The goddess is back in her place, and all is right with the world. Well, that may be going a bit far, but the capital certainly feels and looks much better with Ceres atop the newly gilded dome. The Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility has been a fixture atop the State House for quite a few years, and it just didn’t seem right to look up and not see her there. Her presence is another thing that helps make our country’s smallest state capital unique, and I’m sure you can all agree it’s great to have her back.
Our beloved dome isn’t the only thing shining this time of year. It’s Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, and like most celebrations, it includes food and music. To that end, Zen Barn in Waterbury Center is hosting a proper dinner and party this weekend with a world-class klezmer band. The Klezwoods are Boston’s premier act in the genre traditionally rooted in Eastern European Yiddish communities. This is music that is made for dancing, and there should be plenty of that at the Zen on Saturday night. Tickets are $45 and include a Mediterranean buffet with gourmet latkes (yum) to be followed by the music. The event sold out last year, so advance tickets are recommended. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit www.zenbarnvt.com.
Back in ol’ Montpeculiar, it appears Sweet Melissa’s must have finally recovered from Halloween, as its December calendar is up and has a full slate of music to round out the last month of the year. Tonight you can catch Dave Langevin in the early slot at 6 p.m. The Shanty Rats take the later slot on the black box stage at 8 p.m.
On Friday night, Soulstice plays the hotspot on the corner of Elm and Langdon Streets, once again at 8 p.m. Saturday night brings jazz standards featuring outstanding vocals when Bella and the Notables play in the shadow of the afore-extolled dome. That one also starts at 8 p.m. Finally, on Sunday as usual, it’s live band karaoke with your hosts The Butcher Blocks starting at 8:30 p.m.
Around the corner on State Street in the capital, Positive Pie II has live music nearly every weekend through the holiday season. On Friday night, Queen City-based act The Renegade Groove rolls into the capital with its ultra-funky sound in tow. The band features local boy Evan Crandell alongside some of Burlington’s most talented players. This should be another great one for dancing, and the spacious room at the downtown resto hotspot should be perfect for it. The party gets started at 10 p.m. for $5 at the door.
Charlie O’s on Main Street in the capital has a full slate of live music this weekend as well, starting Friday night at 6 p.m. with acoustic artist John Smyth. In the later slot, everyone’s favorite honky-tonk heroes The Starline Rhythm Boys return to their favorite stomping grounds. Perhaps no other act has appeared at O’s over the years as often as the Boys have, and with good reason. The old-school, dive-bar atmosphere fits their authentic roadhouse sound perfectly. Hoist one to ‘em starting at 9 p.m.
On Saturday night, O’s switches gears when it hosts rockers Lake Superior and Tin Talisman for a local double-bill starting once again at 9 p.m. All shows at Charlie O’s are for no cover, meaning free.
If you’re looking for something a bit more high-end, you can head out to The Barre Opera House Saturday night to catch ”The Gibson Brothers: A North Country Christmas,” their annual holiday show, which has become a tradition in their upstate New York home base. One of the premier brother acts in the bluegrass genre, the duo has won many accolades over the years for their visceral take on bluegrass music and their soaring harmonies. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show range $25-$29.50, and those and more information can be had at www.barreoperahouse.org.
Another type of holiday celebration featuring music takes place down in Randolph Saturday night at Chandler Center for the Arts. Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem skip the traditional carols and mistletoe and go straight to roots music to celebrate the holiday season. The acclaimed New England-based rhythm and roots quartet is a local favorite, and its deeply rooted take on holiday music should be a real treat and a break from the more schlocky “Jingle Bells”-type fare. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance are $25 and those and more information can be had at www.chandler-arts.org.
It seems it would be a great time of year to hit up the cozy confines of The Whammy Bar, nestled in the back of the Maple Corner store in the bucolic village of Calais. You can head on out and try your talents at open mic tonight starting at 7 p.m.
On Friday night, a real treat of a show happens when local faves Sara Grace and Andy Suits share the intimate stage with their always impressive soul-folk repertoire. On Saturday night, you can catch Bob Hannon and Friends. The latter shows start at 7:30 p.m., for donations.
That wraps up this week. Enjoy seeing the goddess back on her golden perch, 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.