Under normal circumstances, I would lead this week’s column with a glowing roundup of all things musically related to the South End Art Hop. After all, I do love me some art hoppin’. It’s my favorite annual Queen City shindig, and a great way for the public to get a taste of our bustling local music scene — oh, and all that arty stuff is nifty, too. But circumstances aren’t exactly normal right now, are they?
You probably don’t need a music critic to tell you that the devastation from Tropical Storm Irene has been astonishing. Even if you were fortunate enough to be spared the storm’s wrath, most of us know someone who wasn’t. Collectively, we’re hurting. Bad.
Unsurprisingly, the response from the community has been swift. Volunteers from around the state have flocked to the hardest-hit areas to help, and continue to do so. But the reality is that we’re only getting started putting the pieces back together. This is gonna take a while. And it’s going to take all of us to get there — and that includes you, local music scene. But I’m guessing you’re up to the task. You always are.
This Sunday, September 11, the first of what promises to be a floo … er, a lot of Irene benefit shows gets under way at Nectar’s and Club Metronome in Burlington. Details are still coming together, but here’s the gist: two floors, loads of rocking and/or rolling, the general spreading of goodwill, more rocking and, last but not least, a silent auction spearheaded by Taraleigh Weathers of the Healthy Hippie Magazine . And also, still more rocking.
So far, the lineup is monstrous. At present it includes Justin Levinson , the Woedoggies , Zack duPont , Squid City , the Gordon Stone Band , the Grift , Cats Under the Stars , Japhy Ryder  with Face One , Flat Nose Diesel Bus, Workingman’s Army , the Move It Move It , Afinque  and Craig Mitchell and Motor City. I would not be shocked to see a few more additions in the days to come, possibly right up until showtime. Also, Nectar’s may add a second day of music on Monday, September 12. Stay tuned.
Just as a head’s up, Nectar’s may oversell this show, meaning that even if you buy tickets beforehand — and I highly suggest you do — you still may end up waiting to get in.
As I said, this is merely the first of what promises to be multiple Irene benefits in the coming weeks and months. Between you and me, Higher Ground has an excellent benny on tap for later this month, and I’ve heard grumblings of a very special show in the works at a certain local ski area, as well. As details emerge on those shows and others, we’ll have updates both in print and online to keep you in the know.
As alluded to earlier, the main event in Burlington this weekend is the South End Art Hop . Frankly, there are more music events happening this year than I have space to run down. But there are two shows in particular I’d recommend highlighting on your Hop itinerary.
The first is the annual throwdown at Speaking Volumes on Pine Street on Friday, September 9, cleverly called Hearing Volumes. This party has become an Art Hop staple in recent years and is among my go-to stops. This year should be no exception.
The early show features bluesy Americana duo Spider Roulette  and newcomers Hard Scrabble Hounds . Things really get interesting a little later as trip-hop trio Coba Stella highlight a lineup that also includes the Move It Move It, Whale Boy, Pariah Beat  and body-painting provocateurs the Human Canvas . There is also a late-night bash this year curated by local house-music collective Mushpost  and featuring a live set from Brooklyn’s Machinedrum  and Chicago’s Chrissy Murderbot . Get yer glowsticks ready.
(As an aside, I caught Coba Stella’s CD release party at Nectar’s last week and came away very impressed. Vocalist Julie Winn is dynamic in person and the band does a great job framing her soulful delivery. Definitely an act to watch.)
Meanwhile, at alt-venue/recording studio Signal Kitchen that same night, we have something of a comeback for three of Burlington’s finest, Rough Francis , Villanelles  and Blowtorch. The sons of Death have kept a low profile lately as front man Bobby Hackney Jr. and his wife, Sara Goldstein, prepared for the birth of their second child, Josephine Hackney. In a related story, the 2029 Seven Daysies award winner for Best New Vermont Band just got its newest member. Congrats, you two. Villanelles have also been pretty quiet since releasing their excellent sophomore EP, Kiss My Grits, earlier this spring. And Blowtorch, well, they just kinda disappear from time to time. It’s great to see all three bands back in the saddle. But wait, there’s more. The lineup also includes Parmaga , Errands, Dr. Green  and Dino Bravo , with bookend sets from — who else? — DJ Disco Phantom .
Speaking of bands returning from paternity leave, local ska-punk revivalists Husbands AKA  get back to it this week with a show at Nectar’s on Thursday, September 8, following the birth of guitarist Sean Fitzpatrick’s first baby with his wife, Jenna. Spirit Animal  and Montréal-based rude boys the Beatdown  open.
Radio Bean’s Lee Anderson and Indomitable Soul Band  front woman Kat Wright tied the knot this past weekend at a summer camp in South Hero. I was on hand for the reception, and can say with certainty that it was just about the rockingest wedding party in history. Congrats, you crazy kids.
The third annual Growing Local Fest gets under way at the Vermont College of Fine Arts green in Montpelier this Saturday, September 10. Local acid-jazz legends viperHouse continue their reunion run, and the Chad Hollister Band  is also slated to appear.
Later that evening, a new outfit led by VH bassist Rob Morse, the Sound of Mind (Medium Big) Band, makes its debut at Positive Pie 2. The band features several of Morse’s VH cohorts as well as vocalist Miriam Bernardo, saxophonist Bryan McNamara and trumpeter Tom Morse.
So long, Parima. The Thai restaurant/nightspot unceremoniously closed this past Thursday, following a performance by Cumbancha recording artist Luisa Maita . So much for that supposed farewell bash, I guess. Sigh.
On a brighter note, Mildred Moody ’s Full Moon Masquerade will continue on as debauched as ever at its new home, Radio Bean, this Monday, September 12.
Wailin’ Jennys fans, take note: that band’s co-front woman, Heather Masse , will play a solo show at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington this Thursday, September 8. Also, yee-haw.
Band Name of the Week: The Mumlers . This San Diego-based indie-folk ensemble has been touring with The Tallest Man on Earth and the Dodos this year and recently spent time sharing stages with folks such as Belle & Sebastian, the National and the Sea & Cake, to name (drop) a few. They’ll swing by the Monkey House in Winooski this Sunday, September 11. Paper Castles open.
Last but not least, Gregory Douglass  has something of a situation on his hands. Literally. The local pop prince will soon star in a 13-episode web-TV series alongside — I swear I’m not making this up — Mike “the Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” fame. Seriously. Douglass is in Michigan filming this week. No word yet on when the show begins airing, whether Snooki is involved or what sort of condition Douglass’ abs are currently in.