Happy stick season everyone. This may be one of the most miserable times of the year around these parts weather-wise. No one likes cold rain. As the conditions turn colder and nastier, however, the live music scene often heats up as the opportunities for outdoor recreation diminish. Such is the case this week. There’s hip-hop, roots, Americana and more to be had in our area this weekend — read on.
Positive Pie II on State Street brings back one of its house favorites on Friday night when Barika returns to the venue with its high-energy West African-inspired sound. The band blends indie sensibilities with traditional sounds and a dubbed out psychedelia that’s perfect to lose yourself dancing to, but is also rich enough to provide a satisfying listening experience. They’ll get the party started at 10 p.m. for $5 at the door.
Around the corner at Sweet Melissa’s at the intersection of Elm and Langdon Streets, the party seems to never end. The November schedule is not out on their Facebook page yet, but I got word on what’s happening on Friday and Saturday night at the least. On Friday, local honky-tonk heroes The Starline Rhythm Boys return to the black box stage with their ultra-authentic roadhouse sound. That one starts at 9 p.m. for $5 at the door.
On Saturday night, Mel’s switches gears when it busts out the hip-hop. Teece Luvv will be joined by Nahte Renmus and the incomparable Jarv for a night of conscious and sometimes irreverent rhyme spittin’. Jarv is one of the most talented performers in the genre I’ve ever seen around these parts, and he’ll be playing his latest Jarvage Vol. 2 in its entirety. If you’ve been anxiously awaiting new material from this talented young artist (I know I have), this is your chance to see it live and fresh. B-boys and B-girls rejoice starting at 9 p.m. Expect a nominal cover at the door.
On Sunday, as always at Sweets, it’s the ever-popular live band karaoke starting at 8 p.m., featuring The Butcher Blocks providing the backup to your voice — awesome.
Back over on Main Street at Charlie O’s, they’ve got some hip-hop action of their own going on. On Friday night, you can join Maystar, Konflik, Humble and Mr. Burns in the land beyond the pool tables. I would expect they’ll all perform sets of their own as well as collaborating on co-produced material. The fun starts at 9 p.m.
In the early slot, Sara Grace and Andy Suits play their excellent soul-folk material starting at 6 p.m. They’ve recently began performing together again after a lengthy hiatus, and it’s great to have these two back as they are one of our finest local acts. On Saturday night, O’s keeps the soul rolling when Funk Shui brings its disco-inspired sound to the back of the barroom. That one also kicks off at 9 p.m.
Over in Waterbury Center, Zen Barn on Guptil Road is keeping the quality programming coming every week. On Friday night, it’ll host a great indie-Americana double-bill when nationally touring acts Front Country and The Sea roll into the hip resto/venue. “Front Country blends everything from high-lonesome mountain music to new-wave power pop, newgrass picking, oldgrass harmonies, and just plain glorious musicality. This is Americana at its best: music with deep roots and wide-ranging vision” (Popatunes). Should be a great one starting at 9 p.m. for $8 in advance and $10 day of show. For more information, visit www.zenbarnvt.com.
Finally, if you’re into the blues and looking for something a bit more high-end, you can head on over to The Barre Opera House on Friday night for an explosive double-bill with Tommy Castro and the Painkillers and Tinsley Ellis. Both critically acclaimed acts play soulful, blistering rocking blues that is sure to blow the roof off the majestic opera house. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show range from $23 to $33. More information can be found at www.barreoperahouse.org
That wraps up this week. The weather may be gloomy, but you can keep your spirits up by going to see live music. Hope to see ya’ out there.
Ed DuFresne has produced concerts and events (which he prefers to call shows) in and around central and northeastern Vermont since the late ‘90s. He is grateful to live in Montpelier with an exemplary renaissance man as a house mate.