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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Coalboilers Defrost the Quinn

Returning for a repeat engagement at the amazingly hip and with-it live music venue, the Quinn Upper Level, the Coalboilers peeled a grimy layer of UMass Boston Bookstore blues from a wan and grey-faced crowd on Monday, the first day of classes. The Coalboilers are the tight duo Gary “Blues” Bachstrom, in authentic ponytail and tie-dye and Charley “The Guitar Mack” Carozzo, in regulation turtleneck and boots.

The plan was simple; make all those trapped, despondent souls entering or escaping from the labyrinthine complex we here at UMass so quaintly call a bookstore forget their tired feet and hopelessly overheated brains, along with the miserable prospect of icicles on their everythings as they trudge around the campus.

Armed with acoustic guitars and an excellent sound set-up, they played a two-hour gig full of new covers, old covers and plenty of original material that they held up with Bachstrom’s excellent guitar work and Carozzo’s warm, raspy tenor singing. Their own material was highlighted with the duets “Just One Night” and “Finally,” that had a definite tinge of old-time bluegrass music, simple, tender and affecting.

Mostly, the Coalboilers delivered high energy blues and rock and roll, including a wicked version of “Bridge to Forever” that drew students to watch the sweat fly and the music roll out. In an astonishing display of crowd massaging, Gary even managed to elicit that rarest of sights on a frigid UMass afternoon, the smile, urging passerby to “take a little music on the elevator with you,” and to “wear your elevator shoes.”

Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of fashion, elevator shoes passed out of style just before this gig, but genuine smiles and genuine chuckles did result, significantly lightening the atmosphere, as toes tapped and heads lifted to the music. One young lady of a very bouncy persuasion treated onlookers to an impromptu shimmy during “Just One Night” which was not, alas, taken up en masse, but proved quite enjoyable anyway. Most of their music came out on a cheerful note, like their clean, uptempo cover of “No Woman No Cry.”

The Mighty Gora was also present for some of the music. The chancellor commented, “They were a big hit [when] played here last semester; they got rave reviews.” And she explained the rationale for cramming the Coalboilers into Quinn saying, “[Opening Day] is going great. This is the only place with lines.” We applaud the Chancellor for strategic relief of one of the most obnoxious chores incoming students face, and the Coalboilers applaud her for presenting them with a captive audience. Charley commented, “They’re not going anywhere, but I see some smiles.” Gary Bachstrom whispered, “It’s like the Twilight Zone!” but he rose to the supernatural challenge with vigor.

The Coalboilers have been knocking around together for seven years, playing a regular, intimate gig at the Attic in Newton Centre, a live music joint that originally housed a coal boiler, hence the name. Gary Bachstrom is also the lead guitar for the rock and roll jam band, Jiggle the Handle, and Charley plays with Another Planet, another local treasure. The Coalboilers play at the Attic, 85 Union St., Newton, every Sunday, and have a upcoming show at The House of Blues March 13.