- Small Sur
Is it me, or does summer seem to be speeding by much more quickly than usual this year? It feels like only a couple of weeks ago I announced the preliminary lineup and ticket sales info for this weekend's Northeast Kingdom Music Festival at the Chilly Ranch in Albany, VT. And yet here we are, mere days away from one of the more hotly anticipated weekends of the year. Time flies, I guess.
The lineup for this year's installment, the sixth annual, is once again excellent and characteristically eclectic. In a slight strategic shift, there is no "big-name" headliner, per se - previous years have seen acts such as Gogol Bordello and Fishbone grace the stage. Still, Langdon Street Café booking man Ed DuFresne has done it again, funneling some of the venue's best and brightest northward - hence, LSC is closed for the weekend, since there's no one left in town to play.
The more notable bands this year include SoCal Americana trio The Devil Makes Three, Austin songwriter Danny Schmidt, NYC funk-rock ensemble The Screaming Headless Torsos, Mr. Lif of Boston's indie hip-hop supergroup The Perceptionists, Afro-beat collective The Superpowers, also of Beantown, as well as Western, Mass., Americana outfits The Amity Front and Rusty Belle.
While the national and regional talent taking top billing this year promises to be pretty swell, a wealth of local(ish) talent fills out the lineup. Pseudo-local indie-dance faves The Mathematicians, bluegrass-cum-electric rock trio The Powder Kegs - with a new album in tow - and Boston-by-way-of-Vermont honky-punkers Pariah Beat are slated to appear.
For strictly localvore options, funky fusionists Vorcza, Northfield rockers In This Century and indie-funk upstarts Evan Crandle & The Too Hot to Handle should slake your thirst for some down-home rockin'. And don't forget 12-year-old spoon prodigy Jan M. Meese. Yes, spoon prodigy, though the lad is quite a songwriter and guitarist, too. Kids these days.
The fun starts this Friday and continues until the wee hours of Saturday night/Sunday morning. Camping is available. Visit www.nekmf.com for more info on the fest, to purchase tickets and get directions. The latter is strongly recommended since a few ne'er-do-well locals seem to screw with signage pointing the way each year. Rednecks these days.
If free-for-all freak-outs like NEKMF aren't your thing but you're still looking for something festival-ish to do this weekend, take heart. This Friday marks the start of the 25th annual Champlain Valley Folk Festival at Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh. And in honor of the quarter-century milestone, they're pulling out all the stops and rockin', er, folkin' out hard. Is "folkin' out hard" really a phrase? Moving on . . .
Over the years, CVFF has built a national reputation as one of the premier folk and traditional music celebrations not sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts. (Point of order: I frequently rip on the Newport Folk Festival for their caffeinated corporate underwriter, but have just learned that the fest folks have ditched double D in favor of T-Mobile and Paste magazine, among others. Now all they need is some folk music - Jimmy effing Buffett and The Black Crowes? Really?)
Back to the point - and for good this time - for two-and-a-half decades, VT folk fans have counted themselves fortunate to have such a high-caliber showcase in their collective backyard. And this year's has the makings of a marvelous celebration of acoustic music, homemade sundresses and guys with big, bushy beards.
Headliners include Québecois trio Genticorum, rodeo sweethearts The Sweetback Sisters, Celtic fusion outfit Millish, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Bulgaria songwriter Vlada Tomova, and Norway's Benedicte Maurseth.
As always, the backbone of the festival is the incredible sampling of local options. This year, Miriam Bernardo's Latin-folk ensemble Amapola, swingin' daddy-o Lewis Franco & The Missing Cats, Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson's revered folk duo Hungrytown and blues-harp whiz Mark Lavoie lead a remarkable collection of local, um, folk lending their voices to the cause.
In all, the three-day fest boasts more than 30 bands and artists from across the multilayered spectrum of folk and traditional music. Additionally, there will be crafting workshops and vendors, an enormous dance tent and a variety of ethnic food options. And you just can't beat the lakeside setting, especially if you're camping out.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
It seems I may have been a little overzealous in this week's festival coverage and just blew roughly two-thirds of my column space. And there's still so much more to say. Toward that end, allow me to put the "bite" back in Soundbites.
First up, the boys from Lotus Entertainment are throwing yet another boat bash, following last month's Scarface-themed party aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen 3. This time around it's "The Lipstick Lounge" and features a Roaring Twenties theme. Beats will be provided courtesy of DJs Fattie B, J2, A-Dog and Montréal turntablist Killa Jewel. Quick question: Did they have hip-hop in the 1920s? The SEA3 boards this Friday at 9:30 p.m.
I'm not exactly sure what a "bass battle" is. But there is one happening this Wednesday night at Nectar's as California bass marvel David Hull and local bass badass Aram Bedrosian square off for an evening of low-end one-upsmanship. Bedrosian is currently favored at 3-1 odds.
The John Fogerty concert originally scheduled for Monday, August 4 at the Shelburne Museum has been moved to Wednesday, August 13. No offhand quip needed.
On the heels of the sold-out Immortal Technique show a couple of weeks ago, central VT hip-hop promoters Halogen Records welcome Bay Area underground sensations Hieroglyphics to the 802 this Sunday at the Higher Ground Ballroom. Seattle's Blue Scholars, Cali's Knowbody, Vegas high-roller Musab and Brooklyn trio Tanya Morgan open the show. Word.
Speaking of Higher Ground, on Wednesday, August 6, In Memory of Pluto returns to action after a lengthy layoff as part of the ongoing Northern Exposure series in the Showcase Lounge. Oddly, their hiatus roughly coincided with a less-than-favorable review of their debut EP, written by yours truly. Hope it wasn't something I said. Actually, it might have been. The boys have been hard at work on a proper follow-up at Wasted City Studios. Welcome back, guys.
This just in: Local pop prince Gregory Douglass has been hard at work on a new album and has enlisted the help of none other than Ms. Grace Potter on backing vocals. Expect an official release in March 2009. Expect a collective groan from the indier-than-thou hipster set right about . . . now.
Finally, the Tick Tick kids are at it again. This time around, Burlington's reigning arbiters of awesome are presenting Baltimore dream-folk collective Small Sur for a "sunset set" on the patio of Burlington crêperie The Skinny Pancake, on Wednesday, August 6. You could also swing by the lakeside joint the night before and catch local bluegrass outfit The Medicinals, who are wrapping up a summer-long sunset set residency.
Wow. That was fun.