“Dude, I gotta get out of this town.” It’s a familiar refrain heard ’round Burlington, especially in the harsh winter months that seem to make up roughly three-quarters of the year. A quintessential college town, the Queen City has always had a transient artistic community. People come, and then they go — usually to a “real” city. Then, about 3 months after realizing that living in Williamsburg actually sucks, they usually come back with tales of adventure and excitement from the urban jungle. Such is the ebb and flow of our quaint hamlet on the shores of Lake Champlain.
This week marks the exodus of yet another excellent musical mind for concrete pastures, as Carrigan’s Zack Martin pulls up stakes and moves to Providence, RI. Despite the band’s dwindling membership — drummer Ken Johnson’s recent departure halved the duo’s roster — Martin plans to continue recording and performing as Carrigan. It’s a sensible decision, since the band’s moniker is also Martin’s middle name.
Though ostensibly now a solo project, Martin will have plenty of help fleshing out his meandering arrangements as he teams up with Daryl Rabidoux at Strangeways Studios, also recently relocated to “The Renaissance City.” Martin plans to take full advantage of the top-notch recording tools now at his disposal, and will apprentice under Rabidoux to learn the ropes.
The multi-instrumentalist was also recently commissioned by PBS to score an upcoming documentary entitled “The Way We Get By,” which chronicles a group of veterans living in Maine who greet soldiers returning from our various military engagements, and has backing from the Sundance Film Festival. Not bad.
As Boyz II Men once sang, it’s so hard to say goodbye — didn’t we go over this last week? — but it is always nice to see our hometown boys move on to bigger and better things. Good luck, Zack.
A VERY HIP-HOP CHRISTMAS
Believe it or not, hip-hop has a long and, um, proud Christmas tradition. From Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” to Ludacris’ “Ludacrismas” — seriously, “Ludacrismas?” — hip-hop artists and rappers have been hopping on the holiday gravy sleigh for quite a while.
On that note, this Saturday, Montpelier’s Positive Pie 2 will host the Hip-Hop Christmas Bash, presented by central Vermont-based E-N Hip-Hop Productions and GM Fam Recordings.
The show will highlight some of the best hip-hop artists in the state and feature performances by VT Union’s DJ A-Dog and Dakota & the Home Team as well as E-N, The Kidd and GM Fam.
Of particular note is the “Sexiest Christmas Gear Contest,” which, I’m guessing, is exactly what it sounds like. Santa’s naughtiest “helper” will win a $200 gift certificate to Montpelier tattoo parlor Artistic Ink. Joy to the world!
For more info on the show and the contest, call 229-6663.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
In related news, it appears rumors of Burlington hip-hop’s elder statesman Fattie B’s retirement from performing have been greatly exaggerated. Revitalized following an opening set for the recent Slick Rick concert at Higher Ground, the former Belizbeha rapper and current clothing mogul is back in action with an all-star cast of area musicians and MCs.
Fattie B’s Beat Biters consist of Fattie B. on the mike (duh), jazz maestro Nick Cassarino on guitar, the estimable Caleb Bronz behind the skins, Turkey Bouillon Mafia’s Benny Jurco on bass, MCs J2 and S.I.N. — the latter was recently dubbed Vermont’s best rapper by Vibe magazine — Dave “The Truth” Grippo on sax, and sultry soul siren Myra Flynn keeping the boys in line.
Catch ’em Friday, December 28, at Club Metronome with support from The Aztext, Wombaticus Rex and Red Zone — whom I erroneously referred to as “Redline” in a recent column . . . sorry, guys.
CHRISTMAS IN MY HOMETOWN
Everyone has his or her own Christmas traditions. Some folks open presents on Christmas Eve. Others read “The Night Before Christmas” with loved ones gathered ’round the hearth. Me? I go to Nectar’s. Every year.
For some reason — perhaps because Nectar’s is pretty much the only bar open that night — Jason Corbiere’s Blue Christmas has become as much a part of my holiday ritual as overeating and not going to church. For me, the big draw is the phenomenal blues-harp stylings of Greg Izor.
I first met Izor as a sophomore at UVM. Back then, he was a decent player with an encyclopedic knowledge of the blues and country. After years spent in New Orleans learning from the giants of the genre, he is now a great player with chops unrivaled in the Green Mountains. If you’re looking for something to do once the figgy pudding has settled, I’d recommend stopping by.
My other big Christmas tradition has been checking out The Chrome Cowboys’ annual “Holiday Ho Ho Ho-down.” It’s typically a star-studded affair with local musicians of all stripes dropping in to sing a favorite Christmas song or two. Sadly, this year it ain’t happening.
However, this year Christmas falls on a Tuesday. Honky-Tonk Tuesday, to be precise. And Brett Hughes and Co. are open for business with a sleigh full of holiday honky-tonk favorites for good boys and girls at Radio Bean. Actually, this being honky-tonk, I’m guessing bad boys and girls are welcome, too. Perhaps even encouraged.
CRANK IT UP
Searching for last-minute gift ideas? Is there someone on your list that you just can’t shop for? Local folk icon Tom Azarian (a.k.a. Tom Banjo) has just the thing.
Just in time for the holidays, the banjo-pluckin’ tunesmith has released a DVD of his ever-popular Cranky Show. For the uninitiated, the Cranky Show is a multimedia experience centered around quirky traditional folk tunes performed by Azarian and brought to life with scrolling cartoon stills, hand-cranked through a makeshift stage — “cranky” show, get it?
The DVD is defiantly lo-fi and charmingly wholesome. In particular, the opening skit, “One Meatball,” a gut-busting little ditty about a guy who ventures into an upscale Italian restaurant to order just one meatball, is especially enjoyable.
The disc is also historically significant — for some, anyway — as it includes a version of the very first Cranky Show, “John Barley Corn,” which paved the way for the hipster-couture cult status Azarian’s performances now enjoy.
As much fun as the DVD is, the best way to experience the Cranky Show is in person — though the disc does an admirable job of capturing the live show’s idiosyncratic intimacy. See for yourself on Wednesday, December 26, at Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café. The DVD is also available at Apple Mountain on Church Street in Burlington.