AERONAUT, in partnership with Boston public broadcaster WGBH and 99.5 WCRB, Classical Radio Boston, is delighted to invite you to the 7th installment of the pindrop sessions!
Spring is (finally) in the air and this month's edition of the pindrop sessions presents two world-class, locally-based artists whose music blooms forth with great hope for troubled times!
We're thrilled to present legendary Somerville-based singer-songwriter Jennifer Kimball, whose career in music has been the very definition of pursuing a personal, deeply individual vision of musical beauty, and guitarist Lyle Brewer, one of the most original and accomplished guitar virtuosos in 50 states.
Featuring her full band, Jenn will perform songs from her critically acclaimed 2017 record Avocet, a crystalline gem of folkish chamber-pop; Lyle will treat us to a mixture of gorgeous original guitar etudes (from his hauntingly gorgeous 2016 record Juno) as well as his own transcriptions of J.S. Bach cello suites arranged for guitar, a project for which he was awarded the prestigious Iguana Music Fund grant from Club Passim. This promises to be a night of unrepeatable, magical musical moments – the very epitome of what the pindrop sessions is all about!
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"[Jennifer Kimball's Avocet] is a recording that dodges easy comparison or explanation. Kimball’s songs are extremely literate and lyrically interesting; their melodies and harmonic progressions avoid cliché at every turn, managing to be beautiful and lush but still quirky; and Spiegelman’s arrangements bathe the songs in stuttering, modern drums patterns, shivering and delicate woodwind parts, chamber-pop use of vibes, cello, and keyboards. It's a brilliant combination of fresh ingredients. It's a musical meal with flavors you barely know and, then, crave more of." – Will Layman, Pop Matters, July 2017
Jennifer Kimball is a musician known for her unusual choice of notes, her passion for dissonance and her willingness to create harmony where none has been envisioned before. Kimball grew up in a musical family and began singing professionally in 1983 with college classmate, Jonatha Brooke. ‘Jonatha and Jennifer’ evolved into critically acclaimed national touring act The Story and signed with Elektra, releasing two critically-acclaimed albums, Grace in Gravity (1991) and Angel in the House (1993). Jennifer left The Story in 1994 to pursue a career as a freelance harmony singer and solo artist. She sang on an impressive batch of albums for, among others, John Gorka, Catie Curtis, David Wilcox and Patty Larkin, with whom she toured nationally. She began songwriting in earnest in 1995, signing with PolyGram in 1998, and that same year released her first solo record Veering from the Wave, about which The Washington Post wrote “what makes these songs [and their lush-quirky chamber-pop arrangements] so impressive… is the elegant melodies and harmonies, which capture the loneliness and longing that blossom in the wake of separation.”
A force in the local music scene, Kimball is a slow and steady songwriter and frequent collaborator and contributor to other people's projects and/or shows. In addition, she is responsible for the holiday-ish music collaboration called Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony which celebrated its eighth annual tour in 2017. The release of her new record Avocet is a particular joy as its beginning came as a surprise birthday recording session at Q Division in Somerville, MA. «I walked into Q completely unaware that everyone gathered there, set up and ready to play, had been invited by Ry to begin recording my songs!» When I finally figured it out I cried, laughed and got right to work!" Four tunes were recorded that day; two of them are included on Avocet. Kimball chose one of her surprise bandmates, the saxophone player Alec Spiegelman to finish the record. And the result of their collaboration is a splendid sonic experience; a record shimmering with elegant instrumentation arranged and produced by Spiegelman. Ten Jennifer Kimball songs of unflinching poetry in the face of loss, love and other mid-life subjects like reading, dreaming and bitter truths. Two of Spiegelman’s bandmates from Cuddle Magic (Dave Flaherty, drums and Christopher McDonald, keyboards) continued the sessions at Old Soul Studios, Catskill, NY; and a superb guitarist from Brooklyn, Ryan Dugré rounded out the recording band. The result is a splendid chamber pop over and through which floats the unadorned and honest voice of a truly literate songwriter; a voice which conveys warmth without affect. The voice of Jennifer Kimball.
“I just have to play. It’s hard to talk about this stuff without coming off as corny or pretentious, but it’s freedom. It’s being able to express yourself, to become a different person. It’s such a specific experience that it’s like doing a drug or being in love with someone. There are a lot of different things you could do in life, and playing guitar is the best thing I’ve come up with.” ––Lyle Brewer, Boston Globe, Jan 2015
Lyle Brewer’s new solo guitar album Juno is the result of two things: the snowstorms that consumed Boston in the early months of 2015 and the sobriety that saved his life. Juno was released on the one-year anniversary of Brewer’s decision to get sober, and its stripped-down, acoustic instrumental songs reveal a newfound sense of clarity and renewal. “Juno,” which made the Boston Globe’s list of Best Local Albums of 2015, “showcases the cool sophistication of his guitar playing, not to mention his evolution as a songwriter” (Boston Globe). The first blizzard of the season hit Boston on January 27, 2015 andshut down the city for three days. That blizzard, “Juno,” lent its name to the title track. Every storm that winter, Brewer wrote a song. He wrote more over the summer, even as he was finishing up work on his self-titled record (released June 4, 2015). Without hangovers, he wrote in the morning, and without late nights at the bar, he wrote at night. He wrote a piece inspired by Bach, and another inspired by Brazilian composer Luiz Bonfa. “The only reason I was able to do this is because I got sober,” he says. “Period. Sobriety saved my ass big time. I am extremely proud of this album. I am extremely lucky to have supportive people in my life. I am grateful to be alive, to be sober, to be able to make music for a living."
Brewer’s self-titled album, his fourth, was released in the same year. It is a full-length album of original material that weaves effortlessly throughout a variety of musical styles. The songs “are not about flashy technique or mind-numbing solos. They’re thoughtful, artfully composed instrumentals,” says the Boston Globe. Vintage Guitar Magazine writes, “There’s not a bad cut here, including several short interludes that are guitar heaven. Brewer’s streak of winners continues.”
Brewer has been a staple of the Boston music scene for the last ten years. Ask any musician who has worked with him and they will laud his mastery of almost any style of music, with a maturity that belies his age. “Brewer’s dexterity is often jaw-dropping. Not every guitarist can swerve from the swampy stomp of “Green Onions” into the moonglow of “Mr. Sandman” …always with the same sophistication and feeling” (Boston Globe).
Originally from Andover, Massachusetts, Brewer picked up the guitar at the age of 12. He was a guest on Prairie Home Companion when he was 21, and attended the New England Conservatory of Music for 3 ½ years before dropping out to play a gig that conflicted with a “Career Skills” class. He’s had a stutter all his life, which may be related to his fluid expressiveness on the guitar, the instrument that allows him to speak. Brewer also teaches guitar at the Berklee College of Music, and is currently learning Bach’s Lute Suites by ear.
«I feel relieved to have such a great custodian of this modern history in our midst. With each phrase, he identifies and embellishes upon the paths and harmonies which have been influencing us for over a century. In the years to come, when future listeners are trying to piece together the evolution of the electric guitar and its great masters, they can listen to Lyle's records and glean an understanding of this evolution. And, such is my case, be inspired to always go deeper. Thank you Lyle.” ––Brad Barr
a new, ticketed performance series (early bird entry is only ten bucks which supports the artists!) taking place the first Sunday night of every month at the AERONAUT taproom in Somerville, shining light on the ridiculous pleasure of listening, featuring a soft focus on classical music. No stodginess. No competing sound. Shared silence. And sweet musical goodness in our steel-tanked fermentation garden. Plus a sweet after-party hang with the musicians!
Our last six events sold out quickly! So far we've featured Beethoven played by a full symphony orchestra, music with viols and fiddles, Stravinsky with orchestra, actors and dance, a NYC-style cabaret event, a ragtime recital by world-famous pianist Joshua Rifkin, and an all-Irish program hosted by WGBH's Brian O'Donovan. The pindrop sessions has earned coverage from Scout Somerville, the Boston Musical Intelligencer, and the Boston Globe.
Drop your days and distractions. Recharge your beauty batteries…
...listen for the pindrop!