Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"A Way of Praying" - End Construction Productions reunion concert

Jon Svetkey, Brian Doser, Ellis Paul, Jim Infantino
End Construction
A long time ago, when Doug and I were in college, we were volunteers at a  coffeehouse in Marblehead, MA. I was privileged to meet and become friendly with dozens of fantastic musicians, including four wonderful men who performed together as a round-robin ensemble but who also performed solo.

They were mainstays at our coffeehouse, which ran on Saturday Night in Marblehead opposite of the Me & Thee which ran (and still does run, thank God) on Fridays.

Ellis Paul
The four musicians in question were Ellis Paul, Jim Infantino, Brian Doser and Jon Svetkey. Together they were known as End Construction Productions. They put out a sampler tape (yes, tape) and I was madly in love with all four of them for different reasons.

I remember seeing all four of them at a church coffeehouse in Boston right before Doug and I moved to Atlanta, right after we got married.

I remember standing pre-show at the church where we ran our coffeehouse in a weirdly robin's egg blue colored hallway with Paul (I called him that instead of Ellis Paul, which is his stage name). I still can see his knee-torn jeans and navy blue poly-propylene thermal long johns showing through, one leg bent with a foot against a wall, a denim shirt, and his shoulder length dirty blonde hair cascading around his blue eyes... his head tilted to the side  as he intently listened to me babble on and on as I am wont to do.

Jim Infantino
Jim was on stage one night in a white T-shirt that said OhiO, and a mosquito was flying about him as he played his song "Rita." The mosquito landed on him and he squashed it, without missing a beat of the song, and the mosquito blew up in a blood red splotch on the shoulder of his bright white shirt.

Brian had long curly curly curly hair and a deep beautiful voice. Jessica danced to his music in front of the stage, bright white toddler hair shining in the spotlight. When I think of "Who Woulda Thunk It?" by Greg Brown I hear Brian's voice in my head, not Greg Brown's. Funny now because thinking of Jess being 2 and dancing to his music, he does a children's program now called "The Music Man" as part of his regular performance schedule.

Who woulda thunk it indeed.

And Jon. Saddle shoes, crazy ties, amazing shirts and stomping. So much stomping. He possessed a strong, powerful voice which showcased his great songwriting... opposite of what Ellis' style, which was gentle, soft, baby-cradling of a guitar and sweet high singing. And when they performed together, it was a perfect match which you wouldn't expect when you saw them sing apart.

Jon Svetkey
I remember one night having Jon over for diner in our Lynn apartment, eating in the living room with plates in our laps because even after 2 years of marriage Doug and I still didn't have  a dining table. I asked him who he was listening to at that time and he told me about a guy named Ben Folds and his amazing songwriting. I'm forever thankful for that recommendation.

Ellis Paul has gone on to massive success, Jim Infantino's ego is so big three guys need to represent him on stage (sometimes four!). Jon got married and he and his wife perform together, and he also fronts a band called The Loomers. I blame Jon entirely for my preterm labor with Geoffrey, outlined in this entry I wrote in 2001. (kidding. It wasn't his fault. Honestly).

Sunday night they had a reunion concert and fundraiser for another musician, Stuart Ferguson, who is battling cancer right now. I don't know Stuart or his music. I don't remember getting a demo tape (yes, tape) and press kit from him back in the day when I scheduled the artists at the coffeehouse. My friend Amy asked me if I wanted to go see the show, because she wanted to see it with someone who had a history with their history. So of course I did. And I made my whole family go. Because it is their history too.

Wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Brian Doser
It was so lovely to go see them again. They did a few songs I had forgotten, and some that I'll never forget.  Jon still stomps and has that powerful voice. Brian is ever so lovely and funny and an epic story teller.

Ellis still sings with an ethereal beauty and holds that guitar up close to his face like he's not singing to you, he's singing to it. And I just love Jim's songwriting and his phrasing and how incredibly smart he is. They had special guests perform, most notably Josh Kantor who plays in Jim's Big Ego, and also is the organist at Fenway Park. He was fantastic, adding a beautiful little layer of sound to the songs performed.

They closed out with a song off of the End Construction "Resume Speed" compilation they'd put out 20 plus years ago with all four of them singing together and I felt transported back to that church with the big huge Earth Peace flag hanging up on the altar. It was kind of sweet.

I still have a smile on my face, and was happy to share the night with my family and Amy. Pictures are here if you want to see them.

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