• Capital Sounds: Music with lots of heart
    February 12,2014

    By Ed DuFresne
    Staff Writer

    It’s that time of year again. Friday morning we will all wake up most likely to find our lovely capital city adorned with hundreds of red hearts, a tradition that has become entrenched in the city of the golden dome over the past decade. Most seem to love the tradition, though I do have one friend who considers the phenomenon nothing more than littering. I am firmly in the former category; the hearts warm my heart.

    What better way to celebrate love and romance than by going to see live music? My pick for a perfect Valentine’s Day show takes place Friday night at Sweet Melissa’s when Steady Betty takes the black-box stage. The seven-piece all-female outfit plays the Jamaican music known as rock steady, a rhythmic, highly danceable form that was the predecessor to modern reggae. I’ve yet to catch this act, but with the lovely and talented Miriam Bernardo up front, it is bound to be good. Bring the love of your life, or perhaps meet him or her, starting at 9 p.m.

    Sweet’s has music at the corner of Elm and Langdon almost every night, and you can start the weekend early Thursday night with Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen. Mr. Stannard is a staple in the State House, so you can expect a wide array of politicos to be in attendance. Perhaps you’ll overhear some State House gossip out of a well-lubricated politician. Check it out starting at 8 p.m. Saturday night you can catch hot old-school swingin’ jazz with Red Hot Juba starting at 9. If you want to catch some early evening music at Melissa’s, Honky-Tonk Happy Hour with Mark LeGrand starts at 5 p.m. Fridays, and Andy Pitt plays solo at 5 on Saturdays. Yes!

    If you want to get all folked up to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you can check out Charlie-O’s on Main Street in the capital as it hosts Leatherbound Books on Friday night. Hailed as “a phenomenal collaboration full of upbeat tunes and a fresh approach to songwriting on the Burlington scene,” this five-piece, high-energy folk band appears to be the real thing. Hear for yourself starting at 10 p.m. Sam DuPont opens the show. Saturday night, O’s hosts its weekly winter all-request dance party starting at 10 p.m., so don’t forget your dancin’ shoes!

    And speaking of dancing and Saturday night, you can head over to Positive Pie II on State Street and catch longtime central Vermont funk/rock/soul act The Party Crashers in downtown’s most spacious venue. The tables should be cleared with plenty of room for dancing starting at 10:30 p.m. for a nominal cover at the door.

    Still looking for some early evening music? Look no further than The Skinny Pancake in the heart of downtown Montpeculiar. Sunday at 6 p.m. it will host critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Lauren Sheehan. “A formidable musician and singer … Sheehan is one of the best interpreters of the blues tradition to step forward in the past several years,” according to one reviewer. She’s also made a recent appearance on National Public Radio, which attests to her level of talent. Should be a good one for a suggested donation, fo’ sho’!

    Stepping outside of town to the bucolic village of Calais, you’ll find a celebration of another holiday Saturday that is seldom observed in these climes, that being Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras at Maple Corner starts during the day with a winter carnival and various events and culminates with a performance at The Whammy Bar at the Maple Corner Store by local fiddle maven Katie Trautz, who I assume will be bringing her repertoire of Cajun material to the festivities. This is another great one for those who don’t stay out late, as shows at The Whammy start at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, 7 on any other night.

    Thursday night you can catch local songwriter and bartender extraordinaire Abby Jenne, and Friday night another love-worthy show takes place when local folkie Lewis Franco hosts his Valentine’s Day date night.

    That wraps up this week. Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Mardi Gras, and go heart yourself some live music!

    Ed DuFresne is the former talent coordinator at Langdon Street Café and The Black Door, occasionally produces concerts, and books at various venues in the area on a freelance basis as well as being a PM sous chef at the Vermont Thrush Restaurant. He lives in Montpelier with a lovely Polish anarchist and an aspiring chef.

    The Times Argus and Rutland Herald regularly review CDs by Vermont performers. (They must have been reviewed to be considered for December’s annual Tammie Awards.) To have your CD considered for reviewing, please send it to: Arts Editor, The Times Argus, P.O. Box 707, Barre, VT 05641.

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