Is it me, or does everything seem to be happening earlier than usual this year? My theory is that the phenomenon traces back to the Super Bowl being one week ahead of schedule, which subsequently skewed our collective perspective. Well, that and global warming giving us Sundress Day on St. Patrick’s Day — which, if you’ll recall, created a perfect storm of drunken jackassery in downtown Burlington. But I digress.
It’s hard to believe, but here we are on the precipice of yet another edition of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. It’s true. Right now I’m staring at my invitation to this Thursday’s opening reception/glad-handing booze fest.
As is my tradition, each year I declare this column a “Jazz-Free Zone.” Over the next 10 days, you will be positively bombarded with Jazz-Fest coverage, from this publication and pretty much every other media outlet around. And rightly so. The fest is rad. However, there are still local people making music that doesn’t involve horns, or old guys with funny names, or songs in 7/19 time. And those folks deserve to be heard from, too.
So, in honor of the enormity of Jazz Fest, for the next two weeks consider this humble column your refuge from all things jazzy. Because, I mean, it’s not like anyone could possibly have any problems with Jazz Fest, right?
Discover … Other Music
Peter Negroponte has a problem with Jazz Fest.
The Boston-based experimental drummer and Burlington expat has noticed what he perceives as a troubling trend. Namely, that the BDJF appears to be moving steadily away from more sonically challenging shades of jazz in favor of more widely palatable fare.
In a recent email he writes, “Unfortunately, the Jazz Fest seems to have become more mainstream than ever in the last two years.” Negroponte cites as evidence his own troubles booking BDJF gigs for his various ensembles, as well as for his mentor, noted avant-garde composer Anthony Coleman. A peek at this year’s schedule seems to bear out that observation. The lineup actually does feel a little light on the free-jazz end of the spectrum.
But rather than complain or force the issue, Negroponte has taken matters into his own hands and curated an alternative to the BDJF, the Other Music Festival — provocative tagline: “Discover Other Music.” The weeklong series runs smack in the middle of Jazz Fest, from Monday, June 7, through Saturday, June 12, at the North End Studio in Burlington.
The OMF lineup features an impressively varied group of performers of local, national and international renown. Monday, the fest kicks off with an appropriately eclectic evening presented by local booking gurus Angioplasty Media, featuring local songwriter Nuda Veritas and Chicago collective Distractions. Tuesday, B-town experimental auteurs the le duo highlight an evening of largely locals, including Ryan Power, indie-folk collective Paper Castles and one of Negroponte’s own outfits, Deadwood.
We’ll delve deeper into the nuts and bolts of the OMF and check in with Negroponte in next week’s issue. For now, check out more details from the festival at myspace.com/othermusicfestival2010.
One of the more interesting music-related developments to keep an eye on this summer will be the series of shows slated for the Midway Lawn at the Champlain Valley Exposition — aka “the fair.” Three such shows are currently on the books: My Morning Jacket (8/20); Primus, Gogol Bordello and Heloise & the Savoir Faire (7/29); and, kicking off the experiment, Michael Franti & Spearhead this Saturday.
These shows are the work of our old friends at Higher Ground who, in addition to booking Concerts on the Green at Shelburne Museum, are helping to curate Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival in Massachusetts this August, and, you know, running their own nightclub, apparently needed something else to do.
In a recent email, the club’s promotions director Nick Vaden says HG is really excited about the new venture, which, if it is successful, would give the area a legitimate midsize outdoor venue. Frankly, we need it.
Shelburne Museum, while a fantastic place to see a concert, is limited by the fact that it sits smack in the middle of a residential area — and also, a museum. And, as anyone who has ever driven to or from a show there knows, Shelburne doesn’t exactly have the infrastructure to handle that kind of traffic on a regular basis.
The Burlington waterfront is another compelling option, as evidenced by last summer’s Quad celebrations — not to mention years of Lake Champlain Maritime Festival and BDJF performances. But it’s also a high-traffic, multiuse public space. And it’s kind of nice to not have stages and tents on the green all the time.
True, the Midway Lawn lacks the cachet — and the views — of those locations. But unlike the Museum, the Expo can (mostly) handle the traffic. And unlike the waterfront, it’s intended to host large events regularly. If all goes well, that could happen a lot more in coming years.
Vaden points out that there actually are some mountain views from the Midway Lawn. And, as I tweeted to one of my followers recently, it also sits next to the area’s only Wendy’s. So there.