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Thursday, May 29, 2008

James Kochalka (Game Boy) Superstar

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2008 at 2:46 PM

This little tidbit just came across my desk (OK, my laptop, since I'm working from home today).

I'm horribly, horribly busy this afternoon, so rather than reword the info, I figured I'd pass it along as I received it, sans editorial comment. Cop-out? Totally. Still, this looks like a stupendously fun show. Here ya go:

This Saturday, May 31, I’ll be playing an EARLY show at Metronome in Burlington. The show starts at 6:30pm and will all wrap up by 9:30. The line up is Koolaoke (Jason Cooley with a mustache?), Missy Bly, and James Kochalka Superstar. I’ll be doing a bunch of songs rock style with my band, but also doing a bunch of songs solo style on my GameBoy using a program called Nanoloop. I’ve never played live with the Gameboy before, so this’ll be the first.

best wishes,
James Kochalka

Partying Hard with Party Star

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Last night was the much anticipated Green Mountain Derby Dames fun-raiser at Higher Ground, "Hell on Hot Wheelz." I had been looking forward to the event for weeks. After all, Derby Dames are hot. And badass. In a way that my curly blond hair and Connecticut upbringing will never allow me to be.

Plus, I had never seen any of the featured bands play. That is, Bone Cobra, "Party Star", or Y69.

Unfortunately due to a condition I suffer from called incredible lameness, I showed up late and left early. Which means, I only caught the middle set, "Party Star".

And.... oh. my. god.

Why didn't anyone tell me?

I'm not really sure why the band's name is in quotation marks, but I do know that even as the night got late, and the ballroom started to clear out, "Party Star" rocked with such conviction that those remaining couldn't help but gravitate to the front of the stage to stare gape-mouthed at Matt and the boys (the boys being Kyle, Will, and Dan). Matt has been serving me drinks at the OP for years now, and once allowed me to hug him awkwardly when the Red Sox won the World Series and the rest of the town was being totally lame. But while I knew he was in a band, I had no idea that his onstage persona would be so... riveting.

Staring at the stage in awe, I was immediately reminded of the scene from High Fidelity when Jack Black's character Barry gets up on stage with his band Sonic Death Monkey and merges into Barry Jive and his Uptown Five. Not that "Party Star" was singing any soulful ballads, but Matt's stage presence definitely contained some sort of combination of Jack Black and, well... pure sex kitten. When playing to late night stragglers at an event that has gone overtime, it's definitely necessary to up the anti. And with his over the top facial expressions and dance moves, Matt did just that.

Which is not to downplay Kyle's performance, as he had his share of featured vocals as well. But to be perfectly honest, I was so distracted by how awesome his sneakers were that every time he got on the mic, I sort of missed it.

The highlight of the set had to be the rap, "All my Exes Live in Essex", which drew the dames to the front for a suggestive dance party, and had the rest of us laughing at lyrics. The song also featured vocals straight from Will and his drum kit, which is one of my favorite things at a live performance. In general. Not Will specific. I'm pretty sure I've never actually met Will.

To wrap things up, "Party Star" played a proposed theme song for the Dames, the name of which I can't remember because it was after midnight on a school night and my yawning was drowning out the sound. It definitely involved one of the following words though: death, tough, kill, beat, or rage. Actually I really have no idea, but let's just say that it encompassed the room's mutual feeling of admiring the Dames, while also hoping to avoid the possibility of ever running into one alone in a dark alley.

You know, if Vermont had dark alleys.

In the end I was really grateful I had dragged my ass down to the fun-raiser, even if just for that one hour, because it's safe to say I officially have a new favorite band in town.

PS Has my tendency to disappear for weeks at a time become endearing yet? Or is it still just annoying? Or maybe you haven't noticed at all. In any case... more on that later.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Pants Day!

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Despite the fact that post offices and banks are open, today is actually a holiday. At least amongst Vermont music fans who adore late, great Burlington rock outfit The Pants, who two years ago today, May 27, reunited at a sold-out Higher Ground.

As some of you are likely aware, filmmaker Bill Simmon has been putting together two flicks to celebrate the occasion: a concert film and a documentary on the band called "High Watermark." For the latter, my siblings and I were asked to record a version of the ballad, "Wounded," from the band's classic album Fred Sex.

For those who are just now following along, here's a little back story (the rest of you can skip to the vid):

I was a teenager during the much ballyhooed 1990's Burlington alt-rock explosion and a rabid fan of The Pants, who to this day remain one of my all-time favorite bands.  Long story super short, the day of the reunion show was also the day of my grandmother's wake, who had passed away earlier that spring. Since my siblings and I couldn't make the show — it would have been a long drive from Rhode Island — we played "Wounded" for our family at the wake. Word got back to Pants drummer Neil Cleary — whether via me or my sister, Ariel, is still hotly debated — and the next thing you know, we were recording the tune at Egan Media a year and a half later.

Anyway, the finished product (or, at least the Bolles' kids part. The full doc is still in production) is here. And I gotta say, it's pretty decent. My only quibble is that I appear to have put on some weight since this was recorded late last summer. Dammit.

Without further adieu, "Wounded" as performed by Ariel, Tyler and (me) Dan Bolles. Enjoy.

hi-res quicktime (104 MB)


Pants site post:

Candleblog post:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Screw You, Marathon

Posted By on Mon, May 26, 2008 at 7:59 PM

I was having such a good weekend. Nay, a great weekend. And then something went horribly awry . . .

I caught a new (to me, anyway) band at Red Square on Friday evening — Lendway, who pleasantly surprised me with a sound reminiscent of under-appreciated late 1990s Detroit alt-pop outfit The Waxwings. I had a nice, if somewhat bizarre, dinner at the Green Room with my girlfriend before she left town for the weekend — I say bizarre because the joint apparently doubles as a waiting room for What Ale's You after 9 p.m. . . . ugh. I followed that up with drinks at Flatbread and then caught a great set by Ryan Ober with The Jazz Guys at Metronome. All around, a solid night.

Saturday, I took full advantage of having the house to myself for the first time in months by settling in on the couch with my furry life-partner Buckley for a delightfully greasy dinner from Beansie's. I topped that off by watching my beloved Celtics pummel the Pistons for dessert. Again, a great night.

But the next morning, things would take a decided turn for the worse. There I was, nestled all snug in my bed while visions of NBA titles danced in my head when . . . BAM! I was sucker punched by Kid Rock. Not literally, of course. But what roused me that morning was so indescribably and offensively loud, I woke up nearly certain the dude was playing in my bedroom.

It took me a moment to grasp the situation. As comprehension slowly dawned and I realized that it was Marathon Sunday and as I live practically on top of the start line at Battery Park, I resigned myself to getting out of bed, figuring that I must have overslept. After all, no one in their right mind would blast music over a loudspeaker — especially music as indefensibly sucktacular as Kid Rock — before, like, 10 a.m., right?


As my bleary eyes fell upon my alarm clock, I did a triple take. Seven? SEVEN? Are you fucking kidding me?! I strolled into the living room to find Buckley whimpering on the couch, his head quite literally buried under the back cushions — this is something he does quite frequently and leads me to believe he may actually be part ostrich.

I peered out the window to discover Battery Park positively coursing with very skinny people wearing very short shorts and nipple tape. Slackjawed, I descended the steps to my back yard just in time to catch a middle-aged man — in short shorts and nipple tape — urinating on my fence . . . my chain link fence. Aghast, I wasn't sure if I should I should look away in embarrassed modesty or yell at the guy. I went with the latter.

"Oh, come on!" I exclaimed. "Aren't there, like, 50 port-o-lets across the street?" There were. And they looked simply lovely framing the park, I must tell you — you haven't lived until you've seen the sun setting over the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain and 50 bright blue plastic shitters.

"Oh, yeah. Sorry," he said before smiling and trotting away in that obnoxiously smug manner that hardcore health nuts largely seem to possess. Nonplussed, Buck trotted over to the fence and peed on it, marking his territory, all the while staring at our discourteous interloper as if to say That's my fence, pal. My fence.

By this point, the noise from the park had gone from suck to blow as two blithering yahoos from a local talk radio station simulcasting the event began to describe the proceedings — at near painful volume — and reminisced about the weather from past marathons. Remember when it snowed that year? Yup. Man that sucked. Yup. Sure is nice out today, though. Yup.

Some sporting events are wonderful on radio. For example, if given the choice, I'd almost prefer to listen to baseball than watch it. Other events like, say, NASCAR, don't translate as well — "And here comes Dale Jr. . . . I think he's gonna turn left  . . . yep! He turned left! Great left turn there from Junior!" Marathons appear to fall under the latter category.

I have to say that I was at the end of my rope by this point. Enraged, I did what any rational citizen would do and called the police — whose station I can see from my kitchen. Here's how it went down:

BPD: Burlington Police.

DB: Uh, yeah. I'd like to file a noise complaint.

BPD: OK. Against who?

DB: The Burlington Marathon, please.

BPD: The Bu . . . what?

DB: Yeah. I'd like to file a complaint against the marathon. It's seven in the morning, they woke me up and I can hardly hear myself think. I want to file a complaint.

BPD: You can't . . . I mean, there's nothing we can do. It's been advertised for months. You should have known.

DB: I should have known that I would be ousted from a dead sleep at 7 o'clock on a Sunday morning by some schmuck blasting Kid Rock? No way. You guys need to tell them to turn it down and you need to do it now.

BPD: I'm sorry sir, but this is a permitted event . . .

DB: I'm sure it is. And I'm also sure that on that permit there is a noise regulation. I'm even more sure that if you were to measure the decibels in my bedroom right now, they would be in violation.

BPD: Well I . . . um, would you like to speak to the officer on call?


Clicking sounds as I'm transferred . . .

BPGD: You've reached the voice mail for Officer I. Dontgiveashit (not his real name, for privacy reasons). I'm unavailable to take your . . .

I hung up.

Resigned to the fact that I was left no recourse but to wait it out, I poured myself some iced coffee and returned to the back yard. As I sat down, the radio morons were introducing Miss Vermont, who was set to sing the national anthem. I groaned audibly.

In fairness, "The Star Spangled Banner" might be the most difficult song to sing in the history of music. The phrasing is awkward, the melody is ugly and spans an octave and a half. Few singers have the talent to pull it off. Poor Miss Vermont is not one of them.

She got about as far as "By the dawn's early light" before going painfully flat. By the time she got to "Whose broad stripes and bright stars," she was in a new key entirely and still slipping. By the end of the song I was seriously considering applying for Canadian citizenship.

Her saving grace was resisting the urge to Mariah Carey up the ending. Though that didn't warrant the radio announcer's comment that she "knocked it out of the ballpark! Alright!"

I have nothing against the marathon or marathon runners, per se. It's a huge event and a boon for the local economy. I suppose this would be part of the story where I claim that "some of my best friends are marathon runners" — actually, that's true. I know a few people who ran this year.

But it seems to me that the marathon organizers should take greater care to minimize the impact of the event on the people who call Burlington home. If that was a rock band playing in the park, the police would have been all over it. I've even seen them tell bands to turn down the volume and I can almost guarantee it will happen again this summer when the Thursday night concert series resumes.

But because the marathon a big freakin' event with the mayor in attendance, the best the police can do for agitated citizens is voice mail. There oughta be a law.

Oh wait, there is.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rawk. Hawd and Otherwise

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 4:34 PM

Thank God it's Friday!

I say that not because I'm "workin' for the weekend" — I usually work on the weekend. But Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a pretty slow stretch music-wise. For whatever reason the upcoming three-day bender — in honor of fallen soldiers, of course — is actually chock full of exciting shows.

Assuming the rain lets up, I'm planning to catch Lendway this afternoon on the outdoor stage at Red Square for some happy hour rockin'. I'm told by reliable ears that the band has grown by leaps and bounds in the last year or so. Having never seen them before, I can't really weigh in on that one. But I've been meaning to check these guys out for a while. Plus, there's nothing like a nice cold PBR at 5 o'clock on a Friday to kick off the weekend.

Later this evening, I'll be headed to Metronome to soak up some theatrical Box-inspired tomfoolery. Cave Bees. Jazz Guys with proud new papa Ryan Ober. Drag queens. What's not to like?

Tomorrow night, heavy music takes center stage at Higher Ground's Showcase Lounge as Rawk Hawd Promotions presents "Get The Horns" with Cambridge, MA-based Mess With The Bull, and a smorgasbord of local talent including Blinded by Rage, aVicious Cycle, The New Tony Bennett (great effin' name), and Brooklyn metal torch bearers Timeless. This show is especially notable as it marks the final show for Rawk Hawd founder Wren Hammond. Burlington's heavy music community is always among the most vibrant and vital in town and Hammond has played a key role in that scene's continued growth over the last few years. Fortunately, Rawk Hawd will be absorbed by the 802 Booking Collective — which is now working under the umbrella of Big Heavy World — so expect them to continue pumping out great shows. Happy trails, Wren. And on behalf of everyone who appreciates heavy music 'round these parts, thank you.

If you're looking for something on the mellow end of the spectrum, Sunday night at Radio Bean promises to be a lot of fun. For the entire month of May, songwriter/Monkey House booking genius Paddy Reagan has been hosting a "Songwriter's Special" on the Lord's Day. I believe this is the last one, so catch it while you can. And even if it's not, go anyway.

Have a great holiday weekend, folks. Hope to see you out and about.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

As The World Spins

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2008 at 5:27 PM

Howdy, Solid State.

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but the run-up to Jazz Fest has got me burning the candle at both ends . . . whatever that means.

Anyway, last night I swung through Higher Ground to catch some of Get Up to Get Down, the DJ A-Dog Benefit. I know I've been devoting a lot of ink to that particular cause lately, but based on what I saw last night, it's been worth it.

It wouldn't be fair to say that the Ballroom was packed. It wasn't. But the crowd that was there was enthusiastic and supportive and were treated to an impressive display of turntablism. Following reggae and dancehall sets from Big Dog and Demus respectively, Tha VT Union took the stage and whipped off a few tunes from their forthcoming mixtape, Tha Return. If their live set is any indication, it's gonna be a good one. Towards the end of the set they were joined by sax guru Dave Grippo, who was absent from the last week's Red Square benny due to illness.

But the real highlight was the DJ jam which featured A-Dog, DJ ZJ, DJ Russell, Nastee, Big Dog and Craig Mitchell, all on separate decks. It was an absolute beat juggling, helicopter scratchin' free-for-all and easily one of the coolest "jam sessions" I've ever seen.

As I'm looking at the Certificate of Graduation from The Lab's DJ 101 class hanging on my wall, I'm struck by just how much skill and dedication it takes to cut with the speed, accuracy and technique on display last night. And here I thought I was the shit because I can pull of a couple of chirps and flares and (occasionally) match beats. It appears I am not a Jedi yet. You can check out some photos taken by East Coast Snowboarding's Dan Brown right here.

It was a great night, for a great cause. But the party ain't over. More on that next week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Kind of Press Conference

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2008 at 10:53 AM

And this, my friends, is why I love Tom Waits.

Thanks to the lovely and, um, talented Mistress Maeve for sending this my way.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A-Dog Benefit: Vol.1

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2008 at 1:06 PM

Unfortunately this info came along a little too late to write it up in the paper, but tonight Red Square is hosting a benefit for DJ A-Dog. For those who haven't been following along, A-Dog's apartment and virtually all of his worldly possessions were destroyed in a fire earlier this month. Community reaction has been swift and there are a number of benefit shows lined up to support both DJ A-Dog and Tick Tick DJ Mike Device, who also lived in the building. But tonight is the first and it promises to be a good one.

The evening will mark a return of sorts to Tha VT Union's roots as they perform with noted funk maestro Dave Grippo. Back in the day, Grippo, Fattie B, DJ A-Dog and several members of what would eventually become Tha VT Union held down a residency at the Square every Monday night. It was possibly the hottest night of the week, both for the bar and, arguably, Burlington in general. For those who remember it, tonight will likely be a nostalgic stroll down memory lane. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lost Politics: Full Transcription

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2008 at 2:46 PM

Tomorrow's edition of Seven Days features an interview with Thee Silver Mt. Zion co-founder Efrim Menuck. As so often happens, the confines of the print edition require that conversations such as this one be trimmed down to fit the physical limitations of the space. Thanks to the unceasing wonders of the Internet, no such constraints exist in the blogosphere. So you, loyal Solid State readers, get to check out the interview in its entirety. Enjoy.

PS- If you haven't bought tickets to this show yet, you really should. Like now.

Lost Politics

A Conversation with Thee Silver Mt. Zion’s Efrim Menuck

Tick Tick Presents: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band with Oak and Greg Davis & Friends this Friday at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Burlington, 8 p.m. $12/13/15. AA.


The members of Montreal’s Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band have passionate social and political beliefs, reflected by an equally passionate fan base — even though their music itself is rarely explicitly political. Seven Days recently spoke with SMZ co-founder Efrim Menuck about politics, misconceptions and a certain ad for the TV show “Lost,” in advance of their upcoming Burlington performance.

SD: TSMZ is often tabbed as a “political” band. But that seems to be a designation you bristle at.
EFRIM MENUCK: For the most part we get broadly cast as a political band or anarchists or openly idealistic. There are all sorts of generalizations made about us, and I think that’s what I bristle at. We don’t conceive of ourselves as activists or political. We just think of ourselves as formed, grown-up human beings who choose to write songs that sort of address the mess that the world is in. There aren’t any statements we’ve made that are contentious or anything. They all seem to be plainly held truths by most people. You know what I mean? I don’t know why people feel the need to characterize us as “political anarchists” or anything. But it’s really far from the truth.
    It’s frustrating too. There was a time — I mean, it seems like forever ago now — where, like a lot of people, we were sort of on the margins of the anti-globalization movement and going to protests and stuff like that. There’s a level of politicization that happens in that context that we were definitely a part of. There were references made in songs, specifically about those types of movements.
    It’s frustrating at points too because there are a lot of people [for whom] that whole milieu is alien to them. You’re trying to write songs that are kind of nuanced, but it’s kind of specific. It can be frustrating feeling like you have to give someone a sort of like “International Protest Movement for Beginners” spiel or something.

SD: Does that have anything to do with 13 Blues being the first album for which you’ve included lyrics with the liner notes?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Do You Kids Like The Rockroll Music?

Posted By on Fri, May 9, 2008 at 4:44 PM

Well, do you? I know I do. And tonight there's a particularly potent evening of rockin' on tap in a space typically reserved for mellower and indier fare, Radio Bean.

Now don't get me wrong. I dig the singery-songwritery stuff too. And I loves me some pretentious indie shit from time to time as well. But sometimes you just gotta feed the need for pure, unadorned ass-whoopin' rawk. Enter Empire State Troopers.

I was actually introduced to EST by Josh Schwartz from False 45th, who, coincidentally, is quoted on the band's MySpace page. Here's what he has to say on the matter: "One of the most obvious elements to EST is the powerful chicksinging of Kelly Murphy. A force to be reckoned with, Murphy seems tobe on a tear in every song. If the band is a '71 Challenger, she's thebottle of Super 104 Octane Boost." Well played, sir.

Murphy, to borrow a line from Wayne's World, wails.

The timing of the show is a tad unfortunate since there's a whole lotta rockin' going on tonight with Amadis, Made In Iron and Arkain playing at Higher Ground's Showcase Lounge and the debut of Jesus Vanacho at Nectar's. But the show starts at 11 p.m. — with opening support from the deliciously named Che Guevara T-Shirt — so as Josh suggested in a recent e-mail, perhaps you could consider the show as a Metal Night Afterparty. Works for me.

Have a great weekend!

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