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Sound Bites: Mike Gordon, Blues and Lasers, The Duhks, Gordon Stone

click to enlarge MIa Adams
  • MIa Adams

As usual, this year’s Lake Champlain Maritime Festival at Burlington’s Waterfront Park boasts some big-name talent. Most folks already know about this Friday’s free Mike Gordon show — hey, did you guys hear that Phish might be getting back together? Sick, bro.

And I’m sure Potterheads (Pottermouths? We really need a good name for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals fans) have had this Saturday’s show on their calendars since, well, last year’s GPN Waterfront appearance.

And then, of course, progressive jazz-rockers (cough . . . jam band . . . cough) The Derek Trucks Band close out the weekend Sunday night. Fun fact: DTB’s percussionist is named Count M’Butu. Wasn’t he in one of the last Star Wars flicks? But I digress.

Anyway, if you need me to tell you more about those three bands, you are frankly beyond my help. Go Google them and come back when you’re finished.

The rest of you would do well to check out the fest during the day, as well as later in the evening, as a number of local options await your landlubbing ears. (Maritime fest, get it?)

Friday finds a trio of homegrown acts playing in the park, including The Leaves (see the spotlight on page 16B); estimable swampy-tonk crooner Brett Hughes; and quirky Americana outfit The Dirtminers.

Following a set by shanty-singin’ West Virginia duo House of Cadarn on Saturday afternoon, the menu is once again localvore as Burlington High School rockers Superflight take the stage. Essex songwriter Steve Hartman is up next, with Vermont’s reigning gospel diva Tammy Fletcher’s roots outfit Mountain Girl closing out the afternoon.

On Sunday there’s a repeat performance from House of Cadarn, who — I’m not kidding — wear spiffy pirate outfits, presumably only onstage, though. Then sultry local indie-folk singer-songwriter Mia Adams performs with her backing band The Scenic Roots. Incomparably talented newlywed Gordon Stone wraps things up, jazz-grass style. The fun starts at 11 a.m. all three days.


Also of note at this year’s Maritime Fest, both for Potterpeople and fans of bluesy psych-rock, is Blues & Lasers, who will handle opening duties for the leggy starlet on Saturday. B&L is the side project of GPN guitarist Scott Tournet — guess how they scored the gig? — and finds the talented axeman shedding his well-known pop-rock proclivities in favor of headier, grittier musical explorations.

Most folks probably don’t know that prior to his stint with The Nocturnals, Tournet was all over the musical map. He played with a Sun Ra-influenced jazz act, an electronica band, a jug band and a host of other groups across the genre spectrum; he even played bass in a hip-hop band. In a recent email, Tournet writes that he’s tired of being pigeonholed as “sounding like I came from 1973.” His answer was Blues & Lasers.

The band has an EP out now that was recently recorded at Club Metronome. I have to say, it’s pretty good. And quite a departure from what you’d normally expect from the Nocturnal sideman.


Believe it or not, there’s another, equally impressive music fest this weekend, though you won’t be afforded lake views, I’m afraid. This Saturday marks the second annual Valley Stage Music Festival in Huntington and boasts a nifty little lineup of local and international Americana and folk.

Leading off are central Vermont hepcats Lewis Franco & the Missing Cats with special guest, local folk darling Susannah Blachly. Vermont’s own Righteous Babe Anaïs Mitchell is up next (see spotlight page 09B, where I also use the Righteous Babe reference), followed by stellar roots outfit Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem from Connecticut.

Finally, this year’s headliner is a Canadian group — see? it is international — called The Duhks. Hailing from Winnipeg, the genre-jumping acoustic quintet recently scored a Juno Award, Canada’s version of the Grammy. Given the current exchange rate, a Juno is actually just about on par with a Grammy — for which The Duhks were also recently nominated in the “Best Country Vocal Performance by a Group or Duo.”

While the Valley Stage music lineup is obviously cause for celebration, the real star of the show will be the sun, which this year is powering the entire fest. Assuming it shows up, of course.

Ticket info is available through


Once again, we have so little time and so much to do. So in true rapid-fire Soundbites style, let’s get to it.

Congrats to pedal steel/banjo guru Gordon Stone. As alluded to earlier in the column, he married his longtime girlfriend/manager Jennifer Harwood on Sunday, August 3. No word on who the wedding band was. Good luck, you crazy kids.

Is anyone else as profoundly bummed about the cancellation of this Tuesday’s Boyz II Men show at Higher Ground? Now the hi-top fade I was sporting for the occasion just looks silly. Any chance we could get Kris Kross on the calendar soon as consolation? So wiggity whack.

A big “Welcome home!” goes out to Burlington’s prodigal indie-rock sons Nightbirds, who find themselves back in Vermont after a failed attempt to move to Los Angeles. To their credit, the boys got as far as Colorado before the money ran out and they were forced to return to port. If it’s any consolation, we’re glad you’re back, birdies. Catch them every Monday in August at Nectar’s.

I’ve gone most of the summer without shamelessly self-promoting Seven Days’ ongoing “Up Your Alley” music series Fridays at Red Square. Well, there are only three left, and if you can think of a better way to spend Happy Hour than sipping ice cold PBR outside whilst taking in some killer local music, I’d love to hear it. This week, longtime Vermont rocker Rick Redington — who has a nifty new album out — takes the stage. Next week it’s Colin Clary & a Magog, fresh from their recent European vacation with tales to tell. And closing out the year, Me & You with Brett Hughes and Marie Claire — not to be confused with M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him, of course. See you there at 5:01 p.m. sharp.

Belle & Sebastian/Mojave 3 fans, take note: Go see Bears this Saturday at Radio Bean. You can thank me on Sunday.

Sondre Lerche/Andrew Bird fans, take note: Go see Kris Gruen the same night at Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café. You can thank me on Monday, so as not to interfere with Sunday’s thank-you calls.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Soundbites column without a benefit concert shout-out. This Sunday afternoon, the Barre Opera House hosts a tribute to late local keyboardist Michael Sucher, who died in March of complications from lung cancer. The lineup is a veritable “who’s who” of central Vermont talent with The Sandra Wright Band — of which Sucher was a member — Kip Meaker’s Blue Velvet, The Dave Keller Band, Colin McCaffrey, Jeremiah McLane, The Winn Sisters and Ellen Powell with Tom Cleary. Proceeds benefit the Michael Sucher Memorial Fund.

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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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