Capital Sounds: Not one, but two folk festivals

Vermont native singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, who lives part-time in Brooklyn, is one of headliners at the Saturday’s Spruce Peak Folk Festival in Stowe. (Provided photo)

Twenty-three years ago today, Jerome John Garcia passed from this world way too early (for us, anyway). I think I can speak for any Deadhead in that I remember the exact place I was when I heard that news, a serene 50 acres in the middle of the Green Mountains that I lived on for a bit. I couldn't have been in a more perfect place to hear such tragic news; that little slice of Vermont, with it's 1790-era house, incredible views and harsh, merciless winter conditions personified the man so well. Rest in peace, Jerry. On another but somewhat related note, I must apologize to Wednesdays (and sometimes Mondays and Tuesdays too). With this piece being published on Thursdays, those days just seem too far away For instance, Zen Barn has a Dead-themed night every Wednesday, last night a special lineup for the occasion, but usually featuring the excellent Zach Nugent's acoustic rendition of the band's music. The Zen also has a full lineup over in Waterbury Center this weekend. Friday night features The Afro Yaqui Music Collective, a 12-piece group led by award-winning bandleader Fred Ho, and featuring a star-studded cast of musicians who marry indigenous sounds to jazz, funk and soul. Tickets are $9.50 for the 9 p.m. show. On Saturday, the Barn hosts the after-party for the Spruce Peak Folk Festival (more on that in a moment). Funky Folk, featuring an eclectic group of players from the fest and beyond, will take the stage in the intimate room starting at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 with a festival stub, $8 without.  It looks like the Waterbury-Stowe area might be the place to be this weekend, as the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center on the Mountain Road is presenting the Spruce Peak Folk Festival Saturday. Featured performers Daniel Rodriquez (of Elephant Revival fame), Anaïs Mitchell and Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band will folk it up on the mountainside green, with gates opening at 1 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit  There's also a celebration going on out in Cabot this weekend, and it very well might be the place to be. It's the first anniversary of The Den at Harry's Hardware, and they are celebrating with live music. Starting at 3 p.m., Jacob Green, Trae Sheehan & Abrielle Scharff, Katie Trautz and Nate Gusakov, and Rich Brown will entertain locals and visitors alike. Headlining the event will be Backline Collective, the newest project from Cabot musician and teacher Brian Boyes. That project will be joined by The House Band for what should be a blowout ending at around 9 p.m. Now this should be worth attending! And wouldn't you know it, there's some stuff worth checking out in Montpeculiar this weekend as well. Sweet Melissa's kicks off things tonight with Carter Glass starting at 8 p.m. On Friday night, Mel's hosts a metal night with Lightcrusher, Wretched Abomination, Green Chapel and Gravelurker starting at 9:30 p.m. On Saturday, Sweets switches gears when it hosts local old-time miscreants The State Street Scallywags at 6 p.m., followed by the intriguingly named Soul Project,  apparently hailing from New Orleans. Could be the real deal starting at 9 p.m. Expect a nominal cover at the door on weekends at the little spot at the corner of Elm and Langdon.  Finally, over at Charlie O's, they are continuing to rock out in the dive bar for nice people fashion. On Friday night, folkie Helen Hummel holds down the early slot at 6 p.m., followed by odd lo-fi punk act Canadian Waves at 9 p.m. On Saturday night, it's swampgrass time with the cleverly named Red Neckromancer starting at 9 p.m. As always at O's – “never a cover." There's plenty to get out and about and hear this weekend, so get to it and go see live music.  Ed DuFresne has produced concerts and events (which he prefers to call shows) in and around central and northeastern Vermont since the late '90s. He is grateful to live in Montpelier with an exemplary Renaissance man as a housemate.

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