Of the 51 Soundbites columns I write every year, the Thanksgiving-week column has become one of my favorites. Initially, it used to terrify me because, traditionally, there ain’t much news to pass along this week. Even considering my considerable powers of bullshitting — finely honed in high school English classes — teasing out two or three minor news items that would barely register a blip in most weeks was a stretch.
So a few years back, I stopped trying. I decided to use the column to express appreciation for things I’m thankful for or that we should, as local music fans, collectively acknowledge — and maybe tie in a little news along the way. It’s become a nice tradition, and I genuinely look forward to it each year. So, without further ado, and because there is a lot to be thankful for this year, here is A Very Soundbites Thanksgiving.
This should go without saying, but it’s always good to say it anyway. I’m thankful for family and friends, both old and new. And Buckley. Good boy.
Speaking of old friends, I’m thankful our old pal Bryan McNamara will be bringing his recently dormant hip-pop ensemble Strength in Numbers out of hibernation this weekend. I’m equally thankful the show is at the greatest bar in the world, Charlie O’s in Montpelier, this Friday, November 23. (See? I told you we’d sneak in some news.)
I’m thankful we live in an age when musicians can connect with their fans so easily though vehicles such as Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp. It’s never been easier to seek out great music — or, I suppose, more overwhelming. But that’s a good problem to have, isn’t it? And no, this doesn’t mean I’ll write about your friggin’ Kickstarter campaign. But I’m psyched you have one! Let me know how it turns out.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m thankful Swale finally released A Small Arrival this year. I’m also thankful I couldn’t review it due to a conflict of interest. Rare is the local album I can allow myself to experience solely as a fan. It was a refreshing reminder of why I do this job in the first damn place. And BTW, Swale will be at Mildred Moody’s Full Moon Masquerade at Club Metronome this Wednesday, November 28, with Mildred Moody, Errands, Building Blox, Po’ Tree Boo! K, Songs & Stringstruments, Atlas Joint and, as always, the Human Canvas.
I’m thankful not everyone gets schnookered into the Black Friday thing — which, disgustingly, actually starts on Thanksgiving Day this year. I’m also thankful that we live in a place where people actively campaign against such blatantly cynical consumerism. For example, PoolooP, who offer an alternative, dubbed Brown Friday, on November 23 at Radio Bean. The band bills the show as promoting “non-material consumerism, decomposition and positive use of waste.” Well, shit.
On a similar tip, I’m thankful to live in a place where people really do care about helping their community. For example, local rockers Near North, Seamus the Great, Kinky Creature and Bombardier to Pilot, who join forces on Friday for a Toys for Tots bennie at Nectar’s. So if you do find yourself among the shopping masses this Friday, pick up an extra Bayblade Destroyer Dome Set or Bounce Bounce Tigger, would ya?
I’m thankful for my old lady.
I’m thankful I got to interview Weird Al this year. I rarely get starstruck, but that was kind of a dream come true. Though I do wonder how he’s taking the recent news that Hostess, the makers of Twinkies, is going out of business.
I’m thankful for the incredible doctors and staff in the cancer center at Fletcher Allen Health Care. I love you, mom.
I’m thankful for the independent promoters who have emerged in recent years to augment an already strong scene with an influx of incredibly hip, nationally touring talent. And I’m thankful the idea crosses genre boundaries. From the indie leanings of MSR Presents and Angioplasty Media to the EDM explosion courtesy of Mushpost, Nexus Artist Managements, 2K Deep and others, there is rarely a quiet weekend in these parts.
I’m also thankful for the rise of artists’ collectives in the state, particularly the Golden Dome Musicians Collective, What Doth Life and Jenke Arts, all of which give voice to segments of Vermont music that otherwise likely wouldn’t have one. United they stand.
I’m thankful Signal Kitchen, well, exists. It’s been a great addition and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.
I’m also thankful for the longer-standing venues, places like Higher Ground, Nectar’s, Radio Bean and the Monkey House — among others — that provide a rock-solid foundation for our cozy li’l scene. (Ditto non-BTV joints such as Moog’s Place, the Bee’s Knees, Charlie O’s, the Black Door and, yes, Tupelo Music Hall. Welcome back.)
I’m thankful election season is over.
I’m even more thankful the right guy won. Though can you imagine how funny the next four years of “The Daily Show” would have been? Small price to pay, I suppose.
Last, and certainly not least, I’m thankful for you, dear readers. It amazes me that I’m fortunate enough to make a living listening to music and telling you what I think about it. (I’m sure many of my critics are equally amazed. I love you, too.) But what is really remarkable is that there’s enough music being made in Vermont to necessitate even having a music critic. Considering the size of our community, that’s astonishing.
To wit: Seven Days publishes roughly 100 album reviews per year. When I first started here some five and a half years ago, about a quarter of those were nonlocal albums from bands passing through the area. That was out of necessity. The policy for review at 7D has always been locals first. If we were reviewing a nonlocal album, that usually meant we didn’t have a local record in the queue.
Do you know that, in the past three years, we haven’t reviewed a single nonlocal record? Look it up. This year, that 100-review figure will be even greater, since we’ve begun running semi-regular, capsule-review roundups. Even so, we still won’t get to everything that’s come out in 2012. I find that pretty incredible and a testament to the wealth of talent here.
Bringing it back around to you, the readers, it’s also a testament to the support those artists have. I’m able to do what I do because there’s an audience hungry for local music and interested in the stories behind it. And for that, I thank you.
Since the Christmas season officially starts on Friday, this week’s totally self-indulgent segment in which I share what’s on my iPod, CD player, turntable, 8-track player, Spotify account, etc. is a rundown of holiday music — some old, some new — likely to find its way to my ears in the coming weeks. And, yeah, I’m a dork about Christmas music.
Sufjan Stevens, Silver and Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10
Dean Martin, Christmas With Dino
Various Artists, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!
Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Polyphonic Spree, Holidaydream: Sounds of the Holidays, Vol.1