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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Homecoming — Full Length

Greetings Solid State!

Today's edition of the paper featured a portion of an interview I recently conducted with Gabby and Burette Doulgas of  The Cush. Due to space limitations, I was only able print about a third of the conversation. What follows is that interview, in its entirety. Enjoy!


There’s been a noticeable void in the Burlington music scene for the last six months or so as Gabrielle and Burette Douglas of psychedelic rock outfit The Cush retreated to the sunny climes of their home state of Texas for the winter. Long one of the area’s most revered acts, the return of these particular snowbirds is a welcome sight, particularly after yet another long, cold and eerily quiet Vermont winter.
    Seven Days recently caught up with the husband and wife duo at Muddy Waters Café in Burlington in advance of their homecoming gig this Thursday at Higher Ground.

SD: You guys were doing a lot of recording Texas, so when can we expect the new album?
BURETTE DOUGLAS: We don’t know. If we get set up here [Burlington] in time . . . it just depends on how much we get done. If we get enough done, it might be a full record. Or we might do an EP and the hold on to the rest.
    We have a residency tour next month; we’re doing every Tuesday at Pete’s Candy Store in New York City and every Wednesday at The Fire in Philadelphia. And we have some fill in dates in between.
    So we’re gonna do that next month and then back on the recording, concentrate on that and have something by the fall. We have about 30 minutes of music right now.

SD: What’s the lineup nowadays?
GABRIELLE DOUGLAS: Our friend Cody Lee is playing drums with us. He’s from Texas. He played in our old band for about seven years and went over to England with us. It’s been going great. It’s a three-piece so far.

BD: The band’s been morphing for the last few years it seems like. But it’s always like that.

SD: That must have quite an effect on your music.
BD: A little bit, you know. At first we were real worried about it. We used to be a five-piece. And then we were a four-piece with keyboards and stuff. The biggest thing was playing as a three-piece without the keyboard parts.
    The first time we did it, it was for people who had seen us like a million times and they were like “Oh man, the three-piece is my favorite.” So that was reassuring.

GB: Especially in Dallas-Ft. Worth, our friends there have been with us through so many different phases and they were like, “with the three-piece there’s nothing missing. It sounds just as full.”
    Any time you have more members and then break it down, it pushes you in a creative way to figure out how you can play the melody that might be missing.

BD: It puts the songs across in their most basic form. Which is good. You can definitely hear the singing better. We’re trying to concentrate a little bit more on creating sounds with harmonies.

SD: So are the recordings in that stripped-down kind of vein?
BD: A little bit. While we were there [Texas], we recorded drum tracks and they had a piano. So anything we wanted piano on . . . right now it’s kind of piano heavy.
    We have other songs that we’d never recorded with The Cush that we’re going to do up here. We’d like to record Steve [Hadeka] on some stuff because he’s never been on one of records and he was with us for a couple of years.
    I don’t think it’ll be “stripped-down.” I don’t know, there’ll probably be some stuff that’ll still be . . .

GD: It’ll still have all the ear candy.

BD: Right. You know how it is. The record’s one thing and the live show is a little different.

GD: The thing is that it’s happened naturally. Every time we get ready to record, we never have too much of a structured idea of “this is how it’s going to sound.” It just evolves.

BD: I thought the last record was going to be pretty random. There were some songs that I thought didn’t really fit in. But I got out-voted. But then in the end, they really do fit in.
    So right now, we’ve recorded all these ideas that we’ve had. And listening back, it’s kind of all over the place. But by the time we’re done, it’ll be pretty interesting.

SD: How does the scene in Dallas-Ft. Worth differ from Burlington?
GD: Well, one thing is that everything is really big there. We came from Dallas and there was definitely a big music scene there, at the time. But it’s real spread out.
    Here, you’ll walk down the street and you’ll be like “Oh, I saw that guy playing at the Radio Bean last night.” You kind of know who does what and it’s a small small enough place where you could go up to someone and say, “Hey, do you want come over and do some recording?” It’s really cool. There, not really so much. It’s more clique-ish.

BD: There’s not a community there, like there is here, the overall support. You have that in cliques and certain groups. But it’s such a big place, it’s hard for people to come together.
    It's pretty competitive out there. We went back to the places we used to play, like 10 years ago in Dallas. It was crazy. All the stages are really big there, so you have places about the size of Higher Ground, but you'll have 10 of those in like three blocks. And it's like that in Austin too. So it's definitely real competitive for bands to get gigs.
    We went there and that whole part of time is all closed up. The scene just dried up. There's little pockets . . .

GD: We had noticed that before we left. We used to live right around the corner from those places and right before we left, it was changing. And we weren't too interested in the vibe. We'd experienced Texas, Austin . . . and we really like the Northeast. So, going back, it was really reaffirming in a lot of ways.

BD: Dallas got less cool and Ft. Worth got a lot cooler. There's a lot of good bands, that's for sure.

GD: South by Southwest was amazing. Austin still seems to be the place. But it is very competitive.

BD: Texas is so big that it's kinda like its own country. So for a lot of bands, just to be a big band in Texas is a big deal because it's a lot of space to cover. And there's really nowhere else to go. Oklahoma City, New Orleans, anywhere else you're gonna be on tour . . . and we've done that. So be up here, to be able to play in other large cities that are really close is a good thing for us. And it still is.

GD: And with the price of gas, it's going to make touring that much more difficult, especially in Texas.

SD: I've actually been wondering when you're going to start seeing effects from that, seeing fewer bands touring because they simply can't afford gas.
BD: I mean, this May, we're going to have to stay in New York instead of coming back to Vermont each week, because that's like $200 bucks each time.

SD: That's a sad commentary when it's cheaper to stay in NYC than to come home. But you guys were able to tour to and from Texas?
BD: We toured down with Ryan [Power]. He was going to visit his brother [in Arkansas], so it was a good way for him to get out of town. Ryan is pretty much a permanent member.
    We played a few bars, but we played a lot of collectives. And those places are always the best. They pay you better, it's more supportive. It worked out really well because between either him or us, we knew people in every town. We didn't make any money, but we definitely paid our way down there. And we played a little bit while we were down there.
    Basically the tour back up was we could either drive up. Or we could drive up and play shows.

GD: St. Louis was cool. There are quite a few folks out there that know us and were there to see us. They found us on MySpace and had been fans for a couple of years.

SD: Ah, the wonders of MySpace!
BD: It's interesting to see, the whole MySpace thing. We've been around since the '90s and it's a lot easier now. People already know you, they already know your songs. That's really neat.

GD: Every place we played, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Columbus . . . there was a really good reception. People bought CDs, they knew who we were.

BD: And, on the way down, we played DC and got an e-mail from this guy, Luke Erickson, who was interested in managing us, which we've been waiting on for years. He's from Vermont, but he just got a job with Gold Mountain Entertainment which manages folks like Steve Earle, Band of Horses and a lot of other good bands. He asked us if we need any help.
    We didn't even meet him until South By Southwest. We'd just talked to him on the phone. But he had some ideas for us and has been working some things out. It's been a big help, but it's something we needed like, two years ago.
    We had that distribution deal with Undertow and they distributed our record. But that was about it.
    We're trying to just build our own team. We can record our own records. Indie labels don't have any money. And we have friends on major labels and the labels are telling them that they're not going to do anything special. So what's the point?
    Everybody wants to be independent now, so if we can just build our own little team . . .

GD: Before, not only were we creatively producing the music, but we were trying to promote the band too. And that's a lot of work. We both have day jobs and it's like having a second job. We just knew that if we stuck with it, one day we'd have a pool of people. And that's happening now.

SD: You guys spent some time in England last summer. Any plans to go back?
BD: A label in England, Sonic Cathedral, is going to put out a single from out last record and maybe a new song, we're not sure. That's going to come out this summer and we'll be on a compilation at the end of the year.
    Going to England was cool. We sort of broke into this whole underground psychedelic thing that I never really knew was out there. It's a pretty big scene over there. It's totally different from what you would expect. It's not all druggy or whatever. It's about cool art.

GD: It reminded me a lot of Vermont, actually. There's a community there. there's artists supporting artists and spreading the word about each other.. There's a couple of festivals that want to have us back in July and we want to book some shows in London. But we understand that it's really expensive to do that so . . .

BD: We paid our way to get over there the first time and we knew that if we went it would help open some doors, which it did. But we'll see what happens.

SD: So are are you guys glad to be back?
GD: Yes!
BD: Absolutely.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Scarlett Fever

Some of you are likely aware that husky-voiced blonde bombshell, Scarlett Johansson, has been recording an album of Tom Waits covers — with a little help from Ziggy Stardust himself, David Bowie, no less — due out next month. Actors turning to music — whether out of boredom, the need to stave off "Where Are They Now?" status for a few seconds longer or laboring under genuine delusions that they posess actual musical talent — is hardly a new phenomenon. But that doesn't mean it should be allowed to continue.

To wit, who could forget gems such as Tony Danza's The House I Live In? Or Alyssa Milano's Look In My Heart? (We're still waiting on records from Judith Light or Danny Pintauro to complete the "Who's The Boss" hat trick of ignominy). Better yet, whose collection could possibly be complete without Bruce Willis' The Universal Masters Collection? Seriously? He has a whole fucking "Masters Collection?" Die hard indeed. Joey Lawrence box set anyone? How about a Scott Baio Complete Masterworks?

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. William Shatner's spoken word stuff, while not explicitly "good," per se, is at least oddly entertaining. Billy Bob Thornton is actually pretty decent as well — though he was a musician long before Sling Blade. And Zooey Deschanel's work with M. Ward as She & Him is simply fantastic. Generally speaking though, the forays of actors into music are almost always embarrassingly awful, bringing us back to Ms. Johansson and Tom Waits.

Like any number of red-blooded, heterosexual American males, I love Scarlett Johansson — though not in a creepy Internet-stalker kind of way, mind you . . . ahem. And like any number of superficially depressed American high school students, I was weaned on Tom Waits — in particular, The Early Years Vols. 1 & 2. The gravelly voiced saloon troubadour was a staple on practically every romantically motivated mix-tape I made from the time I was 16. Perhaps that explains why I never had a girlfriend in high school . . . but I digress.

In any event, I adore Tom Waits. Every serious music fan has certain artists they hold as "untouchable," songwriters for whom it is near sacrilege for anyone to attempt to cover — ironically, those are exactly the types of usually iconic artists whose songs are most often done by others. For me, Tom Waits is that artist. Go ahead and hack up Dylan. Release a box set of Beatles tributes. I couldn't care less. But don't mess with Tom.

In order, the ten most egregious offenses of Waits-icide — in my opinion, a crime worthy of punishment by death or a career writing jingles for Burger King — are as follows:
10. Rod Stewart -"Downtown Train"
9. Everything but The Girl - "Downtown Train"
8. Mary Chapin Carpenter - "Downtown Train"
7. Patty Smyth - "Downtown Train"
6. The Manhattan Transfer - "Foreign Affair"
5. The Walkabouts - "Yesterday Is Here"
4. Bette Midler - "Shiver Me Timbers"   
3. Meatloaf - "Martha"
2. Rod Stewart - "Tom Traubert's Blues"
1. Hootie & The Blowfish - "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You"


Given my affection for both Scarlett Johansson and Tom Waits, I view the former's upcoming release with a conflicted morbidity. The karaoke scene in Lost In Translation proved Johansson can sing. But does anyone really believe she's artistically capable of pulling off a Waits cover album? Of course not. That's like asking Marylin Monroe to do Sinatra . . . or algebra, for that matter.

Sadly, judging by "Falling Down," the first video from the album posted today by Pitchfork — who couldn't even bring themselves to "Pitchfork" it, fer chrissakes! — my suspicions/fears appear to be confirmed. Check it out and see if you don't agree. Sigh . . .

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to Baio's "How Do You Talk To Girls?" on repeat and have myself a good cry.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Workers Benny!


I just got a phone call from the Vermont Worker's Center and wanted to quickly fill you all in on an event happening... TONIGHT!

Today is Workers Memorial Day, and to commemorate the occasion, the Vermont Worker's Center is holding a benefit at The Monkey House. Yep, that's right. Ryan Smith is very quickly becoming the community host to all good causes.

Workingman's Army will be performing, along with the new Vermont Workers Center labor chorus. I have no idea what that is, but it definitely piques my curiosity!

Door cost is simply a donation of your choosing, and the event is 18+. Everything starts at 8 PM.

It's been a busy week for the Vermont Worker's Center, with their 10th Anniversary dinner last night in Barre. I might try to swing by tonight, but if I don't make it, good luck to the cause!

Par-Tay for the Bay-Bays!


Do any of our readers have bay-bays? I do not, but I do still manage to keep my finger on the pulse of local and national kids' music, and coming right up is an event worth mentioning.

It has been ten years since local act Robert, Gigi, and Carol released their first CD, "Like the Birdies Sing". While those of you not strapped with kiddies might have never heard of the trio, you likely do know Robert Resnik, if not for his VPR show, "All the Traditions," then at the very least for his CD reviews in Seven Days.

While the trio now performs as a duo, minus Carol, the three will be reuniting for their anniversary, May 24 at Fletcher Free Library. The show runs from 2-4 pm and is free, but money from CD sales will benefit special programs for children and adults.

I started attending weekly Robert and Gigi shows at the library shortly after I became a nanny. And continued to attend for over a year. So I speak from experience when I say that those shows are like a local mommy/nanny/baby social hour, and in incredibly high demand.

No, seriously.

In order to be allowed into the shows, we would have to remember to call the library a full month in advance to register for the next month. If we were too late in calling and the list was filled, we would have to arrive early each week and wait in line, at the slim chance of taking the place of a no-show. And when I say 'wait in line' I really mean it. That staircase in the children's section of the Fletcher Free was packed with babies from all over the block.

To the under five crowd, Robert and Gigi are total rock stars.

So if you have a baby, and you have a chance, you should definitely check out this show. For more information (or perhaps to question about capacity? and time to arrive?) you can call 865-7216. Or, if you'd like to do your part to help the cause and order a copy of the CD, email Robert at [email protected].

Friday, April 25, 2008

No New Deal. For Real? How Bizarre . . .

Happy Friday, Solid State!

I just got wind of some pretty exciting Jazz Fest news. And guess what? It has nothing to do with jazz!

The Magic Hat Block Party on Church Street has become something of a yearly staple and is usually my favorite night of the festival. In fact, my coverage of last year's installment prompted the first round of bizarre hate mail directed at yours truly. Gosh, it seems like only yesterday . . .

Anyway, this year the ever-expanding brew-meisters are mixing things up a bit, veering from the typical jam/funk schmaltz that usually dominates the Block Party lineup and going strictly localvore. Frankly, I rallied for this for years when I was an MH employee. But my pleas always seemed to fall on deaf ears. I also lobbied to bring back Humble Patience, Heart of Darkness and Blind Faith . . . still waiting on those, I'm afraid.

Anyway, Magic Hat has certainly carved out a niche for itself in the jam band scene and has a noticeable presence at summer wiggle-fests like Gathering of the Vibes, FloydFest and Bonnaroo. So, in some ways, it was only natural that their local events almost always featured non-local hyphenated-hybrid acts — or, fucking jam bands. Boring, but natural.

With performances by Swale and Mathematicians at last year's Block Party, MH dipped its toes in the local/regional indie-rock water — a big step forward following The Great Jazz Guys Jazz Fest Debacle a few years back. Apparently, it took. This year the newly re-named "Magic Hat Bizarre" will exclusively feature local acts, representing a commendable cross-section of Vermont music.

Unfortunately, I can't divulge the entire lineup at present. But I have been given the green light to leak some highlights. Here they are:

Aussie cock-rockers Led LO/CO will headline the top block stage. Apparently they've once again been granted a brief release from prison. Why they always choose to spend their free time in VT remains a mystery.

Other stages will feature S'nalbans' finest, Farm, who are still pounding out new tracks in the Cave of Legends for a new disc. Also, um, on tap are The Aztext — I'm wagering this marks the first hip-hop performance in Block Party, or perhaps even Jazz Fest history — and a new project from Matt Hayes, the pedal steel player from rumored-to-be-defunct truck-stop rockers Chuch.

There's plenty more in the works and as info becomes available, I'll be sure to let you know.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Langdon Street Follies

Sigh . . .

The new 7D events calendar has been a hot topic of late. And now that we've re-vamped how the listings appear in print, I imagine the buzz is reaching a fevered pitch. Especially in Montpelier.

This pains and embarrasses me to have to write, but the listings in the current issue of Seven Days are woefully incomplete because somehow, most dates for the Langdon Street Cafe never made it to print. My face and hair are pretty much the same shade of red today.

I could make excuses and point to quirks in the new system. But that would only tell half the story and, frankly, do little more than deflect the blame. The bottom line is that I goofed and should have caught the gaffe well before the paper went to the presses. It was my mistake and I take full responsibility.

To that end, here's what should have been listed this week:

Thursday, April 24
Oneside at 8 p.m.

Friday, April 25
Happy Hour with The Heckhounds at 6 p.m.
Fuzz and Carries Caravan of Thieves at 9 p.m.

Saturday, April 26
Rusty Belle at 9 p.m.

Sunday, April 27
Mud Season Concert Series with Jason Wilbur at 3 p.m.
Jazz Night with Andrew Moroz, James Harvey & Anthony Santor at 7 p.m.

Tuesday April, 29
Mystery Fun Night at 8 p.m.

Wednesday, April 30
The Prodigal String Band at 9 p.m.

As you can see, it's a pretty sweet week of music at Radio Bean East. In particular, Jason Wilbur — better known as John Prine's guitarist — should be a great one. And Rusty Belle is truly one of the more interesting Americana acts in the region. I've heard their live show is not to be missed.

In any event, my sincere apologies to Seven Days readers, the Montpelier-area music community and all the bands and artists who were not listed this week. Special apologies go to Langdon Street Cafe and its employees, who apparently have been fielding phone calls about the issue since the paper hit the streets. Sorry guys.

On a brighter note, LSC booking dude Ed DuFresne is planning to send out the first Northeast Kingdom Music Festival press release next week! More to come . . .

Going Nude


I'm sure most of you remember when Dan mentioned the contest for the coolest Radiohead "Nude" remix. It definitely got people sparring, all of which you can re-live right here.

Well, one of our own took to the challenge.

This morning I received an email from Gregory Douglass, informing his fans that they can now visit his web page to vote for his remix of the song from Radiohead's latest album, "In Rainbows."

Says Gregory, "I figured there would be lots of instrumental remixes so I took a more classic, Gregory
Douglass-esque vocal harmony approach with my remix, please check it out..."

You can listen to what he did, and vote, should you feel inclined, right here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The morning after...


You know that line from Dazed and Confused when Matthew McConaughey explains his taste in girls? "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."

The same is true for ska fans.

Last night's Higher Ground show was awesome, just as I anticipated. What I didn't really expect was that 90% of the room would be younger than me. I last saw Reel Big Fish in 2002. My friend Eric last saw them in 1998.

"Once a decade," he told me. "That's my new policy."

But I guess the age of the crowd helps to explain the band's staying power. Even as their original fans grew up — and in many cases, grew out of them — Reel Big Fish continued attracting the prime music buying audience: teenagers.

An audience that also appreciated local act Husbands AKA. The kids even opened up a mosh pit for the boys! Although, none were able to respond to Chris Valyou's request to buy shots for guitarist Sean Fitzpatrick's birthday. Because of the x's on their hands. Oh well.

Really the most impressive part of the night (RBF set included) was Husbands AKA singer Dylan Burns' performance, despite having been burnt in a fiery blaze the day prior.

No, seriously.

During some routine motorcycle maintenance this past Monday, Dylan was met face to face with a fireball. But even with bandages covering his arms and scalp, and sunglasses to shade his swollen eyes, Burns put on a spirited show, leading high energy choruses about trustafarians as well as ever. And complete with some new "sleeves" tattooed onto his bandages! My favorite read, "RUGGED".

Yep, that's my husband for you!

No, just kidding. Despite the name we're not actually related. That I know of.

Anyway, congrats to the boys for rocking Higher Ground. And if any of you see Dylan around town, don't forget to ask him how he's doing. And maybe buy a CD from him. And then tip him to help fund a new ride.

Any of you who missed the show can catch a (much more affordable) version this Saturday at ECHO. Dan went into more detail about the other acts in this week's column so check that out here. It's not the only good thing happening this weekend though. I also highly recommend the State Radio show at Saint Mike's (SMC students only), and Tick Tick's Stereo Warm-Up dance party at the Monkey House. This month features DJ Llu, David Goliath, Baby Bantam, and everyone's favorite, Mike Device.

I will be missing all of the above for Passover in Northfield so go yourselves and fill me in, ok?


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Burlington Music: The TV Series

You folks will actually read a bit more about this in tomorrow's Soundbites column — at least I hope you will. But since it's a multimedia dealie, I figured it might be appropriate for this little blog o' mine as well. Consider it an interactive Soundbites sneak peek!

Anyway, Rebecca Kopycinkski, aka Nuda Veritas, just released the first episode of her brand spankin' new VCAM TV show "Burly Song: Burlington's Musical Zeitgeist." The half-hour long program premieres on Channel 15 in its regular Tuesday slot this evening at 11 p.m. and will run again this Saturday at 7 p.m. However, if 11 o'clock is a little late for you — I'm not here to judge — or if you don't typically find yourself near a TV on a Saturday night — if you do, you're a total loser . . . just kidding. I'm really not here to judge — you can view Episode 1 right here.

In this installment, Ms. Kopycinski hosts the estimable Paddy Reagan for a half-hour of conversation and performance. The show has a definite "cable access" feel, but I dig it. Not like "Wayne's World" cable access, mind you. More like a VCAM version of Charlie Rose . . . but with music . . . and a female host . . . and spray painted records hanging on strings in the background. OK, maybe it's not like Charlie Rose at all.

In any event, the interview portion of the show is pretty informative, especially when Paddy describes his band Cannon Fodder, whom I've been wanting to write about for while now. And Reagan's performance is decent too — though TV is a notoriously difficult outlet for live music.

But my favorite segment — and according to her blog, Rebecca's as well — has got to be the "Cigarette Break" bit at the the end. This time around, Kopycinski  approaches people outside a Farm show at The Monkey House in March — note the effin' snow! — and asks them questions like "What band would you most like to see come to Burlington?" and "If you could play any instrument in any Burlington band, what/who would it be?" Farm multi-instrumentalist Ben Maddox's reply of "like, just playin' one instrument?" is priceless. Show-off.

Be sure to tune in tonight. And if you're interested in performing or helping out with production, you can e-mail Rebecca here.

Fishing for Husbands


Is everyone heading over to Higher Ground tonight?

In case you weren't aware, hometown newbies Husbands AKA will be playing! And while it's always a big deal when a band plays its first big HG gig, Husbands decided to skip the Showcase Lounge and go right for the Ballroom.


Because they're opening for Reel Big Fish.

Yup, everyone's favorite ska-punk band is coming to Burlington. And what better local group to open the show than our own ska-inspired outfit?

Word is that over 400 tickets have sold so far, so you better grab yours this afternoon if you plan to attend. The price (now $18 on the day of) is certainly steep compared to Husbands' usual shows at the Monkey, or Wasted City, but I for one decided I couldn't miss tonight's ultimate high school throwback. Well, technically middle school for me, but you know.

Speaking of middle school throw backs, did you hear who's playing HG tomorrow night? Hanson. Yep. And if you think the price of tonight's show is steep, don't plan on tomorrow. At $30 a ticket, I'm interested to see just how big a crowd those perfect coifs still draw.

Really I wish Husbands AKA was playing their gig tomorrow instead of tonight. If only for the chance of partially recreating this:


Photo courtesy of Tyson Valyou.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lauer vs. Keys, Round 1


As part of my new "twenty-five and time to get my shit together" routine, I've been waking up an hour earlier each morning. It gives me a chance to fold some laundry, drink some coffee, and get a little work done on my biz-naz, all to the over-caffeinated background noise of Matt Lauer and the Today Show team. Or Diane with Good Morning America. Whichever has the more interesting guest.

This morning I chose Today, for an interview with Amy Poehler, and was then treated to the first of their "Summer Concert Series". Today's performance was by Alicia Keys, who busted Matt for calling it a "Summer Concert Series" when she had to be bundled in a parka to perform. I had to agree.

I'm not an Alicia Keys fan. I've listened to her songs at the gym without realizing I'm listening to her songs at the gym, but really the most I know about her is that she interrupts my coveted episodes of The Hills with something they call a "micro series". And it blows.

But this morning I felt akin to her.

After she banged out one piano power ballad, Matt joined her on stage to ask a few questions, the most notable of which was seeking clarification on the statements Keys allegedly made to Blender magazine in which she called Gangsta Rap "a ploy to convince black people to kill each other."

Googling the story on my laptop, I found that the alleged quotes, and Keys' claims that she had been misrepresented by the magazine, had already been beaten to death over a week go by a variety of news sources. So I could sympathize that Keys might be feeling frustrated with the continued attention on the negative.

Last Thursday I organized a benefit show for Michelle's Earth Foundation, the nonprofit established in memory of Michelle Gardner-Quinn. As a friend of Michelle's, the continued negative press about the upcoming trial has been hard to deal with. Especially knowing that there is so much good being done in Michelle's name that no one cares to cover. Because it's not what people want to hear about? I have a hard time believing that because I try to have faith in humanity, but that's what I'm sometimes told.

Anyway, Michelle's mom and I worked together to send press releases to all Vermont media, and I was thrilled when Fox 44 called to meet me outside the Monkey for an interview. And then immediately fell into a sweat thinking that the interviewer might dare to ask me about the murder or the trial or god forbid, Brian Rooney, and I would have to look him in the eye and tell him to shut the hell up. Not really the image my philanthropic label is going for.

Luckily the interviewer did no such thing, but later that night I was more than disappointed to watch my piece cut down to a three second clip, while Brian Rooney's trial took top slot. Coverage improved drastically on Thursday, but Wednesday night I left the Monkey in tears.

This morning on Today, Matt Lauer pulled a similar one on Keys when he immediately asked her about her comments to Blender magazine, while Keys had really come on the show to promote a variety of other things, including her documentary about the plight of the people of Africa.

You can watch a video clip of her response below - just skip ahead to around 1:12. Even with a mouth full of toothpaste, I gave her a little "woot" for it.

I really have no opinion on Keys' alleged comments. My only opinion is on the media's coverage of the scandal, and the media's coverage of all things negative, in and out of the music world. All news stories, good or bad, warrant coverage. But sometimes, when the horse is long dead, you just have to give the bad news a rest. Especially when there's plenty of good to replace it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dude, What's Up With The Website?

Happy Friday, Solid State!

If you're reading this right now, you either have a desk job in an office that allows you to waste company time on the interwebs, or . . . Jesus. I can't even think of an "or." If you're not absolutely forced to be inside on a glorious day like today and are spending your time reading blogs, get a life already. And yes, I fully realize that you could be outside and following along via laptop. Still . . . buy a frisbee.

While we're (sort of) on the subject of all-out geekery, I wanted to pass along the trailer for a movie that will soon be premiering at Cinema 9. It's called Nerdcore Rising and was made by a NYC filmmaker/comedian by the name of Negin Farsad. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Farsad earlier this week for an interview that will run in next week's issue. It was a pretty hysterical conversation about one of the more bizarre music genres to emerge in recent memory: Nerdcore. What is Nerdcore, you ask?  Watch and learn.

Moving on to the actual topic of this post, let's talk about the website.

Many of you have noticed that the music, movies, arts and calendar listings look a wee bit different than they used to. Many of you have also noticed that some of the listings are/were seriously effed up. We know. You can stop with the e-mails, phones calls, dirty looks and late night bricks through my bedroom window. We're on it, OK?

This is but the first incarnation of our new handy dandy, fully searchable, all-encompassing events calendar and, frankly, some glitches are to be expected. Once the kinks are all worked out, it's gonna be super freakin' sweet. But in the meantime, please bear with us. And if you notice something is missing or have constructive feedback you'd like to offer, don't hesitate to let me know.

Speaking of missing listings, I was just made aware that Cave Bees are playing tonight at Radio Bean. Unfortunately, this was news to me since there was nothing about the show listed on The Bean's website and therefore wasn't included in the paper. In any event, you should go 'cuz Cave Bees rock. The show starts at 10 p.m. and will be followed by a Toronto-based band called Organic Funk. Organic Funk. Are you fucking kidding me? That's the laziest example of band naming since, well, The Band, I guess. It's not even ironic like "The Jazz Guys" — second laziest example . . . just kidding JGs. Organic Funk actually plays funk. Organically, one would assume.

Oh, that reminds me. I'm starting a new band called "Pretentious Hipster Indie Rock." We're currently looking for a bassist, an accordion player, a musical saw, a large vat of Bed Head and a sense of humor.

Finally, on Fridays I like to do a quick run-down of some weekend shows that catch my eye. But last week's installment apparently bruised some egos/ruffled feathers/hurt people's feeling-boxes since it wasn't overarching and all-inclusive. So this week, I'd like to suggest that you folks go out and see everything. There are no highlights because everybody's band is the best band in town. So take a look at the listin . . . oh, right.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Remember me?


Oh well hellooooo there, Solid State!

Whew! What an absence, eh? Who the hell am I, Dan Bolles?*

At the risk of giving you all a little too much information, let's just say that I've been busy... redecorating. And for the first time in over two weeks, I can say with confidence that things are looking better. What a difference a fresh coat of paint makes!

My "redecorating" has managed to not only keep me away from blogging, but also the local music scene, save for one special night out for my birthday. Yep. I'm officially twenty-five. Does that mean my opinion now matters? I'm not sure. But it does mean I can rent a car, so I guess it's something.

That night I headed over to the Monkey (surprise!) for what I thought would be a nice mellow evening with all of my favorite people, including Cannon Fodder. Instead of just dancing along to Paddy and the boys though, I also fell in love with a new musician.

It usually takes me much more than just one live performance to determine whether or not someone's music is to my liking, but that night at the Monkey, I fell head over heels for the music of Nathan Moore. Which, in case you hadn't noticed, much of Vermont already has. Case in point: Moore is the cover of the current issue of State of Mind.

That Monday was another night in the singer-songwriter series that Cannon Fodder has organized. Basically, they invite a singer songwriter to play a set, then they get up and play a set, and then finally, the guest musician comes back on stage, and Cannon Fodder acts as their backing band. They've gotten some pretty impressive people to join them so far, and it has made for some really good shows. But this one blew the others out of the water.

The show opened with a set by Jess Clemons, who had a hard time quieting down the crowded bar. But when Moore took the stage, people shut right up. Not because his music was mellow, though. Just because he was so engaging. And intriguing. In that he sort of looked like the love child of Paddy Reagan and Kelly Ravin. Weird.

If I hadn't been so busy "redecorating" I would have sat down the next day and written a better description of what Moore's music actually sounds like. And then I would have told you to catch him at Honky Tonk Tuesday last week. Or at least tune in to hear him on The Radiator.

Luckily it's not too late to catch him in Vermont. This Thursday, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, which features Moore, will be playing the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground. And guess who will be opening? None other than our boys, Cannon Fodder. I hear this band, which pairs Moore with Boston's The Slip, is an exploration of alter-egos. So the show will probably be quite a bit different from my birthday night. Then again, I can't remember my birthday night well enough to describe it to you, so what do you care if it's different?

Let's put it this way. I myself am putting on a show Thursday night, and I still felt the need to mention Nathan Moore's competing Vermont appearance to you all. Yep. The businesswoman inside me is SCREAMING right now. Let's calm her down with this: if Higher Ground isn't your scene, perhaps my bennie is. Steph, Maryse, Marie, Aya... the gang's all at the Monkey! 8 PM doors. $3. Money goes to Michelle's Earth Foundation.

Whew. Shameless self-promotion out in only one breath. I'm getting better.

My blogging is certainly choking though. Give me a break while I get my feet wet again?

*And as for the cheap shot, Dan, I am totally kidding. I actually suspect you might be on speed this week with the amount of writing and brand!spankin!new! online calendar stuff you're doing. I, for one, am not at all jealous of your work load. Just your celebrity status.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cooley-O, Guvna!

Pop quiz, hot-shots:

Q: What do you get when you cross Heloise & The Savoir Faire, a quintessentially bizarre British quiz show and Frodo Baggins with music written by our own Jason Cooley?

A: This.

For some reason I'm reminded of "Pig in a Poke" from National Lampoon's European Vacation. The hills are indeed alive with the sound of Griswold . . . and sweet, sweet Heloise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

What to Do, What To Do . . .

Happy Friday, Solid State!

According to the weather geek, Tom Messner, it's shaping up be a cold, rainy weekend. All the better, then, to spend it in the cozy depths of our various nightclubs and cafes, sampling wealth of options that make up our beloved little scene.

Unfortunately,I will likely not be able to partake in this weekend's festivities as I will spend the bulk of my "free time" becoming intimately familiar with this new web calendar doohicky Seven Days is getting set to launch. When it's ready, it's gonna be super sweet. You're gonna love it, I swear. Actually getting it ready, however, is proving to be one beastly, laborious task. I won't bore you with the details, but I'd like to ask that should any of you see me precariously perched on the ledge of one of Burlington's taller buildings, you make an attempt to talk me down. Or give me a push, depending.

But enough about my problems. Here's a list of the stuff I'd be doing if I weren't me.

The Smittens and Let's Whisper @ The Skinny Pancake
The Smittens rock. The Skinny Pancake rocks. Max is back from Leeds. Colin is playing twice. To borrow a phrase, "Yow!"

In Memory of Pluto CD Release @ The Monkey House
I know, I know. The lukewarm review of their new EP in this week's paper isn't a huge selling point. However, the review of their show at Radio Bean a few weeks back should be. These guys are a great live band. Next time around, they should spend the money and hire a producer. Calling Ryan Power . . .

Starline Rhythm Boys @ Red Square
Like I need a reason . . .

Melonheadz @ Franny O's
I have no idea who these guys are — Evan Dando tribute, perhaps? But it's Freakin' Friday at Franny O's! In all seriousness, I fucking love that bar.

Jaguar Love @ 242 Main
Why the hell not?

Funkwagon @ Nectar's
Just kidding. I much prefer Funk Taco. Actually, Funkwagon isn't even playing. It's Greg Beadle's (ex- Cancer Conspiracy) utterly ass-kicking arena rock band Township. I just might have to go this one anyway, work be damned.

The Mathematicians @ Langdon St. Cafe
Hands down, my favorite band from last year's Jazz Fest — "The Real Deal," are you listening? Plus, it's only a stone's throw from Charlie O's, which is, hands down, the best best bar in Vermont. Oh yeah, they don't play jazz.

Luminescent Orchestrii @ Los Nuevos Comedientes @ Club Metronome
While I do love me some gypsy-punk, I mostly just want to go to this so I can find out who the hell Los Nuevos Comedientes are. I've listed them in the club listings a couple of times now and never know what to put down as a genre since I can't find any info about the band anywhere — in fact, I might have even listed them as "comedy" at some point . . . whoops.

Karaoke With Pete @ Backstage Pub
Just making sure you're still paying attention.

Have a great weekend all. And if you're out and about, pour a little out for your local music critic, OK?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Jazz(wo)men Cometh

Last week in Sound Bites, I remarked that folks reading the paper the day it hit newsstands would be doing so while I was attending a press conference announcing the lineup and sponsors of this year's Discover Jazz Festival, and that it was a sure of spring. It seems I was only half right.

Since that column ran, the weather has been undeniably spring-like. Eat your heart out Tom Messner. Unfortunately, I got my dates mixed up. Last Wednesday, I strolled into the Amy Tarrant Gallery at the FlynnCenter only to "discover" . . . a completely empty room. D'oh! The conference was actually yesterday, not a week ago.

I did end up attending, and I'm glad I did. The food was really, really good. Oh, and the lineup is pretty sweet too.

In particular, there was a lot of buzz around an up-and-coming R&B singer named Ledisi, who was recently nominated for two Grammys — Best R&B Album and Best New Artist, the latter of which she lost to Amy Winehouse. Hailed by pundits who hail such things as a blend of Ella Fitgerald and Erykah Badu, Ledisi is one sultry soul siren, equally adept at delivering slinky R&B and smoky jazz. Should be a great show.

The following is a clip from her appearance on PBS' "Great Performances: We Love Ella!" There's kind of a lot of talking — and the second half of the video features jazz a cappella ensemble Take 6. But the music in between is a tantalizing taste of what we can expect in a couple of months. Enjoy!

You can check out the rest of this year's lineup here.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I don't know about you folks, but today my brain is utterly fried. Maybe it's the recent spate of terrific weather, or maybe it's fact that I've been glued to a computer screen for three days straight. But I find myself in need of mindless entertainment on par with "Girls Jumping on Trampolines" from The Man Show. What follows is the next best thing: The Green Mountain Derby Dames beating each other up on roller skates, courtesy of Jeff Howlett and Howlerman Productions, with music from Boston-based punk outfit, The Faithfull.

Green Mountain Derby Dames from Howlermano on Vimeo.

Thanks, Jeff. I needed that.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My First Re-Mix

Have you ever listened to a Radiohead song and wished you could give it the Danger Mouse treatment? Maybe combine "Fake Plastic Trees" with DMX's "Ruff Ryder's Anthem." Or "High and Dry with" Afroman's "Because I Got High." That'd be sick. You could even call the album The Blends. (rimshot!)

I'm here all night, folks. Please, tip your waitress.

Aaaaanyhoo . . .

The always forward-thinking Radiohead has just taken the next step in band-fanboy interactivity, teaming up with GarageBand and iTunes to offer their new single, "Nude," as a remixable track. Here's how it works:

1. Purchase all five "stems" from iTunes. Stems are the individual components of the song — guitar, voice, drums, etc.

2. You'll be sent an access code to a ready-to-open GarageBand file. Open. Mix. Repeat as necessary.

3. Upload the finished remix to where other rabid Yorkephytes will vote on their "favourite" tracks.

4. Kick back, open a PBR tallboy and wait for Brian Eno to call.

Currently, Toronto's avant noise outfit Holy Fuck — Best. Band name. Ever. — are winning in a landslide.  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't enter. The contest runs through May 1, so there's plenty of time. You don't even need GarageBand to do it as the file works in numerous platforms. You can also download a widget for your Facebook or MySpace profiles so your friends can vote for you. Neat-o.

Anyone else kinda curious to see what Greg Davis could do with this?

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