Did you ever have a beloved song that you’ve been familiar with for many years, but never knew what it meant? Obviously the magic of the interwebs makes it easy to find out, but I actually got this interesting tidbit via a radio program on VPR. The song Morning Dew was recorded by a number of artists, but made most famous by The Grateful Dead. I’d always loved the song, but was always puzzled by what it could mean. Turns out it was written in 1961 by Canadian folk singer Bonnie Dobson (the first song she ever wrote, incidentally), and is about the last couple on earth having a discussion in a shelter during an apocalyptic nuclear winter. I had a real eureka moment driving in the car to that information, and it really brought the full meaning of the song’s beauty to the forefront of my mind.
Speaking of the Grateful Dead, Zen Barn on Guptil Road in Waterbury Center hosts a weekly tribute night every Wednesday, with some of our state’s finest Deadhead musicians providing the soundtrack. That kicks off weekly at 7 p.m. On Saturday night, the ‘Zen stays in Dead mode but with a twist when they present Vermont-based bluegrass act Beg, Steal or Borrow starting at 9 p.m. The band made a name for themselves performing the music of the Jerry Garcia / David Grisman-led act Old and In the Way, but has since branched out to their own original material as well. They’ve been touring over the past few years from Maine to Bermuda, and appear to have established themselves as one of our state’s premier bluegrass acts. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 day of show, and those and more info can be had at www.zenbarnvt.com.
Back in Montpelier proper, Sweet Melissa’s on the corner of Elm and Langdon has got live music and other nightlife events going on as usual. I’ve not been able to get any info on tonight or Friday as their calendar is not out at press time. I was able to get tidbits of info on what’s going on Saturday night. In the early slot it’s Michael T. Jermyn and the Aristocratic Peasants at 6 p.m. In the later slot at 9 p.m., Sweet’s switches gears when they host the Capital City Queens Drag Show. Lead diva Butterball will be joined by a host of cohorts for an evening of fabulous cross-dressing fun. That one also kicks off at 9 p.m. for $10 at the door. And, as always, on Sunday it’s the ever-popular live band karaoke with The Butcher Blocks providing the soundtrack starting at 8:30 p.m.
Around the corner at Charlie O’s, there is bound to be live music this weekend, but once again, their calendar is not available as of press time (a frequent problem when my deadline falls in the first few days of the month). O’s has seen an uptick in their customer base as of late, with a new crop of youthful patrons frequenting our local dive for nice people. Tuesday night karaoke (the regular variety) remains ultra-popular, drawing a solid crowd every week, and bartender and talent coordinator Jeffrey has been doing an admirable job bringing in fresh acts to the back of the barroom. Stop on in this weekend; you might get a great musical surprise.
If you are looking for some earlier evening music in Montpelier, you can check out Bagitos on Main Street right next to The Savoy Theater. Tonight (and on the first Thursday of every month), local folkie Colin McCaffrey is joined by musical friends for set of country and Americana tunes. For an even earlier show, Saturday morning Bagitos presents singer-songwriter Barry Bender starting at 11 a.m.
Just down the street in the middle of the block you’ll find one of the capital’s newest establishments, Rabble Rouser. Now that they’ve been up and running for a bit, it is likely we’ll see more nightly programming. Tonight they’ll be hosting comedy and jazz in a format that is described as “a rat-packish ‘Rabblin good time.” No word if the ghosts of Sammy, Dean, Frank and company will show up, but this sounds like a good time starting at 7 p.m. tonight and on the first Thursday of every month.
With the winter weather setting in, it’s a bit tougher for folks to travel into (or out of) town for nighttime music events. Lucky for some of our more rural residents, some great options have opened up the last few years. In bucolic Calais, The Whammy Bar has been cranking out live music Thursday-Saturday for a few years now. Tonight you can participate or just listen when open mic happens starting at 7 p.m. On Friday night, singer-songwriter Liam Alone takes the diminutive stage, with Saturday bringing cover rockers The Barn Band to the small bar nestled in the back of the Maple Corner Store. Weekend shows at the Whammy start at 7:30 p.m. and are free, with donations encouraged for the musicians.
Another wee rural hotspot is situated in the back of Harry’s Hardware in the village of Cabot. The Den features live music on weekends, mostly on Saturday nights. This Saturday at 7 p.m. will feature folk act Daddy Long Legs. I’ve yet to make it out to this cozy Cabot hotspot, but have heard nothing but good things about what is apparently a popular off-the-beaten-path spot, so I’d encourage you to check out what the locals already know if you haven’t thus far.
We’ll close out in the Granite City of Barre, where Gusto’s nightclub usually has live music (mostly cover acts and DJ’s) on weekends. On Friday night in the early slot at 5 p.m., Elizabeth Renaud will play rock covers for the after-work crowd. Later on at 9 p.m. rock-cover act The Party Crashers will crank up the scene. On Saturday night (and every other Saturday) DJ Kaos cranks out the hits starting at 9:30 p.m.
That will wrap up this week. Until next, beg, steal or borrow your way into seeing live music.