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Free Jazz? No, Jazz Free! 

Soundbites: Free Jazz? No, Jazz Free!, Mystery (Con)Science Theater, Y J.P.’s? Y Not?, Holy Crap, Bite Torrent

It’s here, it’s here! It’s finally here! The 2009 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is about to begin! In a matter of mere days — hours, even! — the entire city will be enveloped, ever so carefully, by an enormous pair of velvety soft jazz hands, lulling our every waking sense into a sweet, narcotic slumber. From this Thursday’s opening “ceremonies” — i.e., boozing at Halvorson’s — straight on through for nearly a fortnight, the Queen City will swing like never before. Children will dance in the streets. Elderly couples will swoon in each other’s arms. Balding middle-aged white guys will stroke their chins (semi) knowingly, using phrases they would never speak aloud in normal conversations. Words like “angular” and “lush” and “infectious.” For the next 10 days, everyone’s a music critic.

Except me. I’m off the clock.

OK, not really. But for purposes of this column, let’s just pretend that’s the case. So in honor, actually, of Jazz Fest, I’m declaring Soundbites a “Jazz Free Zone” for the next two weeks. I mean, let’s face it. At this point, you really don’t need me to tell you what’s great about Jazz Fest, right? Of course not. Although, if you do, you can click here, where you will find an article in which I, um, tell you what’s great at this year’s Jazz Fest. Ahem.

Anyway, without further ado, I present the second annual installment of Jazz Free Soundbites.

(Oops! One last small “ado.” Congrats to the tireless crew at BDJF for what looks to be yet another world-class fest. You guys rock, er, jazz. Well, you know what I mean.)

Mystery (Con)Science Theater

I’m really not supposed to tell you about this next show. But I really want to. So, if you happen to find it — I’m really not supposed to tell you where it is — you didn’t hear it from me. Deal?

Now that we’ve squared that away, this Saturday, Joe Jack Talcum, cofounder of The Dead effing Milkmen is playing a solo show in Burlington. Really. Much like the (not quite) Dead Milkmen, Talcum’s solo work is marked by blistering — and often hysterically funny — social satire. But age seems to have softened the songwriter, at least sonically. His recent material features more twang than punk. Still, his music packs a punch. A sucker punch, maybe. But a punch nonetheless.

Also slated to appear are Michael Tonn of Trainwreck Kelly, bluegrass outfit — and Greyspoke offshoot — Goldtown and a new local rock duo, 17th Fire, which is composed of “saxy” songwriter Caroline O’Connor (Tapis Bleu) and Cccome?’s Jarmac T. Harvys.

If you want to go, you can purchase $7 tix at . . . well, I can’t tell you that either. And you know me. I’ll never spill the Bean.

Y J.P.’s? Y Not?

If there is one juke joint in town that is tragically underutilized as a live music venue, it has got to be J.P.’s Pub on Main Street. Yeah, the constant karaoke is fun and all. As is playing Big Buck Hunter. But think about it. With regular live music, J.P.’s could become Burlington’s answer to Charlie O’s, otherwise known as the Greatest Bar in the World. Let’s make this happen, people. We could even give the idea a test run this week.

This Thursday, local punk outfit Y69 gives Dave Harrison — he of ye olde Superstar Karaoke — a night off with what promises to be the most rip-roarin’ evening the dive bar has seen since… when was the last time The Wards played?

Anyway, it should rock. And it would provide a good opportunity to check out some new tunes from the band’s forthcoming CD, We’ve Got Problems. And to play Big Buck Hunter. And maybe some foosball. Local pop-rockers SpoonFed open the show.

Holy Crap

The Vermont Workers’ Center is a little down and out after recently losing a big chunk of grant money from Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington (“Fair Game,” May 13, 2009). The way-holier-than-thou organization disagrees with the VWC’s stance on women’s reproductive rights as outlined in their “Health Care Is a Human Right” campaign. Obviously, the Catholics are agin’ it. Because as any Monty Python fan knows, every sperm is sacred.

To help recoup some of the lost dough, the VWC is hittin’ the road with legendary singer-songwriter and social activist Si Kahn, as well as local tunesmith Scott Ainslie, to spread their grassroots gospel. You can catch them Thursday at Burlington’s FlynnSpace, Friday at the VWC headquarters on North Winooski Avenue, Saturday at Barre’s Old Labor Hall and Sunday at the West Village Meeting House/All Souls Church in Brattleboro. Each show will feature different performances and areas of focus, so visit for more details.

Bite Torrent

The impending summer of ridiculous music just got a little more ridiculous with the announcement of the very first Tweed River Festival in Stockbridge. The down-home, three-day hootenanny will take place July 3, 4 and 5 and feature a slew of local favorites, including Bow Thayer and the Perfect Train Wreck, The Cush, The Kind Buds, Dylan Sneed and many, many more. More info can be found at (Note: As an aside, we really need to come up with an official name for this summer’s copious musical shenanigans: “The Summer of [blank].” I got nothing. Help me out here, people. Best submission wins a free newspaper. Or maybe a T-shirt.)

Greg Davis is at it again. This week he’s presenting not one, but two shows of typically ear-bending sonic proportions. First up is “modified banjo” auteur Paul Metzger, whom I guarantee will blow your feeble little minds. He’ll be joined by fellow experimentalists Eric Carbonara, Paper Hats, Elaine Evans and Amen Dunes this Saturday at the Firehouse Gallery. Then on Wednesday, June 10, Davis and his partner in sonic crime, Chris Weisman, kick off a nine-show international (Canada) tour, supporting heralded UK Young God Records artist James Blackshaw at Burlington’s Designhaus. Prodigal B-town indie-rocker Ryan Power opens.

In economic news — warning: it probably ain’t good news — this Sunday will mark the farewell broadcast of Champ 101.3 FM’s weekly Pink Floyd show, “Floydian Slip.” The show, which was on the air for 13 years, is a casualty of waning sponsorship. Rumors that it will be replaced by “The Machine-ist” are unconfirmed/made up by me, as of this filing. Best of luck to host Craig Bailey, who states in an email that he may continue the show elsewhere at some point, either with another station or via webcast.

And finally, I was this close to scoring an interview with Emmylou Harris for this very edition, to preview her performance at this Thursday’s installment of the Concerts on the Green at Shelburne Museum — for which there are still tix, FYI. But, perhaps predictably, it fell through. In retrospect, it’s probably for the best. In all likelihood, it would have played out similarly to that old Chris Farley skit on “Saturday Night Live”: “So Emmylou. Remember when you sang with Gram Parsons?… That was awesome.”

Yup. Definitely for the best.

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Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

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


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