Generally speaking, I make a point of not making New Year’s resolutions. First of all, I’m pretty much perfect just the way I am, right? Right? (Cue chirping crickets.)
The second thing — and this one is real — is that I’d rather not cram all of my self-improvement into any one specific period of time. I get the whole turning-over-a-new-leaf thing. It makes sense. And if it works for you, that’s great. But I’d rather be more cognizant of things I need to improve upon as they come up, rather than sitting on my flaws until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve and then all of a sudden becoming a new and better person: “Lessee, it’s now a new year, therefore I must join a gym, take up yoga, quit smoking, quit drinking, eat better, learn how to cross-country ski, read a book every week, call my mother more often, make a dentist appointment, make the bed in the morning, stop procrastinating and watch less TV.” Isn’t that kind of a lot to deal with all at once? And aren’t I more likely to fail under the weight of such lofty expectations? Yup.
That said, I’m a “get in the spirit” kind of guy — thanks to last year’s resolution! So I figure, what the hell? Why not join the fray and offer up some resolutions for 2010? Better yet, why not make them (semi) music related? So, on that note…
Resolution # 1: Fewer Excuses, More Blogging
I am not a good blogger. Actually, I’ll rephrase that. I’m just not a particularly prolific blogger. Sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Others, I’m just burned out from writing pieces for the paper. As a result, my little corner of cyberspace — that would be 7d.blogs.com/solidstate — is often shamefully neglected. But I’m not here to make excuses. Because if Inner Fire District’s David Symons could find the time and energy to chronicle his travels to and from the Gaza Strip — as an American, a Palestinian sympathizer and with an accordion, no less — I have none to make.
Two months ago, I wrote a short blurb about a show Symons had put together in Montpelier scheduled for December 31, 2009 to raise money for and awareness of the mass international protest of Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza along the Israeli border. Because of hassles from the Israeli government, which was reluctant to allow foreign protesters into Gaza, the protest drew only 1300 people — as opposed to the tens of thousands originally expected. Still, even though Symons never made it to the border, his stories and experiences are fascinating, at times frightening, and shed a unique light on a heartbreaking situation. You can follow along at klezhobo.wordpress.com. And I highly recommend that you do.
Of course, my blog is rarely so heavy as David’s. For example, last week, I offered musings on some of my favorite nonlocal music from last year. Symons wrote about Palestinian children who still had shrapnel lodged in their bodies and a man who saved for 15 years to buy a house, only to watch it reduced to rubble by Israeli bombs a year later. This week, I’ll be posting some new tracks by Japhy Ryder in advance of their show at Red Square on Wednesday, January 20. Hopefully, David will be writing about a safe return home. (Resolution 1A: Be thankful I’m a music journalist and not a war correspondent.)
Resolution # 2: Be Like Danny C.
Wow. That got serious quickly, didn’t it? Let’s lighten the mood, shall we?
If there is one guy who never half-asses anything, it is Danny Coane. For more than a decade, Danny C. has led one of the busiest, most professional and highly acclaimed bands in the state, Starline Rhythm Boys. And earlier this month, he and the Boys added another award to their already crowded mantelpiece.
As I mentioned in a December column, SRB’s excellent 2009 album Masquerade for Heartache had been topping the Freeform American Radio charts for several months and was among a handful of records in the running for the Texas-based organization’s prestigious Album of the Year award — alongside the likes of Lyle Lovett, Roseanne Cash and The Avett Brothers, to name a few. I’m happy to report that SRB came out on top, marking the third time they’ve won the FAR award. Toast the Boys this Saturday at Red Square.
Resolution # 3: Get Thee to an Abbey
I’ve really got to get to The Lamb Abbey sooner than later. Actually, I would like to spend more time in Montpelier in general this year. I’m the first to admit that coverage in these pages tends to be a little Burlington-centric. But there is almost always great stuff happening in the capital city, and the Abbey is a big reason why. For example, Thursday’s show with Fishtank Ensemble — courtesy of our old pal Ed DuFresne, late of Langdon Street Café renown — and a rare appearance by Banjo Dan side project The Sky Blue Boys on Friday.
But those aren’t the only games in town this weekend. LSC has a whole slate full of vaudevillian delights, with café faves The Two Man Gentlemen Band on Friday and then something called The Brand New Same Old Bologna Show on Saturday. I know for a fact that the former group puts on one hell of a show. As for the latter … well, let’s just say there will be puppets. And cardboard. And more puppets. Color me intrigued.
Staying in the shadow of the Golden Dome: Bassist extraordinaire Rob Morse has unveiled a new weekly series at LSC, every Wednesday this month, featuring … well, pretty much every band he plays with. These include Yousay Placate (1/13),Michael Chorney Sextet (1/20) and Digital DJ (1/27) — the last showcasing live local electronica. (A quick note about yoUSA Placate: Keyboardist Parker Shper just sent me some rough cuts from an album the band hopes to release this spring. In a couple of words, “hell, yeah.” They’ll also be at Radio Bean this Friday.)
Another Montpelier plug: Local blues harp ace Bob Stannard is releasing his new album, Live at the Black Door, this Thursday, appropriately enough at the Black Door Bar & Bistro. Not to spoil the eventual review, but judging from cursory listens of the disc, I strongly encourage blues fans to attend.
Speaking of the capital city, the fine, industrious folks at Montpeculiar’s Halogen Media have a big ol’ hip-hop hootenanny at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge this Friday with Philadelphia Slick, DJ GI Joe, The Problemaddicts, Natural Ingredients, DJ DB Cooper and Malbourne the MC. Word. (Resolution #4: Catch a Halogen show one of these days.)
And speaking of HG, gotta love local openers for big-ticket shows. So, if you’re going to see Little Feat in the Ballroom this Thursday, do yourself a favor and get there early to catch speedwestern marvels Waylon Speed. You’ll thank me, I promise.
A hearty “welcome back” to Sunday Night Mass. The fabled house-music throwdown is back after a six-month hiatus and will resume a monthly run at Club Metronome beginning this Sunday. House pioneer Doc Martin headlines with support from local turntablists DJ Aqua, DJ Justin REM, DJ Haitian and DJ Patti.
Last but not least, the best press quote I’ve read in this young year, courtesy of Filter magazine scribe Chris Adams: “Bryan sings like we’re lucky he doesn’t own a gun.” Now that’s music journalism. The Bryan in question is Boston-based songwriter Bryan McPherson, who opened for Dropkick Murphys at Higher Ground recently and will be at Muddy Waters this Saturday, presumably without firearms. I’d suggest you be there too — though maybe wear a bulletproof vest. Just sayin’.