“The Rev” Al Green is ‘Still in Love’ with music

Al Green


 Music icon Al Green, 66, has been making what he calls “smooching music” for more than 40 years and, for the first time in his career, he’ll be performing at New Bedford’s Zeiterion Theatre this Sunday, Aug. 26. He anticipates the experience will be “Simply Beautiful.”

“You know Al and he is going to do what he do in New Bedford,” said Green, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who has sold more than 20 million records. “I want to feel what New Bedford is like. I’ve been to other cities in Massachusetts but I aint never been to New Bedford.”

Green not only is a performer but a Reverend, and is the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s not far from his home which is located in close proximity to Graceland.

But this Sunday he’ll be bestowing his blessings on his musical fans by playing a medley of Motown songs from artists like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, The Four Tops and The Temptations, plus his own biggest hits like “I’m Still in Love with You,” “Tired of Being Alone,” and “Look What You Done for Me.”

“I’m going to do all that good stuff,” Green said.

He’ll also sing fan favorite, “Let’s Stay Together,” a song so popular the President of the United States is familiar with it. In fact, to the surprise – and delight – of the crowd, Obama sang its opening lines at a rally in New York in January.

“He improved that in there – I didn’t know what he was doing but I thought it was kind of neat,” said Green, who was in the audience at the time. “I didn’t even know the President even knew my song but he sounded better than me. I said, ‘Oh, man. He’s going to put me out of a job. If he’s sounding that good I won’t be singing long.’”

All joking aside, Green has nothing to worry about – he’s been selling out shows during his current tour. So far, he said he’s having a “fantastic” time and finds it rewarding to look out into the crowd and witness people enjoying themselves.

“I can see that expression on their faces when I start to sing and they get into a finger-snapping groove-type thing,” he said.

In a similar way, Green hopes he has a positive effect as a preacher. While he knows a performer and a Reverend are different, he said they are comparable because they offer people a piece of his heart.

“A Reverend is a Reverend, a performer is a performer, and a show is a show, but it exemplifies the real life facts of the person that’s doing the show,” he said.

As for being a Reverend specifically, he appreciates the “significance” of it. He wishes more people would find the harmony he found.

“If everybody had significance of being a reverend you wouldn’t have some shooting in a theater about some movie that’s coming out,” he said. “Can you imagine all the lives that have damaged by this? It’s a show – it’s not for killings folks. If you have the tranquility of what we’re talking about then you wouldn’t be carrying an assault rifle around.”

Instead, Green is focusing on a few special things – creating new music, as he has an album in the works; as well as sharing love and happiness, both on and off stage.

“I dance, I pass out roses, I blow kisses, I hug people, I tell them that their love is worth something and that really are special,” he said. “You’ve got to think you’re wonderful. I think you’re wonderful.”

But that’s not all fans can expect from him at The Z.

“I’ve got 14 people on stage and we pack a tight ship,” said Green. “To all my Limelight fans, we kick butt out there.”

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center’s box office is located at 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. Parking is free in an adjacent garage. For more information, visit http://www.zeiterion.org.

L.A. band releases first EP, working on another

The Borrower’s Debt
(Photo by Anton Anderson)


For The Borrower’s Debt, an acoustic indie/folk trio based in Los Angeles, California, March brought along the release of their debut EP, “A Treehouse Narrative,” and June found them immersed in a nine-show tour of the East Coast, giving fans their nostalgic sound and guitar-driven music.

These days, the band is gigging throughout L.A., working on another album and fondly remembering the unique and unexpected way they formed last year.

After being friends and working together for about six months, Tommy Gardner, the band’s baritone voice, and Jordan Hearn, the band’s alto voice,  realized they had similar taste in music and began playing together.  In time, they decided they needed a soprano and posted an ad on Craigslist hoping to find the missing link.

“We really love three-part harmony and we wanted that to be a part of the group,” said Hearn, who is originally from Arkansas.

To their delight, Callie Ray replied and they set up an audition at Hearn’s apartment in Burbank. However, to their horror, they were locked out.

“It was hilarious because I was meeting these people for the first time and they were just standing on the sidewalk with their guitars like, ‘We can’t get in the apartment so I guess we’re just going to play out here,’” said Ray, a New Jersey native who also plays guitar, ukulele, and flute. “It was surprisingly comfortable for how awkward that could have been. It was a memorable audition.”

Gardner agreed and said most of the try-out was held in the back of Ray’s hatchback Ford Escort. Nevertheless, they liked what they heard and hired her.

“We were on the side of the road playing songs and felt our voices sounded really well together,” said Gardner, former guitarist for the now-dissolved Rhode Island band, Someday Providence. “That’s become the vibe of the band – we play anywhere. There’s no place too big or too small.”

While Ray wasn’t involved with the writing process of “A Treehouse Narrative,” her vocals appear on the album and she has been contributing to the band’s current writings.

Also, Gardner produced the six-track album and co-wrote it with Hearn at Hearn’s

apartment, which resembles a tree house, hence the album’s title. Then, they recorded it at Gardner’s place.

“I would bring in a musical idea and only have one or two lines and Jordan and I would create more,” Gardner said. “He’d give me his input about where he thought the song should go. It was a collaborative effort.”

As noted, all three members play guitar, with Gardner also playing piano, and Hearn bringing his banjo and harmonica skills to the mix. The band cites Good Old War, The Civil Wars, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and Alison Krauss & Union Station as some of their biggest influences.

To purchase “A Treehouse Narrative,” check out other merchandise or learn more about The Borrower’s Debt, visit theborrowersdebt.com.

NEGB1 promotes local music and beyond


 “There are unknown musicians everywhere and we want to give them a place that plays their music,” said Jeff Royds, founder and owner of NEGB1.com, an online radio station that mainly streams music by local, unsigned artists. “Other sites are good, but they also mix in famous rock stars and rappers, so local music gets lost in the shuffle. At NEGB1, you’re going to find local music no matter what.”

Since 2007, Royds, along with a handful of volunteer staff members, including his wife of two years, Cassandra, have been helping local acts all of genres by playing their music. Royds is happy to report that NEGB1, formerly known as Boston Garage Bands, as well as New England Garage Bands, continues to expand and now promotes music from unsigned bands across the globe.

Operated by EA Kroll Productions, NEGB1also helps promote music through their social networking site, which allows bands and musicians to create a free online profile they can use to interact with other bands, promoters, club owners, as well as list upcoming shows, send event invitations, post blogs, photos, plus upload music and videos. They are consistentlygrowing in memberships, said Royds, with more than 20,000 people visiting NEGB1 per day.

If acts choose, they can subscribe to a lifetime membership for $50 or $35 for a year.

Those who register for premium profiles, of course, receive more perks.

While premium members may upload as many songs as they please, plus keep 100 percent of the profit they earn from sales, non-premium members may upload 10 songs and are obligated to pay a 30 percent surcharge on all music sales.

Also, lifetime members save 6.25 percent each time they shop at the Music Go Round, a used music store in Natick, just for singing up.

That’s not all. Each month, NEGB1 makes a compilation CD of premium member music and submits it to the programming department of SiriusXM satellite radio, further promoting the music. Additionally, lifetime memberships carry over if a band breaks up and then reunites.

“We really push our premium members,” said Royds. “It’s kind of an incentive to help us pay our bills.”

To generate funds, NEGB1 holds an annual T-shirt drive. T-shirts are always available, however, the staff encourages sales this time of year and offers special deals to make people more aware of the website. T-shirts are $20 a piece with free shipping and can be purchased at NEGB1.com.

Though few and far between, the station also gains revenue via advertisements placed by local bands and musicians.

“If you put up too many ads, it becomes MySpace,” Royds said. “Facebook is doing the same thing. It takes away from the music and the bands.”

Moreover, NEGB1, which operates out of Massachusetts, hosts a live pod cast interview show, Behind the Scenes, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. During the show, Royds invites a local act to the studio and musicians play tracks from their albums and perform a few live songs.

“I’ve always been a big bonus-features type of guy and if I know more about the bands, I tend to like them more,” he said. Most recently, Royds got the opportunity to interview Artie Kornfeld, a co-organizer of the original Woodstock.

Additionally, Royds holds a local top 20 count down on the last Friday of each month. This allows listeners to suggest their favorite local songs.

“It gets people more involved and gets the musicians promoting their music a little bit more,” said Royds.

The task of downloading a special player or subscribing is not required, said Royds, as fans can listen from any CPU, smart phone, iPod Touch or iPad 24-hours a day, seven days a week at NEGB1.com.

Fans can also play the NEGB1 video game for free. It’s similar to Guitar Hero in the sense that notes flash across the screen and a player must hit the correct keys to complete a song and advance to the next level.

In the game, which was designed by Becker College students, players must successfully perform at four venues, including a garage, small club, big club and an arena, before quality to gig on the White House lawn.

“It’s pretty cool,” Royds said.

But, Royds has a real Battle of the Band contest in the works. The final round of a five round tournament is set for August 18 at The Raven in Worcester from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. For a $5 admission, fans will get to see seven bands compete for more than $4,000 worth of cash and prizes.

In addition to operating NEGB1, Royds, who was named one of Pulse Magazine’s Top 10 Most People to Watch for 2010, is the former vocalist and guitarist for the dissolved local rock band, Bullethead. The band performed their last show June 2 at Uncle Eddie’s in Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts.

Now, he fronts a Johnny Cash tribute band, A Boy Named Sue, along with a few members of Bullethead, with his wife singing the female parts.

Royds also is coping with a battle of his own, as he recently underwent surgery to remove thyroid cancer. Still, it’s not impacting his spirit.

“Life doesn’t have to slow down just because you’re sick,” he said.

Also, he’s both touched and humbled that his friends have reached out and created an online fundraiser for him, as he’ll be out of work for the next few weeks recovering without pay. He’s especially thankful to Ray Auger, the co-host for NEBG1’s local top 20 and frontman for Whiskey Bent, as well as Patrick Parkinson of the band Center Link.

“I was embarrassed at first because I never wanted to accept handouts but it shows me that they appreciate what I’m doing for the local music scene,” said Royds, a father of five who works full-time. “I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten over the past few weeks since I made it public. It’s an amazing thing and I’m moved beyond belief for all the support.”

To make a donation, visit gofundme.com/wzmso. If bands or musicians are interested in appearing on Behind the Scenes, e-mail Royds at radio@negb1.com. For more information about NEGB1 visit NEGB1.com.