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Cruel Summer

Soundbites: Cruel Summer, Summer Old School, Jolly Roger, Year Rounds, etc.


Published July 14, 2010 at 7:55 a.m.

Relatively speaking, things are fairly slow in my little ol’ column this week. We don’t have anyone harshing mellows by canceling long-sold-out shows at the last minute. And nobody is attempting to assume my identity. Or rather, attempting to not assume my identity. Man, sometimes I wish I could not assume my identity. But I digress.

Like I said, slow week. But you know what that means, don’t you? A totally random, scattershot-style column! Let’s do this…

Summer Old School

We begin by checking in with our old friend and mentor DJ ZJ, the dean of admissions at my alma mater, The Lab: Vermont’s Turntablism and Urban Music Production Center. This week, ZJ and his ace faculty unveil what might just be the illest summer school ever, the Lab Hip Hop Camp.

The five-day intensive is geared toward aspiring turntablists and producers ranging in age from 11 to 17. Campers will earn merit bling, er, badges, for completing a variety of activities, including beat juggling, scratching, and other elements of hip-hop performance and production. There also will be a slew of guest counselors, including Montréal scratch wizard DJ Mana, who has worked with the legendary likes of DJ QBert and D-Styles, and VT expat Robert Larow, whose recent producing credits include a #1 single for hip-hop heavy Jay Sean.

Hip Hop Camp runs from Monday, July 19, through Friday, July 23, at Club Metronome in Burlington. But act quickly, registration ends this Friday.

For more information, email or call 863-8500.

Jolly Roger

I mention this next bit solely because it made me laugh out loud when I stumbled across it while compiling the listings this week. But, honestly, how could you not be at least a little curious to check out Happy ARRRGH! with The Shanty Rats, this Friday at Langdon Street Café in Montpeculiar? And just what do The Shanty Rats do? Why, they play pirate drinking songs, of course.

Year Rounds

To my knowledge, Paleo doesn’t play pirate drinking songs. Although I suppose there is a good chance that among the 365 songs that the Brooklyn-based indie tunesmith wrote between 2006 and 2007 — yes, math majors, one every day of the year — there was at least one pirate reference. And really, if you have a beverage in hand, any song can become a drinking song. Test my theory this Saturday at Radio Bean when Paleo plays a set sandwiched between two pretty nifty local songwriters: Paddy Reagan and Lady Lioness. Somerville minimalists GEM Club close out the night.

And this just in: I have, right this very moment, fallen madly in love with GEM Club through the music on their MySpace page. If you like your melodramatic, melancholy indie music sparse, melodic and beautiful — and I know you do — check ’em out.

Today Is Your Birthday

A very happy birthday to ace axeman Bob Wagner, who celebrates with a Thursday night throwdown at Nectar’s flanked by his old pals, the Book ’em Blues Band. I happened to catch some of Wagner’s set at Battery Park last week from the handy rooftop perch at my apartment. I’ll tell you what, dude flat-out wails. Happy birthday, Bob.


In Memory of Pluto offshoot Spirit Animal were kind enough to drop off their debut EP, Pizza Party, last week. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite enough time for me to turn around a proper review in advance of their two shows this week. We’ll get to that sooner than later, I promise. But I’ll say this for now, if you like IMOP, you should pick up what the brothers Jandl are putting down.

Catch Spirit Animal this Sunday at The Monkey House with Indiana-based instrumental rock trio Metavari, Henry Gale and Challenger, or Tuesday at 242 Main with Victor! Fix the Sun and THE Reptilian.

Cold Cuts

Speaking of The Monkey, our old pals from online music rag The Deli have a nice little local(ish) showcase there this Friday featuring a handful of cool B-town bands and, fulfilling the New England quota for the evening, an acoustic-rock band from Boston called The Day’s Weight.

At the risk of being impolite to our out-of-town guests, the local portion of the lineup is the draw here. It includes rude and reckless ska up-and-comers Busted Brix, increasingly exciting rockers The Feverbreakers, the ever-impressive Nuda Veritas — who, BTW, reports to have a new album in the works that should reach our ears shortly — and psych rockers Neon Magus (see the review of their new CD).

New Band Alert

Heavy Freedom, a brand-spankin’-new local rock quartet and brainchild of songwriter Monte Pappas, celebrate the release of their debut album, The Bottom Line, with a show this Friday at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge. Welcome to the fray, guys. Keep on rockin’ in the free world.

Band Name of the Week

Rogue Eyebrow. The Rutland-based folk band plays Radio Bean this Friday. But are they any good? Who cares? They’re called Rogue eyebrow. (And, yes, they’re actually pretty good.)

Living in SIN

Here’s a late-breaking change just in from Nectar’s: Local hip-pop progenitors Strength in Numbers have replaced Martha’s Vineyard-based outfit Moon Cussers on the bill this Saturday. That brings this week’s total of SIN shows to three, counting their Thursday appearance at Montpelier’s Black Door Bar and Bistro and Friday’s gig at Red Square. You have no excuse not to check them out. Unless, of course, you’re on vacation. In which case…

Son of a Beach

…I highly recommend you drop by Nectar’s on Martha’s Vineyard, which is back in business after a winter layoff. A full slate of summer shows is available for perusal on their website, It’s generally a pretty sweet calendar, but in particular I draw your attention to this Sunday’s show, which features one of my current personal favorite songwriters, Joe Pug. Sadly, that’s the closest he’ll get to us on his current tour. Good thing I’ll be on vacation…

Hip-Hop Foray

Closer to home, I’m hearing really good things about the ongoing Lynguistic Civilians residency at Club Metronome. There seems to be yet another groundswell of local hip-hop gathering on our collective horizon. Swing by the ’Nome Monday nights in July and check it out.

ONE More Thing

And, last but not least, as a proud resident of Burlington’s Old North End, I was excited to learn that ONE Pepper Grill on the corner of North Street and North Winooski Avenue will begin hosting live music and maybe — just maybe — karaoke. One step at a time.

The ONE’s inaugural show is this Friday and features local songwriter Kevin Greenblott.