Calendar section
March 14, 2002

Rock and Read at Kendall Cafe

by Jim Sullivan

"Nobody knew, really, if it would draw three people or it would be jammed," says Boston writer Dennis Lehane of the hybrid series of readings and music he helped kick off last year at Cambridge's Kendall Cafe. Answer: Jammed.

The six-part series, Earfull, was dreamed up by musician/writer Jen Trynin and Newtonville Books owner Tim Huggins. It sold out last year, as did the opener for this season on March 5. "We felt there were people who like to listen to music and people who go to book readings," says Huggins, "but there was no overlap. We thought if we created the right environment . . ."On last week's bill: George Pelecanos (who read from "Hell to Pay"); singer-guitarist Joe Pernice (of the Pernice Brothers band); Lehane; and the Dropkick Murphys, the Celtic/punk band that's sold out Avalon this weekend. The Murphys, a fave of Lehane's, charged up an already sweaty evening. "You're not bad for a bunch of smaht people," quipped Dropkick leader Ken Casey, following a rendition of "The Wild Rover."

"For someone like me," says Pernice, who started out as a writer. "This is the greatest kind of forum. You mix it all up and you can't get more intimate." (Pernice's parents, Bob and Mary, rooting him on, Bob buying Guinnesses for all in range.)

"This is saying books aren't just for the `bookstore' crowd," says Lehane, who did a similar gig at London's rowdy Filthy McNasty's club. He says the crowd hushed itself for the reading, then switched back to revelry. Ditto at the Kendall.

Lehane read from "Missing Delores" (due out in a year), noting "it's very quiet compared to my other books, but I picked the most violent chapter I have." Lehane captivated the crowd, which included director Peter Farrelly.

Up this Tuesday: authors Elizabeth Graver and Peter Orner and musicians Kay Hanley and Francine. Trynin, the series' MC and member of the band Loveless, performs March 26, with Fountains of Wayne - "the first time I've played my own stuff in three years."

Tip for getting in: Reserve a table by dining prior to the show. Otherwise it's a crapshoot, though people do tend to come and go throughout the night. Details: www.earfull.org.

© Copyright 2002 The Boston Globe