JamBase Presents Into The Sun With Neighbor, Jennifer Hartswick, Club d’Elf & More
JamBase partnered with Neighbor and Soundcheck Studios for a memorable weekend loaded with original music and spirited collaborations.
In Boston-based Neighbor’s relatively short existence (three and a half years), Into The Sun has quickly become an important part of the band’s rich history. The inaugural Into The Sun was billed as a “Campout” last year at Martell’s at the Red Fox in Jeffersonville, Vermont over Labor Day weekend and featured Vermont-based supporting acts Seth Yacovone and Ryan Montbleau.
Over this past weekend, the second Into The Sun took place at Soundcheck Studios in Pembroke, Massachusetts with Neighbor teaming up with JamBase to produce the event and Jennifer Hartswick appearing for all three nights.
More acts local to the area (including Duochrome and Club d’Elf) joined as the event added a day and removed the “Campout” concept, instead happening in the band’s current home venue where they played several shows during the COVID-19 pandemic (they had initially started their career with a storied residency on Tuesday nights in at Somerville’s Thunder Road).
Friday’s music kicked off with Duochrome. Formed during the COVID-19 pandemic, this Boston-based sextet was led by Brian Thomas on trombone and featured Amy Bellamy on keyboards, Steve Fell on guitar, Nate Edgar on bass, Peter MacClean on drums, and Jared Sims on saxophone. Their energetic set consisted of originals off of their recently released debut album Sky View and per Thomas was only their third-ever gig. The group’s jazzy instrumentals set the tone for the weekend in which horns would appear throughout various performances and musicians who had played earlier in the weekend would reappear during later sets for other acts.
Neighbor took the stage next as the “Neighbor Nine.” Neighbor consists of Ricky James on keyboards, Lyle Brewer on guitar, Dan Kelly on bass, and Dean Johnston on drums. Matt Wayne (saxophone), Jim Cronin (trumpet), Rob Krahn (trombone) and Joanne Cassidy and Renee Dupuis (backup vocals) filled out the rest of the lineup on Friday to reach the current rendition of the “Nine.” A rarity at Neighbor performances, the Neighbor Nine has only previously appeared twice (on Halloween in 2020 and 2021).
The band walked out in Neighbor jerseys as per tradition for the Neighbor Nine performances, with James substituting his jersey for Steve Shaw’s (Shaw was a fan who had recently passed away and was dearly loved both by the band and the Neighbor community). Neighbor staple songs “Steel” and “Thunder Island” kicked off the set that would stretch to close to 90 minutes.
Throughout the set, each additional member of the Neighbor Nine would be showcased with Wayne first taking a lengthy solo in “Thunder Island.” One of the band’s newer songs, “Longest Day,” followed, having made its first appearance at The Loft on Martha’s Vineyard two months ago and quickly becoming a part of the setlist rotation since. “Why I Like You” gave Cronin the spotlight for a trumpet solo and was followed by a few more deeper cuts in the Neighbor repertoire with “Terror For Free” and “Take Me Alive.”
Neighbor then played their first and only cover of the night, “Don’t Do It.” Originally written by Marvin Gaye as “Baby Don’t You Do It,” Neighbor played the reworked version popularized by The Band, having given it a first play last month at their Cervantes show in Denver before adding the horns and additional vocals for the Into The Sun rendition. Cassidy was next featured on “Isla,” a song she had previously sung with Neighbor at the aforementioned Loft show, and Dupuis’ vocals were highlighted on “Crashing Down.” The next song, “Magic Marble Crew,” gave Krahn his chance to shine with a trombone solo. “Magic Marble Crew” is part of the band’s Planet Silver rock odyssey.
The name of Neighbor’s event, “Into The Sun,” is not only a song of the band’s, but also a prequel song to the band’s odyssey. During the inaugural Into The Sun last fall, the rock odyssey was played in its entirety and Friday’s “Magic Marble Crew” was the first song from the group to appear. Johnston took a drum solo after “Magic Marble Crew” before “Don’t You Cry” ended the set (with Dupuis’ singing in the spotlight once more).
Closing out Friday night was the Jennifer Hartswick Band featuring Nick Cassarino on guitar, Connor Elmes on drums, and Hartswick’s fellow Trey Anastasio Band bandmate Dezron Douglas on bass. The set allowed Hartswick to debut multiple songs off of her newly (out earlier in the day) album, Something In The Water, including “By the River” and “Only Time Will Tell” with “For You” and “Two Way Mirror” also later appearing from the release (“Numb” and “You Can’t Take It Back” from Hartswick’s 2018 album, Nexus, also showed up in the setlist).
Also sprinkled throughout the set were multiple covers crossing a varied group of music genres: the set-opening “You Got Love” by Rufus and the Crusaders’ “Soul Shadows” and later Gap Band’s “Shake” and a soulful rendition of the Erma Franklin single “Piece of My Heart” that would later become much more known via Big Brother Holding Company with Janis Joplin on lead vocals. Bonnie Raitt’s “Tangled & Dark” served as the set finale. The return of Duochrome’s Brian Thomas on trombone and Jared Simms on saxophone for multiple songs (all of the Something In The Water songs as well as “Shake”) was a nice bonus to an already fantastic set.
After closing the first night of Into The Sun as an electric four-piece band, Hartswick and Cassarino opened night two as an acoustic duo. Hartswick had a chance to shine on with more originals while covers of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery, The Outfield’s “Your Love,” Radiohead’s “Creep,” and Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies” filled in the rest of the setlist. While Hartswick sang lead vocals on most of the songs in the set, Cassarino took over on “Your Love” and “Under African Skies.”
Cassarino was quickly back onstage shortly after his duo performance ended, this time joined by Nikki Glaspie on drums and Nate Edgar on bass for The Nth Power‘s set. “Truth” and “Only Love” were among the originals in the nearly 75-minute set (with Bob Marley’s “War” also appearing). Hartswick added vocals to multiple songs as a guest in the latter half of the set. One of the musical highlights of the set (and the weekend) was Glaspie’s amazing drum solo as the set wound down.
Neighbor took the stage as a headliner for night two and immediately launched into a 30-minute “Into The Sun.” “Nature Vs. Nurture” (consisting of only James and Brewer) and “Sail On” then followed. Of note, these three songs comprise of the prequel songs for the aforementioned Planet Silver rock odyssey. “Hot Air Balloon” followed before Neighbor brought out one of their new songs in “The Unknown,” which has become deeply entrenched in the setlist rotation with its fourth appearance in just over a month from its debut at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis during the band’s recent tour across the Midwest.
Johnston took a three-minute drum solo before Kelly joined in as the band segued into “One For The Hoop,” which featured a nod to earlier in the set with Brewer teasing “Into The Sun” along with a “Negative Space” tease. “Sleep When You’re Dead,” “Point of No Return,” and the second-ever rendition of “Bucket Full of Laughter” (which had debuted at Soundcheck Studios in spring 2021) were then performed.
“Planet Silver” (another piece of the rock odyssey) was prefaced by James saying it was somebody’s birthday but the band wasn’t going to say whose it was. The crowd quickly found out as nearly every word of “Planet Silver” was changed to “Tim” for Tim Rusteika (a fan of the band who maintains the database on neighbortunes.net). Brewer teased “Happy Birthday” near the end of the song.https://twitter.com/weekapaug986/status/1568986668329320449
At 11:59 p.m., James told Soundcheck general manager (and Neighbor tour manager) Tom Papp that the band wasn’t going to stop at 12 a.m. and that they were going to play “all fucking night” until the sun came through the windows. “Yo Yo Ma” quickly followed along with “Cucamonga Carl” with Tom Waits’s “Ol’ 55” (with appropriate lyrics about “the sun’s coming up”) finishing night two of Into The Sun.
Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini took the stage first on Sunday to kick off the final night of Into The Sun. “Mandingueira” off the duo’s debut album Setting Rays Off Summer started things off before digging into the ‘70s for Gilberto Gil’s “Tenho Sede.” “Curandeiro,” the first of multiple tracks off of their 2022 release Auburn Whisper, was followed by “Bole Bole” and a pair of The Beatles songs in “Come Together” and “Fool on the Hill.” “Assanhado” was next performed before the duo played the two more tunes off of their new album in “Auburn Whisper” and “Ralando Coco.” A final cover appeared in Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” before the pair dug back to their first album with “Sereia” (introduced as “a song about a mermaid”) and a final Auburn Whisper song in “Afoxé pra Oxum” (which is about the goddess of the river water).
Hailing from an hour north in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Club d’Elf was the second act of the night to support Neighbor. With an ever-evolving roster, Sunday’s lineup featured Mike Rivard on bass, Johnston on drums, Randy Roos on guitar, Bellamy (returning to Into The Sun after playing with Duochrome on Friday) on keyboards, and Mister Rourke on turntables. Club d’Elf kicked off their nearly 70-minute set with a 20-minute “End of Firpo” off of the band’s 2011 double disc Electric Moroccoland/So Below.
“Boney Oscar Stomp” followed and was the first of three tunes that would be played off of Club d’Elf’s You Never Know release from earlier this year. Rivard switched his bass for a sintir and he and his bandmates were joined by Brewer on guitar, Hartswick on trumpet, and Cressman on trombone. Both of the horn players would take quick solos in the song. After “Stomp” finished, Rivard talked to the crowd for a bit and said this was Brewer’s first time performing with the band and he’d be joining them again later in the month (September 30) for the reopening of The Lizard Lounge where d’Elf had gotten their start in 1998. Rivard dedicated “Stomp” to Richard Zukowski, a friend of the band who had passed away a few years prior and to whom You Never Know was dedicated (Zukowski had called himself “Boney Oscar”).
Brewer would exit after just one song, while Hartswick and Cressman would stay for “Lalla Aisha in Jhaptal,” the second song of the night off of You Never Know, which gave the crowd a bit of gnawa style music native to Morocco. “Dream Wanderer” was then ushered in with Rivard back on bass driving the band with a funky beat and featuring the lineup that had started the set. Morphine saxophonist Dana Colley joined for the set closing “Masada” as the band dipped back into You Never Know one last time. Rivard mentioned that he and Colley had played in late Morphine frontman Mark Sandman’s “secret band,” Hypnosonics.
Neighbor closed out Into The Sun with two sets of music and began with their first-ever acoustic set. James moved from his usual location from the side of the stage on keys to an piano set up behind Brewer and Kelly for the first set. “Mary And Martha” began the music with the delicate ballad serving as a perfect launching point for the stripped-down performance. After “Mary And Martha,” James simply uttered “wow.”
“Chickens” picked up the pace and was altered to a bluegrass style with a quick Soundcheck Studios reference added in. James took a minute post “Chickens” to say they were going to “try something new here” and that it was a disclaimer in case they fucked it up before launching into the Neighbor debut of “Wake Up Little Susie” by The Everly Brothers.
In a nod to the older days of the band, Nirvana’s “All Apologies” followed. Having been played seven times during the Neighbor residency at Thunder Road in 2019, the song was played on Sunday for only the third time since. James added several mentions key to the weekend in the middle of the song including “Into The Sun,” “Soundcheck,” “Neighbor,” “Steve Shaw” and “JamBase.”
Proving that an acoustic set didn’t mean jams were going to be left by the wayside, a 20-minute “Pine Tree” came next. Kelly started snapping his fingers at one point with the crowd quickly following suit. He eventually added in some timed claps (with the crowd also doing so) making for a special band/fan interactive experience. Neighbor finished off the acoustic set with “All The Same” and “Trippin’ In A Van” with Brewer mixing in “Chickens” and “Pine Tree” teases to tie everything together.
After a short set break, the band returned to the stage with James back at his keyboards and Hartswick and Cressman joining as the now sextet launched into “Move Along Little Jimmy.” Hartswick and Cressman traded horn licks and also added vocals to the opener. Hartswick and Cressman left after “Move Along Little Jimmy” and were replaced with Colley who joined on saxophone for the Morphine songs “All Wrong” (a Neighbor debut) and “Eleven O’Clock,” “Magna Zero” (the final rock odyssey song of the weekend) which featured Colley playing two saxophones at once, and finally on Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down.”
“Mighty Apple Tree” (with Brewer adding an “Into The Sun” tease for the third song in a row) closed the set with another Steve Shaw reference. At this point, the house music came on before stopping as James came back out on stage with two giant sun balloons in tow. James performed “White Flag” solo for the encore before the rest of the band came out for a full bow to close out a memorable weekend of music in Pembroke.