Soundbites: Iris Dement, Mr. Cheeks, Gordon Stone, Walt Whitman
If you’re like me, a little jazz goes a long way. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year, largely because of the way live, buttery jazz melts over every nook and cranny of the city as if a concrete English muffin . . . I’ve really got to start eating before I write. Anyway, as the local guru for all things music — in theory anyway — I would be remiss if I didn’t point weary hep-cats and kittens in the direction of some alternative aural pleasure. Here they are, in no particular order.
If you’ve enjoyed Jazz Fest’s bluesy fare, perhaps one of the myriad Big Joe Burrell tributes, you’re probably hungry for more — and maybe some smoked pig. You should swing by Big Fatty’s BBQ this Friday or Saturday night and check out local blues guitarist John Lackard. Despite central Vermont roots, the dude’s as authentic as the pulled pork smoking in Fatty’s kitchen.
If you’re digging the Southern thing but need something mellow to unwind, Appalachian songstress Iris Dement might be your jug of moonshine. Drawing on traditional influences to create a beguiling blend of folk, blues and even rock, Dement has become one of the most revered songwriters of this, or any, era. She’ll transport you to a simpler time this Friday at the Higher Ground Ballroom, playing a seated show with local blues legend and Jazz Fest stalwart Paul Asbell. The following day, she’ll lend her tantalizing voice to the Roots on the River Festival in Bellows Falls.
Actually, you might as well just camp out at Higher Ground all week. Its calendar is positively overflowing with incredible music. Also on Friday night, Vermont-bred but Brooklyn-based progressive indie-rockers The Urgency invade the Showcase Lounge before lacing up their skate shoes for the Vans Warped Tour. The band was also recently tapped as a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Even with copious hallucinogens, I’m not sure Lennon would have written a scorcher like “Fingertips” — or how he’d feel about a songwriting contest bearing his name — but it’s quite an honor, and a rockin’ tune.
Continuing on a theme, the Higher Ground Ballroom will rock like it’s 1989 on Sunday night as alt godfathers Dinosaur Jr. and Lou Barlow do the ever-popular reunion tour thing in support of Dino Jr.’s new album Beyond. If you grew up listening to alt-rock in the late 1980s or early 1990s and haven’t heard it, go to Pure Pop and buy it now. Come back and read the rest of this column when you’re done.
If Little New Jers — um, I mean, Williston Road isn’t your style, you could take a drive to the Good Times Café in Hinesburg this Thursday to check out legendary folk troubadour David Olney. The prolific songwriter’s work has been covered by a plethora of artists including Emmylou Harris, Del McCoury and Slaid Cleaves. His newest record, One Tough Town, is a rollicking affair borrowing from the vintage rockabilly, gritty blues and lonesome country sounds of a bygone era. While you’re at Pure Pop . . .
New York rapper Mr. Cheeks is a busy man. In addition to a successful solo career after founding the iconic and tragically short-lived hip-hop group The Lost Boys, he is also a producer for the porn website OnionBooty.com . . . or so I’m told. I’ve never actually been to the site . . . er, let’s move on.
The MC/booty-maven has somehow found the time to fit li’l ol’ Burlington into his busy schedule — in between laying down dis tracks about 50 Cent and, you know, doing other stuff. Is it getting hot in here?
Local hip-hop hell-raisers VT Union, S.I.N. & Lee, GTD (Burnt MD) and A-Dog will join Cheeks this Tuesday at Club Metronome. I’m guessing milk and cookies will be provided. Oh, and porn. Lots of porn.
Yeah, you with the stolen banjo. Do you see anyone else with a stolen banjo around here? Well then I must be talkin’ to you, you inbred, thieving sack of donkey shit.
That’s just one of the many lines you could use — free of charge — if you encounter the pile of excrement that broke into Gordon Stone’s van last week in Norwalk, Connecticut, and stole his prized 1977 Stelling Bellflower banjo. In fact, it was probably a whole crew of lowlifes, since they also made off with a Fender Twin Head (circa 1972), an Easy Rider pack seat (with effects boxes, cables, sitar bar, etc.), and a 12-inch Weber speaker in a cream-colored Tolex-covered cabinet with an Oxblood Grill Cover and the word “Magnatone” across the front.
Anyone with information regarding the incident can contact Stone at Gordon@gordonstone.com , and has my permission to kick the perpetrators square in the nuts.
Last week, I ran a blurb about the Walt Whitman birthday celebration at Club Metronome. The show featured the poetic stylings of several local bands including Cccome?, Swale and Activists/Dictators. Note the “s” at the end of the word “Activists,” because apparently I didn’t. The following day I received this email from someone in the band:
“Casey and Dan, you fucks. Activists is PLURAL. Activists/Dictators are all about EQUAL relationships between opposing forces. If the Activists part of the name were SINGULAR it would be an ADJECTIVE describing the Dictators and there would be no need for the /. Seriously, you’re good people but you NEVER get it right. Please come and rock out with us at the shows but don’t write about us anymore. Love/Hate, Yin/Yang, Life/Death, Create/Destroy, T."
Well, “T.,” my face is red. I goofed. I would have responded personally but, curiously, the return address was blocked and I couldn’t. I know it’s unusual to respond to an email publicly, but as a writer, I understand how some typos cut deeper than others and I couldn’t stand the thought of not offering my sincerest apologies and taking full credit for the mistake. Casey Rea had nothing to do with it — he’s far too busy planning his evil escape. So, “T.” — who is certainly not Tom Lawson — I promise never to write about Activists/ Dictators again. However, can I still write about ¡The Pant!?