This Saturday, the folks behind the Boston Music Awards are amping up the anticipation to their big December event with a free festival of sorts called The Sound of Our Town. With a diverse lineup, we posed one simple question to many of the artists performing. We asked: What is the sound of our town, anyway? And then after that we asked a few other questions about what local music means to these local music folks (many of whom have gone nationwide, by the way). You'll also likely be hearing a lot of these names again when the actual Boston Music Awards take place in a couple of months.
How do you define the sound of our town?
Sadie Dupuis, Speedy Ortiz: It's diverse, it's creatively fertile. Because it's an academic city, Boston has a wealth of highly trained conservatory musicians, but for me the best music of Boston comes from its no-frills songwriters who write in a way that transcends genre. Some of the most important songwriters ever came from or spent years in Massachusetts: Jonathan Richman, Joan Baez, Juliana Hatfield, Elliott Smith, Kurt Heasley. The experimental noise and hardcore scenes are also unrivaled. It's not a city people move to to get noticed or to get hype, so I think the artistic output is a lot more pure, honest and interesting than a larger or hipper city.
Anna Fox Rochinski, Quilt: A big part of the reason I appreciate the Boston scene is because there are so many genres that crisscross here. I think the sound of Boston is authentic. There isn't one reigning type of sound.
Adam Sankowski, The Grownup Noise: I would say that this show represents the "sound of our town" pretty well. It's an eclectic lineup, some indie, some soul, some hip-hop, some folk-ish stuff. Quality song-focused stuff all around. That's Boston at its best for me.
What act from Boston had the biggest influence on you? Who did you go see play live the most?
Noel Heroux, Hooray for Earth: When I lived in town (2000-2007) I didn't go to many shows, though my favorite band in the area was Age Rings —who I did go to see whenever they played. Seth Kasper and I were playing house parties as Dpony at that time. We did some shows with Mad Man Films that were very memorable. Hooray For Earth played with MMF at Bill's Bar in 2006 and a fight broke out over some band sounding way too much like Joy Division, something like that. Also always enjoyed seeing Mr Butch (RIP) play the shark guitar at the corner near Marty's in Allston.
Adam Sankowski, The Grownup Noise: I'm so worried/ sad that the new generation of Bostonians won't be able to experience Apollo Sunshine. I was really fortunate to go to school with them and heard about them right when they were coming together. They were a force to be reckoned with back in the day. I saw some shows at TT's which changed what I thought a live performance could be. I don't know if I've ever said this out loud but I totally tried to rip off some of their show "tricks" for some of our early shows. Their real "trick" though wasn't a trick in that they were just three of the most amazing musicians ever playing with complete freedom and passion. For a trio, their stage charisma, energy, and pure unabashed power were unrivaled. I remember seeing them for the first time and thinking, "Wow, I've got a lot of work to do as a musician!"
What is the first song by a Boston performer that you remember thinking, "Wow, this band is from where I live!"?
Dutch ReBelle: New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe! They had '90s R&B on lock and they were young when they started and continued to gain success with hit records. Sometimes you forgot they were from Boston.
Brian King, Parks: The first time I heard the term or concept of "local" music was in 2000 when I heard Bleu on WBCN after school.When I found out he was Boston-based, I made a point to see him play the "local" stage at the WBCN River Rave (RIP). It was hugely inspiring to someone "local" playing alongside national acts as my hometown of West Bridgewater isn't exactly exciting unless you enjoy cornfields and/or souping up Chevy Camaros. Bleu's "Feet Don't Fail" [is] extremely catchy and sounded like nothing else on the radio among the Kid Rocks and Korns of 2000.
What act from Boston had the biggest influence on you? Who did you
go see play live the most?
Sadie Dupuis, Speedy Ortiz: I was pretty into Letters to Cleo as a kid and Kay Hanley's voice was a major influence. I try to see Pile play as often as possible, mostly so I can keep tabs on their outfits.
Anna Fox Rochinski, Quilt: Bands from Boston that I would go see a lot were always friends' bands: MMOSS, Prince Rama, The Good Party (pre quilt mems of quilt before I moved back), The Fedavees, The Needy Visions ... early pioneers of the psych thang here. In high school (I went to Brookline High School) i loved Ponies in the Surf, The Mules, Pants Yell.. Ya know, the poppier stuff in the midst of all the mid 2000s hardcore.
What is your favorite local song of all time?
Dutch ReBelle: Slaine's "99 bottles." Being from Milton but growing up around some of the rougher neighborhoods, I thought this is the soundtrack of my high school!! It used his cultural background and had dope lyrics. I love that record and the video was perfect!
Noel Heroux, Hooray for Earth: My fave local Boston song is "Hey Brian" by Porsches on the Autobahn.
The Sound of Our Town takes place on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Lawn on D (420 D St., Boston).
For more info on The Sound of Our Town, click here.