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Jonathan Richman featuring Tommy Larkins


Wherever Jonathan Richman goes, a path of rose petals follows. In Somerville, Mass., just outside his hometown of Boston, two friends curate a semiannual tribute show in which bands get 15 minutes to reenact as many obscure cuts as possible (on Richman's clock, anywhere from four to 14 songs). In downtown Manhattan, rocker Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna, Dean & Britta) catches Richman's latest gig at the Bowery Ballroom and the next day pens a beautifully realized 1,600-word essay for called "My Jonathan Richman Romance." To New England slapstickers the Farrelly brothers, Richman is both Sophoclean chorus and collaterally damaged punch line; to Bostonian Pixie Black Francis — and, perhaps, to Richman himself — he remains "The Man Who Was Too Loud." Wareham's editorial, a love letter and zeitgeist-capturing living memory, deserves the last word. In between anecdotes about foisting "Pablo Picasso" on his kids, it highlights the inimitable facets of Richman's forever-incongrous metamorphosis, from the punk prognosticator and congested two-chord technician of the original Modern Lovers (arguably the greatest band never to release a record while together) to the lesbian-bar dancing, nylon-string strummer he's been for most of the past 35 years. "I can't really think of another example of an artist creating an instant masterpiece at such a young age and then running so hard from it," Wareham writes. But it's unlikely that Richman feels he's running from anything. Now 61, still talking his way through old-world odes like "You Can Have a Cell Phone That's OK But Not Me," he's just as in love with everything he was at age 21. Tickets $12. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

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