Get Out

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One of the most fun aspects of playing with a working band is getting out and exploring new places. Over the past two years since we formed Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy, Peter and I have been fortunate enough to play at many interesting locations and events in and around Boston including Harvard’s 4th of July Fireworks, the Farmer’s Market and Volksfest (both of Harvard), Fotini’s Restaurant of Bolton, the Middle East Cafe and the Rising of Cambridge, the Battle Road Brewing Company in Maynard, and Markoh’s on Main in Ayer.

Recently, we have added a few more to the roster and it seemed like a good time to tell a little more about the venues and what they have to offer.

Markoh’s on Main – Ayer, MA

http://www.markohsonmain.com/

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We have been playing at Markoh’s pretty regularly over the past year or so and love the place for a number of reasons. As soon as you walk in, you get the feeling of “old school.” There is no barrage of TVs staring you in the face and the intimate setting allows for down home friendly service and conversation. It is set in a charming old building in downtown Ayer and has a distinct local flair (no big chain feeling here). The owner and head Chef, Mark DiCicco, always delivers a selection of fresh creative cuisine and they offer a well rounded beer selection and great bar.

Next Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy Show:  Friday, June 23

Battle Road Brew House – Maynard, MA

http://www.battleroadbeer.com/

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If you like sipping on quality local beer while eating plates of beef brisket and BBQ ribs, you’ll love the Battle Road Brew House. Set in Maynard’s Historic Clock Tower Building and exuding a revolutionary vibe, Battle Road’s mission is to produce a variety of quality beers that are among the best available, and that is exactly what they are doing. We played here for the first time on March 25, 2017 and the restaurant/bar was full and alive with a vibrant energy. Maybe it was the beer, maybe the music, probably both :-).

Next Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy Show: Friday, September 15

The Colonial Inn – Concord, MA

http://www.concordscolonialinn.com/

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Located in the heart of Concord, the Colonial Inn has been around just about as long as the town itself. Certain parts of the building date back as early as 1716. It is a full service Inn with several guest rooms and three restaurants. The Liberty Room, where the bar is located and where the music happens, provides a charming intimate setting where patrons and musicians become one. This will be the first time we’ve played here and we are pumped. We will be sharing the night with Kenny Selcer, another fabulous local musician, who is worth the trip out. Visit his website for more info http://www.kennyselcer.com/.

Next Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy Show (with Kenny Selcer) – Friday, June 16

Rapscallions Table & Tap – Acton, MA

http://drinkrapscallion.com/

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Rapscallions defined is “a mischevious person,” and it is with this rebellious attitude that two brothers decided to open a local brewery in Sturbridge, MA with the intention of staying small, local, and of the highest quality. Once their beer was perfected, they felt it was only natural to create a cool place to serve it up. The result, Rapscallions Table and Tap Restaurant, located on a neighborhood street in Acton. The restaurant is essentially an old house converted into a pub/restaurant with patio seating in the warmer months. The atmosphere is intimate and cavelike (low ceilings) and you get the distinct feeling that something unique and exciting is happening and you have fallen right into the middle of it. I was most impressed with their commitment to using locally sourced ingredients in both the menu items and the beer itself and to their support of local music. And, if you’re not a beer drinker, no worries. They also offer a full bar and signature cocktails as well.

Next Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy Show – Thursday, Sept. 7 (may be rescheduled, so check first)

 

The Heritage Inn and Restaurant – Sherborn, MA

http://www.heritageofsherborn.com/

The Heritage, consisting of an inn, restaurant, gastro pub, and wine store, features live music on Wednesday nights in their Fireside Lounge. With a full selection of wine, beer and cocktails, the restaurant also boasts a “seasonal menu inspired by farm fresh local ingredients.” Do I sense a trend? The August 30 show will be our first time here so we hope that many of you will make it out.

Next Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy Show – Wednesday, August 30

On Location

Wendy and I have decided to try out a new video blog, one that will allow for us to write a little about what we’re up to as a band, show some of what we’re working on musically and….as always, have fun in the doing.  That’s what it’s all about, we’re finding—writing, playing, and having some fun, and we thought we’d share some of it with you.

On Wednesday last, we went out to Fruitlands to make the first video.  Fruitlands is a bucolic setting, home to Utopian visions and transcendental thought in the mid 1800’s and now a national landmark; it’s also one of my favorite places in the area and those of you who know it would most likely agree.

Speaking of visions, we have many, but on that day, it was to shoot a video of a song we’d been working on called “Nothing to Lose,” by Matt Kearney.   We got to Fruitlands too late, though, and the vision was upended by the fact that we had to shoot it in 10 minutes; the gates were closing….

What you see here is the result.  It’s not successful at all, but this is one that captures a lot of what we do, and that’s practice our music…and try.   It’s the best, and it’s so much fun as you can see.

We wanted it to happen, we tried there, found some laughter, and then went to the road just outside the gates from which we were now banned.   That video is here as well.

We’ve worked hard for all that we’ve accomplished, but it’s been far short of any definition of work I’m used to as I’ve found in the effort of all of this a great deal of joy and that, along with our good music is what we want you to see and to experience.

You’ll see more videos, you’ll hear more stories, and our vision is to shoot once a week.  It’s not going to be perfect, but it’ll be fun….and we’ll be trying. 

That’s Utopian in my book.

Band Update

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Hey all.  A quick update on Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy, the New Year and all that lies ahead.

We just finished the video for the Tiny Desk Contest held by NPR.  It’s our third year of entry and we’re looking forward to the final product, which you’ll see soon.  We hired a company started by a former student of mine called Gimmick Studios and held the shoot in his studio which was a very cool structure—a former church renovated into living/working space.  We had an incredible experience in the making of it as we were treated professionally by four very young, but extremely competent artists who, having heard our song and what we wanted out of the shoot, made it come alive.

Here are some shots of us recording the video.

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This Friday we’re playing at a club in Cambridge called The Rising and, having scoped it out last weekend, we are thrilled at how warm and inviting a place it is to play.  We feel both fortunate to have gotten the job, and also very confident that we are perfect for the vibe of the place.  It is our hope that we can earn a few places there in Cambridge to play regularly and are working hard to make sure it happens.

What’s true is that it IS HAPPENING.  We’re playing in Cambridge at a very great club…can you believe it?

The Rising Bar, Inman Square, Cambridge

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We are entirely grateful to all of you who have shown your support by coming out because it makes us work harder and push our goals forward.   It matters a lot and while we know that you enjoy the music and that The Rising is a great venue, that you’ll have a great time, we also know that it’s late and a significant drive.  We know it and cannot thank you enough.

Do come out.  You’ll like the place.  We go on at The Rising in Inman Square  a little after 10 and are playing until 1:30.  Can you believe that?  It’s like the real deal.

Hope to see you there.

Next Stop…..Markoh’s by Peter Banker

The other night, we had the pleasure of playing at my son’s graduation party. It was a three family affair and the place was alive with the energy of both the myriad young people in attendance and their parents. I took the chance to talk to a number of my son’s friends and they expressed both delight at having finished high school and a certain trepidation about what was now before them. They were not unlike their parents, many of whom will be saying goodbye to their last child as they go off to college and a new kind of living reality which, for now, is a little unclear.

A lot of people there leaving behind something and taking on new direction. It’s a thrill, but it’s also a terror. There was a dynamic I noticed in these conversations that led me to believe even more that being timid stints growth, that if you’re stuck in the past, those fears, and those obstructions, you can only become a part of what is intended for you. You compromise your greater self.

It’s a feeling that I am coming to grips with in this musical journey. The timidity—it comes and goes; I hear an amazing musician and think to myself that I am kidding myself in trying to chart this path. What am I doing spending all this time? And then, on an evening when Wendy and I are clicking on every tune and I see heads nodding in appreciation for our work, I wonder the opposite. What took me so long to garner the courage? How can I find more time in working with Wendy in arranging these tunes so that they can accentuate the best that both of us have to offer? There’s never enough time.

We got a great boost when we played an open mic at Markoh’s a few weeks ago and they hired us on the spot to play on Friday the 24th of June. Do consider coming out for that; it’s an incredible feeling for us when we see our friends walk in, give us a nod and settle in for a couple of beers.

And we have a few more performances lined up as well. There is Markoh’s, of course, but we are also playing on July 1st at Fruitlands in Harvard as part of the July 4th celebration, and the Bravehearts 4th Annual Dylan Connelly Memorial Ride on July 9, also at Fruitlands.

We’re going to make the most of these chances and are excited for the work ahead in preparing to do our best for those and all that await us. No fear about it, just hard work and some diligence in getting an audience. It’ll pay off. Never fails.

Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy (with Matty and CJ) at Matty’s Grad Party….

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Emerging Artist Series – Night One

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By Peter Banker

Well, it’s on. We have our Emerging Artists and are set for this Saturday, April 30 at 7:00 Upstairs at the Harvard General Store.

And as the days have passed and in the planning Wendy and I have done, our eyes are becoming wide open to the possibilities that this venue, this event and those beyond it have as a potential for artists, like ourselves to have our work heard and appreciated. In our quest to expand our horizons, we have targeted other larger venues and have found it not entirely easy to break in. It’s not impossible if you have a good product, but we have come to know that it’s going to take some time, patience and dedicated work for our vision to become reality, which it will. This event, we hope, will open some eyes to our work and also the work of two additional local artists, both of whom are very accomplished and further ahead of us in their musical journey.

One is Aidan O’Brien, a young man who I met many, many years ago at an outdoor music festival in Trumansburg, NY called Grass Roots. He was…about 7 and was in the camping area playing a guitar that looked enormous in his little hands, but there he was…for three consecutive days, playing that thing and hugging it like it was his best friend. And, damn it, he was good. Even then. Now, of course, he’s really good, has been in several successful bands and has an entire trove of songs he’s written and covered. Just wait. He’s the real deal. That guitar has never left his side and has proven to be faithful friend.

The other is Mike Kelly. Wendy and I met him at Slater’s Pizzeria and he runs an open mic there on Thursdays, one in which we played early when Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy were just getting started and he was encouraging from the start. A couple of weeks ago when we asked him to play at the Emerging Artist Series, he was on board immediately, telling us that it was a great idea, that he’d be glad to be a part of it. What Wendy and I didn’t quite know then was how accomplished he is. Like Aidan, he’s had an instrument in his hand from the beginning and has, over the course of his young life played with James Montgomery, James Cotton, Johnny A., J. Geils, David, Maxwell, GE Smith, Paula Cole, Trombone Shorty, Joan Osborne, Simon Kirk, Barry Goudreau, The Uptown Horns, and others. He is an excellent song writer and musician in his own right and you’ll love him. (website: www.thebrotherstereo.com).

What are these two doing at the Harvard General Store? Just sharing their music. They, like Wendy and I, just want to play. It’s such a blast, you should know, and it will be a pleasure to play alongside these two for all of you.

Do show up on time and bring as many people with you as possible. We’re trying to fill the place and to fit in as much music as we can. More importantly, Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy are on first; you do not want to miss that…. No way. We are emerging, baby, and want to share our love of what we do with all of you on that night and, hopefully many others.(website: bankeP.wix.com/wendydarling).

See you there.

If you want a sneak preview of what you will see Saturday, check out the video links below.

Mike Kelly…..

 

Aidan O’Brien…

 

Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy…

Emerging Artist Series Coming to Harvard General Store

by Peter Banker

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FATE

I’m unclear on the concept of fate of late and have only recently put it into question because of the drive I have to be the best musician I can be in the time that I have left. It’s come upon me late in my life, for certain. Those youngsters who sit in their bedrooms and play their instruments until their hands bleed, who–seemingly wayward–defy all societal and parental expectations and run toward the music—they are more brave—even smarter than many give them credit for. I’ve come to know that it’s not about becoming a rock star, but rather it’s just about improving; it’s about reaching into the music in an attempt to draw forth a temporary little piece of magic and, for me, it’s also in the collaboration that I share with Wendy in making songs come alive for an audience, big or small…..or even none at all, to be truthful.

THE GENERAL STORE, THE OPEN MIC, THE EMERGING ARTIST SERIES

A very good friend of the band, Donnie Phillips, recently put us in touch with Scott Hayward, the owner of the General Store in Harvard who, through conversation, is generously allowing for Wendy and I to run an open mic which will start in the next months. Prior to that monthly event, we are intending to run an EMERGING ARTIST SERIES, which will begin on Saturday, April 30th. This event will feature 3-4 acoustic groups who are trying to break in—not into the profession necessarily—but rather are ready and rehearsed to play and have engaging music they’d like to share.

WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, WENDY DARLING AND THE LOST BOY?

We’d like your support on Saturday, April 30th at 7:00 p.m. Firstly, we’d like to show the General Store that the community would support an event like the Emerging Artist Series and then the open mic. For short money in an admission fee and in taking advantage of the good food and drink at the General Store, you can have a Saturday night of good music, good chatter and—a great scene. Secondly, if you feel as though you or someone you know fall into the category of an Emerging Artist (like Wendy and I do, for example), come forth and make a case for it and we’d love to hear you out and then give you a spot in the show. And do not fear it. That drive toward music I talked about earlier? I had it as a youngster and it was only fear that took me out of the practice room where I belonged and into a world of toil that I’ve never loved nearly as much. Please come on the 30th. It’d be great to play for you and to get this thing rolling in a venue that feels like a gift.

 

Covering Carly Simon

by Peter Banker

There are a number of reasons that Wendy and I work well together, but one of them is the deep respect we have for each other as friends and musicians. That’s important all the time, but becomes a little more so when one of us approaches the other with an idea to cover a song that—is un-coverable. Some tunes, in my view, should not be touched…by anyone, and certainly not by me. An early example came from Wendy when she proposed we try “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones, arguably the greatest rock tune ever written. I cringed at the thought of trying to capture the essence of that tune and shared my reluctance with Wendy as the effect those lyrics and Keith Richard’s solo has over me has not waned over time; when that song is on, I am at full attention and entirely inspired. I’d like to tell you that we’ve tried that tune, but we haven’t, and it’s my fault, and to Wendy’s credit, she hasn’t pushed it at all. At some point she may, but I remain honestly doubtful that we’ll make it come to life as it should. And that will be my fault too. My heart is not in it.

Now, just a week ago, Wendy sent another video, a live version of “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be,” another favorite from my childhood sung so beautifully and lyrically by Carly Simon in 1971 at the peak of her singing prowess. After listening to it, Wendy and I had the same conversation. Is it possible—should it even be legal to touch a song of this magnitude? I had some doubt, but Wendy really wanted to try it, so that gave me some hope– a lot of it actually. I could sense that she was going to make this one work. Her heart was in the right place. And it does work, in my view for a number of reasons.

The lyrics, you may remember, are incredibly poignant. Simon writes of parents and how “their children hate them for the things they’re not;/[and how]they hate themselves for what they are— “and for me it resonates a bit. It’s because of the fact that my children are getting such a kick and even some joy out of watching me express myself through music and it thrills me to be seen by them in this new light—a testament of sorts that one should never stop exploring and going after adventure or possibilities for individual growth. I hid my longing for it when they were younger and still don’t know why. And while I don’t “hate myself for what [I am]”, I wonder myself why I lacked the courage earlier in my life to take a stab at playing music. The song, one could say is also a skeptical look at marriage, all of the failings of relationships as they try to endure. I don’t really see it that way. The chorus says (in the midst of all the negativity) that “it’s time we moved in together/and raised a family of our own you and me/well, that’s the way I’ve always heard it should be/ you want to marry me…we’ll marry.” Pretty matter of fact, but also gorgeous. Truly is. It’s the leap we take in meeting love when it comes upon us—and it can at any point in our lives. The song tells us to jump in, and to go at it full force—because there’s a chance that love can beat it all. Take a listen. Wendy nails it in her very unique way because it’s clear that she believes it. Maybe you can too.

 

The Writing of “Blue Skies”

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By Wendy Saydah

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Some people have asked me about the evolution of the song, “Blue Skies,” how it came about, what inspired it, when it was written. With the advent of our Tiny Desk music video highlighting the song, it seemed like a good time to reflect on these questions and blog it out.

I wrote the first version of the song (formerly called “Nobody Knows About Me”) in 2008 at a time when I was working on songwriting as part of my guitar training with Greg Passler. The song is essentially about some of the deeper parts of myself that are kept hidden or not given a voice. These are the parts that are different, personal, vulnerable (nobody knows about me). The song also expresses an acceptance and even self love (dancing alone cause it feels so good) of these lesser known pieces and deals with the sadness of isolation by seeking out happy people (replacing the tears with your laughing eyes) and good times. In other words, blue skies.

I have written songs as far back as I can remember (using several tape recorders to lay down different tracks) and one thing I have noticed is this. At least for me, the best inspiration comes at times when I am not expecting it, not looking for it, not even trying. It is at these times that a feeling (and it always starts as a feeling as opposed to an idea or thought) begins to tug from deep inside. Most of the time, the emerging emotion gets ignored or pushed away in an attempt to deal with the day to day.  However, if it is not acknowledged immediately, it disappears, never to return, at least not in the same way. In the case of “Blue Skies,” the inspiration and the time lined up and I was able to sit down with my guitar and pen and let it come forth.

I was mostly happy with the song right away. It became one of my favorites, actually. So, when Peter and I began playing together and I started pulling out some of my old originals, this was one of the first ones I shared. I was a little worried at first that it would be too slow for us or maybe better played by one person. However, once Peter got a hold of it, he helped bring it to another level. He created a much better groove, added tasteful harmonies in just the right places, and threw in a few lines here and there. He really helped bring the song to life.

Once we had come up with a version of the song that we both liked, we recorded it and I had a listen. I immediately realized that the name, “Nobody Knows About Me,” no longer made sense and renamed the song “Blue Skies.” I am extremely optimistic and excited about the future of Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy. The possibilities are endless, the potential unlimited, and the skies…..well, the skies are definitely blue.

Tiny Desk Video Year 2 by Peter Banker

Recently Wendy and I submitted a video we made to NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. They started the contest last year and, at that time, we submitted a video around Wendy’s song “Flowers”. This year, we decided to make a video for another song of Wendy’s called “Blue Skies” and it was a fantastic experience for a number of reasons. One was the fact that the videographer is a student of mine, Robert Moon, a senior at Weston High School. He’s a young man that I’ve always respected from afar, but gotten to know a little better in my classroom. It’s not been a great year for Robert as he has struggled with some issues outside the classroom, but one day he shared with my class some videos he had been making in his spare time and immediately I saw a chance to connect with him on this Tiny Desk Contest. After class I approached him about it and, after showing some surprise that I was in a band and so invested in it, he immediately agreed.

The student/teacher relationship is vital to effective teaching. Show a student some understanding and appreciation of what their life is like outside the confines of the classroom and they will do most anything in meeting you halfway. It’s that simple, but too many people in this profession are reluctant, even timid to reach out to students beyond what they are expected to do in the classroom and those teachers, in my view, are missing the best part. What Robert created, through his work with Wendy’s well-written song and our rendition of it, is really cool. It just is, and it captures the essence of the tune beautifully in addition to how much fun Wendy and I are having playing it. We must have played it thirty times that night in different places in the school and I never tired of it.

I hope it wins, no lie, but chances are slim. It’s a huge contest—hundreds and hundreds of entries. Winning is not the point though, because in taking on this project, both Wendy and I got to know a student much better and his potential is limitless. Robert’s production of the video shows that clearly. It also shows, at least to me, that there are no limitations in this venture Wendy and I have taken on. Who knows where it will lead us. The only limits, as we all know, are those we impose upon ourselves, and I’ve come to the point in my life where I just don’t see any anymore.

And it’s nice.

Enjoy it and tell us what you think.

Blue Skies by Peter Banker

Yesterday during practice, Wendy and I decided that, on occasion, I would put my voice to the blog. It makes perfect sense, really, and it’s because of the way we work together; each one of us brings something new to the practice every time and it’s always a pleasant surprise. No doubt this will be true of the blog as well.
Yesterday, for example, we had a long practice, but concentrated on two songs, one by Taylor Swift, something she wrote for the Hunger Games Soundtrack called Safe and Sound, and an original tune by Wendy called Blue Skies. Blue Skies was originally called Nobody Knows; it is a tune Wendy had written some time ago that she was willing to pull out of the dust in the hope that we could revive it together. A bit nervous (it’s always a little frightening to put forth something you care about), she played it for me at the end of a practice last week and immediately I liked it. There is so much being communicated in her lyrics and I always feel privileged to get a chance to put my touch on the way the song ends up. It’s a meandering process of creativity that works for us. We try a number of things, nod in agreement when something works or, in a lot of cases, simply take note of body language indicating that something isn’t quite right. And we pay attention to all of it, until such time that we find ourselves moving easily through a tune that has transformed into something that makes us smile. It’s always a great moment—a true joy—when, at the end of a song we’ve been working on for a long time, we hit the last chord and look at one another with the full knowledge that we’ve created something that we know people will enjoy.
As I said, Wendy changed the name of the song after our work on it to Blue Skies and it makes perfect sense. It’s all I can see, after all, in this partnership of music and friendship. I hope you enjoy the songs. They are both young in our repertoire, but here to stay.

Blue Skies – Original

Safe and Sound – Taylor Swift Cover