Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Country Pleasures at Sally O'Brien's, Somerville 3-8-16

The Country Pleasures playing "Stewball"
I was turned on to Josh Lederman many years ago when my brother gave me a Josh Lederman Y Los Diablos CD (It's A Long And Lonely Time Until The Train Will Bring You Home, an album I highly recommend). From the opening of the very first track, "Four In The Morning," I was a fan. I saw that band several times at a bar called Tir Na Nog. They were one of the three best live bands I ever saw (the other two being the Grateful Dead and The Peak Show). And since the end of Los Diablos, I have enjoyed Josh Lederman And The Cambridge-Somerville All Stars (it was at one of that band's shows that I met the love of my life), and then last year I got to see Josh's then-new project, The Be Nice Or Leave Brass Band. Well, now Josh Lederman has an even newer project, The Country Pleasures, and while I was in Boston I had the pleasure of seeing them at Sally O'Brien's, across the street from what used to be Tir Na Nog.

The Country Pleasures are the duo of Josh Lederman on vocals, guitar and percussion, and Mark Earley on harmonica, vocals and guitar. They do some wonderful old blues numbers. The name, by the way, is a play on a bawdy joke in The Tragedy Of Hamlet (Hamlet playfully asks Ophelia, "Do you think I meant country matters?"). As I understand it, Josh remembered the line as "country pleasures," and thus the name. Well, on March 8th, The Country Pleasures began just after 8 p.m., kicking off the first set with Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do" (also known as "You Got Me Running"). Afterward, Mark said, "We're gonna play a lot of songs in the same key for you," and Josh added, "I hope no one's allergic to the key of F." Mark then took over lead vocal duties on "Sugar Mama." He also did lead vocals and guitar on "Rooster Crowing Blues." For "Stewball," there was no guitar. Josh sang and played some percussion, while Mark played harmonica. It sounded great. They ended the first set with "Outside Woman Blues" (which is also sometimes called "Lose Your Money"). Josh introduced it: "This song's about losing your money but not losing your mind." Perhaps a narrow line separates those two, eh?

After a twenty-minute break, they opened the second set with "Bright Lights, Big City," and kept things fun with "Cornbread, Peas And Black Molasses." Josh then joked, "That's Doctor Mark Earley on the saxophone." In introducing "Old Jim Canaan," Mark said, "This is a hard song to sing and play at the same time." And yes, there was a false start. But after that, it sounded excellent. "How Long" and "Got You On My Mind" were also second set highlights. They wrapped things up with "You Gotta Move." This was a really good evening of music. And this, for me, is the best way to see a band - in a friendly, relaxed, intimate atmosphere, with a pint of Guinness in my hand. Those in the Boston area should try to get out to see The Country Pleasures.

Set List

Set I
  1. Baby What You Want Me To Do
  2. Sittin' On Top Of The World
  3. Death Letter
  4. Sugar Mama
  5. You'd Better Mind
  6. Step It Up And Go
  7. Long Way From Home
  8. Dark Road
  9. Stewball
  10. Walk On
  11. Rooster Crowing Blues
  12. Outside Woman Blues
Set II
  1. Bright Lights, Big City
  2. Cornbread, Peas And Black Molasses
  3. Rest Your Saddle
  4. She's Going To Her Lonesome Grave
  5. Trouble In Mind
  6. Old Jim Canaan
  7. That's No Way To Get Along
  8. How Long
  9. Little Children's Blues
  10. Got You On My Mind
  11. 'Fraid To Trust 'Em
  12. Crow Jane
  13. You Gotta Move
There was no encore. The show ended at 10:07 p.m. Sally O'Brien's is located at 335 Somerville Ave., in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Here are a few photos from the show:

"Sitting On Top Of The World"
"You'd Better Mind"
"You'd Better Mind"

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