I Woke Up Today

Last week I found myself alone in Boston eating clam chowder. I took the T from downtown out to a cool neighborhood off the Central Square stop in Cambridge. Grabbed dinner at The Green Street Grill, which has the best drink menu I’ve ever seen, and swallowed down a couple non-adventurous Smuttynose beers.‚  I was just killing some time before heading to the legendary Middle East to catch Port O’Brien.

Port O’Brien’s MySpace page said the show was going to start at 8pm. I arrived at the Middle East at 6.30pm, thinking I’d have a few more cold ones before show time. I sat down, ordered a PBR and waved down Van Pierszalowski, lead singer of Port O’Brien.‚  He joined me at the bar and said “Whoa, you’re here early.” He then explained that showtime was at 10:30pm. For those of you not strong in mathematics, that’s four long hours from the time my belly first touched the bar. I suddenly felt like Zane Lamprey, except without producers paying my bar tab.

Luckily time flew by, thanks to the cast of characters surrounding me. I made friends with the Middle East staff and local Cambridge artists (planning trivia night for those not entering the show), Scary Jerry and his fishing hat (and his nonsensical stories about Manhattan College hoops), Ole Louisiana (just in town to collect better unemployment benefits than his home state offers), and of course, Van from Port O’Brien.

Van and I talked at length about the band’s East Coast tour and the toll the rising gas prices are taking on the band as they lug their gear across state lines, performing to smallish crowds. I don’t have anything against the headliner of the tour, Bodies of Water, but they are not the type of band that draws sellout crowds in every venue, even though they are east coast natives. They also aren’t the perfect fit for Port O’Brien’s sound. A perfect night would have been Port O’Brien plus The Felice Brothers…

Anyway, the tour might not be creating a windfall for the band, but it hasn’t had an impact on their spirit. They took the stage and tore through a tight set that included most of All We Could Do Was Sing. The many PBR’s make the mind a little hazy,‚  but I do remember being blown away by lead guitarist, Zebedee (Zeb) Zaitz. In addition to having an incredible name, he adds great intensity to the band. And then there’s Cambria and Van, the most interesting couple in indie music. Van always gives it his all in every performance and Cambria brings a quiet elegance to the stage with her banjo.

The highlight of the night was watching people in the crowd join the band on stage with pots, pans, and tribal chants for “I Woke Up Today.” An amazing night of music for me.‚  I even dragged Ole Louisiana, a die hard country music and Kenny Chesney fan, into the show with me. He had trouble understanding the words, but fell in love with the band. He begged me to email him some POB tracks, but I lost his email address immediately. Here are some mp3’s for you, Ole Louisiana.‚  You’re my boy, Blue. You’re my boy.

Thanks also to super-talented photographer, Angelina Santana, for hooking me up with the photos. Much better than my handy-work from past concerts. You can see more of her POB pics here.

Port O’Brien – Close the Lid

Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today

Make sure to check out our live session with Port O’Brien.

And here’s the video of “I Woke Up Today” Port O’Brien shot for us outside of Oakland with random pedestrians joining the fun.