Soundbites: New Musicians' Fund; Local Music Videos Galore | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: New Musicians' Fund; Local Music Videos Galore

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A2VT on the "I'm a Soul Survivor" video shoot - COURTESY OF A2VT
  • Courtesy Of A2vt
  • A2VT on the "I'm a Soul Survivor" video shoot

Let's Have Some Fund

This week a ray of sunshine is beaming down on our beleaguered music community, which has languished in limbo since the pandemic shuttered live music venues nearly one year ago. I've said this a few times over that stretch, but never has it been truer than right now: Vermont musicians, help is on the way.

In December, the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival announced the creation of the Vermont Musicians COVID Relief Fund. That endeavor is ready to launch and will soon put money directly into the hands of musicians who desperately need it for doing what they do best: playing music. Essentially, the donation-based endowment will compensate artists for producing a variety of online entertainment.

What is the BDJF looking for? According to the relief fund application — available at discoverjazz.com/apply — "Concepts include, but are not limited to, virtual conversations/interviews between musicians, home studio virtual tours/performances, recorded performances at local venues, or engagement on community arts platforms." The BDJF will disseminate content to viewers through email and social media.

"We're trying to get this money out really quickly," managing director Chelsea Lafayette said during a recent call with Seven Days. "These artists are still working really hard at what they do. If we can pay them for their work — because it is work — that's what we want to do."

Lovers of the arts who want to ensure the fund's longevity can consider donating. That's what's so cool about it: As long as donations keep coming in, BDJF can continue to funnel money to musicians. In fact, this could be a fairly lucrative opportunity for many.

"The goal is for each person participating to get [paid]," Lafayette said. She clarified that the money is not awarded per band or performance but to each individual performer involved. According to a press release, individual compensation will range from $500 to $1,000. As of last week, BDJF had received 18 applications, but the total number of potential recipients is significantly greater. Again, as long as the fund is flush with donations, the organization can pass money along to musicians.

"We're prioritizing people who are creating music and who are really working with their instruments," Lafayette said. "I hope we'll have some content in a couple of weeks."

Window's 2.0

Remember last fall when the Flynn announced its new pandemic-safe live performance series, the Window on Main? The series was to take place over two consecutive weekends in December prior to Christmas at the Burlington performing arts center's Chase Studio — in a window overlooking Main Street, to be exact. Onlookers would have watched from a safe distance on the sidewalk opposite the studio's glass storefront, listening through outdoor speakers. But the series was postponed indefinitely soon after it was announced as Vermont's COVID-19 case counts skyrocketed.

Good news: The Window on Main is coming back, this time over the weekends of April 16 to 18 and 23 to 25.

"The goal of this series is to safely gather together artists from multiple disciplines — music, theater, dance, performance art, and beyond — bringing live performance back to Downtown Burlington to entertain passersby as spring weather returns," read a press release announcing the rescheduled run.

Performers who want to be considered for the series can apply at flynnvt.org.

I Want My VT-MTV

Moira Smiley (center) and VOCO - COURTESY OF MOIRA SMILEY
  • Courtesy Of Moira Smiley
  • Moira Smiley (center) and VOCO

Seven Days has been absolutely bombarded with music video submissions lately. Locally produced videos aren't an unusual occurrence, though they do arrive much less frequently than locally produced albums. Still, a video deluge of this magnitude doesn't happen every week.

The videos range from timely and issue-based to just plain wacky. All are available to view on YouTube. Let's take a brief look at a few vittles flowing out of this cornucopia, shall we?

First on the docket is a video for Afro-pop outfit A2VT's latest single, "I'm a Soul Survivor." The group, composed of African refugees who put down roots in Vermont more than a decade ago, has been a thriving artistic force in and beyond Burlington's resettled African community. A2VT made their presence known in 2012 with a locally viral ode to the Onion City, "Winooski, My Town."

Out now, "I'm a Soul Survivor" comes a year or so after the band's second LP, Twenty Infinity, which this publication named one of the best local releases of 2020. The new cut features everything fans love about the group: scores of dancers, vibrant colors, hip-thrusting beats, commingling of cultures and a relentless positive spirit.

"We want to mark this time in history; to say, 'Hey, we made it through,'" co-front person Jilib wrote in a press release.

Producer David Cooper added that the lyrics "project ahead to a future time when we could reflect back on all that has happened, acknowledge our battle scars and move on to better things."

Next up is a pair of vids from singer-songwriter Moira Smiley, who, backed by a cappella ensemble VOCO, just released a new album, In Our Voices. A kaleidoscopic, live-action video for "How Can I Cry," as well as an artsy, pen-and-ink-style animated representation of "Sing About It" highlight the themes of social justice and racial equity that permeate the record. Watch for a review of In Our Voices in an upcoming issue of Seven Days.

Remember last summer when Western Terrestrials started working on their Ethan Allen concept film, The Ballad of Ethan Alien? Quick recap: After the band's Nick Charyk answered a Twitter-based call to action from Old Crow Medicine Show's Ketch Secor, he penned a tune from the prompt "Ethan Allen was an alien." The White River Junction band birthed the snappy honky-tonk tune "Ethan Alien," which appeared on its 2020 video Back in the Saddle of a Fever Dream. The song became the inspiration for that concept film.

"1984" is the first new single from the film's forthcoming soundtrack, due out this summer. Its video is a continuous shot panning past leopard-print-clad forest dwellers and mad-tea-party goers. It centers the band on a country jaunt, dressed in its signature pastel accoutrements.

Finally, the strangest video that's landed on the music desk in quite a while is Josh Worman's "Cow Cow Davenport." Produced by the Mountain Says No's Ben Maddox, Worman's tune gets the visual treatment via animator Martin Shields. Described as "the adventures of a two-headed, drug-addled, gender-defying bovine," the video is ... well, just that. If you like psychedelic barnyard antics that go where no cow has gone before, this is for you.

Worman is known for penning the stoner anthem "Legal Weed" — also a Maddox collab — which he released just before Vermont legalized cannabis for recreational use in the summer of 2018. Methinks he might have been smoking some of that legal weed when he conceived of "Cow Cow Davenport."

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.

The Presets, "Knuckles"

Gerry & the Pacemakers, "Ferry Cross the Mersey"

Touch & Go, "Would You...?"

Cut Copy, "Where I'm Going"

Lady Gaga, "Poker Face"