- Nikara Warren
Are you a Jazz Quester? You know, one of those serious jazz heads who doesn't see the need for a program or map at music fests because, to paraphrase Dr. Emmett Brown, where you're going, you don't need (jazz) roads. For those ready to improvise and take on the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival with pure wanderlust, this year's off-the-beaten-path options offer countless opportunities, both official and otherwise, to satisfy curious minds.
Jazz Fest has always been about more than the marquee acts at the Flynn and Waterfront Park. Burlington's bars, restaurants, nightclubs and arts organizations have a ton of music and events going on throughout the fest. A great place to start is with the Burlington City Arts Jazz Lab, which began last week and runs through Saturday, June 10. The downtown arts nonprofit serves as a brainy complement to jazz fest, offering workshops on creating digital music, lectures from musicians such as Brooklyn vibraphonist Nikara Warren on Thursday, June 8, and art exhibitions, including Faith Ringgold's ongoing "Jazz Stories." BCA has booked plenty of music for the occasion, as well, with experimental musician Jo Bled at BCA Center on Wednesday, June 7, and, in City Hall Park, saxophonist Marty Fogel's Mixed Bag Quartet on Friday, June 9, and indie rockers No Showers on Vacation on Saturday, June 10.
Downtown Burlington's bars are absolutely loaded with music, too. The 126, the city's only dedicated jazz club, is a hot spot for some of the scene's best and brightest, including Dusk Quartet on Thursday, Bella & the Notables and the Dan Ryan Express on Friday, and Jon McBride Quintet on Saturday.
The Venetian Cocktail & Soda Lounge hosts ethereal jazz trio Astral Underground on Thursday in one of the standout off-the-beaten-path shows of the fest. The rest of its festival schedule is packed with local jazz from Ro Freeman and Randal Pierce on Thursday, Steve Goldberg and Blue Gardenias on Friday, and many others.
While not officially part of jazz fest, Radio Bean, as always, has an absolute embarrassment of riches to offer the wandering music listener this week. Singer-songwriter Ryan Montbleau, fresh off releasing a series of new music titled Wood, Fire, Water, and Air, has a four-day residency at the Burlington club, running Wednesday to Saturday. Performances from blues act All Night Boogie Band on Friday, indie rockers Arc Iris on Saturday and Sunday, and jazz/hip-hop collective the Most Wanted on Sunday highlight a stacked schedule at the Bean and its adjacent Light Club Lamp Shop.
Nectar's honors its jam band DNA on Thursday with a set by Jazz Is Phsh. The tribute to the city's most famous exports, Phish, answers the question: Can jam music feature even more noodling? I bet the answer is a resounding yes. Upstairs, Club Metronome is all about honoring local music history, featuring a set by jazz fest regulars Grippo Funk Band on Friday.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, people. Whether officially part of the jazz fest or not, there is music booked across the Queen City this week, from Leunig's Bistro & Café to the Farmhouse Tap & Grill, Red Square to Halvorson's Upstreet Café, Orlando's Bar & Lounge to the Vermont Pub & Brewery, the Skinny Pancake to American Flatbread Burlington Hearth and many more. So sure, hold on to those programs and map out your plans. But leave time to wander the streets of downtown Burlington and take in the sensation of an entire city throwing a party.