Blame It on the Rain (or Tom Messner)
J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices
Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. Just not this Saturday, OK?
You see, Rain, there’s big doin’s at the Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center that day, and I’d hate for you to muck it up like you’ve done for most of the spring. You’ve overstayed your welcome even more than your flaky cousin, Snow. And I thought that sumbitch would never leave. But I digress.
Like so many folks around town, I’ve really been looking forward to Heavyfest at the ol’ brewery this Saturday. There are a slew of top-notch local and regional acts slated to play, including Waylon Speed, Japhy Ryder, Casio Bastard — great name, right? — Pariah Beat and Jah Red. Plus, our old disco-rockin’ friends Heloise & the Savoir Faire, who’ve been hard at work on a new album, will co-headline with Rustic Overtones. I know. I was kind of surprised those cats are still around myself. I wonder if they’ll play “Slowly”…
Anyway, the lineup is great. But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that the show is free. And the best best part is that there will be an outdoor beer garden, which is, well, outdoors. Where we’d all like to have been this week. But we weren’t, because you just wouldn’t let up. Thanks for that.
Not only is there a beer garden, there is a free shuttle between Nectar’s and the brewery, so folks can get to the show, enjoy themselves and not worry about having to drive home. Pretty thoughtful, right?
But wait, there’s more.
There’ll be a BBQ, which, like the beer garden, works much better when you’re not around. There will also be prizes and guided brewery tours, neither of which are weather dependent, really … but still.
The big thing, and the real reason I’m asking you to sit this one out, Rain, is that the show is a benefit for the do-gooders at Big Heavy World. Those kids operate on less than a shoestring budget, and any opportunity to help fill their coffers is a good one. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m just afraid that, if you show up, no one else will. You have that effect on people. Kind of like how you’ve driven a normally rational music critic to write half a column like an open letter to precipitation. See what I mean?
As I’m sure many of you have, I’ve spent a lot of time recently pondering the impending closure of Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café. And I’ve come to one indisputable conclusion. Ready?
In all seriousness, losing one of the state’s most vibrant music hubs is a major, major downer. But I think there are at least two takeaway lessons here.
Lesson 1: If you’re gonna go out, go out with some pizzazz. The café’s calendar between now and D-Day, May 28, is chock-full of goodness. Just this weekend, for example, LSC has got Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band on Thursday, J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices with the Concrete Rivals on Friday, and the Underscore Orkestra on Saturday. Which brings me to…
Lesson 2: If you can, steal a similar venue’s biggest weekly draw.
I’m kidding, of course. LSC didn’t steal Wright and her Thursday-night soul-sessions band from Radio Bean. I’m told they gleefully accepted the gig. In fact, the Bean’s Lee Anderson is rumored to be making a cameo behind the bar at LSC to pour drinks at what the club’s Ben Matchstick calls Radio Bean’s “kissin’ cousin.” And who knows? The Bean has managed to keep its doors open despite speculation its days could be numbered. Perhaps some of that Lee Anderson magic could inspire someone to save LSC?
(Wishful thinking, I know.)
Anyway, Montpeculiar-ians, ISB’s Thursday-night residency at the Bean is just about the hottest thing going in the Queen City right now. The band is crazy tight, and Wright reincarnated as a soul singer is nothing short of stunning. If you like her stuff with her band Loveful Heights, wait until you get a load of this. Trust me.
If you read the review of their newly released EP, Who Cares If We’re Dope? Vol. 3, you already know that the Aztext are coming out of hiding to play their first live show in years, dubbed Return of the Boom Bap, this Thursday at Club Metronome. What you may not know is that there will be sightings of a few other seldom-seen Burlington hip-hop luminaries that night. In addition to the Aztext, Fattie B’s all-star hip-hop funk ensemble, the Beat Biters, takes the stage for a rare non-Jazz-Fest-related performance. With prodigal MC Thirtyseven back in town for a hot minute, Wombaticus Rex continue their pseudo-reunion run. And, though they’re not exactly hermits, Lynguistic Civilians round out the bill.
And now let’s pause for a two-word review of Audrey Ryan’s new album, Thick Skin: Holy fuck. The Burlington expat celebrates the new record with a show at the 1/2 Lounge this Tuesday.
This Sunday, Merrill’s Roxy Cinema is showing a special advance screening of Phish’s upcoming concert DVD, Live in Utica, in conjunction with the Waterwheel Foundation, the charitable arm (fin?) of the Phab Four’s mighty jampire. The showing is a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington and, specifically, the organization’s music program. The DVD doesn’t officially hit shelves until Tuesday, but will be available for purchase at the screening. The BGC will also raffle off copies of the film, as well as tickets to Phish’s Super Ball IX phreedom bonanza over July Fourth weekend.
Band Name of the Week: the Brass Balagan. I think I’ll just let bandleader David Symons describe his latest project. David? “The Brass Balagan is an amorphous, amoebic, ever-changing assemblage of noisemaking humans which appears in odd places, and less odd places, on the surface of the Earth. Our arrival is often sudden, like a slow-moving, out-of-tune cavalry, and our departure is typically swift, leaving only minor damage.” Thanks, David. Catch the Brass Balagan at Parima this Sunday with locals Lokum, and the aforementioned Underscore Orkestra.
Burlington expats Pretty & Nice are back in town this week, and with a sparkling new seven-inch single in tow, Fantastic Artifact. Catch them at the Monkey House this Sunday.
If you haven’t checked out recording studio/alt-venue Signal Kitchen yet, Friday might be a good time to do so, as Villanelles, Errands, Wave of the Future, Brattleboro-based electro duo Starfawn and DJ Disco Phantom get down and dirty in the basement. I caught Villanelles’ CD release there a few weeks ago and had a great time. The joint looked, felt — and kinda smelled — just like a basement rock club should.
Last but not least, according to several batshit-crazy religious groups, Judgment Day is coming this Saturday, May 21, 2011 — for the punctual among us, at 6 p.m. EST. (Yes, really.) While the End of Days itself won’t come for another five months — October 21, to be precise — our old pals Lawrence Welks & Our Bear to Cross aren’t taking any chances. To curry favor with the Big Fella during the Rapture, they’re throwing a rowdy experimental show in hopes of staving off eternal damnation. The lineup features Caring Babies (clearly going to Heaven), Son of Salami (Hell, definitely), Toby Aronson (could go either way), and LW&OB2X (oh, man). The show is Saturday, but it’s at an underground venue, so I can’t really tell you where ’tis, mon cheri. (Wink, wink.) Then again, if the world’s gonna end anyway…
Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.