- Rough Francis
When you reach a certain age — let’s say early to mid-thirties — a funny thing starts to happen. The number of people you hang out with who have kids starts to outnumber the number of people you hang out with who don’t. Or, perhaps more accurately, the number of people you used to hang out with who have kids outnumbers the number of people you hang out with who don’t.
It starts slowly, maybe an old college buddy here, an ex-bandmate there. But then one day, the phenomenon hits critical mass and it seems like everyone is either expecting or already pushing a stroller and incessantly posting insufferable cutesy crap about their little ones on Facebook.
Anyway, the point is, kids are terrible. And they’re ruining my social life.
I’m kidding, of course. (Mostly.) Your kids are great, really. But as someone who has reached that aforementioned certain age and has had to say good-bye to numerous friends for roughly the next 18 years, all this breeding is bittersweet. (Note to kids reading this in the future: Remind me to tell you about all the crazy shit your parents used to do. You’re welcome.)
But recently, my pessimistic and admittedly selfish view
on kids took a turn for the better. It happened at this year’s Radio Bean birthday bash in early November. If you recall, the party was particularly notable for the sheer number of rockers with kids in attendance — highlighted by Cave Bees bassist Rebekah Whitehurst playing with her infant daughter strapped to her back. It was proof positive that while a certain segment of the local rock scene is unquestionably growing up — hey, it happens to the best of us — rocking and parenting are not mutually exclusive.
This Saturday, December 1, we’ll be offered yet another reminder that rock and roll should be a requisite staple for growing kids of all ages when a crew of locals commandeer the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge for a kid-friendly matinee showcase dubbed “The Kids Are Alright.”
The afternoon show is a benefit for the Integrated Arts Academy at the H.O. Wheeler School. (Full disclosure No. 1: My nephew is a student at the IAA.) It features a number of local acts reimagining classic children’s tunes, including Rough Francis, James Kochalka Superstar, the Cleary Brothers, Rich Price, DJ Disco Phantom, and a special collaboration between Swale’s Eric Olsen, Guster’s Ryan Miller and local drummer extraordinaire Steve Hadeka. (Full disclosure No. 2: Both Hadeka and Rough Francis’ Bobby Hackney are employed by Seven Days.)
As for which songs each band will be playing, your guess is as good as mine. I’ve heard whispers that Rough Francis may Stooges up some classic nursery rhymes, and that Disco Phantom may be mashing up popular kids fare with LCD Soundsystem cuts. Presumably, James Kochalka will play … well, James Kochalka tunes. Beyond that, who knows? However, I’m told virgin rum & Cokes may be on special.
Meanwhile, in Plattsburgh … songwriter Adrian Aardvark, aka Chris Rigsbee, releases a new album, Hidden Magic Revival, with a show at the ROTA Gallery on Friday, November 30. The record is the result of two years of tough breaks for Rigsbee, including a car accident and an assault at the hands of a group of young men in downtown Plattsburgh in 2010. The snippets of the record I’ve heard suggest those incidents had a profound effect on Rigsbee’s music, which has a dark, disjointed quality that is appropriately jarring, especially coupled with his unusual, Stephen Merritt-esque vocal timbre. It’s an admittedly challenging listen, but one that’s likely worth a spin.
Anders Parker has had a pretty sweet year. His collaboration with Yim Yames, Will Johnson and Jay Farrar on the Woody Guthrie tribute New Multitudes is likely to find its way onto several year-end best-of lists — including a few of mine. And he just wrapped up a new record with a longtime collaborator, vocalist Kendall Meade, that’s due out early next year. In the meantime, Parker will begin a weekly monthlong residency at Radio Bean this Monday, December 3. He writes that he’ll be test-driving some new material and may invite a few special guests along to boot.
Vermont expat Xander Naylor comes home this week with his new band, Railbird, who play the Monkey House this Thursday, November 29. The NYC-based psych-pop outfit has been making national waves on the heels of well-received sets at SXSW, CMJ and POP Montréal and just released a debut EP, Lucky, that’s garnering comparisons to the likes of Dirty Projectors, Braids and our own Rubblebucket — with whom Railbird will tour in December, BTW.
Speaking of homecomings, rising pop-country star Jamie Lee Thurston returns to Vermont for a show at the Higher Ground Ballroom this Friday, November 30, in celebration of his latest CD. I’m sure it’s great and all, but as far as new releases by Thurstons go, he’d be hard-pressed to top the new record by his dear old dad, Jimmy T. Thurston, Welcome to My Country — if only for that record’s thoroughly incredible cover. It features the elder Thurston looking like a grizzled, 1800s gold prospector.
Congrats to local blues man Dave Keller, who showed our backwards neighbors in New Hampshire how its done by winning the Granite State Blues Challenge earlier this month, making his band eligible to compete in the upcoming National Blues Challenge. And word is that Keller will soon be heading to Memphis to record a follow-up to his excellent 2011 album, Where I’m Coming From.
Continuing the new-release beat, local folk-rock duo the Beerworth Sisters celebrate their debut full-length, Simple Things, with a release party at the Marriott Harbor Lounge this Saturday, December 1. What little I’ve heard is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, harmony-laden acoustic Americana not dissimilar to that of First Aid Kit — albeit not quite so poppy. It’s genuinely beautiful stuff.
Montpelier’s Positive Pie 2 gets its Afrobeat groove on this weekend with a pair of funky local acts. Friday, November 30, is the excellent Barika, followed on Saturday, December 1, by the Ethio-jazz ensemble New Nile Orchestra.
Aside from dropping in on an open session at Spark Arts earlier this year, I’ve yet to experience what the local improv comedy scene has to offer. I expect that to change this Saturday, December 1, when the Spark Arts improv troupe presents it “Whose Line is it, Anyway?”-styled Winter Improv Spectacular at Club Metronome in Burlington. Improv comedy, while exploding in popularity across the country, is still a relatively new phenomenon in these parts. As it is essentially created on the spot, it’s a wildly different experience from standup. If you’ve never seen it performed, I highly recommend it.
Last but not least, the local EDM scene takes over both floors at Nectar’s and Club Metronome on Wednesday, December 5, when 2K Deep and Mushpost present Clusterfu3k. The untz-untz blowout features more than 30 DJs spread over three rooms of dance music, divided roughly by genre and renamed for the night, including the Mothership (house, techno) in Metrononome’s main room, Cloud 9 (bass) at Nectar’s and Tropic Thunder (drum and bass, moombahton) in the Metronome Lounge.
This Week on Tour Date with DJ Llu
This week’s installment of the Seven Days music interview podcast, “Tour Date with DJ Llu,” finds Llu sitting down with local pop prince Gregory Douglass. The veteran songwriter dishes on his lengthy career, the challenges of being a working artist in a rapidly changing industry and just what the hell you should call his music. (Hint: not pop prince.)