Soundbites: Beau Bledsoe, Nathan Granner, Chuch, Margaret MacArthur, St. Patrick's Day
Classical music isn’t the typical fare at Montpelier’s Positive Pie 2, but this Friday the venue presents an intimate recital with Nathan Granner & Beau Bledsoe. The musicians, on voice and guitar, perform songs from the classical canon, as well as reconfigured American spirituals and traditional Flamenco music.
The two are among a growing list of classically trained players bringing non-pop music to unconventional venues. For another example of this phenomenon, see the spotlight on Matt Haimovitz (with whom Granner has collaborated) on page 09B.
Granner is a Sony recording artist and a current member of the American Tenors. His rich vibrato and hardy timbre has won him rave reviews from critics nationwide. Bledsoe is a dedicated student of the guitar who has studied with Flamenco masters in the south of Spain. He’s also comfortable playing bluesy Americana, tango and, yes, classical.
I recently had the chance to listen to the duo’s most recent disc, Departure, and it was a nice change from the rock, hip-hop, reggae and folk music that makes up my main musical diet. Not that there’s anything wrong those genres, but it’s cool to hear a couple of young-ish dudes knocking out music written several hundred years before they were born. And, as Granner & Bledsoe themselves say, Mozart was a punk.
The show takes place at 8 p.m.; tickets are $6 at the door. Call 229-0453 for more info.
Just received word from the boys in Chuch that the diesel-fueled twang-rockers have wrapped up the recording of their sophomore CD, Juarez. The album was tracked at Egan Media in Colchester; the official release party takes place on Friday, April 27, at Higher Ground. I know, I know — it’s a ways off, but it gives you something to look forward to, right? That is, besides warmer weather.
Chuch have also been putting the finishing touches on a documentary DVD, which captured the band in the midst of its first national tour. They might want to think about filming a sequel, as they recently signed with a Boston booking agency and are filling slots for another coast-to-coast run this summer.
A special sneak preview of the flick will be shown at the show in April. According to bassist/vocalist Noah Crowther, they’ll present it “movie theater-style” before the band hits the stage. No word on whether they’ll have popcorn, but you might wanna bring a date. The ol’ yawn-and-stretch maneuver still works pretty well, from what I understand.
To hear some live recordings and watch the trailer for the DVD, visit http://www.MySpace.com/chuchtheband . And stay tuned for more reports on Chuch’s adventures.
When Margaret MacArthur — Vermont’s venerable folksinger and archivist — passed away on May 23, 2006, the traditional music community lost one of its greatest champions. Her family, friends and peers will gather to celebrate her life and work at two benefit concerts this week. The first show takes place on Tuesday, March 20, at Marlboro College, the second at Middlebury College the following evening. Both events start at 7:30 p.m.
MacArthur first encountered American traditional music while growing up in Arizona; she continued to explore folk sounds while living in Missouri, Louisiana and California. Her marriage to John MacArthur in 1948 precipitated a move to Vermont, where the couple settled into a 200-year-old farmhouse in Marlboro. There, she and her husband raised a musical family and established a strong rapport with area folk artists and enthusiasts.
In 1962, MacArthur released a record on the lauded Folkways label, entitled Folksongs of Vermont. She recorded 10 more albums in the course of her career, and continued to be involved in the archiving of traditional music, through her connection with the Flanders Collection. She also performed internationally to great acclaim. Great Britain’s newspaper The Guardian even ran a feature on MacArthur to commemorate her passing.
Appearing at the tribute concerts are her offspring in the MacArthur Family, the long-running Celtic band Boys of the Lough (who also play Higher Ground on Monday, March 19), Gordon Bok, John Roberts, Tony Barrand, Skip Gorman, Karen and Pete Sutherland, Dan Berggren, Deb Flanders and several special guests. The lineup is slightly different for each show; check http://www.VermontFolklifeCenter.org  for the complete schedule.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day this Saturday, which means most area venues will be pushing Celtic pride pretty hard. I often feel out of place in the midst of such celebrations — despite my Irish-sounding name, I’m hardly a bonnie lad. But I know I can’t be alone, and that’s why I’m offering a couple of jig-free jams for your consideration.
At Euro Gourmet, there’s Inner Fire District, a Gypsy-klezmer-Eastern European-styled act headed up by accordionist extraordinaire David Symons. Don’t expect any Gaelic lyrics at this St. Paddy’s party, however. “There will be no Irish music,” Symons writes in an email about the event. “Not that I’ve got anything against the Irish.” One should hope not. Still, drinkers can take heart — IFD are perfect to pound pints to. Responsibly, of course.
Up the street at Red Square are Silent Majority, a politically charged Big Apple/Las Vegas-based hip-hop duo just beginning to break onto the national scene. Members of the group — which has possibly the least navigable MySpace page I’ve ever encountered — have provided rhymes for Eminem’s movie 8 Mile, as well as 50 Cent’s similarly themed flick, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. If another rap-to-riches story gets the green light, I’m sure they’ll be all over it.
I’ve heard some cuts from Silent Majority’s debut, Climate Control — the ones that would load on their site, anyway — and thought they were pretty decent. One tune contained a funny, if dated, reference to Rush Limbaugh’s pill habit. There were also plenty of digs at the current administration, which is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel at this point. If you’ve got a bruiser of a browser, head to http://www.myspace.com/2silentmajority  to hear for yourself.
If you’re still planning on checking out the more trad St. Paddy’s stuff, that’s cool. Just try not to make an ass out of yourself. And watch out for leprechauns.