- Luke Awtry
The first new singles of the year from Vermont artists have started to drop, and some great tunes are coming down the pike. First up is from friend of the paper (read: frequent contributor) Justin Boland, who's dropping a lot of new hip-hop in 2024 as Wombaticus Rex. He kicks it off with a savage diss track called "Making Friends Online" that has equal measures of vitriol and self-deprecation, as well as killer bars from the Vermont rapper.
"I feel like Marshall Mathers after hitting his peak," Boland raps over a beat from Vermont producer SKYWISE. "Got unlimited reach and still picking the shittiest beats."
"Diss tracks are almost always a mistake," Boland wrote on his Soundcloud page. "That said, I have quite a few diss tracks to drop in 2024."
Boland also runs vermonthiphop.com, a vital repository for all things hip-hop in the 802. He recently finished bestowing his yearly Vermont Hip Hop Awards, a gargantuan effort that is both an excellent barometer of who's hot in the local rap game and a great source of new music to discover.
Shout-outs to artist of the year Charlie Mayne, best emcee Konflik and best producer Caleb Lodish. All three artists had a big year in 2023, so it's nice to see the recognition. Pop over to vermonthiphop.com to check out plenty of other worthy winners.
A year after GuitarSam closed in Montpelier, the Capital City once again has a place for musicians to find their gear. Naive Melody Instrument Exchange on 95 State Street celebrates its grand opening on Saturday, January 27. Largely a consignment shop for local musicians to buy, sell and trade equipment, the store fills the void left by GuitarSam after 42 years of serving the community.
To mark the occasion, poet and musician Toussaint St. Negritude will perform at 6:30 p.m.
"As local musicians, we have felt the lack of a brick-and-mortar outlet for the tools of our trade most keenly," Montpelier musician Nate Ingham wrote in a press release. He, Mandy Przybylak and Jeff Thomson worked to bring Naive Melody to life.
"All the instruments we sell will be consigned by members of the public," the release continues. "We are eager to see what's out there!"
One might be forgiven for assuming that Kyle Thompson, aka Fattie B, has graced the Radio Bean stage in Burlington tons of times. After all, the DJ and MC has been dropping bars and laying beats across the scene for decades, both as a solo artist and with groups such as Belizbeha and Eye Oh You. I honestly thought he'd played just about every stage in the area, but it turns out there was a Burlington club still on Fattie's list.
"It's been my dream for a long time to play the Bean," Fattie wrote me in anticipation of his debut at the nightclub. His DJ set, "Night Fever," goes down Friday, January 26, and has the local heavyweight all sorts of excited. "I'll be spinning an all-disco mashup with plenty of remixes, new bangers and old classics," he said.
Eye on the Scene
Photographer Luke Awtry surveys local nightlife
St. Mark Bowling & Entertainment Center, Burlington, Thursday, January 18: It's a rarity these days, but have you ever been in a bowling alley where you could hear the subtleties of your roll? This opportunity still exists in Burlington — in the basement rec hall of a New North End church, no less. St. Mark Bowling & Entertainment Center has no TVs, no huge sound system, no black lights or lasers, and definitely no bar. It's just eight vintage Brunswick lanes from the 1950s, nearly unchanged in their authenticity.
Hearing your throw is essential if you want to up your game, something that became important later in life to me, a highly competitive player even as a baby of 8 years old. Make your throw and close your eyes. Listen for how your ball hits the hard maple of the lane — did it bounce or join the surface smoothly? Next is the roll — is it smooth, or bumpy and inconsistent? Finally, you want to hear the unmistakable crack of your ball rocketing through the pins, sending all 10 into a flurry of chaos. Strike! Now just do it 11 more times for that perfect 300 game. And be ready for a whole lot of high fives.