Hotline to the Boston Underground – Film, Music and More

“All Massachusetts bars and restaurants will be shuttered for dine-in business from March 17 through April 6.



Matt at Sally O’Brien’s told us on March 16th that all the music at the club (335 Somerville Ave.) is off until April 7th.  So we did a little more investigating calling up the Cantab.

Club Bohemia at the Cantab Lounge has no music this weekend and beyond as the entire bar is shutting down per orders of Governor Charlie Baker to April 6th. Baker originally called for April 17th but according to the ban has been reduced: “All Massachusetts bars and restaurants will be shuttered for dine-in business from March 17 through April 6. (This is an update; the end date was originally reported to be April 17.) The measure, aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, allows for takeout and delivery, and pharmacies and grocery stores can remain in operation.”


Well, the film companies are sending we critics “screeners” to review at home.  So there will be some film reviews in the coming weeks.  And, of course, we get e mails with new music every day, so here are some songs you may want to check out:

 To give people some hope in these trying times the Reverend John Tamilio – who is also in legendary Boston rock and roll band 3D –  sent out a cover of Michael W. Smith’s “Pray for Me.”  It is an inspiring rendition with just six string acoustic and Tamilio’s smooth voice published on YouTube:  Tiny URL dot com / Tamilio pray for me

Also in our mailbox today, Adventure Set has a new song “Melatonin Blues.”  A description of the drug “Melatonin has been used for short-term treatment of trouble sleeping due to sleep cycle disorders and time changes.”

Released on March 14th the song is written by Mark Pothier who also plays keyboards, programming and does the backing vocals with legendary Ken Scales as lead vocalist.   It’s a dreamy three minutes and fifty one seconds that entertain and entrap the listener. Superb work from these veteran, creative tunesmiths.  Hear it here:

California’s amazing group Feed the Kitty has a new CD in release, Ain’t Dead Yet – which we mentioned in our January 21, 2020 column   FTKaintdeadyet is the Tiny URL for our print readers   Keep in mind the 1952 cartoon Feed The Kitty in 1994 was voted #36 of the Top 50 cartoons of all time!

 Ain’t Dead Yet starts off with the snappy and uptempo “Home,” followed by “Thank You,” not the cover of the Led Zeppelin II classic but an original – solid pop/country more towards contemporary pop which slides nicely into “Darlin,” which is an original (as in, not the Beach Boys hit that Brian Wilson wrote for the early Three Dog Night.)  “Darlin” exquisitely twangs bringing current country where it belongs in the world of pop much better than the mainstream C & W artists who color by the numbers. Jed Mottley on bass, John Shumway on drums and guitarist/vocalist Jack Maher sound like a six piece band, but it’s the three of them rocking out with fun and wild abandon.    Track 4 from the Ain’t Dead Yet CD, “My Last Name,” is playing repeatedly in the computer since January when we first wrote about the tune. It’s a great rock/pop song with country overtones, interesting stops and turns, “Can you take me away from California, ‘cause I got L.A. on my brain. Why does she keep asking me my last name?”  “Sad Country Songs” and “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” are like hearing the old-style country before it evolved, Feed the Kitty certainly being humbly loyal to their roots.  No song goes over four minutes, “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” pushing the envelope at 3:49!   “My Hotel” is one of my favorites among many on this delightful musical excursion.  “Pajama Party,” “Next Month’s Rent,” “Rule the World” and the magical lyrics on “Learned to Fly” show the hard work and innovation that went into this excellent set of recordings.


This biographical CD is a companion to Genya Ravan’s book, Lollipop Lounge, and it is a departure from her previous solo discs – Undercover(2011), For Fans Only(2002), And I Mean It(1979), Urban Desire (1978), Goldie Zelkowitz (1974), They Love Me, They Love Me Not (1973), and her CBS debut, Genya Ravan with Baby (1972), Ravan’s work after leaving Ten Wheel Drive.

In commanding form the singer/songwriter goes through her career in music and words, her relentless band at the top of their game as Ravan covers Lou Reed’s classic “Coney Island Baby” giving his semi-autobiographical underground pop masterpiece not only a female perspective but a Genya Ravan perspective and, of course, gives nods to the Yardbirds and her days in the original all-female rock band, Goldie & The Gingerbreads. This was the time before Fanny and The Runaways …

Goldie/Genya paved the way with her brash and sometimes audacious style…interesting that she’s referenced in the original Clive Davis book – 1975’s CLIVE: Inside The Record Business (Clive Davis, with James Willwerth), but conspicuous in her absence in the 2013 Clive Davis: The Soundtrack to My Life, which the LA Times says “is more about music stars than music business.”

When Billboard Books originally released Lollipop Lounge they also shipped the two 20th Century Fox LPs in their CD form thanks to UMG’s Hip-0 Select. That stroke of genius was constructed by yours truly and I will take the credit, as I will in this full disclosure for flying Genya to Warren Rhode Island in 1986 to sing with Buddy Guy and the late Jimmy Miller on the Buddy Guy sessions (and treat of all treats, with Buddy and Jimmy in some Rhode Island nightclub that evening. Wish we had it on videotape…what a stunning performance!). That’s where “Do You Know What I Mean” came from, the re-make of the Lee Michaels tune we had planned for Buddy’s album (the one before his Grammy-winning Damn Right I Got the Blues). You can see the review of Genya’s solo rendition of “Do You Know What I Mean” here on TMR Zoo, the initial single from this new disc released prior to the full album.

Typically Genya embraces a song and gives it her own thumbprint, as do all the greats, from Etta James to Billie Holiday, but Cheesecake Girl differs in that Ravan takes on the role of storyteller – not reading the book over instrumentals but constructing new melodies and new words that are a companion to her autobiography, a re-telling more than reciting.

The band doesn’t skip a beat, in fact, they stretch out more than they might be able to in the confines of a pop song. Ravan has always been, at her core, a pop artist…from her first hit, “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” (the British release reportedly came before Herman’s Hermits conquered America with it; both artists working out of the same artist, Genya with Jimi Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffrey, while producer Mickey Most worked with Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits.)

So for the loyal Genya Ravan crowd, don’t expect the mind-blowing primal screams on the Vanilla Fudge classic “Take Me For A Little While” from For Fans Only, or the FM classic “Junkman” where Ravan duets with Ian Hunter…this is not that kind of record. It is yet another pioneering deviation, descending into the world of deviates, junkies, artists and creatures stranger than those found in the “wretched hive of scum and villainy” that is the Chalmun’s Cantina at the Mos Eisley Spaceport in the original Star Wars. That pirate city had nothing on the places that Genya Ravan has travelled…surviving those travels and living to tell about it here in Cheesecake Girl. Enter at your own peril.

Clive Davis may have forgotten this fantastic talent in his new book, but through our writings on TMR Zoo and the many reviews on Rovi/ we hope to keep the magic Genya Ravan makes alive and in the public eye.