Tag Archives: occupy

Independent Music Series, featuring – Gumbo Diablo



As part of our on going commitment to feature independent musicians and music, I interviewed Ken Hiatt who plays accordion and keyboards, and who along with Wendy Kinal, lead vocalist, composes and performs with Gumbo Diablo.

Gumbo Diablo is a Boston-based quartet specializing in a sound they call pan-Americana – roots rock that crosses borders and boundaries. Mixing traditions such as zydeco and r&b from Louisiana, cumbia from Colombia, forro from Brazil, and modern roots-influenced rock, they have been amazing audiences since 2009 with their unique live performances. With a sound driven by soulful vocals, accordions, keyboards, bass, drums, and percussion, Gumbo Diablo has the versatility to pack the dance floor, captivate a rock club, or hold court in a small restaurant.

The group has just released its debut album, The Gods We Were Before.  Featuring 10 original songs and a cover of Luiz Gonzaga’s “O Fole Roncou,” it is a showcase of the band’s pan-Americana sound.  If New Orleans is the northern port of the Caribbean, then Gumbo Diablo will take you on a musical journey from there to points south, creating music that is distinct, international, and joyful. The group is touring throughout the Northeast in support of this release.

Wendy’s earliest musical memories are of her Polish father playing accordion in the living room and the Latin and Caribbean beats surrounding her during her childhood in South Florida. Her first job (and gig!) was as a “Christmas” Karaoke Hostess on a Seminole Indian Reservation in snow-less Fort Lauderdale. Since then, she’s expanded her musical repertoire, and has been heavily influenced by Brazilian culture and music. As a practitioner of capoeira and a former member of the Northeastern Brazilian band, Batuque do Norte, she learned the power of percussion and of call-and-response music to connect people. She loves exploring the musical traditions of the US and other countries, bringing vocals, percussion, and accordion to the mix. She’s had a wild and educational ride with Gumbo Diablo, and looks forward to more sonic journeys.

Ken grew up playing Western classical music on the accordion. After many years of lessons, contests, and pieces that were far beyond his ability to understand them, he took a 10-year “break.” During this time he picked up the drums and played throughout the Boston area in several jazz and rock groups. Gradually his musical tastes turned toward “world” genres, and he kept hearing the accordion in new and unexpected contexts. In 2003 he took up the squeezebox again, inspired by a Klezmer band he heard at a friend’s wedding. He has played Klezmer and Greek folk music, but now he spends all his time trying to make Gumbo Diablo happen.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Be careful, you’ll end up in the Poor House!

I sat down with Architectural historian Heli Meltsner to discusses her recent book, The Poorhouses of Massachusetts: A Cultural and Architectural History. 
Many of us of a certain age remember our mother or grandmother warn us about the evils of overspending with the phrase, “If your not careful, you’ll end up in the poor house”. For generations in the not too distant past, that phrase was not just an old saying, but it was a very real threat. Remember all those Victorian novels with plots about women finding a good marriage? The Poor House was a very real possibility for anyone who was financially vulnerable in a time not that distant, before social security.

Massachusetts’s towns and cities used Poor Houses to shelter their destitute, elderly, medically indigent, orphans and mentally ill residents. In 1860, two thirds of our municipalities delivered needed support in a poorhouse or town farm. As late as 1945, one quarter retained one. The state only took over the job of delivering welfare in 1968.
Meltsner has identified 46 of these surviving buildings built by municipalities, two of them in Cambridge, and 52 old houses recycled for the purpose. Her book discusses the development of the institutions, the life within their walls and their architecture. Meltsner has also documented five still extant tramp houses erected to segregate the huge number of vagrants that flooded the roads in search of work or a meager meal and hard bed.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

July 13th show featuring Composer Audrey Drake and Arts At The Armory, Somerville


Through her inspired guitar playing and classically trained voice, Audrey Drake weaves the story of her life and connects with her audience. A powerhouse of emotion and subtlety of texture will keep you intrigued and raw emotions will draw you into her world. Her spirit will leave you wanting to know the intimate details behind her inspiration.  In this interview, Audrey describes very eloquently, her process as she composes and we discuss the question, why go out to hear live music?


In the second half of the show I share a retrospection on my favorite Film Director, Ken Loache, and visit Arts At The Armory, in Somerville, MA to check out what is going on at this recently renovated arts and community center
Mission & Vision
Given that artistic expression elevates a civil society, Arts at the Armory seeks to galvanize the creative spirit by providing a space where working artists and the community can come together.

Recognizing that art can bridge cultural, class and generational divides, Arts at the Armory showcases a wide range of visual arts, dance, theater and musical performances. Arts at the Armory is located in an historic armory that also provides studio spaces for artists, a cafe, galleries, two live/work artists units, two performance spaces, and offices for arts organizations.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

Join four remarkable young poets on THE BRIDGE:

Next on The Bridge: Arts for the 99%, May 25, 2:30 p.m. Books of Hope, “a dynamic youth literacy empowerment program inspiring the next generation of young authors through writing, publishing, performing, and entrepreneurship.” This program features Soul Brown, Director of Books of Hope, and four young writers reading their poems and discussing their work in a round-table format moderated by host Janet Gillespie.

Most of us are aware of the importance of the arts in expressing and sharing experience and ideas, and showing us new perspectives on the worlds we live in, and we understand the value of arts activities for young people. The young artists of Books of Hope do more than creative writing however; in addition to writing and performing their poetry, they also publish their own work and sell their books.

Without the publishing/entrepreneurship components of their project, I would have never known about Books of Hope.

I first became aware of Books of Hope in 2009 when I attended the Mass Poetry Festival in Lowell MA. There, among the crowd of adult, mostly white poets and their shiny books, I found three vibrant young women of color at a table displaying an impressive number of slim books of poetry. They told me about their project, which involves not just writing poetry, transforming their experiences and ideas into art, but also publishing their work, creating and selling the books I was holding in my hands. As I leafed through their books, I was caught up in their vision and their voices, their imagery, their ferocious honesty and, yes, their hope. I bought three books and used them in a writing class I was teaching at the Boston Campus of Springfield College. My students loved the poems and stories and clearly resonated with them as art and as social commentary.

Join us on The Bridge: Arts for the 99 % on May 25, 2:30 p.m. to meet Soul Brown and the remarkable young poets of Books of Hope.

To learn more about Books of Hope, visit

1 Comment

Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,