I really didn’t want to do this.
Since the following incident occurred several weeks ago, a great internal debate has raged within my caffeine-addled brain as to whether it would be appropriate to regale you with this sordid tale. On the one hand, I would like to think I’m above resorting to embarrassing my peers in the pages of this esteemed paper. On the other hand, this particular story has annoyed the hell out of me every time I’ve thought about it. So, I’m gonna tell it, if only to get it off my chest — and maybe even make a point to boot. Here it goes.
Say what you want about Burlington’s Quad celebration last month, there were some wonderful moments to be had, especially when this summer’s finicky weather allowed Waterfront Park shows to go on as scheduled. In fact, one of those shows, Ween and Antibalas, probably makes my year-end list of live music highlights.
While exiting that show — and scurrying to get home before the next biblical downpour — a young, dreadlocked gentleman, whom I would later recognize as a member of my summer softball league, stopped me and handed me a flyer.
“You should write about this,” he said. Glancing down, I saw the words “Liberate Music and Arts Festival” across the top of the handbill.
“Oh, right. I wrote about this last year. It sounded like fun,” I said. I had both mentioned the fest in my column and spotlighted it the previous summer — much as I’m doing in this very issue.
We exchanged a few brief pleasantries before he said, “If only you wrote as well as you play softball.”
WTF? Summoning every ounce of will I had not to react badly to his barb, I feigned a smile and said, “Ha. Well, I am pretty good at softball.”
“Yeah, you are,” he responded. “But there is way more music out there than you know.”
“Ohhh-kay,” I said and walked away.
Now, I have never claimed omniscience when it comes to music. Anyone who does is a fool, a liar or both. I have no doubt there are folks reading this whose overall knowledge of music dwarfs my own. I also have no doubt that, in many cases, the reverse is true. I’m not an oracle. But neither are you. There is more music out there than anyone knows. And that’s part of the fun.
As I peered down at the flyer, I’ll admit to some curiosity regarding what I would find. And just what sort of wondrous musical revelation awaited my anxious gaze? Drum roll, please!
The New Deal … huh?
I have nothing against the New Deal — or Liberate’s other headliner, the Ryan Montbleau Band. But to directly insult someone you barely know in the preceding manner suggests I should have an awakening of groundbreaking importance, right? Or at least discover a band that hasn’t played in Vermont dozens of times — or that I haven’t written about on several occasions, as I have the New Deal and several other bands on this year’s bill.
I also have nothing against the Liberate festival. In fact, if that’s what you’re into, I absolutely think you should go this weekend. In addition to the aforementioned bands, this year’s lineup is jam-packed — pun mostly intended — with a slew of local and regional acts of both the established and up-and-coming variety. There will be great localvore food. Great art. Great yoga, even! This is exactly the sort of typically Vermont event I’ve been cautioning you not to overlook in the face of all the marquee music we’ve had this summer. Why? Because small, grassroots fests like Liberate are where you are most likely to discover a new band that blows your mind. Or, to borrow a phrase, to find more music than you know.
So, the moral of this story is twofold. One, if you want to draw my attention to a show or festival, you don’t have to insult me, or assume I won’t write about it because it features music I may not be into personally (which actually isn’t the case here).
And two, whatever you do, don’t piss off a guy with a widely read weekly column and expect to get away with it.
Speaking of small, grassroots summer fests, the busy folks at Montpelier’s Halogen Media — who also have a hand in the Liberate Festival — are serving up a unique shindig this weekend: the RhinoFest Music Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday in Plainfield.
Friday’s offerings feature the curiously named Casio Bastard, the indie-ish alt-rock stylings of Brooklyn’s Governours, Montpeculiar-based electro-reggae stalwarts Maddub, local world-funk fusionists D’Moja and eclectic Burlington turntablist DJ Haitian.
Things really get cooking on Saturday with a lineup including songwriter Scott Graves, folk duo Tin Penny, alt-folk trio Rogue Birds, Greyspoke, Bossman, Electric Sorcery, the Gordon Stone Band, Philadelphia Slick and festival headliner Break Science, featuring Lettuce’s Adam Dietch.
As if that wasn’t enough, RhinoFest will also feature a homebrewing demonstration by Local Potion, the burning of a hand-carved sculpture — think Burning Man — and, should all that rockin’ leave you a bit tensed up, rub downs from Body Charge Massage.
The $35 advance ticket — $45 at the gate — can be purchased online at www.rhinofestvt.com and includes parking, camping and running water.
If you only go to one show this weekend — aside from the two I’ve previously mentioned, of course — I would suggest you make it this Friday’s local rock blowout at Nectar’s. Joining headliners — and BFFs with Mos Def, apparently — Rough Francis will be the Vacant Lots, Blowtorch and the Cave Bees.
Speaking of the Vacant Lots, I’ve just received word that the moody garage-rawk duo is putting the finishing touches on a follow-up to their excellent self-titled debut. Look for an early September release.
Dixie Red Delights’ delightful front woman Erin McDermott and mandolinist Matt Schrag are heading across the pond next month to tour Ireland. Among dates in Kinsale, Belfast and Dublin, an itinerary highlight is an appearance at the Galway Americana Festival. Safe travels!
Weekly benefit blurb: The Blue Paddle Bistro in South Hero is hosting a rock ’n’ roll BBQ with local bar band badasses the X-Rays this Saturday to benefit Camp Ta-Kum-Ta. The restaurant’s chef and co-owner, Phoebe Bright, recently celebrated one year of being cancer free after battling tongue cancer. Swing by to offer your congratulations to Bright and help out a great cause.
Finally, congrats to Adam Frehm, who took first place in the dobro competition at the Rocky Grass bluegrass festival in Colorado last month. Rocky Grass is among the premier bluegrass hootenannies in the country and Frehm’s competition was undoubtedly stiff. The local dobro whiz has shared the stage with almost too many great artists to mention, from local folks such as Smokin’ Grass and Gordon Stone to national heavies Emmylou Harris and the Yonder Mountain String Band. Still, one has to think winning Rocky Grass ranks as a career highlight. Plus, dude got a brand-spankin’-new dobro in the deal. Not bad.