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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Indie Con Artist

Howdy folks.

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Big Heavy World founder — and all around good guy — Jim Lockridge, who asked me to participate as a panelist in the upcoming local music conference, Indiecon. Always willing to help BHW, I eagerly accepted and now am a member of the Press & Airplay panel with such local luminaries as Matt Grasso (programming director of 99.9 The Buzz), Pat Floyd (Music Director at WRUV), Rik Palieri (Songwriter's Notebook) and bizarro me, The Free Press' Brent Hallenbeck — whom I've actually yet to meet, oddly enough.

I'm not exactly sure what to expect, but I'm kind of excited about being involved. I'm a big fan of BHW and any opportunity I have to make myself sound important — and possibly have people believe it — is always welcome.

Anyway, folks should definitely check out the website — and the nifty pic/self-inflating bio of yours truly. There's a full schedule of events and details on how you can be involved.

PS- I expect to see you all at Club Metronome tonight for Akron/Family. They are sofa king good.

PPS- I didn't see any of you at Aesop Rock last night. Maybe you were there but I just couldn't see you through the mob of fitted hat-wearing, battle-rapping high-school kids. Yikes!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Break In News!!!

This just in:

Eclectic experimental-pop outfit Akron/Family was just robbed in Toronto while on tour with Megafaun and Burlington's own wizard of weird, Greg Davis. Apparently a number of pieces of equipment were were stolen from their van including two guitars, a minidisc recorder and — eerily reminiscent of Gordon Stone's recent debacle — a banjo.

Thankfully, no one was hurt and the band plans to continue it's tour, including Thursday's gig at Club Metronome.

Read Pitchfork's report here.

Bob Loblog

Sheesh. Has it really been a week since I last posted?

Wow. I suck.

My deepest apologies, Solid State. It's been a weird week filled with lots of live music, catching up with "Deadwood" season 3 and copious amounts of writing about hip-hop, of all things. Oh, and an unfortunate run-in with Shelburne's finest — that last one is unrelated to the hip hop thing, just so you know.

Anyway, I'd have to say that, for me, the highlight of the last week was Neil Cleary's CD release at Higher Ground on Thursday night — especially given that I spent a good chunk of the previous weekend writing about him. I haven't seen Neil play in quite a while and he was in fine form. His backing band was tight, his voice was typically smooth and his new stuff is terrifically pop-rocktastic. If you haven't checked out I Was Thinking Of You The Whole Time, I highly suggest that you do.

Unfortunately, I missed an opening set by The Jazz Guys as I was attending the release of the new Wyld Stallions comp, A Line In The Sand, produced by none other than Seven Days' own Bridget Burns in association with Iraq Veterans Against The War. I caught the two opening acts, folk-punkers  Whiskey Smile and Slug's Revenge — both are solo artists who employ the Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst pseudonym thingie. There was a lot of angsty politicizin' and more than a few busted guitar strings, but it was a pretty cool event highlighted by a couple of moving speeches by the veterans themselves.

If you have a chance to listen to these folks speak about their experiences and their reasons for resisting the Iraq War, do it. Their stories add a unique perspective to the conversation we recently had on this very blog. I was impressed, to say the least.

This week is shaping up to be just as busy on the music front — and I'm down to the final 2 Deadwood discs to boot . . . cocksucker.

So little time . . .

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pants on Fire!

Good morning, Solid State!

Last week, I hinted at an upcoming post about my pants, but due to some pesky time constraints, said post never materialized. Red Sox - Yankees game at Fenway, orrrrrrr blog post? Hmmmm . . . The blog's gonna lose that one every time — even with a 5 run lead in the eighth . . . sigh.

Anyway, I returned safe and sound from Boston — though slightly bruised and battered from witnessing the worst Red Sox game of the year — and now that I've shaken off the cobwebs, let's get down to it.

You've probably heard about Bill Simmon's upcoming projects involving late local rock icons iThe Pants!. If you haven't, here's the synopsis:

A little over a year ago, Tommy Law, Pistol Stamen, Hutch and Tad Cautious reunited for a one-night-only blow-out at the Higher Ground Ballroom. The crown princes of  Burlington's alt-rock renaissance rocked like it was Club Toast in 1996, enthralling a room full of aging hipsters eager for a nostalgic romp down memory lane. Or so I'm told. You see, I wasn't there.

That same day happened to be my grandmother's funeral in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Aside from the obvious emotional distress, the real added insult to injury was missing the only band reunion I've ever been truly excited about — though The Pixies and Big Star had their appeal, I must admit.

I've written this before, but The Pants were hugely important in my formative years, and Tom Lawson's songwriting is directly responsible for my decision to pursue music as a youngster and beyond. Whether he knows that — or cares — is kind of irrelevant. But it's the truth.

I was a Pants superfan starting at age 15, eagerly devouring anything Pants-related I could get my hands on — I still have an over-sized Pants T-shirt. I even joined the prom committee during my Junior year of high school to recruit the band to play at my prom. They did. It rocked. And half of CVU's student body wanted my head on a stake. Good times.

But back to Bill Simmon. The Candleboy is producing a pair of DVD projects centered on the reunion. One is a concert film; The other a documentary retrospective on the band and the impact they had on Burlington's music community.

In the concert film, there's a scene in which Neil Cleary  — more on him in tomorrow's paper — relays a message to the band, sent by my sister, Ariel, that my siblings and I had done a version of the classic Pants ballad "Wounded (You're So Fine)" at my grandmother's wake — we're Irish, so drinking and singing is a big part of any family gathering, especially the sad ones.

We performed the song in tribute to a band that we all loved, out of remorse for missing the show. In our weaker moments, each of us toyed with the idea of trying to make it back to Burlington in time to catch it — and I'm honestly not so sure my grandmother wouldn't have approved. But obviously, we stayed.

Flash forward to this year. I met Bill at the Seven Daysies awards party and he proposed the idea of The Bolles Family Singers recording our version of "Wounded" to be included in the documentary. Flabbergasted and more than a little flattered, I eagerly accepted without consulting Ari or Tyler. Honestly, I would have done it solo, if I'd had to — thank God I didn't.

A few weeks ago —  after no small degree of schedule wrangling and a hastily abbreviated practice session — we descended on Egan Media and recorded the song that served as the soundtrack to all of my romantic follies from age 16 to, well, now. It was surreal, to say the least.

We recorded it live, with acoustic guitar, upright bass and banjo and had to drop the key a whole step — my range ain't quite what it used to be, and I've always had trouble matching Tom's tenor. But it sounded good. Really good.

I think.

Tyler and Ari and I don't have as many opportunities to play together as we used to, and to be able to reunite to show our appreciation for a band that — in very different ways — meant so much to each of us at various points in our lives was an honor.

I'm not sure when the finished product will be available, but when I know, so will you. In the mean time, you can keep an eye out over at Candleblog — which you should anyway. It's really good.

So that's it. You got into my pants. And after only only 4 months, you sly dogs.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Beantown Ho!

Hey there, Solid State. How's it going?

Yesterday, I promised I'd let you get into my Pants, but I'm afraid you're just going to have to wait.

I'm headed to Boston for the weekend — I have tix to tomorrow's Sox-Yanks game at Fenway. Woo Hoo! — and in my haste to wrap up as much of next week's Music Section as I could, the day simply slipped away and I've run out of time to do the promised post justice. Sorry.

Anyway, here's a new video from my good friends Stuckey & Murray in NYC:

If you're easily offended, please don't press play.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Always Look On the Bright Side Of Life

It's been a rough 48 hours, Solid State.

After a mad scramble on Monday morning to fix not one, not two but three f'ed-up spotlights in the music section, I've recently been made aware that this week's cover spot,  James Kochalka— a replacement for a band that send me the wrong freakin' date for their show — has canceled his Radio Bean performance. In the words of Charlie Brown, "Aaugh!"

On that note, it appears that my beloved New England Patriots are cheaters of Bondsian — or perhaps, Lucy-esque — proportions. Like I said, a rough 48 hours.

A few words of wisdom to aspiring musicians before we continue:

1. ALWAYS double check to make sure you send along the correct dates, especially if you're playing at the Bean since they don't post a calendar.

2. If you're trying to promote your band but don't have a high-resolution jpeg, get one.

3. I like cookies. Feel free to bribe me with them or use them as a conciliatory gesture if you screw up either of the above.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I wanted to let you know about a show that I never believed would happen: Gogol Bordello in Montpelier.

I'm not kidding. Ed DuFresne, booking dude for Langdon St. Cafe and the heart and soul of the Northeast Kingdom Music Fest has managed to convince Eugene Hutz and Co. that it's a good idea to play in an old gymnasium in our fair state capital. He might just be right.

I'm guessing the odd location is the result of the controversy surrounding GB's last performance Higher Ground and their rumored banishment from the club. Anyone with more info on that, feel free to divulge. This is the blogosphere, after all — wild unconfirmed rumors are par for the course!

Anyway, here are the pertinent details, press release style!

Gogol Bordello
Friday October 12, 2007
Vermont College Gymnasium, corner of College and East State Streets, Montpelier.
Doors: 6:30 PM
Showtime: 7:30 PM
Tickets: $20 + applicable service fees, on sale now at Riverwalk Records in Montpelier, Pure Pop in Burlington, via phone at 888.512.SHOW and online at
Amenities: A full bar will be available to those 21 and over at the show, courtesy of The Black Door Bar and Bistro.


So, yeah. Gogol Bordello . . . In Montpeculiar  . . .  Anyone want to try and set up a few Morf vans to caravan to the show?

Tee hee, "caravan" . . . a rough 48 hours, friends. A long, rough 48 hours.

Tune in tomorrow to get in my Pants!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where Have All The Hippies Gone? by Bridget Burns

I remember studying the Vietnam War in high school and being so jealous of my parents for living through that time. It wasn’t the fighting I wanted, it was being part of a passionate generation. While the kids of the sixties and seventies spent hours rallying and organizing, my generation is so lazy that desperate politicians have actually made it possible to register to vote through a text message.

I mean, COME ON.

But then we went to war and I realized that even with a cause, the majority of my generation is just too lazy to become impassioned.

During Vietnam, about twenty GI Coffeehouses sprung up around the country, serving as a place for off-duty soldiers to hang out, listen to music, and become politically active. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to attend a show at the Iraq-era’s first GI Coffeehouse in Watertown, NY, home of the Fort Drum Army Base.

The event was a send-off party for a group of soldiers about to deploy, including “Andy.” Andy is an unassuming punk kid who you might bump into at Higher Ground and not give a second thought to. He wears chucks, studded belts, and Fat Wreck T-shirts. He smokes Camel Lights and drinks whatever you’ll buy for him. After all, he’s underage.

He’s also a medic responsible for the wellbeing of twenty men in Iraq.

Andy is a soldier about to serve his duty, but he still cheered louder than anyone else in the room when Baltimore-based folk singer Ryan Harvey sang “Cuz in year one Bush declared victory / In two and three the casualties increased / In year number four it grew into a civil war / In year five I will make sure we leave / In year five I'll make sure we leave.”

The whole event got me thinking: Why isn’t my generation more passionate? Why aren’t there more singers like Ryan, pouring their hearts into songs inspired by the war stories of young men like Andy? I mean sure, we rock against Bush and all, but lyrics like Ryan’s — which can all be read here — are a throwback to a time when anti-war lyrics were the only lyrics. When protesting wasn’t just some screamo band setting one track aside to say that “war sucks.” When musicians literally dedicated their careers to making change through music.

Working hand in hand with Ryan on a recent project has granted me the opportunity to hear the full range of his incredible Phil Ochs-style protest songs. Knowing him has also exposed me to several other anarcho and activist musicians to whom I had never previously listened.  And I gotta say, we need more like them in Vermont. And I don’t just mean any guy with a guitar who occasionally throws in a hateful word towards Bush while playing RíRá. I mean a full-out, crunchy political organizer, scribbling lyrics on napkins at Langdon Street Cafe while on breaks from volunteering at Black Sheep Books.

Are you out there?

Email me. Let’s start a musical movement.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

At The Hop

Well folks, we're a mere day away from the start of Burlington's best annual party, The South End Art Hop, so I thought I'd chime in and let you know about the best Hop-related music music options for the weekend. Here we go:

Friday night, the Green Door Studio is hosting a cadre of local bands that represent some of the most innovative and original artists in the area. The lineup features the rock stylings of Dynasty, free-noise auteurs The Le Duo, experimental whiz kids — and a Contrarian fave — Oak, the all-girl old-time outfit Hammer & Saw, the mustachioed indie-rock genius of Ryan Power and, the coup de grace: a reunion of Aaron Hornblas' pre-Cripples indie supergroup, Rock & Roll Sherpa. The show starts at 6 p.m. and should be one of the better events of the Art Hop, if not the entire year.

Just a short stroll across Pine Street, eclectic antique-kitsch merchants Speaking Volumes kick off a two-night bash with an equally impressive lineup of local talent. Friday night will see The Nightbirds, folk-hop act Second Agenda, MC Kwestion and Andre W. & Aggressive Perfectors. Saturday night promises to be the main event as The Jazz Guys, Workingman's Army, L. Dora, Nose Bleed Island and The Cave Bees rock out in the name of art . . . and booze. Both shows start at 8 p.m. and are preceded by a BBQ at 7 p.m.

Oh yeah, speaking of booze, there's no beer garden at the Art Hop this year so events that are alcohol friendly are BYOB — and likely on the DL — so exercise caution and respect should you choose to imbibe.

Unfortunately, I'll be out of town for the weekend so I won't have a chance to attend any of these stellar shows. If you go, I'd love to hear your thoughts, Solid State. Let's reconvene on Monday, shall we?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Higher Ground?

Earlier today, I was typing the URL for Higher Ground's website into my trusty Firefox browser and absentmindedly left the word "music" out of the address. Since I visit the site approximately 47 times a day and have their calendar bookmarked, I was more than a little surprised when I was directed here.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Birthday, Honky Tonk Tuesday!

Just so y'all know, tomorrow (Tuesday) marks the second anniversary of the Honky Tonk Sessions at Radio Bean. I'm sure most of you know about the sessions already, so I won't bother going into great detail about the night itself, except to say that tomorrow should be a good one.

Honky Tonk heroes past and present are scheduled to appear in what should be the the rootinest, tootinest, boot-scootinest Honky Tonk Session yet.

According to ringmaster, Brett Hughes, the list of confirmed performers is as follows:

Marie Claire,Mike Gordon, Tyler Bolles, Gordon Stone, Joe Cleary, Neil Cleary, Aya Inoue, Steve Hadeka, Caleb Bronz, Lowell Thompson, Nick Cassarino, Bryan Dondero, Lee Anderson, Shannon McNally

Unconfirmed but probably:

Mark Ransom, Justin Crowther, Noah Crowther

Other maybe/probablys:

Grace Potter and Matt Burr, Russ Lawton

I have a special connection to the Honky Tonk Sessions because, well, it was sorta my idea. I'm planning on writing about the event in an upcoming issue of the paper, so I won't bore you with a story you'll probably read in a week. However, the two year anniversary of Honky Tonk just so happens to coincide with my two year anniversary with my girlfriend — albeit roughly, but they're certainly related. Nifty, eh?

On a somewhat related note, I just received this from the aforementioned Mr. Hughes and thought it was pretty cool.

Shannon McNally just let me know that we've been invited to play a few at Levon Helms' Midnite Ramble in Woodstock, NY next Saturday night after our show. My pal Andy Cotton has dared me to sing "It Makes No Difference" with Levon on the drums. Like I need daring — I'd like to see 'em stop me.

So would I.

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