The colors are poppin’ here in our lovely Green Mountains, and so are the out-of-state plates. Though I appreciate the tourist dollars that those folks bring to the region, there is perhaps no more annoying time to drive (with the exception of a winter storm). I know the fall colors are captivating, but pulling over on the shoulder, and speeding up and slowing down erratically, and literally walking into the middle of the road to snap pictures are all behaviors that likely infuriate most of us locals. The leaf-peeper-type tourist generally does not get out to enjoy our live music scene, so if you need a break from peepin’ leafers, here are some options.

I usually don’t cover events that happen over in Chittenden County, as I prefer to usually go hyper local and focus on Central Vermont. This weekend, however, a longtime local musician and exceptional human being will be releasing her latest work, which was featured in this very publication on October 5. ‘Songs From the Well’ is the title of Miriam Bernardo’s latest work, which was produced by longtime Vermont musician Peg Tassey and features the song craft of a swath of Vermont songwriters Miriam has worked with over the years. Local luminaries Anais Mitchell, Michael Chorney, and Tassey herself, among others, penned songs for the project. Miriam has been one of our most beloved local artists for going on two decades now, with good reason; her lush soprano to alto range and stunning stage presence has always found a warm reception with local audiences. She’ll premier her most recent work live on Friday night at The Double E Performance Center, located at 21 Essex Way in Essex Junction. Tickets are available on a sliding scale basis here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/miriam-bernardo-songs-from-the-well-tickets-71684437081. Doors open at 8:15 p.m., with the show set to start at 9 p.m. sharp.

Back here in the capitol, there’s another great show on Friday night with an emerging local act that has become a fave of mine over the past year or so. Wild Leek River have an energetic, outlaw country/heavy folk sound that always goes over well in the back of the barroom, and that’s just where they’ll be on Friday night when they perform in the land beyond the pool tables at Charlie O’s on Main Street in the heart of downtown Montpelier. This is a band to watch out for, as each time I see them, they seem to get better, which is a sure sign of a band on the rise. Highly recommended, starting at 9 p.m.

If you’re looking for some fresh local jazz, look no further that Three Penny Taproom tonight. Z Jazz has been making waves of late here in the capitol region, with a fresh take on a genre that has sometimes grown a bit stale around these parts over the years. Check out a new generation of artists who are carrying the tradition of great jazz here in central Vermont starting at 8 p.m., for free.

A unique event is taking place Friday night at Sweet Melissa’s on the corner of Elm and Langdon Streets in the shadow of the golden dome. Industrial/heavy metal acts Nechromancer and Metamorph will be joined by some burlesque dancers for a night of sexy headbanging fun. This one is sure to be interesting starting at 9 p.m. Mel’s has not updated their website as of press time, so this is the only info I’ve got, but as most of you know, Mel’s has live music every night of the week they’re open, and of course you can count on live band karaoke Sunday evenings weekly at 8:30 p.m. Too much fun.

And speaking of weekly events, I wrote last week about the intriguing new Thursday night series at Zen Barn, featuring folk and Americana musicians backed by a house band, all representing the prestigious Berklee College of Music’s American Roots Music Program. The event promises to feature some of the best local, national touring and up-and-coming artists on the scene, and is free unless otherwise noted. Expect spontaneous jam sessions and original material to be showcased alongside a broad spectrum of traditional material in the folk, bluegrass and Americana traditions, starting at 7 p.m., for free. On Sunday evening, the ‘Zen will host Afro-fusion jam act Toubab Krewe, who mix rock sound with traditional African instrumentation to create a unique, danceable sound. That one starts at 9 p.m. with tickets priced at $15. For those and more info on all things ‘Zen, visit www.zenbarnvt.com.

It’s a beautiful time of year to take a ride on Vermont’s country roads, in spite of the rubbernecking tourists. A lovely drive up the County Road out of the capitol will bring you to the bucolic village of Calais and The Whammy Bar, nestled cozily in the back of the Maple Corner Store. Tonight you can catch or perform at open mic starting at 7 p.m. On Friday night, jazz-standard standouts Bella and the Notables bring their classic sound the diminutive ‘Whammy stage. On Saturday night, songwriter John Smyth performs. All shows at the Whammy Bar are for donation.

Until next week, watch out for the out of state plates, and go see live music.

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