Archive for the ‘Craig Mitchell’ Tag

A Very Hairy Swaleness at Light Club Lamp Shop then Samara Lark And Friends and Savage Hen at Radio Bean December 22, 2018   Leave a comment

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Physics Club pic by Tim Lewis

I had a great time seeing music Saturday night at Light Club Lamp Shop and Radio Bean. I worked a short day and had a little time to relax at home. Just before 7, I headed out the door and swung by Taco Gordo for a quick tasty taco, then walked the rest of the way downtown. I got into the Lamp and settled as the room steadily filled. A little after 8 Physics club took the stage and filled the room with cautious glee. They chatted with the audience a lot and chatted about chatting a lot. They sang about how Christmas is the time to give gifts to the baby Jesus, and delicious honey ham. Irene, Rex and Abraham, if those are their real names, had a relaxed vibe that came across as deeply hilarious. They sang about how too many candy canes made their breath minty, but their stomachs stinky and about making all of their Christmas presents because they didn’t have any money. Since it was Christmas, they decided they could wear what they wanted, then capped the seven song set by going out to find the biggest bushiest tree. It’s hard to capture how funny they were, but if you ever see them on a bill somewhere, go.

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Swale pic by Tim Lewis

They began the transformation into Swale with a song about how everything smells like Christmas. Irene morphed into Amanda Gustafson as Abraham moved away from the keys to the backing vocal position. Rex stayed on the drums and moved into Jeremy Frederick mode and Eric Olsen started playing guitar at the end. It was still pretty funny, but you could begin to hear the huge rock sound coming out. Tyler Bolles joined them and they locked into SWALE mode for Mele Kalikimaka which was fun to hear on a chilly evening. Matt Larocca joined them on violin next and stayed for most of the night. It’s Christmas is a poignant song from their Kiss Mess EP and they played a beautiful version of it. Craig Mitchell came up next and took the mic. Marie Claire Johnson added some backing vocals as they sang This Christmas. The fireside blazing bright line was especially catchy. The band switched into high gear as Lily Sickles took the stage and belted out Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) and the audience rocked along. James Kochalka followed with a song about coveting his neighbors Christmas lights. It was hilarious and everyone was smiling. He stayed on stage and sang a song about a sleigh ride to heck and the audience sang along with gusto. There was something magical about the way it happened. Amanda followed with the most esoteric song of the night and played a haunting Snow Angel with Tyler on banjo. Tyler played the next one solo on banjo but took the time to explain that some band redid a version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that was just terrible, so he redid it in a fun way. The tune was familiar and the audience laughed in the verses about Rudolph and the Grinch but sang along on the choruses, even with Tyler’s altered words. I could feel chills running through me. Marie Claire came back and sang Fairy Tale Of New York with Tyler. It was really fun. Marie moved to the keys and Amanda moved to the front of the stage. Matt joined in on sax as they let loose a huge Baby Please Come Home. It was great. Jason Cooley came to the stage and played a song for Josh Bridgman that almost made me cry. The Velvet Underground’s Jesus was a perfect tribute to Josh. The next song was just Swale and they sang a cool song about getting to know the people in your house. They followed with an instrumental Jingle Bells that featured Amanda’s keys in the beginning and some ripping Eric guitar work at the end. Lily returned to the stage for Feliz Navidad. The song had a huge sound in the chorus and had people dancing hard. For the next song, Ryan Ober and Cooley stood in front of the stage and lit into Christmas in Hollis. It was brilliant and fun. Eric said they had a treat for us and Marie Clairecame back and sang Christmas Wrapping. Her voice was so close to The Waitresses that it was superb. Craig returned to the stage for a funky blues rock song about Backdoor Santa that got a little naughty in a nice way. Amanda sang the next song and wished us well for whatever lies ahead. Francesca Blanchard followed with All I Want For Christmas Is You and I swear that everyone in the room was in awe. Swale began the evening by handing out cards and asked us to pull out the lyric sheet. I’m not sure what happened but it sounds like someone slipped and fell outside of the Lamp Shop and an ambulance showed up. Per Eric, the person was fine, but the hoped for singalong didn’t quite work with so many distracted people. That said, Amanda sang a great version of The Christmas Song, and many people sang along. The band returned to full rock mode and Ryan Miller hit the stage for a blistering Hazy Shade Of Winter. Where does joy end and fun begin? Their version was right in that sweet spot. Cooley came back and played a fun gritty rocker that I couldn’t spot. Per my notes, I think it was Riverbottom Nightmare Band from the Muppets Emmet Otter’s Jug Band. It was really fun to listen to at the show, but doing this write-up brought me to YouTube to watch it. I’m sure it’s the song and both versions are great. Up next Tyler got everyone bouncing to the Christmas Polka. Swale capped the night with a sweet singalong with Christmastime is Here that filled my soul. It was a beautiful show.

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With Matt Larocca

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Craig Mitchell

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Lily Sickles

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James Kochalka

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Marie Claire

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Amanda Gustafson

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Ryan Ober and Jason Cooley

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Marie Claire

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Francesca Blanchard

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Ryan Miller

 

I settled up and took the long walk over to Radio Bean as Samara Lark and friends belted out Baby Please Come Home. It turned out to be the only repeat of the night which is not bad when you see three bands in one night play traditional (ish) songs. Samara was joined by Jackie Buttolph and Aya Inoue on vocals, Eric and Eric on guitar, Johnnie Day Durand on musical saw and glockenspiel, Jake Styles on bass and Andrew Bedard on drums. Johnnie began Oh Holy Night and you could hear the words coming out of her saw. The rest of the band joined in and played a gorgeous version of the song. They took us into minor chord territory for Hark To The Bells and I was in a happy place. They kicked up the pace for Cheap Trick’s I Wish It Was Christmas Today and I bopped with glee. They kept up the pace for a rousing Holiday Road and we all just had to sing along. How can you not? i love that Samara thinks that is an essential Christmas song. They slowed things down and brought the energy up for Happy Xmas (War Is Over). That’s one of those songs that fills my soul and I’m so glad they closed the set with it.

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Samara Lark and Friends

I hung out for a bit and thought I’d check out the next band. It was a little late, but they usually don’t play super long sets and I was still ready to rock. Savage Hen took the stage and let loose their super heavy bass, drums, vocals dirgy sound. They opened with a horrific Here Comes Santa Claus that made me smile and the mighty audience dance hard. A heavy version of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer followed and off we went. They advised us to not get on the wrong list then played a heavy traditional Hanukkah song that was very cool. They advised us to take a Christmas Bath then dropped a super heavy Jingle Bell Rock. They shouted loudly that the Seat’s Taken then played a song about how Santa is a monster. All evening long the dialog was wry. They sang of a Clever Girl then one about Santa is here, release your fear. Local Lore was a song about encountering the supernatural. The final lyric says If there really is a god, he ain’t watching me, but it’s not uncommon for Jaq Tothephuture to put a little spin on it. I think that night it was if there really is a Santa, he better be effing good. They rocked on with a song about running for your life across the north pole and the next one may have had something to do with reindeer romance. They kept rocking and I didn’t catch much of the lyric but had a good time. Next, they took us to the Edge then released a little Voodoo Revenge. The next song was 46 seconds long, so it might have been Curtain Call, but I’m not sure. Either way, it was good. We followed them down to the Alabama swamp and battled monsters for a while then went back up north for another Santa song. At that point I looked at clock. It was 12:45 and I had to be at work at 9 so I zipped out the door and took the quick walk home. I settled a bit and slept a bit and hit the ground running in the morning.

It was another lovely night of music in our lovely town. Wow, did I really hear 57 songs that night?

 

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Savage Hen pic by Tim Lewis

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Joe Adler and the Rangers of Danger in the Winooski traffic circle Rotary Park July 5, 2017   Leave a comment

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I had a great time seeing music Wednesday on the island in the middle of the Winooski traffic rotary. It was my day off and I took it pretty casually but around 5 I put on the black, got set, and took the long walk to Winooski. The crossing from the sidewalk into the circle went pretty easily and I knew that once that hurdle was passed, it would be a great night. I didn’t know the setup for the shows there so I brought a bottle of water but as I wandered in, I just had to visit the beer and wine table.

A little after 6pm Joe Adler & The Rangers Of Danger took the stage and settled into a long cool jam. The Rangers can vary quite a lot but currently are Dalton Muzzy on drums, Shack Ear on bass, and Braden Winslow on electric guitar. When those three play without Joe Adler they are a band called Binger. Since I love both bands I knew it was going to be another fun show. Dalton’s steady and present drumming mixed nicely with Joe’s rhythm guitar. Shack’s bass ran in fun places and Braden’s super smooth fiery guitar work made sure the audience was rocked hard. They drifted out of the jam into a long Joe song called Stratosphere and the whole thing went a delightful 20 minutes. They brought the rock energy down with the fun Many Things And Many Scenes then delighted the crowd with Dead Flowers. Joe’s song Another Drink Of Water had a funky groove then picked up for the gotta move section. They followed with a song that will be their next single but that Joe has played for a while. It’s the one about the wicked witch and the Dead Sea Scrolls. I love that song and hope it gets recorded soon. A cover of the Police’s One World was fun and towards the end sound man Craig Mitchell sang along and helped wrap up the first set. Oh, and the sound was great all night because, you know, Craig Mitchell.

The set break was not long and the band came back for a heavenly version of Brothers And Sisters. Marcie Hernandez Music had joined them and it was great to hear her sing the saw part. Marcie hung out for most of the second set and sang along to songs like Spit “N Fire Blues and Relax. Joe did a great super deep vocal on 16 tons. The band made it sound like it was from a bygone era but then brought the rock for The Mime. They did a short Binger jam then played a great version of A Quiet Pun. They closed the set with Radiohead’s Creep and Joe and Marcie’s voices were over the top while the band drove it home.

I did not hang out very long and said a couple of quick goodbyes. I survived the trip from the circle back to the safety of the sidewalk and took the long pleasant walk home.

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High Water Mark – The music of The Pants featuring Swale and tons of other musicians at Higher Ground March 26, 2016   Leave a comment

High Water Mark with the Pants and Swale and everyone else picture by Mark Randall Byland March 26, 2016

High Water Mark with the Pants and Swale and everyone else picture by Mark Randall Byland March 26, 2016

#hgvt

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.

Happy Birthday Radio Bean   Leave a comment

I woke up early and caught a ride with Mike Luoma down to Radio Bean to catch Dino Bravos opening set. They rocked hard and blisteringly loud, then it was over and I went to work. I worked 8 hours, stopped at home for a quick dinner then headed back to the Bean. They were running a bit behind schedule, and I walked in as Anders Parker was loading out. Rats! He’s really good, and I missed him.  Rats.

Anna Pardenik came on next and played a stunning song on electric piano. She was joined by a drummer and guitar player for the next two. She played guitar on the first and piano on the second. Her set soared and I loved every moment of her songs! They had a nice sweep to them and reached up from earth to just soar.

Next up, Mickey Western jammed some country with his band. Not my thing, but they rocked it pretty hard and were fun.

Lowell Thompson and friends followed with some tough country rock. It was cool, and great to see Steve Hadeka play drums.

They followed that by clearing the dance floor for tango sessions, where a bunch of couples danced the tango for 3 songs. It’s like a concert was happening and a dance broke out. It kind of worked.

Brett Hughes and Kat Wright came on next and played a few old style country songs with one guitar and two voices. They really sing well together. They sang a song about being on a wire, the saddest song ever, and it was stunningly beautiful. During the set, one of my roommates, Joel, and my friend Christopher Larrow walked in. What a nice surprise. And they got there just in time for Swale!

Swale came on and did a set of covers. They were joined by Kat and a guy who did a killer rap for Empire State of Mind. They followed with Let’s Have A Toast for the Douchebags, and kept the party rolling. Amanda left the keys to be frontwoman for a seriously funky C’est La Vie. They followed by asking Lee to come to the stage with an empty glass and dishrag and asked him to keep wiping it for the whole song. They asked me to sit on an amp and had someone else lean on the keyboard with a beer. They played the theme to Cheers, and it was great.

Immediately after their set Vedora hit the other stage. They unleashed a blistering Terrarium, Promises, Maria, and In the Pines with the end section of Chain. The energy was through the roof.

Next up a poet read a bit and the Eames brothers came on. We stepped outside to get a bit of air. The Eames guys sounded nice and played some bluesy rock.

Craig Mitchell and Soulmints followed with a rocking soul set. Purple Rain was especially nice. From there on it gets a bit blurry.

The Honky Tonk crew played a few and while I was not stunned, it was great to hear Marie Claire Johnson sing and play keys. Actually she co-played keys as there was someone else playing the same keyboard with her.

Shelly Shredder rocked pretty hard. I should really try and catch them again sometime.

Blue Button came on a unleashed a fury of blistering punk rock. It got pretty wild on the floor. Thanks Eric Olsen Rebekah Whitehurst and the rest for such a fun time.

Lendway came on next and were cool and wonderful as always. Kevin Lynam and the boys really know how to play! After that I headed for home. After all, it’s my Tuesday. Thanks to Radio Bean and all the wonderful performers that I caught and missed. I love you all, and you know that.