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Sunday, May 27, 2007

(Solid) State Of The Union

Greetings Solid Staters! Before I begin, I'd like to apologize for the stagnant period following Casey's final post. You can stop hounding me with snarky e-mails, withdrawl-addled, jittery late-night phone calls and threatening notes tied around bricks, thrown through my living room window. Casey's gone. I'm here. We'll get through this together, I promise. But I digress.

Since being annointed as "The New Casey," I've frequently been asked for my feelings regarding the current condition of local music. Whether from musicians, club owners or fans, it's been a hot topic of conversation, which speaks to the reverence and passion with which folks view our local scene. I thought it only fitting to officially add my thoughts to the discussion in this, my inaugural post. Thus, I present to you The Solid State of the Union Address.

Fellow Uh-mericuns, the state of our Union is strong . . . No, seriously. It is. The nature of local music is found in its constant ebb and flow. For every local "Golden Age" like the early to mid-1990s, you have periods similar to the current, slightly slower era. Burlington will always have a young, transient population, which leads to an ever-changing group of artists making noises in Vermont. There is rarely a lack of talent, but occasionally, we enter stages when there are few, if any, bands or artists making big waves. While the larger clubs like Nectar's and Metronome load up on out-of-state fare, the smaller venues such as Radio Bean and it's bizarro Montpeculier cousin, Langdon Street Cafe, are teeming with a dizzying array of up-and-coming local talent. You have to do some leg work to find great new bands, but that's half the fun.

Only two years ago, there was a roster of local bands numbering in the teens that could fill nearly any club in town, any night of the week. Many of them, like Manifest Nexto Me, Black Sea Quartet, and, ahem, The Middle Eight are no longer with us, while bands like Swale, The Cush and The Jazz Guys, though still playing, have somewhat somewhat receded into the background. It's always sad to see good bands die young, but it also opens the door for the next wave of talent to make its mark. So who are the likely culprits?

To find the answer, look no further than the Bean. Since its inception, hundreds, if not thousands of bands have made their way through the tiny cafe next to Lovely Nails. To be honest, a lot of 'em truly suck, but as the saying goes, throw enough shit against the wall . . .

One band that is sticking to Burlington's collective brick facade is Cccome?, fronted by none other than Radio Bean proprietor, Lee Anderson. The devilish quartet is something like a Vaudeville-sideshow on LSD, and features — as many local bands do — ex-members of deceased groups. In this case, Meistah from Black Sea and Chris Kiper from Manifest. They're not for everyone, but you're unlikely to find many other bands like them, especially in Burlington.

Speaking of Lee, he recently told me about a group called Drive The Hour, which he claims is his new favorite local band. I haven't heard them, but that recommendation alone piques my interest. Let's face it, the guy sees more local music than anyone else in town, including myself — and I get paid to do it.

Another Bean-sprout band making their presence felt is El Paso, an avant-folk quartet featuring jazz-guitarist Nick Cassarino. Sooner or later, some asinine rock critic will no doubt compare them to Arcade Fire . . . man, I hope it's not me.

I could go on, but I'm told blogs are supposed to be short, and I already feel like I'm rambling. The point is that there are a slew of bands in the area that are flying just under the radar, but have the potential to usher in a new era of local music. And they're not all from Burlington, though I've been somewhat B-Town-centric. St. Alban's Americana-noir act, Farm, come to mind. It's my job to find these bands, but I can't be everywhere. So I call on you, the citizens of Solid State, to bring to my attention anything that you think should be covered in these esteemed pages (paper or electronic), especially good new bands. After all, it's your scene.

Good night, and may God bless American Apparel.


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Bill Simmon

And a bloggery welcome to you, Dan. You have some dark (and hipster-stylish) shoes to fill. Good luck!


And what a fine "New Casey" you are...


Hey, I learned it from watching you!


"It's always sad to see good bands die young"

What the fuck does that mean? At least two of those bands you mentioned (and most likely all three) are busy recording albums right now. Do your homework.


Congrats on the new position. Hope it all works out for you.

Mistress Maeve

Welcome, Dan :)


What to say? I don't want to take you to task for one off-handed comment, but those are some poorly chosen words regarding The Jazz Guys, Swale and The Cush.

Cush played Nectar's last week. It was packed. They were great. They sounded vital. In the past year, they've played plenty of shows.

Swale built a studio this year, nearly from the ground up. They're not playing as relentlessly as they have in the past, but they worked fucking hard this year.

The Jazz Guys, as you know because you've discussed it with all of us, took a break from playing shows to record.

Your statement fits in nicely with the point you have in the article about the ebb and flow of the music scene, it's too bad it's just not true.

elevator music

pink bacon makes ccccome? look like herb alpert and the tijuana brass.


"Swale, The Cush and The Jazz Guys, though still playing, have somewhat somewhat receded into the background."

Jason, at what point, exactly, did I say that those bands were no longer playing? I was referring to the BSQ, Manifest and Middle 8, all of whom no longer exist. If you'd prefer, I could list about twenty other bands that have fallen by the wayside in the last few years. And yes, I think that's sad.

Herb, compared to the frequency with which all three of the latter bands mentioned used to play live, they have, for whatever reason, taken a step back. It's not a slight, it's a fact. If you're busy in the studio — or building a studio, for that matter - and not playing live, then from a public perspective you aren't as visible. Or is that not true either?

The intent of the post was to point out that at the moment, there is an opportunity for less established bands to make their mark. I never meant to infer that The Jazz Guys, Swale or The Cush are somehow on life support or haven't been working hard. I'm well aware that they have — y'know, homework and all. If that's how it was perceived, I sincerely apologize.

There really is an ebb and flow to Burlington's music scene. When it peaks, it's because a large number of bands are able to build on each other's success and the surrounding excitement. The reason I chose to mention those three bands specifically is because they are local stalwarts who have, for the most part, been pretty quiet in recent months. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it's a coincidence that in the last month, Nectar's has had only three local acts headlining Thurs-Fri-Sat slots — The Cush, Chuch and Avi&Celia.

It takes a village to build a scene ... or something.


They'll all be on life support eventually. Even X-12 and Van der Graf. Maybe they can share a tube.


Oh, and way to make someone feel welcome. It's a great example of Burlington's "community" spirit. Some of the musicians around here aren't exactly Great Communicators and Mr. Bolles, while certainly talented, isn't a mind reader. If you want someone to know what you're up to, you gotta fucking tell them. "Do your homework," indeed.

It's not like you have to send a million press releases. There's just Dan, Brent and maybe those guys at State of Mind.

But best of luck to all of you.


Wow...baptism by fire for poor Danny Boy! :) You have my respect for taking it in stride though. And I do think a lot of the uproar came from a misreading of your post.

That said, be prepared for a backlash when you dismiss any of Burlington's latest flash-in-the-pan groups--it's a tight-knit, insular community that just isn't accustomed to concepts like "constructive criticism" (and especially not just plain "criticism"). But someone needs to be the bad guy who lights the fire under their ass to lead, follow or get the F out of the way, and it might as well be you.

Tighten your helmet, soldier--you're in for quite a ride! :)


Thanks Jay. Casey has me well-prepared for the inevitable "What-the-fuck, dude?" shit-storms. I'll always look back fondly on the days when he'd stand over my desk, berating me with writerly insults. "Dan, you trite bastard! Stop using the word 'lush', you derivative hack!" Good times.

OK, I lied about that last bit, but I know what I'm walking into.

The thing is, I don't feel as though I was critcizing anyone in this case. If anything, I think it's a strategically solid move on the part of The Jazz Guys to step back and regroup. The worst thing a local band can do is play too much. Burlington is an easy town to saturate.


And another thing... I appreciate the fact that people who visit this blog have strong opinions and have the chutzpah to call me out when they believe I'm in error. I'm quickly learning that I'm not bulletproof ... just know that you're not either.

I spend a good part of my day criticizing the work of others, and I welcome the opportunity for folks to to do the same to me. What doesn't kill you, blah, blah, blah... I'm not only accountable to my editors and readers, but perhaps most importantly to the artists I write about.

PS- I love you, Herb.


"Oh, and way to make someone feel welcome. It's a great example of Burlington's 'community' spirit."

Well, I was sticking up for my friends, just like you're sticking up for yours. So if you want any "community spirit" from me there it is.

I'm sorry for misunderstanding the comments, but you have to admit that when you read them they come off as if the latter bands are the ones dying.

And you can suck my "tube", Casey (wink).



Sean Husbands

Listen to Drive The Hour here:

Seven Days has consistanly ignored a litany of hardcore and punk rock outfits which often play at 242 main, the oddfellows hall, radio bean, and other venues around Burlington. Some of these bands have been playing shows and sucessfully touring the US for years.

Perhaps it is the "under the radar" nature of more aggressive music, but I think that recieving Seven Days coverage is more a matter of who you know (wink*) than having artistic passion or musical relevance

Burlington has a thriving and ever changing harcore/punk/reggae/ska music scene which Seven Days chooses to ignore. I challenge this publication to broaden it's lense and try to be more inclusive and less of a venue to publish public shout outs to musical pals.

The hardcore/punk community is on the edge of a revolutionary summer. Be on your toes.


I don't think I agree with the statement that "Seven Days has consistently ignored a litany of hardcore and punk rock outfits", but I do agree that Drive The Hour is a strong group that deserves more attention.

I think hardcore & punk rock is going to be reserved to the same fate as most of Burlington's experimental music scene--it has a relatively small cult following and will thus have to fight for attention. Let's face it, there are probably a lot more people who read Seven Days that would rather hear about the upcoming Grace Potter and the Nocturnals CD than a DTH or Pink Bacon show.

You can please some of the people all of the time...


I love you too Dan. I don't think you were out of line. The phrasing was a bit vague, I got defensive. Blah blah blah. Apologies.

As for you Casey, just when exactly can we look forward to your complete disappearance from all Burlington media?

As for the punk kid, uh... We're having a private discussion amongst friends. That's kind of rude of you to interject.
Seriously though, enjoy the revolution and the inevitable subsequent metamorphosis from oppressee to oppressor.

Sean Husbands

responding to Jay's post, I think that there is more that enough room in Seven Days to include a broad range of music. To mostly ignore several genre's somewhat exclusionary. Wouldn't it be nice to be supportive of the entire Burlington music community? I think it would be lovely. I also challenge the assertion that punks don't read Seven Days regularly.

As for Herb's post. Isn't this a public music blog? I didn't realize this was an exclusive discussion. Is there room for conversation or is it just going to be your defensive sarcasm? C'mon now.

I enjoy this discourse, but if it's unwelcome this 28 year old "punk kid" will now waste his time.


Yeah, I can see why folks misinterpreted what I wrote. My bad. I'll try and be more concise in the future. Let the love-fest begin!

Sean, I'll gladly check out the myspace page, but as Casey wrote earlier, I'm not a mind reader ... yet. BWAHAHAHA!

I am however, totally lazy. 99.7% of the time, I'll give preference to bands that make the effort to contact me about projects/gigs/donkey shows, etc.

I've been @ 7Days for about a month and have received a grand total of ONE missive concerning hard-core/punk/ska/pan-flute shows. And I wrote about it in the column two weeks ago. It was nifty.

I dig the DIY thing, but at some point you gotta reach out and touch someone. Touch me, Sean. TOUCH ME!

Seriously though, my e-mail addy is in the paper every freakin' week. Use it.

Sean Husbands

Dan, thanks for the response. I look forward to reading your future columns!


Wow...this went from the Crusades to Kumbaya hippie love-circle really quickly! I guess we held back the floodgates with reasonable minds and a lack of posters named "Donna".


No problem, Sean. That's what I'm here for.

Feel free to let your punk/hard-core cronies know that I'm more than happy to give 'em some press, but they've gotta let me know about stuff.

It's been a while since I was in that scene, so I freely admit I'm out of the loop.


To Herb:

Very soon. But I'll continue to poke my head in here. Sorry, that's just how it is.

You're welcome for all the coverage. Just keep "looking forward." You might wanna "reach for the stars," while you're at it. ;)

To Sean:

I tried to review as many harcore and punk bands as possible in my tenure at 7D. I spent a lot of time at 242 when I was coming up, and respect that scene a lot.

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