Soundbites: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Dan Zanes, Fishbone, The Coup
Looks like this is gonna be my final column before our brand-new, factory-fresh Music Editor Dan Bolles takes over. No kidding — he actually smells like a buffed leather car seat. We’ve been sharing pretty close quarters here at the office.
I thought I’d have some Really Important Stuff to say about finally splitting Burlington after 15 years, but I’m not sure I’m up to the task. I can tell you this: It’s been fun. Well, except for shoveling snow and scraping off windshields. Also, Vermont doesn’t have an IMAX movie theater. Those things are awesome.
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to develop relationships with some of the finest musicians I’m ever likely to encounter. You know who you are. And you all owe me a beer.
Many people who visit Vermont are shocked at how vital our music scene is. I’ve been around long enough to watch it go through ups and downs, but I think we’re enjoying a major boom at the moment. That’s why it’s the perfect time for me to make my exit.
But hold that door for one more minute so I can thank all you local music fans. It’s your dedication to the bands and venues that keep this town rocking, rapping, jazzing and, um, turntabling. And to my regular readers: I might not know you all personally, but I can feel your eyeballs. Eww . . . that’s kind of gross.
Working for Seven Days has been, without a doubt, the pinnacle of my professional life thus far. To my superstar bosses, I can only say thanks for the opportunity to be part of your totally fantastic rag.
As I lay down my writerly six-guns, remove my critical spurs, and walk off into the sunset, I want everyone to know I’ll remember these years fondly. Now, git. Actually, you should stick around and read the rest of the column. ’Cause there’s some good stuff going down this week, and I’m not ready to give up this keyboard just yet.
GRACE GOES GREY
Just got tipped off by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals drummer Matthew “Cado” Burr that the band will have a tune from its upcoming Hollywood Records album, This Is Somewhere, featured on this Thursday’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The song is called “Falling or Flying,” and it’s the second-to-last cut on GP&TN’s 11-track opus. It’s one of the band’s slower numbers, which makes sense for inclusion on “Grey’s” — the season finale! The song has a “lonesome highway” feel, with a mournful intro and lovely organ/guitar interplay. Guitarist Scott Tournet serves up a haunting, slow-burn solo in between Potter’s achingly intimate vocals. I can easily picture one of the characters on the show having a Reflective Moment while this ditty plays in the background.
It’s extremely cool that our homegrown heroes have made it to the small screen. (That is, unless you’ve got one of those humongous, flat-panel jobbies that takes up a whole wall of your living room.) But it also gives me the opportunity to talk about the phenomenon of bands garnering exposure through the medium of television. I know it’s nothing new: The Beatles appeared on “Doctor Who,” for crap’s sake. Don’t believe me? Check YouTube.
“Grey’s,” with its attractive MDs and heart-on-sleeve ’tude, has emerged as a primary platform by which artists achieve national recognition. Hell, I’ve mentioned the program three times in as many consecutive columns, and I’m not even a TV writer.
I was just talking to my wife about whether or not we’ll ever get into the show. We basically decided that “House,” with its endearingly cranky titular doctor, satisfies all of our medical drama needs. Sure, there’s not as much making out, but we can handle that on our own.
Still, there’s something to the fact that a TV serial can have so much influence in the music world. I guess it’s not terribly difficult to understand why: With CD sales dwindling and an industry still learning the “internets,” pimping tunes on popular programs is one of the best promotional tools available. Let’s just hope that it works out well for our Nocturnals.
NOT JUST KID STUFF
Kid-friendly songwriter Dan Zanes makes music that grown-ups can dig, too. I don’t yet have wee ones, but a lot of the children’s entertainment I’ve encountered frankly makes me wanna spit up. So I’m behind Zanes 100 percent. He appears at the Higher Ground Ballroom this Sunday at noon.
Zanes wasn’t always rockin’ for the tots, however. He got his start in the 1980s as a member of Boston’s Del Fuegos — critical favorites who never transcended their cult following. But his time with that garage-y act gave Zanes the musical tools necessary to make kids’ music that doesn’t suck. Additionally, moms think he’s hunky, which probably helps his, ahem, bottom line.
Zanes’ first youth-tailored record, Rocket Beach, came out in 2001. It included guest appearances from several notable pals such as Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega. Its follow-up, Family Dance, features Roseanne Cash, among others. Crotchety old Lou Reed even dropped by for a session. And Zanes’ most recent effort, Catch That Train!, is surely the first children’s album to feature nihilistic rocker Nick Cave. Maybe that’s why it won a 2006 Grammy for Best Children’s Album.
,The folks at the Northeast Kingdom Music Festival have just released the initial lineup for their 5th annual event, which takes place at the Chilly Ranch in East Albany, Vermont, on August 3 & 4.
I’m pretty psyched about two of the headlining acts, Fishbone (remember them?) and The Coup. I’ve seen both bands before; the former with a brain full of psychedelics at Lollapalooza 3, the latter on nothing stronger than lager at the old Higher Ground in Winooski.
California-based Fishbone are one of the trippiest, funkiest and straight-out craziest bands of all time. Front man Angelo Moore, a.k.a. Dr. Maddvibe, rocks the stage like nobody’s business, and the group itself is like some mutant metal combo of Sly & the Family Stone, Prince and Parliament/Funkadelic. Need I say more?
The Coup, also from the West Coast, put a politically righteous, soulful spin on hip-hop. Led by main mouth Boots Riley, the group is aggressively and unapologetically leftist. They’ve got a bone to pick with the current administration that’s so big it probably requires separate transport. Although they typically function as a duo on record, they’ll appear backed by a full band for their Green Mountain appearance.
Also on the bill are Sister Carol, Forro in the Park, The Devil Makes Three, Anaïs Mitchell, Shtreiml, Mad Tea Party, Cassettes Won’t Listen, The Toughcats, Green Mountain Grass, the Hip-Hop Re-Education Project, The Real Live Show, Sputnik, Steepwater, Made in Iron, The Low Anthem and Kundalini Express. Phew — that’s a lot of bands! And I didn’t even mention the theater, kids’ activities, poetry, morning yoga classes, giant puppets and fire sculpture. Well, I guess I just did.
Early-bird tickets will be available in person only starting on June 1 at the Langdon St. Café and the Lake Parker Country Store. To purchase by phone, call 888-512-SHOW. For more info, or to purchase passes online, visit http://www.NEKMF.com.