By the Time We Got to Woodstock
Soundbites: Grey Birds, Robyn Chaos, Ken Burns, Gregory Douglass
The Interplay Jazz Fest kicks off this Friday at various locations around the town of Woodstock — actual slogan: “Everything You Love About Vermont” — and features the vocal stylings of jazz giant Sheila Jordan. The singer has been scatting and crooning since the early 1950s and has been involved with such luminaries as Charles Mingus, Lennie Tristano and Steve Kuhn. She was also the blushing bride of Charlie Parker’s late, great pianist, Duke Jordan.
Jordan brings her impressive jazz pedigree and immense vocal talents to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Woodstock this Sunday. The festival runs through July 5 and features workshops and performances from national and local artists such as saxophonist Fred Haas and pianist Kenny Werner.
Batman has the Bat-cave, Superman has his Fortress of Solitude, and in St. Albans (actual slogan: “Maple Sugar Capital of the World”) Americana-noir anti-heroes Farm have the Cave of Legends, otherwise known as their basement. Though it doesn’t have Kryptonian hi-def crystal holograms, a tricked-out 1965 Lincoln Futura with a jet engine exhaust or —I’m guessing — a fatherly English butler, it was the birthplace of one of the best local albums to hit the streets in a long time.
Recorded over seven months, one instrument at a time, Grey Birds is indie-folk of the most spine-chilling variety. If nightmarish illustrator Edward Gorey could have drunk a case of beer and fronted Camper van Beethoven, it would probably have sounded a lot like Farm’s new album — assuming Gorey could sing, of course.
This Thursday, the trio unveils the new disc at the Monkey House in Winooski (working slogan: “Home of the World’s Goofiest Rotary!”). If you go, you might want to take the bus.
Robyn Chaos is super-hot . . . er, I mean, Robyn Chaos is a super-hot artist. Originally schooled in live rock and blues bands, the tattooed turntablist switched gears and earned a degree in music production in London (actual slogan: “Totally Lond On”). From there she incorporated her knowledge of live music to blend influences as far-ranging as Billie Holiday, Stevie Nicks, NIN and Portishead into some of the most electrifying dance music on this, or any other, side of the pond.
Internationally renowned, Chaos has toured the world, shaking booties from Melbourne (actual slogan: “Welcome to Melbourne!”) to Miami (working slogan: “The Breast Implant Capital of the East”), but somehow has found the time to squeeze Burlington into her busy schedule.
Chaos brings the dark dub to Club Metronome this Sunday with Tricky Pat, Justin R.E.M., Sekhmet and Chris Pattison. Oh, yeah, and she is super-hot.
PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES
Outside of the occasional 17-hour Ken Burns documentary, history buffs with an ear for good music are often left high and dry. However, this weekend, a little town in central Vermont may have the ultimate soundtrack for audiophile admirers of antiquities, as the Vermont Historical Society presents the eighth annual Vermont History Expo at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds — actual motto: “The Friendliest Town in Vermont.”
The festival incorporates the work of historical societies from around the state to provide fun, compelling exhibits, workshops and events. This year’s provincially cheeky title is “Travel and Transportation: How Vermonters Got There From Here!”
In addition to antique cars, railroad displays and various winter transport displays, the event will also feature some of the finest and well-traveled musicians our fair state has to offer, including The Gordon Stone Band, Atlantic Crossing, Fiddleheads, Starline Rhythm Boys and the all-star bluegrass trio Stone, Coane and Sacher.
The VHE kicks off this Saturday and runs through the weekend.
CUT AND PASTE
There’s a lot of shoddy music writing out there. In fact, according to some of your letters, a few of you think there’s some shoddy music writing right here in these pages, to which I stick out my tongue and say “Thhhhhhhpt!”
Anyhoo, one publication that stands out amid the unending stream of drivel produced by the mainstream music machine is the independently published Paste Magazine. I’ve been a fan since its inception — largely for the solid writing, but really ’cuz they give you a free CD sampler with every issue. I’m such a sucker for free stuff.
So imagine my surprise to open the June issue and notice on the disc — about 15 tracks after Ryan Adams’ opener — a song by none other than Burlington’s own rising singin’ and songwritin’ star, Gregory Douglass.
The song, “Light Don’t Shine,” is classic Douglass. A beautiful tune with some healthy nods to fellow pop-troubadour Rufus Wainright, it’s honestly worth buying the magazine just for this track — though the cover story on Parker Posey is pretty cool, too. Better yet, you could pick up Douglass’ latest album, Up & Away, which opens with the cut and includes 11 of the finest “evocative-pop” songs you’ll hear anywhere.
You can also check out http://www.gregorydouglass.com for updates on the artist and links to an upcoming online-exclusive series of live recordings.