We interrupt our regularly scheduled roundup of the week’s Irene flood-relief benefit shows to bring you breaking news on an unusual outdoor fest set to invade Burlington this weekend: the Nor’easter Sports and Music Festival. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to the flood bennys in the next bite, I promise.)
I know, I know. You thought the outdoor music festival season was over. Me, too. After all, this Friday is the first day of fall, which means that it’s felt like fall in Vermont for the last few weeks, which means it could well be winter by this weekend. (Why do we live here again?) Anyway, before we close the book on outdoor fests until next spring — only, like, nine months away! — let’s bundle up and rock out one last time, shall we?
As you may have inferred by its name, Nor’easter is a celebration of both music and sports — specifically, outdoor adventure sports like rock climbing. On the surface, it might seem a strange pairing. Personally, I like my healthy pursuits and my debauched rocking pursuits kept strictly separate. Although, it occurs to me that I really don’t have many healthy pursuits … hmm. I should probably do something about that. Anyway …
As this is (theoretically) a music column, I’ll leave the jock-y stuff to someone else and focus on the music lineup, which has a little something for everyone and includes a fair number of local acts, to boot.
The fest’s major headliners, all appearing at Burlington’s Waterfront Park, should be familiar to music fans: innovative hip-hop producer and performer RJD2 (Friday, September 23), rootsy sensitive-guy-pop sensations G. Love & Special Sauce (Saturday, September 24) and indie rock upstarts Okkervil River (Sunday, September 25), whose new album on Jagjaguwar Records, I Am Very Far, is friggin’ awesome. Seriously, that record is a slice of cinematic pop genius.
While the marquee acts are noteworthy, I’m more interested in the undercard for each show. Local porn-prog rockers Japhy Ryder open for RJD2 on Friday. I caught Japhy earlier this summer at the Magic Hat/Big Heavy World fest jamming with local MC Face One and came away seriously impressed. I’m betting you will, too.
Saturday’s slate features some bands I’m curious to check out, including Boston-based indie-Americana outfit Kingsley Flood, Jersey-based indie rockers River City Extension and Providence-based alt-country act Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons. But I’m most intrigued by Mariachi El Bronx, a punk-mariachi hybrid — yes, you read that correctly — from southern California. I’m picturing a Latin Gogol Bordello.
Sunday gets underway with our old friends — and honorary Vermonters — the Toughcats from the tiny island of North Haven, Maine. Nice to see you again, gents. The regional theme continues with New Hampshire indie outfit Tan Vampires, whom Okkervil fans will undoubtedly dig. Also of note on Sunday are Apollo Run, an indie band from NYC who — I swear I’m not making this up — wrote a song, “Charlie Sheen’s Got Tiger Blood, Man,” with lyrics composed entirely of Sheen’s infamous Twitter rants. Really.
But wait, there’s more.
While the majority of Nor’easter is centered on the waterfront, a Church Street stage will feature local acts all weekend long. Friday’s lineup includes the Project Organ Trio, the Eames Brothers Band and Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band. Saturday boasts a more worldly flair with bluegrass newcomers the Scheme Dreamers, gypsy fun from Trio Gusto with Mike Martin, heady jazz fusion from Vorcza, new Latin supergroup Afinque, and Afro-pop staples Barika. Sunday comes to a close with cosmic Americana favorites Red Hot Juba and blues man Dave Keller, who has a stellar new record, Where I’m Coming From.
For ticket info and a complete schedule of events, check out noreasterems.com.
TWIB (This Week In Benefits)
Another week, another full plate of Irene benefits. Let’s dig in.
The main event is undoubtedly “The Brave Little State” at the Higher Ground Ballroom this Friday, September 23. The show features a collection of local talent, including Grace Potter & the Nocturnals protégés Chamberlin — more on GPN in a sec — Burlington’s sons of Death, Rough Francis, all-star indie-folk collective the Wee Folkestra, folk rockers the Amida Bourbon Project and — who else? — DJ Disco Phantom. The show will also offer a glimpse of the local comedy scene, with comedian Pat Lynch hosting.
Meanwhile in Wilmington, Vermont, we have “Floodstock,” a homegrown benny that bills itself as “Music to save a town.” No pressure. The two-day fest takes place at various venues around Wilmington and features eight regional and local bands, including the Boxcar Lilies, Entrain, Mister Dix, the Miles Band, Mass Air Flow, Castle, Shawn Tooley, John Brazile and — my personal favorite — Wilmington’s own Jeff Campbell & the Honeybadgers. Who says honeybadger don’t give a shit? For more info on Floodstock, check out floodstockvt.com.
In other news, last week, Grace and her merry band of insomniacs announced their own Irene benefit, scheduled for Sunday, October 9, at the Flynn MainStage. Tickets for the show went on sale Tuesday, September 20. So if you’re just finding out about this now, um, put the friggin’ paper down and get in line.
And finally, the word on the street is that last week’s Phish benefit raised 1.2 million bucks for local flood-relief efforts. That’s pretty incredible. But just think how much more could have been raised had we been able to get a cut from the drug trade in the parking lot. It boggles the mind.
In all seriousness, thanks to the Phab Four for stepping up. It was a hell of a night — that’s right, I went to, and enjoyed, a Phish show … I’m as shocked as you are — and we appreciate it. Well done, guys.
The fourth and final installment of the Aztext’s serial album, Who Cares if We’re Dope? drops this week. To refresh your memory: Rather than release one full-length disc, the Aztext broke the recording up into four parts, with a different producer at the helm of each session. This time around, Dub Sonata tweaks the knobs and faders. We’ll have a review in next week’s issue. (Spoiler: It’s dope). You can download the EP at theaztext.com on Tuesday, September 27.
Joe Adler, the brains behind the rock renaissance at dearly departed Burlington juke joint Parima, will assume booking duties at Radio Bean. His first order of business: booking Marco Benevento to play a four-week Bean residency beginning October 14. Color me impressed.
Band Name of the Week: Troubadours of Divine Bliss. If ever a name pretty much said it all, it might be this Kentucky-based Americana-jazz trio. Seriously. Divine bliss. What more do you need to know? They’ll be at the Bee’s Knees in Morrisville on Wednesday, September 28.
Last but not least, Constellation Records artist Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers) will play a gig at the Monkey House this Tuesday, September 26, touring in support of a new record, In Animal Tongue, by her experimental punk/poetry project Evangelista. Bozulich describes the record as inspired “by the forces of rocks, evolution, geology, drugs, boxing, everything-ology and dead stuff that makes the dirt and cement and the trees grow.” Got it? Actually, having heard the record, I’m inclined to agree with her unwieldy assessment. It’s a challenging but fascinating record that, while probably not for everyone, will likely be doubly interesting live. Bozulich will perform with longtime collaborator John Eichenseer.
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.