Joe Adler

Neko Case: Higher Ground, South Burlington, VT 1/30/11

Starting her brief northeast tour on a snowy winter night in Vermont, Neko Case brought her “country noir” sound in it’s full glory to Higher Ground’s Ballroom. It was a night with a lot of hype, as the last time Case was scheduled to perform on this same stage with her band The New Pornographers back in August, she was a no show.

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Big Light: Animals In Bloom

f there is any justice in the world, Big Light’s, Animals In Bloom will dominate and help define your summer days this year. It is an album that is meant to be played loud, very loud, with your windows down. The music is deeply textural, brilliantly cleaver, and very centered on the words and vocal inflections of the band’s songwriter, guitarist, and co-founder Fred Torphy. It is powerful, emotional music in the vein of some of the classic modern songwriters like Jeff Tweedy and Brad Barr, but with Torphy’s distinctive spin.

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John Ellis & Double-Wide: Puppet Mischief

In addition to the superb playing throughout the album, the compositions, all by John Ellis, are outstanding. That is for good reason, he has been at this for a long and dedicated while and has honed his chops with some of the best in the game including Ellis Marsalis and Charlie Hunter. In his writing, Ellis really has a knack for infusing that subtle New Orleans undercurrent into just about any flavor he is concocting.

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Garage a Trois – Heavy Hitting With Skerik

Garage a Trois is a band which at first could be thought of as an all-star band of heavy hitters, but that would be a severe understatement. The band, which started as a trio consisting of saxophonist Skerik, guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter, and drummer Stanton Moore, later adding vibraphonist Mike Dillon, has grown into a tightly structured, well oiled funk beast. Hunter is no longer part of the group, in that slot is one of the most in demand keyboard players around, Marco Benevento, who permanently joined the group in 2007.

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Nathan Moore- Old Time Folkster

Nathan Moore, based out of Staunton, Virginia, has been producing some of the more magical “neo- folk” albums of the last 10 years. At times he has expanded his sound out from a lone songwriter to a full band sound; the best example of this can be found on his album from last year You Yeah Smokin’ Hot. However with Folk Singer, Moore returns to his roots with something that sucks you into his personal thoughts and reflections in a way that is truly cry-in-your-beer beautiful.

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Living Colour – Through The Doorway

Six years since their last album, Living Colour is back with a hunger. The band’s latest album, The Chair In The Doorway, is a ferocious, take no prisoners, assault on cultural roadblocks and out-dated philosophies.

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Marco Benevento – Trios & More

Marco Benevento has built a solid reputation as a world class piano player and an imaginatively creative and dexterous composer. His contribution as one half of the Benevento/Russo Duo has exposed him to many, many fans that found out about the band almost solely through word of mouth. Since releasing his 2008 solo album, Invisible Baby, Benevento has been out on the road with a prized collection of musicians focused primarily around the albums contributors; Tea Leaf Green’s Reed Mathis, Critters Buggin and Tori Amos drummer Matt Chamberlain, and Andrew Barr from The Slip.

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Gogol Bordello: Higher Ground, Burlington, VT 6/6/09

Burlington, Vermont loves Gogol Bordello. Front-man Eugene Hutz has a long time affiliation with “B-Town” since finding himself in the Queen City as the final destination of a refugee relocation program back in 1991 and the city helped him nurture his already extreme musical ambitions. He repays that kindness in full every time he brings Gogol Bordello to town, this time being no exception.

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