OK, we are officially reaching critical mass regarding benefit shows. I know this because I have completely run out of clever benefit-related headlines with which to lead this column. In fact, I was this close to calling this week’s installment “B-B-B-Benny and the Jets.” Dark days, my friends. Dark days.
I’m kidding, of course. Running out of headline ideas for benefit shows is a good thing, because it means there have been a lot of them, right? Right. Winter is a lean time for many to begin with. And recent global events have only added to that strain. So, for our cozy little community to come together as strongly as it has to support worthy causes of all stripes has been heartwarming. Case in point: last weekend’s all-star extravaganza at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, Honk If You Love Haiti. According to Dirtminers’ Raph Worrick, who organized the event, the show pulled in more than two grand for Doctors Without Borders. But Worrick ain’t done yet.
This Friday, Middlebury’s United Methodist Church will host some of the area’s most beloved acoustic musicians in yet another effort to raise funds for DWB and their medical work in Haiti. Slated to appear are Addison County rockers The Grift and the aforementioned Dirtminers — both in slightly modified acoustic incarnations — Irish favorites O’hAnleigh, father and son Gypsy-jazz dynamos They Might Be Gypsies, folk duo Rik Bec, folk trio Bread and Bones, two choral ensembles from Middlebury Union High School and — drum roll, please! — Anaïs Mitchell and Michael Chorney. Not too shabby, right? But, much like Raph Worrick, we’re just getting warmed up.
Last week, I alluded to a benefit concert scheduled for this Thursday at Club Metronome called Burlington Rocks for Haiti. As of press time, details about the show were still being hashed out. But, oh, what a difference a week makes! The lineup has been finalized and includes newish indie outfit Events Are Objects, funky bunch Bearquarium, bluegrass god Gordon Stone and reggae stalwarts Pulse Prophets. That bill would be fairly impressive on its own. But we’re not done. Entertaining in between sets is a Haitian drumming ensemble called Guayoyo led by Vermont’s Stuart Paton. How cool is that?
But wait, there’s more!
Friday night, African dance and drum ensemble Jeh Kulu are throwing a benefit at Parima entitled Fight for Your Right to Party. This show has actually been on the books for weeks and was originally a benefit for, well, Jeh Kulu. But in the wake of the tragedy in Haiti, they decided to share the love. In addition to drum and dance demonstrations, expect blazing dancehall sets from local DJs Demus, Jah Red and Super K, as well as a smorgasbord of giveaways and a dance contest.
And, last but not least, even aprés-ski bars are getting in on the action. The Matterhorn in Stowe hosts a benefit for Partners in Health and their Haiti relief efforts on Wednesday, February 10, featuring silent and live auctions, a raffle and music by The Eames Brothers. Whew.
That concludes this week in Haiti benefits. Tune in next week when we detail even more benefit fun, including what may be the largest local Haiti benefit yet, and how the greatest bar in the world is responding to the crisis. No, really.
Putting the “In” in Improv
When ¡Duino! (Duende) opened a few months ago, it was widely heralded as ushering in a golden age of live music at the adjoining Radio Bean. OK, maybe “widely” isn’t the best term. I heralded it as such in a column or two. Whatever.
Anyway, I stand by that assertion. The expanded digs have made for a more pleasurable concert experience, generally speaking. However, I did have one reservation about the restaurant-music venue hybrid. Specifically, how the historically open-minded booking operations might change now that the fickle ears of dinner patrons would need to be taken into account.
I asked Bean booking agent Nick Mavodones about this very subject shortly after the space opened and he conceded that the dining atmosphere would be a factor in how the music schedule was constructed. And if you look closely, you’ll notice more acoustic acts in the early evening hours and louder bands later — always a sound strategy, but it’s more regularly employed now. Beyond that, though, it’s safe to say that Radio Bean’s open-door booking philosophy remains intact.
Exhibit A: “iNprov,” a three-night pseudo residency concocted by experimental music auteur JB Ledoux of the le duo and online “other music” enclave Aether Everywhere. The Sunday night shindig begins this week and will feature some of the area’s most innovative jazz, rock and experimental musicians in an improvisational synth, drone and drum free-for-all. No, it’s not exactly dinner music. And the strange sounds emanating from the Bean this Sunday night might not appeal to your average pop music fan. But the fringes of modern music hold no small degree of intrigue. And if you’ve ever been curious about the local experimental scene, iNprov should be a good place to start.
What’s more, if you’re looking for a cheap Valentine’s date spot, the shows continue on February 14 and February 28.