NPR Music is in the middle of its annual Tiny Desk Contest. Since mid-January, artists from around the country have been submitting short videos in the miniaturized style of the popular Tiny Desk Concerts series, in hopes of winning the grand prize. Said honors include recording a Tiny Desk Concert at National Public Radio's office in Washington, D.C., appearing on a taping of NPR's "Ask Me Another," and touring the country with NPR and contest sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Vetting the submissions is an all-star panel of judges, including "All Songs Considered" hosts Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen — the latter of whom founded Tiny Desk Concerts — singer and producer Son Little, Lucius cofounders Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, and the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. And they'll be mulling over a goodly number of Vermont submissions.
At least four well-known local acts have submitted to the contest. Submitted for your approval — not mention that of the TDC judges — are each of those entries.
Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band, "Come Dance" Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band recorded this tune, from their forthcoming 2016 full-length album, at Burlington's cozy Light Club Lamp Shop. Of the TDC submissions we've heard and seen, this one might be most visually catching, with the eight-piece ensemble crammed into the funky lounge/lighting emporium. We're particularly enamored of the horn section stashed behind the bar. Oh, and the song ain't bad, either.
Josh Panda, "After the Smoke Has Cleared" Josh Panda gets major bonus points for creativity, framing his TDC submission as if it were played on an old tube TV. Organist Tyler Mast trades in his B3 for a glockenspiel, while drummer Steve Hadeka plays a cajon. It's a stripped-down setup, for sure. But there's no stripping down Panda himself, whose dynamic pipes are highlighted even more by the sparse arrangement.
Madaila, "I Know"
It should surprise no one that Madaila's submission is the most colorful of the Vermont entries. Clad in their signature sparkly neon, the band members offer what they call a "Casio symphony" version of "I Know," from their 2015 record The Dance.
Dwight & Nicole, "High Low" Dwight & Nicole submitted their entry mere minutes before the contest deadline, and then only after the insistent urging of friends. In a related story, Dwight & Nicole have smart friends with exceptional taste in music. "High Low" is a bluesy, low-key gem.