By Cameron Johnson, Multimedia Editor
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The walls, a deep red, resonate with the flicking of yellow candles as the hum of electricity emanates from the newly powered amp. In fact, all the lights are red, save for a single set of stage lights over the man of the hour: Aaron Shadwell.
On the eve of December, Shadwell hosted his final show of his 19-year history in Cambridge. He’s not done with music, though.
“I’m moving but I’m not giving up music. It’s a farewell to Boston, not farewell to music,” Shadwell said.
Shadwell is picking up his roots from the Boston suburb and is moving to the small town of Brookline, New Hampshire.
“There is an illusion in the music industry that you need to be around everyone all of the time and be in the extraverted world,” Shadwell said. “A social and physical environment like New Hampshire puts me in a space much more conducive in putting the audience in a place that facilitates emotional connection.”
Shadwell found that he was incongruent with the attitude of some parts of Boston and enjoyed the helpfulness of the friendly people of New Hampshire.
“If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about New Hampshire folks in the past few years is they are far more open than folks in the cities. There is a willingness to participate in these independent shows than in the cities … people are just willing to roll up their sleeves and help,” Shadwell said.
Two other bands opened for Shadwell: Jared Salvatore, a singer songwriter playing songs on his acoustic guitar, and The George Woods Band, fronted by George Woods on guitar and a full rock set up of guitar, bass, drums and an added trumpet.
At around 11 p.m., Shadwell made his appearance on stage and kicked it off with his cover of “Bang, Bang,” made famous by Nancy Sinatra. His soulful voice sounded off of the small, intimate walls of the underground Lizard Lounge, a location that is meaningful to the singer-songwriter.
“This is where I spent most of those 19 years [in Cambridge],” Shadwell said. “What a perfect place to end it.”
Shadwell continued through his set, creating a playful dialogue with his audience.
“Can I put in an order for tots? Is that [expletive] up?” Shadwell said. This was met by raucous laughter from the audience and applause. With the audience’s approval, he shouts his order over to the bar. He pauses and adds “Make it two.”
After that, Shadwell is joined by his full band: Matt Raskopf on drums, Matt Girarde on bass, Andrew Johnson on guitar and Jake on the Rhodes keyboard. While Shadwell on his own already has a full sound, the addition of the new members made the music gigantic: Its presence filled the space and the rock sound they created was indomitable.
“This song is about a man so disturbed that he finds comfort being in jail … I swear it’s not me,” Shadwell said, introducing the song “Murder Ballad.”
Then suddenly the doorman arrives with a hot basket of tater tots, fresh from the kitchen upstairs, eliciting another laugh from the audience.
Shadwell began peddling the tots around offering them to anyone within reach.
“You want some tots?” Shadwell said.
By the end of the night, around 50 people had gathered to see the performance, and Shadwell had dropped back down to a solo set to finish the evening. On his final encore, Shadwell played a rendition of Rufus Wainwright’s “Halleluiah.” Shadwell became flustered however and began forgetting some of the lines to the song.
“Nobody knows the song, but we all try to sing along,” Shadwell said.
The audience did lend a helping hand and completed the missing verses—albeit roughly. Even after the difficult encore, everyone was in good spirits and cheered loudly for the Shadwell’s final song.
“That was beautiful,” Shadwell said, sarcastically. “Let’s end this [expletive].”
Shadwell plans to book a string of shows in the Seacoast area as soon as he is settled in.