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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Skinny

Have you ever been to a show that was so incredible you wanted to call everyone you know and berate them for not being there too? Living in Burlington, this is sort of a rare circumstance — not because performances around town are rarely good, but rather that nearly everyone I know usually attends most of the better shows in the area. Thus, it's always somewhat surprising to be at a venue in Burlington and not see at least 10 people I'm familiar with. Such was the case last night at the newly-christened crepe cafe, The Skinny Pancake.

If you've been following the bouncing ball through the music section lately, you might have noticed that I've developed something of a love affair with Portland, OR's Horse Feathers. Folks who are familiar with my past musical endeavors know that I'm a sucker for melancholia. If it's sad and pretty, I'm probably gonna love it. Perhaps that explains my crush on Feist — well, that, and she's totally hot.

Anyway, the group headlined the SP's inaugural show last night and, quite frankly, blew my fucking mind. I've been enamored with their album since it mysteriously appeared on my desk a few weeks ago — at that point there was no scheduled gig in B-town — and was floored to find that their live performance is even more intimately affecting than their stunning debut.

If you were to spread pancake batter on an over-sized griddle, sprinkle in bits of Nick Drake, a dash of Elliott Smith and smother it with sweet Hem syrup, than you, my friend, would be eating a tasty Horse Feathers crepe.

Wow. That might have been the worst analogy I've ever written.

In any event, if you're into sad music, do yourself a favor and check this band out. And if you're hungry, you should swing by the SP and check that out too. It's a nifty little joint.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Local freak-folkie, Austin Sirch, opened the show and was terrific as well. I'd never seen him before and was totally impressed. So much so that I'm going to mention he's playing Exposure on WRUV tonight. Tune in.

Oh shit. I also forgot to mention that the lovely folks a Tick Tick put the whole thing together. Nice job, guys (and gals).


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Wow. That might have been the worst analogy I've ever written.

Uh... if by "worst" you mean Most Awesomest Ever??!!

Mmmm... delicious Horse Feathers.


i was hearing more of a tracy chapman meets john martyn and aaron neville kinda vibe.....
i really wanted that ron howard crossed with will oldham dude to sing 'fast car'.

all the songs were a little too similar for me in terms of vibe and melody, pacing and arrangement. it became a little predictable after a couple of songs.
and i usually have problems with bands that are so dour and serious and never smile. the woman in the band was freakishly deadpan and blank the entire show. it was kinda strange. its always interesting when out of towners play in burlington to see what kind of vibe and style they bring to town and see if it meshes or not with the way burlington is.
but their playing was tight and had a nice full sound as a 3 piece. i really love those Jenco portable celestes too. very cool instrument.

austin sirch sounded pretty good. but maybe he needs more of an engaging presence to pull off the solo guitar / vocals thing. he was kind of nervously continuously falling apart and lost most of the audience's attention pretty quickly during his set. i think that was distracting from his talent as a guitar player / singer.

but all in all, a nice night at the skinny pancake. seems like it'll be a good place for smaller / mellower shows.


Tracy Chapman meets Ron Howard/Will Oldham. That's pretty funny — and accurate, actually. I thought his voice was more like David Gray, but I'll concede Chapman. I have a hard time criticizing people for the tamber of their voice, though.

As a lad, a certain BFP music critic compared my voice to that of Rick "Never Gonna Give You Up" Astley. I was pretty pissed, but mostly because he was totally right. I'll get you Steve Lemkce . . .

Anyway, I found the band's arrangements to be interesting and quite beautiful. They were stylistically similar, but so are most bands' repertoires — particularly when they only have one album to draw from. I can't really hold that against them.

The cellist was a little severe though. Maybe she just needed an ice cream crepe?


Lemcke once compared one of my guitar solos to a Skid Row ballad, which I'll admit was probably spot-on.


HA! Lemcke gets last laughs. I never thought I'd see the day.

Ahhh, Lemcke... the man, the legacy.


What the hell ever happened to that guy? Does anyone remember Arthur "The Lazy Blammos" Adams little side project, The Steeve Lemkee Experience? I can't recall if that was his acoustic Weezer cover band, or just Lazy Songwriter stuff aimed at ripping on Lemcke. Whatever. It was probably freakishly good . . . stupid Arthur.

In any event, Lemcke was an originator of sorts, being one of the first truly locally focused critics. If I'm not mistaken, Scene and Heard predates the late, great Good Citizen and 7Days — or at least was prominent when our little rag was but a baby in 1995. Shot in the dark, but I'm guessing Cooley or Neil can set me straight here.

Regardless of the actual historical time-line — or your personal feelings on Lemcke's body of work — it must have been difficult to be one of the first local music scribes in Burlington. Given how prickly folks in this burg can be after over a decade of criticism — good and bad — I imagine it must have been doubly perilous back in the day.

Anyway, Lemcke: I've been thinkin' about you-ooh, ooh yeah.


I don't know if Lemke was an originator as much as he was the guy holding the post when our big 90s-local-bands heyday took off, and he took off with it. He was also notable to bands as he was of the same age & hanging out around town... and also approached his criticism / role as a critic with ambition -- which, agree with him or not, made him unique. Or at least a lightning rod. And BTW, honestly how many critics are really beloved, or set out to be? Anyway, he's still around Burlington & I see him frequently. I've also got my stopwatch going to see how fast he tunes in to our little discussion here.


Brad Searles ran the free Press column well before Lemcke, and was actually the guy who helped kick things off in the local scene. Now he's a big shot over at Bradley's Almanac in Boston, which makes our respective blogs look like kindergarten.

Steve came on a little later, but I think Seven Days was already established. And before that, Pamela Polston and Paula Routly were at Vox, which was an arts paper.

Steve is a swell guy, and I definitely consider him a friend. He had a couple of rough years, but who hasn't? He's very much still in Burlington, although I've done my best to persuade him to get out.


Are you saying you don't love me, Neil?

Perhaps "originator" was a poor choice of words — you'd think I'd know better by now. However, being the guy in the hot seat is always difficult . . . or so I'm told.

Music critics will never be able to please everyone, especially in a small town like Burlington, but Lemcke did approach his role with a professionalism and critical eye (ear?) that, to my humble recollection, was heretofore unseen in our insular little community.

Ultimately, I think he helped bring legitimacy to the Burlington scene more than some Buddy Holly glasses-wearing cheerleader ever could. And if the two comments (mine and Casey's) on some of his more "notable" observations are any indication, he was often correct.

There's no substitute for dumb luck, and being in the right place at the right time certainly qualifies. But at some point, you have to display the talent to do your job well and, in my opinion, Lemcke did.

Rick Astley


So if it was Lemcke who compared you to Astley, who was it that described your delivery as "Broadway-esque"?


I remember Brad, but Steve was more "my generation" and was the guy holding the post when Queen City music was really taking off. Searles certainly laid the foundation, but Lemcke put up the drywall. Or something.

With all due respect to the esteemed P's, Scene and Heard was generally a more reliable source for local music dirt than the short-lived Vox. Though Vox did a great job with the artsier fare, those looking for rock coverage were usually better served by Searles, especially since — as Mr. Cleary kindly pointed out — they came from the scene. Kinda like you and me, my fine contrarian friend.

Since 7Days was founded in 1995, the BFP columnists — or at least Searles — were already firmly entrenched by the time our little rag came to life. It wasn't long before 7Days music coverage was kicking BFP's ass up and down Church Street, but Lemcke and Searles deserve credit for getting the ball rolling.


Not that I'm keeping a list, but Max Owre at Good Citizen labeled me with that particular cutesy description. I'll get you too Max . . . West Side Story-style.


did not someone write that tyler's bass playing was the lynchpin in our "ska-chine?" anyhow, i was visiting my parents in vt recently and saw that you are writing for 7 days now, dan. keep up the good work. -dan


D-O? Is that you? The lynchpin of the Gay Horns?
On the Lemcke thing, I just hung out at a strange wedding with him. We talked about all the burlington bands we hate...boy do we hate some Burlington bands....then we talked about how much we love(d?) the Pant(S). Sigh.


yes, it's me..i like the pants too. i also got this 'sounds around burlington' comp from one of my high school friends recently, but it's mostly unlistenable except for the velvet ovum band. i think i might move back to burlington. let's start a noise band. and put out limited edition casettes.

Max Owre

Yes, Broadwayesque it was...
Funny shit turns up when you google your own name.
Cheers from Chapel Hill,

Max Owre

Yes, Broadwayesque it was...
Funny shit turns up when you google your own name.
Cheers from Chapel Hill,

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