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A look back at the artists of 2017

  • Steven Chagnon was among the local musicians to perform on the “Granite State of Mind” in 2017. Courtesy



For the Monitor
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The other night, I was stationed in the Frozen Basement of Gloom, pondering 2017 as I stared into a framed picture of the infamous director, Sam Peckinpah, that sits atop my late ’90s Panasonic television, something I haven’t turned on in over two years.

I got to thinking behind my desk about all the musical talent I’ve seen this past year – at radio stations, in taverns, at New England College. I mean, it was a preposterous amount of goodness, both in original and cover format, bestowed upon those that chose to indulge, which, I did with an unflinching zeal.

Counting into the mirrored sunglasses of Peckinpah, who directed such classics as Straw Dogs and The Getaway with Steve McQueen, I tried to think off the top of my head how many musicians performed in Granite State of Mind over the past year. Maybe 40? Or less? More? I hadn’t a clue. I never stop to count as the weeks go by because before I have the chance to deliberate over a great performance, another clandestine experience can be seen rounding the bend, ready to sink its teeth into the microphone … and my senses.

The far-out and talented songwriter from Concord, Mary Fagan, was the first of more than 60 artists to play on GSM since last January, and she came out with a jazzy, bluesy number called, I think, “I Got Sugar,” and it was baby smooth. Just what that winter night needed. A week later, the boys from the Punch Box Hobos arrived by railway from Warner with a bongo and cigar box guitar and played for the love of the game. Soon after that, the brilliant bar band, Nuff Said, put some good stink down, ripping into some classic rock covers. One of my favorite performances all year.

February rolled in on Tyler Road with a “Barn Song” backed by the delicious, melodic sounds of an accordion, fiddle, banjo, drums and guitar. Mustard hot and bourbon sweet, that band can play some serious “folkgrass.” Later that month, a breakout band called Granite State Revival knocked the sound board into submission with their dazzling blend of southern rock and roll. Watch out for these cats! Then, the great Senie Hunt closed out the month by nearly bringing the staff to their knees as he played from his lap a percussive guitar and sang like no one else in the state. Hire that man!

March started off being all about the ladies, first with the female-fronted alternative indie band from Boston, Blindspot, who hypnotized us with a song called “Voices.” Then the four Green Sisters from Western Massachusetts came in to cut it up and lay it down like I never seen outside of Irish Dixie. Oh, man, they are so good. See them!

April arrived with a flurry of ungodly blues talent, first with Concord’s own mop-headed favorite son, Dan Zane, who got the host out of bed early on a Saturday morning to play some songs from his new CD, Lead Belly, Baby. Then, from out of the woods of Bristol, Mighty Junior, formerly of Yankee Cockfight, laid it down real nice and slow with a powerful set of new original blues songs.

Later in the month, my favorite New Hampshire band of all time, The Rippin’ E Brakes, took to the airways to deliver what might be their last recording together (I doubt it) and their best song to date, “Too Bad.” Jake Davis of the Whisky Stones from Newmarket played some songs about millennial hardships, and Hank Osborne brought by his barrel chested baritone to sing about a “Jersey Girl.”

The best get of the year for GSM came in May and it was non other than wordsmith extraordinaire, Will Kindler, who finally made it by the studio, and he did not disappoint. Kindler’s music is so good, so well constructed, that I stared in awe at the Dylan of Wilton and prayed for his return.

Hometown Eulogy and Dopamine were two first time guests on the show, and between the hippy glazed mandolin by Hometown and the reggae styling of Dopamine, these two acts set the summer into gear with their ambitious, intoxicating and righteous sounds.

The summer progressed as “Big Hoss” himself, Eli Autry of Milton, muscled his way into the studio and crushed it, literally, with his outlaw inspired country music, getting over 10,000 views on Youtube. Impressive. The Whisky Machine herself, Meghan Casey of Boston, also stopped by with a banjo strapped to her back and played cuts off her upcoming CD, Bone Cabin. Miketon Graton of Manchester, lead singer of the Nightblinders, gifted us a solo performance of songs off the bands unflinching CD, Building a Home.

On and on it went, with road warriors like Quinlan Conley from Montana and Cambria Iron North Carolina, trekking in to lay the hammer down. The summer winded down with appearances by local boys, Will Hatch, Steve Chagnon and Bossey Joe stopping by to play some originals. All great. Members of the Lakes Region Mafia also came by – Ericka Cushing, Jim Tyrrell and EnFolk – to play a new crop of songs. Manchester-based zydeco band, Catfish Howl, sprinkled their Cajun spices on us with an outstanding performance. As did a trio of young guns called Hunter from Nashua, Jay Moskowitz from Plymouth and Priscilla Bel from Boston.

It was an outstanding year in music, that’s for sure. And I thank every artist from the bottom of my heart that played the radio show and tribute shows at NEC for their time and talents. Without you all, well, my life would seem so much less fulfilled.

Love you all.