T. Swizzle struts her ego, Loudon Wainwright tickles the soul, Jason Isbell rocks my world. Can I sleep now?


The rock-n-roll segment of my summer started with a safe blow to my insomnia-plagued head. In seven days, I saw Loudon Wainwright III,  Jason Isbell and Taylor Swift play in three different New England cities. I also checked out the Judd Apatow/Amy Schumer hub of hilarity “Trainwreck”. All were entertaining, but a certain pop princess was a bit of a letdown.

Keep to the singing, T. Swizzle.

Keep to the singing, T. Swizzle. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Taylor Swift Doesn’t Break a Sweat

It pains me to report, and I know that 59,998 of my fellow Gillette Stadium Swifties would disagree, but I give Taylor’s mediocre performance a rating of blasé. Girlfriend has the gift for gab, but doesn’t have anything substantial to say. Her pandering psychobabble of positivity and fan-loving was an insult to the audience’s intelligence and to her fan base’s age. For every seven-year-old sipping a Sprite, there was another 22-year-old sucking down a $14 margarita. Taylor, if you looked less at your mammoth-sized reflection in the jumbotron and more of your audience, you would notice. Your bangs are banging, get on with the show.

This is pop?

This is pop?

Swift sounded great, her voice improves with each album, but I was bored. In between songs and to assist with her many costume changes (wow, another really short pair of shorts and a sparkly top!), the crowd was subjected to a running loop of Taylor’s squad talking about….Taylor! Lena Dunham thinks that Taylor is such an asset to NYC, Victoria’s Secret models’ Kloss and Aldridge find the paparazzi so invasive, and they all concur…Taylor just adores cats. Gosh, give me Madonna feigning oral sex on a back-up dancer any day.

Art is supposed to move you, to make you think of something other than T. Swizzle’s prettiness and forced approachability. Could America’s national treasure actually be dull?

Loudon Wainwright & Jason Isbell Give Me Faith in Humanity

Familial love. How may redheads does it take to kidnap Loudon Wainwright III?

Familial love. How may redheads does it take to kidnap Loudon Wainwright III?

Loudon Wainwright III and Jason Isbell moved me; each made me ponder lost love, death and lust. At the Courthouse Center for the Arts, Loudon played a delightful set of classics and a new funny ode to the thought that as bad as life can be, it can always be worse, “It’s Not Gaza.” My brother, sister and I stormed Loudo’s back stage room to get another photo to add to our treasure trove. While there, Loudon summarized our existence with these choice words, “these Morrisons are real Loudheads.” Hell, we’ve been called worse.

I have nothing but love for Jason Isbell.

I have nothing but love for Jason Isbell.

Jason Isbell’s latest album “Something More Than Free” is currently the No. 1 country, rock and folk album. This former Drive By Trucker is the real deal. I missed his Newport Folk Festival performance because I was busy checking my watch at the T.Swizzle show, but check out NPR’s broadcast. His voice is lushly gritty and his tales of new-found sobriety, a failed marriage and a fresh love are gorgeous. He played for well over 2 1/2 hours at the New Haven’s College Street Music Hall. It was sonic bliss.

Cinematic gold.

Cinematic gold.

Almost as much as I love good music, I adore a girl behaving badly. Amy Schumer does just that in Trainwreck”. She unabashedly boozes, smokes, sleeps around and is turned off by commitment, children, sports and affection. She untimately finds her way, but her journey is terrific. Her love interest, played by Bill Hader, is an accurate portrayal of a geeky doctor looking for love and acceptance with a girl like Amy. A girl that I’d love to know.

I stalk rock stars. Part 1.


I stalk rock stars. It used be a large part of my life. My plan was to befriend them, party with them and maybe become a groupie, but damn my Catholic upbringing, it always gets in the way of the real bad stuff. When I was young and hot, I’d jump onstage during rock shows, lurk post-show at hotels to catch a glimpse and deliver cookies to the creepy men that guarded the backstage door. I was a detective; I’d locate the lead singer’s number and call him at ridiculous times. I was cunning. I attribute all this rock star lust and silliness to my poor grades in high school, but I was a great success.

Tanya Donelly

Tanya, remember me following you to Ocean Coffee Roasters in 1994? I'm back!
Tanya, remember me following you to Ocean Coffee Roasters in 1994? I’m back!

Just last week I met one of my idols, Tanya Donelly of Belly, Throwing Muses and Breeders fame, and an incredible solo artist. In the mid-90s I spent valuable time pestering my professor, Donelly’s step-father, for information on Tanya. I would bombard him with an assortment of intrusive questions about his rock-n-roll family and show up at Belly shows pleading with him to get me backstage. He was a kind man, but he put an end to it with one statement: “Shouldn’t you spend more time completing your papers than you do learning about my daughter’s life?”  I got the picture and a C+ in his class.

Last thirsty Thursday, I saw Tanya play at The Salvation Cafe in Newport for an intimate acoustic show that also included the consistently great Brothers Kendall. The set list included little bits of brilliance like “Not Too Soon” and “Dusted”. Special guests Gail Greenwood and Dave Narcizo added to the nostalgia. I saw Belly in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and I felt just as young watching Tanya Donelly last week.

Courtney, I’ll start smoking cigarettes again for you.

I see a real resemblance, do you?
I see a real resemblance, do you?

Meeting Courtney Love was the highlight of my life. Yes, I’ve had a bunch of kids and been married once or twice, but meeting Courtney Love was the most euphoric experience of my life. Giving birth was a highlight, but it was bloody and scary and filled with IVs and defecation. Too much? Always. 

I am not an overly ambitious person, but when given the slight chance of meeting Courtney, I seized the day, I was unstoppable. I weaseled my way past hundreds of people and managed to be the first photo- op of the evening. Courtney was at an art exhibit showcasing her own artwork and I was ready to take her with me for the rest of our lives. Love was gracious and warm, I told her that she’s “my world” and then she and I discussed how similarly we were dressed. Messed up minds do think alike.

At the end of the evening, I yelled over to Courtney and her large entourage, “Courtney, we’re on our way to a rock show, come with us, drinks on me!” She shook her head with a smirking, disapproving look. Pure bliss.

Loudon Wainwright III, we shall meet again.

Families that Love Loudon Stay Together

My brother started this one. He’s been to see Loudon Wainwright III more times than I’ve shampooed my hair. It’s been going on for decades, but my fanatic involvement has been for a little over a decade. Within that time, I’ve seen Loudon in New York City, Memphis, Boston, Fall River, the Berkshires and maybe even a few I don’t remember. At times, there’s copious amounts of alcohol swirled into these evenings.

Loudon’s performance pecks at my heart little by little each time, his voice resonates and I’m suddenly surrounded by memories, good and bad. It’s a beautiful, emotional and at times uncomfortable few hours. Loudon is a writer, a poet, an actor, a name dropper, a folk-music patriarch and a dynamic showman.

I’ve met him a few times now. My brother, sister and I have been to dinner with Loudon and those nights have been some of the happiest moments of my life. Most Irish Americans have a picture of JFK in their homes, but we all have a picture of Loudon Wainwright III.

To be continued.