Last fall, I attended the rock-and-roll-industry orgy known as the College Music Journal Music Marathon — or more informally, “CMJ.” It was, in a word, totallyfuckingrad. In a few more words, in the span of about four days in NYC, I took in more music than most normal people see in a year. And I still only caught a fraction — of a fraction — of the citywide bounty of riches the showcase has to offer. Amazing.
Obviously, with so much to choose from, it is important to have at least some semblance of a game plan going in. You can’t help but stumble upon great new music, but identifying a few key stops along the way helps lend structure to the journey. Otherwise your average night turns into one of those old “Family Circus” cartoons where Jeffy wanders all over the neighborhood — only with more booze … presumably.
One afternoon before heading out for the evening, I was flipping through the mammoth CMJ guidebook to plan my attack. While marking down a few highlights and noting some other bands I had been curious about, I stopped dead in my tracks. A battalion of butterflies erupted in my stomach as I gleefully reread the one-inch-high blurb over and over.
Neutral Milk Hotel . At CMJ. Tonight. Ohmigodohmigodohmigod…
I texted some NYC friends about the show, as well as some Burlington folks I knew were in town. I also contacted a connection at CMJ about finding extra tickets. Then, I raced to Facebook and Twitter to share the news that I, Dan “that guy from the Seven Days” Bolles, was about to go see one of the most fabled, influential and elusive indie acts of the last 25 years. I even thought about “liking” my own status update, so pleased with myself was I.
(An aside: Can we all agree that “liking” your own status update is basically social-media masturbation and should be strictly forbidden? Facebook is already enough of an exercise in self-gratification.)
Then, I received this text from my CMJ friend: “You mean Neutral Uke Hotel ?”
My previously fluttering butterflies dive-bombed in my stomach, which dropped roughly the same distance as had my now-slack jaw. I tore open the CMJ book and read it again.
An all-ukulele Neutral Milk Hotel cover band.
Sheepishly, I updated my FB and Twitter posts again. I texted my NYC friends. I cried a little. Somehow, I had misread the fine print — it really was a small font, I swear. I regularly feel like an idiot, but rarely as much as in that exact moment. A truly classic blunder.
Anyway, I told you that story to tell you this one…
A few weeks back, a friend mentioned he had heard grumblings that a certain local booking collective — the one that rhymes with “Mangioplasty” — had an in on snagging NMH front man Jeff Mangum , who was planning to tour this summer for the first time in, like, forever. Or at least in quite a while. NMH broke up in 1998, and Mangum has since become a J.D. Salinger-esque recluse. If this were true, it would be just about the biggest local music news since the last thing Grace Potter did. Maybe bigger. Definitely bigger. (Need proof? Stereogum.com recently reported  that tickets for one of Mangum’s NYC shows are selling on eBay for $5600. Really.)
Well, guess what?
This week, Angioplasty Media  and MSR Presents  announced that they had indeed scored Mangum to play in Burlington. Coincidentally, AM’s Nick Mavodones was one of the folks I texted in the great Neutral Uke Fiasco of 2010. We haven’t spoken since. (Just kidding. He forgave me. I think.)
Mangum will play the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Burlington on Monday, August 8. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, June 22, at noon — which means if you picked up this issue late, it’s probably sold out. (What have I told you about reading me on time, huh?)
When most artists claim influences, they mention other great artists. Not John Elliot, aka Outer Space . Instead, he claims an elemental force: electricity. His bio reads, “Elliot’s music is deeply indebted to the inner workings of the electric signal.” No kidding. Elliot will appear at the BCA Center this Thursday as part of a high-voltage showcase of experimental electronic music, curated by — who else? — Burlington’s Greg Davis . The show will feature a trio of Baltimore-based electronic composers, including Dan Deacon collaborator Andrew Bernstein , electronic “string theorist” Owen Gardner  and Max Eilbacher. Also on the bill are pop deconstructionists Radio People and St. Louis-based composer and Kranky Records artist Joseph Raglani .
Band Name of the Week: Naked Musicians. OK, Naked Musicians is not a band, exactly. It is several bands. On film. Wearing clothes. NM is an ongoing music video project by local filmmaker Matthew Day. The gist is that Day captures artists behind the scenes, just kind of hanging around. He then edits in a rough-edged — or what Day calls a “rustic” — music video to tie it all together. Pretty neat stuff, and not unlike a hyper-local version of La Blogotheque’s Take Away Shows. This Saturday at the BCA Center, Day will showcase several of the videos he’s done, including shorts of locals Paper Castles , Chamberlin , Kat Wright and Brett Hughes , the Crack Up , and Bob Wagner, among several others. He’s also filmed a few nonlocal acts, including BTV expats Rubblebucket  and Marco Benevento , and one visual artist, Burlington’s Clark Derbes. BTW, between Accordion Babes  and now Naked Musicians, this may be the steamiest 7D music section in recent memory.
Local songwriter Adam King  (ex-Turkey Bouillon Mafia ) wraps up a monthlong Wednesday-night residency at Nectar’s next week. King is working on a new album at the Tank and was kind enough to send along a rough cut of one of the demos. I gotta say, I rather enjoyed it. He’s always been an impressive keyboardist. But left to his own devices as a solo artist, he’s also a unique, and strangely insightful, songwriter. Catch him at the House that Phish Built on Wednesday, June 22, and/or Wednesday, June 29.
Congratulations to local duo Lila Mae and Jeff Hahn , who celebrate the release of their new album, One More Yesterday, with a release party at Parima Main Stage this Saturday. At the risk of spoiling the review that will eventually appear in these pages, fans of the Everybodyfields or Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell would do well to check ’em out.
Speaking of lovely Americana and country, Katie Trautz and the Tall Boys  wrap up their recent regional tour at Montpelier’s Black Door this Friday. They’ll be opening for the Deadly Gentlemen , which is a side project of Crooked Still banjoist Greg Liszt, who is kind of a big deal — go ask a folkie. What’s more, Trautz tells me her other band, Wooden Dinosaur , whom I love, heads back to the studio next week. Excellent.
Last but not least, I’m dubious of pretty much anything that happens in Williston. But even I have to admit this sounds like fun: Musical Mad Libs at Oscars Bistro & Bar this Thursday. The idea for this cabaret-style show is that audience members replace certain words from popular show tunes with words of their own choosing — based on my experience with Mad Libs as a kid, I’m guessing that means swears and descriptors of various bodily functions. Then, a group of local singers perform them live. What could possibly go wrong?
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.
1, 2, 3 , New Heaven
Blake Mills , Break Mirrors
Danger Mouse & Danielle Luppi, Rome
Johnny Paycheck , The Soul & The Edge: the Best of Johnny Paycheck
Bon Iver , Bon Iver (Yes, still)