by Dan Bolles
This just in from our pals at the "crown jewel of Montpelier's arts scene," the Langdon Street Café: Longtime booking maven and all-around mover and/or shaker, Ed DuFresne is calling it quits.
In a letter sent to VT press outlets last night, DuFresne somewhat predictably cites the economic difficulties that apparently leave no one unscathed, including quirky capital city coffee houses. He writes:
In these tough economic times, and with high rent to pay, Langdon Street Café has decided that newest co-owner Ben T. Matchstick will take over the talent coordination duties at Langdon Street Café, so that they can trim expenditures and attempt to make the business more viable for their family. Though their decision is a disappointment to me, I understand their position and their need to do what they think is best for their family and their business.
Certainly, with alt-theater guru Matchstick at the helm, LSC's calendar appears to be in very capable hands. But during his three-plus year tenure at the cafe, DuFresne has left an indelible mark and a sizable pair of shoes to fill. In addition to a consistent menu of top-notch local fare, DuFresne was also responsible for introducing the state to a number of regional and national acts that have since gone on to wider acclaim. Like, for example, The Low Anthem.
With tongue (mostly) planted firmly in cheek, I've taken credit for breaking that band — now the apple of many a discerning indie-folk fan's eye — in my column. Of course, I didn't really break them. I did write about them on a several occasions before most national press outlets got wind of their sheer awesomeness. But that was only a product of fortunate scheduling. And that fortunate scheduling was only a product of DuFresne's willingness to stand behind a band he truly believed in, even when they were drawing, like, 15 people. And then bringing them back again and again until the rest of us — including yours truly — finally caught on when they started playing places like Higher Ground and the Flynn. It's a story that has played out frequently under Ed's watch.
Though he's stepping aside at LSC, DuFresne will hardly be resting on his considerable laurels. Instead, he'll return to his roots as an independent concert promoter, focusing on events such as his long-running Northeast Kingdom Music Festival (August 7 & 8 in Albany, VT!) and stand-alone shows such as 2007's Gogol Bordello throwdown at Vermont College (see Eva Sollberger's vid from the show, below).