Great balls of fire! The Fireside Sessions with Nancy Atlas, presented by Dan’s Papers and Bay Street Theater, are coming back for a third year. In the past, the series ran on Friday nights, but this year it’s been moved to Saturdays. So mark your calendars now: every Saturday night in January is going to be a blow-out music bash at Bay Street beginning at 8 p.m., and each evening will be completely fresh and new.
“Each week will be a phenomenally different show,” says Atlas, who first presented the Fireside Sessions at Bay Street in 2014. “I’ve been very specific in choosing the performers to make for exciting, unique experiences.”
The variety of the Fireside Sessions has always been astonishing, and this year will be no exception.
The series kicks off on January 2, 2016, with the return of Randi Fishenfeld, the monster rock violinist who has been here to tear it up with Atlas every year.
On January 9, Atlas brings in drummer extraordinaire Simon Kirke. Kirke has played for such famous bands as Bad Company, Free and The Ringo Starr All Stars. Simon is also a prolific songwriter and multi instrumentalist. This is sure to be a breathtaking night of well known and original music, Atlas says.
On January 16, it’s Clark Gayton, a man who funks it up on the trombone in ways you didn’t know were possible.
Guitar god Andy Aledort lands on January 23, which will be a night of fretboard wizardry between Aledort and Atlas’s resident virtuoso Johnny Blood—and maybe one or two more local guitar legends.
Rounding out the series will be Danny Kean on January 30. He brings his soulful keyboards and vocals to warm us all up in the depths of winter.
Of course, none of it would be possible without Atlas and her band, the Nancy Atlas Project. Very few bands could pull out a series of five different shows—playing completely new tunes in a huge variety of styles—with the confidence and precision that Atlas’s band does. With Blood’s guitar chops, Neil Surreal’s keys (and accordion and harmonica), plus the strong backbone of Brett King on bass and Richard Rosch on drums, the Nancy Atlas Project can go from funk to reggae to zydeco to country-rock without breaking a sweat. They’ve been playing together for more than 20 years, and it shows.
Every performance features a couple of Atlas’s great originals as well, but one of the things that makes the whole series work is Atlas’s commitment to showcasing her guests. Naturally, Atlas’s fans show up (in droves) for the Fireside Sessions, knowing they’ll always get a great show. And they also get to hear a variety of brilliant artists, playing in styles that they might not gravitate to on their own.
Although she’s quick to downplay her own role, Atlas is not unaware that the Fireside Sessions are unique. “It really takes a perfect storm: Dan’s Papers’s support, a great venue and of course the musicians. Thanks to Dan’s Papers, and Bay Street, we have this magical little bubble for creating one-of-a-kind experiences. It’s incredibly rare, and incredibly fun.”
For tickets ($25) and more information, visit baystreet.org.