Bookminded

books, art, culture, and other things I love

Category: Nightlife

Out on another school night. Eric Hutchinson at Boston’s Royale.

It is not easy to go out on a Monday night. Especially when the next day is a busy (and early) work day. But for Eric Hutchinson, I will always make an exception.

At the start of this workweek, the Boston’s Royale Lounge was home to a packed crowd ready to hear Tristan Prettyman and Eric Hutchinson on their City and Sand Tour. The doors opened a few minutes past seven, and unlike other shows (like the time I missed Gavin DeGraw perform while I stood outside the venue chatting because I thought he had an opening act), I was determined to get in and set up camp—especially since this one was General Admission. And as an aside, if you are local and ever have a chance to see a show at the Royale, I highly recommend it. Wear comfortable shoes because you will be standing the whole time, but you can get up close and really experience the music in a way that you can’t at a larger venue.

Around 7:30, British singer-songwriter Nick Howard took the stage for a seven-song set that was just fantastic. He was witty and seemed quite relaxed as he engaged the crowd in between his songs. In some ways, his sound reminded me of a cross between James Morrison and the lead singer of The Script. Really great. He is coming back to Boston for a show on April 8, and I will definitely plan to go.

Nick Howard.

Nick Howard.

Next up was indie pop songstress and California native (i.e. the “sand” part of the tour) Tristan Prettyman. Readers may know her name from her previous engagement to singer Jason Mraz, but she is a standalone name in her own right. She sang songs from her earlier albums as well as the new song “Waves” from her latest EP. The highlight, however, may have been her rendition of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”—which I loved! Prettyman is such a talented guitar player and natural performer that she is a pleasure to watch.

Tristan Prettyman.

Tristan Prettyman performs in her cool romper.

After her set, Eric Hutchinson took the stage—though he wasn’t wearing his signature striped shirt, ha ha. He was accompanied by a three-piece band (drums, bass, and guitar/keyboards). As usual, he put on a stellar show. If you haven’t ever heard him live, you are missing out—his is a voice that doesn’t need autotune or studio filters. And his ability to switch back and forth from keyboard to guitar without missing a beat is a gift. I love how he always integrates mashup medleys into his shows too—this time, it was “All Over Now” with Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” and Outkast’s “Hey Ya.” Sounds like an odd mix, but it worked! Here is a quick clip of EH that I took before my phone died!

I was a little bleary-eyed on Tuesday morning from the late night, but it was worth it. Three talented performers, a wonderful show, and a great venue. A win on all fronts!

Out on a school night: Four Stories at Cambridge’s Middlesex Lounge.

Let me set the scene for you: last night I threw together a dinner for my kids and when I spotted my husband pull up to the house from work, I skipped out to jump in my car. On the way, after I tripped over a scooter and two bikes, I was stopped by S., my daughter’s classmate and our neighbor.

“Are you going out, Mrs. M?” he asked, wide-eyed.

I explained that I was going to hear four authors (Robin Black, Julia Fierro, Jennifer Haigh, and Joanna Rakoff) read from their work. “But it’s a school night!” he exclaimed. He thought about it for a moment. “Do they write books? Because my grandfather met a writer from The Boston Globe who writes about the Pats,” he said. When I confirmed that yes, these four authors that I was going to hear did write books, he seemed unimpressed. “Well, maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get an autograph,” he said, as he scooted away.

I arrived at the Middlesex Lounge shortly before the scheduled start time of Four Stories, which is a regular series (founded by writer Tracy Slater) that features notable authors reading together under a common theme. Last night’s theme was “Girls Night Out” and it was a lot of fun to listen to the authors read from their latest work–Black read from her novel Life Drawing, Fierro read from her novel Cutting Teeth (recently recognized by The New Yorker), Haigh read from a novel in-progress, and Rakoff read from her acclaimed memoir, My Salinger Year. I was already familiar with the work of three of the presenters (Black’s short story collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This is terrific, Haigh’s Baker Towers is a favorite, and Rakoff’s memoir and her novel A Fortunate Age are not to be missed) but I haven’t yet read Fierro’s book–a work about four Brooklyn couples that rent a beach house together. After hearing her read a hilarious chapter from the perspective of character “Tiffany,” however, I can’t wait to start!

Four Stories is described as “like a 19th-century salon, only 150 years later–same socializing, same witty banter, corsets optional.”  So much fun! I can’t wait to go to another. I met some other writers, an opera singer, and even had the chance to chat with the delightful and charming Julia Fierro and Joanna Rakoff–the latter being gracious enough to sign my book and kindly listen to me gush about her work. 🙂

All in all, it was the perfect way to spend a Monday evening. Even if it was a school night. (And I am a bit tired this morning.)

I have no idea why I am in a weird rabbit pose here--maybe I am just full of glee?

Thank you to my friend R. for capturing this interchange. I have no idea why I am in a weird rabbit pose here–maybe I am just full of glee to be chatting to Joanna Rakoff?

 

The Weekender: Boston’s Highball Lounge

Designed to look like a vintage attic (Greg Brady, anyone?) the Highball Lounge is tucked into an upper floor of Boston’s Nine Zero Hotel at 90 Tremont Street, two blocks away from Park Street station.

There are plenty of classic cocktails on the menu, as are interesting bites like tater tot nachos, ramen, and kale salad.

Wednesday-Saturday, there is a DJ spinning an eclectic mix of vinyl–from throwback Tina Turner to 90s R&B favorites and more recent tunes. In addition to the music (which was fantastic!), patrons can play board games like Sorry!, Battleship, Connect Four, and Trouble. So much fun!

The crowd was a good mix of ages and though it got busy, the space is open and airy and the mood is relaxed–not too much. Though last night my husband and I were there for a date night, I could just as easily see myself having fun there with a group of friends, or even my parents if they were in town. Definitely something for everyone. Check it out!

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