Serendipity is an awesome thing. This past weekend, my housemate and I decided that, with the weather being finally nice and the beds dug up, we would plant our ground gardens, which consist of greens (kale, lettuce, spinach, etc.), beans and snap peas. After a few hours work getting them in the ground, we relaxed for a bit with our neighbor, and just as I was about to go around the house to drag the hose around to the back to water, it started to rain a bit. After waiting a few minutes, that trickle turned into a downpour, and negated the extra chore of watering. We couldn’t have timed it better if we tried.
Here’s to hoping the serendipity trend continues to assert itself on the live music front. Perhaps you’ll discover a new favorite out and about this weekend? Here are some options to explore:
Charlie O’s got a new talent coordinator when bartender extraordinaire Jeffrey took up the duties earlier this spring. He’s obviously starting to get his legs, as there are posters in the bar for acts performing in June and July already. Most of them are unfamiliar, meaning that Jeff is succeeding in bringing in new talent.
This weekend, however, we are dealing with known local quantities at the ol’ world famous. In the early slot Friday, Wes Hamilton and Kevin Kerner share the land beyond the pool tables for both solo and collaborative sets of acoustic material both original and cover. Expect Dylan-esque, Waits-ish, Prine-like material out of these two local taproom proprietors starting at 6 p.m.
At 9 p.m., longtime Vermont backwoods roots-Americana purveyors Pariah Beat return to the back of the barroom to rock out in style. The band has gone through many incarnations over the years, but has retained its core members as well as distinct style; they are always a treat.
On Saturday night, another longtime Vermont-based act, this one from Burlington, invades our local dive for nice people. Surf rock act Barbacoa has been doing its thing in Burlington and beyond for two decades now. Being that O’s crowd seems to love the surf rock genre, I’d expect this one to be well attended, starting once again at 9 p.m.
There’s another longtime local act that does not perform regularly these days taking a stage this weekend as well. The Mad Mountain Scramblers hail from the Mad River Valley, and they’ve been playing their rollicking brand of bluegrass since the late ‘90s. This weekend, they’ll bust out for the first time in quite awhile at ZenBarn in Waterbury Center. Expect a down-home hootenanny on Saturday night in the intimate yet spacious confines of the Zen starting at 9 p.m. for $5 at the door.
There are more shows happening outside the capital proper this weekend as well. The Whammy Bar in Calais, tucked neatly into the back of the Maple Corner Store, kicks off its weekend festivities with an open mic night tonight starting at 7 p.m. On Friday night, Kava Express takes the intimate space for a night of euphoric jamming starting at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday night, local soul and blues act Liz Beatty and the Lab Rats perform in part to celebrate band member Artie Toulouse’s birthday. No doubt locals know what a treat it is to hear Liz’s powerful pipes in such a cozy space, so I’d expect this one to be well attended starting at 7:30 p.m. Shows at the Whammy are by donation.
Another rural hotspot is over in Cabot at The Den, nestled inside Harry’s Hardware on Main Street in the heart of the bucolic village. On Saturday night, acoustic fiddler Dan Wyman will be joined by guitarist Jake Munson for an evening of indie-folk tunes. That party gets started at 7 p.m.
For more early evening music, you can check out The Skinny Pancake in Montpelier. They are getting back into the swing of booking live music on their patio now that the weather is cooperating, and Friday night they’ll feature NYC songwriter Tamara Hey. “Tamara Hey’s soaring voice has charmed and captivated audiences throughout her native New York for over a decade. She writes meticulously detailed, magically crystallized three-minute pop songs which, just like her vocals, are disarmingly deep” (New York Music Daily). The show starts at 6 p.m. — early birds take note!
Of course Sweet Melissa’s, the capital’s most active music venue, has a full schedule as usual this weekend. You can get started early tonight with pianist Dave Langevin at 6 p.m. That will be followed by the Earth Mirth Comedy Showcase at 8 p.m.
On Friday night, it’s a Bob Dylan tribute featuring Tiny Montgomery and Wes Hamilton (who will be pulling double duty after warming up at his earlier Charlie O’s gig) starting at 9 p.m. Saturday night brings Thomas Gunn to the black box stage in the early slot at 6 p.m. He’ll be followed by a fem-dominated double bill at 9 p.m. with local gal-rockers Yestrogen alongside of Lexi Weege and the Wondertwins starting at 9:30 p.m. On Sunday, as usual, it’s live band karaoke with The Butcher Blocks, a usually well-attended event starting at 8:30 p.m.
Finally, we’ll head over to the Granite City of Barre, where Gusto’s has gotten into the early evening booking slots like many of our local watering holes. On Friday night at 5 p.m., you can catch acoustic artist Chris Powers. Later on in the 9 p.m. slot, Stone Temple Posers, a tribute act to ‘90s rock band, takes the barroom by storm.
On Saturday night, Michael Stridsberg plays acoustic starting at 6 p.m., followed by DJ Kaos mixing it down for your dancing pleasure at 9:30 p.m. It should be noted that Gusto’s does host live entertainment nearly every weekend, so it may be worth checking out.
That wraps up this week. Be open to serendipity, and go see live music!