After I wondered how a town as small as Brattleboro, Vermont (12,000) could be home to such strange bands as the Happy Jawbone Family Band, Son of Salami and Blanche Blanche Blanche, Zach Phillips from BBB posted a message to inform me that in fact Son of Salami cuts his meat a few hours to the north, in Burlington. What's more, Zach said, there are a ton of weird-ass artists in his little burg, and to drop a line if I wanted to know more. So I did. He replied:
re: Brattleboro... ~12000 people. small town. but I come back here from NYC rehearsing the new BBB band and it seems bigger than the city. I call it "the biggest little city in town"
got a lot of bands and composers who are working super hard and making incredible, challenging, lighthearted & diverse music
but it's not New York so things take a lot longer to get around, and many amazing recordists around here would prefer to stay in and make a new song than to practice a set and play it for 25 people with no pay...
- no cultural capital
- plenty of musical capital
- when content and form come back, people are gonna be looking at Brattleboro
bunch of things are starting to percolate business-wise: the Happy Jawbone Family Band just signed a record deal w/ Mexican Summer, BBB is inching its way up the totem pole working with labels with better distribution etc. (3 LPs will drop in the next year).
many have already percolated: Merrill "tUnEyArDs" Garbus, Kyle "King Tuff" Thomas, briefly Merrill's sister Ruth + Chris Weisman in the KT vehicle Happy Birthday, a glimpse of Chris's brother Kurt Weisman in Feathers, J.P. Harris...
yeah Matt & Erika live a few miles out in another town. I don't know em too well. they are part of what I'd call the old guard, along w/ my friend Ron Schneiderman (Sunburned, Spirit of Orr records, etc.), Dredd Foole and the psych folk contingent.
some are waiting in the wings: Chris Weisman's amazing & numerous solo recordings, John Levin, Danny Bissette, Atlatl, the Great Valley, Christina Schneider, the Goochi Boiz, Jeremy Latch, again Ruth Garbus, again Kurt Weisman... just writing and sometimes recording amazing shit and sitting on it or recording it and sitting on it...
up north in Burlington we have Ryan Power and Joey Pizza Slice aka Son of Salami, Greg Davis, Lawrence Welks & Our Bear to Cross, tooth ache, numerous others I'm not privy to...
these people are my daily bread. Brattleboro is a town of 12,000.
A few days later, he sent me a sampler of sounds from the region.* For physical representations of some of the artists, check out Zach's label, OSR Tapes.
*The opening track is by Hartley C. White, a friend from Corona, NY, but Zach thought his song "Under the Radar" worked pretty good as an epigraph.