Langdon Street Follies
The Underscore Orkestra
Last week, I revealed that I had made a truly embarrassing error in the previous week’s column in regard to the date of this year’s Montpelier Downtown Music Festival. What can I say? Unlike the Pope, Glenn Beck and Tom Brady, I am not infallible. Yet.
(Pop quiz: Of the three famous people I just mentioned, I actually do believe one of them to be infallible. Which one? Hint: It’s Brady.)
Well, Montpelier being the bustling little burgh that it is, it appears I have been given a shot at redemption. Calling my shot right here: I am not screwing this blurb up. Yet.
This Friday and Saturday, the self-proclaimed “Arts & Culture Engine of Montpelier,” the Langdon Street Café, hosts the Langdon Street Festival, a two-day extravaganza of music, art, community and beer. Sweet, sweet beer.
The fun begins Friday evening with the countrified, happy-hour shenanigans of Mark LeGrand and the Lovesick Band, followed by “Old Reliable Amusements” with puppet company the Dolly Wagglers and an acoustic “preconcert” concert from the Underscore Orkestra — more on them in a sec.
This all sets the stage for the belle of the ball, Anaïs Mitchell, and her incomparable Hadestown Orchestra under the tent outside. Back inside, and closing out the evening, is maybe my favorite local band I’ve never seen, J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices, who, as they aptly put it, play “country-goddamned-music.” Goddamned right.
Following what will likely be a well-needed night of slumber — there is a beer garden, after all — the festival kicks into high gear with an honest-to-goodness street party Saturday. Daytime highlights include more puppet fun with the Wagglers, a bevy of food, a “clown spectacle” with the Real McCoy, one-man band Matt Lorenz’s suitcase junket (Rusty Belle) and Swiss dual-neck-guitar virtuoso Attila Vural.
But once the beer tent opens again — 5 p.m., in case you’re wondering — the fun really begins. And not just because of the beer.
Music, of course, is the main event. And the night’s lineup is killer, including column favorites Anna Pardenik and the Holy Smoke-Off, reunited local tradge-hop legends Manifest Nextome, and the aforementioned Underscore Orkestra. Oh, and did I mention the beer tent?
Rock and a Hard (Jazz) Place
Lisa Giordano is one busy chick. She is a vital and youthful piece of the puzzle at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival — if you enjoyed Ledisi in 2008, or any number of BDJF’s hipper performers in the last two years, you can likely thank her. And that’s in addition to working annually with the CMJ Music Marathon, which kicks off in NYC next month, as well as managing special events for Burlington City Arts.
Her résumé is about to get even more impressive. This Sunday at the FlynnSpace, Giordano is soft-launching a new venture: her own music label, New Vogue Records. Her inaugural show features improv “power trio” the Inbetweens, who have been tearing up the NYC jazz scene of late and inspired possibly my favorite press quote this week. Says Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, the Inbetweens are “dangerous in the best way.”
Agreed. They are also the perfect band to introduce New Vogue, whose stated goal, according to Giordano, is advancing “contemporary avant-garde, improv jazz and jazz offshoots — like live hip-hop — and aims to promote as much of this music as possible, give it some sexy, wearable branding and market it to the CMJ/Pitchfork/DownBeat/Stereogum/new music crowd.” Giddyup.
Though the Inbetweens’ latest record, Quantum Cowboy, isn’t a New Vogue release, the band is part of the New Vogue collective. It also includes Montréal’s Groundfood and a slew of Vermont acts: yoUSAY Placate, Souls’ Calling, Anna Pardenik and the Holy Smoke-Off and the Vermont Joy Parade. New Vogue’s “official” launch will actually happen at CMJ next month, but locals would do well to get a sneak peek at Giordano’s next move this Sunday.
- For my money, the show of the week is unquestionably the legendary Canadian indie collective Broken Social Scene at the Higher Ground Ballroom on Wednesday, September 22, with Sam Prekop’s band The Sea and Cake. And this is the part of the column where I challenge the “HG doesn’t book enough indie shows” crowd to put up or shut up. Or, as a toothless carny at the fair told me recently, you can’t win if you don’t play. Sage words.
- Of course, because I’ve yet to schedule my music-scene summit and discuss steps to prevent such overload, that very evening, lover-ly indie-pop duo Mates of State will be at The Monkey House, with Oh Land and (if you can believe it) DJ Disco Phantom. Decisions, decisions.
- It’s ladies’ night in Montpelier this Thursday at the Langdon Street Café. The triple-threat lineup features Austin-based sensation Denitia Odigie, the gusty soul stylings of Montpelier’s Sara Grace, and Latin chanteuse — and perennial column crush — Miriam Bernardo.
- Band Name of the Week: the Underscore Orkestra. Gypsy-influenced music always seems to do well around Burlington, whether it’s more traditional gypsy jazz, klezmer or some hybrid offshoot. This Portland, Ore.-based band is an amalgam of all of the above. They’ll be at Radio Bean this Sunday, following their appearances at the Langdon Street Fest.
- Speaking of klezmer fun, local accordion maestro David Symons (Black Sea Quartet, Inner Fire District) has a new band in the works, Burlington Brass Balagan. In a recent email, Symons writes that the band is still in its infancy, but promises to be an exciting and unique addition to the local scene. His description: “Vermont’s only radical street brass band.” Color me intrigued.
- Local misunderstood genius/total crackpot Tony Hill writes that his latest album, And the Low End of High Art, which I reviewed in late June, is newly available on iTunes, Amazon and Interpunk. He asked me to mention it and, well, I couldn’t think of a reason not to. So there you go.
- Raq is back. After a brief hiatus spent indulging in a well-received solo project and getting his inner Steve Vai on, guitarist Chris Michetti is back in action with the local jam greats at the Higher Ground Ballroom this Saturday. Rising funky bunch Bearquarium open.
- Speaking of HG, newly formed local bluegrass supergroup the Modern Grass Quintet will heat up the Showcase Lounge on Wednesday, September 22. But, of course, you’ll all be at Broken Social Scene that night, right?
- In late April, I reviewed Get a Life, the striking debut CD from local art-rock powerhouse the Crack Up. In rereading that review and relistening to the album, I’ve come up with a much more efficient — albeit hyperbolic — description for their sound. Ready? Imagine Crooked Fingers’ Eric Bachmann fronting Tortoise. To think I needed 450 words to write that last spring. Catch the Crack Up this Friday at Radio Bean.
- Last but not least, a happy 10th anniversary to Essex nightspot Banana Winds Café & Pub. They celebrate this Saturday with local rockers In Kahootz.
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.