Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Green Mountain Opera Festival

Gear shifting to music that most folks don't typically associate with Vermont, but the Green Mountain Opera Festival is held here in Vermont every June for three weeks with opera concerts, open rehearsals, masters classes, a young artists program, picnics, and more - all leading up to two fully costumed, complete orchestra productions at the Barre Opera House. This past June the production was of Madama Butterfly and a You Tube Clip was just released today of performance highlights - Enjoy!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

NewsFlash! (and shameless self promotion)

Many years ago, there were a group of fellows who started a band while attending college at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. It was called Mile 41 - guitar, bass, drums, and a female vocalist. After collage, the guitarist, bass player, and drummer all made there way to Burlington for the various reasons musicians, artists, and other folks make their way to this energy driven town. They re-grouped, added keyboards and became Theory of Revolution. Over the course of several years playing in and around Burlington as well as some hot spots around the Northeast, they developed a devoted fan base, changed bass players, added a second drummer, and created quite the collection of original material.

If you have read previous blogs, are in my oval of peeps, or have seen myself and a certain drummer out and about, you will know my sweetie Mitch is the original drummer of bands mentioned above. As we began dating early this spring, I was able to only see a few Theory of Revolution (TOR) shows, and - as summer began, the band decided to part ways, with some members joining new bands and others moving to new states. So, while I did catch a few shows at the tail end of the TOR magic, my experience has mostly been listening to the heartfelt conversations of a love of music, friends, and song between a drummer and a guitar player who have been playing music together since college and who are also the best of friends.

These conversations have led to their desire to play one last show, have one last party, or some sort of farewell. And sometimes these conversations lead into song where said drummer and guitarist get me to sing, just as their original playing together in college was with a female vocalist.

And, these conversations have led to a closing show that has just been confirmed for Friday, September 14th from 10-1 at The Radio Bean. This final show will be a softer side of the pumping TOR shows you'd see at Higher Ground. The show will feature John playing guitar, Mitch playing drums, and original bassist, Jesse. There are hopes that keyboardist, Taylor, will join in, and yes, rumors are true, I will be singing a few songs as well - a rare occurrence indeed. Yes, I am nervous. But, mostly, I am excited for these musicians - it is a night of remembrance, new beginnings, and the kind of musical experience that can really go anywhere. I hope you can all join us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wagons Jivin' and Ramblin' on the Gravel

I guess if the four bands I am set to speak about ever made a combined album, this could be the name. And the album would be almost as eclectic as the "Made In Vermont" CD that Cabot Cheese sponsored a few years back.

I headed off to the Lincoln Inn with freelance drummer Mitch and we enjoyed the pre-music Business After Hours networking where I ran into a former co-worker and musician who used to play in the band The Mansfield Project and who was playing with the Blues Night band of the evening, Jive Attic. I must say I wish some of these bands had websites, and Jive Attic is certainly worthy of one! I do believe however, they are playing at the Burlington Blues Fest at the Lincoln Inn in September. Jive Attic was great! Mitch and I got in some dancing and even snuck in a little air guitar activity - one of our secret favorite pastimes.

While enjoying some good classic blues from the band, we did have an entertaining run-in with Rick from Rick and the Ramblers. Known for their awesome tour bus and fun concerts at one of my favorites - Vermont State Parks, I now have it a mission to try to catch a show before they go into hibernation mode.

While we were contemplating our next move - do we (a) go home, (b) go downtown, or (c) find more cool music that's NOT downtown (by far the favorite choice) NOTE - Jive Attic had finished by this point; we started up a conversation with a new-to-town bass player soon to be joined by the Funk Wagon bunch. Of course I searched around for a way to lead readers to Funk Wagon as they seem like a fun band, but only found they have some upcoming shows at the Lincoln Inn and Nectars - maybe I'll see ya there? After we safely secured the bass player into Funky conversation with the Wagon, we departed for a last stop on our localvore musical journey.

As we headed back into town, but not wanting to go downtown, we both densely did the "duh" thing - The Monkey Bar - duh. So to Winooski we went. The bar was almost empty - usually a tell tale sign to me that a really good band is playing since so may Chittenden County dwellahs either (a) think good music is 80's night at Metronome or (b) care more about being "cool," "hip," or "seen," than really interested in seeing good music.

We got a beer and acclimated ourselves to the bar stools, where I was completely drawn in. The band's name is Gravel and they sure had some gravely jazz to play. The guitar player moved and pulsated with smiles that came at different junctures and transitions as he played one of those fantastic looking jazz guitars. The bass player pounded that stand-up with fervor, which may have been taller than him. The front fellow - an athletic looking chap with a variety of instruments - the most focal being the trumpet with a collection of mutes - was enigmatic and exciting to watch. Gravel played like an enthusiastic jazz quartet of professionals - probably because that's what they are. No whiny faces because the audience was slim and they were truly appreciative when the small audience treated them as a jazz quartet - clapping enthusiastically between solos.

Now, you may wonder why I did not mention the drummer. First, I must give my drummer background:
1.) Of all musicians I have dated in my 31 years, drummers certainly outweigh everyone else by a long shot - including my blogging and real life sidekick.
2.) Rhythm has always been something I have no immediate natural flare for, but once taught, comes easily.
3.) Drummers are always what I pay attention to the least for some reason. Not because I do not like drummers (obviously I do), but because I listen to the vocal harmonies as a singer, the bass as a seeker of harmonies, and watch the guitar as an accomplished air guitarist.
4.) When I was in a band in town a few years back called Ekis, I found the drummer to be extremely helpful in teaching me different rhythms and what percussion instruments to play. And, since I was committed to the concept of groupies while in the band, I was able to form a great friendship with this drummer (an he had/has a beautiful wife -).
Now, just as fantastic co-worker friendships fizzle when ones leaves the place of work, so do band friendships. That of course is life. So, while I was sitting at The Monkey Bar, thoroughly enjoying this band called Gravel, and not really paying attention to the drummer, Mitch says, "That drummer is phenomenal!" and I start to pay attention. Then I say, "wow, he really reminds me of the drummer in the band I sang in back in the day." I started doing the squinty eyes (even though I was wearing my glasses) and at the next song break, the drummer and I lock eyes and call out names of recognition! It certainly was, Matt DeLuca (2nd from right in pic), a truly great drummer in the area who I most recently saw play with his long-standing experimental jazz group, Leon Tubbs, after we finished playing together in Ekis. We got to catch up after the show and made plans to hopefully grab our other Burlington based former bandmate, bass player Jeff Margolis, for some lunch (by the way, Jeff's got some musical tricks up his sleeve I'll be sure to blog about this fall - so keep tuning in.)

Funny how the world works, eh? Guess I better start paying attention to all musicians in a band if I'm gonna write 'em up in my blog, or maybe not. Guess that's the beauty of being a writer!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Vermont Music Magic

What a week! I am kicking myself in the arse right now for having handed out lots of business cards last week with this blog on them only to have failed to post all week! No excuses - I just got wrapped up in a busy music and work week and needed to take time off over the weekend for some lake activities!

Where do I begin? Let's start a week ago when I attended the Venue Czar launch event at Higher Ground. Interesting concept! To recap for those who are unaware of what it is, Venue Czar is an extensive online booking system that links bands to venues and vice versa. It is streamlined and allows for negotiation of payment, perks, dates, etc. The goal is to alleviate the wasted time and frustration that affects both bands and venues - which, from being in a band before myself, I also found to be aggravating.

I think it's a great concept, but I wonder about the commitment the program will get from smaller venues that like having control over the relationships they build and others who like to reject streamlined ideas - even when those ideas can benefit the masses. It seems to me Venue Czar will be most effective if everyone uses it. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but agendas bounce to a different tune in Vermont. Regardless, it's specific for Vermont and folks should check it out and pass it along -

Now, I certainly leaned about Venue Czar that night and got to catch up with some old music friends and chat with some new ones, as well as seeing the start of some great local music. In the midst of all my Burlington music publicity networking - where I try really hard not to be some annoying public relations mamacita - something happened on a fantastic personal level that certainly shaped the night into being recorded into my personal history book!

Speaking of history - here is a little background that plays in nicely here: Since my ex ditched me for some long-lost Phish tour broad back in January, I started going to Honky Tonk Tuesdays at Radio Bean for a night of music with some lady friends and to open my heart to the twang of the tonk lead by Chrome Cowboys frontman, Brett Hughes with a rotating cast of local musicians such as Marie Claire and Mike Gordon. This is also where I met my current main squeeze, Mitch, who was the drummer for the now defunct band Theory of Revolution. Honky Tonk night means a lot of things to a lot of people and there is nothing short of magic which takes place there - this I have seen and been a part of. From a healing night with the ladies to a place to fall in love again to an opportunity to catch up with and make new friends to a dance floor where my shoes come off and my feet turn black...

Ok, back to the night of the Venue Czar event - in the midst of music and publicity chatter, Mitch and I ran into Brett Hughes who was heading over to Radio Bean after the Venue Czar event - and who was still looking for a drummer for the evening. And he asked Mitch. Now, I am not a drummer, but I am a musician (I was a trained songstress in my former life), so I was aware of the power of that moment. Publicity networking halted, drummer girlfriend begin and I tell the rest of the evening with my photos:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Venue Czar

Hi folks! So it has come to my attention that there is a great new band booking and promotion service called Venue Czar. I met some of the folks behind it the other night at a party and look forward to attending their launch at Higher Ground on August 7th. Check 'em out - looks like it will be a valuable service to many bands and musicians and by registering you too can attend the launch!