Another week, another round of benefit shows. This week, however, I’m tossing a nasty curveball — someone in New England has to be able to. Right, Red Sox fans? … sigh. We begin with a benny that has absolutely nothing to do with Irene. I know. Crazy, right?
An aside: There is a well-documented phenomenon called “donor fatigue,” in which the initial outpouring of goodwill after a major tragedy is followed by a swift decline in donations and volunteers. After a while, and usually well before the recovery is complete, charity all but dries up. I don’t have any stats to back myself up on this — I’m a music journalist, we don’t do numbers — but I’m concerned we may be nearing “Irene benefit fatigue.”
It’s understandable. There have been dozens of such shows all over the state in recent weeks, and plenty more still to come. But don’t lose sight of the long view. Our state is only beginning to recover. There is a lengthy road ahead — you know, once the roads are fixed … too soon? I know it’s easy to glaze over week to week as benefit shows dominate the local music news. But stay with me here. It’s important. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Where were we? Oh, right. Not talking about an Irene benefit. (Cool your jets, we will in a sec.)
This Friday, September 30, the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge plays host to Rock for a Cause. Which cause, you say? So glad you asked!
The show benefits the Milton Family Community Center. This is notable because it marks the first time in history I’ve written anything in this column about Milton. Also — and vastly more importantly — the MFCC does fantastic work with families in the Milton area, offering everything from early-childhood programs tailored to the specific needs of individual children, to after-school programs for teens, to adult-learning and general family-support programs.
It’s a good lineup, highlighted by the increasingly impressive local rock outfit Prana, who were finalists in the Middlebury Battle of the Bands earlier this year. You can also catch local blues rockers Rusty Souls and Jeffersonville-based bar band Rock-N-Horse.
Aside no. 2: I know I usually fawn over the names of hardcore and metal bands, but for sheer, shameless punnery, you really can’t beat bar bands.
Moving on to our ongoing Irene benefit coverage: There’s a good one this Wednesday, September 28 — a.k.a. the day this paper hits newsstands — Blueberry Jam III at the Blueberry Lake Retreat in Warren.
Aside no. 3: I know a lot of folks are organizing Irene benefits on the fly, and some are probably not used to approaching the press. But if I could implore you folks to hit us up as early as possible, it would be a big help. Come to think of it, that goes for those putting together regular shows, too. A good rule of thumb is two weeks in advance, at least. Help me help you.
Blueberry Jam sounds fun and features an interesting mix of local and national talent. Vermonters include alt-rockers Louie Brown and Friends, mountain blues stalwarts the Eames Brothers, reggae outfit One Over Zero and hip-hop act MeMaranda. The headliners are Boston-based “funky Calypso” band Rising Tribe, and Colorado acoustic indie ensemble Elephant Revival. Also, there’s a harvest dinner buffet. So there’s that.
But the jam with the Jam is that it’s a fundraiser for an Irene benefit CD called — wait for it — Good Night Irene.
Aside no. 4: OK. Enough. I’m officially declaring a moratorium on the use of the phrase “Goodnight Irene” in relation to all VT flood-relief benefit projects moving forward. It’s time to think of a new one, folks. “Come on, Irene!” perhaps? (Yes, I’m aware the song is called “Come On Eileen.” Thanks. One question though: How come no one ever thought to tell Dexy’s Midnight Runners that the title really needs a comma?)
The CD, planned for release this week features 15 songs from artists all over the country — including Vermont, obviously — performing tracks inspired by our fair state. Rumor has it, the disc may even include a version of “Moonlight in Vermont” by Willie Nelson, as well as “Soulshine” by Warren Haynes. Awesome. For more info on the CD, check out vermontirene.com.
In other benny news, Saturday’s Higher Ground Ballroom show with the Trey Anastasio Band is, unsurprisingly, sold out, as is the October 9 benefit with Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at the Flynn MainStage. However, I’m told there are still tickets available to Grace’s October 10 solo show at Sugarbush to benefit the Mad River Valley Community Fund. In the event that you have a cool grand burning a hole in your pocket — yes, you read that correctly: tickets are $1000 — contact Susan Hemmeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last but not least, the award for awesomest Irene benefit idea goes to beloved Burlington dive, the OP. Last Friday, September 23, the bar offered patrons the chance to take over the stereo for the night. For a $5 donation, you could hook your iPod up and play a five-song set list. No idea how much they raised. I just hope some jerk didn’t monopolize the hi-fi with five extended-jam Phish tunes, or Iron Butterfly’s “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” on repeat.
Happy trails, Mars Pyramid Records. Last week, MP founder Jay Blanchard unceremoniously announced — on Facebook — that he is pulling the plug on his experimental music micro label. In an email to 7D, he says what was originally a labor of love had become a “labor of kinda like,” which wasn’t enough to justify the amount of work he was putting in to keep releasing records. Bummer. Blanchard says he’ll continue making his own music and helping his friends make albums — he was a driving force behind Nuda Veritas’ most recent release. But what I want to know is, what becomes of the homebrew he included with MP’s seasonal releases? That stuff was great. Good luck, Jay.
Innovative Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) producer Jeff Bujak kicks off a month-long Wednesday residency with Burlington hip-hop sensations Lynguistic Civilians at Nectar’s this Wednesday, October 5. I’m told a silent disco may be involved. In other local hip-hop news, Burlington-based promoters ASAP Entertainment are teaming with Boston’s Showoff Records for a monster showcase at Club Metronome this Sunday, October 2. True to their name, Showoff Records is bringing some serious talent, including 1982 — which features rapper Termanology and DJ Statik Selektah — REKs, Kali and JFK and DJ Deadeye. Burlington will be well represented too, as local MCs Colby Stiltz and Memaranda open the show with an assist from DJs TJ and Oh-J Freshhh.
WRUV’s annual “Vinyl is Forever” record sale is set for this Saturday, October 1, at the BCA Center in Burlington. The daylong affair features performances from Burlington acts James Kochalka, Barbacoa, Nyiko, Fridge and the Spin$, and Evil Pit Bastards.
Band Name of the Week: Mouthbreather. I don’t know why, but the name of Ben Maddox’s (Farm) experimental-loop side project with Andy Frappier cracks me up. They’ll be at the Bee’s Knees in Morrisville on Friday, September 30.
Last but not least, VT expat and monster keyboardist Parker Shper’s Montréal-based hip-hop-soul outfit Groundfood returns to Vermont for a pair of shows this week, featuring renowned rapper MC Blurum 13: Friday, September 30, at the Black Door in Montpelier and Saturday, October 1, at Nectar’s. Welcome home, Parker.
Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.
The Gourds, Old Mad Joy
Blind Pilot, We Are the Tide
Jens Lekman, An Argument With Myself
A.A. Bondy, Believers
Jeff Mangum, Live at Jittery Joe’s