On the Precipice | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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On the Precipice 


Published June 27, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

Note to local musicians: Don’t ever call me about work stuff on a Saturday afternoon. That is, unless it’s for something really good.

This past Saturday, local scene booster and Radio Bean booking guru Joe Adler dialed me up and left an excited but vague message about “one of the biggest things to happen in local music in years.” Lounging in my hammock, I thought about waiting until Monday to call back. But Joe is about as laid-back a dude as you’ll ever meet, and the giddiness in his voice suggested this might be pretty important.

It was.

When I called him back, Joe filled me in on what might indeed be the biggest local-music event in memory: the Precipice.

What the hell is the Precipice? Glad you asked!

The Precipice is a three-day music festival happening across four stages at the Intervale in Burlington and featuring almost 50 local acts — or locally tied, as in the case of Cumbancha Records’ artist Luisa Maita. You read that correctly: 50 local acts. The fest runs Friday, July 20, through Sunday, July 22.

Billed as “Dumploads of dirt, dancing and delight. Fortuitous and gratuitous farms, friends, ’fuck yeah’ music, mojo and melons,” the Precipice could be a watershed moment in the history of local music. Has there ever been an event of this size and scope? The lineup, which is still being ironed out, will include artists from every corner of the local scene, from headliners Heloise & the Savoir Faire, Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band, the Vermont Joy Parade and the Lynguistic Civilians, to the Jenke Records crew, to experimental music, to a stage entirely curated by Angioplasty Media. If the Precipice comes together as Joe Adler suggests, it will be the most comprehensive Vermont-music showcase ever. Glad I took that call.

About half of the schedule has been announced, with more info coming in the next week or so. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, June 28. Find out how to purchase tix on the Precipice Facebook page.

Tupelo Money

A rather strange and disconcerting story is brewing in White River Junction regarding the fate of the Tupelo Music Hall.

In a story that ran recently in the Valley News [“Tupelo Music Hall Struggling,” May 24], reporter Maggie Cassidy writes that the concert hall is under financial duress and may close if the current owner can’t find new investors. Cassidy cites a press release sent by Precedent Marketing’s Charlie Dent, who has handled PR for the club since it opened less than two years ago. In it, TMH owner Scott Hayward announces that the club will close this summer.

Here’s where things get weird.

The day before the VN story ran, Hayward sent an e-newsletter to subscribers stating that the release sent by Dent — whom the VN reports has since been fired by Hayward — was never meant for public eyes and was an internal document. He included the initial press release in the newsletter. He added that while the club is in financial trouble, there is no plan to close and that he is exploring options to keep the venue open. He also wrote, “If you have any ideas, I would certainly appreciate hearing from you.” Gulp.

So what does it all mean? Who the hell knows? But it doesn’t sound like the future of the Tupelo Music Hall is particularly rosy at the moment. Hayward declined to comment for this filing but did confirm that the club’s summer schedule will go on as planned. What happens after that is still a mystery. Either way, here’s hoping Hayward finds a way to keep Tupelo viable. Stay tuned.


In lighter news, there’s gonna be some hard rawkin’ in the ’Noosk when Sound of Urchin take up residency at the Monkey House with local rockers Dino Bravo on Friday, June 29, and Saturday, June 30. DB’s Matt Perry, who put the shows together, writes that SOU are one of his all-time favorite bands and a legendarily raucous live act. And Perry knows a thing or two about that from his days in the legendarily raucous local band Party Star. Adding to the fun, local surf punks Torpedo Rodeo open the Friday show, while Blue Button handle support duties on Saturday.

We’re about to hit the apex for celebrations of Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday, with all manner of tributes scheduled up to and around Woody’s July 14 b-day. BTW, if you have yet to hear New Multitudes, Anders Parker’s Guthrie tribute record with Jay Farrar, Yim Yames and Will Johnson, put down this paper and check it out now. We’ll wait. Anyway, years before Parker and friends revisited and reimagined the “lost” Guthrie songbooks, British songwriter Billy Bragg teamed up with Wilco to do the same thing on the Mermaid Avenue records. Funny story: Bragg will be in town this Sunday, July 1, for a gig at the Higher Ground Ballroom celebrating — who else? — Guthrie.

I’m as big a Wilco fan as could be. But I honestly prefer most of Bragg’s contributions to the Mermaid Avenue albums. Even better are the versions of songs he wrote for those albums that were cut in favor of Wilco versions, and that he’s been known to play live from time to time. Trust me, they’re worth the price of admission on their own.

Looking for some free freedom-day-related rocking? Local radio station Planet 96.7 FM is hosting a daylong concert called Planet in the Park at Battery Park on Tuesday, July 3, featuring, among others, the Fix with DJ Craig Mitchell, the Lynguistic Civilians, Jacob Es and Erin Bowman. The host is Miss Vermont Teen USA, Karsen Woods.

If you prefer your fireworks to be the indoor, bass-heavy variety, I’d suggest checking out Youngbloodz: Repatriation at Club Metronome on Wednesday, July 4. The two-room, 14-DJ freeDM — see what I did there? — fest features Brooklyn producer Baauer, who, according to Mushpost’s Nick Concklin, is on the leading edge of trap and club music. What the hell is “trap”? Good question. As Conklin describes it, “Trap is more or less instrumental, dirty south hip-hop. Hip-hop rhythms running 130-140 BPM, a bit faster than traditional hip-hop. Big, booming kick drums, excellent use of negative space, heavy presence of the 808 drum machine, urban vocal samples and synths borrowed from club music.” Got all that? Good. Now shut up and dance.

In summer festival news, the Rockinghill Music Festival kicks off at Rockingham Hill Farm this Friday, June 29. The two-day groovefest features jammy tunes from headliners the Brew and the Ryan Montbleau Band, as well as locals Jatoba, Barefoot Truth and Flabberghaster, and several other regional acts. Also, there will be free Frisbee golf.

Last but not least, when the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival’s Lisa Giordano writes in to recommend an artist, I pay attention. She has two of the most dependable ears I know and has rarely, if ever, steered me wrong. Earlier this week, Giordano wrote in with glowing praise for Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses, who play a string of VT dates this week. The New Orleans-based clarinetist and vocalist, who is a semi-regular on the HBO series “Treme,” is gaining increasing renown for her creative twists on traditional NOLA jazz. You can catch Nealand at the Monkey House this Monday, July 2 — which would be a great way to wind down after Fishbone, earlier that night at Club Metronome. She’s also at Red Square on Tuesday, July 3, and performs as part of the Fourth of July celebrations in Montpelier the following day.

Listening In

Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, eight-track player, etc., this week.

Ty Segall Band, Slaughterhouse

Silver Jews, Early Times

The Smashing Pumpkins, Oceania

Neneh Cherry & the Thing, The Cherry Thing

Bon Iver, iTunes Session

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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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