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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views

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June 2013

June 07, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: Side by Side

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 2.23.45 PMThis week in movies you missed: The movies you see in theaters no longer "flicker." Your favorite summer drive-in is running a fundraiser to stay open. Your 18-year-old nephew is posting videos to YouTube and Vimeo and calling himself a "filmmaker."

What do all these phenomena have in common? They're symptoms of the seismic shift from "film" film to digital film. This documentary from Christopher Kenneally explains.

What You Missed

How will the film industry change when "films" are no longer shot on film, edited on film, screened on film or preserved on film? How close are we to that point? How did we get here? Is it the dawning of a glorious new age, or a dark moment in the history of a century-old art form?

Kenneally, making his feature directorial debut with this 2012 doc, doesn't answer that last question. Nor does its narrator, Keanu Reeves. Instead, they interview a slew of filmmakers, including some of Hollywood's most prominent directors: Martin Scorsese (pictured), James Cameron, the Wachowskis, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, George Lucas and more.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: Side by Side" »

And the Winner of the Grand Point North Band Contest Is … the Dupont Brothers!


The Dupont Brothers
The Dupont Brothers: Bigger Than Phish!

For about two weeks now, Seven Days has been running a contest in which fans could vote for their favorite local band to fill the last slot in the lineup for this year's Grand Point North Festival at Burlington's Waterfront Park on September 14 and 15. It's been a wild ride filled with dizzying highs, terrifying lows and maybe even a little gamesmanship along the way. Indeed, it was a hard fought battle and, in a way, we're all the winners. But in another, more accurate way, Burlington's the Dupont Brothers are the winners.

Narrowly edging out another Burlington-based group, the Al Moore Blues Band, the brothers Dupont held on for the win, emerging from a field of more than 100 nominees and scoring more than 1300 votes out of the 8502 votes cast. They even beat Phish. (Suggested new tagline for the Dupont Brothers: "We're bigger than Phish!")

As the winning band, the Dupont Brothers will open Grand Point North on Saturday, September 14. So if you're going to the fest, do yourself a solid and show up on time for once, m'kay? 

As for the contest itself, save for a few tech snags and some predictable snarking from certain commenters about the comingling of art and competition and rigging the contest — to whom we humbly suggest: lighten the eff up and lose the tinfoil hats — it went pretty smoothly. The contest garnered more than 10,000 unique visitors, resulting in more than 17,000 shared links. While, as one particularly rankled Facebook commenter with entirely too much time on his hands suggested, it's possible some of those votes were the result of dummy accounts set up by sneaky folks attempting to game the system, it would seem the people have spoken. Interestingly, of those 10K vistors, only 36 actually bothered to read the rules. (Yeah, we're watching you like the NSA spooks Verizon.)

Checking in from the road, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' drummer Matt Burr — who came up with the idea for the contest, BTW — had this to say:

One of the driving themes of our festival is highlighting local music, so we decided to take it one step further and let our fellow Vermonters have a hand in the booking. There's so much talent in this great state, it was quite a challenge opening up the polls and selecting just one act. But when the people speak, you gotta listen! A sincere tip of the cap to all the fabulous bands who participated and we look forward to hearing the Dupont Brothers crush at Grand Point North. 

We do too, Matt. And here's why:


So congrats to the Dupont Brothers. And congrats to Burlington's Brittany Lynch, who won the drawing for a pair of VIP passes to the festival by voting in the contest. And finally, thanks to everyone who participated, from each of the 104 bands nominated to every fan who let their voice be heard. It was a fun contest and, most importantly, a great way to be exposed to the incredible wealth of talent brewing in our cozy little corner of the world. We definitely discovered some new favorites along the way, and we bet you did, too. (Laura Heaberlin, we've got our eyes — and ears — on you.) 


June 05, 2013

Is Phish Great? Grantland's Steven Hyden Thinks So

Phishbow"Is Phish a great band?"

Here in Vermont, that's not a question as much as it is sacrilege. Phish fandom is practically a Green Mountain birthright, and woe to the unsuspecting noob who dares ask that question — or maybe more accurately, answer it, especially in the negative. But in the scrolls of rock history, there is a difference between being great, and being great. And with the 30th anniversary of Phish's first show coming up later this year, it is a natural time to ponder whether Phish belong, historically speaking, in the pantheon alongside the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin.  

In a recent piece for the sports and culture website Grantland, veteran music journalist and critic Steven Hyden suggests there's a good chance they do — or at least they will one day. Despite his Pitchfork pedigree — Hyden is a longtime contributor to the online mecca of indie snark — his conclusion that Vermont's most famous musical export belongs in the conversation of all-time great rock bands isn't that surprising. Even haters have to admit Phish have earned a place in rock-and-roll lore and should be enshrined in Cleveland one day. What is interesting is how he arrives at his conclusion, raising a number of provocative, and perplexing, questions about the way we perceive rock greatness and how that might be changing amid a shifting paradigm.

Continue reading "Is Phish Great? Grantland's Steven Hyden Thinks So" »

Warren Kimble Receives 2013 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts

Eyewitness-kimballEveryone in his home town of Brandon, and perhaps the state of Vermont, knows that he's a jolly good fellow. And a highly successful folk artist who happens to be a tireless community booster and not-so-closeted contemporary painter.

I'm talking about Warren Kimble, of course, who just this afternoon earned the 2013 Governors Award for Excellence in the Arts, presented at the Vermont Arts Council's annual meeting and awards gala at the Statehouse.

According to the VAC, the Governors Award winner must:

*   Currently reside in Vermont
*   Have made a significant and sustained contribution to the advancement of an art form
*   Are recognized for his/her contribution in an international, national or regional area
*   Demonstrate a personal commitment to the development of cultural life in Vermont
*   Demonstrate exemplary standards of professional integrity

While the choosing is obviously done by the governor, Shumlin was presented with options by the VAC, which had previously solicited the public statewide for nominations. "I don't know what they do once they get the recommendations from us," says VAC executive director Alex Aldrich, "but the governor went with the person I think he knew best.

"A lot of people in the universe know Warren as an artist who does these very folksy images, which have been placed on everything from sheets to wastebaskets," Aldrich continues, adding that he knows a very different side of Kimble — that of a contemporary, issues-driven painter.

Indeed, a retrospective exhibit at the Shelburne Museum five years ago led viewers through his iconic folksy paintings and artifacts, and then to a number of works from his "Widows of War" series that surprised nearly everyone. He followed that up in 2009 with a series titled "Let the Sun Shine," abstract paintings that reflect optimism for the future — a commodity in short supply in the world. They might as well have represent Kimble's typically cheery disposition.

Aldrich recalls a statement Kimble made about his contemporary work during a studio visit one time: "He was very funny. He said, 'Artists can choose to make a living doing any number of things. I was lucky enough to discover that I could paint something that makes me money, and then paint what I want.'"

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A Conversation With Anthropologist/Poet Adrie Kusserow

RefugeEditor's Note: For this week's paper, freelance writer Keenan Walsh interviewed St. Michael's College anthropology professor Adrie Kusserow in conjunction with his review of her new book of poems, titled Refuge.

The review appears in "State of the Arts," but space did not permit including this Q&A, in which Kusserow talks about "ethnographic poetry," her humanitarian work in South Sudan and why she wants mosquito nets for her birthday.

SEVEN DAYS: How does poetry fit into your work as an anthropologist?

ADRIE KUSSEROW: Poetry is at the very core of my work as an anthropologist and humanitarian. Anthropologists are supposed to be good at what Clifford Geertz called “thick description.” We don’t just sit in libraries and surf the internet for data; we live and participate in the very muddy, messy lives of those we want to understand. Hence, our writing should reflect that depth of involvement and insight, ethically and epistemologically. Many of my poems have intentionally viscous titles (“Mud,” “Milk,” “Yolk”) because I refuse the spurious distancing from the world portrayed and assumed by so much academic writing, where subjects are often frozen in time, sporting one coherent and unified culture through pretty rituals and writing that doesn’t attempt to unhinge the reader.

I fell in love with writing poetry because it helped me investigate and honor a whole landscape of deep emotion, unspoken inequalities and conceptual complexity that I wasn’t seeing or feeling in conventional academic writing. Far from documenting a neat life, a poem, in its very nomadic vagrancy and line length, rhythm and unsettling metaphor, can depict the borderlands, the liminal places of confusion of a refugee, their internal tug of war. 

SD: How does ethnographic poetry fit into the “poetic tradition,” for lack of a better word?

AK: Recently I was part of an anthology … [The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders, ed. Jared Hawkley, Susan Rich and Brian Turner, published jointly by the Poetry Foundation and McSweeney’s Publishing, 2013], and like one of the editors, I believe (as Brian Turner says), “This is a time in which a deep, sustained and global interaction is necessary to reinvigorate the poetic landscape at home.” Many poets go from one MFA to another, without much sustained and meaningful interaction with the world beyond our borders. Travel and the experience of being on someone else’s ground can unsettle, unhinge, crack the writer open in astounding ways.

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Green Mountain Monteverdi Ensemble of Vermont Plays Doubles

GMMEVGood things come in threes, it's said. Bad things do, too, but never mind. The Green Mountain Monteverdi Ensemble of Vermont (pictured here) cheekily goes for triple redundancy in its name — can you spot them? — and for a trio of performances this week around the state. But in its program, GMMEV goes for pairs.

That is, pairs of composers of Baroque-era sacred choral and vocal music who set the same text to different music. "Double-Takes" includes in most cases one setting for a duet or other small ensemble and another for a larger group, director Stephen Falbel explains. He promises it will "make for a fascinating evening of juxtapositions of styles and ensembles."

On that program are three motets by Johann Sebastian Bach and works by Schütz, Schein, Scheidt, Franck and Johann Christoph Bach — cousin of the more famous Bach.

"Double-Takes" features eight singers, many of whom have performed with Vermont's esteemed professional vocal ensemble Counterpoint: sopranos Lindsey Warren and Cathleen Stadecker; altos Carolyn Dickinson and Linda Radtke; tenors Adam Hall and Paul Reynolds (replaced by Counterpoint director Nathaniel Lew in the Burlington concert); and basses Falbel and Brett Murphy.

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June 04, 2013

Farmer Poets Know How to Milk It

Image for Farmer Poets Night"My mind is on cows so much that I think cow, dream cow, and it seems paint cows without realizing what I am about," wrote landscape painter and poet William Otis Bemis (1819-93).

Twenty-first-century Vermont still has more than its share of "farmer poets." They'll congregate on Thursday at Middlebury's Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, which is hosting a Farmer Poets' Reading as part of its ongoing gallery exhibit "From Dairy to Doorstep." (That show features a Bemis painting of — what else? — cows.)

Do farmer poets find themselves writing about bovines the way Bemis found himself painting them?

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Dog Mountain Reports That Gwendolyn Huneck, Widow of Artist Stephen Huneck, Has Died


Sad news from St. Johnsbury — Dog Mountain is reporting via its email newsletter and Facebook page that Gwendolyn Ide Huneck, 61, has died. Huneck is the widow of famed Vermont artist Stephen Huneck, who took his own life in January 2010.

The Facebook post and message at Dog Mountain — where the Hunecks lived, Stephen made his carved-wood sculptures and other artworks, and the couple built the quirky and beloved Dog Chapel — are minimal. Whoever wrote it indicated that they would not be answering emails regularly. Fans and friends are invited to post condolences on the Facebook memorial page.

"Dog Mountain has suffered a great loss," the page reads. The writer adds that Gwen was just a week shy of her birthday, and that she had never really been able to recover from Stephen's death. Since his suicide, she had carried on with his artistic legacy, managing the business of Dog Mountain and the ongoing sales of her husband's unique artwork — and dog-centric books, including Sally Goes to the Beach and Sally Discovers Dog Mountain.

We'll share more information as we have it.


The Caledonian Record in St. Johnsbury has just confirmed Gwen Huneck's death in a slightly more detailed article here.

Seven Days' Eva Sollberger made this video of Stephen before his death.

June 03, 2013

Burlington Discover Jazz Fest, 17 Syllables at a Time

Reuben-Jackson-2013-500x375Many of you probably already knew that Reuben Jackson, host of Vermont Public Radio's "Friday Night Jazz" program, is not only a jazz geek; he's a poet. And if you don't know, writing poetry is hard. Writing really short poetry is even harder.

That's why I'm getting a kick out of Jackson's haiku coverage of the concerts he's seeing during the jazz festival.

Remember haiku from high school English class? Seventeen syllables. A spare and elegant description of ... whatever. Japanese poets of yore generally focused on nature, and somehow managed to say something deep.

Jackson is more concerned with conveying the moment. Despite being under the weather, he gamely went to see Bobby McFerrin at the Flynn Center on Saturday night. He writes on a VPR blog

What would the stern but loving church-going elders of my Georgia and Washington, D.C., youth have thought of Bobby Mc Ferrin's tender, swinging (and kaleidoscopic) performance of spirituals?

Not even a formidable head cold would prevent me from finding out. 

Continue reading "Burlington Discover Jazz Fest, 17 Syllables at a Time" »

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