- The Bee's Knees
That squishy sound you’re hearing is the collective rolling of the eyes of scores of jaded hipster types at the mere thought of reading any more news related to Grace Potter and what’s left of her Nocturnals. To those folks, I suggest you take a seat in the waiting room. We’ll call you when we’re ready.
Everyone else might be interested to learn that the band will have a new look in coming months as they tour the country, including a stop at Bonnaroo — where they’ll actually be the second biggest VT band on the bill this year. As they will announce this week, the insomniac backing group will add not one but two new members: bassist Catherine Popper and Burlington’s own, guitarist Benny Yurco.
This news should put to rest rumors that Potter is ditching the whole band and striking out on her own. At least for now. (As I’ve written previously, my running theory is this: Potter will strike out on her own eventually and reinvent herself as a soul diva. She will be known simply as “Grace.” This will happen.) But how ’bout those new folks?
Popper is a well-traveled rock vet, having toured or recorded with Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Michael Stipe, Dr. John and Levon Helm. More recently, she played with excellent chamber-folk outfit Hem and was an original member of Ryan Adams’ backing band The Cardinals. (Side note: I actually met Popper a few years ago when she came to town with The Cardinals and a very inebriated Adams. Remind me to tell you that story sometime.)
VT music fans will likely remember Yurco from his days with Turkey Bouillon Mafia and, most recently, the ever-popular Dead Sessions. He is also a member of Nocturnals offshoot Blues and Lasers, in case you were wondering how he scored the GPN gig. Well, that and he’s a certifiably nasty player.
Anyway, in a recent letter to fans, Grace writes that Yurco will take the role of “sonic filler-outer,” which is apparently Potter-speak for “rhythm guitar and backing vocalist.” Congrats to Benny, and best of luck.
But what about Bryan Dondero, the guy whom the band booted two months ago after a near five-year run? He’s doing just fine, thank you — as you can read for yourself in his nifty little essay about doin’ nuthin’. And, I’m guessing it has to feel satisfying that it took two people to replace him, right? Anyway, he’s been busying himself as the newest member of S’nalbans’ finest, Farm. And — drum roll, please — he recently became engaged to local singer-songwriter Aya Inoue, who is slated to release her second album with rock outfit The Leaves later this summer. Congrats, you crazy kids!
In other GPN news, the band also recently announced that it has scored legendary producer T-Bone Burnett to helm a new disc. For those who don’t know, Burnett is an icon, having produced albums for Robert Plant and Allison Krauss and The Wallflowers, as well as serving as music supervisor for a pair of Coen brothers films — O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Big Lebowski — both notable for their killer soundtracks and, of course, their unbridled awesomeness.
This just in from The Department of Are You Fucking Kidding Me?: Last Thursday, Morrisville hotspot The Bee’s Knees, which recently completed a massive expansion, was forced to close because — are you ready? — some idiot plowed into the building in her car. At three o’clock in the afternoon. In a 25 MPH zone. In the center of Morrisville.
Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. The building itself, however, sustained considerable damage, most notably a shattered picture window in the storefront and crumbled bricks in one of the load-bearing walls.
The quirky café, restaurant and juke joint reopened Saturday night with a “Crash Party” headlined by local electric roots outfit Laslo Cameo. By all reports it was a, um, smashing success — if only because it involved very little, well, smashing.
The Bee’s Knees is back in full swing this week with a typically solid lineup of regional folk and singer-songwriter fare, featuring traveling troubadour Eric Sommer on Wednesday — he also drops by Radio Bean on Friday — local indie-folk band The Porters on Thursday and loveable duo Folk By Association on Friday. And, as always, The Bee’s Knees is BYOH (Bring Your Own Helmet).
The Party Is Over
It brings me great pain to announce that Burlington’s longtime captains of rock ’n’ roll debauchery (no, not Led LO/CO) Party Star have decided to call it quits, presumably citing liver failure, drug addiction, herpes and, of course, “artistic differences.” I say “presumably” because the email I received bearing the news gave no reason for the split beyond “to focus on drinking tall cans of Twisted Tea at North Beach.” I just did the math on my own.
Anyway, this news saddens me for a couple of reasons. First, as you may have inferred from the previous paragraph, they are a lot of fun to write about. And that brings me to the second thing, which is that they’re just a fun band in general. The “best” band in town? Nah — though they are actually pretty good. But any band that will stay up drinking all night long so they’re not late for their 7 a.m. opening slot at the Radio Bean Birthday bash every year is a whole lotta OK in my book.
Party Star’s last waltz takes place this Friday, May 29, at The Monkey House with Joey Pizza Slice (Nose Bleed Island) side project Son of Salami and experimental noise savants The Le Duo. Farewell, boys. It’s been a blast.
In rather sad news, things aren’t looking up for Vermont’s premiere — read: only — gay bar, Two Friends Bistro. As announced on the House of Lemay’s blog on Monday, the joint is closed for the foreseeable future, and unless the current owner finds a new friend, possibly permanently.
In presumably unrelated news, Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury debuts its first weekly open mic Wednesday, June 3.
Friends of the column, Brooklyn’s The Dig, come back to VT this week, opening for Seven Days’ “Hot Ticket” artist for May, Alberta Cross at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge on Saturday. Local rockers Buzz Jar are also slated to appear. If you haven’t heard The Dig’s latest EP, I recommend you do so, like, right now. It is pure pop perfection. Download it for free at thedigmusic.com.
The monthly Doors revival headed by Matt “Lizard King” Wright has a new name to go along with its increasing popularity. Check out “People Are Strange” at Parima this Thursday.
Recording engineer Lane Gibson has officially taken over the former Charles Eller Studios in Charlotte. The new name: um, Lane Gibson Recording and Mastering. You’d think such a creative fellow could come up with a more exciting name. On the other hand, recording and mastering are exactly what he does so well — including for Charlotte-based world-music label Cumbancha. Which brings us to related news: Label founder and former Putumayo veep Jacob Edgar has been tabbed by the National Geographic Channel to host a world-music travelogue TV show. Think Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” but with better tunes and less boozing. I’m jealous.
You know what VT needs more of? Reggae dance parties. Well, maybe not. But we’ll always take a good one if it comes along. And the “Rice and Peas Party Inna VT” this Friday at Club Metronome should fit the bill, featuring Khari Kill, Max Glazer, DJ Gravy and Weed Kalogne among others.
And last but not least, cheeky rural-cosmopolitan sweethearts Me & You (aka Brett Hughes and Marie Claire) lend their voices for a good cause this Friday at the VT HomeShare Benefit and annual cocktail party at One Main Street. Yee-haw!