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Bollywood calling
Don Hammontree has India on his mind
BY BOB GULLA

Don Hammontree’s not your basic singer-songwriter. No one who bases a project on the music and culture of Bollywood can be called "basic." A few years back, he lived near Chicago’s Devon Avenue, the nation’s center for Indo-American commerce. "As time went on," he explains, "I became more and more fascinated by Indian culture." And so springs The Mumbai EP, a half-dozen songs jumpstarted by his unusual experience. "Mumbai" is the Indian term for the city known as "Bombay," and most of the songs on this recording have an Indian theme either musically or lyrically. The opener "Juhi Chawla" and "Karisma Comes to Lowell" are dedicated to two of his favorite Bollywood starlets. For the latter, he even recruited Indian musicians to help him out. The opener recalls some of the Middle Eastern-inspired Led Zep material, with indigenous instrumentation and a thumping Bonham-esque drum track. "Karisma" is less successful, with a sort of ’80s pop feel. "Subterranean Homesick Indian" is a short but intricate guitar instrumental that demonstrates his fingerpicking ability, while "The Queen’s Necklace" has a piano hook that resonates like Sarah McLachlan or Coldplay. "No Turning Back" is a pleasant, George Winston-like piano interlude. And "Ankle Chains," featuring singer Kim Koppel, is the best tune on the record, with some nice guitar work and a solid, propulsive rhythm. There’s also a hidden track sung by Koppel (I think) that twinkles prettily to wrap things up. All in all, Mumbai is a diverse accomplishment with more than its share of memorable moments.

Hammontree’s next gig is on Friday, August 26 at 7:30 pm at Café Arpeggio on Main Street in Fall River. Don is also a journalist and author; read his latest musings at www.drivingtooahu.blogspot.com.

COLONIES AUITS

Jason Colonies checked in last week with some rather unexpected news. After five years on the scene his band has decided to call it quits. They’ll be playing their two final sets at the Ocean Mist this Saturday (the 27th). "There’s a big fork in the road and everybody’s going in different directions," says Colonies. "Still we all talked about keeping it going, but I knew that it was heading south." Colonies’s longtime drummer Felix Guiffra moved to NYC and the band stopped rehearsing. "It got me thinking, ‘I need a new drummer.’ But as time went on the thought of losing an original member made me think this might be the time to end the band." That band, some of whose material is available to download on the website (www.jasoncolonies.com), also included original bass player Jeff Moffitt and current guitar player Dan Hartington. "This band has been the best time of my life," says Colonies. "Recording a CD was a dream. We’ve played hundreds of shows. Just thinking about the number blows my mind. We really are more of a live band. People that have continued to see us through the years have seen our growth and there has been a lot of it." Meanwhile, Colonies is headed back to college to get his Master’s in adult education, as is Hartington, in music. In the meantime, Colonies will be strutting his stuff as a solo act. "I’ve had the opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in Rhode Island. I’m very proud of what we have become and I’ll miss it." The local music community will miss it, too, boys.

FEEL GOOD STORY

Is it the beginning of the end of the major label system when a band that doesn’t even have an 8x10 promo photo can get its video on MTV? A number of folks have been predicting for the past few years that recent advances in technology and the Internet would change the landscape of the music biz, maybe even render the current system obsolete. Theoretically, an unsigned band could write and record a catchy song, make a video with friends, and play ball on a national level without ever having to sign a contract of any kind. Take the case of the Majestic Twelve. An unsigned band from Wilmington, North Carolina, the Majestic Twelve cracked the proverbial nut. MuchMusic is playing the video of their debut single "I Don’t Have A Job," and recently MTV2 cleared it for airplay as well. The Majestic Twelve is an indie outfit with deep roots in its local community, but the group hasn’t ever toured and is all but unknown outside its home region. Their debut CD Searching For the Elvis Knob got good reviews, but nothing on a national level. This is the first time a music video by a band without a label has received this kind of airplay outside of specialty programming. I just thought you might wanna hear that as the music business gets more bizarre every day, and significant milestones like this one, a triumph for the little guy, lends hope to just about everybody who’s ever made a bid for musical acceptance.

WANDERING EYE

With the mighty M-1 back from Iraq, Mastamindz is back on in a big way. They’re currently working with producer Joe Moody at Danger Studio on the follow-up to Fiendish Plot. And they’re slated to do their first show at Tuffy’s in Oakland Beach this Friday (the 26th). Get there early and give Matty boy a hero’s welcome.

On Friday at the wild and crazy Safari Lounge, Timid Citizens, Cha CA Cha CA, Hot Buttrt Jesus, and the Wishing Wells are all playing. On Saturday at Jake’s, the Ooga Boogas and the Superchief Trio will do two sets each. It’ll be the first time these two fine local acts have played together. Singer-songwriters Kevin Finn and Emily Rogers play on Saturday at West Side Arts. The talented out-of-towners just finished a split EP titled In Spring Alchemy. You can check out fingerpicker Josie Crosby on Saturday at the Narrows Center for the Arts in nearby Fall River as part of the Path Tree Songwriter Showcase. Tom Duksta and Pete Vendettuoli will join Josie for both shows. Doors open at 7 pm. Call 508.324.1926 for more information.

E-mail me with your music news: big.daddy1@cox.net.


Issue Date: August 26 - September 1, 2005
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