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The Wormdogs, 'Sunny Side Up'

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Published September 28, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


The Wormdogs, Sunny Side Up - COURTESY
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  • The Wormdogs, Sunny Side Up

(Self-released, digital)

The first time I had the pleasure of seeing the Wormdogs play a show was outside at Moogs Joint in Johnson during mud season, when the pretty snow was gone but green hadn't yet covered the hills. I showed up without knowing any of their songs. But thanks to the confluence of a lively crowd, a special setting and, of course, killer music, I left as their biggest fan.

The Burlington-based sextet plays bluegrass-infused rock and roll. It has a hotline you should call for updates, music or to order the band a pizza: 1-802-WOR-MDOG. And it just released its third full-length album, Sunny Side Up. It's a well-rounded record that balances fast, foot-stompin' tunes ("Hard Time") with tender ponderings ("Forgiveness") and even features a bluegrass instrumental jam ("Bobo's Dream").

Sunny Side Up also showcases the group's diverse set of individual talents. The album kicks off with "Car Song." Eric Soszynski's electric guitar intro builds anticipation before drummer Will Pearl picks up the beat; Pearl also sings lead vocals.

Next up, "Robin May" features a fast and furious mandolin intro by Elliot Diana and lead vocals from upright bassist Braden Lalancette. An energetic set of call-and-response solos between guitar, mandolin and fiddle is another highlight.

The mood and tempo shift with "My Baby," sung by fiddle player Danica Cunningham and written by Colorado's Staci Foster for her band Whippoorwill. This one is a standout live, as Cunningham not only shreds on the fiddle but also showcases a serious set of pipes.

The band's multifaceted skill sets come together on the cheeky, nearly seven-minute-long track "Windy Night." There's a catchy bass line, vocal harmonies, prime bluegrass lyrics ("Shimmering sorrow, yearning for the new solstice / Sunny snoring dog, creakin' in his rockin' chair") and long instrumental breaks that give you time to groove. Nick Ledak's strong, meandering guitar solo picks up steam at just the right time and drives the song forward. The Wormdogs are in tune with each other.

Perhaps my favorite thing about that beautiful Wormdogs show at Moogs Joint — aside from the Capri Sun-style beverages that were served — was the band's joyfulness. The love the members have for playing music together and for sharing it with others is contagious, both live and on Sunny Side Up.

Listen to Sunny Side Up at thewormdogs.bandcamp.com. The Wormdogs play at Moogs Joint on Saturday, October 8, and at Foam Brewers in Burlington on Saturday, October 15.

Speaking of The Wormdogs, Sunny Side Up