by Dan Bolles
Greetings Solid Staters! Before I begin, I'd like to apologize for the stagnant period following Casey's final post. You can stop hounding me with snarky e-mails, withdrawl-addled, jittery late-night phone calls and threatening notes tied around bricks, thrown through my living room window. Casey's gone. I'm here. We'll get through this together, I promise. But I digress.
Since being annointed as "The New Casey," I've frequently been asked for my feelings regarding the current condition of local music. Whether from musicians, club owners or fans, it's been a hot topic of conversation, which speaks to the reverence and passion with which folks view our local scene. I thought it only fitting to officially add my thoughts to the discussion in this, my inaugural post. Thus, I present to you The Solid State of the Union Address.
Fellow Uh-mericuns, the state of our Union is strong . . . No, seriously. It is. The nature of local music is found in its constant ebb and flow. For every local "Golden Age" like the early to mid-1990s, you have periods similar to the current, slightly slower era. Burlington will always have a young, transient population, which leads to an ever-changing group of artists making noises in Vermont. There is rarely a lack of talent, but occasionally, we enter stages when there are few, if any, bands or artists making big waves. While the larger clubs like Nectar's and Metronome load up on out-of-state fare, the smaller venues such as Radio Bean and it's bizarro Montpeculier cousin, Langdon Street Cafe, are teeming with a dizzying array of up-and-coming local talent. You have to do some leg work to find great new bands, but that's half the fun.
Only two years ago, there was a roster of local bands numbering in the teens that could fill nearly any club in town, any night of the week. Many of them, like Manifest Nexto Me, Black Sea Quartet, and, ahem, The Middle Eight are no longer with us, while bands like Swale, The Cush and The Jazz Guys, though still playing, have somewhat somewhat receded into the background. It's always sad to see good bands die young, but it also opens the door for the next wave of talent to make its mark. So who are the likely culprits?
To find the answer, look no further than the Bean. Since its inception, hundreds, if not thousands of bands have made their way through the tiny cafe next to Lovely Nails. To be honest, a lot of 'em truly suck, but as the saying goes, throw enough shit against the wall . . .
One band that is sticking to Burlington's collective brick facade is Cccome?, fronted by none other than Radio Bean proprietor, Lee Anderson. The devilish quartet is something like a Vaudeville-sideshow on LSD, and features — as many local bands do — ex-members of deceased groups. In this case, Meistah from Black Sea and Chris Kiper from Manifest. They're not for everyone, but you're unlikely to find many other bands like them, especially in Burlington.
Speaking of Lee, he recently told me about a group called Drive The Hour, which he claims is his new favorite local band. I haven't heard them, but that recommendation alone piques my interest. Let's face it, the guy sees more local music than anyone else in town, including myself — and I get paid to do it.
Another Bean-sprout band making their presence felt is El Paso, an avant-folk quartet featuring jazz-guitarist Nick Cassarino. Sooner or later, some asinine rock critic will no doubt compare them to Arcade Fire . . . man, I hope it's not me.
I could go on, but I'm told blogs are supposed to be short, and I already feel like I'm rambling. The point is that there are a slew of bands in the area that are flying just under the radar, but have the potential to usher in a new era of local music. And they're not all from Burlington, though I've been somewhat B-Town-centric. St. Alban's Americana-noir act, Farm, come to mind. It's my job to find these bands, but I can't be everywhere. So I call on you, the citizens of Solid State, to bring to my attention anything that you think should be covered in these esteemed pages (paper or electronic), especially good new bands. After all, it's your scene.
Good night, and may God bless American Apparel.