Hot Stove, Cold Rain

SLIDESHOW: "Hot Stove, Cool Music"

It rained. Hard. Lightning was in the forecast. And, as the Globe so sagely put it, “electric guitars and standing water do not mix well.” But while a baseball game cannot be moved indoors, a concert can.  

So, after the Gentlemen and the Click 5 risked shocking consequences by playing a couple quick sets outside, the second annual Hot Stove Cool Music: The Fenway Sessions shut it down, set up stage in the big concourse under right field, and began anew with an intimate half-house setting.  

The rain-sodden fans, who’d paid as much as $100 a ticket didn’t seem to mind. For one thing, they were that much closer to the beer and Fenway Franks. And, of course, it was for charity.  

The only real drawbacks were the suddenly diminished sightlines — Hey, I think I saw Kay Hanley’s tattoo! Is that a the sheen of Terry Francona’s bald pate? — and the torrential rain coming down between the bleachers and the grandstand, accreting in puddles underfoot.  

But the delay and relocation also had a couple unintended consequences. American Idol songbird Ayla Brown did not perform — thanks, the rumor went, to good ol’ Massachusetts blue laws. (Be it hereby decreed that basketball playing aspiring pop stars under the age of 18 shall not be permitted to perform on stage past the hour of 9 o’clock in the eventide!) And James Taylor, after having had fun outside with a lengthy soundcheck, played just one song when his turn came inside. (Did he not like the smallish venue?) No matter.Sure, Howie Day happened to be a bit of a snoozefest if you weren’t an adolescent girl, but Cowboy Mouth soon had the crowd in the palms of their hands. 

Backstage was an interesting scene, a collision of rock and jock worlds that was amusing to behold. Jonathan Papelbon, in a sharp suit, fresh off the plane from the All-Star Game, obliged fans who wanted autographs and cell-phone photos. Lenny DiNardo watched the onstage action from behind a curtain in the corner. Gabe Kapler and his wife Lisa sneaked outside for some alone time in the seats near the damp outfield grass. And Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and Executive VP Charles Steinberg commingled with the likes of the Dents’ Jen D’Angora, Fenway Recordings honcho Mark Kates, and Juliana Hatfield

The unseen presence, of course, was Peter Gammons. This whole shebang is his baby, and he was on everyone’s minds as performer after performer shouted out their well wishes.  

By the time Buffalo Tom took the stage with a young man named Theo Epstein augmenting them on guitar, the night had reached an apotheosis. They tore through and excoriating “Taillights Fade” and Neil Young’s “Powderfinger,” before being joined by a motley crew of the night’s musicians for righteous “Rockin’ in the Free World.” 

It was loud enough. Gammons must’ve heard it.

-- Mike Miliard

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