Soundbites: Burlington's Beat-Making Exchange Program; the Ramble Returns; New Singles Roundup | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: Burlington's Beat-Making Exchange Program; the Ramble Returns; New Singles Roundup


Published July 27, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated August 3, 2022 at 1:25 p.m.

  • File: Luke Awtry
  • Omega Jade

You know, whenever I take a break from Soundbites for a few weeks and run some features or interviews, I always get this feeling like I'm skipping class or something. Inevitably, when I return to the column and start sorting out the music news, I see the amount of emails, submissions and notifications of cool music events happening around the scene, and I have a little terror pee. How the hell am I going to cover all this? I scream out loud, before sweeping everything off my desk and throwing my laptop out the window.

Once the panic subsides, however, I get a feeling of excitement. Even if I can't fit it all in my column, there's so much new music and so many killer shows. So let's get down to brass tacks. There's a lot going on in the next few weeks.

We're nearing the time of year when we celebrate the life and continuing legacy of beloved Burlington skateboarder and DJ Andy "A_Dog" Williams, who died of leukemia in 2013. A_Dog Day takes place this year on Saturday, August 27, and features a massive lineup of DJs and bands. The Burlington festivities begin during the day at the Andy A_Dog Williams Skatepark and finish up that evening at Nectar's. The slate is stacked with A2VT, Greaseface, Konflik, Omega Jade, Blowtorch and many, many more.

In the meantime, the Friends for A_Dog Foundation is holding a music camp called Beats, Rhythms, and Rhyme this Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, at Burlington's Swan Dojo. According to foundation board member Dave Rider, the camp is part of the nonprofit's mission to provide free, nontraditional arts programming for underserved youths.

"Our programs touch on everything from skateboarding to dance to beat making," Rider explained by phone. "With this program in particular, it's a three-pillar curriculum, including basic DJ skills, lyric writing and, finally, beat making."

Rider said the foundation brings in local professionals to instruct the students. This year's instructors include DJs Kanganade and David Chief, as well as rapper Omega Jade as lyrics counselor. Campers receive instruction on all three pillars and get to compose their own track.

About four years ago, Rider said, he discovered a similar program in New York City called Building Beats. On a whim, he sent an email to the program's board and asked if they wanted to collaborate, sending Vermont kids down to attend the NYC camps and then having the city kids come up to the Green Mountains for some beat making. The exchange was an immediate success and one that affected Rider greatly.

"Some of these kids haven't been out of their own borough, let alone New York State," Rider pointed out. "And, look, I know it sounds corny, but when you see this white kid from St. Albans and a Black kid from Queens break down all these weird, made-up barriers within 15 minutes of meeting, and they just start working on art together, it's so powerful."

Pop over to for more information on the Beats, Rhythms, and Rhyme workshop and all the other cool stuff those folks have planned.

Ramble On

Things will get weird in Burlington's Old North End this Saturday, July 30, as the Ramble returns. Radio Bean owner Lee Anderson and Heather Driscoll founded the daylong festival/celebration of all things ONE in 2003, and over the years it has become a staple of Burlington summer parties.

For those who haven't experienced the Ramble, it doesn't work like a typical festival or block party. Residents, artists and businesses across the Old North End open their doors to host music, food, pottery workshops, garden tours, yoga, yard sales, fairy hunts ... you name it. The traditional Field Day at Battery Park is full of games, shenanigans and prizes. Live music is sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, including performances by Lois Trombley, Sabouyouma, the Burning Sun, Leone/Casey/Barker Trio and

The Ramble is an opportunity to take in all the beauty and weirdness of the Old North End. As a longtime resident there myself, all I can say is that the Ramble should not be missed. This year's theme is "Rhapsody," so be ready for a lot of people emoting wildly. Oh, and FYI, the community photo will be taken in the Old North End Community Center parking lot at 20 Allen Street at 5:15 p.m., if you want to be part of the history of one of Burlington's best parties.


Trip Villian (Album Cover) Note: this cutline is not on the spread - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Trip Villian (Album Cover) Note: this cutline is not on the spread

Throw the horns up, because Nectar's is metal again. The downtown Burlington venue used to play host to one of the area's coolest nights of music: the late, great Metal Mondays. But given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it didn't look like the heaviness would return to the Main Street nightclub. But who should step in to save the day but Matt Hagen, the busiest man in Vermont music and one of the metalheads behind the original weekly series?

It's hard to say when the dude found time between playing in 1,300 different bands, vinyl deejaying, putting together compilation records and who knows what else. But Hagen got some goats' blood, painted a pentagram on Nectar's floor and summoned the Great Old Ones back for a monthly series of punishingly heavy music: Metal of the Month. (At least, that's how I envision it going down.)

This month's installment takes place on Wednesday, July 27 — the print date of this paper — and features New York City metal act Trip Villain, with local support from Hagen's trio Savage Hen and rockers Phantom Suns. I believe the most apt expression here would be: "Get in the pit, motherfuckers."

Higher Ground has announced the return of the Backside 405 outdoor concert series at 405 Pine Street in Burlington. Established last summer in reaction to the closing of indoor venues during the pandemic, the concert series was immensely popular. It's good to see live outdoor music coming back to the South End for the end of the summer.

The series kicks off on Wednesday, August 10, with a show from indie singer-songwriter Faye Webster. Other highlights include North Carolina indie rockers the Nude Party on Saturday, September 10, and local neo-soul and R&B duo Dwight + Nicole and Texas soul, funk and R&B band the Suffers on Thursday, September 22. Go to for more information and tickets.

Speaking of Dwight + Nicole, the Burlington-based act will release a new single this Friday, July 29, called "Lift." The duo teased the track with an Instagram post showing its members hard at work recording a horn section in Brooklyn's Studio G with Grammy Award-nominated producer Joel Hamilton.

Ali McGuirk - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Ali McGuirk

Frequent Dwight + Nicole collaborator and tour mate Ali McGuirk also has a new single. "All Back" is a laid-back, Hammond organ-filled R&B jam that serves as an advance single from her LP Til It's Gone, due in September. The recent Burlington transplant recorded the new album in Los Angeles with producer Jonah Tolchin and a collection of A-list session players such as Fred Tackett (Little Feat), Larry Goldings (Norah Jones) and Valerie Pinkston (Ray Charles).

Catch the video for "All Back" on YouTube now.

Bellows Falls singer-songwriter Dylan Patrick Ward's new single and video "Zolpidem" is a tribute to sleepless nights and the things we do to try to get unconscious. A softly strummed folk number featuring a delicate vocal performance from Ward, the song shouts out zolpidem, a generic version of the sleep medication Ambien.

Bad Galaxy's Alex Pastuhov recorded, mixed and mastered the song; Clinton Hoffman, who fronts Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Americana act Brain Medicine, made the video, which is up on YouTube. The track is available at

The Greatest Song in the World (Today)

I had a music theory teacher tell me once that "If your definition of what the greatest song in the world is doesn't change at least monthly, you're not listening to enough music." Case in point: When I was 10, I thought the greatest song in the world was "Fish Heads" by Barnes & Barnes. Was I wrong? I mean, yes. Objectively, there's no way "Fish Heads" could be the greatest song in the world. But it was that day!

So what song wears the crown today? The honor goes to NYC indie rockers EZTV and their tune "Long Way to Go." The tune sits right in that sweet spot of perfect college radio-era indie rock, full of chiming, clean guitars and an almost Replacements-like world-weariness. It's recommended for driving or just staring at a city in your rearview mirror as you mumble something suitably melodramatic like, "See you in hell, New York."

Got a tune you think is the Greatest in the World (Today)? Send it my way at