Soundbites: A Tribute to Donovan and a New Home for the Nightshade Kitchen | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: A Tribute to Donovan and a New Home for the Nightshade Kitchen


  • Courtesy Photo
  • Donovan

Mad About Saffron

Tribute shows: We can't seem to get enough of 'em ... for now. But that could change. There's only so much rehashing of old movies, TV shows and music that we, as a society, can handle. Nostalgia burnout is likely to set in at some point in the next few years. All trends fade, after all. You've been warned. (God, this column wasn't supposed to start out on such a severe note. Oh, well.)

While it seems like the same bands and artists get the tribute treatment over and over again, an upcoming performance caught my eye this week featuring a super-cool, underrated artist. Simply dubbed "The Hurdy Gurdy Men Play Donovan," the show pays homage to the wildly underrated "Mellow Yellow" singer on Tuesday, August 28, at the Light Club Lamp Shop in Burlington.

And who are the Hurdy Gurdy Men, you wonder? It's Burlington royals Sean Toohey (the Nancy Druids, Envy) and Kirk Flanagan (Happy Spangler, Barbacoa). Along with special guests Miku (Miku Daza), Bill Mullins (Barbacoa), Jeremy Frederick (Swale), Phinn Sonin, Michael Bradshaw (Happy Spangler) and Jeff Baron (the Essex Green), the group plans to play hits as well as surprises. That means we'll likely hear the classics such as "Sunshine Superman," "Jennifer Juniper" and, duh, "Hurdy Gurdy Man." But will we also hear some tunes from the Scottish bard's 21st-century catalog? Did you even know that Donovan has been more or less consistently putting out albums since his heyday in the 1960s? I didn't.

Additionally, both Happy Spangler and the Nancy Druids have their own shows this week. The former hits up Burlington's Skinny Pancake on Friday, August 24, while the latter takes the stage on Saturday, August 25, at the Monkey House in Winooski.

(Disclosure: Bradshaw and Baron are Seven Days employees.)

High Score

This weekend, the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival kicks off in various locations all over the quaint Addison County town. The festival, which spans Thursday through Sunday, August 23 through 26, draws filmmakers from around the world, many presenting their films for the first time.

And on Sunday, August 26, a select group from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra is set to perform a new work from composer Matt LaRocca as a live film score. The musicians will accompany a short vignette from director Robin Starbuck's forthcoming documentary How We See Water. Following the film fest, the VSO will take LaRocca's composition on the road with its Made in Vermont Statewide Tour to several locations around the Green Mountains in September and October.

LaRocca tells Seven Days that the process for creating his contribution to the collaborative presentation has been long and drawn out.

"The first thing I did was watched a lot of [Starbuck's] films to try to get a sense of her style," he says by phone. "I sent her some of my music so she could listen to who I [am] as a composer. We just tried to get a feel for each other."

The limitations between the English language and how it's used to describe music itself was one of the project's main challenges.

"I can't make a MIDI mockup of what [the finished product] will sound like," says LaRocca, noting that there's also no way to accurately describe with words the precise sound of a tension mallet on timpani or an oboe's eerie, duophonic tones. "That was one of the biggest difficulties."

And, of course, there's the issue of cohesion between picture and music.

"[Starbuck's] style needs a specific sound-world," he explains. "I can't go be John Williams or Michael Giacchino, because it would be a complete mismatch."

The screening, which takes place at Middlebury College's Mahaney Center for the Arts, will feature a smaller selection of musicians, whereas the VSO's upcoming tour will showcase the full orchestra.

Oh, and one more music-related thing about the film festival: Backwoods singer-songwriter Bow Thayer plays the annual Saturday Night Party at Middlebury's American Flatbread.

Someone's in the Kitchen

Ruthless Moon - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Ruthless Moon

Guthrie Galileo's epicurean house concert series, the Nightshade Kitchen, has a new home and sponsorship: Burlington's North End Studios and Foam Brewers, respectively. If you're unfamiliar with these shows, the 24-year-old impresario previously hosted community gatherings in his freakin' Old North End living room, offering attendees a home-cooked meal and a concert. Now, hungry listeners won't have to cram into the R&B singer-songwriter's apartment.

Galileo first expanded upon his cozy-AF shows in 2017 with the Nightshade Festival, a daylong outdoor shindig at Red Barn Gardens in Williston. The festival returned bigger and better in 2018. And just as the expansion has allowed performances to shift from mostly solo acts to full bands, so will the move to North End Studios. Galileo notes that the relocation may also attract "guest chefs who are acquainted with pop-up-style service."

The new era of the Nightshade Kitchen kicks off on Thursday, August 23, with Boston-based Americana outfit Ruthless Moon and Burlington's own busker extraordinaire Eric George. (Speaking of George, check out Kristen Ravin's review of his new album, Two Hands, Songs of Resistance.)

Maine Event

Last week, Waking Windows finally announced the lineup for its two-day festival in Portland, Maine. The speculation machine can finally be put to rest, as the majority of artists have now been announced. Though not as massive as the production company's three-day, Winooski fest in May, the Portland iteration's roster is just as cool.

Most notable of the headlining performers is Miho Hatori. The Japanese artist is perhaps best known for her work with Yuka Honda in trip-hop duo Cibo Matto. Hatori just released an EP, Amazon to LeFrak, which she put out under the name New Optimism.

Of course, a few distinguished Vermont artists and expats pepper the bill, including Ryan Power, Julia Caesar, Eastern Mountain Time and Paper Castles (which features Waking Windows' own Paddy Reagan). And Vermont comedian expat Annie Russell brings her showcases Cringe! and No Chill to serve up all of the chuckles and giggles you can handle, and probably some that you can't.

Visit for the full initial lineup.

A_Dog Friendly

Finally, this Saturday, August 25, is the fifth annual A_Dog Day in Burlington. The daylong, multifaceted event celebrates the late, great local DJ, skateboarder and artist Andy "A_Dog" Williams. Be sure to head over to the Seven Days arts blog, Live Culture, for the lowdown.

Listening In

If I were a superhero, my superpower would be the ability to get songs stuck in other people's heads. Here are five songs that have been stuck in my head this week. May they also get stuck in yours. Fol\low sevendaysvt on Spotify for weekly playlists with tunes by artists featured in the music section.

SOHN, "Conrad"

Janet Jackson, "Trust a Try"

DRIVE-IN, "Nosedive"

Carly Rae Jepsen, "LA Hallucinations"

Sam., "DRIP"

Related Locations

  • North End Studios