Northeast Underground Turns Six

ne-underground-6-year-picAnother year, another milestone. As of today, this blog is six years old. But what is there to make of this anniversary?

Benchmarks of five years or 10 feel more momentous than just another notch added to the belt during the intervening period. And make no mistake this blog has slowed down some over the long haul. For proof, look no further than last year’s birthday post. Longtime readers will even note that last year Northeast Underground didn’t post a Best Of albums of the year feature to close out 2016. The reason for that absence, as well as a diminished number of articles in general, is simple – laziness. Well, laziness, and that old chestnut called time.

John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” So, yes, life has happened, and a lot of it too over six years. But there still may be a place for this blog moving forward.

If 2016 taught us anything, it was a few, short powerful lessons. First, how to say goodbye. The list of last year’s dearly departed is too long to list without fear of accidently forgetting someone. Second, how not to be afraid of trying new things, while simultaneously being butt-clenchingly scared of potential new things and changes looming on the horizon. And lastly, how to make peace with it all and push ahead anyway.

From humble beginnings, to the highs of being tweeted about and shared by notable artists and musicians, Northeast Underground is still standing after six long years, and it would be too easy to joke that hopefully America will still be standing six years from now (or even four). Yet, another year and another milestone can actually add up to quite a lot.

If you’ve hung in there this long, keep hanging. If you’re new here, welcome. Just remember to keep digging (and not just out from under a pile of snow). You never know what might turn up when you venture a little underground.

Don’t forget to follow Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter for even more content!

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Five Years Gone – Knock on Wood

NE Underground 5 year (pic)It’s been written before that five years is a long time. And after five years of Northeast Underground blog posts (over 200 articles and counting!), few could imagine just how much has been covered, discussed and critiqued on this little slice of the Internet.

So on the occasion of the Northeast Underground’s fifth birthday, as a friendly reminder, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

In 2011 Northeast Underground…

In 2012…

In 2013…

In 2014…

In 2015…

  • Summer music festivals in Western Massachusetts like Stephen Kellogg’s Fifth Annual Family Barbecue, the Green River Festival, and Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival were discussed in a feature article.
  • King of Nowhere, the latest project from local musician Jesse French, was covered in a short profile.
  • And still more records were reviewed, including releases from The Ambiguities, Iron & Wine and the Blue Jean Committee.

Hopefully there will be much more to come in 2016 and beyond. Stay tuned.

Don’t forget to follow Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Four More Years! Four More Years!

Nixon cutoutFour years – the space between Olympic Games, the duration of the average college career, or the amount of time some bands take to record and release a new album. If you, dear reader, told me four years ago that I would still be writing this blog in 2015, I would’ve labeled you a nutter. No way could I come up with four year’s worth of material. I’m not that inspired, and maybe that’s true, we could argue that point over a drink sometime.

But Northeast Underground is alive and kicking in the New Year, and looking back there have been moments of great joy. There have been moments of disappointment too, indeed not every freelancer can fit every topic they want to write about into their schedule, and not every freelancer is able to land every interview they try for or cover every story that grabs their attention.

Focus over a four year span can become diluted. Just ask your typical college student. Yet, sheer perseverance, perhaps, deserves respect. For every stubborn reader who read along and shared words of encouragement on a blog post or two (or a dozen, but who’s counting?), and for every interview subject who stuck with this writer’s process in order to one day see their name in a story online (like, on the World Wide Web, man, gnarly and far out), there are not enough thank yous.

Obligatory acknowledgement too of the continued support offered by the Valley Advocate for hosting Northeast Underground on the paper’s website. What started as a fun side project was given a significant boost in profile by joining forces with such a venerable alt-weekly. The carte blanche approach employed by the paper’s staff has allowed a freedom to this blog that I hope translates when seemingly random subjects or asides are tackled and/ or included in certain posts.

In this remaining space, I posit a thought or two (or three) for the future. First, change is inevitable. You’re reading this post now on a completely redesigned website, which is worlds apart from the one this blog started contributing to four years ago. Go with the flow. Second, each new day begets another day on its heels. You, dear reader, like the material shared here, are different somehow every day. Accept the difference. And lastly, I don’t know. Meditate, workout more, or start a new hobby for Chrissake. This blog won’t help you lose those extra 10 pounds you put on over the last year, but reading what’s written here sure beats going on a diet.

Like what you read above? Don’t forget to follow Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Twenty years Ago Today

Nirvana GH“Our late editor is dead, he died of death, which killed him.”

John Lennon

20 years ago today, Kurt Cobain ended his life in the space above his garage outside his home in Washington. The career of one of the most-heralded musicians of the ‘90s was snuffed out with his sudden passing, and numerous fans around the world started mourning a hero/ voice of a generation. That mourning continues in 2014.

The act of writing about Cobain’s death is difficult to accomplish without resorting to a sort of emotional bias or cold academic critique. He was a popular singer, guitarist and songwriter for only a few short years before his death, and his band, Nirvana, produced very few albums during his lifetime. However, just the fact that significant media attention will no doubt be focused on the 20th anniversary of his death, as well as the date his body was discovered, April 8th, seemingly proves that the impact of this one person is still worth writing about today, in a world whose musical focus of late appears more concerned with dope beats and inane pop starlets than primal rock or punk.

And why not? This very month Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, or at least its most well-known incarnation, featuring bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl (sorry Chad Channing and Pat Smear), will be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Let’s just throw the “grunge” classification out the window. Nirvana, apart from some moments on its debut album Bleach, was never really a grunge band. But as the spearhead of a significant wave of groups that exploded in popularity during the early ‘90s, Kurt and company now also act as the first entrant into the realm of the elder rock state signified by their forthcoming entrenchment into a memorabilia-stuffed building in Cleveland, Ohio.

Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains – these bands and more will likely be following suit in the next few years (at least they should be), but Nirvana will be the first, an honor partially motivated by Cobain’s death and his group’s subsequent election to hallowed status.

Let the guessers guess how the remaining band members will mark the occasion. Will they perform? Will they play some of Kurt’s songs sans Kurt? How would Cobain himself have responded to the news of his induction? These questions are all moot.

Death is the great separator. Loneliness, depression, guilt – all of these emotions follow the end of a life. But 20 years after Kurt Cobain’s death there is also the option to celebrate the life of a man, who still means a lot to so many.

Over the next few days, news reports will serve their token amount of history and conjecture, but for all interested parties there is always the music to fall back on. Crank up Nirvana at a party, or listen alone at home. Play along with your own distorted electric guitar, or strum away on a gentle acoustic. The body of Kurt Cobain may no longer exist, but his sound lives on and we are all witness to the reverberations of his final note, held long, held true, and still making listeners cock their heads and notice 20 years later.

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12 years on, but the loss of Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley on this same day is also felt with a heavy heart and tempered soul.

R.I.P. Layne

R.I.P. Kurt

The Power of Three: Nirvana, Macaulay Culkin, and New Year’s Revolutions

NE Underground 3 years

Another year, another anniversary.

In lieu of publishing a post today celebrating the third anniversary of the Northeast Underground’s launch date on valleyadvocate.com, I thought I would share three recent videos that run the gamut from entertaining, to historical, and even to complete stupefaction instead.

If you want to catch up on what this blog has been up to over the past three years, please click on one of the archive links to the right of the screen. In 2013 alone, the Underground featured interviews with such musicians as the Dropkick Murphys’ Matt Kelly, The Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd, and more. So catch up already, and then scroll below to enjoy the videos currently on this blog’s radar. And as always, thanks for reading!

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Coming fresh on the heels of news that Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, the thought that Kurt Cobain and company still had any surprises up their sleeves was probably far from many fans’ minds. But alas, the ‘90s alt-rock icons were holding on to one more ace. Just this week filmmaker Dave Markey, who directed the documentary “1991: The Year Punk Broke,” posted video from Nirvana’s last Los Angeles concert, which took place on December 30, 1993.

Featuring an electric version of the group’s David Bowie cover “The Man Who Sold the World” as well as a rendition of “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” dedicated to the late River Phoenix, the video is a great reminder that even that close to the end of its existence Nirvana was still a band well on its way to proving itself worthy of future honors.

Watch footage of Nirvana live in Los Angeles from 1993 here:

Next up, have you ever found yourself wondering what Macaulay Culkin is up to in the present day? Even if the answer to that questions is yes, I’d wager that you’ve never imagined the former child actor has become a member of a Velvet Underground cover band that sings exclusively about pizza. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. But to get the full Pizza Underground experience, watch the video below. Come for the slices, stay for the kazoo solo.

Watch video of Macaulay Culkin and the Pizza Underground performing a medley of pizza-themed Velvet Underground songs here:

Lastly, since we’ve started a new year, we’ve also reached that time when many are struggling to adhere to their new year’s resolutions. Whether the struggle is to stop smoking, lose weight or get more organized, one point remains – change. The start of a new year is like the unveiling of a blank slate, free to be altered in any way one wishes. So good luck with your own resolutions in 2014 everyone. And remember, even if you resolve to do something that is bad for you, it’s still your choice to make. Just ask the kid in this final video. He may not be plotting a revolution so much as planning to increase his own sugar high, but that’s his decision. [Oops! That video doesn’t appear to exist on YouTube anymore. Sorry.]

Viva la New Year’s revolucións anyway!

Happy 2014! Don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Welcome To The Terrible Twos

NE Underground 2 year (pic)Whew. Two years gone. It’s hard to believe that as of today the Northeast Underground has been officially active for 24 months. But you know what that means don’t you? Bring on the terrible twos.

Since launching in 2011, the Northeast Underground has tried to bring a variety of music and entertainment news to readers in Western Massachusetts. Albums have been reviewed, concerts have been attended, and a collection of musicians have seen fit to have themselves interviewed by the writer of this very blog. In the past few months alone, Lou Barlow of Dinosaur Jr, Greg Richling of the Wallflowers, and Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre have all taken the time to chat with the Underground. But why stop there?

The start of any new year brings with it the thrill of possibility and the hope for new and exciting experiences. Let 2013 be no different. There will, of course, be no shortage of new music or enjoyable concerts to cover. And change lurks around every corner. Change for you, change for me, change for the Northeast Underground and the world as a whole. Let’s meet the days to follow together. And since there’s no more Mayan apocalypse hanging over our heads, all we have to worry about now is a slow death by Boehner or God forbid the latest Justin Bieber record.

Don’t forget to keep your resolutions. Start following the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter today:

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Happy New Year and happy birthday!

NE Underground 1 yearHappy belated New Year everyone. And happy birthday to me.

That’s right. One year ago today, the Northeast Underground launched its first post via the Valley Advocate’s website. And what a subsequent 12 months it has been.

Did you know that in just the inaugural year of its existence the Northeast Underground completed interviews with such musicians and icons as Henry Rollins, Lou Barlow, Stephen Kellogg and more?

Not only that, but the Underground also gave you the reader its take on some of the hottest concerts to hit New England. Fleet Foxes, Dinosaur Jr, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – the Underground was there at each show, and sometimes there was even pictures and video to prove it.

What’s more is that we’re only getting started. From now until the Mayan apocalypse wipes us all off the map, the Northeast Underground plans on attending even more gigs, interviewing even more bands, and generally providing anyone who visits our little slice of the Internet even more commentary and entertainment. Oh yeah, and we’re going to do it for free.

Sure, sometimes we may get political. And other times you may not like what you read. But let us know in the comment section, and we’ll be sure to respond. Heck, we might even answer any questions you have or teach you something you didn’t already know (not likely, but hey we’re optimistic like that).

The point is we’re grateful for having spent the last year giving those in the Pioneer Valley and beyond our inane opinions and thoughts on a variety of topics. And we hope to keep doing so for a long time to come.

But in the meantime…

In honor of the birth of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s new daughter Blue Ivy Carter on Saturday watch the video for a bluegrass cover of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” by singer and songwriter Hugo here. Not so much a comment on the birth, but just a great rendition of the song. Woohoo!

Plus, don’t forget the Northeast Underground is on YouTube and Twitter. Check out the links below today:

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