Despite rainy weather, the recent Fredfest was quite satisfying, if a bit bittersweet. Charlie Hunter recently revealed that the 2006 four-day Roots on the River festival is likely “the last one in this configuration.”
What I like about Roots, along with the performances, is that it marks the start of the summer outdoor music season. This year it promises to be terrific, with many great musicians lined up throughout the region.
Most shows are free. One exception is this Sunday’s concert by the Misfits, probably the oldest punk band still playing, at the Vermont State Fairgrounds in Castleton.
The free Lebanon Front Porch Series begins next Thursday in Colburn Park with Annie Clark, who’s billed as “folk with a twist.” Upcoming performers include the Bluegrass Gospel Project, Dave Mallet and my favorite, roots chanteuse Eliza Gilkyson on August 3. The series ends with the Buskers August 10.
Always a favorite summer destination, Sunapee Harbor kicks things off tonight with a country performance by Karen Morgan and the Pony Express at the Newbury Gazebo. Next Thursday the festivities move to the Ben Mere Bandstand in Sunapee, with the retro-cover band Boomerang. Flanders Stage had some fine free shows last year, including a memorable set by James Montgomery. Click Horning leads off Friday, July 1; Pete Merrigan, freshly back from Florida, stops by July 8 for a twilight show.
Over in Chester, the Okemo Series gets moving at the end of July. The Marble City Swing Band entertains Village Green picnickers on the 27th, followed by the earthy Dave Davis-fronted Brown Trout and the Country Lunkers August 4th. The Celtic Gypsy Reel, Starline Rhythm Boys and the immensely talented vocalist Sandra Wright also grace the Thursday night stage.
Finally, Claremont will soon have a spot for al fresco troubadours when Bistro Nouveau completes work on a new deck, expected to open late next week. In addition to nearly doubling the restaurant’s capacity, the 50-seat addition is a more fitting spot for music. Pete Merrigan’s July 22 set is the only definite booking, says owner Doug Langevin, but others, including Chris Kleeman, Lydia Gray and the sensational Jason Cann are close to definite. Bistro also has plans for later performer starts, and a special after-hours patio menu.
I can’t wait.
Now, what’s happening this weekend?
Thursday: Ameranouche, The Windham – It really feels like the end of an era over in Bellows Falls, what with the scaling back of Fredfest and this, the final show at one of the most music-friendly venues ever in the area. Gypsy Jazz inspired by Django Reinhart, this New Hampshire band is just back from Arizona. The show is simulcast on WOOL-FM and http://www.woolfm.com.
Friday: Shaw Brothers, South Sutton Meeting House – The bards of New Hampshire, they wrote the state’s official song, “New Hampshire Naturally.” I grew up listening to folkies like the Limelighters, Kingston Trio and Brothers Four. The Shaws carry that torch quite ably, and when they play, you can’t help smiling. This show is, fittingly enough, presented by the Sutton Historical Society.
Saturday: Jesse Peters, Sophie & Zeke’s – The Acoustic Folks Series continues; an open mike stalwart with an impressive catalog of his own songs, Peters plays guitar and sings for diners and music lovers alike. This Springfield native has a way with a crowd; I hope he plays “PK’s Blues,” a song celebrating another soon-to-pass Bellows Falls tradition. When Ezra Veitch leaves later this month, the PK’s torch is passed to Josh Maiocca.
Sunday: Pete Merrigan, Murphy’s on the Deck – Contrary to rumors, Three Season Pete isn’t planning a permanent Florida move. “We may take a long term renter on our house in Goshen,” he told me in a recent email. “It could SHORTEN our summer visits to N.H. but at present, we don't really know what's going to happen.” In the meantime, his outdoor performances at this Sunapee hub continue.
Monday: Train w/ Anna Nalick, Shelburne Museum – I can take or leave Train, a band that often sounds like it creates music the way Chevy markets trucks. But Anna Nalick is a different story, a singer who brilliantly synthesizes the fluidity of Norah Jones, the emotional gut punch of Beth Orton and the soaring majesty of pre-surgery Mariah Carey. If you’ve heard “Breathe” on “Gray’s Anatomy,” you already know she’s one to watch.
Tuesday: Andrew Root with Baxter the Fly, Canoe Club – I wonder how diners at this sedate downtown Hanover restaurant plan on talking over THIS? Described as “a blend of funk, jazz, reggae, Latin, hip-hop, and rock,” they’re bound to cause more than a few bowls of cold avocado soup to ripple, don’t you think? “The Fly” is drummer Brady Baxter. The combo includes Root on bass, keyboard player David DiLorenzo, and Andal Sundaramirthy on vocals.