It was a comfortable Saturday evening in July, cloudy and a bit unseasonably cool, when my mother and I walked from the parking garage to dinner near Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.

We were there to see the a cappella group Straight No Chaser, as they are one of my 60-something-mother's favorite acts. She found a YouTube clip, posted it to her Facebook page, sent me the link and said I'd like it. I liked it enough to the point that this was going to be the second time we'd seen them live.

But when you're going to a show in Boston, you have to make time for dinner, so our plan was to skip the opening act, have dinner, and then walk over in time for Straight No Chaser.

Life had other plans. We were seated quickly, ate fast and were done in time to check out the opening act. I'd never heard of Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox until that night. Now, I can't get them out of my head.

Hear for yourself when Postmodern Jukebox comes to Boarding House Park this summer as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series. Tickets to the Friday, Aug. 17, show are $49 in advance, $149 for premium seating, and are on sale at

Postmodern Jukebox, known and referred to as PMJ, is a pop-jazz collaborative that puts a jazz twist on songs ranging from Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" to Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" to Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" to the disco classic "I Will Survive.



Bradlee put the group together in 2013, and the group's YouTube Channel has generated more than 3.2 million subscriptions in time, along with more than a million Facebook likes and more than 900 million views.

In the digital music era, it's hard to equate subscriptions, likes and views to actual sales, but like the adage says, there's no such thing as bad publicity. To that end, each week, PMJ puts out a new video on YouTube, covering everything from Lady Gaga and the Strokes to Katy Perry and the White Stripes.

PMJ features a rotating group of musicians and vocalists, including many former "American Idol" finalists, Wayne Brady -- even WWE wrestler Xavier Woods has performed with the group.

At the Boston show last summer, I noticed there were at least three generations of fans in the audience. Many adults were there with their children, while other adults were there with their parents.

That's a by-product of putting a jazz spin on pop music -- older folks can enjoy the jazz stylings while younger fans get to hear popular music performed in a different way.

If you haven't seen them, definitely check them out either on YouTube or when they come to Lowell this summer.

I Can't Keep Forgettin'

There's no better way to wash the stench off from the Patriots' loss to the Eagles in the Super Bowl than to catch live music. Thankfully, Michael McDonald was in town Monday night for a show at Tupelo Music Hall.

I hadn't been to the new Tupelo Music Hall since it opened a couple of years ago, which gave me another reason to check out the show.

I don't have a lot of space here, so suffice to say, the venue is great. It carries the ambience of the smaller, older venue but with a lot more seating. The acoustics were top-notch, and there really isn't a bad seat. (I liked the touch of keeping the bar seating, except this time they moved it to the side of the room rather than in the back of the room.)

As for the show, it was phenomenal. McDonald turns 66 next week but still has that unique voice that, to me, sounds like he's singing through his beard (except he doesn't have much of a beard these days). 

He fronted an eight-piece band that included longtime collaborator Bernie Chiaravalle on guitars, Mark Douthit on saxophone, and the great Drea Rhenee and McDonald's wife, Amy Holland, on backing vocals. (Holland had her own top-40 hit way back in 1980 with "How Do I Survive?" and even earned a Grammy Award nomination, losing to Christopher Cross. The other nominees that year, by the way, were Irene Cara, Robbie Dupree and The Pretenders.)

McDonald sprinkled his solo and Doobie Brothers hits throughout the show, including "Yah Mo B There," "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," "On My Own," "Minute by Minute," "What a Fool Believes" and "Takin' It to the Streets."

He also weaved in a few cuts from his new album, "Wide Open," which came out in September, including standouts "Just Strong Enough," "Half Truth" and "Hail Mary."

Now if only the Patriots had hit that Hail Mary ...