This just in: The Internet has made producing, distributing and, of course, consuming music easier than at any other point in history. Also, the sky is blue. However, while any hack with a laptop can record and release demos from the comfort of his or her bedroom, there is still something to be said for enlisting the expert knob-twiddling and fader-tweaking skills of professional recording engineers. Certain artists simply deserve to be captured by the best equipment and talents available. For example, local pop prince Gregory Douglass. Pipes like his need to be heard with the highest possible fidelity. The thing is, pro recording costs. Like, a lot. And while it’s easier to get your music heard than ever before, that accessibility doesn’t always translate to dollars and cents.
To help fund his next recording project, the follow-up to last year’s epic Battler, Douglass has devised a plan so ingenious it’s a wonder more folks don’t try it. The singer is adapting his tried-and-true strategy of album presales and fan donations to fit a more modern model. So far, it’s been a smashing success, helping the songwriter reach his fundraising goal while providing his fans with more Gregory Douglass bang for their buck.
Every Monday for the past month, Douglass has been giving live online concerts on the streaming-video website Justin.tv. Each week, cellist Monique Citro joins in, as do a varied smattering of special guests. Fans can log in and have an interactive concert experience with Douglass, who takes requests via the site’s chat function. If fans like what they hear, they can donate. And they have been. Douglass says he’s been pulling in upward of $200 per session while drawing around 20 listeners each night. Beats the hell out of busking, right?
Tune in every Monday at 9 p.m. on justin.tv/gregorydouglass. Or, you could support him the old-fashioned way when he stops by the Bee’s Knees in Morrisville this Saturday.
- The festival season continues on in, ahem, high gear this Friday as the Vermont Reggae Festival kicks off at Lamoille County Field Days in Johnson. This year’s headlining performers include Mighty Mystic, Massive B Soundsystem, local legends Lambsbread, and the one and only Lee “Scratch” Perry, among scores of other artists of local, regional and national renown. And you know a fest will be a good time when, alongside ticket info, organizers caution that cars entering the campsite “will be searched.” Awesome. For more info on the three-day festival’s lineup, ticketing and camping, visit vermontreggaefest.com.
- Continuing on a theme, this Friday also marks the start of the third annual RhinoFest in Plainfield. The almost completely localvore lineup features, among others, the Eames Brothers, Movement of the People, Bearquarium, Gold Town, Vorcza and Coba Stella — the last of whom a reader recently wrote in about with glowing praise. And if you’re worried about missing the reggae vibes emanating from the north, fret not. The fest also features the irie stylings of Dubconsicous, Zion I and Montpelier’s MadMan 3. Visit rhinofestvt.com for more details.
- Of course, the marquee event this weekend is undoubtedly the Lake Champlain Maritime Festival. The big names you know: MGMT, Gov’t Mule, Dark Star Orchestra and some chick named Grace. Maybe you’ve heard of her? Indeed, this year’s LCMF is as top heavy as any in recent memory. But I’m actually more interested in the free music on the undercard. As they seem to do each year, LCMF organizers have accumulated a strong collection of (mostly) local folk, roots and rock talent. Friday features local folk-music guru — and occasional 7D contributor — Robert Resnik with longtime collaborator Marty Morrissey; local all-star dance band Ringbone; and up-and-coming jam kids the McLovins. Saturday highlights include sets from Joshua Panda, fresh from a summerlong national tour, the Amida Bourbon Project and a duet with singer-songwriters Jen Crowell and Steve Hartmann. Sunday’s lineup might be the finest of all, as Mike Colbourn & the John Tower Project, the ever-lovely Mia Adams and the Scenic Roots and the Martin Guigui All-Star Jam Band take to the stage. And did I mention it’s all free?
- Congratulations to the Good Times Café! The Hinesburg haunt is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and has really ramped up its booking, bringing in notable roots and folk artists on a monthly basis. On Wednesday, August 18, virtuoso guitarist Richard Smith drops by for an intimate evening of face-melting, acoustic shredding. As of press time there were still some tickets available, but they’re going fast.
- Montpeculiar residents wondering what all the fuss is about over Burlington indie darlings Lendway will have a chance to find out when the quartet makes its capital-city debut at Langdon Street Café this Friday. The band will handle opening duties for a new Montpelier all-star group, Once Radio, featuring Jay Ekis, Brian Clark, Michael Donofrio and Phil Carr.
- Random question: When did the Burlington Concert Band get so good? I’ve lived next to Battery Park for several years now, and sporadically in various hovels around the Old North End for years before that, so I have long enjoyed the community orchestra’s Sunday evening concerts in a nonironic, down-home sort of way. Yes, really. But I don’t remember them ever sounding as polished as they have this summer. Seriously, if you’re looking for a nice, wholesome way to spend a late-summer evening, pack a picnic dinner and swing by the park some Sunday. It’s a treat.
- Hear ye, hear ye! Burlington-based electro-acoustic outfit That Toga Band shall henceforth be known as Squid City. That is all.
- Last but not least, happy trails to the Lab cofounder and headmaster — and my onetime personal turntablism mentor — DJ ZJ, who is leaving the urban-music-production school after three years. Cofounder Derrick Brown will continue the school’s operations. However, ZJ doesn’t plan to stay retired for long. In a recent missive he hints at a brand-new venture he’ll unveil in the coming months. Stay tuned…
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.