Thanksgiving ranks as my second favorite holiday, just a shade behind Halloween. Regular readers know I’m something of a glutton for, well, gluttony. So, really, combining my love of excessive amounts of food, booze and football, there isn’t a single day of the year that compares, save perhaps for Super Bowl Sunday.
However, Thanksgiving is also something of a double-edged sword for me, personally. Simply put, there just isn’t a whole hell of a lot going on music-wise this week. Every venue not named the One-Half Lounge is closed on Thursday — it’s got DJ Tricky Pat working off the tryptophan with some jazzy downtempo stylings. Radio Bean is closed all weekend. Higher Ground has but one more show until December — Imogen Heap this Saturday. Ditto the Monkey House — The Wards et al., also Saturday. Even worse, Black Friday signals the official start of the Christmas season.
Don’t get me wrong. I actually enjoy the weeks leading up to the birth of Santa. But here’s what I don’t get. After spending the day with family and friends being all thankful and stuff, we follow that up with the most overtly disgusting displays of consumerism imaginable. Are you telling me that as a society we can’t go more than 24 hours making nice before reverting to being materialistic assholes? Seriously? It’s enough to turn a guy Canadian.
Where was I? Oh, right. No music.
The obvious problem is that the dearth of live music this week creates a big, column-sized hole in my beloved music section. And since we’re talking about my problems, here’s another one: I grew up here. So that means everyone I went to high school with is back in town this weekend. When do they read my column? The one week every year I have nothing to write about. (Note to CVU Class of 1996: I’m usually really good at this, I swear. And I’m doing really well, all around. Like, really well. Really.)
Anyway, since we’ve got a lot of real estate to fill, I thought it might be fun to reflect on some of things I am thankful for. Hell, some of them are even music related. Here goes.
I am thankful for local music. (File under: “no shit.”)
I am thankful for Tom Brady (see “football, love it,” above).
I am thankful for Club Metronome. No, really. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the place has quietly stepped up its game of late. Last week alone, there were shows featuring Surprise Me, Mr. Davis and my current new favorite band, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Prior to that, this fall has seen folks such as Or, the Whale and Grand Archives swing by the club. I will be even more thankful when some of these shows aren’t on Sunday nights so I can actually attend.
I am thankful for Padma Lakshmi on “Top Chef.” Is it hot in here? (Or is that just Padma? Hi-yo!)
I am thankful for Buckley. Love you, fuzzy buddy.
I am thankful for Winooski. (If you want to know why, see my feature story on page 28.)
I am thankful for the email dialogue I recently had with local saxophonist Bryan McNamara about arts criticism. Smart dude. Very candid. And very funny. You can check out my take on his latest effort, All for Love, in this issue. And no, said dialogue had no influence on my conclusion concerning his disc. (Spoiler: It’s very good.)
I am thankful that people ask me to do things such as judge high school band competitions. Last Friday, I adjudicated one such band battle at the Vermont Commons School and had a blast. Not only was I impressed with the overall quality of music our next generation is producing, I was stunned by the variety. I could honestly envision seeing each of the five acts on “real” stages at venues around the area very soon.
Punk outfit Death to DJs would rock 242 Main — especially if they decapitate another Chris Martin (Coldplay) mannequin … this really happened. MC Vader the Villain — yup, high school hip-hop — had flow to equal a number of local MCs. Jam band Kwunga — from my alma mater, CVU, no less — was, well, a jam band. Where doesn’t that go over well in this town? As for the last two bands, I don’t have to envision them playing local venues, because they already do, or will shortly. Reggae-rock outfit Rock Fish will heat up the stage at On the Rise this Friday. And someday very soon, so will the competition’s unanimous champ, Gang of Thieves, who by virtue of their win earned a gig at the Richmond bakery/juke joint. (If I could talk privately to Nectar’s for a sec: Check these guys out. You’re welcome.)
I am thankful for bowling. Yup, bowling. It’s my winter sport and I refuse to be cowtowed by you self-righteous skier types any longer. Let me ask you this: How many days have you gotten in this fall? Just sayin’. Speaking of which, I’m also thankful for Champlain Lanes. Yeah, Spare Time is bigger and fancier. But Champlain is home. Swing by sometime.
I am thankful for Bob Dylan. And I don’t mean that in the usual, music scribe kind of way. (Little-known fact: All music critics are contractually obliged to agree that no one will ever be better than Dylan, and that anyone who plays guitar and harmonica is to be referred to as, and only as, “Dylan-esque.”) Anyway, have you seen Mr. Robert Zimmerman’s video for “Must Be Santa?” If not, Google it right now. I won’t spoil the surprise, except to paraphrase a friend of a friend’s Facebook comment: He makes “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” sound like a threat.
Speaking of Dylan, this Friday Montpelier’s City Hall plays host to the Fifth Annual Green Mountain Bob Dylan Wannabe Contest. Early reports are that no fewer than 30 Bob hopefuls — including at least one Roberta — will vie for the crown of biggest wannabe. And since we’re stealing quotes — I am also thankful for the 7D legal team! — here’s one from event organizer Patrick Mullikin that appeared in the Times-Argus a few months ago: “If Dylan were to enter this contest, he would probably do poorly because one, he doesn’t look like Dylan. And two, he doesn’t sound like Dylan.” Indeed.
Speaking of Montpelier, I am thankful for our Capital City. Admittedly, I don’t spend as much time there as I would like. But beyond claiming the greatest bar in the world (Charlie O’s), it is also home to Langdon Street Café, which has a great weekend of music lined up despite the Thanksgiving doldrums. Specifically, Turkish folk outfit the Anatolian Trio this Sunday, featuring Moretown clarinetist Dan Liptak. There’s gotta be a turkey-leftovers joke in there somewhere, right?
I am thankful for Seven Days. And no, this is not just a ploy to suck up to my bosses. You may have heard rumors about the “demise of the newspaper industry.” Well, they’re kinda true. Rags of all shapes and sizes are going belly up all over the country. Except this one. We’re actually getting bigger and — depending upon who you ask — better. Which brings me to the last thing I am thankful for…
You. Yup, you, holding this very paper — or reading online — and choosing to make what we do a part of your day/week/whatever. The reason we’re able to do what we do is because you support us. And for that, we can’t thank you enough. (Unless, of course, you want us to thank you by going back to the old format. Sorry.)
Happy Thanksgiving, folks.