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The Suitcase Junket and Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles

3S Artspace

Saturday, November 23, 2019 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM (EST)

The Suitcase Junket and Sarah Borges & The Broken...

Ticket Information

Ticket Type Sales End Price Fee Quantity
General Admission / ADV / Standing Nov 22, 2019 $18.00 $2.98
General Admission / DOS / Standing Not Started $20.00 $3.09

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Event Details

The Suitcase Junket and Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles
Saturday, November 23
Doors 7pm / Show 8pm
All ages / Partially seated 
$15 Member / $18 ADV / $20 DOS



The latest album from The Suitcase Junket, Mean Dog, Trampoline is populated by characters in various states of reverie: leaning on jukeboxes, loitering on dance floors, lying on the bottoms of empty swimming pools in the sun. Despite being deeply attuned to the chaos of the world, singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist Matt Lorenz imbues those moments with joyful wonder, an endless infatuation with life’s most subtle mysteries. And as its songs alight on everything from Joan Jett to moonshine to runaway kites, Mean Dog, Trampoline makes an undeniable case for infinite curiosity as a potent antidote to jadedness and despair.

Produced by Steve Berlin (Jackie Greene, Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke) of Los Lobos, Mean Dog, Trampoline marks a deliberate departure from the homespun approach of The Suitcase Junket’s previous efforts. In creating the album, Lorenz pulled from a fantastically patchwork sonic palette, shaping his songs with elements of jangly folk, fuzzed-out blues, oddly textured psych-rock. Engineered by Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Speedy Ortiz) and mixed by Vance Powell (Jack White, Houndmouth), Mean Dog, Trampoline rightly preserves The Suitcase Junket’s unkempt vitality, but ultimately emerges as his most powerfully direct album so far. 

The follow-up to 2017’s Pile Driver, Mean Dog, Trampoline takes its title from a lyric in “Scattered Notes From A First Time Home Buyers Workshop,” a brightly tumbling folk romp built on ramshackle rhythms and jeweled guitar tones. “I found the notes I’d taken during a first-time homebuyers workshop years ago and they were completely incomprehensible, so I decided to put them into a song,” says Lorenz, an Amherst, Massachusetts-based artist who’s made music under the name of The Suitcase Junket since 2009. “Mean dogs and trampolines are two things insurance companies really hate,” he adds.

Throughout Mean Dog, Trampoline, The Suitcase Junket explores everyday dangers of all kinds, infusing each track with his idiosyncratic storytelling and effusive vocal presence. With its restless melodies and tender intensity, the album-opening “High Beams” offers an up-close look at an unsteady romance (sample lyric: “She was pacing like a raging bull /With a heart half full of hurt, half full of doubting/And like everything I thought I had/It turned half bad before I got to think about it”). A more playful reflection on romantic confusion, “Everything I Like” conjures a happily punch-drunk mood from its bouncy groove and Billy Joel references. “It’s about a relationship where you can’t quite understand each other but sometimes there’s a little clarity—like when a song you both love comes on the radio and all of a sudden everything clicks into place and feels fresh and right,” says Lorenz. Elsewhere on Mean Dog, Trampoline, The Suitcase Junket shifts into heavier terrain, with “Dandelion Crown” instilling a warm empathy into its loving and nuanced portrait of addiction. “That song came from thinking about how you can lose control of your life by degrees, until you don’t even recognize yourself anymore,” says Lorenz. “But there’s still a little redemption in there—those moments when things become sweet and clear again, despite the fact that you’re permanently changed as a person.”

From song to song, Mean Dog, Trampoline shows the sharply imaginative musicality that Lorenz’s honed since he was a kid. Growing up in Cavendish, Vermont, he began playing piano at age five, and later took up violin, saxophone, and guitar. During his time at Hampshire College he studied music and adaptive instrument design (a pursuit that included, as Lorenz explains, “building a prototype for a drummer who couldn’t use their legs, where they’d be able to play the bass drum and hi-hat through a system of pulleys”). After college, he headed to Europe on a $150 plane ticket, ran out of money in Barcelona and spent a year playing music in the streets. “That’s where I learned how to sing loud, which got me figuring out what my voice could do,” Lorenz notes. Once he’d returned to Amherst, he formed the band Rusty Belle with his sister Kate and, several years later, started The Suitcase Junket with the aid of a guitar he’d found in a dumpster. “It only sounds good in open tuning, so from the beginning The Suitcase Junket was defined by limitation,” says Lorenz. “The idea was, ‘Well, you can’t play all those fancy chords you used to play, so what are you gonna do now?’”

With its name nodding to Lorenz’s longtime love of collecting old suitcases (including an antique that he’s refurbished into a bass drum) and to a secondary definition of junket (i.e., “a pleasure excursion”), The Suitcase Junket reveals all the warmth and wildness to be found within such limitation. Not only proof of his ingenuity as a songmaker, that improbable richness is ineffably bound to Lorenz’s purposeful fascination—an element he alludes to in discussing one of his most beloved tracks on Mean Dog, Trampoline, the gloriously clattering “Stay Too Long.” “I’m the kind of person who wants to stay around till the very end of whatever’s happening,” Lorenz says of the song’s inspiration. “Whether it’s a party or something else, I always want to know how it ends. Even if it’s probably gonna be a total disaster, I want to be there to see it all.”


RIYL: Tom Waits, yard sales, Tuvan throat singers, Car Talk, Ghost of J.R. Jones

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About Sarah Borges:
As rock phenoms go, Sarah Borges has never been easy to pin down. Since bursting onto the national scene in 2005 as the lead singer of the Broken Singles, she hasn’t allowed a speck of dust to settle on her sound or her story. Instead, the Massachusetts native has just kept on moving and shaking.

She’s gone from frontwoman to solo act, to frontwoman again. She’s deftly navigated the weird road that winds from emerging artist to veteran performer. She’s made seven records and racked up countless touring miles. She’s collected shiny things, including an Americana Music Award nomination, multiple Boston Music Awards, and song credits on TV shows Sons of Anarchy and The Night Shift. Bands like Los Strait Jackets and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys have brought her out on the road with them. Cowboy laureates Steve Berlin and Dave Alvin have lined up to collaborate with her.

As if all that wasn't fodder enough for a compelling rock ’n’ roll narrative, in the last few years Sarah has been married and divorced, become a mother, and gotten sober. It’s a whole lot of moving and shaking for someone who just turned 40, but don’t expect to find her pumping the brakes anytime soon.

“I’m not slowing down,” Borges says. “I’m gonna keep on seeking the next sound, the next song, the next chapter of who I am.”

Headlining that next chapter is a new album titled Love’s Middle Name, due out October 12, 2018 on Blue Corn Music.

There’s never been much daylight between Sarah and re-invention. Even as she’s weathered the inevitable ups and downs in an industry that’s perpetually imploding, she’s stayed the course, creating an impressive body of work one album at a time, personal plot twists and genres be damned.

“Critics have always loved Sarah, but that doesn’t mean they’ve figured out what to do with her,” says Binky, her longtime bassist and best friend of 15 years.

He has a point. Conduct even a quick Google search, and you’ll find that she’s been dubbed everything — from an Americana darling to a roots rocker to a cowpunk to the next Sheryl Crow — by tastemakers as diverse as The New York Times and SiriusXM Outlaw Country Radio.

You could forgive folks for being stumped as to what to call her brand of music. In an era when algorithms and critics alike are hard-pressed to find the quickest way to complete the phrase “sounds like___,” an artist such as Borges raises questions. Does she walk a fine line between punk and country, or does she kick the tar out of it? Is she rock, roots, or Americana? And while we’re at it, what the heck is Americana, anyway?

Sarah’s many things. She’s a driven artist who cranks out finely crafted, character-driven songs with the dexterity of a prolific novelist. She’s a busy single mom who doesn’t have time for your bullshit. She’s an unapologetic stage belcher. And as her bandmates are quick to point out, she’s an incurable road dog who lives for gigs and relishes the long-haul drives in vans full of stinky dudes that said gigs require. Which is all to say that Sarah and her music contain multitudes. Grit, grace, and everything in between.

“I don’t know what to call it most days,” she says, “Lately I just call it ‘rock ’n’ roll.’ Can we just call it that for crying out loud?”

But if you’re looking for a common denominator threading through all of Sarah’s multitudes, or something approximating a label that she might not fight you on, joy fits the bill. Yes, you read that right. Joy isn’t the first thing most fans associate with barroom rock songs about heartbreak, sticking it to bad men, or lusty midnight romps. But for Sarah it’s a palpable force running through everything she does.

"It won’t sound very punk of me to say this, but I feel joy now in a way I've never felt before about doing what I do”, she says. "It's been a long journey, but I’m lucky as hell to be in the driver's seat for this life I’ve been given of playing, writing, motherhood, and sobriety.”
 
Borges’s unbridled joy at making music two decades into a storied career comes through loud and clear in her latest long player, aptly titled Love’s Middle Name. Her third studio record with the Broken Singles, it’s a muscular 10-song cycle that pulses with gritty, unfettered emotion. As the kids like to say, this record has all the feels.

On “House on a Hill,” Sarah pines for a blue-eyed ex and the home they once shared. But instead of being maudlin affair, the album’s centerpiece track grabs you with raw vocals and a wring-out-your-heart chorus over a no-nonsense drumbeat and driving guitars. On the headshaking “Lucky Rocks,” she bewitches the object of her desire with love spells and sweet somethings, like “Lay here down with me for a while/Tell me a story or a secret/Tell me a lie.” On the hard-charging “Headed Down Tonight,” she’s more than a little bit dangerous, summoning her hookup to follow her off the beaten path into the woods even as she coos, “Watch your step, you know I wouldn’t want you to get hurt” over a thumping train beat. And on the rolling, wistful “Grow Wings,” she asks: “This world is too big for small voices, someone like me singing into the wind what difference can I be?”  

For this latest record, Sarah and the gang pointed the Broken Singles van toward the Brooklyn studio of Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, a widely respected performer and producer whose credits include the Bottle Rockets and Steve Earle & the Dukes, and was the founding guitarist for none other than Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Recorded in four sessions with Ambel in the producer’s chair providing banshee-like lead guitar, Love’s Middle Name dispenses with any fussiness. “Roscoe has zero interest in fancy. He likes to capture the beast in its tracks,” Borges says, “That suits me just fine. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, so let’s get on with it and melt some faces already.” She may be channeling world-weary characters, but it still sounds like she and her band are having a lot of fun laying it all down. -Jess Tardy


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3S Artspace
319 Vaughan Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Saturday, November 23, 2019 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM (EST)


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3S Artspace

3S Artspace, a 501c3 non-profit, is dedicated to presenting and supporting contemporary artists and their work in order to stimulate the artistic community and creatively engage and educate the public at large, while establishing a vital and accessible regional gathering space.

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