The year was 1999. Bill Clinton was in the waning days of his presidency. Texas Governor George W. Bush announced his candidacy for the job. The Euro united a continent in financial snobbery. Napster made its debut. Gene Siskel, Dusty Springfield and Stanley Kubrick passed away. The Dow Jones closed above 10,000 for the first time in history. And at a small nightclub in the lakeside hamlet of Burlington, Vermont, a curious phenomenon known as “Retronome” was born, reviving the music of the 1980s under the watchful eyes of a man called “Fattie.” Heady days, my friends.
That’s right. Ten years ago this very Saturday, Kyle Thompson — aka Fattie Bumbalattie, aka Fattie B — first stepped behind the wheels at Club Metronome as the master of ceremonies for what has become a staple of weekend nightlife in the Queen City.
Thompson’s contributions to arts and entertainment throughout Vermont are almost too many to mention. He’s been the MC for a slew of excellent acts, including Eye Oh You, The Beat Biters, frequent collaborations with the Dave Grippo Funk Band and locally legendary funk-hop outfit Belizbeha — more on that last one in a couple of weeks. In any given week he can be found spinning classic hip-hop and soul at any number of clubs, from The Green Room to The 1/2 Lounge. As the owner of boutique hip-hop shop Steez, Fattie is both a fashion mogul and renowned artist. Among the current crop of hip-hop up-and-comers, he is revered as the scene’s elder statesman. And he’s a swell guy to boot. But for all his multitudinous credentials, perhaps no single endeavor has been so widely appreciated as his decade-long Saturday-night residency at Club Metronome.
In celebration, Fattie’s friends had planned to come together and pay tribute to the man the best way they know how: mercilessly making fun of him. Funny thing is, they couldn’t find anyone to speak ill of the man, even in jest. That kind of kills the idea of a Friar’s Club-style roast. Actually, I was asked to join in the fun poking, myself. But I politely declined. Frankly, I’m not sure I could come up with a bad thing to say about the dude, either, jokingly or otherwise. And that’s kinda my stock-in-trade, right?
So, on Saturday, May 23, prior to yet another installment of the weekly dance party, Club Metronome will honor the man, the myth and the legend that is Kyle “Fattie B” Thompson with a more traditional party. But given the broad scope of folks who know and love the guy, it should still be a funny night at the ’Nome — and I don’t just mean the usual hilarity of an ’80s-fueled, arhythmic cougar hunt.
Hey, I guess I had one in me after all.
I’m (Not) Lovin’ It
Speaking of notable area DJs, VT Union’s tireless dynamic duo of A-Dog and Nastee are set to unveil a new residency at Nectar’s this week entitled True School Wednesdays. And, yes, that means Wednesday, May 13. Or, the day this paper hits newsstands. If you didn’t happen to pick up a copy in time, you won’t be entirely left out in the cold because, well, it’s a weekly residency. However, you will miss out on a night of top-notch, live underground hip-hop in the 802. Dropping by to help kick off the inaugural run in grand style is legendary Bay Area duo Zion-I, who are touring — with a full band, no less — behind their heralded new album, The Takeover. See what you miss when you wait to read my column?
According to Nastee, True School will feature about one live performance per month. But the crux of the series is a return to roots for both DJs, as they’ll have a chance to play the music they listen to, not just what club-goers want to hear.
Chances are, you’ve seen one or both turntablists spinning hip-hop and rap for undulating throngs of dancers at Red Square. While Nastee says he loves his “day job,” he admits that playing the same Top 40 hip-hop anthems over and over can grow wearisome.
“It’s like McDonald’s hip-hop,” he says in a recent phone conversation, referring to the largely mainstream fare he’s obliged to spin on weekend nights. It’s a classic case of giving the people what they want.
But what about those people — and there are many — who want to hear legit underground hip-hop? The kind of stuff you’re not likely to hear 27 times a day on the radio? They’d be well served checking out Nectar’s on Wednesday nights.
While we’re, um, rapping about hip-hop, it seems the Queen City has a new hip-hop artists’ cooperative. Dubbed Rurally Urban Records, the organization is taking something of a united-we-stand approach by attacking the music biz as a whole, rather than individually. This Friday, they’ll be hosting a showcase at Burlington’s Manhattan Pizza featuring DJ Rico, Adrift 1, Habit, Somewhere in the Solution, Aleck Woog, Face-One and Mertz, the last of whom will be releasing a new disc, The Rise Above It EP. RUR also has a compilation set for release this August.
In non-hip-hop news, it’s a big weekend at the Lamb Abbey. Friday night, local bluegrass traditionalists Steel Rail Bluegrass heat up the stage. Saturday night features Ann Whiting, Susannah Blachly, Patti Casey and George White in something akin to a folk-dance party in the round. Expect much fiddlin.’ Later that evening, things take a turn for the theatrical with a performance of the play Dali’s Liquid Ladies, in which three mermaids attempt to kill Salvador Dalí at the 1939 World’s Fair. Really. Sunday night the Montpelier alt-venue welcomes Singers of United Lands (SOUL), a nonprofit group that each year brings together a new quartet composed of vocalists from different countries around the globe.
And speaking of alt-venues, “other” music fans will want to check out Burlington’s North End Studio this Monday as Steve Hauschildt of Cleveland’s Emeralds, Kranky Records’ St. Louis-based analog kraut-rock experimentalist Raglani and some guy named Greg Davis make with the avant-noise.
Making with the funny this Saturday at the FlynnSpace is the first annual Green Mountain Comedy Festival, which features a slew of local talent, including Martha Tormey, Dustin Bruley, Lindsay Going, Jason P. Lorber, John Lyons, Mike Robideau, Tracie Spencer and Pierre “The Beast” Vachon. Comedy Diva Kathleen Kanz hosts.
Last but not least, UVM graduation is this week, marking the end of yet another year in which I didn’t go back to school ... sorry, Mom. However, a few folks who did are throwing a post-graduation bash this Sunday at Radio Bean. Swing by and wish local rock-soul outfit Buzz Jar and carnival rockers The Feverbreakers the best of luck as they enter the real world.