Boston psychotronic quartet Salem Wolves is no stranger to rage and hostility – led by songwriter Gray Bouchard, the band has for years turned fury and anxiety into taut, blistering anthems.
With the 2022 release of singles “Hostile Music” and “Breaking Grounds,” the Wolves charted a dark path, attempting to navigate feelings of estrangement and distrust with neighbors, the music industry, and society as a whole.
Along the way, they celebrated the local people and institutions that sought to create inclusive and safe spaces; spaces like ONCE Somerville, a beloved Boston Metro venue headed up by local legend JJ Gonson and home to hundreds of independently promoted shows. Even after the physical venue ONCE occupied in Somerville became a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spirit of ONCE lived on as a “virtual venue” before transitioning to a promotional entity, hosting shows at nearby venues like Boynton Yards, the Armory, the Rockwell and Crystal Ballroom.
“Our relationship with ONCE goes way, way back,” says Bouchard. “We played some of our earliest and best shows at the Ballroom. JJ [Gonson] always treated us well and even when we knew we could barely get 10 people out to a show, the chance to play ONCE made you feel like you still mattered.”
This deep connection to ONCE made it a clear choice for the unveiling of the latest and greatest lineup of Salem Wolves in July of 2021. Having spent the pandemic reformulating, the new and improved Salem Wolves – featuring Don Schweihofer on drums, Justin Tisdale on bass, and Sam Valliewre on lead guitar – made a blistering live debut at ONCE x Boynton Yards. While it was the first time the quartet had played together in front of a live audience, the sound they made was special: feral, propulsive, tuneful – hell, even joyful.
The resulting live record from the show, Live at ONCE, is now available digitally July 27 on MegaHex records and shows the Wolves in full force. Mixed and mastered by Jocko at More Sound Studios, the record contains no overdubs or sweeteners – just 100% pure, high-octane psychotronic rock and roll, played live and loud.
“When we first heard the raw recordings from the ONCE show, we were blown away,” Bouchard says. “Salem Wolves in the studio and Salem Wolves live have always been two different animals. The live energy is like a firehose, we’re white-knuckling through a set. That’s what makes it exciting and you can really hear our excitement on the live record.”
In addition to the record, the band and ONCE have collaborated on a live video for “Titanium.” The record contains live renditions of recent singles like “Hostile Music,” “Never Die!!” and “Turn to Gold”, Wolves classics like “Shameless” and “More Weight!”, and even deep cuts like the moody “Reckless and Ready,” Live at ONCE represents the past, present and future of the band – a future that seems increasingly in jeopardy for us all due to the plotting of unhinged political machinations.
With the release of Live at ONCE, the Wolves have pledged 100% of the proceeds from the album’s sale to go to the National Network of Abortion Funds, an organization devoted to advocating for safe and unrestricted access to reproductive care and abortion services.
“It’s a pretty hostile time by any metric you can think of,” says Bouchard. “Everyone in the band stands strongly against the ugly political maneuverings of the GOP, the conservative members of the Supreme Court, and the march to roll back of basic human rights for women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized groups. Money talks loudest, so we’re fighting back the only way we know how by making sure everything we make on this record goes to NNAB.”
Marijuana Policy Project: Regulated Adult Marijuana Sales Expected to Begin in Massachusetts on Tuesday; Advocates Hopeful It Will Inspire Similar Policy Reforms in Rhode Island
* Statements below from the Marijuana Policy Project, a member of the Regulate Rhode Island coalition *
Legal adult marijuana sales will begin in Massachusetts Tuesday, with retailers in Northampton and Leicester reportedly set to be the first to open. The state is the seventh in the nation to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults.
Marijuana policy reform advocates say they are hopeful it will set an example for Rhode Island and other New England states, where lawmakers are expected to consider similar legislation next year.
“New England’s first regulated marijuana market for adults is now up and running in Massachusetts,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a member of the Regulate Rhode Island coalition. “It’s only a matter of time before more states in the region follow its lead. Rhode Islanders are ready to move forward with a similar system, and it’s time for Rhode Island's legislative leaders to allow a vote on the issue. If lawmakers continue to delay, the state will essentially forfeit significant economic opportunities to neighboring states like Massachusetts, including substantial tax revenue and good jobs."
An October poll commissioned by WPRI and Roger Williams Law School found likely Rhode Island voters in support of marijuana legalization by a 19-point margin, with 56 percent of respondents in favor and only 37 percent opposed.
In Massachusetts, adults 21 and older with a valid ID will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from licensed marijuana retail stores, of which no more than five grams can be in concentrate form. It will remain illegal to consume marijuana in public. Marijuana products sold for adult use will be subject to a 6.25 percent state sales tax and a 10.75 percent state excise tax, and municipal officials have the option of levying additional local taxes of up to 3 percent. A study released in June by the state Department of Public Health estimated adult marijuana sales would generate more than $200 million for the state and up to $3 million for local governments in the first two years alone.
“Marijuana prohibition is officially coming to an end in the Bay State, and it will not be missed,” said Schweich, who oversaw the successful Question 4 campaign in 2016. “Voters in Massachusetts wanted a more sensible policy, new tax revenue, and safer communities, and that is what they are going to get.
“Finally, adults will be able to purchase marijuana safely and legally in regulated, taxpaying businesses instead of resorting to the underground market,” Schweich said. “Adults will simply stop at a licensed store, show their ID, pay, and be on their way. It won’t be long before the novelty wears off and it feels just like buying alcohol from a liquor store.”
Marijuana possession has been legal for adults 21 and older in Massachusetts since Question 4 took effect on December 15, 2016. The initiative was approved by 53.7 percent of voters on November 8, 2016, and legislation to implement the initiative was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on July 28, 2017.
Voters in nine states, including Massachusetts, have enacted laws to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use, and similar legislation was approved by lawmakers in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands and signed into law in September. Lawmakers in Vermont and voters in D.C. have adopted laws making marijuana possession and cultivation legal for adults, but not regulating commercial production or sales.
Legal adult marijuana sales began in Colorado in January 2014; Washington in July 2014; Oregon in October 2015; Alaska in October 2016; Nevada in July 2017; and California in January 2018. In Maine, they are expected to begin in fall 2019. In Michigan, where the law was just adopted during the midterm election earlier this month, adult sales are expected to begin in 2020.
The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization. It has been a leading advocate for federal marijuana policy reform since its founding in 1995, and it has played a leading role in most major state-level reforms that have occurred over the past two decades. For more information, visit https://www.MPP.org.
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