Soundbites: Whammy Bar Goes Collective | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: Whammy Bar Goes Collective


Published February 12, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Courtesy Of Josh Sisk
  • Shawna Potter

Calling the Corners

Big news out of Calais: The Maple Corner Community Store & Whammy Bar is under new ownership. Former owners Artie and Nancy Toulis sold the general store and music venue in late December to 200 individual stakeholders who now collectively own the business.

"A community group, including myself, got together and said, 'We can't let this store fail,'" said longtime Calais resident Jamie Moorby in a recent phone call with Seven Days. She noted the unfortunate trend of Vermont's cherished country stores going by the wayside and the great lengths to which locals have gone to save them, which Seven Days has reported on previously.

The Toulises listed the store for sale about two years ago.

"We were there for 12 years, and it was just our time," Artie said by phone. "You never want to be the owner that's selling when things are miserable. We'd rather go out when things are good."

After about a year and a half of meeting and planning, a group led by Moorby, Anne Marie Shea and Caity Kaye, the newly reopened store and bar's board of directors, was able to go public with its plan. Shares were sold starting at $500 a pop, and all investors have equal voting rights no matter how much they invested. For the foreseeable future, all profits will be reinvested in the business.

Other than a much-needed face-lift and some new-product trials, not much has changed at the Maple Corner store. But, according to Moorby, big things are coming to the Whammy Bar. A new septic system upgrade this spring will allow the club to expand its seating capacity. Additionally, a major renovation project is scheduled for the fall. Eventually, the club plans to offer live music four nights per week, as opposed to the current Thursday through Saturday schedule.

Meanwhile, the Toulises recently launched High Output Productions, a multifaceted events production company and recording studio.

Lacking Lacquer?

This week, multiple music news outlets reported a catastrophic fire at Apollo Masters in Banning, Calif. The facility produces "the lacquer used in the production of master discs, from which commercial vinyl records are made, as well as the styli used in the pressing process," according to Consequence of Sound. The blog went on to report that "the loss could lead to a major delay or reduction in the production of vinyl records on a worldwide scale."

That got me thinking: Will this calamity trickle down to our local Burlington Record Plant? The word from the plant's owner Justin Crowther is: maybe, but probably not.

"At this time, I'm not really concerned, considering our size, but it's too early to know for sure," he wrote in an email. He explained that, of the two main lacquer cutting engineers used by the plant, one sources exclusively through MDC Master Lacquers, a Japanese company. (Consequence of Sound named MDC the world's other major source of lacquer in its article.) Crowther says they are taking orders as normal for the time being and that they're connected with a New England-based creator of copper metal masters, a potential substitute for lacquer.

"The vinyl record industry is unique and somehow always seems to find a way through," he continued.

Here's hoping.


Francesca Blanchard - COURTESY OF KAYHL COOPER
  • Courtesy Of Kayhl Cooper
  • Francesca Blanchard

This weekend, DJs from Vermont and all over the Northeast converge for DJ Appreciation Weekend. Two events stand out amid the two-day hoopla: an official pre-party on Saturday, February 15, at the Monkey House in Winooski, and the main celebration on Sunday, February 16, at the Swan Dojo in Burlington. Both events aim to celebrate and elevate local DJ culture. They'll offer attendees the chance to hear a bunch of killer local and nonlocal mix-masters, and help aspiring local DJs connect with experienced club veterans. Note: The Swan Dojo event is BYOB. RSVP at

Also on Saturday, two local bands go head-to-head at Burlington's ArtsRiot in a battle royale to determine who's more '90s-y. Dubbed "Hella Mega Fight Night," indie rockers Paper Castles take on emo champions Weezer's catalog, while punk outfit PREECE take the stage as Green Day. I'd just like to set a few ground rules: No Weezer tunes past the band's third album, Weezer (Green Album), shall be played, and selections from said 2001 album shall be kept to a bare minimum. (Read: You can play "Hash Pipe," but not "Island in the Sun.") A similar stipulation shall be applied to Green Day, except the cutoff is 2000's Warning.

Talent bookers, club promoters, venue owners (including DIY spaces) and music fans in general should take note of an upcoming talk on Tuesday, February 18, at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington. Big Heavy World and the Vermont Department of Libraries team up to bring in Shawna Potter, front person of Baltimore punk band War on Women and author of Making Spaces Safer: A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Wherever You Work, Play or Gather.

BHW writes in a press release, "[The book] is a concise guide to building a healthier, more inclusive culture in the music industry and cultural spaces of all kinds. Through personal stories, case studies, sample policies, and advice like 'How to flirt without being a creep,' Potter shows why safer spaces are important and offers realistic, practical and actionable steps to achieve them."

Fans of punk band the Dead Milkmen should head out to Charlie-O's World Famous in Montpelier on Saturday. The group's guitarist and co-front person Joe Jack Talcum (aka Joe Genaro) headlines the intimate dive bar. It's a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the cult band's singer. The Dead Milkmen cranked out records from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s, reunited in the late 2000s and subsequently released 2011's The King in Yellow. Lehigh Valley, Pa., punkers the Mega Yeah add support.

Congrats to Burlington singer-songwriter Francesca Blanchard for premiering her new single and music video, "Ex Girlfriend," with Blanchard teams up once again with formerly local director wunderkind Kayhl Cooper for what the artist describes as her "love/hate letter to social media." The tune continues the shift in the singer's direction away from folk music into the indie-rock sphere. At this time, no official release date has been set for a new EP or LP.

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.

Lyrics Born, "Shake It Off (Bad Dreams Part II)"

Poliça, "Forget Me Now"

Gavin Turek, "Remember"

Shopping, "All or Nothing"

Orville Peck, "Queen of the Rodeo"

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