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Friday, November 17, 2017

Playtime: Hallowell, "Follow (ft. Elin Smith)"

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 12:47 PM

  • Courtesy of Joseph Pensak
  • Joseph Pensak
Hallowell is the musical alias of  Joseph Pensak, perhaps better known as the minister of the Presbyterian church Redeemer Burlington. Pensak is preparing to release his upcoming full-length debut as Hallowell on Great Comfort Records — the New Jersey label responsible for Sufjan Steven's Seven Swans. To raise awareness (and money) for the album, Pensak has unveiled a music video for the album's first single, "Follow (ft. Elin Smith)."

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Playtime: Lean.Tee, 'Cerulean Spin'

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 11:05 AM

Lean.Tee, 'Cerulean Spin' - TAYLOR KRACHER
  • Taylor Kracher
  • Lean.Tee, 'Cerulean Spin'

When the temperature drops and my broke self feel nervous about cranking the thermostat, my bed becomes a down blanket oasis. Maybe that explains why I deeply enjoy seeing the tag "bedroom" as a musical genre. The concept of an artist escaping into their imagination, safely within their sleep nook speaks to my sun in Pisces. There's often an audible intimacy in the softness that the bedroom environment inspires.

Taylor Kracher recorded his debut EP, Cerulean Spin, as Lean.Tee in his bedroom, during the first summer he spent in Vermont. Kracher is a self-declared "trial and error" producer; he plays to his own loops and filters layers of rain and birdsong. And, yeah, it all sounds kinda dreamy.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Remembering Robert De Cormier: The Music and the Man

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 3:18 PM

  • Courtesy Glenn Moody Studios
  • Robert De Cormier
When choral conductor and arranger Robert De Cormier passed away on Sunday at the age of 95, the remembrances were swift and heartfelt. A resident of Belmont with his wife, Louise, since 1956, he was beloved by all, in part because he worked with musicians across all spectrums — musical and otherwise.

Trained at the Juilliard School, De Cormier directed the New York Choral Society for 17 years; he also served as musical director and arranger for the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary for 30 years. He performed and recorded with such classical-music greats as Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle and James Levine, while also arranging music for the likes of Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Reuben Jackson To Leave Vermont Public Radio

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 4:41 PM

  • Courtesy of Reuben Jackson
  • Reuben Jackson
Reuben Jackson, host of "Friday Night Jazz" on Vermont Public Radio, announced Tuesday via Facebook that he is leaving the show in April. He has helmed the popular weekly jazz program since 2012 when he replaced George Thomas. Thomas had hosted "Jazz with George Thomas" on VPR for over a decade.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Watch Francesca Blanchard's New Video, "Free"

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 3:16 PM

  • Courtesy of Francesca Blanchard
  • Francesca Blanchard
Singer-songwriter Francesca Blanchard recently released a new video for her song "Free." Prior to its release, the song itself was featured on ABC's long-running medical drama "Grey's Anatomy."

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Nashville Producer (and Elvis' Bassist) Coming to St. Mike's

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 6:30 AM

  • Courtesy of Norbert Putnam
  • Norbert Putnam
Norbert Putnam, a session musician and record producer, played bass guitar on 120 Elvis Presley tracks.  He was the bassist on J.J. Cale's 1971 classic "After Midnight" and produced Jimmy Buffett's 1977 hit "Margaritaville."

Putnam recorded Kris Kristofferson's first demos in Nashville and once discussed bass levels with a 13-year-old Michael Jackson. "Michael Jackson was a great genius," Putnam told Seven Days

Putnam, 75, is a repository of stories about music and the people who made it back in the day. He brings his tales to Vermont on Friday, October 20, for two events at the McCarthy Arts Center at St. Michael's College: an afternoon bass summit with Mike Gordon of Phish and an evening presentation/performance based on his book, Music Lessons: A Musical Memoir. Both events are free and open to the public.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Half Lounge Reopens in Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 10:46 AM

Half Lounge - JORDAN ADAMS
  • Jordan Adams
  • Half Lounge
Half Lounge officially reopened on Sunday night. The cocktail bar and live music hotspot closed its doors in March after serving downtown Burlington's nightlife scene for well over a decade. The Church St. watering hole will now be open seven nights a week.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Playtime: Chance McNiff, "Seasons ¢hange"

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 10:26 AM


Around a year ago, Chance McNiff's thoughts count was the feature of my first ever Playtime post. Brattleboro's psychedelic sound farmer is back with another harvest of cosmic carrots for you to snack on with visceral pleasure. This one's called Seasons ¢hange and it's a voyage, a real headphone tripper, a modern passageway to the eschaton.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Emory Fanning Celebrates 50 Years at Middlebury College, in Concert

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 5:11 PM

  • Courtesy of Todd Balfour
  • Emory Fanning
When Emory Fanning was growing up in Wilmington, Del., he sang in a cathedral choir to organ accompaniment. Both the choral and instrumental aspects of this experience shaped his life. Fanning became a consummate organist and choir director, spending most of his post-graduate career at Middlebury College.

In fact, it has been 50 years since Fanning joined the college’s music faculty. Though he retired 20 years ago from his full-time professorship, he has continued to serve as the college organist, direct an alumni choir he founded, and give private organ lessons on campus. Fanning will celebrate a half-century of Midd affiliation with a gala concert this Sunday, October 1, in Mead Chapel.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Playtime: Freakshow Industries Makes 'Audio Effects for the End Times'

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 11:17 AM

Screenshot of Freakshow Industries' landing page - FREAKSHOW INDUSTRIES
  • Freakshow Industries
  • Screenshot of Freakshow Industries' landing page
If one applied the Dungeons & Dragons Alignment System to audio startups, Freakshow Industries would definitely be plotted as Chaotic Good. The audio effects company allows users to steal its first plug-in, Backmask, which aligns with a general mission of good-natured disruption against order .

On its website, Freakshow states, "We believe that people who would buy software will buy software and we would rather give you our effects directly and unencumbered by archaic DRM." The company, which has a Burlington tie, adds that prefers not to send users "into the dark corners of the internet to grab questionable or altered versions of our work."  The theory is that offering freebies will encourage satisfied users to support the company by buying merch or other programs.  The statement concludes: "We believe that trust, generosity and goodwill are principles worth taking a chance on and so we put our continued existence into your very scary hands."
Freakshow's motto is "Audio Effects For The End Times,"  and they certainly dance on the grave of numerous conventions. The company's founders are audio industry veterans who formed Freakshow to "lovingly and repeatedly combat creative stagnation in the face, opening portals to new and unique sounds with exceedingly affordable audio product."

One of the founders, former Soundtoys employee Jasper Duba, is based in Burlington. Duba is the kind of modern renaissance man you'd expect to hide out in Vermont — he hunts mushrooms and throws pottery in his spare time.
Freakshow's first release, Backmask, is a chaotic reverse effect that appears to have been made by Rick Sanchez, the alcoholic scientist from the Adult Swim animated series "Rick and Morty." The interface is intuitive, with the emphasis on experimentation; basically half the fun is figuring what the controls actually do.

Backmask functions as a sample reverse with multiple effects options. But beyond that, describes it as "the most conceptual plug-in we've seen."

Don't let its eccentric design deter you from trying it: Backmask is actually super fun and fairly easy to create useable sounds with. The overall aesthetic is damn refreshing in an industry dominated by sterile design. Instead of technical explanations or comparisons to classic equipment, Freakshow's website offers mostly warped demo videos with a nihilistic sense of humor.

Check out Freakshow Industries haunted virtual laboratory at

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