Posts Tagged ‘Burlington City Arts’

battery park

July 15, 2010

…that’s Battery Park, Burlington, VT – not Battery Park, at the tip of Manhattan. Battery Park in Burlington is also nicely situated near the waterfront, however, and the Park’s cultural life is every bit proportional to its lively NY City namesake. We manage to get a lot into our short summer months here.

It’s the place to be, for example, Thursday evenings in July for the annual free concerts sponsored by Burlington City Arts. The series opened last week and the next concert will be starting in just a few minutes. If that’s not enough time to get there, then consider going to one of the two remaining shows:

  • Thursday, July 22nd: Foley Artist – The intricate acoustic guitar melodies of Michael Chorney, the ripping blues of the Eames Brothers and the sultry, ethereal vocals of Miriam Bernardo combine for an evening of eclectic blues and roots music.
  • Thursday, July 29th: Gin Wigmore – Songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. Her latest album Holy Smoke was recorded with the backing band The Cardinals (Ryan Adams)

Summertime in Vermont is all about the live music, especially when it’s outdoors.

discover jazz – day 3

June 7, 2010


Sunday, rainy and cool and just right for a few of the indoor-oriented happenings at the Festival.

JazzLab opened today, Discover Jazz’s annual mini-festival of educational sessions, creative exploration, and improvisation. JazzLab offers artists the opportunity to develop their art in the (very) public forum of the Firehouse Gallery on Church Street, while being streamed live on the air at Burlington’s community radio station, The Radiator. It’s quite a setup, and often provides some of the event’s most interesting and adventurous programming.

I  stopped by the Firehouse this afternoon looking forward to the scheduled “how to” demonstration with the iconic hip-hop producer and innovative DJ, 88 Keys. The write-up said he’d be sharing some of his moves and talking about his life as the producer of folks like Mos Def, and Kanye West. I arrived a little late for the session, and never did see him. Had he been there earlier? Was the person actually leading the demo someone who was introduced as a sub during the first part I missed? I didn’t find out the answers to either question.

What I did learn (from the unnamed DJ leading the talk) was how the standard “paradiddle” drumming figure translates into a comparable rhythm with the scratching technique used in turntable DJ’ing.

I found out what effects with names like “2-click flairs” (aka: “orbits”); “crabscratches”; and “stutter crabs” sound like in the context of a serious groove in progress. I’ve heard these effects before, of course, as has most anyone whose even moderately familiar with the popular music of the last 20 years or so. (Remember DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the Fresh Prince? Me too. And that was just the beginning.) But it never occurred to me the sounds I was hearing were stock patterns and moves, with commonly known names among those in the business. Turns out these artists have developed their own musical language, parallel to the conventional one we all know with common tempo and dynamic lexicon like “allegro” and “forte”, and standardized notation. But the terms and lingo for this kind of music-making is specific to the tools and moves they use. Unlike standardized musical terminology, “crabscratching” and “crossfade hits” don’t apply universally to music made with a diversity of instruments. Turntable DJ’ing is very much its own thing, with its own specific language. Who knew it was such a refined (and defined) art? Did you know there are schools to teach folks the ins and outs of  how to be an ace “scratch DJ”? All true.

Great afternoon with JazzLab learning about this world which, until today, I’d only experienced from the outside listening in.

From there it was on to a short walk around Church Street, a visit to the new Big Joe Burrell statue (its animated bronze sax gleaming with moisture in the afternoon rain), and a stop at Leunig’s to catch the first couple of sets with the Queen City Hot Club (guitarists Jim Stout and Jared Volpe), a group that debuted at last year’s Discover Jazz Festival. They kept the packed streetside tent swinging through favorite standards like All of Me and Daphne, and Swing Gitane.  The insistent splatter of rain on the outdoor patio tiles was right on cue when the duet launched into Django’s nostalgic classic, Nuages (“clouds”). It just wouldn’t have sounded right to hear that song on a bright, sunny day.

Mose Allison also held two shows tonight at Flynn Space, but I didn’t make it to either of them. I’m not a big fan, honestly. It’s not personal, I know Mose is a great songwriter and pianist. It’s that half-singing, half-talking patter style that doesn’t do much for me. (Though I do recall enjoying his performance years ago when he came to the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival, where I was a student at the time. Has it really been 25 years???) And really, by the time the Flynn Space shows were starting this evening I’d already had a full day and didn’t need anything else to make it better.

Tomorrow evening: 7pm at the Firehouse, Alison Segar’s new film about local trombonist, drummer and composer James Harvey; and then at the Flynn Space  a late-starting show (8:30) with two acts; mandolinist Jamie Masefield and clarinetist Brad Terry followed by gutarist Stephane Wrembel & The Django Experiment celebrating the life and music of the late Django Reinhardt in his centennial birthday year.

medicine & mortality

October 31, 2009
artist Linda Jones

artist Linda E. Jones, describing a "catscan of a lacerated liver from a Lacrosse injury"

Opening reception for the new Firehouse Gallery exhibit last night, just in time for Halloween (no coincidence). Medicine & Mortality is up and running and ready to unsettle the imagination.

Curator Chris Thompson described the three-artist show as a response to “a society simultaneously obsessed with health care and health intervention, and yet uneasy about it.” With materials including used stitches (the remains of a real injury), x-rays, medical tools, and ‘excised flesh in encaustic wax’, the art in Medicine & Mortality actually may do more to further the unease than alleviate it.

The exhibit is constructed equally around the physical objects of routine medicine (real and fantastic) and the psychological effects of it. Who hasn’t had stitches, seen an x-ray of their own insides, or gazed with some apprehension at the gleaming row of mysterious tools on a dental tray? Revisiting them in an artistic context can be uncomfortable.

Linda E. Jones described a time in her artistic process when she found herself actively accumulating medical detritus. She wasn’t sure why at the time, but she allowed herself to pursue the collection and eventually determined the results would become part of a “transformation of object” project. Her art, she said, attempts to go beyond physical boundaries to measure the unseen, “everyone’s that much stronger for the things they’ve gone through.”

Over on the other side of the gallery, sculptors Nathaniel Price and Sasanqua Price share a room filled with large amorphous beeswax forms, suspended in shiny silver fittings and brackets reminiscent of medical clamps, braces, and prosthetics. It definitely has a clinical feel, as if the pieces are a preserved display of the miniature models of body parts physicians use for illustrating diagnoses. I didn’t really comprehend Sasanqua’s involved explanation of her art as an extension (or expression?) of ancient reliquaries, except to understand that may be one of the inspirations behind her works.

Nathaniel Price’s pieces weren’t accessible because the gallery was so congested. I’ll have to get back there soon since it wasn’t possible to see a lot of the artwork, or spend much time with the works. But what I did see was enough to assure I’ll return soon…call it morbid curiosity.

Medicine & Mortality is on exhibit through December 12th at Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery on Church Street.

human = landscape, closing ceremony tomorrow

October 23, 2009


The Firehouse Gallery’s Human = Landscape exhibit ends tomorrow with a whole afternoon of events. Activists, community members, and artists will be gathering in Burlington’s City Hall Park and in the Gallery for a closing reception featuring speakers, performance, and discussions on  environmental action:

2pm: Artists and activists gather at various locations and begin walk to Firehouse Center and City Hall Park

3pm: Tower bells at Ira Allen Chapel, The Firehouse Center and other locations are rung 350 times to bring awareness to and its mission promoting awareness of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and its relationship to global warming.

3pm – 6pm: Closing reception at the Firehouse Center

3pm: Speakers in the Firehouse Gallery:

  • Ethan Bond-Watts, Human = Landscape artist
  • Rebecca Schwarz, Human = Landscape artist
  • Amy Seidl, Ecologist, activist and Middlebury College research scholar
  • Nancy Dwyer, Human = Landscape artist

4pm: Speakers on the Firehouse Plaza in City Hall Park:

  • Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project
  • Elizabeth Sawin, Program Director, Sustainability Institute
  • Jeff Wolfe, CEO, groSola

4:30pm: Panel Discussion in the Firehouse Center, Art and Environmental Intervention, featuring artists Cameron Davis, John Anderson, Patrick Marold and Firehouse Gallery Curator Christopher Thompson.

BDJ Festival, day 7: concert, what concert?

June 13, 2009
Artful Art Brooks

Artful Art Brooks

Thursday (6/11), 3pm, on the sun-flooded second floor of Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery: the start of JAZZLAB, three days of mind-expanding adventures at the intersection of music and dance and ultimate artistic interactivity. It’s multimedia in its approach, and multidimensional in its capacity to engage many senses simultaneously (and unexpectedly!)

This is the second year for JAZZLAB, a cooperative project between Burlington City Arts and the Discover Jazz Festival. And this year the’ve called in a real innovator to guide the projects; trumpeter and visionary Arthur Brooks. His Ensemble V features locals Michael Chorney (guitar), cellists Polly Vanderputten and Nelson Caldwell, Anthony Santor (double bass), and percussionist P.J. Davidian.

Even the footwear is avant-garde

Even the footwear is avant-garde

Three interpretive dancers (and their houseplants, telephones, and other props) from The Architects troupe joined in the experience, which unfolded in both rooms at either end of the Gallery’s second floor, and in the hardwood hallway that joins them. Ensemble V was augmented by members of the Trio Braam DeJoode Vatcher, who also performed at the FlynnSpace in their own show later that evening. What a warmup!

Somehow this photo sums up the experience. I have no idea how I took this pic.

Somehow this really sums up the experience. (I have no idea how I took this picture.)

The happening lasted around two hours, with the eight musicians and three dancers moving slowly, rhythmically, freely between the two rooms, performing and openly challenging the conventional “concert” experience the entire time.

The success of the challenge might have been best realized, interestingly, NOT by the performers, but rather in the behaviour of the ‘audience members. They acted like audience members, standing (a few) and seated (almost everyone) around the periphery of the two rooms, silent and nearly immobile for the duration of the show. Since the performance was a moving target it seemed to encourage the same in the onlookers, and yet that didn’t really happen.

Hello? (hello, hello) there anybody - OUT there?

Hello? (hello, hello) there anybody - OUT there?

So who IS the odd man out here?

The musicians and dancers playing and gesturing in unexpected, non-linear, untraditional ways, or the audience members whose years of training to sit and be still don’t allow them to relax and respond in the more natural way the performance encourages?

This is why we love JAZZLAB.

(JAZZLAB continues on Friday and Saturday as part of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, look for more updates coming here…)

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