This article originally appears on Boston Band Crush (http://bostonbandcrush.org).
A lot of bands have some good old Boston pride. We here at Boston Band Crush celebrate the local camaraderie and revelry by focusing our attention on our nearby rock ‘n’ rollers. We don’t often have the chance to trumpet the virtues of national acts fighting the good fight unless they are specifically setting foot (and amp) in our fair city.
While Portland’s (Oregon, that is) The Dimes have neither Boston origins nor a Boston visit on their calendar, they do have a very special relationship with our city of choice. Their latest work, The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry, takes on historical Boston as its motif.
You might initially wonder what value a “musical Cliffs Notes for an early American History class” should serve those of us who no longer repeat mnemonics for memorizing the names of the 13 colonies or daydream in class about how the sneaky Sam Adams, perhaps the original American rhetorician, helped convince the public that the deaths of five civilians should be termed a “massacre.”
Well, I am pleased to say that it makes no difference at all. The Dimes transcend the gimmick with great pop songs and delicate arrangements that sit pleasantly, only resulting in unsettling jolts during mentions of “Copley Square” and other familiar landmarks. I usually cringe when I hear my local musical cohorts mentioning the Red Line or Downtown Crossing, but in the context of history, and particularly when delivered by a voice from the other coast, it rings simply lovely.
In the band’s own words: “A Union soldier who lay dying on the battlefield calls out to his lover, a young Miss Clara Barton -pioneer, nurse, and founder of The American Red Cross. A fireman paints a vivid impression of The Great Boston Fire of 1872, before it “swallowed him whole.” Glowing four-part harmonies and an enchanting melody escort Mary Dyer to the gallows in 1660, retelling her tragic tale and saluting her courage and martyrdom. A brave abolitionist battles slavery with words, ink, and his printing press – taking shape as a radical newspaper known as “The Liberator.””
Band photo by: Mathias Ailstock