Local Rhythms – Live Earth’s Local Link

blackriver.jpgLive Earth, the worldwide call to action on climate change, happens Saturday. The 24-hour concert originates from seven continents, featuring some of pop music’s biggest names – The Police, Madonna, even Spinal Tap.

Of course, massive benefit shows are old news these days. Kevin Wall, Live Earth’s founder, produced the last big one two years ago. But while Live 8 tried to send a message to world leaders, Live Earth is turning the spotlight on local solutions to global problems.

Each concert is powered by state of the art systems designed for energy efficiency. The live broadcast, beginning at 4 AM on the Sundance Channel, includes several spotlight features on ways citizens can affect their own sustainable earth manifesto. MSN is also streaming it on the Internet.

Sound government policy is a big part of stopping global warming, but if individuals don’t’ change their habits, it won’t happen. Local decisions affect global outcomes, whether it’s refusing a bag at the supermarket, or trading in a gas-guzzling SUV for a hybrid car. It all adds up.

To this end, Live Earth’s web site links to over 6,000 local events happening around the world this Saturday. There’s everything from house parties to energy fairs, all designed to illustrate how communities can make a difference.

In Springfield, the Black River Festival happens at the old Parks and Woolson shop on Park Street. Jessica Larivee says she and partner Christopher Mason “began organizing it long before Al Gore came up with his 7/7/7 idea – just so you know.”

The 12-hour festival, which begins at 2 PM, focuses on the natural beauty of the river, and how the town has balanced its industrial and environmental interests over the years. All money raised benefits the Black River Action Team, a group that’s led hands-on river beautification projects since 2000.

The event features many educational opportunities throughout the day, including walking tours of the river, demonstrations from the Army Corps of Engineers and other local groups, paddle boats and a living science exhibit dubbed “River Zoo.”

In the evening, there’s a slate of fine local talent playing until 2 AM. The Illusion, a Springfield band that’s been around for 40 years (they even gigged at the old Comtu Club), kicks things off at 6:30, followed by the eclectic White Raag, the Burlington Taiko drummers and Bad Suit, a dance band that will take things to closing time.

Good times, good cause – what else is happening?

Thursday: Dana & Susan Robinson, Canoe Club – This is something special, a North Carolina duo with a distinct Americana sound. The Guthrie ode “What Would Woody Do?” best sums up their musical philosophy. Their sound features elemental, richly textured harmonies and delicate picking. Get a table close to the stage, so you won’t miss a note.

Friday: Chris O’Brien, Bellows Falls Farmer’s Market – Boccelli’s is quiet this weekend, but in BF, the music doesn’t stop. O’Brien is the latest gem from the Passim folk scene, a singer/songwriter who caught the bug at a Shawn Colvin/Indigo Girls show, and learned his first few notes from family friend Dar Williams. O’Brien has a reedy voice, reminiscent of Steve Forbert; his debut CD, “Lighthouse,” is brilliant.

Saturday: Keith Hollis & the Po’ Boyz, Salt Hill – The Allman Brothers meet the Bayou at my favorite Irish pub – is this what you call world music? Hollis’s band features a real Hammond B3, and the stunning blues guitar styling of Rodney “BR” Millon. They lay down the funk without a bass guitarist, which is no mean feat. It’s groovalicious.

Sunday: Steve Miller Band, Vermont State Fairgrounds – I’m not a huge fan of his pop stuff like “Take the Money and Run.” But when Steve Miller gets back his roots, he’s a force to be reckoned with. This time out, he’s has harmonica ace Norton Buffalo in his band, so there will almost certainly be a few down and dirty moments. This show is part of the all-day “Summer Extravaganza,” and includes a bunch of local bands as opening acts.

Monday: Ford Daley & Elaine Gifford, Firestones – There’s a lot of music at this Quechee eatery this weekend, from blues (The Brotherhood Band on Sunday) to acoustic. Ford Daley is familiar to fans of the Fogey Mountain Boys, a bluegrass area mainstay; tonight he and partner Gifford dip into their rich song catalog for more good times.

Tuesday: Roger Waters, New England Dodge Center – Usually I wouldn’t mention this, but there were still 25-dollar lawn seats left on Wednesday – plus 12 bucks in “service” charges for each ticket, of course. Short of a (very unlikely) reunion, this is as close to a Pink Floyd show as you’ll get, with “Dark Side of the Moon” performed in its entirety, and augmented by 21st century technology.