Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Live Shows: Bill Janovitz, The Burren, Somerville, MA 1/19/19

One of the best things about living in the Boston area are shows like last Saturday night's Bill Janovitz performance at The Burren. The Buffalo Tom frontman played a laid back solo set at a 100 person dinner venue in the back room of an Irish pub. Such a small venue and Janovitz's easy rapport with the audience made this an incredibly intimate show, particularly with the special guests for the evening.

The set list was made up almost entirely from social media audience requests. This truly lead to a unique song selection. You got Buffalo Tom favorites like "Fortune Teller," "Mineral," and "Dry Land." In fact, "Taillights Fade," the most obvious choice for a Buffalo Tom song, wasn't requested but added by Janovitz as one of the few non requests. The crowd was also versed in Janovitz's solo career, requesting songs from way back to his 1996 solo album Lonesome Billy, "Mary Kay" (an ode to Mary Kay Letourneau and her inappropriate but still ongoing relationship with a then twelve year old student), and "Walt Whitman Mall (Banyan Tree)." There were also some excellent cover requests, such as Bruce Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman" and Hank Williams's "You Win Again."

But it was the special guests that made the night truly unique. When Janovitz announced he was bringing up a guest, I started wondering what Boston indie rock legend would be taking the stage. Turns out it was Janovitz's nineteen year old daughter Lucy. The two did a duet of Big Thief's "Paul" before they were joined by Bill's brother Scott (who opened the show with a selection of covers (including a countrified version of Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives") and Andy Santospago for Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." Moments like this, along with Bill and Scott Janovitz's back and forth sibling rivalry (Scott called himself the Frank Stallone of the Boston music scene) and Bill's repeated jokes about having to end the show on time so the cover band could take over (which was real, unfortunately) made for one of the more personal concert experiences I've had in months, and a great start to 2019.

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