Hello gentle readers and welcome to stick season. Although it is a depressing time of year around these parts (no one likes to see the leaves go away, except maybe dear hunters), the shorter days and longer nights to come leave ample opportunity to take advantage of the local nightlife scene. It’s a great cure for the impending winter blues; here are some options for ya’.

The Chad Hollister Band is quietly one of our most successful local acts, having made waves on the national scene for some years now as a pop act with radio appeal. This weekend the band returns to their home field when they perform at the Barre Opera House on Saturday night. Chad brings his sprawling nine-piece band, complete with a three-piece horn section backing heartfelt vocals to the majestic BOH stage starting at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $22 — $27, and those and more info are available at www.barreoperahouse.org.

Back in Montpelier proper, Three Penny Taproom does not do live music on a weekly basis, but they do put some music in the warm, wood paneled dining room on occasion monthly, and tonight is one of those occasions. Abby Sherman and Mountain County are an up and coming Vermont-based folk and Americana outfit featuring banjo, mandolin and upright bass backing Abby’s crisp and clean guitar and vocal work. Should be a good one starting at 8:30 p.m.

Around the corner at Sweet Melissa’s, there is of course live music on a nightly basis as usual. Tonight you can hoist a pint and get rowdy to the seafaring fare of The Shanty Rats, featuring Mel’s bartender ‘Captain’ Robert Morgan starting at 8 p.m. In the earlier slot, Jacob Minter, an ultra-talented young Vermonter whom I’ve seen perform and can highly recommend plays in the early slot at 6 p.m. The dude is an excellent pianist and vocalist, and well worth checking out. On Friday night, Western swing act Big Hat No Cattle hold down the happy hour spot at 6 p.m. Later on at 9 p.m., Mel’s switches gears when they host rockers Lake Superior and Carton. Lake Superior is the brainchild of Jeff Thompson and Pete Rahn, both Detroit-area natives who relocated to the Green Mountain State some years ago and brought their rust-belt, rock & roll sensibilities with them. Carton is a rock band from Windsor, Vermont, a place that has unlikely become a hotbed for up-and-coming acts in our fair state, having spawned the likes of Jarv, Maiden Voyage, and New Fame. A great double bill of local acts starting at 9 p.m. On Saturday night, Soulstice brings the irie sounds of reggae to the black box stage on the corner of Elm and Langdon starting at 9:30 p.m. On Sunday, as always, it’s live band karaoke with The Butcher Blocks starting at 8:30 p.m. Always a good time.

Heading South out of the capitol proper to Northfield, Norwich University’s Plumley Armory is hosting a show this weekend to benefit The Veteran’s Place, a transitional housing program for military vets. Vermont gone Nashville country singer Jamie Lee Thurston will headline the show. Expect rollicking, upbeat country music starting at 8 p.m. for $25 — $30, with all proceeds going to the cause.

Further South down I-89, The Chandler Music Hall in Randolph continues their ‘Live and Upstairs’ series on Saturday night when the upstairs gallery hosts Beg, Steal or Borrow, a band that pays tribute to the iconic bluegrass music of the Jerry Garcia / David Grisman led act Old and In the Way, and does so with original material to boot. The band has made a mark for themselves in the bluegrass world the last few years, being dubbed “a triple-crown bluegrass band” (Bluegrass Today). The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and all shows in the series are for donations.

It seems the roots/Americana/country vibe is everywhere this weekend. Up north of the capital in Calais, The Whammy Bar will present Them Boys, a trio featuring Danny Coane, Colin McCaffrey and Dave Rowell performing vintage country music. Expect authenticity starting at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday night, alt-country / roots-Americana band The Flycatchers bring their heartland sound to the diminutive ‘Whammy stage. That one also starts at 7;30 p.m., and all shows in the back of the Maple Corner Store are for donations.

Finally, for what may be the cream of the crop of this weekend’s roots and Americana offerings, Zen Barn will host the latest installment of their American Roots series tonight in collaboration with the prestigious Berklee School of Music. Tonight’s show is a special one, as it features Ethan Setiawan and Avery Merritt on mandolin and fiddle respectively. The two are recognized as some of the most promising talents to come out of the highly regarded Berklee program, winning numerous accolades in recent years. I checked out some of their stuff online, and it is indeed quite impressive. Another great bargain for donations starting at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday night, the ‘Zen switches gears somewhat when they host Haitian roots/blues artist Paul Beaubrun with his full band starting at 9 p.m. The NYC-based artist performs in “a smooth melange of English, French, and Creole” (from his website), and is noted for his guitar skills as well as his multi-lingual vocal abilities. Should be a good one starting at 9 p.m. for $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For tickets and more info on all things ‘Zen, visit www.zenbarnvt.com.

That wraps up this week. Happy stick season, and go see live music.

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