Blues in the Face | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Blues in the Face 


Published September 19, 2007 at 7:44 p.m.

I woke up this morning. And then I went right back to bed. Oh, I woke up this morning. With the Devil in my head. You know my baby gave me a warning. But I just got drunk instead. Make it talk, son!

It’s probably a good thing that I don’t write blues songs for a living. Fortunately, the Green Mountains are positively crawling with able-bodied, Delta-souled tunesmiths, so I don’t have to. Judging by my above attempt at bluesy lyricism, we can all be grateful for that.

Another thing we should be grateful for is The Lincoln Inn. Regular readers are likely aware that over the last few years, the Five Corners watering hole has made a concerted effort to provide high-quality entertainment for music fans outside of Burlington and this weekend might prove to be the venue’s crown jewel.

Celebrating its third year, the Burlington Blues Fest has quietly built a reputation as one of the best musical celebrations of the year — in Essex Junction. Maybe we ought to rethink that name . . .

Sponsored by WCLX — 102.9 FM, The Album Station — the two-night festival kicks off this Thursday with a star-studded lineup of local blues dudes, including guitar guru Paul Asbell, mountain-blues maestros The Eames Brothers, traditionalists Blue Fox & the Rockin’ Daddies and the estimable Kip Meaker Trio.

While Thursday night’s free-for-all is, well, free for all, Friday night is the main event and carries a relatively hefty price tag — especially since there’s never been a ticketed event at The Lincoln Inn. But it’s with very good reason, as Grammy-nominated blues guitarist Tab Benoit takes the stage with fellow Louisiana blues-pop collective Leroux. Benoit is as genuine as they come and has garnered worldwide acclaim for his gritty yet virtuosic guitar work and songwriting. Local blues heroes The Nobby Reed Project open the show.


If you haven’t had your fill of 12-bar progressions and booze-soaked laments after checking out the Burlington Blues Fest, head over to Finkerman’s Riverside Bar-B-Q in Montpelier — or at least the parking lot — this Sunday for yet another fun-filled day of face-melting guitar solos. This time with a side of pulled pork.

The capital city festival is entering its second year and, in addition to performances from local blues magnates such as The Socket Rockets, The John Lackard Blues Band, The Willie Edwards Blues Band and The Dave Keller . . . um, Blues Band, the real draw might be the afternoon workshops in which aspiring bluesmen and women can learn from the pros. Bring your guitar, a harmonica in the key of C and a loud Hawaiian shirt. Apparently that’s de rigueur fashion in the world of VT blues. Who knew?


As the jam scene is still struggling to fully recover in the wake of Phish’s departure, it occurred to me that many one-time Phishheads are now starting to reproduce, spawning a whole new generation of wiggly jam fans. Perhaps we’ll call them smolt-heads? Or maybe not.

In any event, groovy parents seeking a kid-friendly way to introduce rambling guitar jams to their offspring would do well to make their way to the Higher Ground Ballroom this Sunday afternoon as Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could take the stage for a free performance as part of the Children’s Dimetapp Breathe & Boogie Tour.

Rymer has been called “kindermusic’s Jerry Garcia.” Seriously. While I’m not sure that designation would endear him to most parents, I’m guessing the term refers to the former From Good Homes member’s brand of roots-inflected kiddie jam-rock. Or maybe he drinks a lot of Dimetapp and Robitussin. Either way, he’s all the rage in children’s music circles, and his tunes are probably palatable enough for parents, too. Ridin’ that train, high on paste . . . I guess it’s a good thing I don’t write children’s music, either.


Memo to James Kochalka: Dude, slow down. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

In addition to being a successful musician, comic artist, painter and the author of a brand spankin’ new children’s book, Burlington’s consummate superstar can now add “actor” to his considerable resume.

Details are a bit hazy — i.e., hard to find through a Google search — but Kochalka has landed a part in an independent film entitled Mars as the co-host of a futuristic infotainment-style news show. Playing Mary Hart to Kochalka’s John Tesh is none other than Liza Weil from the Fox TV melodrama “The Gilmore Girls.”

The sci-fi flick is scheduled for completion sometime next year. From what little info is currently available, the film appears to be part motion picture, part graphic novel, and is employing some nifty experimental filming techniques to achieve the effect. I have no idea what “rotoscoping” is, but apparently that’s involved, too.

As details emerge, I’ll be sure to let you know more. Until then, I imagine Mr. Kochalka will once again busy himself in some wildly original and successful fashion, putting the rest of us to shame. Thanks a lot, James.


I don’t know if you folks have noticed, but we’re in the midst of one of the most exciting stretches in Burlington’s long and storied musical history. Last week, I gave you the rundown of some of the week’s best bets. And if you didn’t go see Feist, all I can say is that I told you so — twice. As terrific as last week’s musical slate was, this week’s might be even better. Frankly, I hardly know where to begin. Maybe I’ll just sidestep the whole issue and tell you to peruse this week’s club listings and get out of the house. But then, what kind of music writer would I be? A lazy one, I suppose.

The lineups at the clubs are pretty self-explanatory — and freakin’ awesome — this week, but a couple of shows happening at unusual venues merit some attention.

This Friday, ’60s folk icon Richie Havens will perform at the Vergennes Opera House. If you don’t know who Richie Havens is, put the paper down and call your parents. Right now. The man is legend, plain and simple.

On the experimental side of the folk spectrum, San Francisco’s bohemian freak-folk auteur Devendra Banhart makes a stop at UVM’s Davis Center Grand Ballroom this Sunday on the heels of his brilliant new album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. You can read even more about Banhart in this week’s calendar section.

So that’s pretty much it. Get out and tune in.

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox.


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