Soundbites: Decade Dance, Wait for It, And Now . . . Cougar Time!, Bite Torrent
Boy, have we got some huge news to unveil this week regarding the already historic number of amazing concerts on tap for this summer — hint: said historic number is probably not decreasing. And typically, that is just the sort of news that would nab top billing in this li’l ol’ column. But while the explosion of marquee acts making the Green Mountains a stop on their summer itineraries is remarkable, exciting and, dare we say, sexy, let’s not forget about the homegrown folks whose yeoman efforts keep our ears occupied more than once every 400 years.
For example, Montpelier-based jack-of all-trades, Halogen Records , led by Justin Hoy, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this week. Though the industrious label/production company/promoter/booking agent/management team/slicer/dicer/prolific Tweeter is marking a decade in the biz, it has really been within the last year or two that Halogen has hit its stride and become a major player, locally and beyond.
Chances are, if you’re a relatively hip person about town, you’ve been to a Halogen show or two. They’ve been the “man behind the curtain” for a slew of big-ticket acts coming through the area, including recent performances by reggae legends The Wailers, underground hip-hop heavy Brother Ali, electro faves Galactic and a host of others.
As impressive a resume as that is, Halogen’s work grooming and promoting local products is the foundation for their continued success and longevity. Their current roster includes veteran songwriter Aaron Flinn , Americana upstarts The Dixie Red Delights , soul grrrl Sara Grace and the Suits  and my previously stated prediction for this year’s Seven Daysies winner for “Best New VT Band,” hip-pop hooligans Strength in Numbers . By networking with out-of-town acts such as Philadelphia Slick, The Problemaddicts  and DJ GI Joe, Halogen has been able to provide its artists with exposure and opportunities most local acts would be hard pressed to unearth on their own: a distribution deal for Flinn, East Coast tours for Dixie Red Delights and Strength in Numbers, etc.
This week, Halogen celebrate their aluminum anniversary in fittingly grand style with a pair of terrific shows that capture the essence of how the company works. Thursday, Montpelier’s Positive Pie 2 hosts the hometown throwdown with a veritable smorgasbord of acts of national, regional and local renown. The guest list includes Jurassic 5’s Akil the MC , Strength in Numbers, Quanstra, Evaready R.A.W., Ghani Gutama , DJ Metrognome , Dlabrie , The Problemaddicts and an appearance by local b-boy dance phenoms the Rhythm Riderz Crew . The following night, Higher Ground gets in on the fun with a Ballroom version of the party that, in addition to most of the bands on the Montpelier lineup, will also include Diabolic, DJ Statik , Swave Sevah  and Burlington’s own The Aztext . Oh, and Immortal freakin’ Technique . Congratulations to Halogen Records on 10 years. Here’s to many, many more.
WAIT FOR IT
Just because I can, I’m gonna hold onto the aforementioned “huge” news for one more bite. In the meantime, get a load of this:
As promised last week, the bulk of the lineup for this year’s Northeast Kingdom Music Festival  (August 7 & 8) has been released! And damn if it isn’t a good one. In particular, Celtic-rockers Enter the Haggis , disco-dance darlings Heloise and the Savoir Faire  and Boston’s Township  are worth the price of admission alone. And that’s to say nothing of “under card” acts such as Luminescent Orchestrii , The Mathematicians , The Toughcats , The Two Man Gentleman Band , Sara Grace and the Suits, Strength in Numbers, The Problemaddicts and ... well, I could go on.
Event organizer Ed DuFresne claims there are still a few more acts likely to make the bill, so keep an eye out for those. In the meantime, I would suggest taking advantage of the “Early Bird” discount tickets, which go on sale in limited numbers this Saturday at Riverwalk Records and the Langdon Street Café in Montpelier, Burlington Records, and The Lake Parker Country Store in West Glover. You can also visit www.NEKMF.com  or call 888-512-SHOW — but to get the discount, you have to purchase tix in person.
AND NOW ... COUGAR TIME!
OK, you’ve been good and followed along this far. So I’ll make with the big news. Buckle up.
First, Higher Ground announced  on Monday that our collective embarrassment of musical riches will continue to grow as — are you ready? — Bob Dylan , Willie Nelson  and John “Cougar” Mellencamp  will perform, together at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds on Wednesday, July 15. (And, yes, I know Mellencamp no longer goes by “Cougar.” But I will continue to refer to him as such, because it’s the most fitting reminder that, long before he was a Chevy truck schill, dude was a legitimately badass songwriter. And if you don’t believe me, I’d urge you to revisit John Cougar. Great album. Really.)
At this point, I would like to raise a practical concern. Quite frankly, it’s possible that there’s simply too much going on this summer for a population our size to support, particularly given the economy. However, on the chance that these shows do sell as many tickets as folks apparently think they will, might it not be time to think about building a legitimate outdoor venue in the area? Like maybe at Leddy Park ... just kidding, crazy disc-golf people.
So much left to cover, so little space.
This just in from The Cave Bees : new album, May 24. Woo-hoo!
This just in from neo-soul siren Myra Flynn : new album, June 20. Also woo-hoo!
It’s not a Soundbites column without a benefit show mention: This Monday, 2nd Agenda , Kiaros, Reverse Neutral Drive , Somewhere in the Solution  and Adrift1  rock Nectar’s to raise money for renovations to the Burlington skate park.
You know what’s always a good time? A Found magazine party, that’s what. See for yourself this Tuesday at Club Metronome.
DJ Tricky Pat  is at it again, releasing another nasty cut with super DJ Brandon Miles  on another compilation for Zardonic Recordings , Rare Grooves Vol.2. The dynamic duo will spin in celebration with a special edition of Tricky’s “Stereophonix” residency at The 1/2 Lounge this Saturday.
And finally, since we led off this week with an anniversary shout-out, it seems fitting to end with one. This Friday, local blues prodigy-turned-guru Seth Yacovone  celebrates four years of his solo acoustic residency at Nectar’s.