Before we get into the business of the day, I’d like to take a moment to address the big topic on the lips of area music fans this week, namely: What the hell happened to Neko Case?
In case you hadn’t heard, the recently Vermont-based songwriter was a no-show for her appearance with the New Pornographers last Friday at the Higher Ground Ballroom. According to HG’s Alex Crothers, she was at sound check earlier in the evening. And according to several folks I spoke with who went — I chose all the killer local rock at Nectar’s over HG that night — there was even a mic set up for her throughout NP’s set, which I’m told was pretty rockin’ all the same. But there was no Neko. So, again: What the hell happened to Neko Case?
The answer: Nobody knows. Or, if they do, they’re not talking.
I spoke with Crothers at Nectar’s following Case’s disappearance and he was as baffled as everyone else. Emails to the club and to both the New Pornographers’ and Case’s reps have, as of press time, gone unreturned.
With any luck, we’ll get to the bottom of it at some point this week. In the meantime, here’s hoping Case’s no-show was the product of something innocent, like oversleeping or getting lost at Quiznos, and not some more serious problem. Stay tuned…
(UPDATE: Shortly after this column went to press, we got our answer -- Neko had food poisoning. Read all about it on Solid State.)
You Can Always Go … Downtown
In news that has nothing to do with truant rock stars — as far as we know — Saturday, Sept. 11, the folks at Montpelier’s Three Penny Taproom and booking maven Ed Dufresne are set to unveil the second annual installment of the Montpelier Downtown Music Festival in the Farmers Market parking lot on the corner of Elm and State streets. As was the case last year, the 2010 lineup looks to be tailor-made for swilling fine, handcrafted ales in the shadow of the golden dome. My favorite part of the fest — next to the music, of course — is the adjacent beer garden run by Three Penny.
Leading off, we have the area’s finest (only?) pirate-drinking-songs ensemble, the Shanty Rats. Next up, North Haven, Maine-based punk-grass outfit (and honorary Vermonters, as bestowed by me) the Toughcats take the stage for some fingerpickin’-good rocking. And, the coup de grâce, glory-rocking Beantown favorites Township headline this year’s not-quite-Oktober-fest. It’s gonna be a hot time in the old town. Good thing there’s also cold beer.
- A very happy birthday to the ever-popular Honky-Tonk Tuesday at Radio Bean. The weekly hootenanny — or is it a hoedown? — celebrates its remarkable five-year run this Tuesday with, rumor has it, a block-party bacchanalia outside the cozy hipster haunt. (Disclosure time: This would be where I acknowledge my own small role in the origins of HTT. Yes, I was there at the beginning. But it very quickly became Brett Hughes’ baby, and he’s nursed it into the Western-shirt-clad monster it is now. Will that prevent me from dropping by to butcher a Merle Haggard classic or two? Well, of course not. Just thought you should know.)
- One thing I’d really like to see happen in my humble little corner of 7D is to tap into the scene in Brattleboro more than we do currently — which is to say, hardly at all. Technically, the town falls outside our physical distribution area — though that’s never stopped us from covering stuff in, say, Montréal from time to time. You could make a strong case that the scene in B’boro — especially the wondrous microuniverse around Sub Pop signees Happy Birthday — rivals any other in the state for artistic moxie and vibrancy. And, really, in the Internet age, the whole world is within our distribution area — especially those parts of the world that are, um, within Vermont. Anyway, the point of all of this is to draw your attention to songwriter Sam Amidon’s performance at the Stone Church this Sunday. Amidon is touring behind his latest album, I See the Sign, which has been a personal favorite in recent weeks. Dude is simply a quietly brilliant and uncommonly thoughtful artist. Should you be looking for a unique Labor Day weekend getaway, you could do worse than to head south.
- Or, you could stay in the soon-to-be frozen north and shake your ass off. This month’s installment of the reinvigorated dance party Sunday Night Mass will be, simply put and without hyperbole, the biggest ever. Seriously. The monthly electronica showcase features Derrick Carter, who is among the most influential artists to come out of Chicago’s hugely influential house-music scene in the 1990s. Carter pretty much is house music, and the fact that he’s coming to tiny Club Metronome — as opposed to, say, rocking ginormous parties in Ibiza or London — is a coup of epic proportions for DJs Chris Pattison, Justin REM and the rest of the Nexus Artists crew. Get yer glowsticks ready.
- Meanwhile, downstairs, Nectar’s has been loading up its calendar with several series of monthly residencies, featuring an interesting mix of some of the region’s rising new talent. Every Monday this month features B-town-based post-rock and funk hybrid, Moses & the Electric Company. Every Wednesday, get your jam on with Events Are Objects.
- Band Name of the Week: Joy Toujours and the Toys du Jour. This eclectic, Pittsburgh-based ensemble sounds kind of like what might happen if Jonathan Richman replaced the Modern Lovers with a wine-besotted French cabaret band. They’ll be at Langdon Street Café in Montpelier for a mid-afternoon set this Sunday.
- And, last but not least, we always love it when local acts are tabbed to open for bigger national and international acts. And in the world of post-rock, it doesn’t get much bigger than Tortoise, who play the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge this Sunday. Handling support duties will be none other than Burlington’s Greg Davis and his longtime musical compadre, Ben Vida. The duo are actually hitting the road with the legendary Chicagoans for a handful of East Coast dates following the HG show, which is just totally rad. Safe travels, guys. Bring me back a T-shirt.
And finally, 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.