Adam Ritchie is a man on a mission. That mission (as stated in his twitter bio): “maintaining a dual life: fearlessly running a brand communications agency by day / shamelessly rocking in The Lights Out by night.” Well so far, mission accomplished. Ritchie’s drive and passion has seen his company flourish as well as his band; last year The Lights Out “opened up the season for the New England Patriots, cut a deal with MTV Networks and placed a song in an Absolut Vodka ad.”
And if that isn’t enough, Ritchie plays the second meanest guitar we’ve seen live (right after Angus Young of course) and is an Eagle Scout.
A Jersey boy at heart, Ritchie and his band call Boston home and he was kind enough to give us an insiders guide to all things musical (and yummy) in his adoptive city.
What should we know before we go to Boston?
Catch up with a few independent music blogs like Ryan’s Smashing Life, Boston Band Crush, Playground Boston, TeaParty Boston and Bradley’s Almanac, or blogs produced by Boston print outlets The Deli, The Herald and The Phoenix. And don’t count on taking the metro home! Boston’s T closes before the clubs get out. Plan on staying near the venue or taking a cab. Or work backwards by finding a good afterparty in advance, in either Allston, Cambridge or Somerville, and ask about crashing on the host’s couch in exchange for a case of beer and brunch the next morning. This will guarantee the full Boston experience, including getting sharpied.
Who are your local musical heroes?
Cave In was the first Boston band that really grabbed me. They set the tone of how I think about Boston music, and their “Jupiter” album and follow-up, “Tides of Tomorrow” were part of what pulled me here. I’m also a sucker for Aimee Mann. She wrote a great song about the Lenox Hotel in Copley Square that gets stuck in my head every time I walk by. Greg Hawkes of The Cars should get a key to the city for his constant support of up-and-coming bands. And I dream of Joe Perry letting me cut guitar tracks in his home studio.
What local bands or musicians should we be listening out for?
Here’s a playlist:
- Song: Fan The Fury
- Song: Sinister Minister
- The Luxury
- Song: Getaway Car
- Roman Traffic
- Song: Breach
- Song: Permission
- Song: Strangest Thing
- Static of the Gods
- Song: Meteor Flights
- I, Pistol
- Song: The Art of Deception
- Alice Austin
- Song: To a Star in the Yard
- Song: Memory
- The Motion Sick
- Song: 30 Lives
What are your favorite music venues and where should we eat and drink around there?
- It’s in the Fenway, caters to heavier bands and is the swankiest rock club in Boston. El Pelon, a taco place, used to be around the corner before the whole block went up in a fire, and it’s coming back – until then, Church doubles as a restaurant on the other side, and the food is really good.
- The Middle East
- Upstairs it’s nice and cozy; downstairs it’s a big sticky animal. Again, I’ve got to say the restaurant inside the club is the place to go. Delicious, reasonably-priced Middle Eastern cuisine. Note to visitors: make sure you know if the band you’re going to see is playing Upstairs or Downstairs; they’re two different stages with separate admissions. This confusion has put a cramp in many an out-of-towner’s night out.
- T.T. The Bear’s Place
- Right next door to the Middle East. You can get up-close and personal with the bands on its low stage. Hi-Fi Pizza is usually the go-to place after a show, when you’ve been thoroughly rocked and just want something greasy and cheesy.
- Great Scott
- On a quiet corner, this club specializes in super-hip bands and maintains the best club Twitter account in town. Seriously; you can ask @greatscottrock where to get a Slush Puppie in the area and they’ll tell you. Hit up Soul Fire BBQ before the show.
- JustBill’s basement
- JustBill is a well-known Boston music photographer, as famous for his on-stage camera acrobatics as he is for his afterparties. Recently he started landing beer sponsorships from Narragansett and hosting shows in his basement. Before the show, have a gorgonzola hot dog and french fries at Deep Ellum. After the show, if it’s before 3 a.m., visit Azama Grill on Harvard Ave for incredible falafel and a chat with the owner. If it’s after 5 a.m., sink your teeth into a warm, delicious breakfast sandwich at Twin Donuts.
Any local music festivals or events we should put on our calendar?
Right now, Boston is missing a big, unifying music event. Until another one appears, mark your calendars for Halloween. It’s a Boston tradition for original bands to get duded up in tribute to their band of choice for one night. You get to see hard-working artsy types cast all pretense aside and rock out as Def Leppard, The Runaways and tribes of Phil Collins.
Is there a “Boston sound”? Is there a community/scene vibe in the city?
You can’t peg the Boston sound to Aerosmith, The Dropkick Murphys or Passion Pit, though there’s certainly bands around town with those flavors. The city has little pockets of different sounds that all come together once a month for an event called the Rock ‘n Roll Social. It’s an informal, shoot-the-breeze over cheap beer night for music enthusiasts at a great bar called the Model Cafe. It’s the second Tuesday of every month, and if you happen to be in Boston when it’s happening, you’ll find a pitri dish worth exploring.
What’s your perfect night out in Boston?
In this order:
- After-work beers and playing with neighbors’ dogs on the stoop
- A chicken parm at Anchovies
- Seeing a CD release show at any of the above clubs
- Dancing in JustBill’s basement
- A falafel from Azama Grill
- Participating in a singalong
- Hazy conversation and watching the sun come up on someone’s porch
- A breakfast sandwich at Twin Donuts
Any other things that are a must see and do in Boston?
Pretend you’re a diehard conservative and fluster a Cambridge liberal for kicks. There’s a lot of them, and they rarely get to argue with someone with an opposing viewpoint. They need the practice and will even thank you when you eventually come clean.
What is your favorite city/venue to play on the road and what place has the craziest fans?
The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Because it’s a dome, and a giant orange might join you on stage.
What’s the best roadside food you’ve found?
We travel with a 1-lb bag of beef jerky and only stop for breweries. The best so far was Dogfish Head in Milton, Delaware. They appreciate that we’re a beer band, and play our album in their tasting room.