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