All together now: exhale.
For yet another year, the Burlington Discover Jazz Fest has come and gone. And as much fun as I had boppin’ — and be-boppin’ and post-boppin’ — around, I gotta say, I am spent. You know those jerks who say they need a vacation from their vacation? Similar story here — minus the “vacationing” part, of course. But before we close the book on this year’s fest, I wonder if you’d indulge me for a quick story? Gather ’round, childrens.
Of all the wonderfully crazy stuff I personally took in over the last two weeks — Belizbeha reunion, Rubblebucket Orchestra on Church Street, Pink Martini, etc. — my single favorite moment of the festival almost didn’t happen. Friday night, while strolling home with my girlfriend — whom regular readers know as “Plus-One” — we happened into Halvorson’s for a nightcap. From outward appearances, the upper Church Street bistro was virtually deserted. But as we turned to leave, one of the waitresses stopped us and suggested we take a peek out back.
When we neared the dimly lit hallway by the bathrooms, we began to hear sweetly sonorous strains emanating from the back patio. Drawing closer, it became apparent that someone was gettin’ seriously down.
Stepping into the brick-lined open-air room, I was half-expecting to find the second coming of Al Green — and maybe I did. Standing on stage in front of a crowd of maybe 40 people was Josh Cassarino, looking more skate punk than soul singer, clad in an oversized white T-shirt, shorts and a flat-brimmed cap, cocked to the side. Cassarino was taking a break from manning the drums for his brother, guitarist Nick Cassarino, and their parents, Tracie and Paul Cassarino — The Cassarino Family Band. (Eat your hearts out, von Trapps.) He was also up a little bit late for someone who probably should have been resting up for the high school boys’ lacrosse state finals later that week.
Oh, did I mention that Josh is 15?
At the conclusion of his tune — I don’t know what it was, and it doesn’t matter — there was a pregnant pause as the crowd’s collective jaw returned to its proper functional position. Then an eruption of hoots and hollers — including from yours truly — as Cassarino quietly returned to his spot behind the kit.
And that, my friends, is what BDJF is all about, not just the names on the Flynn marquee. It’s wandering into a sparsely populated back room and stumbling upon a performer whom you didn’t even know existed three minutes prior. And then not believing that you almost missed it.
Thanks again to the 2009 BDJF crew. Well played, folks.
Not Dead Yet
This just in from Rough Francis front man and direct descendant of Death itself (how badass is that?), Bobby Hackney Jr.: The band has signed a 7-inch vinyl deal with a small Chicago label called Moniker Records. Look for a fall release.
In related — and arguably cooler — news, both Rough Francis and Death recently played the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash at Irving Plaza in NYC — which was featured at Spin.com. And, yes, you read that correctly. Death played live for the first time in 35 years. The kicker: They’re planning to do it again, backed by Rough Francis, at an in-the-works homecoming reunion in Detroit. Awesome.
Now, I wonder if we could persuade Death to dust off their chops a little closer to their adopted hometown, too … just a thought.
That sound you heard Sunday night was the unmistakable end of an error, er, era as oft-maligned lower Church Street disco Second Floor closed its doors for the last time. But before you get all weepy on me, I have good news! Or, I guess, more good news!
Local house DJ extraordinaire Craig Mitchell has purchased the space and plans to give the old girl a facelift, transforming the joint into a legitimate dance club. In a recent phone conversation, Mitchell told “Soundbites” that he plans to “take it to the next level” by giving the space, which previously housed Club Millennium and legendary rock haunt Club Toast, a “big-city feel.”
In the conversation, Mitchell cited the relative dearth of clubs devoted exclusively to dance as a primary motivation for the move. Though there are options aplenty on the weekends — Retronome, The Green Room, etc. — it’s true that there isn’t a single venue that caters solely to the ass-shakin’ crowd, especially one playing the latest club bangers and dance singles night in and night out.
Given his extensive network of DJs around the globe, you can expect Mitchell to bring in world-renowned talent on a regular basis. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be leaving local turntablists out in the cold. He says he’ll tap the cream of the crop in B-town and surrounds as well.
Mitchell’s new venture, dubbed Lift, will open over July Fourth weekend. And sorry, kiddies. The club will be 21-plus.
The Jazz Guys Say … Bonjour?
When last we saw Burlington’s The Jazz Guys they were … um … When the hell was the last time we saw The Jazz Guys? Probably when they were The Vanderpolls. But I digress.
Whenever it was, it appears Burlington’s crown pop princes spent some recent time off learning French. Either that or Celine Dion just recorded one of their tunes and sent me the MP3 — don’t rule it out.
In any event, it brings me great pleasure to welcome “Le Jazz Gars” back to the stage. They’ll be appearing in their current streamlined trio version — and, yes, singing in French — at Radio Bean this Friday. They will be joined by Montréal post-punk duo Le Monde Dans Le Feu, who reportedly project their lyrics onto the wall when they play to encourage singing along. This, of course, will be all the more fun because — drum roll, s’il vous plait! — they sing in French, too.
Do you remember Motel Brown? They were just a little before my time, having disbanded in 1997. I guess we just missed each other. But during their run, which began in the late 1980s, they were pretty hot stuff. As Burlington band reunions are rather in vogue these days, it makes sense that the band would choose now to get back together. Check out the original lineup — curiously, under a new moniker: The Liquid — this Saturday at Halvorson’s.
Last month, I told you about VT Union cohorts DJ A-Dog and Nastee’s Wednesday night underground hip-hop residency, True School at Nectar’s. If you haven’t been yet, Wednesday, June 17 — as in, the day this issue comes out — would be a good time to remedy that situation, as the dynamic duo welcomes up-and-coming NYC MC Termanology to the stage. See what you miss when you wait to pick up the paper?
And last but not least, The Weekly Obligatory Benefit Show Shout Out: Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program Fundraiser with Brother Through Glass, Villanelles, Workingman’s Army, Greasecutter and Y69. Friday at Nectar’s. Rock on.