Tag Archives: Berklee

PigPen Theatre Co and the Parkington Sisters: Folk Forces

PigPen Theatre Co

Allow me to obsess over PigPen Theatre Co again. The stars aligned in Boston on Wednesday night and this swoon-worthy seven-piece left their NYC hometown for a trip to New England. The combination of sweet harmonies, small venue (at Berklee, no less, where performing is encouraged) and earnest crowd made for an incredibly warm concert. Their journey-seeking songs took on new meaning in this unfamiliar territory. It was interesting to locate the plot of this folk musical, seamlessly showcased in concert form. The men of PigPen carry equal weight, which emphasizes the importance and vibrance of their collective talent.

Lest us not forget their powerful opener, Massachusetts’ own Parkington Sisters. This sister quartet have incredible vocal and instrumental strength; four bandmates rival PigPen’s seven.  The evening ended in a “sing-off” between the two groups. This potential battle of the sexes turned into the most beautiful collaboration of The Band’s “The Weight.” Combine two groups who understand the importance of harmony and BAM- literal music to your ears. Thanks for making the trip up north, PigPen. You’re welcome here anytime.

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The Civil Wars: Folk Music’s Latest Casualty

The Civil Wars at Berklee 10/28/11

Typing this title pains my little heart. But, I have taken some time to mourn, and unfortunately it’s now time to face the (folk) music.

Coincidentally, I saw the Civil Wars in concert for the first time over Halloween weekend last year. I was asked last-minute to take photos of their show for WTBU, and waltzed into the beautiful Berklee venue only knowing their swampy, southern single Barton Hallow. I was charmed by their genuine performance and, ironically, wrote, “contrary to their name, the folk-pop duo the Civil Wars are by no means divided” in my review the next day. The following February, the Civil Wars won two Grammy Awards: one for best folk album, “Barton Hollow,” and another for  best country/duo group performance of their album’s title track. Funny how things change…

According to an e-newsletter (that I’m always giddy to receive each month) and social media outlets, John Paul White and Joy Williams cancelled their upcoming tour due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” While I don’t want this blog to turn into People Magazine or TMZ gossip, it is difficult to hear news like that and not ask questions. White and Williams have such interesting chemistry on stage, yet are both married to other partners. William’s husband is their manager with whom she just had a child. They are quick to squash any romantic rumors and define their relationship to a brother-sister bond. So, what happened? The sweet and sultry recipe for genius folk music has turned to an entity that can no longer tour together.

The Civil Wars at Berklee 10/28/11

I am devastated. The Civil Wars carved out a unique niche in the folk community and it was SO refreshing to see a duo that treats each concert like a black-tie event, rather than sport an unkempt plaid uniform. They radiate with respect for one another, which transcends far above their thoughtful treatment of music; the two are emotional, fun, and still incredibly balanced. Here’s to hoping the Civil Wars resolve this battle and continue to make music in the new year.

And in the mean time…I will have this fantastic cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” on repeat to mask the sound of my depressed wailing.

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Filed under Folk News