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Come Together

Soundbites: DJ A-Dog, Lettuce


Published May 7, 2008 at 1:59 p.m.

Early last Thursday morning, fire consumed an apartment building at 144 North Union Street in Burlington. Fortunately, all of the building’s nine residents were able to escape unharmed. But the house and virtually everything inside it was a total loss.

The blaze and its cause — an irresponsibly discarded cigarette butt that smoldered between two couch cushions — have been well reported by local media. However, few outlets have noted that a couple of the building’s inhabitants were two of the area’s finest turntablists, VT Union’s DJ A-Dog and Tick Tick’s Mike Device.

The personal loss for both DJs was significant. Nearly all of A-Dog’s possessions, including clothing, records and DJ equipment, was destroyed. Worse still, both of his cats died in the blaze.

Mike Device was slightly more fortunate in that he was able to salvage some of his records, and his cat survived. However, the vast majority of his personal effects was destroyed.

The response from the Burlington music scene has been swift. Both Higher Ground and Red Square have benefit shows in the works to help get A-Dog back on his feet. The dates and lineups for both shows are still TBA.

Additionally, A-Dog’s web designer Scott Campbell has set up a PayPal account on the DJ’s website so that folks can chip in financially. Like almost any music career, DJing is not exactly a lucrative endeavor — even when one is a nationally known commodity like A-Dog. Check out or and give what you can. Every little bit helps.

The Vermont music scene — and in particular, the Burlington segment — prides itself on being a close-knit community. If that notion is true, then a tragedy like this affects all of us, whether fans, performers or venue owners — or scribes, for that matter. How we respond in the face of such adversity will speak volumes about the strength and character of our humble little scene. A-Dog and Mike Device have a long, hard road before them, and anything we can do collectively to help can only ease their burden.


Perhaps you’ve noticed the curiously crude, handwritten flyers gracing many a Burlington message board calling on artists and writers to submit materials for publication. If not, you should get out more often, ’cuz they’re freakin’ everywhere.

Anyway, the flyers are a call to action for a new local art zine set to make its debut later this month entitled . . . um, I have no idea, actually. You’d think that would be the first thing they’d let people know, wouldn’t you? Maybe not naming stuff is, like, totally cool now and I just didn’t get the memo. Nobody tells me anything.

What I do know is that the new rag is open for submissions and will accept anything sent to it. While the literary gumbo approach might seem a recipe for disaster, the idea is to provide as wide a spectrum of material as possible and give voice to the local art scene by using, well, the voices of the art scene. A noble effort indeed.

This Friday, the zine’s publishers are hosting a kickoff/benefit show at Burlington’s epicenter of random curiosities, Speaking Volumes on Pine Street, with a fittingly eclectic lineup, including songwriter Anna Pardenik, hip-hop roots-rockers Second Agenda, Brooklyn indie throwbacks The Dig, B-Town jamsters Greyspoke and hypnotic electro-reggae outfit Dubnotix. The evening also doubles as the deadline for folks to submit works for publication in the first edition. So pull together your comic strips, poetry or wildly nonsensical rants and send them to


Kids say the darndest things. Especially when they’re given microphones and made to stand up in front of a room full of drunks and tell jokes.

This Saturday, Nectar’s is hosting “The Kids of Comedy,” an evening of standup and improv featuring some of the area’s most promising young funny men (boys?), such as Roger Miller, the winner of this year’s Higher Ground Comedy Battle. I was a judge for that competition and, believe me, Miller’s act alone is worth the price of admission — the show is actually free, but you get the drift.

The lineup will feature a few other notable HGCB contestants — all of whom are under the age of 20 — including Mike Thomas and Jack Offenhartz, as well as a relative newbie, 16-year-old James Huessy. And word on the street is that the Essex High School Varsity Improv Team will also be making an appearance, presumably to beat the crap out of the Champlain Valley Union J.V. Debate Team. Ah, high school!FUNK YOU

I’ve been giving the folks at Nectar’s and Club Metronome a lot of grief for the number of funk acts that grace each venue’s schedule from week to week. Frankly, it’s probably not entirely fair on my part. The bottom line is that Nectar’s and Metronome book funk bands because people — especially college kids with daddy’s MasterCard — want to hear funk bands. So I guess my gripe is with people. In particular, funky, college-aged people. But I digress.

This Thursday, Club Metronome is hosting a funk band that really stands out amid the usual fare. A supergroup of sorts, NYC’s Lettuce is a seven-piece outfit composed of members of Soulive and The John Scofield Band. Their stated goal: “keeping the James Brown concept of simple, heavy grooves, tight-ass horns and party vibes alive.” Here, here!

The band’s latest release, Rage!, is essentially a tribute to influential funk forbears such as Parliament Funkadelic, Earth, Wind & Fire and Sly & The Family Stone. And yes, it rages.

So, college kids, get your fix this weekend with some honest-to-goodness funk, and then get the hell out of my town. Just kidding. We love you, dudes. Honest.


I just received word that, thanks to a generous donation from international dairy giant Saputo, Big Heavy World’s Vermont Music Library will finally have a permanent home.

For months, BHW has been in the process of renovating the L.S. Gordon Store — a general store built in 1907 and located in Starksboro — to house its ever-expanding music archives. Saputo, the fifth-largest cheese producer in the U.S., donated an adjacent property, affording the project space for safe parking and ensuring the natural beauty surrounding the property.

BHW will meet its new neighbors with a community potluck and live performance this June at the Starksboro Public Library, where it will unveil more details about the project and renovations. In the meantime, visit for more information on both the new space and the library itself.