This week’s Hippo

Nite Spotlight: Alan Jackson, Studio 99 moves, Brooks Young Band, Cabaret Boheme, Recycled Percussion

Todd Carey – breaking through the tech for a real connection

It’s a sad fact of modern life that often the tools that make certain things easier make others impossible. That’s the conundrum Todd Carey explores in a new song about the ways cutting edge communication doesn’t cut it.

An emoticon isn’t a real smile, it’s just typing. Sometimes, only the human touch will do:

“No more phone calls, no more texts
No more IM, I don’t want to guess
I need you in the flesh
Not on Facebook
Not online
Camera phones won’t do this time
It’s true – I gotta be next to you”

Gotta Be Next To You, Todd Carey

Vienna Teng’s old soul

The sweep of history moves in both directions on Vienna Teng’s most recent album, Inland Territory.

“In Another Life” describes the life and afterlife of coal miners, revolutionaries and soldiers, with clarinet and bassoon accompaniment straight out of a New Orleans funeral. “Antebellum” employs Civil War imagery to tell its love story.

A needle dragging across a phonograph record serves as percussion in the opening bars of “Last Snowfall.” The young singer-songwriter (she only recently turned 30) becomes an old soul, imagining her dying days with the clarity of someone twice her age.

Compass features

Local Music Spotlight

Who: Larry Dougher
What: Blues scholar with a rock and roll heart
Sounds like: Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Larry Dougher has a passion for the blues that extends well beyond his prodigious guitar talents. He plays with the authority of someone who’s been knocking around bars since he was 14, but has a knack for unearthing blues history with every note. On a recent night in Claremont, he unearthed nuggets from Charlie Patton and Tommy Johnson’s 1927 ode to Sterno drinking, “Canned Heat Blues” (the song that gave the band its name).

When he plays live, Dougher usually brings a bass player and a drummer, but he’s equally talented playing solo on a Takamine guitar. His recently released album of original material, Let Me Stay, is a tasty blend of Chicago blues and high energy songs like “I Wanna Know” and “I’ll Always Be.”

The 27-year old Dougher also coaches JV basketball at Stevens High School in Claremont, works as a technology specialist in the Windsor school system and last year took time away from music for a tour of duty in Kuwait with the U.S. Air National Guard.

Upcoming gigs:

Silver Fern Grille and Bar, Claremont:

October 23
November 28
December 11


Worth driving out of town

Eastern States Exposition
West Springfield, MA

Distance: 100 miles
Why: The Big E
When: Daily through Sunday, October 4
Tickets: $12-$15 Adults, $8-$10 Children

Freaky food like a bacon cheeseburger on a glazed donut bun is one reason to attend this, the largest fair in New England and one of the 10 biggest in North America. There’s also a lot of free music, which this weekend leans country. Honky-tonk heartthrob Lane Turner performs on Friday, September 25. The following night it’s Little Big Town, sounding a lot like Fleetwood Mac. On Sunday it’s back to pure country with Jamey Johnson, who penned hits for George Jones, Trace Adkins and George Strait.

The final weekend rocks, with Poison front man/reality TV bad boy Bret Michaels appearing Sunday, October 3 and South African hard rockers Seether closing things out the following night.

Along with that, there’s a European-style circus and the regionally themed Avenue of the State. Of course, there are rides with names like Spinout, Crazy Flip and Fireball, which are probably best experienced after downing the fair’s signature dessert, the Big E Creampuff or a glazed donut bacon cheeseburger.

Mark your calendar

Who: Vermont Symphony Orchestra
Where: Bellows Falls Opera House
When: Thursday, Oct. 1, 7:30pm

Last year, Ray Massucco realized his dream of bringing the VSO to Bellows Falls for the first time, a black tie affair complemented by glorious acoustics. Even non-fans of classical music got caught up in the magic. Immediately afterward, Ray got busy locking the symphony in for another performance. This 2009 Made in Vermont Music Festival tour is led by conductor Anthony Princiotti, and features an arrangement of a Mozart string quartet, Quartet in C Major, KV 157; Bizet’s Jeux d’enfants (Children’s Games); and Haydn’s Symphony No. 82, commonly known as “The Bear.”

Each year, the Symphony commissions an original work by a Vermont composer to premiere during the fall tour. For this program, Derrik Jordan, of East Dummerston pays tribute to the yearlong Lake Champlain Quadricentennial with Odzihozo and the Lake, which is based on an Abenaki creation story.

The tour stops in nine Vermont cities, including Woodstock on October 4. But you’d be hard-pressed to find one of them as proud as Bellows Falls. It’s truly a big night on the town.

Local Rhythms – Autumn is my favorite color

When I first came here, autumn in New England meant nothing to me. Born and raised in California, I only knew two seasons – raining and not raining.

But after 30-plus years, fall’s crisp dawns, metallic blue skies, wood smoke and turning leaves thrill me as much as any native.

I know, I’m still a flatlander.

Of course, the sheer volume of festivals in late September and early October is another reason I love this change of season. Here are a few I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks.

All of them pretty close to home:

The Sunapee Chowder Challenge, always a tasty battle, will be held this Sunday, September 27 on the harbor. Bubba’s in Newbury won the People’s Choice award last year, while the Anchorage took the judge’s prize. If you’re not a fan of seafood, this year’s competition will also introduce a “soup master” category.

Yum – comfort food.

Speaking of which, the Claremont Fall Festival on Saturday, October 3 includes a chili cook-off and an apple pie contest. It’s being held for the first time in the new Visitors Center Park. Downtown, 18 students and 7 adult actors will present an all-day living history performance called “The Pride of Pleasant Street.”

Windsor’s Moondance is always a lot of fun, with dueling LED hula-hoops, a microbrew beer garden, Celtic music and stories from Jennings and Ponder. Club Soda also performs at the event, which happens from 5-10p.m. on Friday, October 9.

The 62nd Warner Fall Foliage Festival, held October 9 through 11, is in a word, huge. It literally covers the entire town. There’s a midway with carnival rides, a farmer’s market, parades, crafts and an oxen pull. There’s also music from the East Bay Jazz Ensemble, Fountain Square Ramblers and others.

The annual Harpoon Octoberfest, held at the Windsor brewery on October 10 & 11, includes a German oompa band and plenty of Bavarian food like sausage and sauerkraut. Oh, and there’s lots of good beer. What more could you ask for?

The family-friendly Springfield Apple Festival also happens on the 10th and 11th, with cider, fried dough, crafts, pony rides and other distractions – most of them edible.  There’s also music, including local favorite Alli Lubin.

Finally, the Newport Opera House Masquerade Ball with Last Kid Picked on Halloween night typically sells out. With an extra hour due to the end of Daylight Savings Time, it should be a gas.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, September 24: Jason Cann, Harpoon Brewery – The expanded brewpub is, it turns out, a great music venue. Jason is the perfect choice for entertainment, which is why he’s a regular Thursday attraction. He covers the Grateful Dead and Dave Matthews, reinvents Michael Jackson songs, and does “Please Come to Boston” better than Dave Loggins, who wrote it. But I like his originals, like “I Want,” a free download on his website.

Friday, September 25: Community & Youth Connect, Broad Street Park – Chris Kazi Rolle is a playwright, rapper and motivational speaker whose life is the subject of a movie, The Hip Hop Project. That’s also the name of Rolle’s after school music project, which travels the country and stops today in Claremont at 4p.m. Rolle’s performance is followed by a local battle of the bands at 6p.m.

Saturday, September 26: Gatsby Gala, Cornish Colony Museum – Though a bit pricey at $75 a ticket, this re-creation of a night at a Roaring Twenties speakeasy is nonetheless intriguing. The Downtown Windsor location is a secret that’s only revealed (along with a password) after guests RSVP for the event. It’s all for a good cause, with dinner and music by the Gerry Grimo-led East Bay Jazz Ensemble.

Sunday, September 27: Stolen by Gypsies, Parker House (Quechee) –Samantha Moffatt sings and plays accordion, with Mike Gareau on fiddle and mandolin and the ubiquitous Dave Clark on bass. Stolen by Gypsies plays French folk music, the kind that goes well with cheese, a piece of crusty bread and a glass of good red wine. This is an outdoor event, held weather permitting from 6-10p.m., so be sure to call ahead of time.

Tuesday, September 29: Traditional Irish Session, Salt hill Pub – If you live or commute to the Upper Valley, there are few better ways to end the work day than this song circle, which starts at 6p.m. and takes a different form every time it happens. It’s led by Chris Stevens, Roger Burridge and Dave Loney, but things really get fun when guests begin showing up.

Wednesday, September 30: Mark & Deb Bond, Ramunto’s – Yippee, another music venue in Claremont, something I’d always for this riverfront pizza/sub sit-down restaurant.  The bar’s great, the beer selection is first rate, and the calzones are fantastic.  How great that music’s been added to the mix.

Thanks to Jesse Baker for this week’s headline!