Soundbites: I Am Burlington (and So Can You!), The Wiz, The Greatest Song in the World, Music: Darwin Style, Irony Check
It’s not every day that you get an email from “The Colbert Report.” So imagine my surprise when I opened my inbox recently to discover a message from Nick Prueher of Stephen Colbert’s hysterical right-wing-talk-show send-up on Comedy Central. I’m typically not one to succumb to starstruck awe. But as a “Daily Show”/”Colbert Report” addict, missives from either show definitely fall outside my usual bailiwick — i.e., press releases from countless “fresh, original” bands. (Quick PR lesson: If you have to tell someone that your band is either fresh or original, it probably isn’t. You’re welcome.)
My giddiness would prove premature, but only slightly. Prueher is a production assistant for the show, which is showbiz slang for “coffee bitch.” However, he is a pretty funny dude in his own right, having written for The Onion and Entertainment Weekly. He is also a filmmaker and — along with co-curator Joe Pickett — brings his traveling comedy show “The Found Footage Festival ” to Merrill’s Roxy Cinema  in Burlington this Thursday for two screenings.
The film is something of a celluloid answer to Found magazine and puts society’s best-forgotten videotaped detritus on display. The result is a guffaw-inducing collage of footage ranging from outdated corporate training videos to cable-access gems and celebrity fitness vids — this installment features exercise tips from Marky Mark and O.J. Simpson . . . really. In short, it is fresh and origi . . . oh, right.
In all seriousness, the film is wincingly lurid, guiltily voyeuristic and simply remarkable. Now that I’ve used up my “ly” adverb quota for the week, go see for yourself at www.foundfootagefest.com  — and Margot Harrison’s commentary in “State of the Arts,” page18a. Then visit www.merrilltheatres.net  for ticket info and show times.
Speaking of funny, two of Burlington’s preeminent kook savants are joining forces this Friday to split a set — and maybe some sides? — at Radio Bean. James Kochalka  and Nose Bleed Island ’s Joey Pizza Slice will each be performing original music composed on Nintendo game machines, Mr. Kochalka using a Nintendo DS and Pizza Slice (Mr. Slice?) a Super NES game called “Mario Paint.” I’ll admit that indie-video-game-rock is not my particular area of music-crit expertise — though I’m pretty much unstoppable at “Tetris.” Still, this promises to be one of the more interesting shows in your mom’s basement, er, on the docket this weekend.
THE GREATEST SONG IN THE WORLD
What’s the only thing better than a tribute band? (Aside from a fresh, original tribute band, obviously.) An all-star tribute band, that’s what. And this Saturday, a veritable smorgasbord of local talent is converging upon Nectar’s, Voltron-style, to pay homage to a living legend of jazz and funk, Herbie Hancock.
I know what you’re thinking. “Jeez, Dan. We sure have a lot of tribute acts in the area right now with — among others — Made In Iron  (Iron Maiden); Ragged Glory  (Neil Young); Led Lo/Co  (debauchery); and The Dead Sessions (duh). What’s so special about these guys?” So glad you asked!
Led by ace guitarist Will Kirk  (Strength in Numbers), the group consists of some of the most accomplished funk, jazz and rock players in the area. Featured performers include fellow Strength in Numbers  cohorts Bryan McNamara  (saxophone); Parker Shper  (keys); PJ Davidian (percussion); and Dan Ryan  (drums). Rounding out the group are bassist John Ragone (Rubblebucket Orchestra , The Dead Sessions) and trumpeter Alex Wolston (Absinthe Minded Love, Roku ).
The crew plans to focus on specific albums — Headhunters, Manchild and Maiden Voyage among others — in an attempt to do justice to one of the most innovative and influential artists of the last half-century. Or, as Kirk himself put it in a recent email, “We’re gonna take it to the church!” Amen.
MUSIC: DARWIN STYLE
In a capitalist society, there is arguably no greater driving force than competition — at least until you bail out failing financial institutions, of course. The same principle isn’t particularly true of the arts. There is something inherently unseemly about pitting the emotional products of personal expression against one another in an effort to determine whose is the best. Art created for sport is hardly art at all. But we love to do it anyway. And there is no better example than the ever-popular “Battle of the Bands.”
This Thursday, a group of enterprising St. Michael’s College students have corraled some of the area’s under-the-radar college acts for a winner-take-all donnybrook at the McCarthy Arts Center. Are you ready to rumble? Slated to appear are Maga , Mic Check, Sepia Tones , Fink, Free Louis, The Billy Collins Band, Fall Line , John Howland and Davin. And, no, save for a couple of exceptions, I don’t know a thing about any of these groups. But that’s kind of the point.
Flip remarks aside, band battles are a great way to discover new acts. And, ultimately, that’s what it’s all about: the showcase, not the competition. As Mom always said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but . . .” well, you know. Plus, the show is a benefit for The Make-A-Wish Foundation . And if you need another — albeit weak — reason to attend, I’ll be sitting in as a judge. Expect a full report next week.
Since I just finished discussing my disdain for competition within the arts, why not completely contradict myself by pitting some local shows happening on the same nights this week against each other to determine a “winner”? Why, indeed.
Wednesday, November 19:Flatlander (CD Release), Evil Hero , Reverse Neutral Drive  at Nectar’s vs. a Wednesday night. Honestly, there’s not much else going on, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t attend. Plus, new-ish outfit Flatlander are releasing their debut EP. They also seem to have a string of TBA dates in the works for Hampton, Virginia, on March 6, 7 and 8. Why do I feel like there’s something else happening in Hampton that weekend?
Thursday: Rubblebucket Orchestra, Spiritual Rez , Strength in Numbers at Higher Ground Ballroom vs. Biodiesel , DJ Haitian  at Club Metronome. Pick your booty-shakin’ poison. High-octane Afro-funk or high-octane live IDM? I’ll take the local(ish) headliner and say Rubblebucket. But I wouldn’t blame you either way.
Friday: The Cush , Sean Altrui , Mark Knuffke  at North End Studio in Burlington vs. Lowell Thompson Band , Jésus Vanacho  at Nectar’s. Honestly, this one is too close to call. Both The Cush and Jésus Vanacho have new albums on the horizon, so that’s a wash. Typically, PBR tallboys would cast the deciding vote. But I’ll leave this up to you, since you really can’t lose in either case.
Saturday: Herbie Hancock Tribute at Nectar’s vs. WIZN’s 25th Birthday Bash with Quadra,Mr. French, Sideshow Bob at Higher Ground Ballroom. These are both essentially tribute/cover shows, so I’m instituting a new rule: When in doubt, go with whatever Bryan McNamara is doing. Though the mullet-watching at HG could be pretty incredible . . .
Sunday: Old Time Sessions at Radio Bean vs. chillin’ at Red Square. Trick question. Red Square is now closed on Sundays until further notice. Thanks, economy!