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Free Beer!

Soundbites: Free Beer!, BiteTorrent, Dept. of Corrections


Published May 19, 2010 at 7:58 a.m.

About a month ago, I wrote a quick rant concerning my disdain for compiling club listings [“Soundbites,” April 14, 2010]. Now, while it’s true the skull-crushing boredom of that particular little task isn’t exactly my favorite part of being “Dan Bolles, that guy from the Seven Days,” I feel as though I should point out that my diatribe was (mostly) facetious. “Hate” is such a strong word. Besides, my actual least favorite part of the job is when people refer to the paper as “the Seven Days.” Do you see a “the” in our logo? Hmm? Man, I hate that.

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that I have received more feedback and offhand comments about that one little paragraph than pretty much anything else I’ve written since. It never ceases to amaze me what fires y’all up. But … really? Sometimes I think I should just scrap the music content in this column and write a personal diary every week. Which reminds me…

Last week, while I was, ahem, compiling club listings, I stumbled onto an entry for J.P. and the Tough Choices on the Langdon Street Café website for Thursday, May 20. It reads:

J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices play Country-Goddamned-Music. Period.

Following that, the entry features a prickly, rambling, paragraph-long rant about the sad state of modern country music and how Hank Williams and Buck Owens must be rolling in their graves. Honestly, it reads like something I might have written. Except for the grammatical errors. And the fact that I didn’t write it. And this curious closing line:


Clearly someone, either from the band or LSC, reads me regularly. How else to know I’m a sucker for free beer and/or stuff about me?

Now, I should point out that bands offer to buy me beer all the time — usually in the form of harmless passing lines, like, “Hey, Dan! Come check out my band [insert name]tonight at [insert club]. Beers on me!” (Just for the record, I almost never accept, even if I do go to the show. If I did, I’d probably develop a worse drinking problem. Moving on…)

What’s unusual is how The Tough Choices (or LSC) went about getting my attention. Knowing I use the LSC website to pull their weekly listings, and knowing how tedious I find the task to be, they blindsided me at precisely the right moment. It was a brilliant maneuver, really. I could overlook an email. A press release would read like, well, a press release. But I literally stared at that sentence for three minutes. Then I burst out laughing.

Then I checked out their band.

J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices do indeed play Country-Goddamned-Music, and they play it goddamned well. I’m not sure Hank woulda done it that way, necessarily. But I bet he’d approve — I know his grandson would. The Brattleboro-based band trades in no-frills, shit-kickin’ honky-tonk. The kind of music best played behind the safety of chicken wire, and best listened to on a cracklin’ AM station at three in the morning with a belly full of bourbon. Or free beer.

Sadly, I’ll be away this Thursday when the band sidles up to the stage at LSC. But I have a feeling we’ll meet again. And when we do, beers are on me, boys.


  • They’re baaaack! This Thursday at Halvorson’s, Friends of Joe, the long-running weekly tribute to the late, great Big Joe Burrell, return for another season of high-octane, star-studded blues jams. Kicking off the season is none other than Dave Grippo.
  • The countdown to Jazz Fest continues. We’re now just a shade over two weeks out, but the good folks at BDJF are still announcing new shows. The latest additions include Parisian guitar virtuoso Stephane Wrembel, who will join Vermont’s own Jamie Masefield and Brad Perry to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of gypsy-jazz legend Django Reinhardt at the FlynnSpace (June 7). Also recently added are Afro-Björk funk outfit Rubblebucket, who will heat up Nectar’s on Wednesday, June 9.
  • You know summer is around the corner when Ed Dufresne announces the preliminary lineup for his Northeast Kingdom Music Festival. This year’s fest — the eighth annual — will be held August 6 and 7 at the Chilly Ranch in Albany Among the 18 bands scheduled to appear are such Dan Bolles-approved fare as The Low Anthem, Brown Bird, O’Death, The Two Man Gentlemen Band and Holy Ghost Tent Revival. Tickets go on sale this Friday. Visit for more details and ticket vendor locations.
  • Burlington’s original punk rockers The Wards invited me to a semi-secret show this Saturday with J. Willis Pratt. Unfortunately, I can neither attend nor tell you where it is. However, I can tell you that the band is finishing up work on a new album, which should be out (relatively) soon. Stay tuned.
  • Welcome back, Mickey Western. The Burlington-based psychedelic folk outfit has been MIA for what seems like forever — presumably holed up in their native Gringolandia. Catch them at Langdon Street Café this Tuesday.
  • This just in: The Josh Brooks Band shall henceforth be known as Grant Black. That is all.
  • Had a nice chat with local trombone ace Dan Silverman the other day. He’s put a new group together called The Sixth Finger, which he likens to early Ornette Coleman. They’ll be at the Block Gallery in Winooski this Friday.
  • Tough break for the fourth annual Women Who Rock battle at the Higher Ground Ballroom this Sunday. Next door in the Showcase Lounge, the region’s marquee juke joint is hosting a “Lost” series finale party.
  • Yes, really.
  • Last but not least, the local rock lock of the week: speedwestern revivalists Waylon Speed and up-and-coming surf punks Torpedo Rodeo at Nectar’s Saturday night.
  • Dept. of Corrections

    Last week’s music section was, for lack of a better phrase — and trust me, I tried to find one — seriously fucked up. And not in the typical snark-laden, caffeine-addled way it usually is. I mean, like, profoundly screwy.

    Due to a production slipup, the lead page of the section never actually made it to the press. As such, y’all probably didn’t see the nifty feature story about local hardcore band Unrestrained and the New England bicycle tour they recently embarked upon. [“Pedals to the Metal,” May 12, 2010].

    Obviously, I’m biased here, since I wrote that story. But I thought it was pretty good. At the very least, it was an interesting read about a very talented band doing something fairly well out of the ordinary — especially considering their genre. So, if you can, check it out online. And keep an eye out for the band when they get back to town. I guarantee they will have some cool stories to tell. I know this because of the cool stories they told me that I tried to tell you. Sigh…

    Anyway, I’d like to take the opportunity to publicly apologize to Unrestrained. We goofed. Everyone here at 7D sincerely regrets the omission and wishes you all the best on your latest adventure. Pedal safely, boys.