Local Spotlight – Photos & Impressions

Salt hill Pub in Lebanon resumed Thursday Blues Nights in late July, with plans to offer the best of local players like Ted Mortimer, Johnny Bishop (who has a new CD on the way), and Ed Eastridge through the fall.  Bobby Gagnier may become the most familiar face by the time the series wraps up in October; the fluid drummer is in several of the bands.  This week’s host is Arthur James, with his band Acoustic Mayhem.

Irish music is a regular fixture at the Pub, and last week featured plenty of spontaneous fun as friends stopped by to join Chris Stevens, Roger Burridge and Dave Loney for the weekly after-work traditional session. An intimate circle of players traded solos, and work up spirited renditions of timeless jigs and reels.  The music, like the Guinness on tap and the easy bar conversation, becomes a part of the room.  Salt hill’s Traditional Irish Sessions happen every Tuesday at 6:30.

Last weekend’s Championship of New England Barbecue Festival at Harpoon Brewery featured some incredible performances.  Antennas Up played a hybrid of rock and funk for an appreciative crowd.  Their original music went over well, and they did a bang-up cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” but it was their irreverent version of “A Boy Named Sue” that really hit the mark.

The band introduced it as “Kansas City techno” and proceeded to turn the Johnny Cash hit into something completely different, punctuated by a wild and crazy chorus of “now you gonna die” that sounded like a mash-up of the Sons of the Pioneers and Frank Zappa.

Before they packed up their van and headed to Boston for another gig, the members of Antennas Up gushed about the area (this is their second time through), and spoke of plans to return in the fall to promote their upcoming CD.

Boston-based Otis Grove followed Antennas Up with an electrifying set that recalled fusion masters like Robben Ford and Jeff Beck, as well as inevitable comparisons to Booker T. & the MG’s, with Sam Gilman working a vintage Hammond B3 organ.

Later, North Country fixture the Nobby Reed Project played a set of timeless blues.  All the while, beer, soda and cider flowed, while the sweet scent of grilled food wafted through the air, and the skies remained calm – a condition that fortunately continued through the weekend.  Reed has several upcoming Vermont dates on his schedule, available at http://www.nobbyreed.com, as well as an October 25 appearance set for the Polish Club in Claremont.