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Monday, March 30, 2020

In Coronavirus Facebook Groups, Moderators and Commenters Clash

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 2:43 PM

  • Illustration by Diane Sullivan; image of person ©Dreamstime/One Photo; coronavirus images Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
If you scroll quickly through the 802 Stay Safe and Strong Informational Group on Facebook, it almost reads like a regular community forum. Its members post, comment on and react to updates on Vermont businesses, offer praise for thoughtful neighbors, and laugh over the occasional joke or animal video. A single post might get hundreds of likes and dozens of shares.

The group, formerly called 802 Stay Safe and Strong Updates, was created on March 13 by Morrisville resident Tammy Wells and now has more than 15,500 members. Wells had created Facebook groups before and saw this one as a good way to share information with friends and family about local impacts of the coronavirus. She had no idea it would blow up the way it has.

“I’ve been a moderator for five [Facebook] groups that I’m connected with. So I’ve been doing this a long time,” Wells said. “But this one is serious.”

There’s no way of knowing what percentage of the group’s members are Vermont residents. But if they all were, it would mean Wells had acquired an audience of more than 2 percent of the state’s population in just two weeks. For contrast, in the three years since Gov. Phil Scott created his Facebook page, he has amassed 20,000 followers.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Quarantine Book Club: Reading Recommendations from Phoenix Books

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 2:26 PM

  • Courtesy of Phoenix Books in Burlington
  • Phoenix Books in Burlington
As Vermonters hunker down during the coronavirus pandemic, finding ways to stave off boredom has become more important than ever. But what to do when you've burned through the home library in, like, four days? Throughout this indefinite period of isolation, we'll check in regularly with local booksellers for reading tips. First up in the Quarantine Book Club: Phoenix Books in Burlington.

You might think that since it closed to in-person customers more than a week ago, Phoenix Books in Burlington would be like a ghost town. (Ghost store?) However, the Bank Street bookseller has been anything but.

"We've been pretty busy," said store manager Tod Gross, "there's no down time." He explained that both the Burlington store and its counterpart in Essex Junction have been doing brisk business in online and phone sales both for mail order and "contact-less" curbside pickup.

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Almost There: Vermont Live-Stream Concerts, March 26-April1

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 12:10 PM

Lauren Costello, aka ouzkxqlzn - FILE: LUKE AWTRY
  • File: Luke Awtry
  • Lauren Costello, aka ouzkxqlzn
In this strange new era of social distancing and isolation, going out to see live music and comedy is , at least for the time being, no longer an option. So musicians and comedians are bringing the shows to us through a variety of online streaming platforms such as Zoom and Facebook Live.

For your listening and viewing pleasure, each week we're compiling as many livestream performances by Vermont artists as we can find. We'll do our best to update the below list as more and more livestreaming events are announced, so check back often.  And we'll post a fresh batch of shows every Thursday. Just click the links to each show's event page for relevant details, including where to stream and donate.

Highlights this week include a twice-weekly series of covers by avant-garde cellist and songwriter Lauren Costello (aka ouzkxqlzn), the virtual return of Vermont expat Gregory Douglass, a DJ set from the estimable DJ Disco Phantom, and varied comedy offerings from the Vermont Comedy Club and Revelry Theater. 

BTW, most of these shows are free, but the performers typically accept tips. So maybe donate some of what you would have spent on drinks at the bar, eh?

And if you are a Vermont artist performing livestreamed concerts who would like to be included in future editions of "Almost There," email us with details at

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Vermonters Get Crafty to Keep Their Neighbors in Yarn

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 10:55 AM

  • Courtesy of Amanda Meltsner
  • Learn-to-knit kits.
Last week, Amanda Meltsner realized her friends seemed to have a lot of time on their hands. Meltsner, who was recently laid off from “all three” of her jobs, understood the feeling — but she also knew a good way to ride out long days of social distancing.

Meltsner is a knitter, and during non-pandemic times, she and a friend run a monthly crafting group called Queen City Fiber Night at Three Needs Tap Room & Pizza Cube in Burlington. Gathering in person to chat, drink and stitch isn’t an option right now. But Meltsner had a bunch of donated yarn from previous fiber nights stored in her house. So she posted in a few public Facebook groups asking if anyone in Burlington wanted a knitting kit delivered to their front door.

The response was immediate and enthusiastic. Meltsner said last week that around 20 people had requested yarn and needles, and several others had offered to donate to offset the costs of needles, which Meltsner bought at Michael’s.

“It’s kind of turned into something bigger than I thought,” Meltsner said.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Burlington Family Makes a Social Distancing Music Video, Because Why Not?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 4:50 PM

Edward Hall (left) and Adam Hall - SCREENSHOT OF "THE CORONA VIRUS SONG (5 FEET)"
  • Screenshot of "The Corona Virus Song (5 Feet)"
  • Edward Hall (left) and Adam Hall
When the music teacher at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington emailed parents to suggest that families make music videos together to pass the time, professional tenor Adam Hall got right to work with his daughter Ruby, 13, and son Edward, 9. The trio transformed the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” into “The Corona Virus Song (5 Feet).”

The hilarious piece of work on YouTube  made it to the local evening news the same day Hall emailed it to the music teacher.

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Rough Francis Drummer's Coronavirus-Themed Nirvana Cover Goes Viral

Posted By on Sun, Mar 22, 2020 at 3:01 PM

Urian Hackney - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Urian Hackney
Rough Francis drummer Urian Hackney's parodic cover of Nirvana's "Stay Away" has gone viral. On Saturday, the multi-instrumentalist and producer unveiled "Stay Inside," a humorous reimagining of the Seattle grunge group's 1991 tune. Hackney wrote new lyrics that nod to social distancing and other society-wide efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Merrill Theatres Closes Burlington-Area Movie Theaters: Latest Arts- and Food-Related Coronavirus Updates in Vermont

Posted By , , , , , , , and on Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 2:48 PM

  • Dreamstime
As the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 spreads, it is forcing Vermonters to take precautions. Chief among the recommended steps for limiting exposure is avoiding large public gatherings. That means area performing arts venues, theaters, galleries and nightclubs are scaling down their offerings, postponing or canceling events, and, in many cases, closing.

Other local organizations and businesses are also shifting how they operate, often to minimize person-to-person contact.

As word of local arts-related closings, cancellations and news becomes available, we'll post updates here.

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The Flynn Has Laid Off or Furloughed 12 Employees

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 1:43 PM

The Flynn marquee - MARGARET GRAYSON
  • Margaret Grayson
  • The Flynn marquee
The Flynn has laid off six employees and furloughed six others, according to interim executive director Charlie Smith. In a phone call Friday with Seven Days, Smith said "many of those" employees have an estimated return-to-work date, though he cautioned that Flynn administrators "don't have a clearer crystal ball than anyone else" and couldn't speculate when that date might be. 

On Friday, March 13, in response to concern over the spread of COVID-19, the Flynn canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 season, including all shows and programming through May 31.

"We hope and expect that these aren't permanent changes, though in some cases they are," he said. "We're just doing our best to prepare the Flynn to come back strong when we're able to."

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Almost There: Vermont Live-Stream Concerts, March 19-25

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 2:35 PM

Francesca Blanchard - COURTESY OF KAYHL COOPER
  • Courtesy of Kayhl Cooper
  • Francesca Blanchard
Normally, Seven Days provides an ongoing, comprehensive list of local nightlife events for our readers. But, because of the recent closures and cancellations due to concerns about COVID-19, there quite literally are no live events to list — that you can attend in person, that is.

In our brave new social distancing world, virtual shows are popping up all over the place. Whether through Facebook, Instagram, Zoom or many other digital platforms, live-streaming concerts and open mics are an elegant solution to stay  connected with the local music and comedy scenes. So we're rolling out a weekly roundup of live-stream concerts by local artists — and maybe a few select expats — called "Almost There."

Below, you'll find this week's edition. We'll do our best to update it as more and more live-streaming events are announced and post a fresh batch every Thursday. Just click the links to each show's event page for relevant details, including where to stream and donate.

And if you are a Vermont artist performing live-stream concerts who would like to be included in future editions of "Almost There," email Jordan Adams at

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