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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views


July 03, 2013

New Tunes: Ryan Power, "Sweetheart"

The buzz is growing, both locally and beyond, about Identity Picks, the new record from Burlington pop auteur Ryan Power. (And that includes the cartoon review of that record in this week's paper.)

Earlier this week, NNA Tapes, the BTV-based label that's putting out Power's latest, released a new video for a song from that record, "Sweetheart." The video was created by another local experimental pop favorite, Joey Pizza Slice. And it's … well, you should probably just hear for yourself.


June 24, 2013

National Organ Society Convention Pipes Up in Vermont

Erben-Highgate_FallsIt's a good week to be an organ lover in Vermont. I'm not talking organ meat — though there's plenty of that to be had these days as well.

No, I'm talking about the National Convention of the Organ Historical Society, which begins today in Burlington. It's attracted more than 300 enthusiasts from all over the U.S. and even abroad, according to convention chair Marilyn Polson of Chelsea, who plays a 119-year-old historic instrument at the Bethany Church. The OHS, she explained, was founded in 1956 by people who wanted to raise awareness of and protect/restore 19th-century pipe organs.

It seems that in the 1950s, a craze for playing Baroque music resulted in some of the instruments being altered in ways that I can't explain — something to do with high-pitched stops. In a phone conversation, Polson was indulgent of my organ ignorance, but was firm in her assertion that "19th-century pipe organs are so listener-friendly!"

In addition to intentional alterations, she said, many organs at churches have simply suffered from "benign neglect," as maintenance and repairs are likely not in the general budget.

The five-day convention will give participants plenty of opportunities to geek out ("We love to talk organ," Polson quipped), including day trips on tour buses to rural churches in 14 central and northern Vermont towns that have exceptional examples of said instruments. Those are Randolph, Williamsburg, Northfield, Montpelier, Stowe, Hardwick, Greensboro, Cabot, Plainfield, St. Albans, Highgate Falls, Vergennes, Richmond and Sheldon.

Continue reading "National Organ Society Convention Pipes Up in Vermont" »

June 21, 2013

Music on the Weekend

Being the music editor for a newspaper in a town, and state, with such a vibrant music scene is a pretty ace gig. But, like any job, it comes with certain pet peeves. One of mine is that people expect me to be able to recite the upcoming weekend's slate of events from memory. I can't tell you how many times I run into an acquaintance who will attempt small talk with some version of the question, "So, mister music guy, what's going on this weekend?" 

Seems pretty innocuous, right? And it is. But here's the thing: I almost always fumble like a rookie tailback when asked that question. It's not that I don't know. It's that by the time the paper comes out on Wednesday, I've moved on. I've pretty much forgotten what's in the current issue because I'm preparing for the following one. (Try asking me what's happening next weekend.)

Also, I'm often tempted to answer the question thusly: "Hmm. Not sure. If only there were some resource, perhaps some kind of paper, website or e-newsletter that could tell you what's happening for the next, uh, seven days." But I digress.

Anyway, for those of you who want yet another reminder, I thought I'd offer up a few selections — complete with video — of shows I recommend this weekend.

AM & MSR Presents: North America, Doom Squad, the Images. The Monkey House, Friday, June 21, 8 p.m. $7.

Because Angioplasty Media and MSR Presents have yet to steer us wrong. Also, the Images have some nifty BTV lineage.


Waylon Speed, Thompson Gunner. Nectar's, Friday, June 21, 9 p.m. $5.

Because country + rock = YEEEHAW! Also, Thompson Gunner is one of the better Vermont bands you haven't heard yet.


Ben & Jerry's Concerts on the Green: David Byrne & St. Vincent. Shelburne Museum, Saturday, June 22, 8 p.m. $49-55.

Because this:


Dwight Richter Trio, Chic Gamine. Nectar's, 9 p.m. $5.

Because within in two years you'll be telling your friends you saw Chic Gamine at a small club in Vermont.


June 18, 2013

Broadway Star Kelli O'Hara to Perform at Flynn/Lyric Benefit

Kelli-3318-EditWhen one of Broadway's hottest stars got booked for a benefit concert at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, we were curious: What is four-time Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara's connection to Vermont?

Turns out it's one of those six-degrees-of-separation stories. Flynn executive director John Killacky explains.

O'Hara is married to actor/singer Greg Naughton.

Naughton, a Middlebury College grad, is in a band called the Sweet Remains.

Also in that band is Rich Price, a brand-new Flynn board member.

Price gave O'Hara's agent's info to Killacky. Et voilà!

Actually, that wasn't even six degrees. But there's a bit of a backstory for how this serendipitous connection came up in the first place.

"I was having lunch with Rich and told him we were talking with Harry Connick Jr. about coming to the Flynn — he's on tour this summer," Killacky says. "And Rich said, 'I sang with Harry at Kelli O'Hara and Greg Naughton's wedding.'"

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June 14, 2013

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on the Muddy Green

Edward1Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Green brought Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to the Shelburne Museum last Tuesday. And a nasty storm brought a steady downpour, transforming the Green into the Brown.

Still, throngs came out in ponchos to hear the 10-person band led by singer Alex Ebert — or Alexander, as you may have heard him called in the band’s 2009 hit “Home.”

Umbrellas and raincoats don’t do much for mud, so fans waded in, ankle deep. On stage, things were considerably less messy. A plethora of instruments, from piano to gourd, stayed dry under a protective overhang. Ebert, dressed in an off-white sports coat over a flowy tunic, nonchalantly took the stage with the rest of the musicians.

They opened with “40 Day Dream," a number enlivened by interludes of hand clapping and feet stomping. Jade Castrinos, Ebert’s partner in the band’s creation, introduced her clear, at times pining voice in “Janglin.” There was a playful dynamic between the pair, who allowed themselves to get carried away by their own performance, dancing until Ebert accidentally headbutted Castrinos.

“I guess if you’re the headbutter you get headbutted, too," Ebert said. "It just doesn’t hurt as bad."

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June 13, 2013

R.I.P., Vermont Musician Mike Deutsch


Mike Deutsch, courtesy of Paul Sarne
Mike Deutsch

The local music community was stunned and saddened to learn that musician Mike Deutsch has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 41.

Deustch, known familiarly as "Meistah," was a talented multi-instrumentalist who played in a number of local bands, including, among others, Outer Mongolia, the Black Sea Quartet and, most recently, Space Tiger.

That last band was fronted by his son, Aidan Patterson Deutsch. (See the "Stuck in Vermont" episode on that band below.)

Deutsch leaves behind his wife, Erika, and two children.

An informal memorial for Deutsch will be held at Radio Bean in Burlington on Thursday, June 13, at 8 p.m.


June 12, 2013

Play-Me Pianos Pop Up Around Middlebury

Five years since the Town Hall Theater opened in Middlebury, executive director Doug Anderson decided a celebration was in order. This past Memorial Day, he planted five pianos — painted and adorned by local artists — around downtown, then floated by in a glorified truckbed in the Memorial Day parade, playing a sixth piano. The idea was that passersby would sit down to the ivories and give impromptu concerts.

The THT's festivities culminate on Saturday, June 22, at the Town Hall Theater’s 5th Benefit Birthday Gala. Performers from past productions — including bluegrass duo the Connor Sisters, dancer Patty Smith, the cast of Annie, and the Hadippa Dancers, among many others — return for two shows, at 5 and 8 p.m. In between those performances, Merchants Row will be roped off for a street party, complete with snacks, birthday cake and music.

As for those pianos, they're only up through July 4, so take advantage while you can.

I recently spent some time loitering by the pianos and capturing the sounds of Middlebury's newest street performers.

Click to listen.                                                                                                                                                                                 IMG_0547

Henry, age 9/2 — born on a leap day, he explained. 

Continue reading "Play-Me Pianos Pop Up Around Middlebury " »

New Tunes: The Pilgrims, "Duck and Cover"

Artworks-000050203038-7r3hlu-largeAfter shaking and stomping to the new Persian Claws record all week, we're officially in summer music mode. Now, if only summer would cooperate and actually show up, eh? In the meantime, here's a new cut from cheeky Upper Valley punks the Pilgrims that we'll (hopefully) be blasting in the ol' ear buds at the beach from now until Labor Day.

The song, "Duck and Cover," is the first single from the band's new album, Buss, due out on Windsor-based label What Doth Life in July. The record is a followup to their underrated but wholly excellent 2011 debut, Nobility, and 2012's equally cool It's Not Pretty. 

The new track is a scraggly little pop gem with subtle shades of early Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. And it portends very good things for the new album. Or as the band's Brendan D'Angelo put it in a recent email, "It's kinda catchy and rusty. Like tetanus!" Yup.   



June 07, 2013

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.

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