The Day – Favorite Shows and Music of 2021


Thinking back to the past year, the artistic writers of The Day chose their favorite live shows and recorded music.

SHOWS / CONCERTS

Herd Theater “Cyrano de Bergerac”

July, Mitchell College, New London

Could this be Flock’s best production to date? Very probably. It was fiery and moving, and the acting was excellent on every level. I would have preferred to see it in the Arboretum, it’s true, but the lawn outside Mitchell College Red Barn was, although less bucolic, still very pleasant.

– Kristina Dorsey

Rick wakeman

October 16, Garde Arts Center, New London

The ex-keyboard wonder Yes has hypnotized a half-full house with a possibly unlikely mix of talents. The music was magnificent and a technically mind-blowing piano / synth performance. As well as spotlighting Yes, there was solo material, classic tracks, and select songs from Wakeman’s time as a session player (David Bowie, Cat Stevens). Between songs, however? Wakeman was equally haunting with an array of humor-driven locker room anecdotes that make for laughter.

– Rick Koster

Garden gatherings

June and July, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Waterford

Such a pleasure. The O’Neill alumni concerts were excellent. The garden is lovely and the view of the Sound is spectacular. My friends and I arrived early to enjoy the O’Neill’s campus and have a beer at Blue Gene’s Pub and sat on its panoramic patio. All made for a perfect summer afternoon.

– Kristina Dorsey

Jean “Papa” Fat

June 4, Hygienic Art Park

On a solo tour designed to educate and delight audiences in the piano tradition of his hometown of New Orleans, Gros, former frontman of Papa Grows Funk, brought irresistible joy as he nimbly attacked the 88 keys of his instrument. In addition to his own songs – including one performed during a long distance phone call to his elderly father back in Louisiana with a birthday serenade – Gros has skillfully nuanced Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith, Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino and more.

– Rick Koster

“Little blue girl: the musical Nina Simone”

August, Goodspeed By the River, East Haddam

Laiona Michelle was an absolute star. She played Nina Simone with all the strength, pain, artistry and contradictions of the icon. And Michelle’s voice was wonderful. When she took the stage at the start of the show and sang “Feeling Good”, it was a transcendent moment.

– Kristina Dorsey

Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra

October 23, Garde Arts Center, New London

There was a palpable sense of relief and excitement when the ECSO finally stepped onto the Guard scene after a long absence due to COVID. As a “welcome back” to the sold-out crowd, the orchestra performed the fiery Beethoven 5th Symphony. The rest of the clever program included Polina Nazaykinskaya’s haunting Fenix ​​and, with trumpeter Tom Brown, Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major.

– Rick Koster

Melissa Etheridge

Sep 5, Center des arts de la Garde

It was the Guard’s first concert after cinemas closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Everyone seemed so happy to be back. Etheridge is still a dynamic performer, but she was even more exhilarating than usual.

– Kristina Dorsey

Partying of music

June 21, downtown New London

I don’t know if the whole world is still a stage, but for Make Music Day, the boulevards of New London were enough. On street corners, in shops and restaurants, in the Parade Plaza and the Hygienic Art Park, the Cultured Studios, the Garde Arts Center and the Cumulus Media parking lot, an incredible variety of melodies, genres and rhythms s ‘is dumped.

– Rick Koster

Rosanne Cash

November 5, Center des arts de la Garde

It was the first concert Cash had played since the pandemic brought it all to a halt. She was in great shape; this voice was still so rich and evocative.

– Kristina Dorsey

United theater

Rue du Canal, to the west

Special mention to a new venue that offers shows and concerts: The United Theater, which opened its doors this year. The location had been dormant since it closed in 1986. This new version, which also uses the old Montgomery Ward space next door, has undergone an incredible renovation; it will make you want to visit again and again, whether it’s to see a movie, attend a concert or see an art exhibition.

– Kristina Dorsey

RECORDED MUSIC

“Chew on the landscape”

Oscar lang

If Robert Pollard took a step back in time and was 21 again, lived in present-day London, and had stumbled upon an uncle’s Todd Rundgren record collection, he could have been Oscar Lang – or at least really jealous if Oscar Lang was the kid next door. Lang is a wonderfully prolific and talented post-indie rocker whose dizzying melodic work on this debut album is too genuinely sincere to be anything but an exercise in musical pleasure and passion.

– Rick Koster

“Music”

Sia

I’m not writing about the movie this is (I haven’t seen it) but rather the soundtrack, which is just beautiful. It’s also catchy that I’ve never heard Sia, and if you don’t want to dance to numbers like “Hey Boy” and “1 + 1,” well, you’ll never want to dance.

– Kristina Dorsey

“Through the shady woods”

Lunatic soul

This seventh album from Lunatic Soul – the current solo entity of Riverside’s Mariusz Duda – is almost what you would expect if Jethro Tull made the soundtrack to an elf movie. Three important things: Even though I don’t like elves or the movies, books and video games devoted to them, if someone wants to make an elves album, Duda is a better choice than Tull (I prefer from afar the melancholy voice of Duda with Anderson’s peeping rasp). Second, the progressive Slavic folk-rock that perfumes and connects the songs is distinctive, hypnotically earthy, and otherworldly. Finally, apologies to Duda because I don’t think he was thinking of the elves when he wrote this.

– Rick Koster

“=”

Ed sheeran

Ed Sheeran’s latest release, “No. 6 Collaborations Project”, was disappointing (at the time, I said that songs “tend to fade into a mellow, mid-tempo haze”), but “= “brings him back to his vibrant self. “Overpass Graffiti”, “Shivers”, “Tides”, “Collide” … you’d be hard pressed to pick a better song here. There’s a reason so many young male singers sound like Sheeran impersonators; they recognize the good tails to ride.

– Kristina Dorsey

“Liquidate”

Liquidate

Full Disclosure: Three of the four members of this group are loyal friends that I played with at the time, and the fourth is a buddy too. Fuller Disclosure: There are plenty of reasons they’re better off without me, and “Wind Up” is a prime example. This is a formidable, thoughtful, hyper melodic, ambitious and extremely well played pop art album that looks to the future as well as to the past. Perfect for NOW, in other words. No way to find out, but I suspect that even without a personal connection, I would listen to this album all the time. And I do.

– Rick Koster

“Heart”; “Soul”

Eric Church

A single album? Not enough! Of them? It is still not enough! In a matter of weeks, Eric Church released three albums totaling 24 songs. This includes an album “&” (Get it? Heart & Soul), but this one was only available to fan club members. No problem; “Heart” and “Soul” satisfied my need for country-rock. “Rock & Roll Found Me” and “Heart on Fire” might be my two favorite tracks here.

– Kristina Dorsey

“Bites from the future”

Steven wilson

Now that Steven Wilson has brought the Porcupine Tree together – something he let us believe would never happen – I wonder if part of that is because he sees “The Future Bites” as a poorly successful experiment. . Probably not; Wilson doesn’t think of it that way. On the album, in which he largely eschews guitars for a strong attack of electro and programmed rhythms, Wilson boldly attempted to go in a direction that, at least for the period he was writing and recording, he believed. be The Future. “TFB” is still musically interesting, and Wilson is apparently unable to NOT include great melodies. And, lyrically, his observations are as piercing and dark as ever.

– Rick Koster

“Take out the sadness of Saturday night”

Bleachers

Jack Antonoff is the “it” producer of the moment (ask Taylor Swift or Lorde). Here, he walks past the microphone for a new release of his Bleachers. Songwriting remains Antonoff’s strong suit, and the acts are entertaining. A few songs have a decidedly E Street vibe, and The Boss himself appears; Bruce Springsteen as a duet on “Chinatown”.

– Kristina Dorsey


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