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.”

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