From hip-hop on a boat, to local country singers splitting town for the Music City, to classic rock at the fair and indie rockers on skateboards, it’s just an absurdly busy week for music in these Green Mountains. To get it all in, we’re gonna need a classic, rapid-fire edition of Soundbites. Strap in.
Burlington’s Lynguistic Civilians  are riding high after scoring a pair of Seven Daysies awards — for Best New VT Band and Best VT Band … that’s like winning MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season — and unveiling a tremendous debut record, A Hard Act to Follow, earlier this summer. They cap it all off this Friday, August 26, with the second annual Cruise-A-Palooza aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen III. In addition to the Civilians, the lineup features Jurassic 5’s Chali 2Na , Break Science , LazerDisk Party Sex , Bearquarium  and DJ Squam .
Meanwhile, on dry land, new Burlington java joint Maglianero Café is hosting a fundraiser for the proposed, approved and designed yet underfunded new Burlington skate park this Friday called — I’m not making this up — “Raise the Gnar.” The gig is part art show, part rock show and part skate jam — FYI, Maglianero is in the basement of JDK Design, which has its own skate ramp. Yes, really. Locals Diamond Tiger,  Joey Pizza Slice  and Barbacoa  will rock out, and I’m guessing the PB Army will show up in force. The show is free, but donations are obviously advisable if you don’t want to be the douche who shows up at a free fundraiser and doesn’t chip in.
After taking the last few weeks off to enjoy the remains of summer / prepare for the impending flood of college kids, Higher Ground is once again open for business. This week’s calendar features the HG debut of a new local supergroup, Afinque . The 12-member ensemble plays classic salsa from the heyday of the famed NYC nightclub the Paladium, specifically the “big three” of the time: Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez and Machito. Afinque’s lineup features a veritable who’s who of local Latin-jazz talent, including vocalist Miriam Bernardo , keyboardist and musical director Andric Severance, conguero and bandleader Scott Dean and a wealth of other notables. Catch them this Friday at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge. DJ Hector opens, and early birds will be treated to free salsa lessons.
As has been noted on a few occasions in these pages, the local standup comedy scene has really come into its own in the last year or so. And it seems the laughs will keep coming, if the New Blood Standup Comedy Showcase this Saturday at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge is any indication. Curated by Nathan Hartswick, the winner of this year’s Higher Ground Comedy battle and the founder of the Vermont Comedy Club , the show features the best and brightest from Hartswick’s own standup-comedy class, including newcomers Justin Rowe, Ryan Kenyon, Natalie Miller, Ryan Kriger, Kit Rivers and a Boston-based comic with VT roots, E.J. Murphy.
Curious about the history of women in punk rock? Local punk mecca 242 Main hosts a special screening of the documentary From the Back of the Room: 20 Years of Women in Punk this Saturday. The film’s director, KC Oden, will also be on hand to discuss the flick and the history of women in the DIY punk movement.
Band Name of the Week: Funkwagon . OK, this is more of an honorary award, just because I’ve given the band a hard time about their name over the years — along with the roughly 473 other local and regional funk bands that include the word “funk” in their names. But Funkwagon play their final gig at soon-to-be-closed Burlington nightspot Parima this Friday with Dr. Ruckus , before hitting the road for a brief northeastern tour the following week. FYI, the show doubles as an after-party for the Lynguistic Civilians’ boat cruise the same night. A ticket from the cruise gets you in free at Parima.
After nearly a year, DJ Disco Phantom  is pulling the plug on Beat Vision, his weekly Wednesday-night residency at the Monkey House in Winooski, on Wednesday, August 31. To commemorate the occasion, Disco Phantom is playing — get this — a nine-hour set, beginning at 5 p.m. Though there is no real documentation to prove it, it’s very likely the eclectic turntablist will set at least the local record for a marathon DJ set. Coincidentally, he probably already holds that title, having spun for eight hours at a party hosted by Radio Bean’s Lee Anderson last winter. Suck on that, triathletes.
Note to triathletes: just kidding. However, as a friend wrote on Facebook last week, was it really necessary to strut around town, en masse, clad in Spandex and goofy, aerodynamic bike helmets two full days before the race? You’re in crazy good shape. We get it. Now, put some pants on.
Farewell to J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices , who play “country goddamn music” exceedingly well and, sadly, are playing it for the last time locally this Saturday at Positive Pie 2 in Montpelier. Word is that Harris is then packing up the pickup and going to Nashville.
Speaking of the Music City… Montpelier’s/Nashville’s Erin McDermott  is celebrating the release of her latest album, Time to Go. Again. To refresh your memory, the record was glowingly reviewed in these pages in January , in advance of a Burlington gig. Then, McDermott had an “official” release party in May, at the Enosburgh Opera House. Now she’s getting the band back together — including drummer Ryan Hayes, mandolinist Matt Schrag, fiddler Patrick Ross and Nashville bassist Jeremy Darrow — for yet another release hootenanny, this Thursday at the Black Door in Montpelier. Then she heads back to Nashville and goes on tour. Now, nothing against McDermott, or the record — which really is fantastic — but shouldn’t there be some sort of statute of limitations on just how long you can drag out a release tour? Granted, the record did technically come out in May. But still.
Waylon Speed  has had a hell of a summer, playing festivals and showcases all over the East Coast and generally rockin’ the eff out, speedwestern style. The band’s fall looks promising, too, beginning with a lengthy tour this September. WS will also be pressing a new EP, Boots, to vinyl in October. In the meantime, you can catch them at Nectar’s this Friday with Dr. Green  and the Zack duPont Band .
The Champlain Valley Fair begins this week, which means a special brand of rocking is on tap in Essex Junction. Exhibit A: Lynyrd Skynyrd  and the Doobie Brothers  this Saturday. The annual late-summer infusion of classic rock, pop country and teenybopper fare always makes for some great guilty-pleasure fun — see Toby Keith, Justin Bieber, et al. in previous years, Bruno Mars  and Lady Antebellum  this year. The Skynyrd show is especially noteworthy, as it presents something of a rock-and-roll singularity. Saturday evening at the CV Expo Grandstand will present the only situation in which it is appropriate for some drunken asshole in the crowd to shout, “Freebird!” However, it still won’t be funny.
Experimental music auteur Greg Davis  has a typically fascinating show coming up this Sunday at the BCA Center in Burlington. The lineup includes Yellow Swans founder Pete Swanson , who is touring in support of a forthcoming album that his PR rep describes as “exactly like his old band, but funnier in a depressing sort of way.” Duly noted. Also on the bill are electronic drone duo Keith Fullerton Whitman  and Geoff Mullen , as well as Davis with longtime collaborator Ben Vida . Actually, I retract my statement from the previous bite. This show would be a hilarious place to loudly request “Freebird.” Note to Greg: just kidding.
Last but not least, I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Joey Fatale, better known as Mini-Gene in the all-little-people Kiss tribute band, Mini Kiss . Fatale died on August 7, the day after Mini Kiss played a gig on a boat in Burlington. I had the pleasure of interviewing him a few days before that show, [“Little Big Men,”  Seven Days, August 3, 2011] and was, to my knowledge, the last journalist to do so before he passed. It was honestly one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve done in my tenure at 7D. Joey Fatale was funny, candid and absorbing, and genuinely passionate about his/Kiss’ music and his small part to play in the Kiss legacy. (No pun intended. OK, maybe a little.) Wherever you are, Joey, I hope you’ll rock and roll all night, and party every day.