Soundbites: Introducing New Music Editor Chris Farnsworth | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: Introducing New Music Editor Chris Farnsworth


Published June 23, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Courtesy Of George Nostrand
  • Western Terrestrials

Hey! It's me, Farnsworth — aka Chris, aka the guy whose parents gave him a Winnie-the-Pooh middle name that we'll worry about later. I'm the music editor now. I know, it's wild, right?

We don't need to get crazy with this intro, because you know me. If you've read Seven Days music coverage over the last five years, chances are you've read some album reviews or artist profiles I've written. Or maybe you just remember me as the dude you saw at a show throw wasabi at his bassist that time. Oh, relax. His eye was fine the last time I checked. But I digress...

I won't lie: I've wanted this gig for a long time. I even took a shot at it when I was a wee lad in my twenties and was nowhere near qualified. Seven Days cofounder Pamela Polston was kind enough to give me an interview and wise enough to hire Casey Rae.

Now that I do have the job, I realize that my predecessor, Jordan Adams, took on a very difficult task — covering a vibrant, diverse statewide music scene — and made it look almost effortless. The work Jordan has put in as music editor these last five years should be remembered for continuing a legacy of editors before him, and also for introducing new ideas and new ways to cover the scene.

This section will evolve once again as I settle into the role, but I absolutely will draw from many of Jordan's ideas — as well as those of Dan Bolles before him. Luckily, both of their desks aren't far from mine.

I have a few bright ideas of my own, and we'll see if they stick — stay tuned on that. I can share the first step, though, and it's an important one: helping to reconnect the local music community as we emerge from a year of being pulled apart.

Every artist I've talked to in the last few weeks has told me something similar: There's change in the air, and they can feel it. People are champing at the bit for live music. You saw it at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival earlier this month. Fans consumed music with palpable intensity, dancing with wild energy and a sense of freedom.

I recently talked with indie-soul singer/guitarist Ivamae (look for a profile of her here in two weeks) and she drove home a salient point: We need a scene that not only lifts each other up but is interconnected in ways it never has been before. That echoed a coffee conversation I had a week earlier with Ezra Oklan, drummer for Dwight & Nicole and front person of Matthew Mercury. "Let's build," he said.

Indeed. Musicians and artists of Vermont: Send me your links, your videos, your EPs and LPs, your singles, your obscure covers, a TikTok of your parents telling you to get a real job, all of it. Tell me about your shows, your weird merch and even the ideas you think are too weird — they're not.

The way I see it, as we emerge from the pandemic, an unprecedented opportunity stands before us: the chance to connect all the tendrils of this music community into a cohesive scene that supports and amplifies its talent. If I have a mission statement, that's it. We can seize this moment together.

Prodigal Dolls

  • Courtesy Of Luke Awtry Photography
  • Fever Dolls

It happens all the time. A cool, highly original band appears on the local scene. They drop a few singles, maybe an EP, and we get excited. And then ... peace out, suckers! The band leaves for (metaphorically) greener pastures.

This phenomenon does make sense. As vibrant as Vermont's music scene is, it's not set up to propel artists to fame — at least not in the conventional sense of "making it." And, to be frank, the pay for artists lugging their gear from club to club is almost criminally low. So, I get why some bands seek their fortunes elsewhere.

As a journalist covering the scene, it always stings a little when someone leaves, even when I know it's inevitable. So maybe I'm a little overexcited about Fever Dolls returning to Burlington this weekend. The band originally formed as Iron Eyes Cody back in its Middlebury College days, before moving to Burlington and then New York City/Los Angeles. They'll be featured this Saturday, June 26, as part of the summerlong Backside 405 series put on by Higher Ground and Burlington City Arts. Local electro-pop singer/producer Princess Nostalgia and chaotic punk rockers Pons are supporting.

I rang up Fever Dolls cofounder Evan Allis in LA for a quick chat about the show and life away from the Green Mountains. The first update was on the makeup of the band itself.

"I'm still collaborating with the band and [cofounder and vocalist Renn Mulloy] is still singing all over the record we're about to put out," Allis explained. "But I'm also doing a lot of this stuff on my own, working with some people out in LA, so this is very much a bicoastal project now."

While the pandemic played some part in the sundering of the group, Allis says there's an organic aspect to the change, as well.

"We've played this game over the years where we sort of cobble together lineups ad hoc, show by show," he said. "In between those moments, we'll record music which is largely done by myself with different producers. So the move to LA just felt like the right thing to do."

During his time out west separated from his bandmates, Allis began composing the music for the upcoming Fever Dolls record. Between the new bicoastal dynamic and his growing writing abilities, he claimed the record is one of the first pieces of work in his career of which he's "unabashedly proud."

As for his upcoming return to Vermont, and his first live show since the pandemic, Allis admitted to a little nervousness. But overall he's excited to be back.

"This show is going to be the first real example of the new Fever Dolls," he said. "Everybody who has been in the band wanted to be part of it as soon as we booked it. It's going to be really big, really fun and really infectious, I hope."

With Fever Dolls' penchant for dipping into musical theater, it should be a pretty memorable night. Don't sleep on Pons or Princess Nostalgia, either. Both put on incredible shows. Word is the latter's set may start a little early — right around 7:50 p.m. So, no hanging in the lot, you bums.


Some quick hits of local music news for ya:

Cosmic country outfit Western Terrestrials will stream a live set they recently recorded at A Sound Space studio in Rutland. The show will be available starting on Wednesday, June 23, at 7 p.m. and can be streamed from both the band and studio's Facebook pages. No worries if you miss the premiere, though. Western Terrestrials will post the set to their website and YouTube and social media channels.

Punk rockers Rough Francis have filled the vacancy in their ranks by snagging Tyler Bolles to be their new bass player. The band fired bassist Dan Davine in January for allegedly attending the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In Bolles (disclosure: brother of Dan), Rough Francis have added a decades-long veteran of the local scene who most notably is a member of indie-rock outfit Swale. And though Bolles really didn't want me to shout him out too much, it has to be said that Rough Francis are gaining one of the area's best bassists. He's a talented and versatile player.

In case you missed the sound of hammering and buzz saws, Radio Bean is expanding! Lee Anderson, the owner of the popular Burlington coffee spot/nightclub, made an executive decision during the pandemic and knocked down most of the wall between Radio Bean and what had been the restaurant C'est Ça. When it's done, the renovation will change the live music dynamic in the club.

Having played countless shows at the Bean, I can tell you that musicians will be the most psyched about the new digs. Even half assembled, as it was last weekend when I dropped by, with the floor covered in sawdust and workbenches, the new layout already felt more conducive to the kind of energy a show at the Bean can have.

When that first show will happen remains to be seen. "Soon," Anderson teased. But I foresee a lot of giddy musicians realizing that a local favorite has stepped it up a notch.

Two for the Show

Plenty of shows are coming up, whether you're out and about or watching from home. This column will be your guide for a lot of it, but make sure to check out Seven Days' Live Culture blog for the deluxe experience.

The blog will be your best friend for recaps of shows you might have missed — a little shot of FOMO to remind you not to miss it next time. Next up is a look at the Jesse Taylor Band's bonkers show at Swan Dojo last weekend, and a look ahead to the Matthew Mercury/Ryley Walker show on Friday, July 2.

See you out there!