On the Beat: The Garifuna Collective Come to Vermont and the Riverfolk Festival Returns | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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On the Beat: The Garifuna Collective Come to Vermont and the Riverfolk Festival Returns 

Published July 12, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated July 12, 2023 at 12:02 p.m.

Those keeping a close eye on live concerts in Vermont might have noticed a ton of area dates for the Garifuna Collective. The Belize-based band has recently played shows in Bradford, Waterbury and Manchester, and it's scheduled to play the Middlebury Festival on the Green on Wednesday, July 12, and the Afro-Caribbean Dance Party presented by Chandler at Large, the off-site arm of the Chandler Center for the Arts, at the Fable Farm in Barnard on Saturday, July 15. That's in addition to dates in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, largely at nontraditional venues.

The multigenerational ensemble's mission is to preserve the hybrid cultures of African Amerindian Garifuna communities, based in areas along the Caribbean coasts of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. While it might seem odd for a Garifuna band to focus a tour on New England, there's a good reason for it.

As Chandler Center director Chloe Powell explained by email, traditional venues such as nightclubs and theaters "often have restrictions on where bands can play" to limit competition. Focusing a tour in one region and working with more off-the-beaten-path venues — think art galleries, farms and national parks — "helps the band make a tour that works financially, and it helps us smaller scrappier arts organizations bring talent like the Garifuna Collective to our small towns."

Powell should know: She formerly worked as an agent for the band.

Whatever the reason, the end result is several chances to catch a topflight international group performing in some incredible venues across New England. As an added bonus: Powell will debut the Chandler's fall schedule at the Fable Farm show. Pop over to chandler-arts.org for more information and tickets, and to garifunacollective.com for a full list of the band's tour dates.

Winooski-based multi-instrumentalist Greg Bonsignore has expanded his project, Ruminations, into a proper band. Adding Doug Scrivener on drums, Ben Roth on bass and Brendan Rooney on keys, the new-look quartet has released its first two singles. "Post Up" and "Remake" find the group caught between shoegaze and indie-slacker mode, easily slipping into jangly, Pavement-like grooves. The tunes are raw, for sure, but the production fits the songs. Give them a listen at ruminationsmusic.bandcamp.com.

The Riverfolk outdoor festival variety show returns for its second year on Monday, July 17, at Northern Stage's intimate Courtyard Theater in White River Junction. A celebration of Upper Valley arts and community, Riverfolk debuted in 2022 with a charming collection of live music and theater. Hosts and local musicians Jakob Breitbach and Tommy Crawford, who will perform with the festival's house band, liken the event to the former NPR show "Live From Here," which in turn descended from "A Prairie Home Companion." The show will run twice, at 5 and 8 p.m., in the 181-seat outdoor theater. Riverfolk is headlined by singer-songwriter Brooks Hubbard and Wilder-based duo Beecharmer. For more information, visit hereinthevalley.org/riverfolk.

Eye on the Scene

Live music highlights from photographer Luke Awtry
click to enlarge James Forest at Radio Bean - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • James Forest at Radio Bean

James Forest at Radio Bean, Burlington, July 1: To me, there is a discernible difference between writing music and writing songs. I characterize a "piece of music" as something written for specific instruments, meant to be played in well-defined ways, whereas a "song" has no concern for the instrumentation used to express it, leveraging the power of the performer themselves. It's for this reason that an accomplished songwriter will always overshadow an instrumental virtuoso for me. Put the two together, and you have something really special. This is how I felt seeing James Forest perform at Radio Bean recently. James traveled to Burlington from his Québec home to play the gig without a single piece of his own equipment, borrowing guitars and a Wurlitzer electric piano. His set demonstrated his complete confidence in his ability to perform his songs under any circumstances and with any instrument within reach. This is the mark of a great songwriter and a truly beautiful thing to experience live.

On the Air

Where to tune in to Vermont music this week:

  • "Wave Cave Radio Show," Wednesday, July 12, 2 p.m., on 105.9 the Radiator: DJs Flywlker and Gingervitus spin the best of local and nonlocal hip-hop.
  • "Rocket Shop Radio Hour," Wednesday, July 12, 8 p.m., on 105.9 the Radiator: Host Tom Proctor plays local music.
  • "The Sounds of Burlington," Thursday, July 13, 9 p.m., at wbkm.org: Host Tim Lewis plays selections of local music.
  • "Cultural Bunker," Friday, July 14, 7 p.m., on 90.1 WRUV: Host Melo Grant plays local and nonlocal hip-hop.
  • "Acoustic Harmony," Saturday, July 15, 4 p.m., on 91.1 WGDR: Host Mark Michaelis plays folk and Americana music with an emphasis on Vermont artists.
  • "All the Traditions," Sunday, July 16, 7 p.m., on Vermont Public: Host Robert Resnik plays an assortment of folk music with a focus on Vermont artists.

Listening In

Playlist of Vermont Jams
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About The Author

Chris Farnsworth

Chris Farnsworth

Music editor Chris Farnsworth has written countless albums reviews and features on Vermont's best musicians, and has seen more shows than is medically advisable. He's played in multiple bands over decades in the local scene and is a recording artist in his own right. He can often be found searching for the perfect soft pretzel or listening to a podcast about the X-Men.


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