Joe Viglione’s History of Boston Rock and Roll and New England Music Part 2

This is a continuation of the original History of NE Music I started a couple of decades ago

Read some of my history of N.E. music here: and more fully on the original page here:

Artist: Bird Mancini
CD: The One Delight

11 tracks

Going Track by Track with Joe Viglione

For those of us who love pop music, especially pop blended with folk, Americana, new wave perfectly performed, The One Delight is a delightful collection of moods, sounds and clever arrangements.

Opening with Space Between Two Worlds @ 3:35 minutes to track four’s “South Side of Summer”  and the title track, #5, with its Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young leanings Bird Mancini has brought multiple elements that share colorful vibrations that gravitate to one another.


1)Space Between Two Worlds: – I’m glad this up-tempo rocker starts the disc off.  Robin Lane put together a brilliant album of songs scattered across the decades, were the eleven titles on The One Delight constructed in the same time frame, or are they from different moments along your musical road?

Billy Carl Mancini: Several of songs on “The One Delight” were written with the new release in mind.  Others were from our back catalog of songs and were updated or rearranged.  “Space Between Two Worlds” is one of the new ones.  I had just been listening to the latest remix/remaster of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band CD. I was thinking about the song “Remember” and the way it moves, bounces, grooves. My fingers fell on some new chords and a melody. The words “life’s a mystery” spilled out of my mouth. Ruby said, “we must have a better title than that” and wrote a whole set of lyrics. A new song is born.  

Ruby Bird: Yes and no.  The first 4 tracks, plus “The Last Good Day” and “Just Carry On” are totally new for this project. The other songs were taken from, as you say,  “across the decades,” some with new lyrics and all newly arranged.

2)Man Plans God Laughs: the melody and playing are superb, but why the Devil’s Advocate sensibilities?  The attitude feels like Al Pacino in that film with Keanu Reeves where Pacino is the petulant adolescent angry because he’s not having fun.  Is this the sentiment, or is it parody?

BCM:  It’s not a parody.  We all make plans and have desires that don’t always work out quite the way we want them to.  I heard the phrase, “Man Plans God Laughs” on some television show and it struck a nerve.  I knew I wanted to write a song with that sentiment.  The verses reflect Ruby’s and my life.  The first verse is me and my teenage dreams, the second verse is about Ruby and the third verse is about us together.

RB: Our intent here is that no matter how smart or wise we all think we are, we are not really in control—God is. I think the pandemic has profoundly underscored this idea. Further into the song, the lyrics are autobiographical.  

3)Master of Nothingness combined with the above leads to eight and a half minutes of questioning things.  Are they meant to be connected a la the Rolling Stones twisted trilogy  19th Nervous Breakdown” (Feb 1966,)   “Mother’s Little Helper” from Aftermath, (July 1966,) “Have You You’re your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows,” (Sept 1966,) keeping  a theme going, or am I missing something here?

BCM: If anything is connected it’s almost by accident.  I guess it’s just where our heads were at the time.  “Master of Nothingness” is about a friend who always seemed happy and carefree. He didn’t seem to have any ambitions or desires beyond what he was doing every day. Just floating through life. No thoughts of pursuing a complicated career or striving for wealth. One day at a time. I always thought, “that’s the way to be happy and carefree.”

RB: I don’t see any of these songs as questioning anything or particularly connected.  “Space Between Two Worlds” is simply a fantasy that might be construed as a metaphor for life, death and beyond. “Man Plans God Laughs” see #2 above. “Master of Nothingness” is about a real person we know and appreciate because he is exactly who he wants to be. At least that’s what these songs mean to me. If they mean something else to you or others, that’s OK. I think all art should work that way. It’s in the eye or ear of the beholder.

4)South Side of Summer is one of my favorite tracks.

In 2013 The Swinging Steaks had a CD, “Southside of the Sky” …what is it about the South Side?

RB: Glad you like this track! The South Side here is just about heading toward the last days of Summer.  I have no idea what The Steaks had in mind. Maybe the sibilance of the phrase is just catchy. I think so.

BCM: Ruby came to me and said she wanted a song that had a lazy, end of summer kind of feel. She already had ideas in her head about lyrics. I have always loved Gershwin’s “Summertime” (especially by Ella Fitzgerald) and thought of that laid back feel when I came up with the chords and melody. Ruby got it immediately came up with the perfect visual lyrics.

5)The One Delight – as stated in my intro: “South Side of Summer”  and the title track, #5, with its Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young leanings Bird Mancini has brought multiple elements that share colorful vibrations that gravitate to one another.  Can you advise us of your “secret sauce,” or do you want to leave it to our imaginations?

BCM: The “secret sauce” is we write, play and record what we like.  We’re not trying to conform to any formula.  If something pleases us it will reach other people as well.

RB: Well, in my mind they are two very different songs, but it’s interesting that you think they share characteristics that bring to mind CSNY. We love these guys, but CSNY was not on our minds during the writing of these songs. Or perhaps subliminally? If I were to name influences for each of them, I would say Gershwin’s “Summertime” and Steely Dan were more to blame.

6)The Last Good Day – love the pulsating undercurrent (same with “Homesick,”  the themes seem like blues pop, but the music feels optimistic, is this the “happy/sad” of a band like The Zombies?

BCM: I do like songs that have happy, uptempo music with contemplative lyrics.  Like Elvis Costello, John Lennon and, sure, The Zombies.  Although I must say that when I listen to music I’m most effected by the vibe and and the way it makes me feel.  Lyrics usually go right past me unless I’m reading along with the song.  Almost everything we do has an undercurrent of Blues, though you might not be able to put your finger on that influence.

RB: Very perceptive, Joe, that you’ve named another band that we both love. It’s certainly possible that their influence is present in these or other writings of ours, but not intentionally. In my mind “Homesick” and “The Last Good Day” are as different as they could be from each other and still be on the same album.  But that’s typical for Bird Mancini.


    Same question as above

RB: “Homesick” was written years ago and never recorded. We just tweaked the lyrics and rearranged it for this project so that I could have one more song to sing. I almost didn’t want it on the album because I didn’t think it was a good fit, but this song turns out to be a favorite of a few friends and DJs that we’ve heard from. Who knew? “The Last Good Day” is a new product of the pandemic, as we were thinking about the last good gig we had before shutdown. But these lyrics of course can have very different meaning, depending on your own experience.

8)Just Carry On absolutely sounds like an immersion of CSNY’s “Carry On” and “Wooden Ships”.   Is this an inspiration or do you have inspirations that you’d like to share?

BCM: I can’t deny that I love both of those CSN (and sometimes Y) songs.  Everything I’ve ever heard influences me.  “Just Carry On” started as a mysterious unnamed song file lurking on my computer desktop. What’s that? I played it and it turned out to be a brief song idea I had recorded but had completely forgotten about. So, I finished the song. The words are just stream of consciousness stuff. I think maybe having to do with current times.  Not too much you can do about some things, so you just carry on.  The “oohs and aahs” harmonies in the middle were straight off the top of my head…no pre-planning.

9)Song for an Imaginary Life – dreamy and elegant, it’s like the band went to the tropics and came up with this smooth essay.   A good sequel or counterpoint to “South Side of Summer.”  Where did it come from?

RB: This came from a surreal guitar riff that I heard Billy play once in awhile. Eventually, it morphed and expanded, and studio magic happened.

BCM: This is one of those songs that I’ve had kicking around for many years. Might have been sort of inspired by John McLaughlin. Although I never recorded it, I never forgot it and often played it when I was just messing around on the guitar. I decided it was time to let it out of my brain and into the world. Ruby added some cool keyboard melodies to finish it off. This is one of only two tracks where we brought in another musician to play. The song was too weird for either of us to do percussion, so we called Joe Jaworski to play cajon and assorted things in his bag of percussive tricks. We knew he’d know what to do. The title is just something we imagined….

10)Better Forever goes into a world where you can feel the voices of America (who copied C,S,N and Y to a T) – yet your style is not so seventies secure, I love how what I feel are those influences invade your style   Soothsayers and oracles…philosophically more helpful than questioning God on track 2, but that’s my opinion…how did this come about?

BCM: Not really questioning God on “Man Plans God Laughs”.  If we’re questioning anything, it’s human limitations. One can’t change what God has in mind for us. “Better Forever” is another song that was in my back catalog that had never been recorded. Just a song about being in love and floating off to some place of calm and beauty. Someplace better. Like a Caribbean Island and being served drinks on the beach. Sort of uncharacteristic lyrics for me, I guess. But you just write what you feel when you feel it. This is the other track made better forever by Joe Jaworski on cajon.  -BCM

11)Bonus track of Master of Nothingness instrumental:  with so much space on a CD, why not the entire instrumental versions that the Beach Boys did with their amazing Stacks of Tracks?

BCM: Nowadays, with people releasing so called “EPs” and single downloads, I’m not sure people can sit still for an 80 minute CD.  Many of my favorite albums are about 40-45 minutes in length. This instrumental originally came to me as a melody without any words. I needed to get the melody recorded in order to demo it to Ruby. Later on, the lyrics practically wrote themselves when I had the perfect person in mind. We added this as a bonus track for the download version.  It really wasn’t intended to be on the CD but sounded good to my ears and I wanted others to hear it.  I had forgotten I’d even done it until the CD was already in production.

Thanks for your time GOING TRACK BY TRACK.
You’re welcome…we enjoyed it!
-Billy & Ruby

****************************** Ruby Bird & Billy Carl Mancini BIRD MANCINI
email: Website:


Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, legendary writer Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a twenty-seven year old variety show (established 1995) on cable TV featuring A-list celebrities from all walks of life.

Kernels for the Birds – Mr. Curt

Essays by Joe Viglione

From the Kids to the Real Kids to Mr. Curt solo on Euphoria Records, the Mr. Curt catalog of music is a long and important, historic part of the New England Rock and Roll Story. His bands Pastiche and The Exis made their mark from the 1970s to the 1990s if my memory serves and somehow a couple more decades developed to the year 2021, a half a century, and welcome to his newest CD, Kernels for the Birds.

Dave Godbey from Fox Pass co-writes the first minute and two seconds entitled “In a Haze.” It’s the intro to a collection of Space Age Bachelor Pad music meets the avant-garde side of the New Wave, Track two is about breeding heroes and includes a hypnotic mantra if you will, “Ripped,Wrecked and Excited” would raise the eyebrows of Roxy Music’s Eno and Velvet Underground’s John Cale. There are a number of college radio stations which should embrace this, most notably the Record Hospital over at WHRB, Harvard and WZBC Newton, bringing us truly back to the future. I’m surprised Curt didn’t invite members of Wet Pizza and Free Pizza to join in on his two minute and forty-six second “Where’s the Pizza?” It’s innovative enough to have three bands clashing in stereo. George Harrison’s “The Inner Light” (flip of Lady Madonna 45 and on Past Masters and the Love album from the Beatles.) With Andy Hollinger on impressionistic guitars and Ed Morreau on assorted keys/fx, it’s actually a quite intriguing look into Lennon’s pop jolt that Beatles fans did not expect.

“Soups on the Table,” “Day Lilly” and “First is the New Last” segue into each other like a trilogy while Curt’s track on the tribute to the late Asa Brebner (of Robin Lane and the Chartbusters/Modern Lovers) album I Am Not Gone, similarly titled “He Is Not Gone” is included here. It’s very well done.

Also included is an exotic rendition of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” recorded for the maestro’s Facebook SUNNY page. Bobby would have been very proud to hear such a different version of his popular song, one of the top 100 songs of the 20th Century for BMI. “A Monk in a Ninja Suit,” “Gaslighting,” “Wannabees (that never were) right up to “The Last Night on the River” are sixteen tracks that are entertaining, inviting and in some cases make your head spin. Let Kernels for the Birds be your secret treat to surprise people with at parties.

Mr. Curt article also on Somerville News Weekly

Charles Pettigrew of Down Avenue hit with WOULD I LIE TO YOU as Charles and Eddy

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-] 
Alvan Long was the drummer in Boston’s November Group on its 1982 self-titled EP, and was joined by bassist/vocalist Don Foote for 1983’s follow-up, Persistent Memories. They branched off on their own, releasing this five-song EP on the 6L6 label the same year November Group signed to A&M, 1985. “Girlfriend” sounds like the Jonzun Crew with snappy drums and ’80s club/dance keyboards identifying immediately what Down Avenue is all about: a group that was as derivative as it was engaging. The mid-’80s brought a number of artists into this sterile but interesting realm, Adventure Set and Face to Face also making noise in Massachusetts and beyond, the artist’s identities all merged into a synth/dance amalgam on radio and in the clubs. Only Michael Jonzun and his brother Maurice Starr broke out of the mold, with Laurie Sargent from Face to Face also carving a niche beyond the pack. The sad thing is that Down Avenue is among the best players of this sound just before it all fell off the ledge into manufactured disposable Muzak. This EP as well as the release by Adventure Set are the last vestiges of decent Boston music before the scene exploded and band names proliferated on a daily basis. “Nighttime” is another good melody and performance, though there is nothing here that jumps out at you as an unarguable hit. Roxy Music was performing this exact same sentiment on Avalon with far more personality, and for all the slick production and smooth musicianship, there is absolutely nothing to grab onto here. It could be anyone singing “Nighttime” and any group of musicians crafting these sounds. The three songs on side two, “Winter’s Past,” “Way Down the Avenue,” and “These 4 Walls” melt into a seamless essay devoid of peaks and valleys. “Winter’s Past” sounds like a soft rock version of the band New England’s classic “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya.” “Way Down the Avenue” could be the band’s theme song with the hook lifted from Bruce Springsteen and Manfred Mann the decade before — “That’s where the fun is” sounds like it stepped out of “Blinded By the Light.” Nothing here is as outstanding as Adventure Set’s “Blue Is for Boys,” but there’s nothing bad here either. The band was rumored to have signed with RCA and probably did, but then vanished as quickly as November Group did on A&M. Charles Pettigrew’s vocals are slick and soulful, but they are pipes in need of a song that was more than just pleasant background music.