Greetings, loyal readers! And welcome to the last SoundBites column of the decade. Yikes. I just inadvertently put some serious pressure on myself to make this a good one by pointing that out, didn’t I? Nice move, Bolles.
Anyway, given that it’s the end of the decade, not to mention the year, you might be expecting a retrospective look at the year(s) that was (were). Well, that ain’t happening. Frankly, with all of the goings-on for New Year’s Eve, there’s just no room in this li’l old column to reminisce. Plus, I already did some of that with a year-end music roundup and this year’s top 10 VT-made albums list.
However, I would like to acknowledge how special this last year, and really the last decade, has been in Vermont music. Sometimes we take for granted just how lucky we are to have such a vibrant music scene. In a way, that’s a good thing, because it means we’ve come to expect greatness. And we should. But speaking as someone who grew up during Burlington’s much-ballyhooed alt-rock heyday in the 1990s, I can tell you this: Vermont music is as good as it’s ever been, and continues to improve in quality and quantity. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.
So, I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have, and that you’ll join me in expecting more great things from Vermont musicians in 2010 and beyond. Cheers.
Dropping The Ball
Now that we’ve gotten all that fuzzy feel-good stuff out of the way, let’s switch gears. Ready?
I really hate New Year’s Eve.
First of all, it’s always freakin’ cold. Not just chilly or a little brisk. Like, instantly-freezes-your-nose-hair kind of cold. It’s almost enough to make me want to go see Phish in Miami this year. No kidding.
Second, you have to make plans. If there’s one thing I like less than New Year’s Eve, it’s making plans. And making plans for New Year’s Eve? That’s my own personal seventh circle of hell.
Third, even more than St. Patrick’s Day, NYE is amateur night. Don’t get me wrong. I like to partake in spirituous libations as much as the next guy. But sloppy drunks drive me nuts. And New Year’s Eve is, um, loaded with them.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, New Year’s Eve never seems to live up to the hype. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve sat on my couch on New Year’s Day and thought, Wow. That was totally worth all the planning, freezing and being hung over. I’m so glad I did that.
But don’t let me sour you on enjoying the holiday. In fact, allow me to guide you through it. What follows, in no particular order, are my lead-pipe locks for guaranteeing you make it through the night unscathed, and maybe even entertained. Here we go.
First up, we have “A Monkey House Band New Year’s” at, um, The Monkey House in Winooski. Actually, were I feeling bold, I could recommend you just go bar hopping in the Onion City. If you read my ’Noosk nightlife story a few weeks ago, you know why. However, this is a music column. So for now, we’ll stick to the happeningest joint in New Williamsburg. Rockin’ like Dick Clark with black-rimmed glasses are a smorgasbord of local favorites, including folk heroes, Villanelles, Nuda Veritas, Husbands AKA, Cannon Fodder and, according to the mysterious listing on the MH web page, “others.” Oh, and it’s free.
I’m sure plenty of folks — if I had to guess, I’d say about 850 of you — will be in attendance when Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and The Book ’em Blues Band take the stage at the Higher Ground Ballroom. However, next door in the Showcase Lounge — for much less cash — you can catch the Grippo Funk Band appearing with prodigal trumpeter/vocalist/all-around sweetheart Jen Hartswick.
DJ Fattie B will hold court at The Green Room, which alone isn’t especially newsworthy. But the fact that he’ll be joined by a live band certainly is. Do I smell an Eye Oh You reunion? Actually, I have no idea who the band is. But if it’s Fattie B, you know it will be top notch. Dude doesn’t half-ass anything.
The Skinny Pancake (Burlington) features explosive local soul man Joshua Panda for some post-fireworks fireworks. You know what else they featured recently? The SoundBites crêpe: “A Tribute to Dan Bolles’ Mojo.” That’s right. I got my own crêpe special. Of course, since I’m writing this column two weeks before you can read it, I haven’t actually had one yet. But I will have by the time this issue hits the streets. And let me tell you, it’s delicious! Three words: beer-braised beef. Take that, Jeff Sampson (see this week’s letters to the ed).
Staying in the Queen City, Radio Bean — aka da mus-ee-cal scene — hosts local indie-folk outfit Osage Orange, Great Concentrate and Brooklyn’s Ten Minute Turns. Were I going to be in town on NYE, this is where I would be. And not only because I used to play with OO’s drummer, Jeremy Gantz. But because Ten Minute Turns, much like the Bean itself, are totally fucking rad. Imagine Pretty & Nice kicking the crap out of The Format or Rogue Wave, while Starfucker, er, Pyramiddd cheer them on, and you’re picking up what I’m putting down.
Speaking of joints that have recently expanded, The Bee’s Knees in Morrisville has “back porch” old-time outfit Copper Kettle, and then rings in the New Year with “mountain blues” faves The Eames Brothers.
Newish Waterbury hotspot The Reservoir has had a great run of local music lately. That trend continues on NYE with surf-punkers Torpedo Rodeo. And FYI, they’re high on my list of bands to catch in the upcoming year.
And while we’re in the shadow of the Golden Dome, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention New Year’s Evil with Iron Maiden tribute band Made in Iron at Langdon Street on December 30. True, it’s not on NYE, per se. And yes, I’ve gone on record as being suspicious of tribute bands in general. But, to be honest, Made in Iron effin’ rules. On a related note, I’m now taking applications to join my Def Leppard cover band, What Has Nine Arms and Sucks?
So there you go, folks. Thanks again for a terrific year in 2009. And here’s wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy 2010 — even you, Jeff Sampson.