- Courtesy Of San Mateo
- San Mateo's Matt Hagen (left) and Matt Burr
Greetings, music lovers. Apologies for not having a quippy headline to start things off. You see, I've written and rewritten this section so many times, including its head, because nothing feels right. I desperately want to be something like a cheerleader at the big homecoming game who just did an espresso enema. I want to shout, "Ho ho, hey hey, everything's going to be OK!" But it's feeling really hard to muster that kind of manic Bring It On enthusiasm when, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we're staring down the barrel of almost 400,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. Oh, and violent insurrection at the national Capitol.
The beginning of a new year is always meant to be a metaphorical rebirth, and the pressure is on for 2021. One particularly apt meme I saw shows Marvel's Jessica Jones in the clutches of nemesis/abuser Killgrave, captioned "2021" and "Everyone," respectively. I assume not everyone has seen "Jessica Jones," so I'll explain: Holding the year hostage (with our unreasonable expectations) will likely end with 2021 kicking our asses into a bloody pulp.
But there are some reasons to be hopeful about performing arts in the new year, such as the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act. $15 billion of the legislation is dedicated to the Save Our Stages Act. The grant package will provide aid to music venues, performing arts centers and the like, which have been devastated by the pandemic. (Is anyone surprised that we figured out how to bring back sports before live theater? I didn't think so.)
For folks wanting to know more about how and when that sweet stack of cash will be put to use locally, the Vermont Arts Council is hosting an online information session about Save Our Stages at 1 p.m. on Friday, January 15. Visit vermontartscouncil.org to register for the virtual info sesh, and check back here next week for a recap and analysis.
Some more good news: The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival recently announced the Vermont Musicians COVID Relief Fund, which will "create paying gigs for Vermont musicians starting in January," according to a press release. Details on the fund are scarce at present. BDJF managing director Chelsea Lafayette said in a January 7 email that the organization was still "nailing down the process for distribution." We'll have more information about the program when it's available.
Finally, a pretty massive virtual benefit concert called VT Sounds is in the works for Friday, January 22. Tune in for more on that next week, too.
Window of Opportunity
Normally, this is the time of year when I'd start sniffing around the rotary in Winooski looking for Waking Windows folks with any newsy tidbits. Usually by January or early February, the creators of the indie music festival, historically scheduled for the first weekend of May, have something to reveal. Obviously, things are different this year.
In the spring of 2020, when the pandemic shut down life as we know it, Waking Windows was one of the first major local events to throw in the towel. It was particularly tragic given that Waking Windows 2020 was meant to celebrate the three-day hoopla's 10-year anniversary.
At the time, rescheduling for May 2021 seemed reasonable. It doesn't seem so reasonable now, and the festival's organizers are in agreement.
"At the moment, it's pretty hard for us to predict what this year will end up looking like," cofounder Brian Nagle (aka DJ Disco Phantom) wrote on behalf of the team in an email to Seven Days. "To be honest, it does not seem realistic that the first weekend in May ... will look like what we'd want it to in terms of a full-fledged festival experience."
The gist of Nagle's email is that there's just no way to be COVID-19-compliant and retain the qualities of the festival that make it so special. The event annually has drawn crowds of 5,000 to 8,000 people to nearly a dozen stages scattered around the 'Noosk. Many were in smallish dining and retail establishments where, to accommodate pandemic-era restrictions, the capacity would have to be slashed.
Beyond those logistics, Nagle mentioned that the very act of booking the festival during a pandemic is next to impossible, given how many nonlocal artists are usually on the bill, especially in the headlining slots.
"We'd ideally come back with a proper event that we're really proud of," Nagle wrote, versus "trying to pull anything off that isn't our style or isn't fully safe."
As much as I miss live music and festivals, I have to agree with the group's wait-and-see approach.
- Courtesy Of Kaytlin Dargin
- Clever Girls (from left): Winfield Holt, Diane Jean, Rob Slater and Tobias Sullivan
Some recently released singles demand your instantaneous, undivided attention!
"I am unbelievably excited to put this song out," front person Diane Jean wrote in an email. "I wrote this song when my life turned a corner, and when I committed to making better decisions for myself and to being better for the people around me. It's really about finding love, and about finding a sense of peace with the people around you."
"Baby Blue" shows the band's trend of constant growth and expansion in sound since its debut release, 2017's Loose Tooth. Though Clever Girls started strong, they've consistently pushed their own boundaries and created a heady, proprietary concoction of grunge- and shoegaze-inflected rock, magnified by Jean's deeply affecting lyrics.
Constellations will be released on March 26.
Also worth your attention this week is "Sorry Doesn't Dry These Tears," the second song from new band San Mateo. A trio featuring Matt Burr (Grace Potter and the Nocturnals), Matt Hagen (the High Breaks) and Craig Mitchell (Purple: A Tribute to Prince), the preposterously smooth and sexy group lays on buttery R&B vibes with even more oomph on the new cut. It hits the interwebs and streaming services on Friday, January 15.
In an email, Hagen wrote that the song is "a universal message that can be applied to anything from a personal relationship to historical injustices." He added, "It can be about gaining a life out of a loss. The acute process of when holding on means letting go. Tears can reflect an eye-opening experience. It's all in the eye of the beholder."
When it drops on Friday, be sure to check out the song's trippy music video, which was filmed at Nectar's in November. Directed by Burr and Montana Coppola, the clip features San Mateo's members appearing as kaleidoscopic silhouettes superimposed with vibey, tropical imagery.
"Sorry Doesn't Dry These Tears," along with the previously released single "Can't Get Enough," herald a forthcoming album, though no release date has been announced.
Disclosure: Hagen is a Seven Days employee.
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.
Kelley Polar, "Cosmological Constancy"
VV Brown, "Shark in the Water"
This Mortal Coil, "Song to the Siren"
Orange Julians, "Testament"
The Beatles, "I Am the Walrus"
Correction, Thursday, January 14: An earlier version incorrectly cited the date of an email from Chelsea Lafayette. It was sent on January 7.