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Because You Can't Spell Fundraiser Without F-U-N

Soundbites: The Starline Rhythm Boys, Ray Vega


Published April 2, 2008 at 5:19 a.m.

Exercise and rockin’ are two disciplines that really should never be brought together except under the most extreme circumstances. For example, doing laps in a swimming pool whilst behind the wheel of a Rolls Royce, à la Keith Moon. Now that’s an exercise regimen. But for most of us — including, I would argue, the late Mr. Moon — athletics and live music are best experienced separately.

That said, this Saturday, philanthropic health nuts will have a rare opportunity to indulge their inner rockers as Silent Mind’s Jamie Bright entertains a group of exercise enthusiasts for the 2008 Ride For a Reason fundraiser at Burlington’s Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center. The event consists of a “spinning” marathon to benefit the Vermont chapter of the Special Olympics.

At this point, you’re likely saying to yourself, “Gee, Dan, that’s a great cause. But what the hell is a spinning marathon?” I’m glad you asked. Essentially, a spinning marathon consists of riding a stationary bike. For six hours. In a row. While wearing bike shorts.

For those who are less inclined to bust out skintight Spandex in early April but still want to lend a helping hand, the Sheraton will play host to another fundraiser the very same evening. Now in its sixth year, “Cabin Fever Reliever” has grown from a small folk concert in a local church to one of the biggest annual indoor concerts in the state.

Opening the show is Rhode Island’s best (only?) Zydeco band, Slippery Sneakers. The group was well received at last year’s event and is reportedly excited to join the party again this time. Given the headlining act, who wouldn’t be?

Local rockabilly fans are no doubt familiar with the vintage stylings of The Starline Rhythm Boys. Led by ace crooner and all-around good guy Danny Coane, the travelin’ trio has been delighting the ears of discerning country and swing fans the world over for years. But for this gig, they’ll be joined by a very special guest: guitarist Bill Kirchen.

Kirchen was a member of noted country-rock outfit Commander Cody and His Lost Airmen. More recently, his collaboration with legendary British songwriter Nick Lowe, entitled Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods, climbed to number 5 on national Americana charts in 2007. In short, he’s the real deal, and one of the most respected guitarists in the country. The evening promises to be one hell of a hootenanny. All proceeds benefit Burlington’s Cancer Patient Support Program.

Mama Mia!

Last spring, I had the pleasure of reviewing the self-titled debut release from local acoustic jazz trio MaMaVig, prior to their performance at Burlington’s Discover Jazz Festival. As an aside, those reading this column the day Seven Days hits the street will be doing so while I’m attending the press conference for this year’s fest. That’s a sure sign of spring if ever there was one.

Anyway, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, mandolin maven Jamie Masefield and guitarist Frank Vignola are among the world’s most gifted and sought-after players. Combined, they form one of the hottest pickin’ triumvirates you’ll likely ever hear. Unfortunately, because they are so in-demand individually, opportunities to hear them together are few and far between.

Masefield has been busying himself with his other virtuosic outfit, The Jazz Mandolin Project, which recently finished a run of regional dates. Meanwhile, Vignola has been touring the globe with some guy named, um, Grisham? Griswold? Oh, right. David effing Grisman. I hear he’s pretty good.

This Thursday the boys are getting the band back together for one night only at Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge. Obviously, there’s no shortage of jazzy acoustic music here in the People’s Republic of Jam Bands. But few, if any, of those acts perform with the degree of skill, fire and, most importantly, taste that MaMaVig displays. Do yourself a favor and check ’em out.

Dig It

While we’re talking about great discs recently reviewed in these here pages, let’s recall Brooklyn’s The Dig. Their latest EP, Good Luck and Games just might be the least pretentious thing to come out of Williamsburg in a decade. The band delivers classic 1980s rock constructs with a keen ear towards garage-blues and Brit-pop, all without a shred of irony. It’s a neat trick. This weekend, the band makes two Vermont appearances, Thursday at The Monkey House with local rockers Lendway — who reportedly are putting the finishing touches on a new record slated for a spring release — and again on Friday at Radio Bean.

In The Round

There’s a pretty nifty songwriter series taking shape on Thursday nights at Parima’s Acoustic Lounge, which for my money is just about the most intimate venue in the area and a great spot to take in some mellow tunes.

Part performance and part interview, the evening is hosted by local singer-songwriter Andrew Parker-Renga and features different tunesmiths each week. April’s lineup is particularly strong, beginning this Thursday with folk songstress Rebecca Padula and The Grift’s Pete Day. April 10, Springfield’s Daniel Harmon takes the stage, followed by Vergennes-based country rocker Josh Brooks on April 17. Closing out the month on April 24 is former Lucy Vincent front man Kelly Ravin, who has struck out on his own since the road-weary trio called it quits earlier this year. I’ve yet to catch him live, but the early returns suggest his sound has veered away from sunny jam-pop and towards rootsy Americana. That can’t be a bad thing.

Too Cool For School

The University of Vermont has just announced that noted Latin-jazz trumpeter Ray Vega has joined the school’s faculty. Vega is a world-renowned player and educator, having shared the stage and recorded with the likes of Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Mel Tormé and Eddie Palmieri, to name but a few. His presence will increase national visibility for UVM’s evolving Jazz Studies program, and will likely aid in the recruitment of even more high-caliber talent to the school. Maybe Groovy UV will get even groovier? The South Bronx native has served as artist-in-residence for the Flynn’s Latin jazz program for the last five summers and will join UVM this fall.

I’m Sorry

I made a bit of a goof in last week’s column and would be remiss if I failed to set the record straight. I erroneously claimed that the performance by garage-rawk duo The Breaking In last Thursday at Club Metronome was the band’s first since an unfortunate incident at the venue this summer. It wasn’t. It was their second. I also half-jokingly suggested there would be a porn piñata. Strike two. And I claimed there would be a lot of beer involved . . . no comment.

In all seriousness, my apologies to the band and the club. And for those of you who didn’t attend the show — which would be all but about 50 of you — you missed a good one.