Soundbites: Akron/Family, The Cush, Aztec Two-Step, Aram Bedrosian
Greg Davis is a weird dude. And I say that with respect and admiration.
Fresh from a stint touring with Pennsylvania’s delightfully bizarre experimental rock collective Akron/Family, Burlington’s reigning avant-garde ambassador is set to present yet another evening of strange sounds and aural oddities — with a little help from his friends Zaika, Tom Carter and Kurt Weisman.
Zaika is actually the name of an album recorded by Carter — best known for his work with Texas-based psychedelic outfit Charalambides — and guitarist Marcia Bassett. The collaboration melds the former’s experimental folk leanings with the latter’s penchant for obscure, droning guitar work. Though not for the faint of heart, the result is a truly mind-bending sonic experience. Carter will also deliver a solo set drawing on a wealth of material he honed on the road collaborating with such progressive musical luminaries as Baltimore songwriter Ian Nagoski and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.
The final piece to this peculiar puzzle is Kurt Weisman, better known as the driving force behind the quirky pop cooperative Feathers. Weisman is a sonic scavenger of sorts, employing nearly any tool he has on hand — musical or otherwise — to create a swirling blend of live electronics and jarring psych-pop. Though his work in Feathers is better known, his recent solo EP, More Is More, might be his finest effort to date and bucks conventional wisdom by positing that more is, in fact, more.
If you’ve never heard of these folks before, don’t feel too bad. Until a couple of weeks ago, neither had I. But those who prefer their folk and pop music freaky side up should make their way to Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery this Friday, October 26.
HAPPY (LSD) TRAILS
If the Firehouse Gallery show doesn’t satisfy your thirst for esoteric psychedelia, I’d suggest making The Monkey House a stop on your Halloween-night itinerary as local stalwarts The Cush take the stage for what will be one of their final area appearances for quite a while.
Relax. The band isn’t breaking up or going “on hiatus” — which is really just a fancy way of saying, “We’re breaking up.” Instead, they’re merely retreating to warmer climes for the winter months.
Despite the fact that fall is taking its time getting here — isn’t global warming great? — bandleaders Gabrielle and Burette Douglas will be leaving town on November 10 to tour their way deep into the heart of Texas with the help of local indie-rock genius and restless wanderer Ryan Power. Expect them to return some time after mud season next year, possibly with a new album in tow.
Say your fond farewells at the Monkey next Wednesday, October 31, and/or at Parima on Friday, November 9, with the estimable Mr. Power opening the show. Parting really is such sweet sorrow.
WHAT THE FOLK?
Ten years is a pretty long time. For the past decade, Waitsfield’s Valley Players Theater has been the site of the Mad River Unplugged Music Series, which has hosted a remarkable number of terrific folk and traditional acts, year in and year out. In celebration of their tenth season, the series has unveiled its fall schedule, and it’s superb.
This Saturday, revered folk duo Aztec Two-Step — their name is derived from a line in beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind” — get things started with their potent blend of forceful vocals and luscious guitar harmonies. Though they never quite achieved the same success of contemporaries such as Simon & Garfunkel, Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman are widely regarded as one of the most respected folk duos of their generation.
Celebrating 35 years together, the pair has performed alongside the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Talking Heads and Jackson Browne. And they’re coming to Vermont! Nifty.
The remainder of the schedule is equally impressive, and as we draw closer to each show, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it. However, if you really can’t wait, check it out online at http://www.valleyplayers.com.
THE LOW-END LOWDOWN
You know who I’ve never written about before? Aram Bedrosian, that’s who, and it’s about time that changes.
You know Aram, even if you think you don’t. If you make the rounds in the local scene, you’ve probably seen him more times than you can count. The guy is one of the hardest-working musicians in Burlington. But due to his rather shy nature and the fact that he plays bass guitar — hardly a marquee instrument — he keeps a pretty low profile while others hog the spotlight. That’s a damn shame.
A founding father of late, great local electronica act Concentric and current member of the Gordon Stone Band, Bedrosian has done yeoman’s work providing the low end for artists such as Jennifer Hartswick, Raq’s Chris Machetti, Lowell Thompson, Turkey Bouillon Mafia and Aaron Flinn, to name but a few. But he’s much more than a musical stage-hopper.
Bedrosian has a burgeoning solo career that should propel him to prominence as not only one of Burlington’s finest bassists but one of the country’s as well.
His self-titled debut solo album was glowingly reviewed by Bass Guitar magazine, which is the United Kingdom’s version of Bass Player. Think of it as porn for tech-obsessed bassists — wait till you get a load of the centerfold.
A track from that record is also featured on the recently released Otter Creek Brewing sampler CD, which is available in select 12-packs statewide.
In addition, Bedrosian is part of a new wave of music education as an instructor for MusicVirtuosity.com, an online music school that takes advantage of developing Internet technologies and web cams to educate aspiring musicians all over the globe. He’s in good company, as his colleagues include Steve Vai guitar mentor Stu Hamm, among others.
This Sunday, Burlington’s answer to Victor Wooten finally takes center stage for a solo performance opening up for eclectic one-man-band, That One Guy, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge. Bedrosian lays down some of the funkiest — and technically precise — grooves you’ll ever hear. Do yourself a favor and check out one of Burlington’s best-kept secrets before the rest of the world catches on.