It is A-Dog Week here in the Queen City. Well, unofficially, at least. Sadly, I’m told I don’t have the power to officially designate special, citywide holidays — see my ill-fated attempts at “Ed Bemis Day,” “Trey Look-alike Week” and “Dan Bolles Appreciation Month.” I’m told it has something to do with my not being the mayor. Well played, Miro.
Anyway, if I did wield such power, my first act would be to designate the upcoming seven days as A-Dog Week, since we’ll have not one, not two, but three blowout bashes raising money to help the estimable local DJ — aka Andy Williams — offset the cost of his ongoing treatment for leukemia.
The first such benefit is this Wednesday, February 6, at Nectar’s and features Williams’ old hip-hop group, Tha VT Union, reuniting for their first show since 2010 — see last week’s Soundbites for the full story.
Bennie number two is the following night, Thursday, February 7, at Red Square, where A-Dog has been a fixture since … well, as long as I can remember. I’ve been sneaking into that joint since I was, like, 19, so let’s just say it’s been a while. (Note from the 7D legal team: Sorry! Please don’t arrest Dan.)
The Red Square show will feature a smorgasbord of local DJ talent including Cre8, Mashtodon, Kata & Con Yay, Stavros, Dee Jay Baron, Robbie J, Bonjour-Hi!’s Vidi Vici, Dakota, Mario and the godfather of BTV house DJs, Craig Mitchell.
Completing the Fitid hat trick, Higher Ground will host a massive blowout on Monday, February 11, with DJs spinning in both rooms, including Baron, Vidi Vici and Cousin Dave in the Showcase Lounge. Meanwhile, in the Ballroom, highlights include Lazerdisk Party Sex, Nexus Artist’s Chris Pattison and another reunion of local hip-hop royalty, Eye Oh You, which featured post-Belizbeha Fattie B and Konflik on the mics and A-Dog on the ones and twos, and was an evolutionary precursor to the aforementioned VT Union.
Oh, yeah, the show also features the legendary DJ Z-Trip, who is among the most revered live-performance DJs on the planet and an incomparable producer — just ask Public Enemy, who tabbed him on their last record. He’s also a personal friend of A-Dog, dating back to their days rocking parties for Burton and Gravis. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, he’s kind of a big deal.
I think most of us expected an exceptional outpouring of support for A-Dog, who is not only one of the region’s finest turntablist but one of the friendliest and most likable people you could ever meet. But even I didn’t anticipate the community rallying around him to this degree. It’s been astonishing. The Higher Ground show will be at least the fifth major benefit in Williams’ honor since his diagnosis in December. And each has been very successful. I don’t see that trend changing this week.
I had the chance to chat with Williams over the weekend. We spoke by phone — his immune system is still recovering from two rounds of chemotherapy, so visitors are kept at a minimum to decrease the risk of infection.
Anyone who has experienced chemotherapy or watched a loved one go through it knows how debilitating it can be. And it can take weeks, or months, to recover even a fraction of that lost energy. But chatting with Andy, I was struck by how normal he seemed. During our 20-minute conversation, I never once got the sense that I was speaking to a gravely ill man. Maybe a little bored — hospitals don’t offer much in the way of entertainment, though he has been making remixes on his laptop, enlightening younger nurses on the finer points of A Tribe Called Quest and catching up on TV. But not sick. He sounded like his usual, upbeat self.
Perhaps it’s because Andy is hopefully on the back nine with his in-patient treatment and is physically recovering. But — at the risk of being maudlin — I think a lot of it has to do with the support the local music community has sent his way.
It’s a cliché that the power of positive thinking can affect healing. But as someone who has recently seen a family member battle cancer (which has, against very long odds, gone into remission), I can tell you it’s absolutely true. This stuff matters.
Williams declined to answer questions about his prognosis and when he might begin outpatient treatment, mostly because he doesn’t really know and he doesn’t want to give false hope.
But he did say he’s deeply moved by the community support, and that he hadn’t quite realized how many lives he has touched.
“The support has been unbelievable,” said Williams. “But I had a feeling Burlington would be there for me. It always has been.”
Happy trails to local folk trio Bread & Bones, who play their final concert this Saturday, February 9, at Burnham Hall in Lincoln. The band has been active in the Green Mountains for more than a decade but is calling it quits after years of tabloid- fodder infighting, “Behind the Music”-type shenanigans that would make MÖtley Crüe wince, and the mysterious deaths of four drummers. Kidding! They’re actually parting ways amicably and just think it’s time to pursue other outlets. Best of luck.
Speaking of good folk music, the Skinny Pancake scored a coup by snagging up-and-coming contemporary folk outfit 4Tet — not to be confused with the British post-rock artist Four Tet — for a pair of shows this week at both their Burlington and Montpelier locations. The group is headlined by fiddle phenom Brittany Haas, who is best known for her work in the excellent old-time band Crooked Still. Haas is joined by a trio of equally talented young acoustic musicians, including fiddler Cleek Schrey (Bigfoot), guitarist Jordan Tice and dancer Nic Gareiss. They’ll be in Montpelier this Thursday, February 7, and in Burlington on Friday, February 8. Wooden Dinosaur’s Katie Trautz and Michael Roberts open both shows.
It’s shaping up to be a nice weekend at the Monkey House, including a show on Friday, February 8, with Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, whom local alt-country bumpkin Lowell Thompson tells me are “the truth of Southern rock.” Of course, Thompson is opening the show, so maybe he’s biased. Still, I trust him. Then on Sunday, February 10, garage-punk duo Hilly Eye, featuring Amy Klein — formerly of Titus Andronicus — swing round the rotary in support of their debut, Reasons to Live, which has been getting some favorable reviews around the webscape. No idea what Lowell thinks, though.
Last but not least, Layla. Ya got me on my knees, Layla. And this Saturday, February 9, I’m guessing you may similarly prostrate in Montpelier when Bob Wagner reprises his local all-star tribute to Derek & the Dominoes’ classic double LP, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, at Positive Pie 2. Joining everyone’s favorite ax-wielding ginger are bassist Rob Morse, keyboardist Ray Paczkowski and drummer — and 7D employee — Steve Hadeka.
A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc., this week.
Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse
What Made Milwaukee Famous, You Can’t Fall Off the Floor
Elephant Stone, Elephant Stone
Fonda, Sell Your Memories
Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings