IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY
The World Series has come and gone. So, too, has Halloween, leaving a wash of pumpkin pulp and discarded costumes strewn about our streets. And by the time this column is printed, another election will be history. Though I’m tempted to infer that we’ve seen the last of a certain lipstick-clad pit bull, visions of “Dewey Defeats Truman” dance in my head, and I won’t risk jinxing it. So, as yet another page flies off the calendar, it means that one of Burlington’s dearest venues has logged another year. Yes, it’s time once again to celebrate the beloved Radio Bean.
Eight years ago this week, Lee Anderson opened the doors to the cozy hipster haunt on North Winooski Avenue and gave birth to one of the most eclectic and, arguably, important arts institutions in the state. The coffee shop is Burlington’s artistic epicenter, having birthed an immeasurable number of local artists and bands, as well as serving as a point of entry for regional and national touring bands looking to get a foot in Burlington’s musical door. For example, Brooklyn’s The Dig, who made their Queen City debut at the Bean more than a year ago and, this Thursday, graduate to Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge, opening for “punk-orchestra” World/Inferno Friendship Society.
Save for an occasional capacity-related reprimand from the fire marshal (really, you don’t have anything better to do, buddy?), Radio Bean has been nothing short of a solid citizen and a vital asset to the community. It’s easy to take for granted the impact that one tiny room has had on Burlington. But this Saturday, we can reflect and say thanks at the Bean’s Eighth Annual Birthday Bash.
So, who’s playing this year? Um . . . are you new? Everybody who’s anybody, that’s who. Well, maybe not everybody, but pretty close. From 8 in the morning (as always, beginning with Party Star, who traditionally stay up the entire night before doing what a band called Party Star does best) until 2 a.m., there will be a constant stream of bands and performance artists taking the café’s tiny stage. Divided by the typical 20- to 30-minute time slot, that’s . . . well, it’s a lot of bands — 40-plus, according to Anderson, including Swale, Barbacoa, The Cush, The Fatal Flaws, Cccome?, Cannon Fodder . . . I could go on.
Good thing the coffee is free.
PORK CHOP SANDWICHES
Montpelier’s Halogen Records has made quite a name for itself this year. In addition to managing a small but impressively varied roster of artists — including songwriter Aaron Flinn, alt-country sweethearts The Dixie Red Delights, hip-pop fusionists Strength in Numbers and “tha” one and only VT Union — the studio has been responsible for funneling a wealth of national talent through the area. You may remember such killer shows as Immortal Technique, The Wailers, Black Sheep and Galactic, to name a few. Halogen Records is also behind this Sunday’s Brother Ali throwdown at the Higher Ground Ballroom.
The hit parade rolls on this Friday as the ever-industrious Halogen CEO Justin Hoy and company welcome internationally renowned turntablists X-ecutioners’ Rob Swift and Immortal Technique’s DJ GI Joe to Montpelier’s Positive Pie 2. Not one to leave local folks out in the cold, Halogen will also put plenty of Vermont talent on display as mash-up maven DJ Russell and breakdance phenoms The Rhythm Riderz join in the fun. The evening is hosted by multitalented VT Union MC Nastee. Additionally, there’s an open call to b-boy crews around the state to show up and strut their stuff.
And that, as the kids say, is what’s up. Or is it what’s good?
Speaking of Radio Bean, Ensemble V’s long-running Wednesday-night residency is a cornerstone of the Burlington jazz community. Led by trumpeter Arthur Brooks — a disciple of jazz legends Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor — the group’s free-jazz improv sessions are the stuff of (local) legend. This Friday, the group steps out for a show at Burlington’s FlynnSpace entitled “Ensemble V: Flow.” The performance is a collaboration between the star-studded group — which includes local hepcats Michael Chorney, Anthony Santor and PJ Davidian, among others — and some of the area’s finest dancers. The aural and visual feast will consist of three separate sets; audience members can choose to see any or all.
In late August, Burlington-based online radio crew WBKM sponsored an epic afternoon of Neil Young worship at Battery Park. The show featured scads of local Young acolytes paying homage to the American rock icon — who is, in fact, Canadian. Living within a stone’s throw of the park, I had the pleasure of taking in the sounds from the comfort of my backyard — I love it when shows come to me. Anyway, Wednesday, November 12, happens to be Young’s birthday. So three of the acts from that bright summer day — tribute band Ragged Glory, rockers The Duane Carlton Band and Silent Mind — take up residence at Nectar’s to wish him well with an entire evening of rockin’ in the free world.
And speaking of Nectar’s, if you happen to pick up the paper the day it comes out, be sure to check out Texas-based acoustic-swing trio Shotgun Party. I would honestly recommend this show based solely on the fact that their fiddle player was once in a band called Uncle Fucker. Seriously. But what’s more, they’re really, really good. Trust me.
And finally, there are undoubtedly still many a newgrass fan smarting from the stylistic about-face taken by NYC/pseudo-local stringband-cum-indie-folk marvels The Powder Kegs. There, there, bros. You still have Yonder. But those unperturbed — or even overjoyed, as I was — by the band’s sudden change would do well to catch one of the trio’s two Vermont dates this week: Friday at The Monkey House in Winooski and Saturday at Langdon Street Café in Montpelier.
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
In his review of The Lonestar Chain’s excellent self-titled debut last week, freelance writer Jake Rutter wrote that the group’s drummer, Steve Hadeka, also pounds the skins for Burlington’s Turkey Bouillon Mafia. He doesn’t. Nor has he ever, I’m afraid. Although, given that the estimable Mr. Hadeka plays with roughly 27 different bands in and around Burlington, it was an honest mistake. Sincere apologies to Steve and the Mafia.