Shining a Light on the New Radio Bean Expansion | Music Feature | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Shining a Light on the New Radio Bean Expansion



Published October 2, 2013 at 8:14 a.m.

Miss Tess & the Talkbacks
  • Miss Tess & the Talkbacks

“Um, what?”

Like many of you, I’m sure, those two little words generally summed up my reaction to the news that broke late last week that Radio Bean is again expanding — or rather, how the Bean will be expanding.

(Another, slightly lengthier version of that response I heard in conversations over the weekend: “Um, are you fucking kidding me?”)

As we reported on our Live Culture blog last Friday, Bean honcho Lee Anderson has taken over the lease on the recently vacated Caribbean Buffet space next door to ¡Duino! (Duende) on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington and plans to knock down another wall. That alone isn’t especially surprising, given that rumors of the Bean moving into various storefronts along that block have been circulating practically since the café opened. (Watch your back, Lovely Nails!) But Lee Anderson being Lee Anderson, the chances of him doing something obvious with the room, such as adding more seating for the restaurant or retooling the joint for a bigger stage setup, were slim. Still, even the most creative among us probably wouldn’t have come up with the so-cockamamie-it’s-probably-brilliant idea that Anderson has.

He’s opening a lamp shop.

Um, what?

That’s right. Anderson is getting into the lighting business, in a manner of speaking.

In a recent phone call to Seven Days, Anderson outlined his vision for the space, which is indeed a lamp shop. A “really eclectic lamp shop,” as he put it.

In his as-yet-unnamed new venture, Anderson will be selling artisan lamps, handcrafted by local artists and builders. The shop will also feature other vintage-cool knickknacks as well as the “Kitty Corner,” a spot where Anderson’s wife, soul singer Kat Wright, will offer her own handmade wares — presumably including the killer new debut EP from her band, Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band. Look for a review of that EP next week, BTW. (Spoiler alert: holy shit!)

He went on to say that the room will have a small bar, as well as a space for quieter music. He described a sort of speakeasy-style room, a cozy nook that can serve as a mellower alternative to the bustle of the restaurant and coffee shop for those who just want to chill out with a cocktail. Or buy a lamp.

“It’s not going to be a bar that happens to have lamps for sale,” he said. “It’s going to be a lamp shop where you’ll happen to be able to have a glass of wine.”

I confess to initially being as skeptical of Anderson’s latest big idea as I’m guessing many of you are. But sometimes you’ve just gotta follow the rabbit down the rabbit hole. Or at least through the looking glass of an empty storefront.

During Swale’s 11th anniversary party at the Bean last Saturday, Anderson gave me a tour of the space and further explained what he had in mind. He showed me where a narrow hallway will lead from ¡Duino! and open into the speakeasy. He led me through the old restaurant’s byzantine passageways — it’s seriously a maze back there — explaining where things will roughly go. He showed me where a ceiling will be removed to expose another six feet or so of airspace. He sounded pretty sure he’d get everything done by January 1. And he got me pretty damned excited about the whole thing. Stay tuned…


Speaking of the Swale anniversary, man, that was fun. Once again, Swaleoke — in which Swale acts as the backing band for anyone bold enough to sing pop songs with them, karaoke style — is just about the most entertaining gimmick going on the local scene. When it’s good, like Ryan Miller’s take on Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” it’s awesome. But, much like normal karaoke, it’s just as much fun when it’s a bit of a train wreck — like a pair of friends’ version of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” (Love ya, guys.) Just like last year, Swale’s birthday bash was as much a celebration of the band as the local rock scene itself. And it was a blast.

Sticking with Bean for a moment, fans of local Afro-pop outfit the Move It Move It will be delighted to know the band is playing a “reunion show” at the cozy hipster haunt this Saturday, October 5. I use quotes there because, well, the band only broke up in February. So calling the show a reunion is in direct violation of Local Music Code 5.14 subsection D, which I just made up now and clearly states, “at least one year has to have passed since breaking up before your band can have a reunion gig, dammit.” Otherwise, you were just on hiatus. However, I’ll let it slide this time, since Ben Werlin and co. are cool guys and a fun band.

I finally made it down to Sweet Melissa’s, the new juke joint in the old Langdon Street Café building in Montpelier, for an abbreviated visit. I stopped by the bar with some friends during Mark LeGrand’s Honky Tonk Happy Hour last Friday. And I gotta say, there’s a lot of potential in that room. Judging from LeGrand’s set — with SM co-owner Jason Jack on lead guitar, no less — the sound is good, which is unsurprising given the reputation of SM’s sister venue, Moog’s Place in Morrisville. And the reconfigured space is definitely more spacious than LSC was, which bodes well for rocking later in the evening. I’ll definitely be back soon — if only to munch on their jalapeño poppers, which were silly good.

It’s been a while since last we heard from NYC’s Miss Tess & the Bon Ton Parade. That’s at least in part because, well, they broke up. But fret not, fans of jazz-inflected Americana! Tess has a new group, Miss Tess & the Talkbacks, that picks up where the Bon Ton Parade left off, and it takes a detour to the kind of dusty, back-road juke joints that feature classic country and Western swing. The band’s new EP, The Love I Have for You, will come out later this month — October 29, to be precise. But in the meantime, the band is hitting the road, including a stop at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington this Thursday, October 4.

Last but not least, in comedy news, local comedian and promoter Phil Davidson is mining some NYC connections to present up-and-coming comic Adam Newman at the Monkey House this Saturday, October 5. Newman is a New Hampshire native who recently made his late-night TV debut on “The Late Show with David Letterman” — he’s got a great bit about stepping on a lobster in Brooklyn. He was also recently on “John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show” on Comedy Central and was featured as a New Face at this year’s Just for Laughs Festival in Montréal. In short, Newman is a rising star in standup circles, so the chance to see him in the friendly confines of the Monkey House is pretty cool. Also cool: that our funny local comedian pals Carmen Lagala, Will Betts and Davidson himself open the show.

Listening In

A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc., this week.

U.S. Girls, Free Advice Column

Heaven’s Gate, Transmuting

Haim, Days Are Gone

Peter Gabriel, And I’ll Scratch Yours

Drake, Nothing Was the Same

The original print version of this article was headlined "I Love Lamp"