Taking a Leak
Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has come under fire from rankled governments around the globe that have taken exception to the site airing their innermost dirty secrets — or, you know, doing major media journalists’ jobs. So pissed are they, in fact, that a financial blockade has been erected in an attempt to cripple the site — which it has, at least for now. WikiLeaks has suspended its publishing indefinitely, since no one who lives in the current century can send it money. Wanna send WikiLeaks some cash to help it continue unearthing damning political communiqués? Cool. Just don’t use a major credit card, PayPal, Western Union or the Bank of America. They — aka “the man” — won’t let you. Maybe try bartering in livestock? Offer an interesting trade? Got any gold handy?
Better yet, drop by the Black Door in Montpelier this Saturday, December 10, when accordionist David Symons and his newish band, the Brass Balagan, throw a benefit to aid the website and raise some cold, hard cash — like, the paper kind — which they will then send, either via snail mail or in a sack with a dollar sign on it, to WikiLeaks.
Symons, best known for his work with the Black Sea Quartet and, more recently, Inner Fire District, writes that he’ll begin the evening with some special guests playing a set of Bertolt Brecht tunes, his own instrumental compositions and “probably some klezmer, Tom Waits and Shostakovich thrown in for good measure.” Well, of course.
Symons will then be joined by the free-spirited Balagan, which he claims is “Vermont’s finest red-coverall-wearing radical brass band.” According to WikiLeaks, that’s true.
Just a head’s up, the suggested donation for the evening is $5 to $500. Really. Give generously.
Last week I promised a review of the new Utah Phillips tribute album, Long Gone: Utah Remembers Bruce “Utah” Phillips, which has a release party slated for Wednesday, December 7, at Burlington’s North End Studios featuring local folkie Rik Palieri and Utah’s son, Duncan Phillips, the latter of whom compiled the comp. It turns out I lied. (Sorta.)
I had every intention of reviewing the record this week. It’s spectacular, and a perfect entry point into discovering one of America’s great songwriters. Problem is, it’s entirely composed of contributions from Utah-based tunesmiths. Utah — get it?
At the time, I figured the Palieri connection would fulfill the requisite VT angle. And under normal circumstances it would have. But in recent weeks we’ve been deluged with an almost unprecedented flood of new local releases. Though that’s a nice problem to have, as it is, we won’t get to them all before the new year. So I couldn’t in good conscience review a nonlocal record with so much VT music in the queue.
That said, I’d encourage you to check out the show, especially if you’ve been caught up in the Occupy Wall Street movement. For, as Utah himself once put it, “In a modern-day, mass-marketing economy, a revolutionary song is any song that you choose to sing yourself — welcome to the revolution.”
Anders Parker (Varnaline, Gob Iron, Cloud Badge) began a three-week Monday residency at Radio Bean last week. The lanky, bearded songwriter writes that he will be trying out some brand-new acoustic material as well as test-driving tunes from a forthcoming project he recently completed with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Sun Volt’s Jay Farrar — the other half of Gob Iron, BTW — and Centro-Matic’s Will Johnson. Apparently, the boys gave some old Woody Guthrie tunes the Mermaid Avenue treatment for an album that comes out on Rounder Records in January. Color me intrigued.
Band Name of the Week: Emynd. The fun-loving bilingual kids from Bonjour-Hi! unveiled a new Friday-night residency at Red Square last week, called Night/Vision. The gist is that they take over the DJ booth in the main room — as opposed to the Blue Room, the back-alley space to which house music is typically banished at the Square — invite some fellow party people to spin and generally get their untz-untz on. This week, internationally renowned Philly-based DJ and producer Emynd — pronounced “E-mind” — joins the crew to spin some of his seriously cool Bmore club mixes. Check it out this Friday, December 9.
It seems there really is a wish-granting genie that resides in my column. (Go ahead and rub it. I dare you.) No, I haven’t met Penélope Cruz … yet. But last week, I casually mentioned that I wished Torpedo Rodeo played out more often. Their last two records have been among my favorites locally, a quirky blend of geek rock and surf-punk that sates my thirst for, well, geeky surf-punk. As it turns out, the band has a gig coming up this Friday, December 9, at the Monkey House with two other pretty rocking outfits that deserve to be on your collective radar. The first is Burlington’s Dino Bravo, a band descended from late, great debauchery-rock sorta-legends Party Star. I’ve caught them in passing a couple of times now and can say they live up to their hard-partying rep. Or, as DB’s Matt Perry warns in a recent email, “There will be people drinking and laughing and dancing. Also, most of the people there will be good looking.” Duly noted. The other band on the bill is Montpelier’s Concrete Rivals, another surf-rock group about whom I’ve long been curious and have heard great things. All of which was recently confirmed when they sent along their killer debut album, Eat Their Weight in Snakes. Look for a proper review next week.
Speaking of new releases, whiskey-grass auteurs Gold Town have a new self-titled CD in hand, which they will celebrate by opening for Hot Day at the Zoo this Friday, December 9, at Nectar’s. Not to spoil the review that will eventually wind up in these pages, but, as Gold Town’s self-described genre implies, it’s a rollicking take on bluegrass that really does go quite well with whiskey.
Continuing on a theme — new releases, not whiskey — Andrew Parker-Renga, recently relocated to Boston, is unveiling two tracks from a set he recorded at Nectar’s in October. The two tracks, “Drawing Dead” and “The Apprehensive Carpenter” will be available for free download at aprmusic.bandcamp.com on Wednesday, December 7. To celebrate, APR has two VT shows this week: Thursday, December 8, at the Bee’s Knees in Morrisville and Saturday, December 10, at Nectar’s.
Newish rock outfit Phil Yates & the Affiliates were among the more pleasant surprises of 2011. Yates’ solo EP, Tumble Stairs, wormed its way into my regular rotation this summer with unabashed pop hooks, sugar-sweet harmonies and some of the catchiest damn melodies this side of the La’s. I’m pretty sure I had the chorus from “Good Morning to You” stuck in my head until Labor Day. Anyway, Friday, December 9, at Radio Bean will be your last chance to see the band for a while. Following that hometown gig, they’ll be gearing up for a short run of out-of-town dates in January, including a stop in Philly opening for the Dead Kennedys’ Joe Jack Talcum.
The nominees for this year’s Grammy awards were announced recently, and the Green Mountains were well represented. Grace Potter was nominated not once but twice for her duet with country superstar Kenny Chesney on “You and Tequila.” The song nabbed nods for Best Duo/Group Country Performance and Best Country Song. Also receiving a nomination was local composer Al Conti, whose album Northern Seas is up in the Best New Age Album category, which apparently really exists. Or does it? (Sorry. That’s about as deep as I get into new-age philosophy.) In any event, congrats to our local nominees. Hopefully they won’t be joining the lovely Neko Case as “two-time Grammy losers.” (Neko’s words, not mine … call me, Neko!)
Last but not least, mark your calendars for Wednesday, December 14. That night, at both Nectar’s and Club Metronome, Thread Magazine will pit some of Burlington’s finest acts from across the musicsphere against each other in a no-holds-barred, steel-cage death match called I Make Music to decide, once and for all, who the greatest band in the history of Vermont really is. Or at least which BTV band should get a spread in an upcoming issue of Thread and some studio time. Full details next week.
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.
R.E.M., Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011
Concrete Rivals, Eat Their Weight in Snakes
Black Lips, Arabia Mountain
Dan Auerbach, Keep It Hid
Sufjan Stevens, Christmas