- Courtesy Of Raul Higuera
- Monsieur Periné
I took a bit of a sojourn the other night and did what I call the "music creeper" move. I wandered downtown Burlington and popped into different shows for a few songs at each, like I was sampling a flight of beer or scarfing down an appetizer combo.
In general, it's not my favorite MO. I'd much rather pick a show, set up stakes in the corner and immerse myself in the sounds for the evening. But sometimes it's a good way to get the pulse of the town, which has become a slightly tougher task, post-pandemic. I'm seeing fewer and fewer show cancellations, which is great. But there's still a sort of shakiness around the entire scene, as if we were all holding our collective breath.
With big fests Waking Windows and the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival behind us, there's reason for optimism. Slowly and steadily, we've eased into reactivating a live music scene that was largely dormant for more than a year. As I walked up to Honky Tonk Tuesday at Radio Bean and saw the massive crowd queued up on a weeknight, my heart did a little fist bump — though that could have been the greasy-ass burger I'd inflicted on my vascular system.
Another sign that summer is here and things are looking more normal is the return of the abnormal to our streets. The Festival of Fools returns to downtown Burlington for its 15th year the first weekend of August. Festival organizers released the lineup last Friday and, as always, it's loaded with oddities and attractions. Contortionists, acrobats, magicians, break-dancers, comedians and all sorts of other performers engaged in wild acts of tomfoolery will take over the Church Street Marketplace and other downtown venues.
There's plenty of music along with the fools. Colombian pop act Monsieur Periné play a free show on Friday, August 5, in City Hall Park as part of Burlington City Arts' Twilight Series. The Latin Grammy Award winners recently released their new single, "Nuestra Canción," which hit No. 1 on the TikTok U.S. chart — yes, that's a thing — garnering more than 2 billion views. (Billion? Well, I guess that's why the TikTok chart exists. Fuck, I'm old.)
Willie Watson, a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, is busking sets on Church Street for the entirety of the festival. He also headlines the official after-party on Saturday, August 6, at Nectar's, with local support from Wild Leek River and Beg, Steal or Borrow.
The son of African desert blues pioneer Ali Farka Touré, Vieux Farka Touré returns to Burlington for the first time since 2015. Like Watson, the Malian singer and guitarist busks during the festival. He also headlines Friday's after-party at Nectar's, with an opening set from local funk-via-West Africa band Barika.
Brooklyn's Saint Mela headline a free show in City Hall Park on Saturday night, along with local neo-soul band Acqua Mossa.
Throw in New Orleans street jazz act Soggy Po' boys, Vaudevillian punk and swing band the DiTrani Brothers, Burlington's own street band Brass Balagan, and dozens of other musicians and performers, and we're looking at a stacked lineup of fools and tunes. Be sure to pop over to vermontfestivaloffools.com for more information.
- Sole Oceanna
The summer is heating up with new music from Vermont musicians. There have been many new releases this month, including some from new faces on the scene.
First up is Plainfield's Sole Oceanna. The 15-year-old singer recently recorded a five-song EP in Nashville, Tenn., at Hey World Creative with producer Sean Rogers (Luke Bryan, Shania Twain, Dierks Bentley). On June 3, she released the first single, "Not Feelin' It," which she wrote with Sebastian Garcia, best known for writing smash hit "Butter" by K-pop act BTS.
The track, boasting equal parts rock-and-roll attitude and pop sheen, is a confident statement of knowing what one wants in life. "I'm not trying to burst your bubble / But your vibe, I'm just not feelin' it," Oceanna sings.
It's a strong opening salvo from an artist who seems poised to break out in the near future.
- Andriana Chobot
Indie pop artist Andriana Chobot is preparing to release her newest album, the full-length Return to Sincere. Chobot dropped the advance single "Like It's the Last Time" in December, a jazz-tinged slice of pop showcasing her silky voice and a nice Fender Rhodes piano riff.
Return to Sincere hits streaming services on Friday, June 24, but fans can get a preview the night before: Chobot and her band play a release party at the Light Club Lamp Shop this Thursday, June 23. Singer-songwriter Ryan Sweezey joins the bill, fresh off releasing his own new record, Out Searching. Also playing are Americana rockers Danny & the Parts, who recently released the excellent EP Making Believe.
Burlington musician and producer Will Keeper is back with his first new music since 2021's Nosebleeds. The singer-songwriter dropped "Security" on June 17, a gorgeously arranged song full of Washed Out-like ennui and textures and hushed, intimate vocals. It's a natural progression for Keeper, who had one of the stronger debuts in local memory with his 2020 record, Bear, an album straddling the line between bedroom pop and full-blown R&B.
In an email, Keeper said the song is about his frustrations with hookup culture and "skepticism of what one means to their partner(s)." It's a first salvo from the artist, who plans to release two EPs before the end of the summer. "Security" is streaming now on Spotify.
If that isn't enough new Vermont music to satisfy you, the synth-obsessed indie dance outfit roost.world return, following their phenomenally weird and endlessly danceable 2021 LP, Cheapbabyy27. The band is set to release its latest single, "New York," on Tuesday, June 28, complete with a music video. According to front person and songwriter Zack Schuster, the band will release another single and video in July, followed by a brand-new EP in August.
Just as exciting is the return of roost.world's popular Burlington Electronic Department party, which they'll throw on Thursday, June 30, at Radio Bean. The show opens with a set of live ambient music by Takahiko Matsui, aka DJ Taka, followed by Casper Electronics, Brattleboro indie rockers Thus Love and the headlining set from roost.world. Quiz Kid closes out the show with a late-night DJ set.
Wrapping up the month's local releases, Cosmic the Cowboy just debuted a new single from their forthcoming LP. "Cruise Control" is a sunny slice of indie rock from the Burlington band, its first release since 2020's On Brand. They plan to release a single every month, leading up to full EP drop in September. You can stream "Cruise Control" now on all streaming platforms.
Whew! Got all that?
The Greatest Song in the World (Today)
Welcome to the newest segment of Soundbites, where I spotlight the completely un-researched, absolutely biased and totally arbitrary greatest song in the world (today).
Look, anyone who tells you they know what their favorite song is — and that it's always the same — is a head case. Seriously, run away from that person. For me, the greatest song in the world changes at least once a week, sometimes within 24 hours.
Let's honor that and showcase what we think the greatest song in the world (today) is, shall we? I'll go first, but if you have a song to propose, send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org. All I need is a link and a short description of why you think it's the greatest.
Today's pick: "Astral Man" by North Carolina indie rockers the Nude Party. It's the greatest song in the world (today) due to its perfect blend of psychedelic contours, drugged-out grooves and my current favorite lyric: "Space cadet, you've flown the coop."