Hot Stove, Cool Music: Fenway Sessions at Fenway Park on July 12

A Review of Hot Stove, Cool Music: Fenway Sessions at Fenway Park on July 12

, Editor-in-Chief

Rain flooded stage inside the Fenway Park but the “Hot Stove, Cool Music: Fenway Sessions” benefit concert went on as scheduled last Wednesday (July 12), providing an interesting night of memorable moments for a good cause.

With the Red Sox hosting the Oakland Athletics the following night, rescheduling the concert was not possible, leaving “Hot Stove, Cool Music” (HSCM) organizers hopeful that mother nature would cooperate despite a gloomy forecast.

Local rockers Furvis managed to get through their set but by the time The Gentlemen took stage, the rain intensified. Their set was abruptly called after “Three-Minute Marriage Proposal”, and the show was put on a rain delay. Stage workers bailed buckets of water off the stage but to no avail. So, just as Red Sox GM Theo Epstein later said, “Sometimes in rock and roll, you have to find a place to play and just play”, they did so and moved equipment for a makeshift stage underneath the bleachers.

While stage and equipment set-up continued, Boston’s The Click Five, wearing red dress shorts and suit jackets, performed. Despite rather poor acoustics, the pop-rockers got a rise out of their drenched fans with “Catch Your Wave.”

At least by the time Kay Hanley took stage next, the sound seemed to be fixed (though, risers for an actual stage would come later). Included in Hanley’s set was “Te Amo” off Hanley’s solo Babydoll EP, which highlighted guitarist and husband Michael Eisenstein, and “Awake” from her days with Letters To Cleo.”

Maine’s Howie Day was limited to three songs, including the brand new “Undressed”, but that didn’t stop plenty of adoring teenage girls from singing along to his overplayed hit, “Collide.”

“American Idol” contestant and B.C. bound Ayla Brown did not perform but did take time to talk with the crowd and emcee Mike O’Malley. The Yes, Dear star was his usual comedic self and help invigorate the crowd.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona along with players, Gabe Kapler and Jonathan Papelbon also made appearances. Papelobon auctioned off his very own customized guitar (courtesy of First Act Guitar Studio), the “flame thrower”, which coupled with a set of four tickets to a Yankees-Red Sox game and autographed jersey went for $6,000 after a two-bidders dueled in a comical rocks-papers-scissors game (both will still receive the same package).

“The Yankee’s don’t have Brian Cashman playing guitar,” quipped Buffalo Tom leader Bill Janovitz, whose band yet again dubbed the name “Buffalo Theo” for another HSCM show with Epstein. With a few more shows on his belt and probably most notably his appearance at on stage with personal heroes Pearl Jam at the Garden last May, Epstein is clearly more confident playing on stage. Buffalo Tom ripped through a strong five-song set that included their hits “Rachael”, “Sodajerk,” and “Tailights”.

The best set of the night came courteous of New Orleans’ based Cowboy Mouth. Charismatic drummer and lead vocalist Fred Leblanc took command of the crowd from the opening beats of “Light It On Fire.” Leblanc was all over the place, getting the crowd to jump, dance, and clap. He event went as far as hugging an audience member though his consistent chants of “are you with me?!” was only reminiscent of Cyrus in “The Warriors”. The band also included the rocking “Supersonic” and funky “Voodoo Shop” both of their latest release before closing with a rousing rendition of “Jenny Says.”

Besides the poor weather, this year’s summer show was missing a key ingredient with the unfortunate absence of co-founder Peter Gammons. Hanley remarked that it also felt wrong playing without him but said “lets rock our buts off in his honor.” Epstein brought the Hall of Fame baseball journalist’s wife, Gloria on stage and she thanked the crowd for everyone’s support. She also said her husband was condition was greatly approving, as he recovers from an operation to treat a brain aneurysm he suffered on June 27. Gammon’s “All-Stars” then paid tribute by performing “She Fell From Heaven”, a song that Gammons wrote himself for his debut album, Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old, which was released on July 4.

Epstein then introduced James Taylor, who performed his jazz-rocker “Steamroller” with the all-star cast. However, that was all the crowd saw of the accomplished singer-songwriter despite being labeled the show’s headliner. Apparently the Brookline native was not happy with the playing conditions and his 30-minute set was scrapped. Taylor did apologize, saying, “this will be necessarily brief” but for most fans in attendance felt that was not good enough and left disappointed.

It’s a shame that the HTCM show could not go on as planned at Fenway. The stage was set up perfectly in the right field corner, providing a stellar amphitheatre type set-up, inside the park. With a diverse line-up that included everyone from Boston’s up and coming artists, to the accomplished, and even a Grammy award winner, this had potential to be the best ever.

While fans in attendance (only about a third of which stuck around) will remember the show next time they get a “Fenway Frank” at the concession stand, what matters is that everyone contributed to making a difference in the lives of local children. Over $300,000 was raised for “The Foundation To Be Name Later” and no amount of rain can drown out their gratefulness.

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