Well, OK. I am Dan Bolles, actually. At least most of the time. But do you know who is definitely not Dan Bolles? Well, everyone else, I suppose — save maybe for this fella named Dan Bowles, who is local, follows me on Twitter and says he gets nervous when he hears my/our name mentioned on WPTZ. So do I, Dan. So do I. But do you know who else, specifically, is most decidedly and emphatically not Dan Bolles (or Dan Bowles)?
Husbands AKA bassist Chris Valyou. And we’d both really appreciate it if you folks could try and keep us straight.
In fact, the confusion has become so rampant that Chris has taken to wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “I’m not Dan Bolles.” Really. He was also kind enough to send me one, and I love it — although every time I put it on I feel as though I’m tempting an ironic paradox of cosmic proportions.
Now, just because you see a ginger-haired dude with glasses and a beard strolling around town doesn’t mean it’s me. Or Chris. Or Trey Anastasio … ahem. And we can’t expect Chris to wear the same T-shirt every day. So here is a handy little reference guide to help you tell us apart.
Chris Valyou is tall. Like, well-north-of-6-feet tall. I … am not tall. Sigh.
Chris Valyou has several tattoos. I have none. Though I do have a large birthmark that sort of looks like a spaceship. Or a potato.
And, um, that’s pretty much it. Come to think of it, Chris and I lead eerily similar lives. To wit:
Chris works at Sneakers. I frequent Sneakers. (Total aside: In the Greater Burlington area there are Penny Cluse people and Sneakers people. I am a Sneakers person.)
Chris and I go to the same gym — though Chris more often than I, methinks.
Chris plays in a rowdy ska band. I love rowdy ska bands, in large part because, once upon a time, I used to be in one. Which brings me to my favorite similarity — and also the point.
As of this Thursday, both Chris and I will have played in bands opening for Boston’s Big D and the Kids Table at Burlington nightclubs. Chris with Husbands AKA at Club Metronome, and me with The Skamaphrodites at the late, great Club Toast circa 1999. What’s more, I bet there’s a good chance Chris was there that night.
Had you asked me at the time, I never would have guessed that Big D would go on to be one of the last bands standing from ska’s third wave. I probably would have said Let’s Go Bowling, Skavoovie and the Epitones or some other, more classically “ska”-styled outfit. And yet here they are, after more than a decade, still going strong and making great music.
Such longevity is remarkable, regardless of genre. But it is particularly noteworthy in an idiom often dismissed as a novelty — you never hear rock or country or hip-hop discussed in terms of “waves,” even though they all similarly ebb and flow in relevance. What is interesting about Big D is that they’re a classic example of the ska-punk hybrid that ska purists were generally loath to accept at the time. And much like The Toasters before them, and The Specials before them, Big D’s continued success suggests not simply a “wave” but an evolution. Evidence: newer ska bands such as Husbands AKA, who take the torch and introduce ska to new generations.
Also, Big D just totally kick ass live. And, even though he’s no Dan Bolles, Valyou and company do, too.
Of course, the big news is this weekend’s eighth annual Sol Harvest Manifestivus in Cabot. Unfortunately, headliner Mos Def was a late scratch, due to a death in the family. However, organizers reacted swiftly, nabbing hip-hop mogul Common (see the spotlight on page 69) as a replacement. That’s not a bad consolation prize — though I admit I was really hoping to chat with Mr. Def about a certain local band he’s taken a personal interest in: Death progeny Rough Francis, who crash the party Saturday night. Maybe next time.
In addition to Common and RF, the rest of the fest should be pretty sweet, too. And, as we’ve come to expect, it offers an eclectic mix of local, regional, national and even international talent.
The festivus really shifts into high gear on Saturday. The extravaganza features, among others, the aforementioned motley Krewe, local prog-rock royalty Japhy Ryder, “future roots” favorites John Brown’s Body and space-jazz outfit Casio Bastard — who sound exactly like their name suggests, and I mean that in a good way.
The Manifestivus has always had a worldly flair and this year is no exception, thanks to an assist from Charlotte-based world-music label Cumbancha. The indie imprint showcases a pair of its finest acts on Saturday: Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars and smokin’ Afro-Latin fusion band Sarazino. And, FYI, the latter band will play an intimate gig at Parima on Sunday with local DJ Jah Red, which should be a perfect cure for lingering Manifestivus hangovers.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The fun actually begins this Thursday, as high-minded hip-hop stalwarts Black Sheep rock the Manifestivus Kickoff Party at Montpelier’s Postive Pie 2. For a full schedule of bands, ticket and camping info, visit manifestivus.com.