Friday, May 20

The Bostonians #4 : Brett Milano

Brett Milano is a rock critic based in Boston, writing in various newspapers and magazines. He wrote a fascinating book two years ago, "Vinyl Junkies" a journey in the world of record collecting. Where Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" was a novel, this is the real world with famous characters like Monoman and peter Buck among others.

It is a funny book too. Brett is a true connaisseur of rock music and particularly of what has and is happening in Boston.

He wrote the liner notes to the DIY CD dedicated to Boston in the series. He spent time to answer my questions for which I am grateful to him.

- What is the first Jonathan song you ever heard ?

I was in college reading rock mags (Trouser Press especially) in 1977, so I bought the second album (easier to find than the first). So the first song would've been "Rockin SHopping Center." After reading descriptions of the first album I was pretty surprised, I was expecting punk rock! But I was into Genesis, etc, so I never realized a rock record was supposed to be that much FUN...

- What is your favourite album ?

Got to be the first, though I'm also partial to Back In Your Life and Jonathan Sings.

- When was the first show of his you attended and how was it ?

I moved to Boston in 1980 (after graduation) and he was pretty visible around then. Lots of acoustic and small=band shows. By then I knew all the albums and was a pretty big fan, so I loved it-- remember being especially into songs like Vincent Van Gogh and SUmmer Feeling which hadn't been released yet. Around the same time I went to a friend's wedding and the late D. Sharpe was playing drums in the wedding band. We kept shouting for Ice Cream Man but the rest of the band didn't know it.

- What is your favourite period in his musical career ?

I'm always going to be partial to the original Modern Lovers-- they were a great band and every song is pretty much essential. I also really love the first batch of troubadour-type albums where he was upending everybody's expectations of what he was supposed to be doing. There was a great in-your-face aspect to this..He got a lot more comfortable once people came around to what he was doing.

- Do you think he has or had an influence on the Boston music scene post 1978 ?

Absolutely. He'll always be really well thought of here. Boston loves good songwriting and he's still thought of as a Boston artist, even though he hasn't lived here in a long while. He plays here at least once a year, usually for two or three nights in a club or a theater, and always draws good crowds.

- Are you familiar with his most recent songs and what do you think of them ?

I missed the last couple of albums, but caught up with the live DVD that came out this year. I'll admit I started losing interest after many years of the troubadour thing, it seemed he was getting a little too cute sometimes and overdoing the sweet sensitivity and the jokes. But parts of the DVD really surprised me...both for the political song and for how powerful some of the new songs are. I think "The Night is Still Young" finale is incredibly life-affirming, the kind of moment he's been trying to do for years.

- How do you appreciate Jonathan evolution from the Modern Lovers rock
sound to nowadays troubadour ballads ?

Seems he found his direction after the original band split up and never looked back. I admire his persistence for never cashing in with a Modern Lovers reunion touor...though I would certainly be there if he ever did it.

- Are you sensitive, as you have been living in the Boston area for a
long time, to the way Jonathan describes in his songs the Boston
surroundings ?

I moved to Boston in 1980 (went to college in western Massachusetts), so for awhile I kept idenitfying references in the songs-- "Hey, I'm in the Lonely Financial Zone!" Still find myself singing :Modern World" when I walk past BU. Also, a lot of us who went to school in Amherst really loved the local references in the "Roadrunner Thrice" single.

- I found that the last album reminded much of the Velvet Underground
for various reasons. Are you also aware of VU references in Jonathan's
music even nowadays ?

Like I said, I missed the last couple of albums (the last one I own is I'm So Confused). I am surprised that he is still referencing them though. I know the song he wrote about the VU in the 80s, but otherwise he seems to be in a different place from them. Think he nailed it when he played the VU song once and said "I had more fun playing that than they ever had."

- Any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

I've never met him and am not sure I want to...I know people who've met him and found him to be rude and dismissive; and I've heard of him being bristly in interview situations. Always hate when that happens with people you admire..but you've probably met him so I would be curious to hear your experience.

- What Jonathan song would you think as pertinent to be covered by the
Lyres , the Real Kids and the Downbeat 5 ?

There's a great garage band iin Boston called the Prime Movers who are doing "She Cracked." I would love to hear the Real Kids do "I'm Straight" but I'm sure that will never happen (John Felice is Hippie Johnny, right?). I can hear "Stop This Car" with Lyres organ, easy! Asa Brebner still does "Roadrunner" on a pretty regular basis and it sounds great-- He does the full throttle rock version that they never did when he was in the band.

Tuesday, May 17

june 2005 tour

Thu Jun 2 Tucson AZ Club Congress
Sat Jun 4 Houston TX Continental Club
Sun Jun 5 New Orleans LA One Eyed Jacks
Mon Jun 6 Gainesville FL Common Grounds
Tue Jun 7 Tampa FL Skipper's Smokehouse
Wed Jun 8 Orlando FL The Social
Thu Jun 9 Atlanta GA The Earl
Fri Jun 10 Huntsville AL The Crossroads
Sat Jun 11 Athens GA 40 Watt Club
Sun Jun 12 Chapel Hill NC Local 506
Tue Jun 14 Philadelphia PA The Khyber
Wed Jun 15 Natick MA Center for the Arts (w/ Pop Kids)
Thu Jun 16 Cambridge MA Middle East Club
Fri Jun 17 Brooklyn NY North Six
Sat Jun 18 Brooklyn NY North Six
Sun Jun 19 Brooklyn NY North Six
Mon Jun 20 Washington DC 9:30 Club
Tue Jun 21 Youngstown OH Nyabinghi Dance Hall
Wed Jun 22 Akron OH The Lime Spider
Thu Jun 23 St. Louis MO Blueberry Hill
Fri Jun 24 Springfield MO The Outland
Sat Jun 25 Kansas City MO The Hurricane
Sun Jun 26 Norman OK Da Opolis
Tue Jun 28 Boulder CO The Fox
Wed Jun 29 Salt Lake City UT Kilby Court

Always confirm show info locally!

Les Gripkey will be selling Jonathan Richman authorized merchandise online soon.

flying saucers rock'n'roll

"Up in the Sky Sometime" mp3 at Modern Kicks
from Rockin' and Romance

also "Telstar" by the Ventures

listen before they disappear

Monday, May 16

happy birthday jonathan!

happy birthday jonathan!

from Jonathan's pen:

"Mr. Richman was born in Boston in 1951. He started to draw pictures all day long from the age of 5. Played baseball all day long from the age of 9. This would not leave time for anything else, would it?

He took up guitar at 15, started playing in public at 16, and by 17 had caused many people to leave coffee-houses... quickly... with their hands over their ears, and by 18 was sure he wanted to sing professionally. He promised himself that if it ever became work instead of fun he'd quit that day. And... if it ever does, he will.

He left home at age 18, moving to New York. Since he was ten years old and first was taken there by his parents, he wanted to live there and also his favorite rock band The Velvet Underground was there along with the artist Andy Warhol (since deceased). Now this band we just mentioned... they had a big effect on young Richman. Yes, he admired their sincerity, their dark sound, and their ability to improvise both lyrics and music onstage. "

read the rest at

a warm Thank You! to dh at

Tuesday, May 10

Modern Lovers Tree

Here is some try of a tree which shows the Boston music scene mixings..
It is also my tribute to Peter Frame who designed marvellous rock trees.

Monday, May 9

Boston - Paris : Patrick Mathé

Patrick Mathé is the man behind New Rose records and now Last Call records. He has got perfect taste in music, and it is why he has had France's best indie label for the last twenty years. In the 80's, his eponymous record shop located in the Latin Quarter in Paris was the headquarters of all students interested in trendy new sounds coming from abroad, and specially from Boston as Patrick had signed lots of bands from that area,

from the Real Kids to the Classic ruins, the Lyres and of course Willie Loco Alexander.
I was in his shop every Saturday afternoon looking for new releases and imports. Patrick has also given a second chance to misfits or cult musicians like Alex Chilton, Elliott Murphy or Roky Erickson.

Roky Erickson and Patrick M.
More on Last Call and New Rose at

But he essentially released "live at Longbranch saloon" by the Modern Lovers and I asked him my set of questions about Jonathan.

- What is the first Jonathan Richman song you ever heard


- First Jonathan show ?

In 76, at Cantone's a small club in Boston. It was awesome and very friendly atmosphere. After the show, Jonathan drove me back to my hotel in his van.

- Are you pleased with Jonathan's evolution in style or do you prefer the original Modern Lovers ?

Obviously, I love the first albums and I must admit that I am not familiar with the most recent of his production but in any case everything he has done has always been good. Nothing to throw away, never.

- How did happen the release of Modern Lovers live at Long Branch saloon, can you tell us about it ?

It was Ernie Brooks who took care of everything. Ernie did the remastering with the help of Jerry Harrison and it went quite fast if I remember well.

- Is there any chance that one day we will get the missing songs from those concerts like "Cambridge clown" for instance ? Will there be a third Longbranch CD ?

It is not foreseen for the moment, I will talk with Ernie about it, he must have the tapes.

- As an acknowledged expert of the Boston scene (There are people there who still remember you and your cigars) what influence do you think Jonathan had on the local scene ?

I think Jonathan was on his own in a way, he was not infesting the clubs as the Real Kids, Willie Loco or the Lyres did.
His style being so unique and unforgetable, I do not see him as having been a big influence on other bands.

- What about the rumour which said, at that time that you were trying to sign Jonathan on the New Rose label ?

This never existed, and I was not aware of the rumour.

- An anecdote related to Jonathan ?

I remember that during a concert of the Count (Joe Viglone), in a small Boston venue, Jonathan was there practising trunk and abdominal gym exercises during the whole concert. It was rather surrealistic.

- What cover of someone of the New Rose/ Last call catalogue could you imagine Jonathan singing ?

Maybe "the singing grandfather" from Roky Erickson.

Monday, May 2

Veganism... (lifted from Zumzine)

Zum: Do you identify yourself as a vegetarian?

Jonathan Richman: It’s a great question. Right now I identify as vegan. I’m not strict, 100%. Every once in a while in some country, someone’s mother will make somethin’ and I’m not gonna ask know like she’s there, she’s got her apron on and she spent four hours and I’m a guest at her house. I’m not gonna say, “Excuse me is there oleo Margarine and is there hydrogenated this-and-that. Nah, I eat somethin’. You know, I do the best I can. (laughs). Left to my own devices I’m mostly a vegan. We can talk about how it is traveling and staying vegan.

more backstage