Saturday, April 26, 2003

Verona Downs

Last summer, I met Rebecca and we hit it off as friends. She's a musician and in recent months she's started playing with a local band, Verona Downs.

I finally caught the band - and Rebecca's second performance with them - at TT The Bear's last night in Cambridge. I only went to see my friend. What I saw and heard really impressed me. Verona Downs is a damn fine band.

When Rebecca was barely out of high school, she was part of the mid-1980s New York City punk scene that spawned such bands as Bad Brains and the Beastie Boys. She was in the band Even Worse that split up before they even released their first LP. That LP has finally been released - after a gap of almost 20 years - and is available through the band's retrospective website. In my formative punk schoolboy years, I rocked to the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Clash, so I've been enjoying Even Worse's CD "You've Ruined Everything."

I had previously sampled a couple of songs from the Verona Downs website. One song immediately grabbed me: "Outringing." It's a particularly beautiful slow, bittersweet song with a violin background and a nice duet of male and female vocals. I've been blown away this past year by Beck's simple sorrowful songs on "Sea Change." For me, "Outringing" joins my pantheon of honey-thorned songs along with Beck, REM's "I'll Take The Rain" or even The Smiths' "Girl Afraid" or "Well I Wonder."

The rest of Verona Downs' music is faster, guitar-based and wonderfully accessible. The band rocked live last night at TT The Bear's but only to a minimal crowd of about 30 people. As far as I was concerned, it was other people's loss. I know that I, for one, will make as many of their shows as I can. I hope many others pick up on this band through their excellently-produced website where you can download songs - such as the magnificently beautiful "Outringing" - and read about the band and their forthcoming performances.

If you can, go see them live. I'll be the guy standing front and center drinking a bottle of Magners.

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