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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Soundbites: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, Bite Torrent


Published May 20, 2009 at 4:53 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, in this very column, I wondered aloud about the impending tsunami of marquee music headed for our shores: Are there enough people here to sustain it? It’s a legitimate question to ask, especially as more shows are still being announced — such as Neko Case, presented by Higher Ground at the Flynn on August 5 … call me back, Neko! But there is really no way to know the answer until it’s all said and done. Or, in other words, until Kid Rock takes a final bow following his fourth encore at the fair and rides off into the sunset in his El Camino, leaving the Green Mountains with a malt-liquor-soaked afterglow.

One thing I didn’t consider — and really, it should have been the first thing — was how the hell I could possibly cover everything that’s happening, music-wise. I mean, this promises to be the most epic music-filled summer the state has ever seen, and likely will see for another, oh, I don’t know, 400 years. Each week from now until at least mid-September offers more big-ticket options than any individual will be able to choose from, let alone afford. Short of cloning myself, how could I ever get to it all?

Frankly, I can’t. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

Case in point: This week I had more feature-ish options to choose from than space would allow. As a result, I was forced to make a tough decision regarding a pair of interviews. One was the Dave Wakeling interview, which you should read right now if you haven’t already. I can wait...

Back? The other interview was with Cape Verdean chanteuse Maria de Barros, who will play the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge this Thursday, courtesy of Putumayo and Charlotte-based world-music mavens, Cumbancha Records.

Normally, I wouldn’t give such decisions a second thought. It’s just part of the job. But last week, as I found myself swooning to the sensuous, Latin-tinged Afrobeat tunes from her latest album, Morabeza, I realized that de Barros is an artist I need to tell you about. So, to that end, what follows is an email exchange I had with the soulful singer.

Too much of a good thing? Maybe. But as we haven’t even hit the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival yet, you’d better get used to it.

SEVEN DAYS: How do the environs of Cape Verde influence your music?

MARIA DE BARROS: Cape Verde’s rich culture lies in its music, close family ties and gorgeous ocean and skies. My songs speak of those very things. They also describe the longing (sodade) that we feel when we leave Cape Verde to seek better opportunities in other countries. The songs also speak of our joie de vivre, our morabeza — which means friendliness and hospitality. When you go to CV, you feel morabeza in its people, music, the sea, gorgeous moonlight and starry sky!

SD: There are currently more Cape Verdeans living abroad than in Cape Verde itself. What role do artists such as yourself play in preserving and cultivating CV culture among Cape Verdeans living throughout the world?

MDB: As a musical ambassador of CV, my music connects the CVs abroad to their roots. I feel their appreciation and their joy whenever I perform. For example, when I was on tour in China last November, I was touched by the many Cape Verdeans who came up to me and were so happy to hear music from their beloved [country]! And they were so proud to share their culture with their Chinese friends.

SD: You’ve said that you take musical inspiration from, of all things, cooking. Discuss the parallels between making great food and great music.

MDB: I enjoy cooking for people. I love the creative process of putting a meal together and seeing how people enjoy it. For me, preparing a meal goes beyond just nurturing the physical body — it feeds the soul. Cooking is a passion and a form of expression, and I approach my music the same way.

SD: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t find in a press release or bio.

MDB: I have great work ethic, a crazy sense of humor, love to be around people and am very stubborn … and I love seafood!

SD: What would you like American audiences to take away from your performances?

MDB: I love to dance! And [I] encourage my audience to do the same! It is pure joy and a wonderful escape to 10 beautiful islands — Cabo Verde. We love to celebrate, and my show is a reflection of life in Cabo Verde.


Two years ago, Burlington’s EDM community mourned the loss of Sunday Night Mass, as the revered weekly dance party extinguished its final glowstick after a solid eight-year run at Club Metronome. But take heart, bassheads! This Sunday, the church doors fly open again for one last(?) electro throwdown featuring — count ‘em — 24 of the region’s finest turntablists, producers and programmers. And an “XBox 360 projection arcade.” Can I get an amen?

This just in from Stacy Starkweather: The noted local bassist is moving back to California after a remarkable 24-year VT-based career in which he played with just about everyone you can think of, from Tammy Fletcher and Rachel Bissex to the Jazz Mandolin Project to some guy named Trey. Best of luck, Stacy!

Montpelier’s Lamb Abbey has had a pretty nifty run of late. And the good times roll on this Friday with something called the “Rock Lottery.” Near as I can figure, the gist is this: Twenty-five musicians are randomly divided into five separate bands and given one week to write, rehearse and then compete, battle-of-the-bands style. The winners receive lovely parting gifts. The losers are stoned to death, like in the Shirley Jackson story. I could be wrong about that last bit, though. In either case, it should be a fun night. And stick around for Saturday, when local indie-folk darling Kris Gruen shares the stage with Midwest Dilemma’s Justin Lamoureux, Brad Hoshaw and VT slam-poet champ Geoff Hewitt.

Speaking of poetry, the weekly Poet’s Jam hosted by Trevien Stanger at Parima’s Acoustic Lounge celebrates its two-year anniversary this Thursday. In that time, the evening has evolved from a small gathering of aspiring bards into one of the more popular weekly events in town, regularly featuring some of the area’s most accomplished writers, musicians, thinkers and oddfellows. And all within the cozy, opium-den-like confines of the city’s best listening room. As always, it’s BYOO.

Winooski gets a taste of Montpeculiar this Friday as soul grrl Sara Grace drops by The Monkey House with her backing band The Suits and a horn section. Awesome.

There is some serious jazz on tap at Richmond’s On the Rise Bakery this Friday as Dan Silverman, Tom Cleary, Gabe Jarrett and Clyde Stats perform with internationally renowned vocalist Judi Silvano.

And last but not least: Neko Case. Flynn MainStage. August 5. Tix on sale this Thursday … Call me, Neko. Do I sound desperate?