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Monkeying Around

Soundbites: Pretty & Nice, The Sepia Tones

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What’s better than one kick-ass show at The Monkey House? Two kick-ass shows at The Monkey House! Duh. This weekend, the enterprising lads from Bear Cub Productions have lined up a thrilling two-fer of aural pleasures to slake anyone’s thirst for midwinter rock-foolery.

Friday night will bring the welcome return of Boston-based taser-rock impresarios Pretty & Nice, a visit from Portland, Maine indie-rockers Cult Maze, and a two-tone throw-down from local ska revivalists Husbands. And you might want to pitch a tent at Spinner Place — or squat in one of the monstrous building’s roughly 3547 empty apartments. Zing! — because Saturday night’s show will be equally rocktastic.

St. Albans’ eerie Americana trio Farm have been fairly quiet since releasing their stellar sophomore album, Gray Birds. But the lads have certainly been busy, holing up in the “Cave of Legends” and feverishly working on a hotly anticipated follow-up, due out later this year. Lucky for me, they were nice enough to send a rough mix of a new tune my way. In serious music critic lingo, it’s good. Really, really good. Thanks, guys.

The rest of Saturday’s lineup is pretty swell, too. Brooklyn’s electro-indie duo Slingshot Dakota provide the dance-punk meat of the evening’s turkey club of rock, with local post-punk-whatever trio Drive the Hour bringing the bacon and maybe even the mayonnaise. What does the sandwich analogy mean? Honestly, I have no idea. But it sure sounds tasty.

Playing Doctor

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that local hip-hop magnate Burnt MD was set to release a new album with partner-in-rhyme Tha Professor. That’s still true, but as is often the case with CD release parties, the finished product is “held up in post-production.” FYI, that’s code for “the stupid reproduction company hasn’t sent the freakin’ discs back yet.” It happens. But let this be a lesson: Don’t book a CD release party until you have the CDs in hand. I can’t stress that enough.

While we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the latest release from the hardest-working man in local hip-hop, Burnt and his GTD cohorts are anything but empty-handed. This Friday at Nectar’s, Projectivity and GTD Entertainment celebrate the release of Projected: Volume 2, an all-star compilation featuring a staggering mix of local and national hip-hop talent aimed at fostering positive thinking and strengthening the community.

Appearing on the album are big-time underground acts such as Masta Ace, Lord Jameer of Brand Nubian, Remedy of Wu-Tang Family, Akrobatik, One B Lo, NY Oil and Pack FM. The disc also includes contributions from local and regional luminaries such as The Aztext, VT Union’s Nastee, Blak Madeen, The Problemaddicts, The Higher Concept and, of course, Burnt MD. The show will be hosted by DJ Fat Pat, best known for his work as the host of “The Spot,” the local hip-hop open-mike night, and will include many of the aforementioned acts as well as a performance by Boston ska-punk outfit Danny Pease & the Regulators.

Funky Bunch

College kids love the funk. And the binge drinking. But mostly, they love the funk. Hopefully, they also love crêpes, because this Thursday marks the first installment of The Skinny Pancake’s Thursday night college band series with UVM funky bunch The Sepia Tones. Influenced by the usual suspects — Herbie Hancock, The Meters, Miles Davis, weed, etc. — each member of the quintet is a current student of Groovy UV’s music department. Though relatively new to the local scene, the band has developed quite a following on campus and is now looking to broaden their horizons beyond the world of academia with some gigs in the “big city.” That would be Burlington, by the way.

Though the group has a penchant for heady funk, it dabbles just as effectively in a variety of genres, including blues, jazz and rock. And as their name implies, they’re rooted in musical nostalgia, delivering a dog-eared take on a plethora of classic standards. In a word, groovy.

Pickin’ It Up

It’s hardly a secret that Vermont has no shortage of first-rate bluegrass and folk bands. But as wonderful as many of our homegrown acts are, sometimes it’s nice to hear what’s happening beyond the borders of our idyllic little state. Especially when we don’t have to go very far to do it.

Hailing from Takoma Park, MD, Carol Hausner and Ed Schaeffer comprise the bluegrass harmony duo Honeysuckle. Featuring gorgeous vocals and deft guitar and banjo work, the pair boasts a fine pedigree, having performed with the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Pete Seeger and The Smith Sisters.

This Sunday, the duo makes a special Vermont performance at Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café with help from local boys Mark Greenberg on mandolin and Noah Hahn, best known as the bassist for country barnstormers Mark LeGrand & The Lovesick Bandits.

Gotcha Covered

Do you remember Vintage? We don’t, either. But apparently they’re reuniting. To which we say: OK!

Joking aside, the Hardwick-area dance band was quite popular during its early 1990s heyday and built a solid reputation as one of the hardest-rockin’ bar bands around. While a cover act reunion would normally not be cause for celebration, this one is noteworthy because it’s for a really good cause.

In a heart-warming display of downhome community spirit, the boys are “getting the band back together” for a benefit dance to raise money for two Hardwick families who were especially hard-hit by tragedy in 2007, both losing loved ones to cancer within two weeks of each other.

Obviously, battling cancer is an emotionally devastating endeavor. But often overlooked amidst the heart-wrenching is the monumental financial toll. So, this Saturday at the Hardwick Knights of Columbus Hall, Vintage triumphantly returns to help ease at least the monetary strain. It’s nice to know that until our government catches up to the rest of the industrialized world and offers affordable health care to all its citizens, good people will still rise to the challenge of lending their neighbors a helping hand.

A Guy Walks Into A Bar

Ending on a lighter note, this Saturday the Higher Ground Ballroom plays host to the final round of the conveniently titled Higher Ground Comedy Battle. The competing comedians are 10 of the area’s finest local and regional stand-up acts. Each contestant ran the comedic gauntlet, receiving top scores at the venue’s ongoing series of comedy open-mike events, and now will face off against each other in an all-out, knee-slapping, belly-laughing, guffaw-inducing showdown.

As challenging as the qualifying rounds must have been, the finals present a particularly difficult battle, as a certain local music critic from a certain local alt-weekly newspaper has been tabbed as a judge. I hear he’s pretty tough, too. Good luck.

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