There was a time a number of years ago here in the capital when The Great Bob Dylan Wannabe Contest was a pretty big deal every year. The event would pack city hall as local artists performed the iconic songwriter’s material.
Myself and my esteemed editor, Jim Lowe, were even judges for the event one year. After the event’s lead organizer moved out of the area, energy around it seemed to wane, and for the last few years, it has been off the radar as far as I could see. However, it is being revived this weekend in the Granite City, in a less-than-likely location.
Mingle Nightclub on Main Street generally purveys in DJ-generated dance music, with occasional live acts. Saturday night, however, it’ll be hosting the contest that was so popular in years past. As in the past, artists will perform Dylan material while also trying to emulate the look and demeanor of the monumental Minnesotan, all in front of a panel of judges and (hopefully) a large audience. Performers interested in signing up can contact Mingle via Facebook or call 802-713-8819. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., with performers getting free entry and a $10 cover for the general public.
On a side note, congratulations to fans of the New England Patriots on their victory last weekend in Super Bowl LIII. The Goat may have got his sixth ring, but boy was it boring for a non-Pats fan. Most would agree that last year’s victory by the former world champion Philadelphia Eagles was much more exciting and fun to watch, none more so than me.
But back to the music. If you haven’t been to ZenBarn in Waterbury Center (I still have not made it myself), I would highly recommend it, if only for its excellent programming (though I hear nothing but good things about the place all around). On Friday night, you can catch a dynamite double bill featuring Brooklyn’s Phantom Vanity alongside Vermont’s own Funk Shui. The five-piece PV features a who’s who of players that have been kicking around Brooklyn’s funk, soul and folk scenes for years, and by all appearances it looks like the veteran crew has put together something special. The 9 p.m. performance is $5 at the door.
On Saturday night, you can celebrate the birthday of the man who brought reggae into the mainstream, Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley. Longtime Vermont-based irie-ites The Channel Two Dub Band provide the soundtrack, playing both originals and Marley classics. The celebration starts at 9 p.m., once again for $5 at the door.
Venture a bit farther up Route 100 to Stowe’s Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center to catch Vermont’s own Chad Hollister and his 10-piece band Saturday night. Hollister has returned from being on the road for the last six months to play the Stowe venue for the sixth year in a row. Tickets range $20-$40 for the 7 p.m. performance, and those and more information can be had at www.sprucepeakarts.org.
Hopping back into Montpelier, the usual suspect venues are in action once again this weekend. Sweet Melissa’s on the corner of Elm and Langdon gets things started early tonight with Bruce Jones performing at 6 p.m., followed by the seafaring, swashbuckling tunes of The Shanty Rats at 8 p.m.
Friday night brings rockin’ blues with longtime local luminary Blue Fox and the Rockin’ Daddies. Last I saw, Blue had added a horn or two and expanded his sound beyond his old rockin’ guitar style. That one kicks off at 9 p.m.
On Saturday night, The Vermont Brigade takes the black box stage with music inspired by Vermont soldiers’ letters home during the Civil War as seen through the rock ‘n’ roll lens. That one also marches on starting at 9 p.m. On Sunday, of course, it’s the ever-popular live band karaoke with The Butcher Blocks starting at 8 p.m.
And in the end, of course, there is always Charlie O’s, where there’ll be plenty of live music this weekend. On Friday night, Scott Graves will play a set in the early slot at 6 p.m., followed by oddly named rock acts Beer and Stolk at 9 p.m.
Saturday afternoon brings a new event to O’s that will take place on the second Saturday of each month. Cartoons and Cocktails will feature classic cartoons alongside classic cocktails starting at 3 p.m. I wish I could make this one, as I love me some old-school Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, etc. Saturday night, Medicine Tribe brings its brand of rock ‘n’ roll to the back of the barroom starting at 9 p.m.
That wraps up this week. Until next week, you know the drill: 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.