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Burlington Bacchanalia 

Soundbites: Bass Nectar, Led LO/CO, Vermont Peace Song Contest, Another World is Possible

Who doesn’t love a good orgy? Uh . . . I mean . . . um, is it getting warm in here?

According to the press release for their upcoming show at Higher Ground, an evening with San Francisco’s unparalleled party people, Bassnectar, is “a modern-day social mosh pit of head-nodders and head-bangers, freaks and ex-ravers, hippies and hipsters, dub reggae heads, artists, fashion experimentalists, social activists and hip-hop enthusiasts, all packed into one steamy room of grinding, orgiastic expression and musical experimentation known as a bass ritual.” Kind of sounds like a John Cameron Mitchell film, no?

Illicit innuendo aside, the project is the amorphous brainchild of inimitable Bay City DJ/producer Lorin Ashton and has developed a rabid national cult following by fusing elements of mid-tempo break beats, big beat, old-school hip-hop and dub, drum-and-bass, glitch, IDM, electronica, death metal, grind-core, punk rock, alternative, folk, swing and jazz. And “sampling anything from the human history of sound and music.”

Wow. I don’t even know what half of that stuff is. But it sounds like the ultimate musical casserole . . . with sex!

Check ’em out for yourself this Friday at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge with support from two local party-jumpin’ wheel-spinners, DJ Haitian and djk.


Speaking of musical debauchery, it appears that Australia’s favorite heavy-metal convicts, Led LO/CO, are on prison release again. I know it’s been a while, but really, the penal system Down Under must be pretty lax for the number of times these drunken asses have been paroled. Whatever. I’m just glad they’re back.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the group, picture Spinal Tap playing nothing but AC/DC and Led Zeppelin tunes — spot-on and totally wasted. I think you get the idea.

Honestly, drummer Waldo Smileton, bassist Preston Smalley, guitarist/vocalist Ivernall Peters and didgeridoo master Smithers Smithey comprise the most ass-kickin’, cock-rockin’ tribute band this side of Guns N’ Roses acolytes Paradise City, and put on one of the most raucous live shows you’ll ever see. To borrow a line from Tenacious D, “Caution: The Surgeon General of Rock warns that viewing this band is equal to 29 orgasms.” Sounds about right to me.

See for yourself this Saturday as the band takes over Nectar’s for an evening of unbridled, guitar-wanking gluttony.


Few institutions in the canon of American songwriting are more compelling than the peace, or protest, song. From the clever ramblings of Woody Guthrie to the poetic condemnations of Vietnam War-era tunesmiths Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to more contemporary guardians of truth such as Bruce Springsteen, songs calling for humanistic solutions to violent conflict have a proud, storied tradition that began even before the dawn of pop music.

Competition has equally deep roots in the psyche of American culture. For better or worse, it drives us economically, intellectually and artistically. Is there any more quintessentially American phenomenon than “American Idol”? (Well, OK, the show is a rip-off of the U.K.’s “Pop Idol,” but still . . .) What happens, then, when you combine the purity and passion of the traditional American peace song with a talent show? I don’t know, and I’m not sure I want to find out.

But those with stronger stomachs for such contradictory concepts can discover the answer at Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café next Wednesday, October 24, when the cozy capital city coffee shop hosts the 2007 Vermont Peace Song Contest.

Sponsored by central Vermont’s Onion River Community Access Media (ORCA), the event will be hosted by local storyteller Peter Burns and recorded for public-access television. According to ORCA’s website, “It’s all about ‘sing-along-ability’ and whether your song can rival those of the Sixties.” Hmm . . . color me suspicious.

It’s not that I question whether local songwriters can match the lofty standards of their forebears — many of them can, and do. And I don’t necessarily have a big problem with artists offering their work for competitive critique — though how you judge the quality of one peace song over another is beyond me. There’s just something about combining the two ideas that strikes me as disingenuous. To put it in bumper-sticker terms: Sing for peace, not prizes!

Anyway, those who are interested in performing can find registration forms, performer releases and contest rules at

Rules for peace songs? When will they ever learn, indeed.


Those who prefer their activism without the Simon Cowell treatment would do well to find themselves at Club Metronome this Friday as the Vermont Workers Center and Iraq Veterans Against the War co-present “Another World Is Possible.” The show features performances by local rock legionnaires Workingman’s Army and rebel-folk turntable terrorists Second Agenda, along with a brief talk by IVAW member Matt Howard.

The Vermont Workers Center is a member-run organization committed to advocating for workers’ rights and livable wages and working conditions for all Vermonters. Do you think Sen. Bernie Sanders is down with these folks? Since he’s scheduled to speak at the event, I’m guessing the answer is yes.

If you’re not familiar with Iraq Veterans Against the War, you really need to read this paper more often. Dedicated to giving voice to the concerns of the people who stand to lose the most by continuing our ill-advised course in Iraq — that would be the soldiers — IVAW aims to educate the public about the realities of our government’s Middle East morass.

You can tune into any mass-media outlet and accept what airbrushed talking heads tell you about the war as gospel. Or you can listen to the folks who’ve actually been there.

I recently had an opportunity to hear Matt Howard speak about his Iraq experience at the release party for Wyld Stallions Records’ latest compilation, A Line in the Sand, and never has the gravity of the situation hit me so forcefully. Howard is the under-card at this event, but I’m guessing his will be the most powerful performance of the night. If only we had some way to judge...

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

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


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