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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Okay, So Obviously Any Monkey Who is a Fan of Chuck Norris is a Threat to Your Scrotum!

(Editor's Note: Bryan Dondero, Solid State. Solid State, Bryan Dondero. This is the last time I'll introduce you to each other. Anyway, today Mr. Dondero takes a slight detour from musical ramblings and gets down to some monkey business. -DB)

The latest headlines in the New York Times show that the monkey debate (don't say "trial," that's completely different) still continues. Let me just say that "I get it."  If it weren't for the whole throwing poop thing, I would totally want a pet monkey. But really, when you think about it, throwing poop is a symbolic gesture that states the underlying truth about monkeys here. THEY ARE NOT MEANT TO BE DOMESTICATED!  Sure, I know a little about evolution and the natural order of things. And yes, given several hundred years of domesticating and breeding, maybe monkeys could be on par with dogs. But I've seen Planet of the Apes. I know what happens if we do that.

Alas, people still love their monkeys. Given last week's tragedy, where some old lady's chimp nearly mauled her friend to death and consequently ended up with the chimp being shot and killed, one would think that the lesson would be learned. Hmmmm . . . maybe I shouldn't be trying to raise orangutans in my living room.  Bob, the monkey owner featured in the above Times article, when asked about last week's monkey mishap succinctly observes, "she was delusional.” He continues, “she anthropomorphized the primate to such a degree that he was more human than chimpanzee.” This coming from a man who's own monkey nearly gave him a vasectomy. They just can't let their beloved primates go, “He bit my arms, legs and face,” another monkey owner claims. “It was terrifying, but I still love him.”

Maybe Heston was right. Maybe we are destined to be outsmarted and overthrown by primates some day.  Maybe our moronic tendencies to value things that are cute and cuddly over the natural order of things will eventually be our demise. Perhaps we should have seen that huge stinking glob of feces being hurled right at our faces . . . and ducked.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Sound of Silence

This just in from Bill Simmon's Twitter feed: The Radiator has pulled its internet stream due to funding shortages. Sigh.

Do your daily good deed and donate here.

On a related note, does anyone ever post good news on Twitter? Sheesh.

Death to . . . er, on Pitchfork!

I think I need a few minutes and a bottle of Pepto to digest Pitchfork's review of Death's . . . For the Whole World To See. (One critique that springs immediately to mind: in order for an album to be a "re-issue," doesn't it have to have been "issued" first? Granted, some of these tunes were pressed to vinyl as singles, but they were never presented together before now.)

I'll try and weigh in on this later. But for now, check out the review and let's hear what you think . . .

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Burlington Sucks

Just kidding. Burlington doesn't suck. But now that I have your attention . . .

In a couple of weeks, Seven Days will be running a cover story concerning ways to "make Burlington better." The piece is still very much in the planning stages. But a brainstorming session earlier today kind of got my juices flowing. So I thought, why not ask you, denizens of Solid State, for some music-y suggestions?

A few that jumped immediately to my mind were:

1. A Rock club (capital R). No offense to any of the existing area venues, but there's no denying there's been a void since Toast closed (which filled the void left when Hunt's closed). Nectar's and Metronome are great at what they do. So is Higher Ground, but you have to drive there. The Monkey Bar is close — but again, you gotta drive. And the recent rise of alt-venues has been a fun development. But we're missing the happy medium in Burlington proper. That dive-bar-meets-juke-joint kind of place that draws up-and-coming rock bands and established touring acts who don't quite fit the Nectar's bailiwick, are probably too big for the Monkey or an alt-venue and are too small for destination venues like HG. I know the Toast era is often viewed through rose-colored glasses. But there's a reason for that.

2. A Waterfront Amphitheater. Sure, we could really only use it for a few months a year. But it would be a hell of a lot better than the existing proposals for the Moran Plant.

3. More local music showcases. They're awesome. They always draw. And they don't happen often enough.

4. Mandatory showering policy at all venues. Bouncers would be required to smell all patrons before they enter. I'm serious about this one.

And some non-music related suggestions:

1. More trashcans outside of the Church Street district. I've logged more miles on foot clutching plastic bags filled with dog poop because I can't find a trashcan until I get downtown than I care to count.

2. A commuter rail. Lessee, we've got high gas prices, an imploding economy and state full of supposedly progressive thinking environmental types. Screw the Circ. Sure the Champlain Flyer didn't work. But it only served folks on the state's West Coast and only like twice a day. Extend the rails throughout Chittenden County and run it all day long. If we want to be a big boy city, we've gotta have real mass transit. Monorail!

3.  A weatherproof bubble over the city with a retractable roof. I'd say I'm kidding, but I'm seriously all set with winter. Enough already. 

4. More/better bars. The current crop is enough to drive a man not to drink.

5. A pool hall. I miss Cherry St. Billiards. A downtown bowling alley would be pretty rad too.

6. Fewer chain stores/eateries on Church Street. Remember Chassman & Bem's? Cassler's? Those places were great. But hey, at least we're getting a bigger Urban Outfitters! Gee, swell.

I could go on. But enough of my ramblings. I want to hear what you would do to improve Burlington. And yes, wishful thinking is wholeheartedly encouraged.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cohen Tours North America/Prozac Stocks On The Rise

(Editor's Note: This just in from erstwhile Nocturnal's bassist Bryan Dondero, who is gettin' bloggy with it during some well deserved down time. -DB)

What better way to clear up those winter blues than to treat yourself to a Leonard Cohen show this Spring? Okay, maybe that's not the best antidote for seasonal depression. But a chance to see one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time would turn any frown upside down. Hell, even Kris Kristofferson declared that the opening lyrics to "Bird on a Wire" would kick off his epitaph! Folk's poet laureate has lined up a string of shows across North America for the first time in 15 years. Surprisingly, Burlington is not included on the tour — come on Flynn, step it up!  Leonard-cohen

Sir Cohen does, however, include a stop in his hometown of Montreal on May 21st at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse. Hey, it's just a short drive and a brief cavity search away. So worth it in my opinion. You may want to double check the dates on his tour page though, as the first date says "Austin, TX, Canada." That's really going to throw off the whole NXNW/SXSW thing! Incidentally, if anyone is interested in starting a folk militia to kidnap L.Cohen and force him play a solo show at Parima (nothing compliments Folk Noir like a nice steamy Shu Mai . . . yum), a signup sheet will be attached to this blog.

Monkey House Mashups

(Editor's Note: The following comes in from factory fresh Solid State blogger Marc Scarano. This is only his second post. So I promise I'll stop introducing him soon. Anyway, the floor's all yours, Marc -DB)

Here are a few impressions from Friday night at the Monkey House. In order of appearance (as well as the number of band members):

1. Ryan Power- If I had to come up with a mashup to describe Ryan Power's sound, it would be Flaming Lips vs. Frank Zappa. On whippets. He's like a slacker rapper, taking the stage by himself and singing along to pre-recorded music. Despite the karaoke format, I enjoyed his set.

2. The Vacant Lots- Lou Reed vs. Moe Tucker, in a death cage match. But they're on the same team, fighting against a giant sitar. That's what they sounded like. They kind of reminded me of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but with good songs. Ouch!

3. The Cush- Neil Young vs. My Bloody Valentine, with a touch of The Breeders. The spacey modern Breeders, not the punky old Breeders. They take it slow, using the space between the notes as much as the notes themselves. Male and female voices blend nicely in the mix. GuitarisThe Cusht Burette Douglas has a secret weapon: a big black magic box on a stool in front of him that he was plugged into. I'm not even sure what that thing does. But his guitar sounded really cool, at times all trippy and echoed, and other times just thick and nasty. It's hard for a band to live up to the hype surrounding them. But for me The Cush did.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bonnie Prince Billy @ HG Ballroom 5/18

Higher Ground just announced that Bonnie "Prince" Billy, a.k.a. Palace, a.k.a. Palace Songs, a.k.a. Palace Music, a.k.a. Palace Brothers, a.k.a. Will Oldham will make a return visit to VT on Monday, May 18. If I may, woo hoo!, a.k.a. hell yeah!, a.k.a. yippee!

Here's a clip from a recent performance in Tel Aviv.

And here is what still ranks as perhaps my all-time favorite Will Oldham moment (and yes, I know I've posted this one before, but it really is worth revisiting from time to time).

And here is some dude butchering a great song. I never realized how many of these types of vids there are out there (see the Jeff Tweedy post for another example). It's becoming an endless source of voyeuristic hilarity/depression.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dan Auerbach Goes Solo/Amish

(Editor's Note: While Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are on a brief hiatus to recover from extensive touring and to prepare for hitting the studio again, bassist Bryan Dondero has some time to kill. He recently approached me about contributing to the blog to "get his write on." To which I said, "right on." Today, he chimes in on Dan Auerbach and the Amish. Take it away Bryan. . .  - DB)

Auerbach The Black Keys front(ish) man,  Dan Auerbach (pictured), is leaving his cohort Patrick Carney for a brief stint 'cross the U.S. of A. in support of his new record Keep It Hid. Auerbach will be backed by Austin's Hacienda. Remember them? They were those fine fellas who opened for Dr. Dog at Higher Ground a few wiffens past. Oh wait . . . there were only 3 other people there that night during their set . . . ahem.

Nonetheless, them boys got chops and surely will provide the perfect counterpoint (and look) to Auerbach. Sadly, the closest he gets to our neck of the woods is the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on Sunday, March 1. It's a fine club though, and a short drive away if you ask me. (Price of tix includes complimentary barn-raising.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Fatal Flaws @ Radio Bean

Radio Bean is my favorite coffeehouse in Burlington, despite never having had any coffee there. It's not that I don't drink coffee. It's just that I'm usually there at night to check out live music or play an open mic. And after dark, I much prefer a draught of Switchback over a cup of java. Anyway, the Bean was advertising garage rock last Saturday night, so I went down to catch Burlington's The Fatal Flaws.

Garage rock is a simple art form. And therein lies its beauty and strength. I've been a fan of the genre's minimalist characteristics — sparse drumbeats, bluesy R&B 12-bar chord changes and tales of love and heartbreak — for a long time. Heck, I have even played music in a garage. (Today's free history lesson: That's how the term originated in the mid sixties, when kids all over America heard The Beatles and became so inspired that they bought guitars and drums and set up in their parent's garages to start their own bands.) The Fatal Flaws

The Fatal Flaws definitely fit the description, and I enjoyed the show. Comprised of Chris Beneke on guitar and vocals and Sasha Rodriguez on drums, this husband and wife duo makes a sound that is bigger than the sum of its parts. Beneke played a pale green hollow-body Gretsch through a little Savage tube amp propped up at his feet. He faced sideways toward the wall the whole night. But I assume this was so he could see Sasha and not a stage fright issue. The Flaws play spontaneously and without a set list, so eye contact is important. When a song wasn't working they would just start over or scrap it altogether. Rodriguez enthusiastically played a children's drum set. To wit: when she substituted a pair of maracas for drumsticks, alternately shaking them in the air and banging on the kit.

As my wife and I walked in, Beneke made a comment about Bo Diddley and Lux Interior jamming together in hell, which could actually serve as a good description of their sound. While a comparison to The White Stripes is almost inevitable, I would also liken them to The Velvet Underground, early Beck and sixties rockers such as The Pretty Things or The Sonics. Clearly, their music is made from the outside looking in.

Beneke has a dark muse in his songwriting, exhibited by entertaining lyrics such as "some intercourse with a side of tits" and "I want to hurt the pretty people, but first I want to fuck them." I'm pretty sure that last line was directed at the large group of people who were there for an "ugly sweater pub crawl," and couldn't have cared less about what was going down on that tiny stage. Besides them, there were only a few of us there to actually hear the music. You know it's a small show when Radio Bean feels empty.

When Beneke asked for requests, my wife yelled out for The Cramps, since he had already mentioned their recently fallen front man. Beneke revealed that they didn't know any Cramps tunes, but that he had seen the band a decade ago in New York City at the Roseland Ballroom, a show that my wife and I had also attended. The universe is funny like that. We settled for a repeat performance of "Fuckbait," an awesome song that I am sure Lux would have enjoyed as well.

You can check out The Fatal Flaws for yourself when they return to Radio Bean on Saturday March 7.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

But How Do You Feel About Sasha Fierce?

I swear I'm not making this up.

According to and various other media outlets, Etta James publicly threatened to whoop Beyonce Knowles' ass at a recent concert in Seattle. Etta James The legendary singer was apparently miffed over Knowles' Inaugural Ball performance of "At Last," James' signature tune — though she was hardly the first to sing it. No word on whether Knowles has accepted the challenge. But one would have to figure Vegas would put long odds on the 71 year old James. Although if Danny Bonaduce can box Jose Canseco to a draw, I guess anything's possible.

Here's the transcript:
"You guys know your President, right? You know the one with the big ears? Wait a minute, he ain't my President. He might be yours; he ain't my President. You know that woman he had singing for him, singing my song? She's going to get her ass whipped.

"The great Beyonce. I can't stand Beyonce! She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol' President day, singing my song that I've been singing forever."

And here's the actual audio clip, courtesy of

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


This just in from prodigal laz-e-boy Arthur Adams and his poptastic San Fran rock outfit Blammos:

The band's video for "How Do You Know?" was voted the number one rock video at for the month of January, beating out a bunch bands you've never heard of to win a king's ransom of $1000. According to recent email from Adams, rather than blow the loot on celebrating, Blammos will use the cash to return to the studio. So in a way, we're all winners. But in another, more accurate way, Blammos is the winner. (That's right, two Simpsons references in less than a week. Do something.)

It's certaily a nice win for Adams and Co. But it's probably not entirely unexpected. If you go to Ourstage and check out the runners up, you'll notice that the "competition" is similar to, say, the New England Patriots scrimmaging Burlington High School's JV squad. Talent-wise, Blammos is in a different league from the rest of the pack. And it ain't even close.

(It should probably be noted that I've known Arthur since he was in grade school. I'm friends with bassist Tim Marcus, formerly of Concentric renown. And the band's drummer, David Stockhausen, was, once upon a time, my partner in alt-country crime in The Middle Eight. Obviously, I'm all sorts of biased on this one. Deal with it. But I'd urge you to check it out and see if you don't agree.)

Anyway, here's the Blammos vid. 'Tis a beaut. Congrats, guys!


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