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A Nation Across Borders 

Soundbites: Pretty & Nice, Aztext

The world-music community suffered a monumental loss early this year when Garifuna artist Andy Palacio passed away suddenly following complications from a major stroke and heart attack on January 19. Already a national icon in his native Belize, his 2007 album Wátina was regarded as one of the finest world-music releases of the year. It catapulted Palacio onto an international stage and, with him, Charlotte-based label Cumbancha, which released the record.

Palacio was the first performer in the label’s ongoing world-music series at Higher Ground, and was among the first artists I interviewed for Seven Days. Despite my then-novice Q&A skills, the songwriter was accommodating and engaging, ultimately taking control of the conversation. I was honestly just happy to be along for the ride.

Though we spoke for little more than 20 minutes, I was left with a deep respect for the man and his efforts to reconnect Garifuna youth with their roots. Palacio’s passion was obvious and inspiring, even filtered through a frustratingly poor cellphone connection and his heavy accent.

I asked Palacio how his record had helped to re-invigorate waning interest in Garifuna culture among younger generations. His response was typically poignant. “If you look at it as an ethnic minority, the similarities between us and other ethnic minorities come into sharp focus. It takes a toll on one’s self-esteem, especially for this younger generation,” he said. “We have to come up with something that is able to boost that sense of pride and have a positive effect on the culture. Wátina has had the effect of reconnecting that generation with their roots.”

Palacio’s statement would prove almost prophetic. On Wednesday, April 30, the Higher Ground Ballroom will host the Andy Palacio Tribute Concert, sponsored by Cumbancha and Putumayo Artists. The evening will feature performances by a cadre of rising Garifuna stars, including The Garifuna Collective and members of Umalali: The Garifuna Women’s Project, as well as Aurelio Martinez, Lloyd Augustine and Adrian Martinez, all of whom performed on Wátina.

In Palacio’s own words, the Garifuna are “a nation across borders.” That his life’s work would resonate so profoundly around the globe, particularly in a small, ethnically non-diverse outpost such as Vermont, speaks to that sentiment more powerfully than this writer ever could.

ECHO! . . . Echo! . . . echo!

Not sure if you folks have noticed, but Lake Champlain is quite literally overflowing this spring. In fact, the King Street ferry dock and neighboring summertime hot spot Breakwater are both currently flooded, as is Burlington Bay’s actual breakwater. It’s fitting, then, that Big Heavy World, Tick Tick and the 802 Booking Collective are joining forces to host “WET! A Party Underwater,” this Saturday at the ECHO Center for Lake Champlain on the Burlington Waterfront.

The event is a benefit for Voices for the Lake, a grassroots organization dedicated to fostering stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin through conversation and social networking. Environmentalism is all well and good, but the real draw for me is the music. Given the show’s cast of topnotch organizers, you’d have to assume that some pretty rock-tastic bands are playing, right? Right.

Leading off, we have St. Mike’s indie-pop darlings In Memory of Pluto. For months, I’ve been trumpeting these guys as one of the most exciting live acts in town. Would I lie to you? Yeah, I probably would. But in this case I’m not, I swear. They rock.

Next up, fourth-wave ska progenitors Husbands AKA — note the brand-new Specials-esque “AKA” addendum — take the stage in what will surely be an all-out skankin’ hootenanny. And, yes, I’m wracking my brain for a clever “ska” pun right now . . .

The headlining act is none other than Boston-based Pretty & Nice, who recently signed to Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art. The Burlington ex-pats are the only band of the three that hasn’t been reviewed live in these pages this year. However, “Georgia Belle” from their 2006 debut full-length Pink & Blue has occupied a top spot on my iPod for quite a while, and their 2007 remix album, Blue & Blue, was glowingly reviewed by Casey Rae-Hunter last October.

So grab your decibel-reducing earplugs, wallet (for the cash bar) and maybe a wetsuit, and get ready to rock . . . or swim, depending.

SOUND ‘BITES’

KRS-ONE’s April 19 show at Higher Ground has been postponed until Friday, May 30, because the legendary rapper was struck by a bottle onstage in New Haven, Connecticut, and was hospitalized with a broken hand during his “Stop the Violence” tour. No kidding. Fans bummed about the delay should swing by Club Metronome this Friday night for an evening of topnotch local hip-hop, hosted by DJ E-Train of San Francisco-by-way-of-Essex outfit The Loyalists. E-Train’s homecoming is reason enough to go, but the rest of the lineup showcases some legit area heavyweights.

Opening the show is a band with one of the best names in recent memory, The Premarital Sextet. I’ve never seen them, but man, that name rules. Plus, I’m told Seven Days’ very own Lou (of “LouTube” fame) Armistead will be dropping in on the mike.

Next up is Fattie B’s Beat Biters, a hip-hop supergroup of sorts, featuring the scintillating Myra Flynn, Turkey Bouillon Mafia’s Benny Jurco, saxophone legend Dave Grippo, skins man extraordinaire Caleb Bronz, prodigal jazz guitarist Nick Cassarino, MC S.I.N. and, of course, the incomparable Fattie Bumbalattie himself.

The Aztext close out the night, and reportedly will be unveiling some new tunes from a forthcoming album. Both of their prior efforts landed on many a local year-end “Best Of” list — including mine — so new material from these dudes is always cause for excitement.

If you’re a younger hip-hop fan and weren’t around when Fattie B and Grippo held down Monday nights at Red Square, I highly recommend making this show a priority.

VT TV

A new cable-access show is making its debut this week, and area music fans would do well to tune in. Hosted by Rebecca Kopycinski — known to discerning local audiophiles as Nuda Veritas — the half-hour program is entitled “Burly Song: Burlington’s Musical Zeitgeist” and will air on Channel 15 Tuesdays at 11 p.m., and again on Saturdays at 7 p.m.

This week, Kopynski hosts local indie-folk songwriter Paddy Reagan. Future shows will features acts such as klez-hobos Inner Fire District, alt-country heartthrob Lowell Thompson and The Kelly Ravin Trio.

Anyone interested in performing or joining the production crew can contact the show at burlysong@gmail.com. And if you don’t have a TV, you can tune in online at www.burlysong.blip.tv.

BACK IN THE SWING

Just a quick note before I bid you adieu for another week. The ever-popular “Friends of Joe” series at Halvorson’s is back after a brief winter hiatus. The long-running tribute to the late, great Big Joe Burrell has been a staple for local jazz and blues fans for years and gets under way this Thursday with Dave Grippo and Matt Wright. Spring has sprung!

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Bio:
Dan Bolles is the Seven Days music editor. His column "Soundbites" appears weekly.

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