- Plato Ears
At the start of a new year, it’s become tradition in this column to gaze ahead at the calendar and make some generally silly predictions about the year to come in local music. Typically, that piece would run in the first column of the year. But due to the circumstances and tone of last week’s issue — a memoriam for Andy “DJ A-Dog” Williams — it seemed crass to run it then.
So here is a slightly abridged version of that column, in which we again gaze into the crystal disco ball to see what 2014 has in store. As always, these predictions are not to be taken seriously. After all, in the seven years we’ve been making them, not a single one has come true.
After Phish front man Trey Anastasio successfully lobbied the Seattle Seahawks to play the band’s song “Wilson” at Seahawks home games throughout the 2013 NFL season — an homage to phenom quarterback Russell Wilson, for the non-sports inclined — a number of NFL teams follow suit in 2014, using songs written by bands with strong Vermont ties to pump up home crowds.
In Minnesota, the Vikings use Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple” to introduce the violet-clad team. In San Francisco, the 49ers blast Grace Potter & the Nocturnals’ “Sweet Hands” every time receiver Michael Crabtree — a player famous for his incredible hands — catches a touchdown pass. Across the bay in Oakland’s Black Hole, Neko Case’s “Wild Creatures” becomes the anthem for the especially crazy sect of Raiders fans — and her song “Bracing for Sunday” is used in a run of general NFL marketing campaigns. James Kochalka Superstar’s “Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly” becomes a hit at Philadelphia Eagles games — and at Finnigan’s Pub on College Street in Burlington every Sunday afternoon.
In a related story, during Super Bowl week in New York City, Wilson is seen at a party with Phish on the Bud Light Hotel cruise ship. In a shocking development, the normally clean-cut star QB fails a drug test mere days before the game and is not allowed to play. Seattle goes on to lose the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos, 34-3. Wilson never returns to football and spends the next five years following Phish.
The trend of local bands performing album-tribute shows continues, growing exponentially in popularity with Queen City audiences. By July, it’s discovered that Burlington bands have covered every single album in existence, threatening to throw the entire scene into chaos when bands are forced to play their own music again and once-eager crowds dry up to pre-tribute-era levels — save for Tim Lewis, who still manages to go to every show in town, despite all generally accepted laws of physics.
In a twist of marketing brilliance, Swale bill the release show for their new album as “Swell: A Tribute to Swale.” The show is moved from Radio Bean to the Higher Ground Ballroom, where the band plays a three-night run to accommodate the massive crowds. By tricking audiences into thinking they are watching a tribute act, Swell becomes the city’s most popular band, just edging out another beloved local group, Wailin’ Spud.
Following the unexpected success of his new lamp shop, Lee Anderson buys the remaining storefronts and apartments in the North Winooski Avenue building that houses the lamp shop, Radio Bean and ¡Duino! (Duende). Filled with galleries, bars and stages, the building essentially becomes an enormous adult playground that locals refer to as “Andersonville.”
Waking Windows 4 in Winooski becomes the highest-grossing music festival in Vermont, out-drawing even the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. Not that BDJF organizers are upset, having enjoyed one of their best years to date — perhaps in part to yet another provocative BDJF tagline: “OK, smart guy. You tell us what jazz really is!”
WW4’s success is due to the novelty of using a city’s entire downtown as a concert venue, which attracts international press and the interest of major indie acts, many of which are on the bill for a landmark, festival-closing concert held in the park thingie at the center of the city’s roundabout.
Finally, following the success of the first Andy Williams Day, August 30 is declared an annual, citywide holiday in Burlington. On that day every year, skateboarding is made legal in all public spaces — as is smoking weed … unofficially, anyway — and amazing concerts take place all along Church Street, culminating in a massive DJ battle at the end of the day. In front of Red Square, a small statue of two turntables is erected with a plaque that reads “In Memory of DJ A-Dog.” Amazingly, no one vandalizes it. Ever.
There’s actually no joke here. We should make that last one happen.
In case you couldn’t tell from the previous 900 words of, er, creative writing, it’s a slow week on the local music front. It’s just that time of year. But a few notable happenings this week bear mentioning…
First up, this Friday, January 17, we have the debut of a new open-mic-ish series in the basement of the Goddard College library dubbed Word!Craft. The brainchild of MC Mycelium, the series will feature a mix of spoken word, poetry and hip-hop, including a freestyle cypher. The series will take place on the third Friday of each month and will change venues each time. The inaugural edition will be broadcast on Goddard’s WGDR radio station.
Moving on, Mark Daly (ex-Chamberlin) has a new musical outlet he’s calling Plato Ears. In a recent email, Daly writes that his latest venture fuses classic soul samples with danceable electro beats, while taking cues from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Miguel, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Radiohead. In other words, every hip sound that’s ever been hip.
Perusing PE’s Soundcloud page bears out that notion. If Justin Vernon got together with Starfucker to make some PBR&B slow jamz, it might sound something like PE’s “Cobra,” for example. You can catch Plato Ears at Nectar’s every Monday this month, and at ArtsRiot on Wednesday, January 15, with Meklit and Quiet Lion.
Last but not least, Stowe has had a notable live-music void since the Rusty Nail shut its doors about a year ago — which may or may not have had something to do with a rather notorious incident involving local punk band Spit Jack, whiskey, violence and vomit. After consulting with the 7D legal team, let’s say “not.”
Anyway, recently a new Rusty Nail Facebook profile appeared, teasing followers with possible music acts they’d like to see, names that ranged from locals such as the Eames Brothers Band to superstars such as Mos Def. That raises the obvious question: Is the Rusty Nail reopening?
As reported in this week’s Food News by Corin Hirsch, the answer is yes. The Rusty Nail is scheduled to open again under new ownership by Presidents’ Day weekend. And yes, the owners plan to have a healthy live-music schedule, though whether the Mighty Mos will be gracing VT remains to be seen. However, he is tight with Death and Rough Francis, so you never know.
In the meantime, Rusty Nail dudes, I do have Spit Jack’s number if you need it.
A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc., this week.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, “Wig Out at Jagbags”
Pow!, Hi-Tech Boom LP
Wax Fang, The Astronaut
Butcher Knives, Misery
Kalle Mattson, Someday, the Moon Will Be Gold