- Courtesy Of Evngwear
The start of my tenure as music editor all but coincided with the most recent Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. As much as I love the existence of the event, I remember being massively relieved when I found out my predecessor, Jordan Adams, had already tackled the fest coverage. For one thing, that's a hell of a way to start: by covering a 10-day festival with multiple venues and themed events and more musicians than the video for "We Are the World." (Alas, there was no sighting of a dispassionate Bob Dylan at this one.)
But my real hang-up was the feeling that I wasn't quite ready to dive into Burlington's rich, talented and occasionally complicated jazz scene. Due to the small nature of our fair city, the scenes in town tend to blend together. Indie rockers, metal kids, jam bands, hip-hop artists, folk singers, even country musicians — they all crisscross, swap members and team up for shows. By contrast, the jazz scene has always seemed like more of a self-contained unit. I mean, you don't see a Discover Microtonal Metal Festival, am I right? (Oh, God, did I just give someone an idea? Don't do it!)
Well, I've gotten over my reluctance and leaned into the jazz this week, folks. Pop over to the Culture section for my profile of Marty Fogel, one of the many incredible players on our current jazz scene.
Meeting Fogel and hearing him talk about all the great players he's met since moving to town in 2017 made me realize that our jazz scene isn't as much of a single unit as I used to think. Rather, it's a collection of musicians playing vastly different forms of jazz, some of whom might not rate other forms very highly.
That's where the complicated part comes in. I'm 100 percent not the guy to referee a jazz battle between traditionalists and the more fusion-inclined players — both of whom often talk cash shit about the other. What I will do, however, is cover the full range of the scene. That's right, I'm going to cover ... all that jazz. (No, I will not see myself out, thank you.)
In that spirit, let's talk about the jazz-funk fusion of EVNGwear. Made up of bassist Alex Budney (Seth Yacovone Band), guitarist Walker Allen (Nico Suave & the Bodacious Supreme), drummer Ethan Snyder (Moonhooch) and keyboardist Eric Maier (Madaila), the quartet has been holding down a Wednesday night residency at Nectar's all month. This week is the last chance to catch EVNGwear, who are more commonly seen in their other guise backing Nectar's open mics as the Family Night House Band. It sounds like they might be ready for bigger things.
"We're starting to take this band more seriously for the first time," Maier told me. "Both in terms of trying to play some cool shows [and] in terms of releasing music."
Maier and Allen are co-owners of Burlington's Future Fields Studios. Yet the band has no releases to date and has played less than a dozen shows since forming in 2016.
"I think it might be a case of the danger of having such easy access to recording," Maier said. "We always think we can record any time, and then years go by. We've all been up to other things, but it's also a challenge to find your audience when you're playing jazz music that is, in some people's ears, arty and weird."
The perils of playing jazz fusion aside, EVNGwear look poised to take on a bigger role in the Burlington scene. More shows are coming, as is a release, though Maier isn't sure it will be a studio album.
"Maybe we'll just release a soundboard recording from one of these Nectar's shows and go all early Phish with it," he said with a laugh.
EVNGwear play the final show of their September residency this Wednesday, September 29, at 8 p.m.
Hold the Stampede
- Courtesy Of Shervin Lainez
- Liz Cooper and her band
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Liz Cooper is back in greater Burlington this week with a new album and a new tour. The Nashville, Tenn.-based Cooper performed until last year as Liz Cooper & the Stampede, putting out her 2018 debut album Window Flowers under that name. As her songs shifted from country and psychedelic folk to unabashed psych-rock, though, she felt the name was mislabeling her as an Americana act. So out went the stampede for the release of her follow-up, the harder-rocking Hot Sass.
"The new record feels fucking great," Cooper told me by phone as she began her tour. "I'm so proud of it. We recorded it in Burlington, actually. We went to a studio called Little Jamaica with our friend Benny Yurco."
Yurco (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Michael Nau) recorded Hot Sass with Cooper and her no-longer-named band consisting of Ryan Usher, Joe Bisirri and Michael Libramento in one week at the tail end of 2019.
"I was just so ready to have the record out," Cooper said. "After the last year or so, to be doing something? To be releasing music and going on tour, to be working — it just makes me so happy right now."
Cooper is particularly excited about her show at Higher Ground on Thursday, September 30. Her ties to Burlington are many, from recording at Yurco's studio to playing a Creston Guitar custom-made in Burlington. She remembers past shows at ArtsRiot and the 2018 Waking Windows festival with great fondness.
"It's crazy being back out on the road again," Cooper said. "We're all sort of relearning how to act, the bands and the audiences. People are really losing their minds out there, and it's so fun to see that again."
Be sure to check out the first single from Hot Sass, "Slice of Life." The doom-laced piece of indie rock plays out over a video with strong David Lynch vibes, ushering in the new era of Liz Cooper, psych-rocker.
- File: Gabe Dickens
- Famous Letter Writer
What? You didn't get enough jazz from me yet, you greedy jazz freak? Fine. Here's some more!
Tony Award-winning musician and composer Michael Chorney (viperHouse, Anaïs Mitchell) has a new project called Freeway Clyde. Featuring Chorney on guitar, Will Andrews (Willverine) on cornet and synthesizer, Matt LaRocca (Henry Jamison) on electric viola, Robinson Morse (viperHouse, Vorcza) on bass, and Jeremy Frederick (Swale) on drums, the band made its debut at this year's BDJF.
Chorney formed the band to play songs he wrote after recently taking up the electric guitar. "I wrote a book of new pieces that I think of as psych-rock-jazz soundtracks to films that have never been made," he said.
If that sounds as intriguing to you as it does to me, check out Freeway Clyde at their Thursday night residency at Radio Bean, beginning on September 30 at 9 p.m.
The Trey Anastasio Band will have to finish their current tour without trumpet player and Vermont native Jennifer Hartswick, who tested positive for COVID-19 before the band played their September 25 show at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre in Charlotte, N.C.
According to Anastasio's Instagram feed, Hartswick "is experiencing minor symptoms and expected to recover fully. Trey Anastasio Band will continue the tour without the horn section. We will miss them all." The band is also missing saxophonist James Casey, who is currently undergoing treatment for colon cancer, and founding bassist Tony Markellis, who died earlier this year.
The latest video from Famous Letter Writer was released last week. The final track off the Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based art-rock band's debut LP Warhola, the haunting "Daughter" is about Andy Warhol's mother, Julia Warhola, who was an artist in her own right. The song touches on her loss of a child who would have been Andy's older sister.
Like the other videos off Warhola, "Daughter" is a low-budget production. But in the creative hands of the husband-and-wife team behind Famous Letter Writer, Michael and Julia Devine, it becomes an impressionistic, dreamlike vignette. Head over to the band's YouTube page.