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Jim Bianco and Aunt Martha play the Middle East

A tail-end look at Jim Bianco plus a bit of newcomers Aunt Martha

By Bruce Sylvester

Aunt Martha

Aunt Martha

Thursday night, I made it into the Middle East in scenic Central Square, Cambridge, MA, and caught the tail end of Jim Bianco’s set plus a bit of newcomers Aunt Martha. Good stuff. (Having been at another concert a mile away, I totally missed the first act, the Gulls.)

With his dark, smart lyrics, Bianco is touring in support of his new CD, Loudmouth. Its rowdy opening track, unapologetic “Sinners,” has a Pogues vibe and makes a good singalong for the audience. Wind instruments bring out the disc’s (and the concert’s) celebratory spirit, never mind that some of the celebration is for stuff that perhaps shouldn’t be celebrated. The CD comes with a set of poetry magnets whose words are drawn from the lyrics – words like temptation, shipwreck, poison, candy, heart, hard, on, in, blood, kiss, rockstar, dream and elvis (uncapitalized). People are sending him photos of poems they’ve created with his magnets (some are quite good), and he’s posting them on his web site ( (Thanks to Shelby Lynne for introducing people like me to Jim’s music a few years ago, when she hired him to be her warmup act for her Just A Little Lovin’ tour.)

The day of the show, Bianco and band did a live set on Joe G’s program “Droppin’ Knowledge” at WMBR-FM. All WMBR shows can be heard online in the Archive at for two weeks after broadcast. Jim also did two solo acoustic songs on the “Troubadour” show shortly before the band performance on “Droppin’ Knowledge.”

The Middle East show was also my introduction to Aunt Martha, a New Hampshire trio (guitar, drums, bass, violin) that’s building quite a fan base with a style that calls to mind The Avett Brothers. They’re not too well known yet, but they’ve been invited to play Bonnaroo next month.

I’ve enclosed a few Youtube links.

Aunt Martha, "Detroit City"

Aunt Martha, "Neighbor Song"

Jim Bianco, "Sinners"

Jim Bianco, "The Best That You Can Do"