Soundbites: Comedy in a Conference Room; Tape Swap at the Monkey House | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: Comedy in a Conference Room; Tape Swap at the Monkey House


Published October 10, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated October 12, 2018 at 10:52 a.m.

  • Courtesy Of Roger Edwards
  • Mike Lemme

Location, Location, Location

When you're a burgeoning standup comedian, all you want in the world is a captive audience. Cultivating a fan base and developing a following are huge challenges for comics, as they are for anyone pursuing a creative endeavor. To set yourself apart from the hordes trying to do the exact same thing, you sometimes have to think outside the box — or outside the comedy club, as the case may be.

New York City-based funnyman Mike Lemme has found a rather elegant — and super quirky — way to workshop material and connect with potential new fans in Burlington. On Saturday, October 13, he sets up shop for back-to-back sets in a Queen City conference room housed in coworking space Office Squared. With a capacity of eight seats — yes, only eight — the shows are exclusive, to say the least.

Lemme has workshopped material in this way once before in Austin, Texas.

"If the one in Austin did not go well, I wouldn't be doing this tour," he said in a recent phone call.

As Jerry Seinfeld might ask, what is the deal with the conference rooms? Turns out Lemme's fascination with corporate meeting rooms stems from the last "real" job he ever had. (Quotation marks added sarcastically because careers in the arts are real jobs, damn it!) Working at a private equity firm, he used to hijack empty conference rooms to practice his bits.

Lemme's credits include 50th & 4th, a play loosely based on his experience living with a married couple he met on Craigslist when he was just starting out in the city. As a child of divorce, coming home to a secure, loving couple every night and having that support system was a new concept for him. He's also interned for "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" and "Conan."

The artist's Burlington shows are likely to center on the irony of his lack of communication skills despite having a bachelor's degree in communications. (You're not alone, Mike.) And given the setting's intimate nature, there may be some room for a little back and forth, as well.

Written in the Stars

Starline Rhythm Boys - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Starline Rhythm Boys

Vermont's longest-running rockabilly outfit, the Starline Rhythm Boys, are celebrating 20 years of rootin,' tootin' tunes on Friday, October 12. And where else would they hold such a momentous event except their home away from home, Burlington's Red Square. According to the group's lead vocalist, Danny Coane, they've played the Square more times than anywhere else in the group's two decades of activity.

The special event features a few guests alongside the founding lineup of Coane, standup bassist Billy Bratcher and lead guitarist "Big" Al Lemery. These include guitarist and SRB record producer Sean Mencher, son of Billy and promising Elvin Presley impersonator Calvin Bratcher, and drummer Russ Dawley.

While we generally don't make a big deal of anniversaries in the Seven Days writers' room, SRB's vicennial did get us thinking about local bands that have stood the test of time. Surely many other individuals have played music consistently for as long, or longer, in the Green Mountains. But what distinguishes SRB is that the group has maintained its original lineup for two decades. And that's no easy feat. Off the top of our heads, we could only think of a few other ensembles that could make the same claim.

Are you in a band that's maintained an original lineup and have been consistently active for more than 10 years? If so, drop me a line.

Meantime, happy anniversary, Boys!

Trade Show

Attention, cassette-tape junkies: Do you have any albums with which you'd be willing to part ways? I bet you do. Take a look through your collection. I'm sure you have some fat that could be trimmed. Maybe make a rule, like I did recently. I decided that I didn't need to keep any tapes that I also have on vinyl. Since my car's cassette player started acting up about a year ago, I really only listen to cassettes at home. And if I'm choosing between listening to the same album on tape or wax, I choose wax.

Once you figure out which jams can stay and which ones are destined for someone else's collection, bring your haul down to Winooski's Monkey House on Tuesday, October 16, for some tape-exchanging action. Sticky Shed Tapes — aka Kevin Bloom's cassette remastering and duplication service — hosts the event.

The swap arrives just a few days after Cassette Store Day, which, despite its dubious name, is a real thing. It's just like April's Record Store Day with its special, exclusive releases from renowned artists, except everything is released on cassette. (Conceptually, I really like Cassette Store Day, but I hate the name. As far as I know, there were never stores that exclusively sold cassette tapes. Feel free to challenge me!)

This year, the only Vermont-based record store participating in Cassette Store Day is Rick & Kat's Howlin' Mouse in Rutland, so you'll have to pop in there if you want to pick up any of the special albums. Definitely peruse the list online. Lots of J Dilla this year and also the Go! Team's 2004 instant-classic debut, Thunder, Lightning, Strike.

I recently stopped by Rick & Kat's. Its stock of tapes was flush and on point! I picked up TLC's debut Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. (And, yes, I had to count the number of Os as I typed that.)

Tiny Desk, Big Deal

  • Courtesy Photo
  • Naia Izumi

The announcement of NPR's Tiny Desk Contest winner has become one of my favorite yearly pop-cultural moments. If you aren't familiar with the contest — or the video series that spawned it — here's how it works. Any band or artist can submit a video clip of themselves playing a song at or near a desk. A panel of famous judges culls through the mountain of submissions and chooses one winner. It's a big freaking deal to win the contest, because the regular, curated series features top-level talent.

What's especially great for us Vermonters is that said winners seem to wind up performing in Burlington shortly after they win. In the four years the contest has been running, victors Gaelynn Lea and Tank and the Bangas have performed in B-town. And 2018's winner, Naia Izumi, is setting up shop this Friday, October 12, at Club Metronome. If you love blues-inflected, progressive R&B, you'd best get yourself to the club come week's end. Local singer-songwriter Ivamae opens.

Listening In

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. Follow sevendaysvt on Spotify for weekly playlists with tunes by artists featured in the music section.

Cocteau Twins, “Watchlar”

Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Kiss Them for Me”

Echo and the Bunnymen, “Enlighten Me”

Skin Town, “Down”

Styrofoam & Sarah Shannon, “I Found Love”