Game of Chance | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Game of Chance 

Game of Chance, Today Is Your Birthday, Laser Tag, What’s Goin’ Down?, BiteTorrent

Published November 4, 2009 at 9:37 a.m.

Playing the lottery is a risky business. Sure, blowing a couple bucks on the occasional scratch ticket is essentially harmless. But if you’re not careful, the danger is always there to become addicted, which can lead to a lifetime of near poverty, near toothlessness and an unhealthy amount of time spent in gas stations buying tickets and praying for that elusive big score — which you would then, of course, use to buy more tickets and maybe a Twisted Tea tall boy or three. Further graying the picture is the ever-present threat of having the crap kicked out of you by someone who wandered into the store to pick up a half-gallon of milk and is getting really tired of the process taking 20 minutes because you’re holding up the freakin’ line trying to choose between Big Money Maker and High Roller. Like it really freakin’ matters, anyway, because you’re just going to lose, and if you don’t just buy your damn ticket and get the hell out of my way so I can pay for my milk and finish watching “Top Chef,” I might just cram this Hood 2% up your … ahem. Excuse me. Where was I?

Oh, right. The lottery. Bad stuff. Please play responsibly.

Of course, the reason the lottery is so popular is because gambling is fun. As a culture, we gamble on anything and everything under the sun. Sports, politics, reality TV, celebrity deaths, you name it. If it exists, the chances are good that someone has figured out a way to wager money on it — I’d put the odds at like, 3-to-2. But what about music?

If gambling on the arts seems counterintuitive, that’s because it is. It is really difficult to quantify artistic endeavors, save for “Star Search”-style competition. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

This Saturday, the Monkey House in Winooski hosts the “Rock Lotto,” presented by local licensing outfit Matchless Music. Here’s the gist:

Saturday morning, dozens of musicians are split up by instrument — drums, guitar, bass, vox, etc. — and placed into bands completely at random. Each group is then given the day to come up with a four-song, 20-minute set consisting of one cover and three originals. The bands will reconvene at the Monkey House later that evening to rock your socks off. Sounds like fun, right? Right.

The best part is that all the proceeds from the show will benefit the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. The second best part is that the payoff is the potential for hearing some really cool new music. But there’s a risk, too. It’s entirely possible — likely, even — that one or more of the impromptu bands will totally suck. And there’s the rub. Though watching an onstage train wreck is kind of a guilty pleasure, right? Plus, gambling on which bands will rock and which ones won’t could make for a lively betting pool. Not that I would ever condone such activities.

Musicians interested in participating can contact Matchless founder Ben Jastatt at

Today Is Your Birthday

It’s hard to believe, but Radio Bean turns 9 years old this weekend. They just grow up so fast, don’t they?

As per usual, this Saturday the cozy coffeehouse will celebrate in grand style with an all-day birthday bash featuring just about every kickass band in town. And if you think I’m joking about that last bit, you’ve obviously never been to the party. I dare you to name a good B-town band that isn’t playing.

The fun gets underway at 8 a.m. But don’t let the early start time dissuade you from attending. The coffee is free flowing — emphasis on “free” — all day long.

Laser Tag

Last week as I was grabbing my daily caffeine reload at Speeder & Earl’s on Pine Street, a reader approached me outside of the café and asked if I knew what was going on with Nocturnals’ guitarist Scott Tournet’s side project Blues and Lasers, because they hadn’t heard anything from the band in a while. Funny enough, neither had I.

In a weird cosmic coincidence, the next morning an email popped up in my inbox from Tournet, outlining everything B&L have been up to in the last few months. And it seems they’ve been busy.

In addition to appearing at Gathering of the Vibes and FloydFest this summer, the band has been hard at work on a follow-up to last year’s self-titled debut. Tournet claims the new effort — which is reportedly in the mastering phase at the moment — represents a far more collaborative effort among band members Benny Yurco, Steve Sharon, John Rogone and Matt Burr. Tournet writes that initially he had a hard time relinquishing creative control over the group, but that the results were worth it. He goes on to say that B&L feels more like a “real band” than merely his pet project.

This Friday, Blues and Lasers make a welcome return to live performance at Club Metronome. Although they won’t have the disc in hand at the show, they will play the album in its entirety.

What’s Goin’ Down?

The ongoing fight between Israel and Palestine is one of the more disturbing — and confusing — conflicts in the world. Opinions on the subject vary widely and are passionately held. This is a music column, and I’m by no means a political pundit, so I’ll withhold my view except to say that in matters of war, I tend to side with Buffalo Springfield: Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.

Anyway, this Sunday at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, a slew of excellent local musicians will gather to raise awareness of the current battle over the Gaza Strip, as well as to raise money to aid the resistance against Israel. Slated to appear are Anaïs Mitchell, Atlantic Crossing, Black Sea Quartet, Inner Fire District, Pariah Beat, Roxanne Vought and Randall Pierce, and Yonatan Shapiro.


Moving on to lighter matters, it’s time for yet another benefit show mention because, well, this is SoundBites and that’s kinda how we roll. Plus, you can’t spell fundraiser without f-u-n, right? Anyway, this Saturday, Bristol’s Holley Hall will host the Bristol Stomp, a concert to benefit WCLX, “the Album Station,” which recently ceased traditional broadcasting operations due to a skirmish with its landlord but continues to stream online. Rockin’ for rockin’s sake are The Nobby Reed Project, ShellHouse, Deep Freyed and some as-yet-unannounced special guests.


242 Main is hardly known as a bastion of hip-hop. But that changes this Saturday as BURNTmd’s GTD Entertainment hosts an epic throwdown celebrating the entirety of hip-hop culture in VT entitled “The 4 Elements of Hip-Hop.” The show features performances by a veritable who’s who from the 802 scene, including Nastee, Habit the Professional MC, Colby Stiltz, Woogmatic, B Honest — just to name a few — as well as breakdancing shenanigans from The Rhythm Riderz crew and live graffiti demonstrations. And that’s what’s up.


This just in: The Heavy have canceled their Wednesday, November 4, show at Club Metronome, which blows cuz those guys rock. On the bright side, openers Rough Francis and DJ Disco Phantom will appear as scheduled and promise to “make it worth your while” to attend, while hinting at the possibility of public nudity. Really.

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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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