It's almost hard to believe, but Higher Ground is turning 10 this week. Seems like just yesterday the club was but a babe in a swaddling strip mall in Winooski. But now, the venue is all growned up, and has staked a legitimate claim as one of New England's most prominent venues with palatial digs in South Burlington. They grow up so fast, don't they?
In celebration, the club is throwing an outright hootenanny this Tuesday, utilizing both the Ballroom and Showcase Lounge to feature live bands (The Dave Grippo Funk Band, The HG Family Allstars, et al.), DJs (A-Dog and Big Dog, woof!), multimedia presentations and, of course, booze. Magic Hat is reportedly brewin' up something real special for the occasion.
Additionally, the club is sponsoring two contests with prizes that include concert tickets, CDs, DVDs and, according to their website, "anything else we've got lying around the office." Intriguing.
The first contest is a search for the person who can prove he or she has been to more Higher Ground shows than anyone else. Do you have 142 ticket stubs stashed away from various Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime shows over the years? If so, get a life. Then, get 'em all together and bring them with you to the club, along with any other tix you might have. Who knows? You could be a winner. Or a total loser, depending on which bands grace the front of those stubs. And yes, I'm just kidding about the "loser" thing. We all miss Sublime in our own peculiar ways, I guess. Moving on . . .
The second giveaway is my favorite. "The Best Higher Ground Story Contest" is, well, exactly what it sounds like. Like most of you, I have dozens of great memories from both incarnations of the club, so it's hard to choose among them. But if forced to sum them up in a single word, I'd choose this one: GWAR. Now that was sublime.
For more info on the party, and instructions for entering both contests, visit www.highergroundmusic.com.
Speaking of Higher Ground, the club just released the lineup for this summer's "Concerts on the Green" series at pastoral Shelburne Museum, sponsored by Unilever, er, Ben & Jerry's.
The music kicks off Friday, June 27, with socially conscious hip-hop fusionists Michael Franti & Spearhead. Next up, HG co-owner Alex Crothers and Co. throw the hipster/MacBook set a bone with saucy indie siren Feist on Sunday, July 6. On a personal note, the lovely Ms. Feist's performance at the Flynn MainStage last September was one of the best shows I've seen in years. Listening to her with the Adirondacks and the sunset as a backdrop promises to be quite a treat.
Next up is two-time Grammy Award-winning rock songwriter Melissa Etheridge, on Saturday, July 26. Etheridge is an outspoken gay-rights advocate, and won an Oscar for her song on Al Gore's infamous global warming doc, An Inconvenient Truth. Gay rights and environmentalism? Perhaps we should make her an honorary Vermonter.
Tickets for all shows go on sale this Friday.
Speaking of contests, the folks at 90.1 FM WRUV are looking to spruce up their new home in UVM's Davis Center. Apparently, the bare 20-by-9-foot wall outside the studio just doesn't inspire the appropriate degree of free-form broadcast eclecticism, so the station is offering a $500 bounty for the local artist who can come up with a suitable design. The mural must include the station's broadcast frequency and call letters, but beyond that there are no design restrictions. Send submissions by April 30, on a sheet of paper no larger than 17-by-11.5 inches, to WRUV c/o Mural Talk, Davis Center, UVM, Burlington, VT 05401.
The rock 'n' roll hit parade keeps on a-chuggin' at Club Metronome this Thursday, as a trio of hard-rawkin' local outfits bask in the glow of the venue's spiffy new wood floor.
First up is acoustic grunge outfit L. Dora, who describe themselves as "L. Dorable." Works for me. Check 'em out and create your own clever pun to describe them. Since it seems to be a running theme this week, perhaps we'll have a contest.
Next up is a group called Player 2. To be perfectly honest, I don't know a goddamned thing about this group except they're from Burlington and have a MySpace profile that tells you absolutely nothing about who they are or what they sound like. However, I do love a good mystery . . .
Finally, we have Party Star, who quite simply rawk wicked hahd. The Black Sabbath acolytes have been working on a brand-spankin'-new EP with local super-producer Rob O'Dea and, according to front man Matt Perry, plan to unleash the recording in the near future.
I've perhaps been a bit quick, in recent weeks, to criticize Metronome's calendar for a seeming lack of local rock shows. But lately they've been delivering the goods. I, for one, would like to
Regular readers know by now that I'm no champion of the jam scene. But this show might lie under even my considerably low threshold for noodly shenanigans. Maybe.
You see, EOTO aren't really a jam band, though they certainly jam. Essentially composed of String Cheese's percussion section, this heady duo fuses considerable improvisational skills with a love for electronic dance music. By recording everything they play on the spot and then continually mixing and remixing the results, EOTO create a completely free-form dance party that never sounds the same from night to night. Regardless of what you think of jam music, that's an interesting concept, and likely makes for one badass show.
Coming full circle, this Saturday Higher Ground's Showcase Lounge plays host to a stellar lineup of local and regional acts, rockin' for a genuinely good cause. Dubbed "Rock for Docs," the evening is a benefit concert organized by Common Ground in St. Albans to benefit Doctors Without Borders. That humanitarian nonprofit strives to bring essential medical care to the most impoverished and war-ravaged corners of the globe.
The lineup includes Pittsburgh funk outfit Jazzam, ex-Burlington folk darlings Avi & Celia, Boston-based hip-hop fusion troupe Lights Out and local luminaries such as The Dirtminers, The Breaking In and a curious new outfit called Pete & The Meat Whistle. Really? "Meat Whistle"? Maybe we should have a contest to re-name that last band?