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Cold Night, Hot Stove, Cool Music

Saturday, January 9, 2010 – House of Blues, Boston

It was a cold night in Boston, and Fenway was frozen under a layer of ice (actually, an entire hockey rink) but it felt like the middle of the baseball season.  It was the tenth anniversary of the annual Hot Stove Cool Music concert, but it was my first time at the event.  I had given tickets to some friends and family members for Christmas, and we all met up beforehand at the Bleacher Bar.  The restaurant was constructed a couple of years ago in a wedge-shaped space under the bleachers that used to house batting cages, and it has a large window that overlooks center field.  I had actually never eaten there before, because I’ve always been during the baseball season when it’s packed and hard to get a table, but we were seated without a wait and we all found a hot sandwich on the menu that we liked.  We also got to look out onto the field to see the rink constructed for the NHL’s Winter Classic game in which the Bruins had played on New Year’s Day.  There were college hockey games scheduled for this weekend, so the rink was still up.

The hockey rink in Fenway Park, as seen from the Bleacher Bar.

The hockey rink in Fenway Park, as seen from the Bleacher Bar.

We saw skaters out there while we ate, presumably from high school or college teams or local organizations.  A couple of people came into the bar later on carrying skates, and we saw people with hockey sticks walking down the street.  When we were done eating, we walked across the street to the House of Blues, and got in line for the concert just in time to go in when the doors opened.

The concert is the brainchild of writer Peter Gammons and is a fundraiser for the Foundation To Be Named Later, an organization founded by Theo Epstein and his brother Paul to support local children’s charities.  There were silent auctions and raffles, as well as the chance to have pictures taken with the Red Sox’ World Series trophies for an additional donation.

Bronson Arroyo opened with a 5-song set, including an original song I hadn’t heard before.  He’s not doing any individual concerts in the Boston area this winter, so it was good to hear him as part of this event.  He was followed by The Low Anthem, then Kay Hanley, who was joined onstage by Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys to sing “The Dirty Glass”.  In between acts, actor Mike O’Malley acted as emcee and chatted with Gammons about some of the recent Red Sox signings.

The Hot Stove Cool Music All-Stars included Peter Gammons, Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom, members of The J. Geils Band and The Gentlemen, and for a couple of songs, Theo Epstein and Lenny DiNardo.  I had never heard Theo participate in anything other than “Rockin’ in the Free World” before, and I didn’t realize DiNardo was going to be there, so that was cool.

My only regret was that I didn’t bring my good camera.  I had read online about the House of Blues’ camera gestapo, so I figured there was no way I could bring my big camera in.  But they must have relaxed their policy for this special charitable event, because they never checked bags and people were taking pictures all night with no problem.  That left me trying to snap grainy “Bigfoot sighting” photos on my low-res cellphone camera instead, but now I know for next year.

It's Bronson Arroyo, Kevin Youkilis, and Theo Epstein onstage with State Radio, the Loch Ness monster, a Leprechaun, and the Tooth Fairy.  Really it is.

It's Bronson Arroyo (second from left), Kevin Youkilis (third from left), and Theo Epstein (under the "H") onstage with State Radio, the Loch Ness Monster, a Leprechaun, and the Tooth Fairy. Really it is.

There were other auctions done live between the different acts.  Kevin Youkilis was on hand to assist with auctioning off a baseball signed by David Ortiz, one signed by himself, and a box of cigars autographed by Luis Tiant.  Then it was time for supergroup Tinted Windows, and finally State Radio.  At the end of their set, State Radio invited the other musicians back up on the stage for a final song.  Arroyo came out with a tambourine, Epstein joined on guitar, and Youk assisted with backup vocals, as we finally heard Theo’s specialty “Rockin’ in the Free World”.  It was a fun night, and I look forward to going again next year.

January 9, 2010 • Posted in: Music • Share on Facebook

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