For the past week, I've been sailing the seven seas — well, one of them, anyway — on a cruise ship to the Bahamas with local 1960s tribute band Mellow Yellow. You can read all about our swashbuckling adventures in next week's paper. (Spoiler: Did my girlfriend and I get the Zika virus? Maybe!)
Moving quickly on, the point is that I've spent the last seven or so days basking in the Caribbean drinki— um, working and stuff. As anyone who has ever escaped to the tropics from Vermont in the winter knows, reentry is rough. I know, I know. There is precious little sympathy out there for my newly tanned, or rather, freckled face. But as the snow-slush falls from a gloomy sky outside my windows, tropical depression has been quick to set in. Palm trees and rum drinks feel like some hazy fever dream. Or maybe that's just the Zika talking. Hard to say.
Anyway, I need a pick-me-up. Lo and behold, I think I've got one.
In what has become a sure a sign of impending warmth, earlier this week the fine folks at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival leaked the first round of artists for this year's jazzenanny. It's not exactly a coconut filled with rum, but it'll do.
Starting at the top, the big news is that iconic songwriter and composer Randy Newman will play the Flynn MainStage on Friday, June 3. You could probably guess that Newman is a multiple Grammy winner. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has six Grammy wins, in fact. But did you know he's also done pretty well in some other awards? It's true. He's got three Emmys and two Academy Awards. In addition to being one of the most distinctive songwriters of his generation, dude is a top-notch film score composer. Some of his recent film work includes Monsters Inc., A Bug's Life and the Toy Story series. I probably would have known that if I had kids.
Moving on, the original lineup of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones is reuniting for a 2016 tour that includes a stop at the BDJF Waterfront Tent on Thursday, June 9. As OG Flecktone and apparent Trekkie Futureman described it, the Flecktones coming together again is like "the original crew of the Enterprise coming together on a new mission." So, like, The Wrath of Khan? Because that was dope. But if it's more The Undiscovered Country, that could be a problem. Whatever. Let's just set phasers to fun. (Sorry.)
Most years, the coolest shows at BDJF happen at the FlynnSpace. That's typically where you'll find cutting-edge, up-and-coming hepcats, such as Gretchen Parlato and EsperanzaSpalding, both of whom have played the underground hot club in recent years. The early BDJF announcement boasts two such shows that figure to be highlights come June.
The first is vocalist Charenée Wade, of whom the New York Times writes, "Ms. Wade is a jazz singer of commanding skill, an heir to the legacies of Betty Carter and Carmen McRae." Dang. She's at the FlynnSpace on Thursday, June 9.
The next is 2016 artist-in-residence Marcus Roberts. The widely acclaimed pianist has garnered at least one notable fan, Wynton Marsalis. Say, Wynton, what do you like to call Roberts?
"We call him 'the genius of the modern piano,'" said the iconic trumpeter. And why might that be?
"Because he is."
Full disclosure, I took that quote — and hacked it up — straight from the BDJF press release. And Wynton might be just a tad biased. Roberts' trio includes bassist Rodney Jordan and drummer Jason Marsalis, the latter of whom is Wynton's little brother. They'll play two shows at the FlynnSpace on Saturday, June 11.
Tickets for all of the aforementioned shows go on sale Monday, March 14, at 10 a.m.
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We haven't heard from Anders Parker in quite a while. That's because he's lately taken up residence in the Canadian Arctic, specifically, in Alert, Nunavut. Here's a fun fact about that town: It's the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, a mere 508 miles away from the North Pole. What's he been up to up there? Freezing, probably. And maybe sleeping a lot, because it's dark there, like, 23 hours a day in the winter. Beyond that I'm not sure.
I might have to ask him this weekend. Parker will be back in Vermont for a pair of shows with local songwriter and banjotar inventor Bow Thayer. On Friday, March 11, they'll be at ArtsRiot in Burlington, where Parker will be backed by his kickass — and very tall — BTV band, CloudBadge, which includes bassist Creston Lea and drummer Steve Hadeka. On Saturday, March 12, he and Thayer will play solo sets at Sweet Melissa's in Montpelier.
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Happy trails, Pours. In a recent Facebook post, band cofounder — and Seven Days employee — Bryan Parmelee wrote that the band is going on "indefinite hiatus." Parmelee thanked the band's fans and supporters and noted that both he and drummer Chris Shar will continue pursuing music and that the split was amicable. He also offered a link to the band's most recent and perhaps final recording, an EP called Ellie. You can check it out at SoundCloud. And I suggest you do. It's a fascinating progression from one of Burlington's most artistically progressive indie bands.
Pours did have one gig still on the books when they called it quits: opening for Naytronix and Young Nudist at the Monkey House this Sunday, March 13. In lieu of the full band playing, Parmelee will open the show with an all-vinyl DJ set, because, as he puts it, "canceling is for assholes." Truth.
Deadheads, take note: Local Jerry Garcia Band tribute act Cats Under the Stars have a special gig lined up this week. On Thursday, March 10, the JGB acolytes will headline a show at Club Metronome in Burlington. But of particular interest is that they'll be joined by Melvin Seals, organist with JGB for 18 years. Despite my generally lukewarm feelings toward tribute bands, I gotta admit that's pretty damned cool.
Last but not least, have you been to the Vermont Comedy Club yet? If not, what's the holdup? I know, I know. The ticket prices, especially for local audiences accustomed to more wallet-friendly local showcases, can seem a bit pricey at first glance — especially to take a chance on a performer you might not know. However, each of the bigger-ticket weekend shows I've seen have been worth the admission and then some. And really, given the caliber of touring comics coming in, most VCC shows are a steal.
But you don't need to shell out for the weekend headliners to enjoy the club. Midweek, most of the shows are either free or five bucks. These include local standup sets and improv nights, which, as I've been saying for years, are well worth your time. If you don't believe me, swing by the club this Thursday, March 10.
That night, VCC's top long-form improv troupe, the Unmentionables, take to the stage with the next installment of their Vermont Famous series. Each show features a local celeb — someone who is "Vermont famous," get it? The troupe interviews said celeb and then riffs improvised scenes based on his or her answers. Hilarity ensues.
This week, local DJ, artist, entrepreneur and author Kyle "Fattie B" Thompson is on the hot seat. His 2015 memoir, I Was a 400-Pound '80s DJ: My Memoirs Through Music, is packed with hilariously ribald stories, so there's no shortage of material to work with. Oh, and here's an interesting side note: All the cool, Warhol-esque comedian portraits adorning the clubs walls were done by none other than Fattie B.
A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc., this week.