- Courtesy Of Ginny Cummings
- Andy Kershaw
And just like that, the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival came and went. The 10-day marathon wrapped on Sunday and was just as engrossing as ever. Music poured out of practically every one of the Queen City's cafés, restaurants and bars. The fest, while largely a success, was stricken with a couple of high-profile cancellations: St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Brian Wilson, who were set to perform last Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
With the two artists succumbing to health issues, both physical and mental, there was nothing that could have been done, as is the case with most last-minute cancellations. (Unless, of course, you're Morrissey, who seems to cancel more than he actually performs.)
Wilson's tour will likely be rescheduled, though it's currently up in the air. The Beach Boys cofounder is still set to embark on a string of dates later this summer with fellow '60s band the Zombies, so that bodes well for the artist's return to Vermont.
While Wilson's Flynn MainStage performance was flat-out canceled, St. Paul & the Broken Bones' tent show at Waterfront Park otherwise went on as scheduled with support act Tank and the Bangas moving into the top slot. Locals smalltalker also laid down a smashing set.
As I stood in the tent last Thursday watching the crowd go absolutely bananas for Tank and her outrageously talented ensemble, I thought to myself, What else does the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival want in a headliner? Jazz or jazz-adjacent genre? Check. Broad appeal? Check. Dazzling stage presence? Check. Ability to work the audience into a frenzy? Check. Inclusive spirit? Check.
This isn't a criticism. I'm not rolling my eyes and suggesting Tank and co. should have been the evening's headliners right from the get-go. But I do think that perhaps the band should have been given its own separate headlining show rather than been sandwiched between two other acts. Perhaps this hypothetical show could have been staged at another venue — assuming, in this parallel universe I'm conceiving, St. Paul & the Broken Bones were still scheduled to headline the tent.
Ultimately it doesn't matter, because Tank and the Bangas did get to perform the show they deserved to play. And they got a justifiably thunderous reaction from onlookers.
Work the Dance Floor
In a rare crossover occurrence, I'm going to take the remainder of this column to answer a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot question that came in over the weekend. If you aren't familiar with WTF, it's a recurring column helmed by Seven Days staff writer Ken Picard. Readers can write in asking various questions about their community — usually the kinds of things that aren't googleable and require a little bit of investigative journalism. We've answered questions about natural phenomena, civic projects and even explanations of bizarre shit seen on the side of Vermont's roadways.
Picard forwarded to me the following question: "Burlington is a really cool city, but WTF are the gay/trans/mixed dance clubs?" (We can assume the W in this particular WTF is "where," not "what.")
Thanks for asking, Seven Days reader! I'm glad you did, especially because it's Pride Month. I'll do my best to answer you, but first I'll say: It's complicated.
Currently, Vermont does not have a designated LGBTQ bar. Folks over the age of 33 or so will rightly remember 135 Pearl — or Pearl's, as it was colloquially called. The eclectic queer nightclub used to occupy the space now home to, of all things, Papa John's.
Since the club closed in 2006, there have been a few attempts to launch a specifically LGBTQ bar. In 2017, Winooski's ill-fated Mister Sister briefly operated the space that, until recently, housed another short-lived business, Drafts N Crafts. You can read the whole Mister Sister saga here. The short version: People found the bar's name offensive. Its owner, Craig McGaughan, refused to change it. A few months later, the bar closed.
But just because there isn't a brick-and-mortar queer establishment doesn't mean there aren't any specific nights and events of the rainbow variety. And beyond that, a number of recurring events may not be queer-specific but are certainly branded in a way that suggests an open, welcoming spirit.
For instance, on Friday, June 14, recent Burlington transplant DJ Andy Kershaw is kicking off a new dance party at Club Metronome. Dubbed No Fun Intended: A Disco Techno Party, the event's description states in no ambiguous terms that Kershaw wants "everyone in attendance to feel comfortable and safe to lose themselves on the dance floor." The event page goes on to say that the following behaviors will not be tolerated: touching without consent, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and violence, either physical or emotional.
On the following evening, Saturday, June 15, the Light Club Lamp Shop hosts its second annual Proud AF Pride Ball. The epic event offers a variety of entertainment, including a stripped-down set from punk goddess Miku Daza, a drag cabaret hosted by omnipresent queens Nikki Champagne and Emoji Nightmare, and an out-of-this-world set from LCLS resident DJ Taka.
Another good option — though not necessarily a dance party — is the Guerrilla Queer Bar of Burlington. The monthly event occurs at a different bar each month, the location of which is announced on the day of. Locations are chosen based on a couple of factors. First and foremost, the group chooses accessible venues, in terms of both physical and financial accessibility. But the events, referred to as "takeovers," happen in places that are generally not considered LGBTQ spaces. June's takeover, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, is also on Saturday. Follow the group on Facebook to find out where the takeover is going down.
These are only a few options but should be enough to get you started. Talk to people you meet at these events, and you'll find more.
Another thought: Burlington is at a point where most venues would like to think of themselves as progressive as well as inclusive of all types of people. But, in reality, it varies from bar to bar. People still can find themselves in uncomfortable situations. And the only way to root out these issues is to talk about them. Tell bar staff and security if you're feeling uncomfortable. If you feel like you can't, get someone to do it for you. Bystanders are becoming more and more primed to help people in need, especially marginalized folks. It may be hard to do in the moment, but it's the only way things will change.
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.
- Milli Vanilli, "Boy in the Tree"
- The Belle Stars, "The Clapping Song"
- Kiesza, "Hideaway"
- C&C Music Factory, "Oooh Baby"
- Greenskeepers, "Wanna New Drug"