We have a lot of ground to cover this week, with three Lowell Summer Music Series shows, a major announcement of a concert coming to Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell this fall, and a much-too-quick recap of the great Gregg Allman show last weekend at Boarding House Park, so let's get started.
We were going to start with a preview of the three Lowell Summer Music Series shows when we found out late Tuesday afternoon that a major electronic dance music show is coming to Tsongas Center on Thursday, Oct. 16.
Presented by 103.3 AMP Radio, the first Electric Bounce House concert will include live performances by electronic music producers and DJs Calvin Harris and Duke Dumont with another act to be announced at a later date. Our sources tell us that to-be-announced act is another hitmaker so this promises to be a nice complement to the area's fall music lineup.
In the meantime, let's look at who's already announced. Calvin Harris has been all over the charts here in the United States the past two years as a lead artist with his Ne-Yo collaboration "Let's Go," "Sweet Nothing" with Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, "I Need Your Love" with Ellie Goulding all leading up to his solo hit of this year, "Summer." Oh, and when he's been the featured artist, he only topped the charts with Rihanna on "We Found Love." If you listen to pop music, you know all of these songs.
Meanwhile, Duke Dumont has two No. 1 songs on the Dance Club chart with "Need U (100%)" and "I Got U" so if you like to go out to clubs, you're probably familiar with his work even if the name doesn't ring a bell.
Tickets are available now as a pre-sale for $49.50 with a special code that can be found on 1033ampradio.com/ebh/ and general tickets will be available on Friday, Aug. 15, at 10 a.m. at the Tsongas Center box office, at TsongasCenter.com and by phone at 866-722-8780. This is an 18-plus event.
Big Lowell Summer Music Series weekend
Now, let's get to those three Lowell Summer Music Series shows that will keep Boarding House Park busy the next three nights.
The fun begins on Thursday night when Southern rock/soul/funk/blues jam band JJ Grey & Mofro from Jacksonville, Fla., comes to Lowell for the first time. Tickets are $28 in advance, $35 day of the show, and are still available.
Then a nice triple bill comes to Lowell on Friday when Ben Taylor headlines a show with fellow Massachusetts artists Heather Maloney and Adam Ezra. We spoke with Taylor, the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, last week on the phone about what he's been up to, what he plays in concert (does he play his parents' music?) and more.
Taylor told me he's actually had an album finished for a year and another album that he's in the process of completing, neither of which has been released.
The reason we haven't heard anything since his 2012 album Listening is simple. "My manager didn't like the name (of the unreleased album). We spent like five months on it. My manager doesn't like what I'm going to call it, but that could mean it takes us another year to put it out," Taylor said. "I came up with a good name and somebody said they didn't like it, so I said, give me something better, and here we are."
He's reluctant to characterize the sound of that unreleased album, but said, "It's my best foot forward as a singer-songwriter in a classic regard. The songs are sophisticated musically, while the arrangements are simple, but very classy. It's an old-fashioned sounding record that could have been made in my father's time."
Taylor says the new album is an electronic project, interestingly enough. "I'm still far more concerned with the songs than the actual tracks or feelings, but soundscape-wise, it's different with programmed drums and synthesizers.
"I love to be able to take an acoustic guitar and sit down in front of people and hear a pin drop and use the bottom end of my dynamic range to convey emotions as much as possible, but the singer/songwriter thing can get stodgy. You can take yourself too seriously and get bored. Boredom is the number one enemy of creativity and being compelling. The intent is to have more fun onstage."
Taylor doesn't know what he'll play here on Friday night, but says he's always willing to play music from his parents' vast catalogs. "I've done a 'Fire and Rain/You're So Vain' mashup before."
He gets along well with both of his parents, even though, "They can't stand each other." He briefly toured with his father several years ago, but hasn't done a full-scale tour with either of them.
Tickets for Ben Taylor, Heather Maloney and Adam Ezra are $25 in advance, $30 day of the concert, and are still available at lowellsummermusic.org.
The final show of the weekend takes place Saturday night when the great Lyle Lovett and His Large Band return to Boarding House Park.
Lovett, of course, is a four-time Grammy Award winner who incorporates country, folk, pop, gospel, blues, jazz and big-band swing into his music. He's been around seemingly forever (really since 1986, when he released his eponymous debut album) and won the 1989 Grammy for Best Male Vocalist. He's an actor who has appeared in several films, including Robert Altman's The Player, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Opposite of Sex.
He won two more Grammy Awards in 1994 for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration for "Funny How Time Slips Away" with Al Green, and Best Country Duo/Group with Vocal for "Blues for Dixie" with Asleep at the Wheel. He won the fourth Grammy in 1996 for his album The Road to Ensenada, which won for Best Country Album.
Tickets for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band are very limited, but are available for $52 in advance, $60 day of concert as of this writing.
Ramblin' Man sits tight
Have to mention the great vibe at the Gregg Allman show last weekend at Boarding House Park. He played a two-hour set that featured a nice mix of his solo stuff ("I'm No Angel"), Allman Brothers Band classics ("Melissa" and "Whipping Post" stood out) and some blues classics like "Stormy Monday" and "One Way Out" to a sold-out crowd that hung on his every note.
This was not an Allman Brothers Band concert by any means (the jams were much shorter and the songs done with more of a pop flair) but there was more than enough of that pedigree in the music to keep things in a good place.
And you won't get a better sound than the acoustics of music reverberating off three brick walls that surround Boarding House Park. It was an evening to be remembered.