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Entrain. Courtesy photo.




 Entrain and Hot Like Fire

When: Saturday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m.
Where: Downtown Music Festival, 185 Main St., Nashua
Tickets: $10/advance, $12/door at dmfnashua.com

 





Double the fun
Entrain and Hot Like Fire perform in downtown Nashua

08/14/14
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com



The second of three concerts featuring a pair of popular bands happens Aug. 16, as two blocks of Nashua’s Main Street transform into a pop-up concert pavilion, complete with stage, beer garden and food vendors.  
 
The upcoming double bill features shape-shifting rhythm sensation Entrain and Hot Like Fire. Boston stalwarts The Stompers and The Fools close things out on Sept. 13.
 
 
Entrain drummer Tom Major finds his band fits right in with the spirit of the series. 
 
“Our bass player Talewa is in Hot Like Fire,” said Major in a recent phone interview, “so he may be double dipping that night.”
Major’s band specializes in musical multiplicity. The drummer recalled a baffled but pleased German critic.
 
“He said, ‘Just when you think this is a really good rock band, they switch into great ska, then no, they’re the greatest folk band I’ve ever heard, and now they’re playing drums — what the heck is this?’”
 
When Major formed the band in 1993 on Martha’s Vineyard, he found being a moving target often worked against them. Frustrated record labels begged him to pick a genre easily marketed to teenagers. 
 
“You know, this goes to everybody,” he recalled responding. “Now it’s really an advantage. … You don’t have to be pigeonholed into a specific style.”
 
One song has become a signature for Entrain. The rollicking, percussive “Dancing in the Light” is infectious enough, but after Sylvania used it in an ad that ran for nearly five years, it’s locked in a lot of minds. When the band plays it in concert, the energy level visibly rises. 
 
“The positive vibe really does have an amazing, infectious power to it,” commented Major. “Time and time again, what we get back from the people is just pure joy. They come in, they smile, they have a great time, they dance, they come up, they give us lots of love, and then they bring it wherever they go.”
 
Having Cape Cod as a home base has led to a few famous faces sitting in with the band — James Taylor, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and President Bill Clinton. But Major’s favorite memories are of playing with Bo Diddley. 
 
“I was in Bo’s band when I put Entrain together, and after when he had gigs in New England he would use us as his backup band,” said Major. “Bo’s a drummer besides being an amazing guitar player and singer, so we used to have a blast playing drum solos together. He loved Entrain.  I think he never found anything as good.”
 
Another benefit of playing on the Vineyard is that vacationing fans become hometown Entrain ambassadors. Plenty of Black Dog-stickered cars show up at gigs in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, often with friends and family in tow. 
 
“We’ve been together for 20 years now,” said Major. “Our fans are getting older, and they’re bringing their kids. Sometimes they even bring their parents, and we’re seeing two and three generations of Entrain fans now. It’s really a joy.”
 
Perhaps the best thrill for Major is when his band’s hard-to-pin-down style hits an unexpected target, like at a recent all-ages show. 
 
“Some 17-year-old boy stopped me and said, ‘Hey man, I love your band,” and I thanked him and walked away. He stopped me again, and said, ‘I like nothing but death metal, and I love your band.’ I looked at him and said, ‘You don’t know how much that means to me — thank you.’  What is that? We’re about as far from death metal as you can get … Those are the kind of things that make me think that we’ve really got something.” 





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