Soundbites: At the Hop, Update: Burlington Bands 101, Bite Torrent
Summer is like a rubber band. In the muddy months leading to our shortest season, we pull back on it, steadily increasing the tension as our anticipation of hazy hot-weather folly mounts. Then, just when it seems like we can’t wait any longer, said rubber band is released, and the season speeds past in the blink of an eye. Usually.
The summer of 2009 in Vermont — and all over New England, really — will probably be remembered as much for practically not happening as it will for any of the myriad events that coulda, shoulda, woulda defined it. Rather than being released at the height of tension, this year the rubber band seems to have gotten waterlogged and just broken, leaving us scrambling to patch it together and salvage what little we could before the leaves began to turn — or Kid Rock tore up the fair, I suppose. Though summer has begun its inexorable descent into fall, it still has one last hurrah in store: the South End Art Hop .
With apologies to Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras and the like, of all our annual artsy soirées, Art Hop is without question my personal favorite. For an entire weekend, the formerly industrial south end of town is transformed into a veritable carnival of sensory curiosities. And while — as the name implies — visual “art” takes center stage, you can’t stroke your chin and feign understanding of mind-boggling works without a good soundtrack, right? (OK, you can. But it’s certainly not recommended.) Hence local music is an integral piece of the Hop experience. And this year should prove no different.
In particular, there are two shows to which I would like to draw your attention. Actually, there are dozens. But space in this li’l ol’ column is at a premium this week. And I’d hate to spoil the whole smorgasbord of sonic surprises that awaits.
The first throwdown is this Friday at JDK Design  on Maple Street. The party serves as the opening for an exhibit called “Totem,” which features works from two notable artists, Justin Fines  and Steven Harrington . While nearly a world apart geographically, the two share a common artistic worldview rooted in “suburban Americana, youth culture and a 21st-century attention span combined with 20th-century design appreciation.” So, in other words, Warhol on Ritalin. Nifty.
Two Bill Mullins-led favorites will supply the tunes: surf-noir provocateurs Barbacoa  and art-punk steamrollers Blowtorch . Coincidentally, my first experience with the latter band was at last year’s Art Hop. They rocked my world then, and they’ll rock yours this time around. As will the skateboarders who will shred JDK’s indoor skate park following the show. And, FYI, “Totem” will be on display through Saturday, September 26.
Next up, we have what for my money has become the Art Hop’s pièce de resistance, at least musically: the annual hedonistic hootenanny behind Speaking Volumes. (See “Blowtorch, last year” above.)
This year we get not one but two nights of rockin’ at Burlington’s gold mine of eclecticism. Friday features the Americana-ish strains of Gold Town — whom I mistakenly described in a recent column as an offshoot of local jam band Greyspoke . They ain’t. My bad, guys.
Friday will also see funky bunch Funkwagon , Mos Def pals Rough Francis  and an outfit called Mav Tron — the last of which I know absolutely nothing about. But that’s part of the fun, right? You can also expect an appearance by Upbrella! and Bonnaroo regulars the Unbearable Light Cabaret , as well as local body-painting consortium the Human Canvas.
Update: Burlington Bands 101
OK, so I don’t really have any updates on the upcoming Burlington Bands 101 showcase at Nectar’s  and Club Metronome . Let this merely be a reminder to clear your calendar the evening of Wednesday, September 23. There will be rockin’. There will be rollin’. And there may be a mechanical bull. Really.
Moving on …
In case you couldn’t tell by the two articles 7D ran in consecutive weeks about him, I’m kinda excited about recent(ish) Queen City transplant Anders Parker . It seems I’m not alone, as the songwriter will appear on this season’s debut installment of 90.1 FM WRUV ’s long-running local music radio show “Exposure” on Wednesday, September 9 — as in, the day this paper comes out.
Speaking of Parker, space limitations in the aforementioned articles prevented me from mentioning anything about the opening acts at his CD release show at the Monkey House, beyond the fact that there are some. But if you’ve never seen or heard Richard Buckner , do yourself a favor and rectify that situation this Saturday. Dude is simply a remarkable tunesmith. Oh, and Lowell Thompson  and Burette Douglass  are pretty OK, too.
Local blues man Dave Keller  appears to be on a bit of a roll. In addition to having a busy touring schedule this summer, he saw his last album, Play for Love, hit #8 on the prestigious Roots Music Report  charts. RMR is a Texas-based organization that monitors airplay on independent radio stations around the globe. Congrats, Dave.
Though the summer music festival season has wound down, a few fests still remain if you know where to look. For example, the third annual Burke Mountain Music Festival  at the Burke Mountain ski resort this Saturday. Scheduled to appear are rejuvenated funk-pop outfit Rustic Overtones , Granite Staters Duty Free  and local mountain blues men the Eames Brothers .
This just in from DJ Big Dog : Contrary to what you may have read in this year’s (award-winning!) What’s Good college guide, you probably should show up for his weekly MiYard Reggae Night at Nectar’s before midnight on Sundays. In fact, the turntablist informs me they’ve pushed the usual start time back an hour, to 9 p.m., just to accommodate those who are both irie and gainfully employed.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when Fattie B  says something is good, it’s a good idea to listen. This Friday, Queen City hip-hop’s elder statesman — with an assist from the 2K Deep  crew — welcomes world-renowned dubstep DJ Joe Nice  to Club Metronome. Personally, dubstep drives me absolutely batshit. But the kids seem to dig it. And they even get in the door on the cheap with a valid college ID.
Always like to give a shout out to the Boys & Girls Club when I can. So, this Saturday, swing by Burlington’s Roosevelt Park when the group throws a Back-to-School bash featuring Ill Intelleks , Somewhere in the Solution , the Fifth Business , Listen to the Sky and Pale Fire ’s Kaitlyn Boudah. Also, I’m told there will be a bounce castle.
Finally, if you like the hip-hop — and I know you do — plan to be at Nectar’s for True School on Wednesday, September 16. Why? Two words: the Beatnuts. One more: whoa.