Unless you are really into Gypsy jazz, you’ve probably never heard of Denis Chang. However, If you were lucky enough to catch guitar virtuoso Lollo Meier’s performance last year at Parima’s Acoustic Lounge, you’ve actually already seen him. Despite otherworldly chops and a reputation as one of the finest guitarists on the planet, Chang stepped back from the spotlight to accompany Meier during his last Vermont appearance. Nice guy, huh? This Friday, the “Godfather of the Montréal Gypsy jazz scene” returns to Parima for a solo performance, marking the second time in six months that the Thai restaurant has hosted world class Gypsy jazz talent. Lucky us!
Chang is a Django Reinhardt acolyte, which is pretty much the equivalent of saying an American folk singer is a disciple of Woody Guthrie. In other words, “no shit.” Anyone who trades in slinky hothouse jazz is virtually obligated to cite Reinhardt as an influence. But few are more accomplished than Chang, who, in addition to being among the world’s most sought-after instructors, pals around with the likes of Stochelo Rosenberg, Fapy Lafertin, Ritary Gaguenetti and Rindo Winterstein. And no, those aren’t just awesome names. That list pretty much represents a who’s who of the global Gypsy jazz scene. And also, awesome names.
(Note: I hereby submit that in addition to “porn star” names — the name of your first pet, plus the street you grew up on — we should introduce “Gypsy jazz” names into the popular lexicon. For the formula, I suggest something simple, such as your name backwards. Mine? “Leinad Sellob.” See? It works!)
In all seriousness, it can be stated without a shred of hyperbole that Friday’s performance promises to be just about the finest display of swingin’ Gypsy jazz you’ll ever have the chance to hear. Really.
Local hothouse hooligans Swing Noire open the show.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOB
It’s a big week for reggae fans as this Friday marks Bob Marley’s birthday. Had he lived to see it, he would be turning 64. Though he left us far too soon, his legend lives on. And not just via cheesy T-shirts from Hot Topic.
I don’t need to tell you that Marley was an artist of incalculable importance, not just in reggae but in the entirety of popular music. And if I do need to tell you, you should stop reading this column right now. You are beyond my help. Sorry.
The rest of you will have two opportunities to celebrate Marley’s birthday this weekend. And as a bonus, you’ll have an excuse to go to Plattsburgh other than shopping at Target! But I suggest taking the bridge . . . ahem.
This Thursday, increasingly impressive Montpelier label Halogen Records presents a trio of irie local/regional talent as reggae outfits Spiritual Rez (Boston) and Pulse Prophets join hip-pop all-stars Strength in Numbers at Olive Ridley’s. I’m not very good at prognostication, but I envision a “Best New VT Band” Daysies award for the latter band this year. One, because they’re rad. And two, because half the band lives in Montréal . . . that’s right. I went there. And if you haven’t been to Olive Ridley’s, I’d recommend it. It’s a nifty joint and boasts one of the region’s better stages.
Back in Burlington, Eclectic Music Productions is presenting the same show, minus Strength in Numbers, the following night — Bob’s b-day — at Club Metronome. Tickets for both shows can be purchased at flynntix.org.
THIS WEEK’S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Apologies to Sports Illustrated for cribbing that headline. But I think you — and hopefully SI’s lawyers — will agree it’s appropriate.
Last week, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra announced that it is the first orchestra in the country to offer live concert downloads via — are you ready? — text messages. No kidding.
Obviously, the actual download isn’t texted to your phone, even if you have an iPhone — but imagine that ringtone! Rather, the transaction is made through InstantEncore.com — think Facebook for the Bach set. Audience members who attended either of two recent VSO performances of David Ludwig’s “Double Concert for Violin, Cello and Orchestra” were given a free number to which to text their email address. InstantEncore then sends a reply email containing a link to the download. Pretty neat, eh?
Who would have thought the VSO would be on the cutting edge of the live bootleg craze? Eat your heart out, Phish-heads.
Hip-hop fans will want to mark this Thursday on their calendars as Immortal Technique’s personal turntablist, DJ GI Joe, invades Club Metronome. Also on the bill is local duo Deuce and Mil, who were last seen opening for KRS-One at Higher Ground last year. Unlike the bulk of VT hip-hop artists, these Bronx natives — who actually met at UVM — trend more toward rap. And they’re not shy about the distinction, claiming to have been “abusing Burlington’s so-called ‘rap scene’” since 2006. In less than three years, the duo has put out three mixtapes clocking in at more than 60 tracks total. That’s a fairly prodigious output, especially considering both MCs are barely 20 years old.
In other local hip-hop news, our old pal Burnt MD is staking a claim to national notoriety as a finalist in the Soul Assassins MC Contest at soulassasins.com. If you didn’t know, Soul Assassins is a hip-hop collective affiliated with Cypress Hill. For this contest, Cypress Hill beatsmith DJ Muggs produced a new beat and MCs around the country were invited to rhyme over it. Burnt was one of 11 finalists, which is an honor in itself. But frankly, I want to see the dude win this thing. Voting is open for another week and he’s got some ground to make up. Help him out by logging on to the website and casting your vote for the hardest-working man in VT hip-hop.
This just in from Japhy Ryder: Guitarist and founding member Jeremy Kizina has decided to leave the band, citing the desire to move on to the next phase in his life. Save for a handful of spring dates — including April 4 at Higher Ground — the group is on an indefinite hiatus while they figure out what the next step might be. Too often, “hiatus” is bandspeak for “we’re breaking up, but we can’t bring ourselves to say it out loud yet.” I sincerely hope that’s not the case here. And best of luck to Kizina.
And finally, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard:
Vergennes’ Bar Antidote is in trouble and they need your help. Word on the street is that the littlest city’s hippest (only?) hotspot will be closing in April due to undisclosed issues with their landlord. There are plans to open in a new location, but nothing is set in stone as of this filing. In the meantime, a group of local musicians have banded together to lend a hand the best way they know how: a benefit concert. The show is this Friday at the Vergennes Opera House and will feature performances from The Dirtminers, Hot Neon Magic, Chris Wyckoff, Bill Walsh, Jeff Spencer, Mike Scott, Justin Levinson and Josh Brooks.
Musicians uniting to save a bar . . . I really think I might cry.