By Sean Mackey
Packing up like Tetris in a subway car, those who commute to work in Boston encounter stressful traveling situations. Relieving this tension is John Gerard, a musician from Alewife who plays not only on the streets of Cambridge and Boston, but also at the subway stops. Gerard turns the atmosphere in a more pleasant direction, armed with his amazing voice and impressive acoustic guitar talents.
I met John Gerard yesterday with a firm handshake, accompanied by his friend & musical companion, Steve, as they entered WERS for a live mix. Gerard opened up with the soothingly rhythmic “Easier”, which cannot be found on his records, but is “often heard out on the subway and streets.” As he let his lyrics flow, the WERS staff was taken aback by the amazing voice possessed by this one man. Gerard then followed the request of a friend by playing “The Only One”, and continued on with the slow, deep acoustics of “Let Me Be”, backing the melodiously stunning vocals.
When asked by our host exactly why he enjoys performing in the subway, Gerard responded: “That’s a good way to hone your skills. It’s how I really wrote the last album. I had a handful of songs and I practiced them in the subway. And I tend to write a lot in between trains.” Complementing the joys, though, are challenges. Gerard also described to us how playing in the subway means playing against the boisterous noises of everything else – people and trains. “So once you get to play an actual venue that’s meant for what it is, it’s gold,” he told us. Intrigued by this, I asked John Gerard to sit down for an interview, and he agreed to it, very enthusiastic about the idea.
Local Music Week continues on Rockers with Pressure Cooker, Boston’s own original old-school, progressive roots reggae band. They stopped by the WERS live mix studio tonight to perform and be interviewed by Rocker’s own Jay Buff. The group was formed in 1997 ona shared passion of Jamaican ska, rocksteady, and reggae music of the sixties and seventies. The first song they performed was a laid back, horn infused song called “Misunderstanding.” Their second song, “One Kind Of Love,” featured lighter vocals paired with an upbeat guitar riff and hard hitting drums. Over the years, Pressure Cooker has performed with top reggae artists including Toots & the Maytals, Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs, The Wailers, Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan, The Skatalites, Culture, Laurel Aitken, and Eek-A-Mouse. They were also nominated for Best Reggae Act in 1999 and Best Ska Band in 2000 by the Boston Music Awards.
Local Artist Leo Blais has a distinct edge in remembering his lyrics over your typical singer-songwriter. He has decorated his entire apartment with lyrics from The Free EP and Everyone’s Feelin’ Alone, both of which are among the most personal of endeavors from the Lowell based artist. You can see how he constructs these thoughtful pieces with this video:
Leo Blais constructs The Free EP over a weekend inside his apartment in Lowell, MA and talks about the ‘everyone’s feelin alone‘ collection that took 5 years to record and over 3 years to construct. For more information about the collection go to leoblais.com