artsy-intellectual than “Jolene”.)
For my money, the Roxbury Russet can be one of the most delicious, complex heirloom apples — and it comes with a natural conversation starter in that it was the first North American apple and etc. etc. But the ones I’ve found around here haven’t had much character this year. All changed this weekend.
Here’s the scoop for locals: go out to Allendale Farm and grab a passel of their own Roxbury Russets. Good as any I can remember tasting.