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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views


August 11, 2013

Broadway Legend Len Cariou Sings in Vermont

Len's Head Shots 001You may know him as the bloodthirsty Sweeney Todd in Stephen Sondheim's musical of the same name. Or that guy Jack Nicholson pounded in About Schmidt. Or, perhaps as Tom Selleck's dad on CBS' popular police procedural "Blue Bloods."

But on August 17, at 7:30 p.m., Len Cariou will play the real-life role of cabaret chanteur at a benefit for the Greensboro Arts Alliance at that town's Mountain View Country Club. A dinner precedes the show at 5:30 p.m.

The veteran singer and actor introduced his show "Musical Memoirs" last November at New York nightclub 54 Below, which specializes in cabaret shows starring well-known Broadway performers.

He'll perform it for the first time since then in the Green Mountains, which he says he last visited to film skiing scenes in Stowe for Alan Alda's 1981 directorial debut, The Four Seasons.

Although the act is a new one, the 73-year-old says that he got his start in show business singing in clubs in his native Winnipeg as a teenager.

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August 08, 2013

Speaking Volumes Changing Hands

Norbert Ender
Norbert Ender, file photo, circa 2007

Well folks, the rumors are true. Actually, that's not much of a surprise given that the subject of said rumors was the first to whisper them. But still. Speaking Volumes, the eclectic secondhand book and record store (and occasional live music/party hot spot) on Pine Street in Burlington, is changing hands.

Speaking by phone, outgoing shop owner Norbert Ender says it was simply time for a change.

"I've established myself rather solidly here, but I'm ready to move on," says the Austrian native who opened the store in 2007. Ender, 50, adds that in the immediate future he plans to travel, but will keep his apartment in Burlington as a home base.

As for the shop itself, new owner Alan Cosabic suggests the store's business model will remain pretty much the same for the time being.

"We're not planning to change things up too much," he says in a recent phone call.  

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August 01, 2013

Post-Precipice, Burlington College Exclaims, 'More! More!'



Last weekend's Precipice music fest got raves from many in attendance (including Seven Days' Dan Bolles), but the local bands' sound was not music to the ears of at least a few neighbors.

Christine Plunkett, president of Burlington College, says she received three sets of complaints about noise resonating far from the Precipice site on the school's grounds. "We learned a lesson," the educator acknowledges. But Plunkett still gives the Precipice two thumbs up — way up — and says the college is "absolutely open" to hosting other concerts.

A Friday afternoon sound check had indicated music, playing on four stages on a ridge above Lake Champlain, could not be heard at all on North Avenue, Plunkett recounts. The bowl shape of the open land west of the college's main building apparently prevents sound from carrying to nearby homes, she notes. The president adds that she visited several nearby homes prior to the event to inform residents about the festival, leaving them with her cellphone number in case of problems.

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July 31, 2013

Soundbites Extra

Since I spent the entirety of this week's Soundbites column raving about last weekend's thoroughly excellent Precipice festival, here are news and notes that would have been included had the Precipice not been so freakin' awesome. 


Didn't get an invite to this Friday's Daysies awards party at the ECHO Center? Actually, I'm jealous. Because that means you'll be free to take to the high seas with two of Burlington's hardest-rocking outfits, Waylon Speed and Rough Francis. (While I will be gamely pretending to enjoy schmoozing at the party. I hate schmoozing.)

WS and RF will be rocking aboard the Lake Champlain Ferry this Friday, August 2, as part of the MSR Presents-presented Rock the Boat. Aside from telling you the cruise departs the King Street ferry dock at precisely 7 p.m., and that you can get tix here, I'm not really sure what else I need to say about it. It's two awesome local bands. On a boat. If I need to explain why that's awesome, you're beyond my help. But what do you think, Artie Lange?



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July 30, 2013

New Tunes: Swale, "Middlesex"

OK, so Swale's "Middlesex" isn't really a "new tune," per se. For one thing, it was released by the Burlington art-rockers last October on their most recent full-length, A Small Arrival. That's not even considering that the record was some seven-plus years in the making, meaning "Middlesex" is … um, actually a pretty old song. However, the video for the song — that, my friends, is brand spanking new! Swale just released it this week, although judging by the gray light and foliage, it's a safe bet they started filming last fall. Whatever. Much like A Small Arrival, we think the "Middlesex" video was more than worth the wait. Enjoy.


July 18, 2013

Previewing the Precipice Music Festival Playlist

Kat singin

"Precipice: A 3 Day Happening" at Burlington College this weekend has more than three reasons for you to attend: 65 local bands. Twenty-two of them can be heard on a recently released Bandcamp sampler.

For starters, Alpenglow’s folky rock bursts into rocky folk in the hard-hitting, fiddle-screeching “Solitude.” But the Burlington-based band also takes its time with soaring harmonies and careful acoustic pluckings.

The 10-piece Bella’s Bartok might blow your brain. Three drumstick clacks begin “Creepster,” joined shortly by upbeat guitar, thumping bass and commanding vocals that ask, “When I speak, do I sound a little funny?” This is jump-around, pump-your-fist music at its finest.

Kat Wright (pictured above) says, “It’s all about you” about a million times in the song titled — what else? — “All About You.” Yet her jazzy Indomitable Soul Band make it sound different every time. Plus, with her just-breathy-enough voice, Wright really does make it all about you.

She comes back crooning in country duets “Windy Pines” and “At Least Not Today,” sung with Brett Hughes. In the latter song, the duo blends in a swaying ballad that could only be improved by a backdrop of setting sun over Lake Champlain. (How much you wanna bet Wright and Hughes take the stage at just the right moment?)

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July 17, 2013

Phish to Play Burlington, er, Chicago

Untitled-3Are you a Phish fan? Or do you just love the Chicago skyline (pictured)? Either way, this show is for you.

This will probably come as no surprise to rabid followers who have the word "Phish" on RSS or other alert, but Higher Ground announced this morning that it's hosting a live broadcast of the band's show at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island, a 91-acre peninsula on Lake Michigan.

Phish is playing three nights in Chicago, and each of them will be captured from 10 camera angles. The high-definition, high-quality audio webcase begins at 8 p.m.on Friday, July 19, in the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge in South Burlington.

At five bucks, it's a lot cheaper than the real deal.

Proceeds benefit the Waterwheel and Mockingbird foundations.

P.S. Depending on your taste in entertainments, you might be interested in Higher Ground's "erotica" show on Saturday night.

Ethan Lipton's Lament — at the Hop and the Flynn


The words "lounge act" and "economic malaise" don't seem to fit together, except in Ethan Lipton's world. The Brooklyn-based performer, who routinely makes New York-area "best of" lists, mixes a hilariously mournful monologue with a jazzy soundtrack. The latter is courtesy of his "orchestra," i.e., guitarist Eben Levy, upright bass player Ian Riggs and saxophonist Vito Dieterle. Then again, sometimes they indulge in country-western.

Clad in a budget suit and tie and alternating between an Everyman speaking voice and gravelly croon, Lipton personalizes, and skewers, the grim economic times with a story about how his company is relocating ... to Mars.

Way to lose a day job.

Lipton and co. will perform their "lounge act musical" No Place to Go this Friday at the Hopkins Center, and at two locations in Vermont in September. The piece was commissioned by New York's Public Theater and originally performed at Joe's Pub; a video preview of this and other songs can be seen on Vimeo

A New York Times rave about No Place said Lipton is "expert at keeping music, jokes and personal narrative tightly knitted together into one consistent human package." We're looking forward to hearing his ode to Martian tax incentives, not to mention the song "Shit Storm Comin'." 

Ethan Lipton + His Orchestra perform Friday, June 19, 7 and 9:30 p.m., at the Moore Theater, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H. $25/10. Info, 603-646-2422.

The group will also perform September 26 and 27 at the FlynnSpace in Burlington and September 28 at Marlboro College.

July 16, 2013

Sun Comes Out for SolarFest 2013

Last weekend, while many Vermonters were celebrating one of the summer's first dry spells (finally!), others were tucked away at Forget-Me-Not farm in Tinmouth attending the 19th Annual SolarFest, a lively mix of music, kids activities, educational workshops and solar exhibitors that attracted those on the grid, off the grid and everywhere in between.

SolarfestfieldSolarFest began 19 years ago as merely a dream — literally. Nance Dean, SolarFest’s founder, dreamt one night of close friends walking over a hill on her farm to a performance stage. Dean lived off the grid, so the stage was completely solar powered. She shared her dream with artsy pals and made it happen. Patty Kenyon, the current managing director of SolarFest, recalled this history with me before my exploration of SolarFest began.

According to Kenyon, Dean’s first SolarFest was primarily a music and arts festival powered by the sun. 

Indeed, at this year's Fest, bands such as Kina Zorel, Jesse Dee, Melodeego, the Skatalites, Max Creek, DJ Sinna-G and Sparkplug lit up the stage — an "outstanding lineup of entertainment," said SolarFest President Steve Goldsmith (pictured, below, with daughter Sarah Goldsmith.)

But today, while performances still entertain guests, solar education seems to trump the beats coming from the main stage. Although the performances brought quite a crowd this year, Goldsmith reports that the majority of the attendees — almost 60% — likely came to learn from exhibitors and workshops.


“Our 2012 survey indicated that just over half of the people filling out the survey said that education was the primary reason for attending the festival," Goldsmith explained. 

And there was plenty to see.

Click here to read more about SolarFest on the Vermont Tech Jam blog.

July 15, 2013

Alpenglow Play at Church Street's Let It Rain Concert Series


Weather permitting, a walk down Burlington's Church Street will generally put you in contact with two things: dogs and live music. Of the former, most are leashed and owned. Of the latter, most is free. And because of its free-ness, live music might appear to passersby as a gift from the gods — or maybe the Church Street Marketplace Commission.

 A conversation with Peter Coccoma of Alpenglow, who played for last Wednesday night’s Let It Rain Concert Series, offers an earthly perspective.

 The five-piece folk-rock band took the stage only 10 days after completing a monthlong tour.

 “We went from Portland, Maine, to North Carolina and everywhere in between,” said Coccoma. “We played 22 shows in 30 days.”

They returned to their Burlington base in good spirits, a condition that defied the preemptive warnings of fellow musicians.

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