The Soul of Whit
Soundbites: Walt Whitman, Neil Cleary, The Pants, Jackson Browne
Burlington's debauched Vaudevillian auteurs Cccome? owe a great debt to the controversial, quintessentially American bard Walt Whitman. Alternately revered and reviled in his time — as any great artist should be, dammit — Whitman broke free from the largely European confines of what poetry "should be," exploring metrically diverse compositions and gleefully thumbing his nose at conventional rhyme schemes. He was punk rock before there was such a thing. And he didn't even have to wear a Misfits T-shirt from Urban Outfitters to prove it. Go figure.
This Thursday, Ccome? will pay homage to a true American original as they invite Burlington to "Sing the Body Electric," in honor of Whitman's birthday. Also heeding the call of "active rebellion" will be art-rockers Swale, the actively dictatorial Activist/Dictators, avant-folkies El Paso, grammatically challenged T'ouch Me soft-ly and a whole cadre of poets, actors, artists, dancers and drunks. In true Whitman-esque style, the event will be a free-for-all and revelers are enCccouraged to join in the fun, any way they see fit.
However, if you prefer more conventional birthday parties, I hear J.C. Penney is having a killer sale at the Long Island shopping mall bearing Whitman's name. I'll see the rest of you at Club Metronome. The show, like the poet himself, is absolutely free.
TURN THE PAGE
Those with their ears to the ground may have caught wind of the rumor that a local boy has made good and is about to tour with a member of Phish. If you're like me and open newspapers to the pretty pictures first, you've already read that former Burlington crooner Neil Cleary scored an opening gig with Page McConnell this Wednesday at the Higher Ground Ballroom. What you may not know is that he's lined up to play the entire tour. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, that's kind of a big deal.
Says Cleary, "I've pretty much been having daily stomachaches over it, but I'm really psyched." I can imagine.
The Boston-based troubadour has also been hard at work on a new album, cheekily titled I Was Thinking of You the Whole Time, and plans to have 150 advance copies ready for the first show. A proper release of the album is planned for the fall, but I employed my writerly superpowers to track down an unmastered copy of the disc. It's good. Really, really good.
As many of McConnell's shows do, the event doubles as a food drive for the Conscious Alliance so if you go, bring some canned goods, and maybe a bottle of Pepto-Bismol for Neil.
KEEP YOUR PANTS ON
It's been almost a year to the day since legendary Burlington rockers The Pants reunited at Higher Ground for one last show. As Burlington's resident number-one Pants fan— all apologies to Arthur "The Lazy Songwriter" Adams — it pained me no end to have to miss it. Not typically one for extracurricular activities, I joined the prom committee during my junior year at Champlain Valley Union High School for the sole purpose of recruiting The Pants to play our prom. They did, and it rocked.
You can imagine my schoolgirlish delight to receive an email from Candleboy Films founder Bill Simmon announcing that the concert film of the show is nearing completion and a special screening would be available online to commemorate the May 27 anniversary of the show.
After a few deep breaths from my inhaler and a cold shower, I headed over to www.candleboy.com/thepants and was treated to six-and-a-half minutes of pure, unbridled fan-boy ecstasy. The preview clip features "Vermont," from The Pants debut EP, and is even better than I remember it. Sound for the show, and the film, was engineered by local mixing guru Joe Egan and, even through the iPod format I saw, it sounds perfect. A "crazy-ass high-rez" surround-sound version is also available for tech-geeks with QuickTime 7.
There is no official release date set for Never Too Late: The Pants Live at Higher Ground, but check out Candleboy for the sneak peek, a trailer for an in-the-works Pants documentary, and to sign up for email updates on both projects.
Within minutes of going on sale, the June 10 Jackson Browne concert at the Barre Opera House sold out, leaving thousands of fans in the dark and ticket-less. Event organizer Ariel Zevon, daughter of the late "Werewolves of London" singer Warren, quickly scheduled a second show for June 9. To the surprise of no one, it sold out just as fast.
As performers of Browne's stature make precious few visits to the Green Mountain State, much less Barre, tickets to see the iconic songwriter are reportedly going for as much as $500 on auction sites such as eBay. Not surprisingly, the enterprising folks at Waterbury's WDEV Radio Vermont are cashing in, too — in a nonprofit kind of way, of course.
The radio station has partnered with Barre's Local Agricultural Community Exchange — L.A.C.E. for short — to auction off a pair of front-row tickets for each show, courtesy of Zevon and her mother, Crystal. To bid, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating which show you're bidding on, along with your name, address and phone number. The high bidders will be notified on Friday, June 8, with all proceeds benefiting L.A.C.E.
b>AND THE LIVIN' IS EASY
Speaking of Barre — when did the Granite City become such a freakin' hot spot? — Wednesday, June 6, marks the start of the annual Barre Rotary Club Concert Series with bluesy roots outfit The Grit Pixies. According to Executive Director Matt Lash, "This could be our best series yet. There is no better way to spend a summer evening than by swinging by the library and City Hall Park for the performances, then trotting across the way for a creemee at Simply Subs." That sounds great, though folks in Castleton may beg to differ.
On Tuesday, June 5, The Bluegrass Gospel Project kicks off the 11th annual Concert on the Green summer concert series in Castleton. The 13-week schedule is chock-full of family-friendly fare, highlighted by a Fourth of July concert at Crystal Beach on Lake Bomoseen with the Onion River Jazz Band.
Both lineups are impressive and feature performances by local honky-tonk heroes The Starline Rhythm Boys. Thankfully, the scheduled dates for the two series never conflict, meaning you won't have to choose between creemees and swimming.
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION ALERT!
The Discover Jazz Festival is nearly upon us, yet I'm told many of you haven't been regularly visiting the Seven Days Jazz Mafia Blog. What gives? You think you're better than me? You want I should bust your kneecaps for you? Here, I'll make you an "offer" you can't refuse: Go to the blog. Now.
In all seriousness, if you haven't checked it out, you should. Jazz Fest can be overwhelming without a guiding hand — I get paid to write about music and even I occasionally curl into the fetal position just thinking about it.
With "The Sopranos" nearing its end, people will no doubt need some sort of Cosa Nostra fix. Well, here you go. The Jazz Mafia are five of the most knowledgeable jazz aficionados you'll ever meet and can school you in any jazzy genre you can think of. Go on, I dare you.