Today’s Hippo

Not so “Secret” anymore:

Before filming had even begun, Christian Wisecarver told his co-star Holly Winchell that “Granite State of Mind,” The Super Secret Project’s New Hampshire-ized version of Jay-Z’s mega-hip-hop hit, would be special.

With more than a million YouTube views and coast-to-coast media coverage, it turns out he was right.

plus, Nite Roundup

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Local Rhythms – Exiled with Exile

Desert Island Discs is one of my favorite parlor games.

Usually it’s a top ten list, with Bringing It All Back Home, Revolver and the first Cars album.

If forced to pick one record I’d take into exile ahead of all others, the answer is easy – Exile on Main Street.

The Rolling Stones’ ragged masterpiece is more than a great album.

It’s the pivotal moment in the life of the rough beast called rock and roll, as it slouched towards a modern Bethlehem to be born as commerce.

Eventually after that shiny day in 1972 when the two-record set hit the streets, its cover festooned with carnival freaks, everything went to hell.

As Robert Greenfield’s 2006 book harrowingly detailed, it’s a miracle the Stones even survived the making of Exile. Recorded in Keith Richards’ French mansion, the sessions were a nightmare of drugs, debauchery and near death experiences.

Next to that, a Quentin Tarantino movie seems like an episode of Barney the Dinosaur.

But make it they did, a sprawling 18-song opus that managed to find every touchstone on rock’s bumpy road – Hank Sr., Elvis, Aretha and Robert Johnson at the crossroads.

It’s a gospel stew spiked with a shot of bathtub gin.

At the same time, this beautiful mess full of under-mixed vocals, audibly dropped drumsticks and other fumbles took months in an L.A. studio to fix.

But I still play it from start to finish every time, grateful that modern technology means I don’t have to flip the record over.

Now, the greatest album ever made just got better.

Next month, Exile on Main Street will be reissued with eight never-before heard songs that were miraculously retrieved from the vaults, along with nuggets like “Tumbling Dice” with an extra lyric and other alternate takes.

A Super Deluxe box set includes a vinyl version (drat, back to flipping!) and a DVD with footage from the Robert Frank documentary commissioned by the Stones for the 1972 U.S. tour.

The band later sued to keep it from ever being screened. “If they show it in the States, we’ll never be allowed back in,” Mick Jagger reportedly told Frank.

The film’s title is too rude to print.

Über producer Don Was, who had the envious task of assembling the music for the reissue, gave this spot-on assessment of Exile:

“It’s become part of the vocabulary of rock & roll record-making,” Was told Rolling Stone. “But it’s wrong, by all standards. But it’s absolutely perfect. It’s a perfect record.”

Soon, it will be my Desert Island Box Set.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, April 22: Anat Cohen, Hopkins Center – If you think you know what a clarinet sounds like, you haven’t heard this young performer. Recently, jazz critic Rick Mason wrote that Cohen was bringing her instrument into the 21st Century, and said, “the Israeli native could become the most prominent jazz player on the long-neglected licorice stick since Benny Goodman.”

Friday, April 23: foreverinmotion, 802 Music – Emo rocker Brenden Thomas’s stage name refers to his touring regimen, traveling the country and winning fans one at a time, club by club. Vermont is Brenden’s home base – he helped start the Chester Underground in the basement of his favorite restaurant. Now he’s stopping by the latest great hope for local indie music, located in Springfield.

Saturday, April 24: Wailin’ Jennys, Lebanon Opera House – A more rustic Dixie Chicks, this band has won several awards in their native Canada. Sweet three-part harmonies lift their bright, natural sound, which begs a question. Why does so much great Americana music come from north of the border? I’ll take comfort that they’re really only two-thirds Canadian, and Garrison Keillor loves them.

Sunday, April 25: Willy Porter, Four Corners Grille – On “How to Rob a Bank,” the title track from Porter’s 2009 album, the singer-songwriter takes on the bailout with lyrics about “a bogus business plan [and] Wall Street Disneyland,” and ends up sounding like a blogger: “I’ll threaten massive layoffs, just like blackmail in disguise – that’s how you rob a bank.” Porter writes great breakup songs too.

Tuesday, April 27: Open Mic with Jim Ruffing, Benning Street Grill – One of the latest open mic to start up in the area. Most music at this West Lebanon complex takes place in the dark, blacklit Electra, but this happens in the main room, where there’s plenty of good food and TV in case the talent wears thin, or if you’re nervous while waiting your turn to play.

Wednesday, April 28: The Dubois, Green Mountain College – If the Shaggs had more musical chops, they may have sounded like this quirky Vermont band, though they’re a bit more psychedelic, rock decidedly harder, and you know what? They’re growing on me. For a taste, check out www.myspace.com/thedubois

Today’s Compass

Players
Local Music Spotlight
Who:  Gregory Brown
What: Multifaceted guitarist/songwriter
Sounds like: Jam band infused hip-hop
Gregory Brown is emerging as a regular on the open microphone circuit, hosting get-togethers Wednesdays Skunk Hollow Tavern and frequent Tuesdays at Windsor Station, which he considers the best acoustic player’s room in the Upper Valley.  He frequently performs a mix of his own music and covers as a solo act and as part of the Gypsy Twins duo with C.J. Pizarro, a/k/a Mista Cookie Jar. His influences include Dave Matthews Band, Bob Marley, Jack Johnson, Beastie Boys, Jimi Hendrix and Ben Harper.
Brown grew up in Thetford, leaving to attend Lewis & Clark College in Oregon He later moved to Southern California, where he began writing and performing his own songs. In 2008, he moved back to Vermont, and lately he’s been helping Pizarro promote his new children’s album, Mista Cookie Jar Presents:  The Love Bubble. Brown co-wrote two of the album’s songs.  A Brown original, “No Mercy In The Valley,” is available for download at http://www.reverbnation.com/gypsytwins
In the coming months, the duo will be performing family show opportunities during the day and performing as The Gypsy Twins at night. Brown is also a frequent guest at the open mic hosted by Tad Davis at Jesse’s in Hanover, NH every Thursday night.
Upcoming Gigs:
April 23, Firestone’s, Quechee, VT, solo
April 29, Bentley’s, Woodstock, VT, solo
June 3, Bentley’s, Woodstock, VT, Gypsy Twins
June 4, Jesse’s, Hanover, NH, Gypsy Twins

PlayersLocal Music Spotlight
Who:  Gregory BrownWhat: Multifaceted guitarist/songwriterSounds like: Jam band infused hip-hop
Gregory Brown is emerging as a regular on the open microphone circuit, hosting get-togethers Wednesdays Skunk Hollow Tavern and frequent Tuesdays at Windsor Station, which he considers the best acoustic player’s room in the Upper Valley.  He frequently performs a mix of his own music and covers as a solo act and as part of the Gypsy Twins duo with C.J. Pizarro, a/k/a Mista Cookie Jar. His influences include Dave Matthews Band, Bob Marley, Jack Johnson, Beastie Boys, Jimi Hendrix and Ben Harper.
Brown grew up in Thetford, leaving to attend Lewis & Clark College in Oregon He later moved to Southern California, where he began writing and performing his own songs. In 2008, he moved back to Vermont, and lately he’s been helping Pizarro promote his new children’s album, Mista Cookie Jar Presents:  The Love Bubble. Brown co-wrote two of the album’s songs.  A Brown original, “No Mercy In The Valley,” is available for download at http://www.reverbnation.com/gypsytwins
In the coming months, the duo will be performing family show opportunities during the day and performing as The Gypsy Twins at night. Brown is also a frequent guest at the open mic hosted by Tad Davis at Jesse’s in Hanover, NH every Thursday night.
Upcoming Gigs:
April 23, Firestone’s, Quechee, VT, soloApril 29, Bentley’s, Woodstock, VT, soloJune 3, Bentley’s, Woodstock, VT, Gypsy TwinsJune 4, Jesse’s, Hanover, NH, Gypsy Twins

Beyond

Worth driving out of town

What: Thank You Friends: A Celebration of Alex Chilton of Big Star and the Box Tops

Where: Iron Horse Music Hall

When: Saturday, April 24 at 7 p.m.

Tickets: $10/adv $13/door

More: http://www.iheg.com

Distance: 85 Miles

There’s an old saying about the Velvet Underground – not many people saw them, but everyone who did started a band.  That’s also true about Big Star, the seventies band led by pop master Alex Chilton. Big Star was due to play SXSW when Chilton died suddenly a few weeks ago.

Chilton reached his biggest audience as a teenager with Box Tops.  “The Letter” and “Cry Like a Baby” will probably spin in jukeboxes until the end of the time. They are to pop what Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was to classical music, perfect specimens of the form.

But Chilton influenced more musicians with Big Star – the Replacements even named a song for him.  This tribute show features a few bands that owe a big part of their sound to Chilton.  Performing are Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne, the dream-pop Winterpills, Mark Mulcahy (cited by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke as a key influence), Sitting Next to Brian, Henning Ohlenbusch, Rick Murnane, Thane Thomsen, Lesa Bezo and Dave Houghton of Fancy Trash.

Horizon
Mark your calendar
What: Barnaby’s Bluegrass Festival
Where: Rockingham Hill Farm, 34 Meeting House Rd. in Rockingham
When: Friday, May 21 through Sunday, May 23
Tickets: Single day tickets $10-$25, weekend passes $40-$80 at http://www.jambasetickets.com
More: Go to http://www.facebook.com and search for “Barnaby’s Backroad Jamboree”
PK’s Pub honcho Josh Hearne threw the first Barnaby’s Backroad Jamboree last July, and though there was a lot of muck to wade through for midsummer, the music, with a who’s who of local bands, was stellar.  Since then, Hearne has been promoting shows at a few different places, most prominently Curtis’s Bar-B-Q in Chester.
A few months ago, Hearne announced his biggest endeavor yet, a three-day bluegrass festival with a wide ranging lineup that includes the Gordon Stone Band, Jatoba, Hot Day at the Zoo, the Pluckin’ Grassholes, Rockspring, Cabinet, the Bondville Boys, Steel Rail Bluegrass and four others.  The event will also be a breakout day for emerging country star Jandee Lee Porter, a Charlestown native who packed Curtis’s a few weeks back.
The three-day, two-night show happens at a forest location located a few miles off the interstate, and includes lunch and dinner vendors, a kids area, fire dancers, performance artists and “interactive party stuff” – you’ll have to ask Hearne what the last one means.

Today’s Hippo

Making it with Craving Lucy

Steve Archambault has one word of advice for anyone thinking about starting a band: patience.

“Don’t set your expectations too high, except for yourself,” says the singer from his Manchester home. Archambault and his band Craving Lucy have relentlessly followed that philosophy.

Catch piano lounge vibe at Z

A downtown Manchester restaurant is the latest establishment to go all-in for live entertainment. Z Food & Drink on Elm Street is now offering an eclectic mix of singers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

And Nite Roundup

Today’s Hippo

Tom Rush comes to St. Anselm College:

Tom Rush’s 1968 album The Circle Game helped launch the era of the singer songwriter. Subsequent releases from the New Hampshire native introduced early work from Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan and Jesse Winchester. But Rush made his last studio album (Ladies Love Outlaws) in 1974, and has since stuck to touring and putting out live recordings. His cover of Steve Walters’ “Remember Song” has more than 4 million YouTube hits to date.

Gary Hoey gears up for tour with personal hero Jeff Beck:

For Gary Hoey, the only thing faster than his fingers is his schedule. In late February the guitarist, best known for his Ho! Ho! Hoey! Christmas albums and remakes of surf classics like “Pipeline,” spent a week as a counselor at the Hollywood Rock n’ Roll Fantasy camp, mentoring musicians alongside pals Sammy Hagar, Ace Frehley and Michael Anthony of Van Halen.

A show by folk funny man Steve Poltz in Franklin leads the Music Roundup.

Local Rhythms – Homegrown hip-hop tells the Granite State’s story

When I moved to New Hampshire 30 years ago, I knew the state had nuclear power, no taxes and a deep-seated hatred of bottle deposits – but not much else.

You could turn on the radio and hear songs about New York, Chicago, Memphis, Los Angeles and my hometown of San Francisco.  Aside from a few from obscure folksingers, none existed for my new home state.

That changed last week, and with a hip hop song, no less.

As I write this, over a half million people have streamed “Granite State of Mind” since it hit YouTube a week ago. Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind” has been parodied before, from Minnesota to New Jersey.

There’s even a Twilight version.

But Christian Wisecarver and his comedy troupe Super Secret Project have made the best by far.

I guess now Jay-Z knows what it’s like to be sampled.

When the video begins, you expect a joke, but what lingered for me were the wonderful facts about New Hampshire peppered throughout the song.

Did you know the alarm clock was invented here?

The song lists famous people from New Hampshire, including a few you’d expect – Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman and SNL’s Seth Myers.

“We’re funny [expletive] here,” raps New Hampshire native Wisecarver.

First man in space Alan Shepard’s East Derry origins were news to me, however.

To really appreciate the song, it helps to have lived here awhile. It’s the only way you’ll get inscrutable to outsider bits like the name-check of wronged weatherman Al Kaprielian.

But even a weekend-only flatlander knows the truth in this verse:

“We like to say what’s up guy? It’s the way we say hi. In February, it is good to know a plow guy.”

Speaking of snow, the song’s middle section features Robert Frost’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, a poem written in Vermont but adopted by its neighbor state – a fact the rapper duly notes.

Gratefully, there’s no attempt to resolve the question of Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney’s real hometown.

How is it a million Beach Boys tunes never accurately describe California, but a rapper somehow cuts to the core of a very white state? I’m not talking just about the snow.

How did that happen?

Whatever, it doesn’t matter.  Blending history with self-deprecation and clever humor, “Granite State of Mind” is the best song ever written about New Hampshire.

It should be playing in the State House.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, April 8: Jonathan Edwards, Flying Goose Pub – One of the most good-natured players in the world comes to New London.  Edward is fond of saying “it’s all good” a lot.  That he had one big hit concerns him not a bit.  “Better to have one hit than none at all,” he told me once.  Besides, he’s got a bevy of great songs that, while not as well known as “Sunshine,” are great nonetheless.

Friday, April 9: Nicholas Kaiser, Sunapee Coffeehouse – This weekly acoustic music series, held in downstairs at the Sunapee Methodist church, is on solid footing, with plenty of local businesses sponsoring shows, and a calendar shows booked as far out as November. Tonight, it’s a singer/songwriter specializing in Celtic, folk, bluegrass, finger style guitar picking and classical traditions.

Saturday, April 10: Talkin’ Smack Band, East Buffet – I loved them as Junk in the Trunk, but whatever you call them, this band rocks.  Rich Cortese is one of better vocalists in the area, and he’s a crackerjack harp player too. The band plays out regularly at the Anchorage in Sunapee, which will be resuming live music before too long, which means summer can’t be far away.

Sunday, April 11: samamidon, Hooker-Dunham Theatre – A hip member of a big Vermont musical family comes home to celebrate his newly released CD. I See the Sign was made with the help of Beth Orton and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily.  Amidon’s ethereal vocals recall Nick Drake, while his arrangements, modern updates of traditional Appalachian folk songs, are amazingly inventive.

Tuesday, April 13: Universes, Hopkins Center – Hip hop theatre with New Orleans as focal point, the renowned Bronx-based Universes troupe performs Ameriville, “a passionate, multimedia ‘State of the Union Address’ fusing song and spoken word to scrutinize poverty, politics, patriotism in America,” according to a pres release.  As Pete Townshend once sang, you can dance while your knowledge is growing.

Wednesday, April 14: Music Night, One Wheelock – A newly renovated Dartmouth space is the area’s latest listening room, with Wednesday and Friday night performances featuring community and college performers. Tonight, it’s student Tica Douglas and the Nancy Tauby/Elaine Vanderstock duo. Emcee and Dartmouth alum Ford Daley sees it as an alternative to the dominant fraternity experience (i.e. nothing stronger than coffee).

Local Rhythms – Enjoy the ride

Jesse Peters is a local musician whose community is about to get a lot bigger.

Last year, the Saxtons River-based singer-songwriter rode his bicycle around Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts on a “Hub and Spoke Tour,” playing music from town to town to demonstrate the importance of reducing one’s carbon footprint.

“I’m a bit of an environmentalist,” says Jesse, but he also told me that the effort was more about challenging himself that a mission to convert the rest of the world:

“Change begins with me,” he explained. Now he’s preparing to go nationwide.

On May 20, Jesse will perform a show at Boccelli’s on the Canal in Bellows Falls, and then hop on his trusty Giant mountain bike and head west – San Francisco, to be precise.  On the way, he’s playing clubs, coffee shops, house concerts and anywhere else his music’s welcome.

He’s calling it “Tour350,” named for an effort spearheaded by environmentalist Bill McKibben to reduce the carbon level in the world’s air to the scientifically acceptable level of 350 parts per million.

Any profits from the tour will go to 350.org.

“I like where Bill McKibben is coming from, I like his approach,” says Jesse.  “The bike is an environmental statement that speaks for itself.

Tour350 will be a success, Jesse says, “to extent that it gets people interested in engaging environmental issues. It’s not a crusade, he says in typical DIY fashion.

“This is a positive, concrete step towards lowering my own carbon foot print.”

He’ll be blogging and sending Facebook updates along the way, and checking in every week with radio station WOOL-FM in Bellows Falls.

He’s shooting for 35 gigs in 3,500 miles, but the actual show dates and venues are a moving target.

“Planning a ride and planning gigs so far afield is a bit overwhelming,” he says.  With weather and other potential vagaries, he can’t exactly know which day he’ll arrive in a given town.

There are a few regional dates lined up,  “but as I get further out, I will be doing a more spontaneous process,” he says, “rolling into town around three and checking out the cafés.”

He’s a true troubadour.

“Church basements coffeehouses, clubs,” says Jesse, “I’m always ready to pull out my guitar.”

Anyone with venue suggestions, or looking to make a donation should go to www.jessepeters.com.

Ideas about campsites or spare couches between here and California are also welcome.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, April 1: Jason Cann, Harpoon Brewery – They’re already breaking out the summer beers in some of the area’s pubs, just in time for the recent temperature drop.  Harpoon just introduced a new addition to its permanent collection. There’s plenty of it and other specialty brews on tape at their Windsor brewpub, along with Jason Cann every Thursday, who has a few new songs on his website for free download.

Friday, April 2: Sirsy, CJ’s at Than Wheelers – This is a new to me venue in downtown White River Junction, but the dynamic duo known as Sirsy play the area often enough to be considered a local band.  They’ve won just about every award there is in their hometown of Albany, with a sound that defies space and time. How can two people make such a mighty noise?  When Melanie Krahmer sings like a reincarnated Janis Joplin, it’s obvious.

Saturday, April 3: Jimmy Dunn, Claremont Opera House – Funny Guys Naughty Girls and Dirty Guitars is a  21 and up show featuring three top comics, led by ace funny man Jimmy Dunn, saxophone player Deric Dyer’s band, and Bliss Burlesque troupe – JD Cakes, Leela-licious & Lulu LeStrange.  It’s a night for couples to laugh and perhaps be slightly titillated. I wonder if the Opera House hosted shows like this in the Roaring Twenties?

Sunday, April 4: Cormac McCarthy, Canoe Club – He didn’t write No Country for Old Men, but Cormac McCarthy, the singer songwriter, is extraordinary nonetheless. He roomed in college with Bill Morrissey, who encouraged him to develop the rootsy, rustic style that’s made him a music critic’s darling and the recipient of a few Boston Music Award nominations.

Tuesday, April 6: Acoustic Coalition, Quechee Club – Loose, laid back with a limited selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks, this is the perfect place to try out a new song or strike a musical friendship.  “It’s a very open,

accepting musical environment,” says regular Dave Clark, “a venue by the musicians and for the musicians”  If you’re not playing, feel free to stop by and listen.

Wednesday, April 7: Emanuele Segre, Colby-Sawyer College – A guitar virtuoso returns to New London after a three-year absence for an appearance that includes an afternoon workshop.  He’s been called “one of the most interesting guitar talents of today,” and another critic said that when Segre plays, “any difficulty the instrument may have in achieving a musical flow disappears.”