May 032017
 

waking windows vermont

We normally don’t do concert previews here. My goal with this young blog is to spread the gospel of Vermont music to an audience beyond the state’s sometimes-confining borders. And writing about regionally-specific events generally goes against that mandate.

This weekend’s Waking Windows festival is an exception.

Waking Windows is the Vermont music scene in microcosm. In some respects the Burlington equivalent of SXSW, Waking Windows surrounds a few bigger names (Real Estate and Dan Deacon this year) with dozens of the state’s best local bands. Naming the best Vermont artists playing the festival almost doubles as naming the best Vermont artists period. And that is exactly our mandate. Continue reading »

Feb 152017
 

npr tiny desk contest

Last weekend, Fantastic Negrito won his first Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Blues Album.” It’s a safe bet that few Grammy voters would have ever heard of him had he not won another award two years prior: the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. And if the future is just, last year’s winner, the wonderful violinist Gaelynn Lea, will soon be collecting Grammy statues of her own.

Fantastic Negrito hails from California, and Lea from Minnesota. So as this year’s contest continues, we think it’s time for the Northeast to – to quote Lea’s winning song – linger in the sun. To aid in that effort, out of dozens of locally-made videos, we’ve picked our favorite Vermont entries in the 2017 contest.

The only real rules for a Tiny Desk Contest video are that the song has to be an original and a desk should somehow figure in (it doesn’t even need to be tiny). But many of the state’s finest musicians went beyond the bare minimum, one dragging a not-so-tiny desk to a mountain summit, another finding a tiny church to match the desk. The songs span from folk to prog, soul to punk to classical piano. There’s also a song about dinosaurs, and a special celebrity entrant: Officer Clemmons from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood!

So read on to discover our dozen-plus favorite Vermont entries. Then head to the Tiny Desk Contest website to browse other entries from Vermont and beyond. Our favorite non-Vermont find: this bizarre David Lynch fever-dream masked performer. Continue reading »

Jan 202017
 

this land is your land

On a day that is scary for many people, we thought we’d post one of the more uplifting and hopeful pieces of music to come out of Vermont last year. It’s a gorgeous cover of “This Land Is Your Land” featuring a host of local musicians. Though originally recorded to support the state’s own Bernie Sanders, as Donald Trump prepares to get sworn in, the song stands above its original context as a plea for understanding and tolerance. It’s also a whole lot better than Bernie’s own foray into local music.

Soul singer Kat Wright, who recorded one of our favorite albums last year, sings lead on the bold gospel-soul arrangement. Backing Wright are (deep breath): singers Dwight & Nicole, Francesca Blanchard, Marie Claire Johnson, Smooth Antics’ Stephanie Lynn Heaghney, and Waylon Speed’s Kelly Ravin plus Wright’s Indomitable Soul Band (Bob Wagner on guitar, Josh Weinstein on bass, Ezra Oklan on drums, and Shane Hardiman on keys) with guitarists Lowell Thompson and Brett Hughes.

Whether you’ve heard of any of those names or not, this is a beautiful, moving cover of Woody Guthrie’s timeless song. And today we just might need it more than ever. Continue reading »

Jan 062017
 

When I launched this blog last month, I kicked things off with The Best Vermont Albums of 2016. I said after that I’d move on to what’s next, not just what already happened. Which I will, I swear (and I have a bit, highlighting great new material from Vultures of Cult (R.I.P.), The New Line, and 1881). But first, one final retrospective.

When putting together the Best Albums list, I realized many of my favorite 2016 songs were not on proper albums. They were from EPs, singles, preview tracks from 2017 albums, covers, or other one-offs. So, for one last look back, we’re counting down our favorite Vermont-made songs of the past year. Then onto 2017. Promise. Continue reading »

Dec 282016
 

Welcome to County Tracks, a new blog that aims to explore music new and old from the great state of Vermont. We’ll be kicking off in full in January, but we couldn’t let 2016 pass us by without a look back at all the great music the Green Mountain State produced. From heavy metal to light-as-air folk, Burlington to Brattleboro, Vermont musicians delivered incredible albums across the musical spectrum. Check out our countdown below, and see you back here next year. Continue reading »