High Water Mark with the Pants and Swale and everyone else picture by Mark Randall Byland March 26, 2016
I ended up having a really good time seeing music Saturday night at Higher Ground. I lived and thrived through the Burlington music scene in the ’90’s. There was always music about, much like there is today, and some of the bands music just filled my heart. I would often go to shows where there were three of five bands on the bill and like some of it, love some of it, and not be amazed by some of it. The Pants were one of the bands who I saw a few times that I never liked. I was writing for the Permanent Records Review at the time and published something about their music making me run screaming to the bar. While a lot of bands music clicked with me, the Pants just never did.
Recently, a movie was made about the Pants and the local scene from the 1990’s in Burlington. On Saturday night they showed the movie then had a musical showcase of the music. I was sure I was not going to go, especially since it started at 7 and I had to work until 8:30. I knew the music was going to start at 9. They promised songs from the Pants, of course, but also some songs from Construction Joe and Wide Wail, and since Swale were the house band, I thought there would be a little bit of musical magic there. On Friday morning I broke down and bought a ticket and set the plan in motion.
I got out of work right on time and drove to Higher Ground. I got into the ballroom, settled, and ran into a ton of people that I knew and that looked familiar. Soon enough, the lights went down and Swale took the stage. As they lit into the first song I realized both why I did and did not want to be there. The Pants have a lot of chunky indie rock songs that have a lot of intricacy, but they usually stay in the discordant zone, so they are a bit jarring. Conversely, it was Swale playing them so the musicianship was outstanding and a complete joy to be in the presence of. That was how I felt for most of the first part of the three hour show. Swale played the first song on their own then brought Pants member Tom Lawson to the stage. They played a great version of High Water Mark, the only Pants song that I know, and that was really fun. Tom sang it well and his voice was quite nice. He stayed with them as they rocked out the third song of the night. After that, Tom left the stage and they brought out Ryan Ober to sing the next one. His voice was great and he had some nice dance moves. Up next, Casey Merlin Rae took the stage with a vocal tour de force. It’s been ages since I have heard him sing live and I really enjoyed it. The next song featured just Swale with Amanda Gustafson doing a great job on vocals. The next song featured Ryan Miller who came out covered in turned off Christmas lights. The song started slow, but when it hit the fast section he flipped on the lights and danced frantically. Jason Cooley came out for the next one and rocked it hard. James Kochalka added his quirkiness to the following song. The one that followed featured a powerful vocal performance by Craig Mitchell. Heloise Williams sang the next one and let her voice range from a deep growl to a high pitched scream. Amanda lead Swale through the next song, then things started to change. Swale left the stage and Tom returned with Chris Ziter & Jeff Baron. They played with one acoustic guitar and two singers and pulled out a Chainsaws of Babylon song. Tom then moved back to the drums but still kept the vocal mike. He was joined by a couple of people and they called themselves Factory Edge. The first song was a rocker called Backhoe. The second was a bit more mellow and was called That’s The Sound Of The Sun Going Down. Their final song was even mellower and quite pretty and was called We Never Had A Chance. After that, they left and the original members of Construction Joe took the stage. The first few notes lit me up like a ray of sun finally breaking through a cloudy day. The three songs they played, including the fun version of Funky Cigarette in the middle, were great. For me, music is never about taking me back to what I felt when I first heard it, it’s all about how it makes me feel now. Construction Joe’s set made me feel great for every moment. With a non Tyler Bolles bass player, David Cam?, Swale returned to the stage for a couple of Wide Wail songs. The first song was achingly beautiful, though I missed which one it was. The second was a hard rocking run through All My Life, a song that is one of my all time favorites from that era. My heart was full of joy for that one! Up next James Kochalka Superstar took the stage. James sang, Eric Olsen played bass, Creston Lea and Jason Cooley played electric guitar, Jeremy Frederick was on drums and the band rocked. They played Magic Finger, a little bit of Good Morning Glorkian Warrior, then something that may have been called Pony or something like that. They wrapped the set with Monkey VS Robot and the end section sounded like the classic song Gloria. Imagine M O N K E Y Rooooooooobot and you are in the right neighborhood. Swale returned to the stage and instead of playing keys, Amanda took the microphone. She told a touching story about working with Syrian refugees and the band played a song about someone who’s only desire is to be able to sleep with Both Eyes Closed. It was one of the most powerful performances I have experienced. Amanda returned to the keys and Tom came back to the stage. He sang a song about yes you can make me a freak and it was pretty fun. For the last song, 2,000, everyone took the stage for a giant singalong. The chorus about spirals had a 5 Years vibe to it and was a fitting way to close the night.
I headed out pretty quickly and contemplated the night on the short drive home. There were a lot of songs that didn’t grab me, but I enjoyed the full spectrum of the performances, and some of the songs just filled my heart. I’m so glad I put the effort in.
The Monkey House photo by Tim Lewis
I had a great time seeing music last Monday at the Monkey House. It was an early work day so I had plenty of time to get ready for the show. Christopher Larrow wanted to go so we headed out just before 8 and headed to Winooski.
We waited for a bit then Dom The Barber took the stage. He played some fun songs on the odd instrument that he created. He did some looping with that and his bass. He used a magic drum and keyboards and a theremin to bring his music to life. He has such an affable demeanor and some of his between song banter was genuinely hilarious. One song was dedicated to his father who’s birthday was coming up, and since Easter is coming up to, Dom dedicated the song to his father and Jesus. I think the one he played was the opening section from Jesus Christ Superstar, and if it was not the opener, it was one of the songs. He played a song about alien abduction and put on a really fun show. He’s the type of guy who can play some killer slide bass. Really. His set was not long but highly entertaining.
The set switch over was pretty quick and soon after his set The Nancy Druids hit the stage. I’ve been loving their songs and enjoyed the intimate show at the WRUV studio the Wednesday before. On the Monkey House stage with a pretty full audience and pretty great sound mixed through the system, they put on a fantastic show. The songs all have a bit of a quirky flow, but have great melodies and will leave you humming them for weeks. Sean played some blistering leads and used the amps to focus the reverberating feedback into devastating notes. The rhythm section of John and Ann Mindell were nicely locked in, and those beautiful songs appeared, were loved and slipped away. They played a good solid set and closed the night with I Am The Walrus. I feel luck to have seen them so many times and can’t wait until I get to see them again.
At some point Chis had wandered off. The walk home was lovely and lovely songs filled my head the whole way.
Dom The Barber video:
WBKM photo by Tim Lewis Dec 17 2015
I just got back from my local music radio show, streaming online at our Facebook page, WBKM.ORG and over the airwaves at 107.1FM. I highlighted a couple of upcoming shows and played some rock and roll.
Song before: Dannemora – Seth Yacovone
From our small city to the great big world, these are the Sounds of Burlington. Last Friday I made it out to see The High Breaks at Juniper at Hotel Vermont. They have just released their debut album and I got a copy. It’s called Droppin’ Off With The High Breaks. Let’s begin with a couple of songs from it.
1.) Ankle Breaker – The High Breaks
2.) Wicked World – The High Breaks
3.) The Big One – The High Breaks
Great rockers from the band. When they played last Friday they tossed in a few of the Surf Sabbath songs, including Wicked, so I thought that would be fun to toss Wicked into the set. OK, let’s continue on with the next song on Bernie Sanders album.
4.) This Land Is Your Land – Bernie Sanders and 30 VT Artists
5.) Feel The Bern – Violint Wednesday
6.) Mon Ange – Francesca Blanchard
7.) Friends – Myra Flynn
Great song from Myra. Francesca has a ton of shows coming up soon. I’m still loving the Bern song and Bernie and his message. So, a week ago Wednesday I got to see The Nancy Druids at WRUV then I got to see them again last Monday at the Monkey House. They put on a great show. I don’t have any of their music but here is some from Sean’s previous bands.
8.) 1,000 Lies – Sean Toohey
9.) Sunday – Envy
10.) Today Is Tomorrow – The Red Telephone
Sean did that song with Matt Hutton last year. Sunday is a classic rocker from the ’90’s. Great solo song from Sean in the ’90’s. Speaking of the ’90’s, one of the classic bands from that era, The Pants, just had a movie made about them. The movie will be shown at Higher Ground on Saturday and then a ton of local musicians will play some Pants songs and maybe a few other classics from the era. Here are a few songs from the Pants;
11.) Vermont – The Pants
12.) Cows – The Pants
13.) Overboard – The Pants
14.) High Water Mark – The Pants
There’s a pretty good chance you will hear all of those on Saturday. You may hear some of the next songs too.
15.) All My Life – Wide Wail
16.) One More Grave – The Contrarian
17.) Old North Ender – James Kochalka Superstar
18.) Affection – Guppyboy
Chris Ziter & Jeff Baron from Guppyboy will be at the show. James will be at the show. Casey Rae will be at the show, and since Swale are the house band, Amanda from Wide Wail will be there. It’s going to be lots of fun. OK, up next I want to highlight a show that is happening on Friday at Club Metronome. It’s a benefit for the VNA Family Room and features Jamie Lee Thurston & The Starline Rhythm Boys.
19.) Best Damn Night – Jamie Lee Thurston
20.) Somebody Up There Loves Me – The Starline Rhythm Boys
21.) You Make Me See Stars – Lonestar Chain
Lonestar were Burette Douglas’ solo band and wrote a bunch of great songs, including that one. Stars always gets me going. Cool songs from Starline and Jamie. OK, let’s play some classic Burlington rock.
22.) Moving Song – Zola Turn
23.) Not True – Peg Tassey
24.) TFAY – Elephants Of Scotland
25.) Green Apple Girl – Dave Jarvis
Dave always wrote and played such fun songs. TFAY is such a great song. I just love Peg’s voice and energy and songs. Same goes for Zola. Well, I hope you enjoyed checking out the music of our town. Let’s do it again next week, shall we? Goodbye, Ta ta. See You, Sayonara.
26.Sayonara – Black Rabbit
Songs After: Tumbledown – Fish
Empire Of The Clouds – Iron Maiden
As always, I want to thank everyone who made tonight’s show possible. Thanks to Seth Yacovone Band, The High Breaks, Matthew Bryan Hagen, Todd Gevry, Kevin Lynam, Michael Clifford, Bernie Sanders, Francesca Blanchard, Ann Mindell, The Red Telephone, Matt Hutton, Tom Lawson, Amanda Gustafson, The Contrarian, Casey Merlin Rae, The Lonestar Chain, Burette Douglas, Creston Lea, Steve Hadeka, Julia Austin, Alice Austin, Peg Tassey MUSIC, Peg Tassey, Elephants of Scotland, John M Whyte, Adam Rabin, Ornan McLean, Dan MacDonald, David Jarvis, Black Rabbit, Marc Scarano, Darlene Scarano, Jane Boxall Percussion, and everyone else!!!!
The Nancy Druids at WRUV studio March 16 2016 pic by Tim Lewis 1
I had a great time seeing music last Wednesday. I got an invite from the band and another from the host, and was thrilled to be a part of the show. The Nancy Druids were set to play Exposure, the local music radio show at UVM’s station WRUV. The show runs every Wednesday from 6-8pm and the band starts about 6:30. I was running a little late but arrived at 6:10 or so and the band were all set up. Host Dommer Barber and his associate were sorting out the sound and I was able to enjoy the soundcheck. A couple of the stations other friends stopped in, and at 6:30 the band began to play.
They played several of their gorgeous and powerful songs. Sean Toohey writes the songs and he has a great ear for how a melody can go. Ann Mindell is a heavy hitting drummer and John Franklin glues the songs together as he runs up and down his Rickenbacker. Sean sings all the songs, plays some endearing rhythm guitar and now and then launches a solo into the universe. The room is small at the studio but the sound is full, so I was in a very happy place. The band would play a song, chat a little with Dom, Duane and I, then continue on. Several of their songs are becoming favorites and it was a treat to be so up close and to experience them that way.
They played right up until 8pm, then tore down their gear. I hung out for a bit then took the long happy walk home with wonderfully fuzzy rock songs running through my head.
The Nancy Druids at WRUV studio March 16 2016 pic by Tim Lewis 2
The Nancy Druids at WRUV studio March 16 2016 pic by Tim Lewis 3
The Nancy Druids at WRUV studio March 16 2016 pic by Tim Lewis 4
The Nancy Druids at WRUV studio March 16 2016 pic by Tim Lewis 5
I had a fun time seeing music last night. I worked until 9 then stopped in at home quickly. Christopher Larrow had stopped by so I talked him into heading out to the show. We went over to Juniper at Hotel Vermont and caught the end of the first set by The High Breaks. I was stuck in a long line to get a beer and listened casually to the super cool band. They finished off set one with Children Of The Grave. During the break I chatted with the band and bought the new CD. The break was quick and soon the dynamic trio was back on stage blasting out their surf rock
delights. Set 2 went as follows:
Symptom Of The Universe
A Walk On Ballard Beach
The Salty Shore
The Big One
Since a few members of the audience were really into the show and demanded an encore, they ended the night with a fun version of Tequila, and everyone sang along. At some point Chris had wandered on, so I took the cool yet happy walk home.
I had fun going out to Red Square yesterday afternoon to see Everybody’s Favorite Irish Drinking Songs band. I had my radio show for the night already recorded so around quarter of 4, I took the sunny walk downtown. I walked in to a huge Tim from the stage, Ryan Ober got the same treatment when he walked in, and found a seat and a songbook. The band was made of Buck on banjo, Patrick Longley on bass, Matt Thorsen on harmonica, Matthew Stephen Perry on guitar and vocals, and the dynamic singing duo of Diane Sullivan and Rebecca Rogers. The bar was pretty full and people were singing away as the band played all of the classics. They played Danny Boy, Wild Rover, Beer Beer Beer, In Heaven There Is No Beer, Whiskey In A Jar, Jackie Wilson Said, One, and lots of other fun Irish songs. Prizes and hot potatoes were tossed to the audience. A feeling of revelry filled the air for their full two hour set. Was it the greatest musical event of my life? Probably not. Was it a fun afternoon of singing and being a part of the event? It was as fun as every other year and I expect it will be just as much fun next year. Thanks for playing everyone!