Soundbites: So Far, So Good | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Music » Music News + Views

Soundbites: So Far, So Good


Published July 19, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Courtesy of Sofar Sounds
  • Sofar Sounds event

Now that summer is in full bloom, you've probably mapped out your seasonal concert agenda. Between local and regional festivals, free concerts in various parks and the bounty our local clubs offer year-round, you've likely had to make yourself a freakin' Excel spreadsheet to keep track of everything. If so, it's time to add a new row to that bad boy.

Burlington is one of the most recent inductees to the ever-growing list of global cities that offer Sofar Sounds. That's an intimate concert series that aims to bridge the gap between audience and artist through limited-seating, listening-room-style shows.

The series began in London in 2009 and has since spread to 362 cities around the world — so you're pretty much guaranteed to be not far from the organization's reach, no matter if you're chillin' in Cairo, Egypt, or Mendoza, Argentina. Sofar also operates regionally in Portsmouth, N.H., Portland, Maine, Boston and Montréal.

Each event is referred to singularly as a Sofar and has a capacity of approximately 30 to 75 people, depending on the limitations of the venue. Locations tend to be quirky and unconventional whenever possible. Artists perform stripped-down sets, and the shows have no openers or headliners, even when there's more than one act on the bill. Audiences are asked to engage fully with the performers and to refrain from talking, texting and internet-ing in general. So keep your phone in your pocket — or, better yet, don't bring it with you!

Sofar pulls its performers from each city's local scene and often takes a "sandwich" approach to its lineups. The "pieces of bread" are two artists who are well known in a given scene, and the "filling" is an up-and-coming or even completely unknown artist. Sounds scrumptious.

Burlington's inaugural Sofar is on Friday, July 28 — but that's the only info we have at the moment. Sofar relies heavily on secrecy. The lineup and the locations are always kept under wraps until just a few days before each event. (It kind of reminds me of the chaotic wild-goose chase to find the reclusive indie-rock band Where's Fluffy? in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist — except, in this case, I actually want to see the performers.)

OK, so if it's super-duper secret, how the heck does one attend? Here's how it works: Set up an account with Sofar Sounds. Once a date is announced, you can apply for tickets. Yup, that's right. Entry is not guaranteed. While that might feel a bit exclusionary, it's just the nature of the beast. It goes back to the emphasis on secrecy and keeping things small and focused.

And here's another fun fact about Sofar: It's always BYOB. This practice cuts down on trips back and forth from the bar and allows the focus to be truly on the music. Plus, it means you can bring your favorite microbrew or obscure vintage that bars and clubs never stock.

The second Sofar is scheduled for Thursday, August 17. For more info, visit


  • Courtesy of Brian McCarthy
  • Brian McCarthy

Burlington's Skinny Pancake artist-in-residence, Hannah Fair, concludes her weekly residency on Wednesday, July 26. But instead of flying solo, as she's mostly done during her seven-month stint, she's reuniting with her old crew, the North End Honeys.

It's been about two years since the screamin' honky-tonk group disbanded to pursue other musical avenues. She'll team up with the usual suspects: guitarist Erin Cassels-Brown, fiddler Tucker Hanson, and bassist Steven Welter. Madaila's Willoughby Morse, who also plays alongside Cassels-Brown in the Welterweights, takes up drumming duties, and Little Slugger's Ben Chugg adds trumpet.

Since the show is both a one-off reunion and a send-off for Fair, the group plans to throw caution to the wind and get a little weird with it. They'll meander in and out of classic country vibes into "psychedelic country," as Fair puts it in an email.

Kat Wright guitarist Bob Wagner leads an all-star ensemble for a special event called A Midsummer Mosaic on Saturday, July 22, at Nectar's in Burlington. The semi-experimental/jam-based spectacular features Craig Broadhead (Turkuaz), John Kimock (Mike Gordon Band), Josh Weinstein (Kat Wright), Steve Hadeka (Seth Yacovone Band) and Tyler Mast (Paradise Divide). It's a rare opportunity to see this particular lineup together, since they're all frequently on tour with their various projects. And, given the name and the magical implications of the word "midsummer" —  looking at you, William Shakespeare — it's likely to be a memorable experience. Burlington's Adventure Dog add support.

Jazz saxophonist and bandleader Brian McCarthy recently released The Better Angels of Our Nature, a recording of his nine-piece ensemble project that originally debuted in 2015. Vermont Public Radio presents a listening party on Thursday, July 20, at its Studio One in Colchester. Reuben Jackson of VPR's "Friday Night Jazz" hosts.

The Pride Center of Vermont takes to the high seas on Saturday, July 22, with the Whatever Floats Your Boat Big LGBTQ Dance Party on the Lake, a fantabulous, three-floor dance party aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen. DJs Craig Mitchell and Chia serve up booty-shaking rhythms and party favorites as you cruise over Lake Champlain. Additionally, the event features a variety show/open mic, for which performers must sign up in advance. Visit for more info.

Anna & Elizabeth - M.JOHNSEN
  • M.Johnsen
  • Anna & Elizabeth

It's time to head back out to the famed Old West Church in Calais for the 19th annual Calais Concert. On Sunday, July 23, founder and folk singer Deb Flanders presents the Appalachian folk duo Anna & Elizabeth. The yearly concert is held in memory of Flanders' great-aunt, renowned folk-music historian Helen Hartness Flanders. If you've never been to the Old West Church, the nearly 200-year-old meetinghouse is a charming, time-capsule-like structure and is a truly special Vermonty experience. It should be on everyone's bucket list to visit at least once.

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. Follow sevendaysvt on Spotify for weekly playlists with tunes by artists featured in the music section.

The Dandy Warhols, "We Used to Be Friends"

The J Geils Band, "Centerfold"

Phantogram, "You Don't Get MeHigh Anymore"

Klyne, "Sure Thing"

Sneak, "Looks Like That"