Spring in Your Step
I generally write this column on Monday morning. Holding off until the last possible few hours before my deadline can be kinda nerve wracking. But waiting allows me to snag any late-breaking bits of news or insights that come in over the weekend, making this column as fresh as can be. Also, I’m a natural procrastinator who works best under pressure. But I fear today I may have met my breaking point. It has nothing to do with my workload and everything to do with the seventh circle of frozen hell that erupted sometime between going to bed Sunday night and waking up Monday morning. I give up, winter. You win. You always win.
It seems I wasn’t the only one crushed by the weather. Facebook and Twitter were buried in a veritable e-valanche of snow-related posts, most of the FML variety. My favorite came from Mars Pyramid’s Jay Blanchard, who essentially threatened to hunt down anyone who dared post chirpy BS about how pretty the storm was — once the snow had melted, of course.
(A brief aside: Can we declare a moratorium on super-obvious weather reports on social media? Interesting or funny stories, sure. But when it snows, we don’t need 764 tweets or FB posts saying, “It’s snowing!” We know. We live here, too.)
So in the interest of staving off Jack Torrance-like psychosis, we’re leading today’s column by gazing a few months into the future, to Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass., June 24 through 26.
“But Dan,” you may be saying. “That’s not a local show. And Wilco is not a local band.”
Very observant. It’s not, and they’re not. But the festival does have a strong local tie, namely that it’s presented by Alex Crothers and the good folks at Higher Ground Presents. So there.
Crothers and Co. announced the full lineup last week, and it’s spectacular. In addition to Wilco — playing headlining sets both Friday and Saturday — you can catch the Levon Helm Band, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Wilco-related projects the Autumn Defense, Pillow Wand (Nels Cline and Moore) and Pronto, as well as a solo set from Glenn Kotche. Other big-name acts include Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Here We Go Magic and JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. If that last band sounds familiar, it may because they played the Monkey House last year, shortly after releasing a killer, classic R & B take on Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.”
In addition to another 15 or so acts I don’t have room to mention here, there will also be a comedy cabaret curated by humorist John Hodgman, featuring “The Daily Show” correspondent Wyatt Cenac, Eugene Mirman and Morgan Murphy.
If this varied lineup is impressive, the venue itself is quite a draw. MASS MoCA is situated in a renovated 19th-century textile mill in the Berkshire Mountains. A ticket to the show gets you access to the entire sprawling campus and its 150,000 square feet of galleries. In June. When it’s warm.
Tickets are on sale now. Who knows? Buying ’em soon may just melt your frozen soul.
Continuing on a theme, our pals at the Shelburne Vineyards have just announced the lineup for this spring’s Acoustic Music in the Loft series. And it’s a good one. The monthly shows, which feature acoustic music in, um, a loft, blend cool local tunes and smooth local wines, and each installment benefits a different local charity. The musicians include Mike Colbourn and the John Tower Project on Thursday, March 31; Lila Mae and Jeff Hahn on Thursday, April 28; and the Beerworth Sisters on Thursday, May 26.
Of course, before we get too excited about the impending warmer months, we still have a few more weeks of cold ones to deal with. Thankfully, we’ve got sultry neo-soul siren Myra Flynn to keep us warm. Wait, that came out wrong … is it hot in here? (And is it possible to blush in newsprint?) Last month, Flynn unveiled the first of a possibly regular monthly gig at Burlington’s August First Bakery & Café, a songwriter series called Winter Songs. Round two is this Thursday and features another strong lineup of talent, including Flynn, her husband Justin Levinson, the Smittens’ Colin Clary and Dana Kaplan — more on them in a sec — and acclaimed Boston-based songwriter Will Dailey.
Speaking of Clary and Kaplan, their exclamatory bedroom-pop side project Let’s Whisper! is set to release its debut full-length, The Shortest Days, this month on weePOP! Records. That’s pretty cool on its own, right?! Yeah, it is! Even cooler: Of the label’s 45 total releases, the Smittenly duo’s is its very first full-length! Yow! The record itself is — surprise, surprise — insanely charming, and a fitting complement to the pair’s 2010 EP, Keep a Secret. We’ll have details on the official local release party, as well as a proper review, in the weeks to come.
Band Name of the Week: Daniel Oullette and the Shobijin. Electro-goth duos just don’t get enough ink in these pages, dagnabbit. Actually, I’m pretty sure this is the first ink devoted to such an ensemble in the esteemed history of Seven Days. As such bands go, Daniel Oullette and the Shobijin are among the finest. As far as you know. Actually, they are a pretty interesting group, and a number of press outlets in their native southern New England suggest they put on one hell of a live show. Find out when they drop by Radio Bean this Saturday.
Band Name of the Week (Honorable Mention): The Wee Folkestra. Anyone who was at the recent Marco Benevento solo show at Parima may recognize this local all-star collective as the opening act that night. What was originally supposed to be a one-night stand has morphed into a real band composed of some of the region’s top songwriting talent, including Joe Adler, Aya Inoue, Gregory Alexander, Zack duPont, Samara Lark, Matt Harpster, Pat Ormiston, Johnnie Day Durand, Matt DeLuca and Eric Segalstad. They return to the scene of the crime, Parima Main Stage, this Friday.
Congrats to local comedian Tracie Spencer, who was recently invited to perform at the annual Women in Comedy Festival in Boston. Spencer, long among my personal favorite local comics, wrote in to say thanks for giving her positive press in the past, and that it likely helped her snag the invite. Maybe. What more likely helped is that Tracie Spencer is fucking hilarious. She’ll be at ImprovBoston this Thursday. But folks who can’t make the drive down can catch her at the Vermont Comedy Divas showcase at the Higher Ground Ballroom this Saturday with fellow divas Martha Tormey, Josie Leavitt and Mary Ann Gatos.
Speaking of Beantown, local metal chaps Amadis recently made waves at the Hard Rock Café Battle of the Bands. They’ll compete in the regional finals in Boston this Saturday. If they win, they move on to the national competition, with a chance to score an opening slot at the Hard Rock Calling fest in Hyde Park — London, not Vermont. I’m also told they’re nearing completion of a full-length follow-up to last year’s thoroughly bad-ass EP Hell Devil. Best of luck this weekend, gents.
This just in from 1995: Jam-pop outfit Strangefolk will hit the stage at Nectar’s this Friday. Yes, really.
Just a friendly reminder from your good friends at the Burlington Boys & Girls Club that this Sunday is daylight saving, meaning you need to “spring forward” and set your clock ahead one hour before you go to bed that night. To help you remember, the BBGC is throwing a typically epic rock show, the Daylight Savings Jam, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge that very same day, featuring BBSD, Wolcott, the Haps, Kait Boudah and Gold Laces.
Last but not least, it’s been a while since Vorcza graced the Queen City. The all-star funky bunch (Rob Morse, Ray Paczkowski, et al.) drops by Parima this Saturday. You should, too.
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.