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What Are the Odds?

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I think I may have missed my calling (which several readers have been kind enough to continually tell me over the last four years). Last week’s column featured a rundown of the Middlebury Battle of the Bands, which took place last weekend at three Middlebury venues and featured a whopping nine bands vying for the opening slot at this year’s spring concert at Middlebury College. I also included Vegas-style odds on the bands I thought had the best shot to advance to this weekend’s final round. It was meant as a joke. But it turns out I was (almost) dead on. So, my true calling: Vegas sharp.

Two of the three bands I listed odds for, the heavily favored Bearquarium and Split Tongue Crow, won their respective nights. The third winner, and also a heavy favorite, Prana, advanced as well. Unlike this year’s March Madness tourney, the top seeds all held true. Now, things get interesting.

Of the three bands, rising indie-folksters Split Tongue Crow would seem the overall favorite. One, as they’re based in Rutland, a gig in Middlebury gives them something of a home-court advantage. Yeah, Middlebury is basically equidistant from Rut-Vegas and Burlington. But the band’s hometown fans will travel, because the alternative is hanging out in Rutland. (Note to Rutland: Totally kidding! Mostly.) The odds on Split Tongue Crow: 2-1.

Bearquarium checks in as a strong second seed, with a lot of factors in their favor. Perhaps most importantly, they’re a young, talented, funk-fusion band playing in a college town. They may pull some B-town pals along for the ride, but they won’t need to. College kids love the funk, giving the band a built-in audience. The odds on Bearquarium: 3-1.

Our third seed, Prana, is the dark horse here. What little they give up to Bearquarium in youth, they combat with veteran savvy. And what they lose to STC in hometown appeal, they recoup with raw, arena-rock badassery. They’re a long shot, sure. But if you’re looking for a sneaky bet with a big payoff, here it is. The odds on Prana: 5-1.

In all seriousness, congrats to all three bands on advancing. And good luck this weekend. The championship round of the Middlebury Battle of the Bands starts this Saturday at 51 Main.

(Note from the 7D Legal Deptartment: Gambling lines here are provided for entertainment purposes only. And we’ll put $50 Bearquarium at 3-1.)

Aaron Burroughs Will Funk You Up

I saw a ton of great music last week, including DeVotchKa, Titus Andronicus, Young Galaxy, the Beatdown, Villanelles, Diamond Tiger, a surprise Rough Francis gig complete with a cameo by original guitarist Dylan Giambatista, Lord Silky (remind me to tell you about them sometime) and an electrified — and electrifying— Maryse Smith and the Rosesmiths. But the unquestioned highlight of the week happened during Wooden Dinosaur’s set Friday at the Parima Acoustic Lounge. And it had nothing to do with their music, lovely though it was.

In a break between songs, Parima server Aaron Burroughs brought the show to a grinding halt. “Excuse me!” he bellowed, signature attitude dialed to 11 as he stood between a clearly puzzled indie-folk band and an equally puzzled but curious crowd. In each hand he held a copy of a WD album. Once he had our attention, he launched into his spiel.

I won’t attempt to repeat it verbatim. But over the next 45 seconds, dude made one of the most persuasive — and sassiest — sales pitches I’ve ever heard, walking a fine line between entertaining and berating, and even offering to put records on customers’ bar tabs. I already own the WD record and almost bought another one, anyway. I’ve never seen anything like it. Neither had the rest of the crowd, which gave Burroughs a round of applause following his rant.

Burroughs’ band, Funkwagon, has a Wednesday residency at Nectar’s throughout April. If the guy is that entertaining pimping someone else’s band, imagine what happens when he fronts his own…

BiteTorrent

Seth Yacovone fans, take note. The beloved local blues guitarist will rock Nectar’s with a full band this Saturday, the Seth Yacovone Quartet. This is the first time the ensemble has played together since the release party for Yacovone’s 2008 album Land of Split Decision. The lineup features Steve Hadeka on drums, Ray Paczkowski on organ and Robinson Morse on bass.

Happy trails to Andrew Parker-Renga. The local singer-songwriter is hitting the road in support of his most recent album, the roundly excellent Portraits. Wish him well when he kicks off his tour at the Monkey House this Saturday with his Brooklyn-based pals My Glorious Mess.

Band Name of the Week: Psalmships. I don’t know about you, but I like my freak-folk fuh-reaky. So when I see an artist described as “David-Lynch-meets-folk,” I get all tingly. That was the description offered by Tara Murtha, a writerly colleague at the Philadelphia Weekly in reference to Philly-based songwriter Psalmships, aka Joshua Britton. Murtha is actually not far off, though I prefer Britton’s own designations: “ghost folk” and “un-Americana.” Psalmships will sail into the Monkey House this Sunday.

If I didn’t already have plenty of reasons to despise winter — and believe me, I do — chief on the list this year would be that Vermont’s record-setting snowfall included a blizzard that forced the cancellation of comedian Jamie Kilstein’s local appearance. To refresh your memory, in January we ran an interview with the NYC-based comic and host of the web-based talk show “Citizen Radio” [“Good Citizen,” January 26]. As one might expect, it was a pretty entertaining Q&A. Anyway, I’m happy to report that Kilstein’s makeup date for that show is this Saturday, April 9, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, with local standup Martha Tormey. Dude is brilliantly funny, and his politically charged humor should play well here in the People’s Republic — provided you check any overly PC sensitivities at the door.

Also, I’d advise against heckling him. One, it’s just a dick move, in general. (No one paid to see you, and if you were really that funny, hotshot, you’d be the one with the mic.) And two, there are a few good reasons Janeane Garofalo likened Kilstein to the late Bill Hicks. A knack for embarrassing hecklers is one of ’em. You’ve been warned.

Ask and you shall receive. Last week I semijokingly wondered which local band I would publicly harass to hurry up and release a new album now that Nuda Veritas is on the verge of releasing her next one. Almost on cue, one of the bands I considered, cheeky surf-punkers Torpedo Rodeo, emailed to inform me they’ll be unveiling a new EP this month, titled Torpedo Rodeo Nightmare. The power of the pen is staggering, no? The band is slated to play Radio Bean on Saturday, April 16, and hopes to have the disc in hand, especially as that will be their last show for several months. Bassist Nick Sherman and his wife are preparing to add a member to the 2030 Seven Daysies award winner for “Best VT Band” with the birth of their first child in May. Congrats all around.

Speaking of babies, bands and breaks, Husbands AKA played their last show for the foreseeable future this past Friday at Radio Bean, as guitarist Sean Fitzpatrick and his lovely wife, Jenna, are also expecting soon. In the meantime, fans can catch a sneak peek of the local ska-punk outfit’s forthcoming record: two killer new tracks recently posted to their website at husbandska.com.

On the flip side, welcome back, Reverse Neutral Drive. The band is playing its first Burlington show with new bassist Gabi Shapiro at Club Metronome on Wednesday, April 13. They’ll be supporting another milk-carton-worthy band, Lendway, who’ve been MIA in recent months while members mess around with other side projects.

Last but not least, it seems that Shelburne Museum and Higher Ground have buried the hatchet: Bright Eyes. The Mountain Goats. Friday, July 29. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

Listening In

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.

Wakey! Wakey!, Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You …

Heypenny, A Jillion Kicks

The Farewell Drifters, Echo Boom

Broken Bells, Meyrin Fields EP

Freedy Johnston, This Perfect World

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