Photos that ROCK! Girls Guns & Glory

Over the past few months, I’ve gone on a bit of a Girls Guns & Glory binge. I saw them first at the Sinclair in Cambridge, MA, then at a Church coffeehouse in Franklin, then at an arts center in Natick, all in a fairly short amount of time. These boys are always on the move and I’m happy to catch them whenever they are in range. It’s always awesome when you go to a show and are completely blown away by a band you’ve never seen, which doesn’t happen to me often. I felt like I was hit head-on by GGG and I was addicted. The catchy retro-country-rock songs, Ward Hayden’s dreamy and crooning vocals, and the snappy outfits on each band member- damn, good stuff. If you haven’t seen or heard them yet, please check them out and you’ll be “shakin’ like jello” in no time! They are very fun to photograph and I’m looking forward to more opportunities!

Photos that ROCK! Barnstar! in the studio

Barnstar! at Dimension Sound Studios

Jamaica Plain, MA

On a lovely spring night I arrived at Dimension Sound Studios, a dozen donuts in hand. Somehow, the stars had aligned and I was invited to photograph my favorite bluegrass super-group as they finished up their second album. As I mentioned before, Barnstar! is comprised of Mark Erelli on guitar, Zack Hickman on bass, Charlie Rose on banjo, Taylor “Old Train” Armerding on mandolin and Jake Armerding on fiddle. The perfect mix of awesomeness.

I happened to arrive when they were doing the final take of the final song on the album. According to Mark, my husband and I being there gave the band the audience that they needed to finish up the song. So that was pretty special (um, wow!). The recording process is fascinating and tedious- it was a really unique experience getting to witness what goes into making an album. Not to mention, I got to sit around and eat burgers with some insanely talented musicians and just nice guys. While I won’t tell you what songs are coming up on this album, I can tell you that it sounded fantastic in the studio and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Looking forward to photographing these gentlemen again at the Green River Music Festival on July 13th! Hopefully the lighting will be a little better there than it was in the studio…!

Josh Ritter’s Acoustic Magic

Josh Ritter Acoustic Trio @ The Somerville Theatre

Somerville, MA: March 6, 2014

Joy. It’s just the first word that comes to mind when I think of this show, Josh Ritter’s face, the songs played, the energy between the 3 men on stage. Ritter has been touring for nearly 1 year straight since the release of his latest album, “The Beast in Its Tracks,” but it doesn’t show. He plays each show like it’s the first time he’s ever stepped out on a stage and his face is lighting up at the fact that the audience is all there just to hear his music.

I have had the pleasure of seeing Ritter play live with his full band many times. Not surprisingly, this show had an entirely different feel and sound. The songs were stripped down but lush in a very intimate setting. Opening with “Best is for the Best” from the The Animal Years album, Ritter grinned and the whole audience smiled with him. During “Wolves,” he got the whole crowd to howl. When he played “Come and Find me” and “The Temptation of Adam” solo acoustic, I looked around at a sea of mesmerized faces. Let’s just say that Josh Ritter had the Somerville Theatre wrapped around his finger.

Ritter was flanked by two expert musicians. Josh Kaufman showed off his musical chops by wowing the audience with incredible solos on the nylon-string guitar, mandolin, banjo, and electric guitar. I’ve seen Zack Hickman play with several different bands (check out Barnstar! if you haven’t already) but his bass playing really shines alongside Ritter. If you can take your eyes off of his incredible handlebar mustache for long enough, you’ll notice that he also shows some dance moves while plucking those strings! Seeing this show both nights was an incredible treat. I would definitely rank the experience right up there with my top 5 favorite concerts of all time. Thanks to Josh, Josh, and Zack. Please come back soon.

Photos by Suzanne Davis McMahon

Happy Valentine’s Day: Radio Sweetheart from Sarah Borges

Every once in awhile, there is an artist whose album is so anticipated by everyone in the Twangville Posse that a few of us pile on for a team review. Put Sarah Borges’ “Radio Sweetheart” into that category.

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SUZANNE’S TAKE

There’s one word to describe Sarah Borges: BADASS. When I was growing up, I always had dreams of being a “rocker chick” with a band. Sarah embodies exactly what I had in mind. She’s got a raspy voice, awesome tattoos, and a hilarious stage persona with great storytelling skills. We at Twangville were lucky enough to have her headline our 2013 showcase in Boston.

Borges’ latest album doesn’t disappoint. Radio Sweetheart is a rollicking, bluesy, and rocking good time. It starts with the super catchy “Girl with a Bow” and stays strong throughout. Other standout songs are “The Waiting and the Worry” and “Hands and Knees” before ending with the knockout “Record on Repeat.” I dare you to listen to that song and not move your head to the beat. DARE YOU!

I’ve been rocking out to this album frequently since last June when I received it through Twangville. Trust me, it’s been worth the wait for the rest of you.

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MAYER’S TAKE

They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I’d submit that as an alternate title for Sarah Borges’s latest release (actually called Radio Sweetheart).After many a year riding the label train and criss-crossing the country in a touring van, Borges took a break a few years back.  Fortunate for all of us she’s back.  Even better, she’s returned with her best album yet.In many respects this is her most realized work and the perfect showcase of her spirited personality.  Earlier in her career, labels pushed her to play the genre game, moving from the rootsy Silver City to the glossy rock of The Stars Are Out.

Working with producer Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos fame), Borges runs the genre gauntlet with flair on Radio Sweetheart.  She moves effortlessly from the guitar-driven pop of “Girl with a Bow” to the boozy ballad “Think of What You’ve Done.”

And lest anyone think she doesn’t rock, I submit the chugging blues of “Heavy Dreams” and the raucous closer “Record on Repeat.”

Welcome back Sarah, we’ve missed you.

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SHAWN’S TAKE
Most musicians are pretty outgoing and can project personality pretty well.  How else could they get on stage and control a packed crowd excited to hear the music.  Or even worse, keep the connection going with a sparse audience on a Monday night in a new town.  A few artists really transcend that capability and really strut their stuff, not just controlling the show, but owning the house.  Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler are perhaps the best known examples.  It’s not limited to rock and roll, though.  Aretha, back in the day, certainly did that.  Pete Seeger did too.  For my money, you can add Sarah Borges to the list.

On her latest album, Radio Sweetheart, that fierceness and drive comes through in a number of the songs.  It starts with the opening cut, Girl With A Bow, and its familiar Borges mash up of punk, indie, and Americana.  Think Of What You’ve Done also wears those clothes.  The Lloyd Price number, Heavy Dreams, punches through with more of a roadhouse pace, due in large part to the walking bass line.  Record On Repeat leans more to the punk side of things with 2 1/2 minutes of intensity and a hook that could just have easily been a Ramones song.
There are a couple of slower numbers on the disc that help broaden the sound; the title track and Big Bright Sun.  I thought there was a little bit of do-wop influence there, but still staying close to the sound of the rest of the album.  And that sound is rock and roll from one of the best show women in the business.
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Photos that ROCK! Best of 2013!

Photos that ROCK! Best of 2013!

I am INSANELY lucky that I get to listen to amazing music AND take pictures- 2 of my favorite things. Here are some of my favorite shots from various venues around Boston in 2013. What a year!

Tom McBride @ Lizard Lounge, March 2013

Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band @ House of Blues Boston, May 2013

Hem @ The Sinclair, June 2013

Twangville Music Showcase @ Lizard Lounge (pictured here: Bill Janovitz & Stephen Kellogg), June 2013

Barnstar! @ Outside the Box Festival, Boston Common, July 2013

David Wax Museum @ Outside the Box Festival, Government Center, August 2013

Joe Fletcher, Amanda Shires, & Jason Isbell @ The Sinclair, August 2013

Sarah Borges & Eilen Jewel @ The Center for the Arts Natick (pictured: Sarah Borges), October 2013

Deer Tick @ The Met, Rhode Island Dudesmash Festival, October 2013

Travis @ House of Blues Boston, November 2013

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds @ The Sinclair, December 2013

Session Americana @ Lizard Lounge (various dates)

David Wax Museum @ The Sinclair, December 2013

Thank you to everyone who has viewed my photos and followed my posts!!! Check out more photos at www.facebook.com/suzannedavisphotography