MORE BLOGS: Off Message (News & Politics) | Bite Club (Food & Drink) | Stuck in Vermont (Videos)

Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views


February 06, 2014

Ramble On: Rick & the Ramblers Nominated for a Major Award

2012 File Photo: Rick Norcross by Matthew Thorsen
2012 File Photo: Rick Norcross by Matthew Thorsen

Burlington Western swing songwriter Rick Norcross is capping 50 years in the music biz in style. Yesterday, he announced that his band, Rick & the All Star Ramblers, have been named as finalists for the "Best Western Swing Duo or Group" award by the Academy of Western Artists, an organization based in — get this — Gene Autry, Okla.

The AWA's stated mission is to "recognize and honor outstanding individuals who, through their accomplishments, preserve and perpetuate the traditions, values and heritage of the American cowboy." We're biased, but we'd say Rick Norcross qualifies. 

Last year, Norcross celebrated a half-century of rambling by releasing and touring behind a biography penned by Vermont author Stephen Russell Payne and an accompanying album, both dubbed Riding My Guitar. The album, which we reviewed last August, has been garnering airplay around the world and serves as a fitting restrospective of the man's fascinating career.

BTW, said fascinating career includes palling around the London folk scene in the 1960s with "some guy named Paul Simon"; working as a rock journalist and photog for the Tampa Bay Times, where he covered the likes of Janis Joplin and Led Zepplin; and then later as a professional songwriter himself. And that's to say nothing of the museum-worthy stash of American Western culture memorabilia and ephemera that crowds his eclectic Burlington apartment. The place is like a Western Music Hall of Fame in its own right. 

Norcross is up against some stiff competition, including Al Dressen's Super Swing Revue from Austin, the Tulsa Playboys, Vince Gill's the Time Jumpers from Nashville and a Candian entrant, the Western Swing Authority from Waterloo, Ont. But, as the cliché goes, win or lose, it's honor to be nominated. And we expect Norcross to keep rambling no matter the outcome. The only real question is whether he'll be taking his famous green 1957 Starliner tour bus, the Pickle, to the awards ceremony in Dallas next month. 



February 05, 2014

Interview: Shannon McNally Doesn't Suck, and Other Assorted Thoughts About Muppets, Music and the Genius of Bobby Charles

Shannon McNally
Shannon McNally

On her latest record, Small Town Talk, songwriter Shannon McNally pays tribute to her friend and overlooked American songwriter, Bobby Charles. Charles, who passed away in 2010, was dubbed the "King of Swamp Pop" for penning seminal early rock-and-roll cuts such as "See You Later, Alligator" and "Walking to New Orleans," among many, many others.

To make that record, McNally enlisted the help of some heavy-hitting talent, including Dr. John, Derek Trucks, Luther Dickinson, Vince Gill and Will Sexton. When she plays the Skinny Pancake in Burlington this Thursday, February 6, she won't have that cast of all-stars behind her. But she'll still have a pretty crack band to help her flesh out Charles' tunes.

McNally will be backed by her old friend Brett Hughes and his Honky Tonk Tuesday band, the Honky Tonk Crowd, which includes Brett Lanier, Leon Campos, Pat Melvin and Sean Preece.    

In advance of that of that show, Seven Days caught up with McNally by phone. Here is an edited version of that conversation.

Continue reading "Interview: Shannon McNally Doesn't Suck, and Other Assorted Thoughts About Muppets, Music and the Genius of Bobby Charles" »

January 28, 2014

Free Stuff! What Doth Life's Awesome 2013 Sampler

ArtworkwdlIf there's one thing we love more than music, it's free music. And free beer. And free wings. But mostly free music. Man, we're cheap.

Anyhoo, Windsor's What Doth Life, a "label-y collective" composed of a bunch of cool bands in and around the Upper Valley, have just sated our need for good free tunes with a monster compilation, It Came in 2013. The 28-track behemoth features cuts from a slew of WDL acts who released music last year, including the reclusive and prolific Luke Chrisinger, rockers Derek and the Demons and the increasingly excellent Pilgrims, among others.

The comp also boasts numerous tracks from friends of WDL, non-affiliated bands such as Pariah Beat, Ottawa's Carraway and Lake Superior — the last a Montpelier band on the capital city's own "label-y collective," State & Main Records/Golden Dome Musicians Collective.

Check out the lead cut from the comp below, "Tom Brokaw" by WDL's Carton.

Get the entire sampler here for free — OK, it's technically a "name your price" DL, but the label's press release billed it as a free comp, so we're going with that. And while you're at it, check out all nine of WDL's 2013 releases here, also on the house.


January 24, 2014

Grace Potter to Perform National Anthem at the Pro Bowl. So What's the Over/Under?

5ec5cdc4eca3a6dd4688992765f3332fNo, it ain't quite as prestigious as the big name next Sunday — that's the Super Bowl, for you non-sports people. But the pregame ceremonies for this Sunday's NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii will have a local flavor. Earlier today, Grace Potter announced via Twitter that she'll be belting out the "Star Spangled Banner" prior to the NFL all-star game:

I was really hoping to find a betting line on how long Grace's rendition of the anthem would be. That's always one of the funnier prop bets for the Super Bowl.

Alas, since the Pro Bowl is the lamest all-star exhibition of the four major American pro sports leagues and not even degenerate gamblers watch it, there are no such gambling lines set for the game. But that doesn't mean we can't set one anyway, right? 

Continue reading "Grace Potter to Perform National Anthem at the Pro Bowl. So What's the Over/Under?" »

January 23, 2014

New Tunes: "Vermont Woman" by Dark Green Folk

For as long as there have been songs, there have been songs about women. Next to God, the fairer sex has probably inspired more music than any other subject — maybe even more since the dawn of pop music.

But for all the songs about California girls, northern California girls, girls from the North Country, barroom girls, my girl, girls who just wanna have fun and honky-tonk women, precious few tunes have been penned specifically about our personal favorite kind of ladies: Vermont women.

Local songwriter Josh Schlossberg, who performs under the pseudonym Dark Green Folk, has attempted to rectify that egregious oversight with a new song called simply "Vermont Woman." DGF tends toward humorous tunes, and his latest is no exception, as he touches on just about every Vermont-y cliché there is, affectionately painting a portrait of a crass, crafty and crunchy Green Mountain woman who might seem familiar to anyone who's lived in Vermont for a while. (In fact, I think I may have dated her.)

Here's Schlossberg performing the song recently at Radio Bean, with full lyrics after the jump.


Continue reading "New Tunes: "Vermont Woman" by Dark Green Folk" »

January 17, 2014

RIP, Beano. Wards Founder Bob "Beano" Parker Passes Away

429061_3468799244992_1831449427_nThe Burlington music community was saddened to learn that guitarist Bob "Beano" Parker passed away last night after battling an undisclosed illness for the past two years. Parker was best known as a founding member of the Wards, widely regarded as the first punk band in Vermont.

In a career dating back to the late 1970s, Parker penned some 200 songs. In addition to the Wards, he was a member of X-tractions — a precursor to the Wards — Nation of Hate, Roman Shades, Cut and, most recently, Gas & Oil. Parker was 52.

We'll have more on Parker's life and music in next week's issue, including some great stories from his friends and bandmates, info on a show planned in Beano's honor at the Monkey House for Thursday, January 23, and that time the Wards ran for mayor of Burlington against Bernie Sanders. Like, the whole band.

In the meantime, here's a video featuring the Wards' signature song, "Weapons Factory," from their seminal 1984 record — pressed on blue vinyl! — This World Ain't Pretty and Neither Are We. RIP, Beano.






December 26, 2013

Andy Williams, aka DJ A-Dog, Passes Away

Bites-A-Dog_byNexusArtistsThe local music community was deeply saddened to learn this morning that Andy Williams, aka DJ A-Dog has passed away. Williams, 38, was diagnosed with leukemia in December 2012 and had been receiving treatment in Boston. Specific details of his passing are as yet unknown to 7D, but we'll report back when they emerge.

In the meantime, we'll add our voice to the chorus of those heartbroken by Williams' death. He was a tremendously talented DJ. But he was also one of the sweetest, most generous people we've ever had the privilege of knowing. We'll miss you, Andy.

In the words of Dead Prez — as reimagined/"refixed" by A-Dog himself — all my dogs, stay real.


[UPDATE: A candlelight walk in rememberance of Williams is scheduled for this Saturday, December 28, at 5 pm at the top of Church Street in Burlington. The procession will make its way down Church Street and will be followed by a vigil at the Waterfront Skatepark. Candles and warm clothing are encouraged.]

December 10, 2013

Douglass, Citro and Glass Strike a (Stiff) Pose for the Holidays

G-josh-sears-photoYou wouldn't expect Burlington musicians Gregory Douglass, Monique Citro or Joshua Glass to line up at Sears for their holiday band photos. And they didn't. They just pretended to. 

"While we didn’t have any ugly Christmas sweaters to seal the deal, we did the best we could with what we had to work with," writes Douglass in a recent e-newsletter.

Still, you can do a lot with matching sweaters and ties. Not to mention ironic, vapid expressions.

But never mind the awkward band photos; if you're on Douglass' mailing list, you can also get a free monthly download. This month, it's the classic "O Holy Night" from his 2010 release Merry

Happy holidays!



December 06, 2013

Video: "Africa (I'm Coming Back to You)" by A2VT

528915_437987979560510_1757840490_nA2VT are at it again. Almost exactly one year after showing their adopted Onion City home some love with the video "Winooski, My Town," the trio of African refugees turned "urban global" rappers cast a longing gaze toward their native soil with a lively new vid, "Africa (I'm Coming back to You)."

Directed and produced by Casey Clark, the new video was shot at various locations along the Burlington waterfront and features some nifty dance moves courtesy of the Roxy Dance Studio, a solo dancer by the name of Mimosa — she's the young lady on the rocks — and, as always, A2VT themselves. 


December 05, 2013

New (Xmas!) Tunes: "Christmas Sled," the Mountain Says No

"Christmas Sled" by the Mountain Says No

It's a Christmas miracle! 

The Mountain Says No, the new band from Farm's Ben Maddox and Jedd Kettler — and featuring Andrew Frappier and Justus Gaston — have just released a terrific new holiday single, "Christmas Sled." The indie-rockin' jingle is now part of the quietly growing canon of original local holiday music — which includes the trio of cult classics by the Physics Club, Rue Mevlana's EP Dancing to Keep Warm, the single "Harvest" by Myra Flynn and Gregory Douglass, and of course, the Handel's "Messiah" of local Christmas songs: "Christmas Every Day" by Victor Rudolph Gittens

The low-key, mostly acoustic cut calls to mind John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)." But in place of that song's sleigh-bell-ringin' climax, it features a cheeky nod to the Lemonheads' song "Rudderless" — "A sled without a rudder's like a sled without a rudder …" We approve, heartily.


All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684