Back in the 1980s, when Boston bands like Aerosmith, The Cars and J. Geils were topping the charts nationally, a flourishing ecosystem of not-quite-so-famous groups were struggling farther down the pyramid.
"There were another 2,000 bands trying to claw their way up the food chain," said musician and author Terry Kitchen, whose new book and CD, "Next Big Thing," is set in that world.
Kitchen writes from experience. And he'll be delivering a book talk and playing songs Thursday night at the JP Branch Library.
And while the Boston scene as a whole is the star of the narrative, JP plays a role near the heart of this rock n' roll story. In fact, Kitchen co-dedicated the book to JP rocker Rick Berlin. When Kitchen and his band arrived in Boston from Ohio in 1982, they looked up to Berlin, who was already well established with Orchestra Luna. A bit later, the Hyde Square musician's Berlin Airlift would become their role models.
Chapter 38 of the book might seem particularly familiar to JP readers, as the band comes to a JP pub where the fictional Roger Talon, leader of one of the scene's top bands, also works as a waiter. As everyone in JP should know, Berlin is, in real life, the most famous member of the staff at Doyle's.
Kitchen said he admires not just what Berlin accomplished in the 80s, but even more that he's maintained his commitment ever since.
"It's been exciting watching Rick keep at it," Kitchen said. "He's always been very dedicated to getting his art out there."[selfie]
As for Kitchen, he moved from rock into the folk music world, where he's been the past 20 years. You might have heard him at one of the "JP Unplugged" concerts at the Loring-Greenough House, for instance.