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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Lazy Songwriter . . . or is he?

The answer to the above question is a resounding no. Arthur Adams — a.k.a. The Lazy Songwriter, a.k.a. Blammos guy, a.k.a. Double A — is actually a pretty prolific songwriter. Not like Ryan Adams prolific, but he keeps himself busy, nonetheless. By the way, I made up that last alias. If Art ever needs a hip-hop psuedonym, however, Double A would be a good one. And it would work well with mine: Oral B. Fo' shizzle.

Anyway, Mr. Adams recently sent a missive intended for Casey that ended up in my inbox since I still receive all his Seven Days e-mail for some reason. I forwarded it on to Cap'n Contrarian but I thought you folks might like to see it too. I don't think Arthur will mind — we go waaaay back. Here goes:

We are in the running for a CMJ showcase contest
through  We'll get a showcase slot, a
hotel stay and 10,000 if we win!  The first
elimination round ends next weekend and relies soley
on fan please go and vote for us here:

You will need to create an Amie Street account, but
don't worry, it's simple and harmless...we promise...

We'll probably send some more reminders and status
reports out later in the week...

Thanks so much!


So, in the words of P Diddy — the "South Park" version, anyway — Vote or Die, Bitch.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grande Non-fat Low-Caf No-Whip Live Music Latte

Like Dan, I’m not so much a Starbucks girl as I am a Speeders girl.

And oh right, I’m not Dan. Maybe I should have started with that.

Hi. Bridget here. Seven Days office manager extraordinaire, and owner of Wyld Stallions Records, that little label that networks strictly at the OP and perhaps made a blip on your radar a year and a half ago when we released “Caring is Knowing: A Compilation to Fight AIDS in Support of Vermont CARES”.

Oh, the AIDS girl?  you say.

Yeah, right, the AIDS girl. Anyway.

Despite generally avoiding non-local coffee chains, and currently being so busy with an upcoming WSR release that I haven’t even made it to PBR pitcher night in over a month, I couldn’t resist when Dan approached my desk a couple weeks ago and asked if I could fill in for him as a guest judge at this past Thursday’s Starbucks Music Makers Competition down on Church Street. Much like I couldn’t resist when Internet guru Cathy Resmer asked if I might like to write about the experience. Not because of the ego boost each would provide me with, but more for the boost to my parents’ egos. And the one-up it would give them on all the other bragging parents at the end-of-summer cocktail parties in Kennebunkport.

(Did I mention that my aversion to Starbucks stems directly from my yuppie upbringing?)

I could just picture it.

You know Bridget? Our troubled middle child that doesn’t wear Lily and hates Republicans? Well you’ll never believe it, but she was recently chosen as a guest judge at the Starbucks new music competition!

And so that was how I found myself sitting in Starbucks on a rainy Thursday surrounded by seven bands and with more free coffee drinks on the table in front of me than I care to remember. The process was fairly simple. Each act would play three songs to be judged in the following categories: Originality, Lyric, Melody, Vocal Presentation, and Stage Presence. Each category could score as high as ten points. At the end of the set, add up the categories for each song, add the song totals, and you have a total act score out of 150 possible points. The winner would head to Boston for the finals, and the winner of that competition would be rewarded with two days of studio time and a professional publicity / radio campaign, among other things.

Going into the competition I was under the impression that all seven acts were Vermont bands. In reality, artists came from all over the east coast, which only broadened the musical ability and genre variety. It helped that Internet voting would count for one fifth of the final decision, but it was definitely tough to draw comparison between long-haired back-woods banjo-playing Bow Thayer and local Strangeways Recording protégée, Zac Clark. Luckily Middlebury College Radio Business Director, Ward Wolff and I (plus the traveling Starbucks-employed judge) had our handy score sheets to help us break things down.

The seven bands (in no particular order because I can’t remember it) were as follows: Lucy Vincent (local!), Meagan Walsh (local!), Chris Colepaugh, Laura Vecchione, Zac Clark (local!), Kaiser Cartel and Bow Thayer (local!). With the odds working in Vermont’s favor, I thought for sure we’d take the prize.  Ironically, it was Brooklyn’s Kaiser Cartel, an eccentric duo made up of Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel that walked away with an all-expense paid trip to the finals in Boston. Actually, I don’t know if it’s an all-expense paid trip. That just sounded right.

I think it was their originality and quirkiness that got them my vote. Anyone with a xylophone has to get extra points, right?  And when the two of them whistled together during their second tune, “Season Song”, they definitely melted a little piece of this sap’s heart. Enough so that I was able to overlook their sometimes-cheesy lyrics and lack of stage presence, to instead concentrate on Courtney’s incredible vocal range and their undeniably catchy melodies.

Plus, the Starbucks judge informed me and Ward, They won the Internet vote by a landslide.  Like, a big landslide.

And so off to Boston they go, joined by Vermont’s Bow Thayer, who won our wild card vote based on his charming Americana-style lyrics and laid back stage presence. 

And banjo.

But what about those other acts? Well, I have to admit that out of the younger more local musicians, Lucy Vincent scored remarkably high with me. A high score that surprised me, actually, because to be perfectly honest, starting your song with a flute jam is no way to win me over. But their stage presence was adorable, they kept my foot tapping, and I had already fallen in love with singer Kelly’s vocals at an acoustic show earlier in the week held at the Monkey Bar

Plus, they called the judges sexy. 

I left the competition with a better appreciation for what Starbucks is trying to do. At least in this one small slice of their business. Their lattes might cost over four dollars, but the traveling crew in charge of the music competitions was crunchier than the Radio Bean. Their ripped jeans and hoodies somehow convinced me that this really was about the music, and not just another way for the ever-growing coffee empire to take over the world. And while I might be labeled a total corporate sellout for saying so, I think what they’re doing is actually a pretty cool way to help out starting musicians in need of a boost. Even if the CDs for sale by the register remain on the level of bands too huge to ever even play Burlington...

But who knows, maybe that’s just all the free swag talking.

Coffee, anyone?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Burning Man

A few weeks ago, I professed my man-crush for Chuck Klosterman after reading "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs." As per usual in the dysfunctional cyber-realm that is Solid State, my comments sparked a mini-debate — though this one lacked the  base name-calling that has come to characterize so many of my posts. Fun times!

Anywhoo, in one of the comments I mentioned my affinity for another rock scribe, David Thorpe, who writes a column for the Boston arts and entertainment rag, The Weekly Dig, called The Burn Unit. At the time, The Dig was reconstructing their website so I couldn't point you in their direction. But now they're back and I can introduce you to one of the three things I liked about living in Boston — the other two being the Sox and all the cute Irish chicks in Southie. Wikkid pissah!

Here's the link. This week's column isn't his finest work — I can't decide if referring to Mick Jagger as The Beatles front man was a joke or a misprint.  But the three or four prior are gold, particularly the one about Courtney Love's MySpace blog.

Happy reading.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Need A Good Blogging Cop Out? Google Colin Clary

Hey there, Solid State! How was your weekend?

Mine was terrific. Perhaps too terrific, actually. So terrific, in fact, that my work week is off to an awfully rough start. I don't want to be one of those people who say they need a vacation from their vacations. I hate that shit — almost as much as when people say they'll "See you next year!" around New Year's Eve. But honestly, that's what I feel like today; I need another weekend.

Worst. Monday. Ever.

I'm too spent to blog properly at the moment, so here's a little tidbit from a blogger over in jolly ol' England who has some really nice things to say about our own Colin Clary.

BTW, I didn't actually Google Colin. That'd be kinda creepy. I just thought the Google thing flowed nicely for a title.  Our food editor, Suzanne Podhaiser, graciously sent me the link.

See? There I go copping out again . . . sheesh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poop Bags

One of my favorite parts of the day is my morning constitutional with my mildly-retarded, baby-eating half-pit bull, Buckley. Buck is an odd little fella with myriad idiosyncrasies and personality quirks. For example, he's obsessed with his tail. Like, Captain Ahab - Moby Dick obsessed. And no, he doesn't really eat babies. Yet.

When he really gets going, he's an unstoppable tornado of white fur, tearing though the apartment as if it were a Midwest trailer park. He'll catch his tail and in true pit fashion, simply won't let go. If you call him, he'll rotate toward you and will even ascend and descend staircases, never loosening the death-grip on his rear appendage. Maybe this is why most of his breed have bobbed tails? But I digress.

This morning we strolled through Battery Park, as per our usual routine. And as there often are on pleasant days, a few homeless people were sleeping on various benches and plots of grass throughout the park. It's just part of its charm, I guess.

Now, one of my biggest pet peeves — pardon the pun — is people who don't pick up after their dogs. It's an ongoing problem in Burlington and many a morning — and shoe — have been ruined by errant footfalls.  It's gotten to the point that I've actually confronted fellow dog owners when I catch them in the act — though I'll usually offer an extra plastic bag.

This morning, I happened to spy a girl in her early-twenties walking her German Shepard. She was cute and her dog was handsome. And apparently incontinent — the dog, that is. I noticed the pair just as the Shepard was kicking his hind legs, proudly spreading the scent of its discharge.  He finished and without batting an eyelash, the girl turned and began to lead the dog away from the scene of the crime. I rolled my eyes and reached into my pockets for a spare bag.

As I did, an older black gentleman, lying on a bench, raised his head from a makeshift pillow and shouted from across the park, "Hey! I wouldn't shit your bedroom! Pick up after your goddamn dog, lady!"

The girl's expression was priceless. A mix of disbelief and embarrassment crossed her face as she frantically searched her jeans for a bag we all knew wasn't there. Smirking, I held up one of mine as Buck and I made our way toward her. She took the bag and whispered to me, "What the hell is his problem?" I merely smiled and shrugged my shoulders as she bent down to scoop the poop. "Have a nice day, and thanks for cleaning up after your dog," I said turning to walk away. "Uggh," she replied in disgust, daintily attempting to pick up the pile.

As I strolled past the gentleman on the bench, he addressed me, "Hey buddy?" I began to reach into my pocket for spare change or a loose dollar. "You got any more of those bags? You wouldn't believe how often this happens." Taken aback, I reached in my other pocket and produced two more bags. "Thanks, man," he replied. "No sir," I said. "Thank you."

I tipped my Sox hat and began to walk away. "I wouldn't shit in her bedroom," he said again, readjusting his pillow and laying his head down.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Stand Up Comic

Some of you may have noticed that I've accumulated quite a little file of hate mail over the 10-ish weeks I've been writing for Seven Days. It's amused my friends to no end and horrified my mom. It's OK, Mom. I'm a big boy. I can take it.

While I certainly am not surprised to be the subject of debate/ire, the pure volume of submissions has been somewhat remarkable, as has the vitriolic content of quite a few missives. You should see some of the ones we couldn't print. Yikes! In some ways, it's sort of like how the blog has been received — only more so.  But hey, at least they're reading.

Anyway,  it was a nice reprieve to be spared a public lashing this week in the letters section. However, I was shocked to see a letter bemoaning the comic strip "Herb & Rose," authored by none other than Jazz Guys front-man and occasional Solid State resident Herb Van der Poll. Here it is:

“Herb and Rose.” Is it really necessary? I remember a month or two ago, there was a strip relating to the let-down of the “Spider-Man” movie. I thought, perhaps we’re turning a corner. Perhaps “Herb and Rose” will escape their endlessly self-referential schtick and actually get around to making an interesting, even funny, comic.

Unfortunately, it was a blip. And this week [“Herb and Rose,” July 25] it’s a rerun. A boring rerun.

I understand “Dykes to Watch Out For” is only every other week, but honestly, blank space would be less irritating than this visual exercise in omphaloskepsis.
Solvei Blue

Herb and I obviously don't always see eye to eye on things, but I've been a big fan of the strip since it first began appearing in our little rag. Perhaps because "endlessly self-reverential schtick" is kinda my bread and butter, I've often found the strip endearingly funny.

So Herb and Rose, if you're out there, you have my deepest sympathies and I say, keep up the good work and don't let the bastards get you down. Although the writer does get bonus points for correctly using the word "omphaloskepsis" in a sentence. Well done.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

All Apologies

I goofed. Big Time.

One of the more difficult aspects of my job is sifting through the unending stream of requests for coverage that I'm inundated with on a daily basis. Figuring out who's who, where they're from and if they're relevant to Vermont is a constant challenge and, inevitably, this kind of stuff happens. Here's the story.

Evan Goodrow did everything right. Pay attention, kiddies, because this is how it's done.

Goodrow started with an introductory e-mail from his booking dude, informing me that his album was en route and asked for coverage. Then, said booking dude sent a follow up e-mail to make sure I received the package — always key, I can't stress that enough. After that, Evan phoned me himself, from the road, to talk about the album and secure a slot in the paper for his show at RiRa this Saturday night. It's the holy trinity of effective band marketing, and I totally fucked it up.

To be honest, Goodrow's music ain't my bag, personally — though the RiRa crowd will eat his R&B battered blues-rock for dinner and wash it down with car bombs. Then again, I'm also not a huge Grace Potter & The Nocturnals fan and they ended up on the cover this week. Go figure.

The point is that I try and keep the coverage as broad as possible and will often pull things from the paper that I feel too closely related to/biased towards. However, I'll always give preference to bands that make the effort to make my job easier and reach out — which Goodrow more than did. That's just the way the music world turns, folks. Always has, always will.

So Evan, I sincerely apologize and wish you the best of luck this weekend. And the rest of you, follow Evan's example. Even if I screw it up, it almost certainly guarantees you some bloggerly love.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Big Night for Big John

As many of you already know, local skateboarder and Ridin' High owner, "Big John" Van Hazinga, was critically injured in a crash on Route 108 near Smuggler's Notch, less than a week after Ken Picard's story on Burlington's skate culture ran on the cover of Seven Days.

Big John's progress has been maddeningly slow and he is still in a coma. But his family and friends remain impossibly positive in the face of the tragedy. Reading their accounts of his progress and the ensuing emotional strain is nothing short of heart-wrenching. It's also strangely uplifting.

This Monday, the Higher Ground Ballroom plays host to a benefit show, appropriately titled, "A Benefit For Big John." The evening will feature performances by some of Van Hazinga's favorite local acts, including Turkey Bouillon Mafia, Seth Yacovone, DJ A-Dog, and DJ Nickel B of Itation Sound. The event will also serve as the premier for skateboard filmmaker Travis Card's new short, "Family Tree."

When Ken's story ran, it was paired with a web feature filmed by Stuck In Vermont vlogger, Eva Sollberger and prominently features Big John. Here it is, with tunes by The Cush:


Best wishes to John and his family and friends.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Gettin' Some Poon

Howdy folks. This will be the last post before I take off for the Dunkin' Donuts Newport Folk Festival to check in with Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, who played on Leno last night — weird.

If you haven't seen the DDNFF website, you should check it out. It's pretty disgusting. Dunkin' Donuts designed it to look just like their menu. "I'll have a Turbo Iced Coffee and a chocolate-frosted Linda Ronstadt cruller." Bob Dylan must be spinning in his grave . . .

Anyway, as for the aforementioned poon:

The Samples are playing a free concert with The Chad Hollister Band and Aaron Flinn at Battery Park this Saturday at 6 p.m. There will be a Harpoon beer garden, which is pretty sweet — though I much prefer Dogfish Head. The show is a benefit for the Vermont Food Bank so be prepared to make a donation at the gate. Also, all beer and food proceeds go directly to the food bank, so you should plan on getting good and liquored up. After all, it's for charity.

On that note, here's a stupid video about beer . . . with Legos:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Amish Paradise?

This is sofa king good, I don't even know how to set it up.

Here are the pertinent details: The song is Kanye West, the lead actor is comedian Zach Galifianakis and dude in the background is Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie "Prince" Billy.

Galifianakis is performing at UVM on Sept 3.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Java Jive

I love coffee. It's one of many vices I've inherited from dear ol' dad — beer, on and off smoking, Red Sox fanaticism, etc.  Most afternoons, I like to stroll over to Speeder's on Pine Street for a giant iced coffee and a glance through the Freeps. It's a nice way to break up the day and it helps to get the blood flowing — this is the first "desk job" I've ever had and the stationary thing tends to drive me batty. Plus, the baristas are usually pretty cute. Bonus.

On my mid-afternoon excursions, I frequently run into the illustrious Peter Freyne, our esteemed political columnist, doing pretty much the same thing: drinking coffee, reading the paper. I've been a fan of Freyne's column for years and the notion that he's now a colleague and co-worker is still somewhat surreal. Over the weeks we've developed a friendly rapport and I often find myself hoping to see him, particularly if I'm fired up about something political, which I typically am.

I just got back from my daily fix and had the good fortune of seeing Peter at his usual table by the door, drinking coffee and reading the paper. In most respects, it was a typical visit. But today, Peter gave me the inside track on an issue entirely unrelated to politics.

I'm not sure I could do justice to the good news Mr. Freyne relayed this afternoon, so I'll simply point you here, and ask that you read it yourself.

Congrats, Peter!

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