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Entertainment Highlights: Bow Thayer and His Band Are Making It In Vermont

  • Bow Thayer, center, and The Perfect Trainwreck are trying to make it as a rock band in central Vermont. (Courtesy photograph)

    Bow Thayer, center, and The Perfect Trainwreck are trying to make it as a rock band in central Vermont. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Brooklyn Rider

    Brooklyn Rider

  • Bow Thayer, center, and The Perfect Trainwreck are trying to make it as a rock band in central Vermont. (Courtesy photograph)
  • Brooklyn Rider

Bow Thayer harbored no illusions about making it as a rock star in central Vermont when he moved there in the mid-1990s, after years of performing in Boston-area bands. After releasing several albums and touring the nation, Thayer and his current band, The Perfect Trainwreck, have yet to develop a large following beyond the Green Mountain State’s borders.

What Thayer and the Perfect Trainwreck have reaped from being a Vermont-based band is a regional audience that’s receptive to their roots rock and bluegrass sound. Their support has been the band’s bread and butter, and Thayer and his band hope to return the favor in a Chandler Music Hall concert on Jan. 19 in Randolph, when they’ll debut songs from their new album, Eden, before it’s released.

“I’m able to make a living because people around here hire me to play music,” Thayer said last week. “Around here, people hire me to play private events or they’re willing to pay a cover charge. It’s been a very supportive community. I want to give back a little bit, give people around here a chance to hear this music first, before anyone else does.”

Living and making a livelihood in the Green Mountains has influenced many artists and musicians.The change of seasons and scenic beauty have influenced Thayer’s lyrics, and so have natural disasters like floods. On Eden, due for release March 5, Thayer turns his attention to climate change and the effect of human activity on the natural world. Songs on Eden are told from the perspective of birds, fish and other creatures on the receiving end of environmental recklessness, and they’re all interconnected in a format akin to a rock opera.

“Lyrically, it’s a very environmental theme. It’s a theme that questions our role in evolution right now and whether we’re doing the right things,” Thayer said.

The Jan. 19 concert will be a multimedia affair, with special effects lighting, guest musicians, and the band performing on a special set designed for the occasion. “I’ve never done a production this big or this dazzling. But I think this album lends itself to that whole kind of big production, all the bells and whistles,” Thayer said.

In keeping with the show’s theme of giving back to local fans, Thayer and the Perfect Trainwreck are donating the proceeds from the concert to Building A Local Economy, a South Royalton organization dedicated to developing a system for local enterprises and food producers in the White River Valley to thrive, instead of purchasing goods and services from afar and increasing fuel consumption. BALE is also inviting the show’s first 100 ticket buyers to a free pre-concert dinner before the show, starting at 5:30 p.m.

While Thayer and his band have always had their eye on getting their music heard in all corners of the country, they’ve never forgotten that they are, first and foremost, a band from Vermont. Even with the difficulties of trying to build a career in a rural area, Thayer has a hard time envisioning he and his band enjoying the same level of creative inspiration anywhere else.

“It’s really, really hard. I can say that. But it’s really easy to write. It’s really easy for me to find my own voice. I just feel like there’s a wealth of inspiration here. I’ve never had any sort of writer’s block. The flow of creativity is very abundant here. … There’s no question in my mind I’d probably be farther along as far as a career goes, but I don’t think my music would be the same. I’d pick the art over the career any day.”

Bow Thayer and the Perfect Trainwreck perform at 7:30 p.m. Jan 19 at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph ($20, advance; $25, day of show).

Best Bets

British blues guitarist Matt Schofield has garnered great praise in recent years, being named the Blues Guitarist of the Year at the 2010 and 2011 British Blues Awards and being named to Guitar & Bass Magazine’s list of the 10 best British blues guitarists of all time. Schofield’s next stop is Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, where he’ll perform at 8 p.m. tomorrow ($25).

∎ After nearly 20 years as a lead singer of the Canadian folk-rock outfit Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle released his first solo album, Boy On Bridge, last year, and is now touring with his five-piece band. Doyle will bring his country-rock sound to Tupelo Music Hall at 7 p.m. Saturday ($25).

∎ The 2012-13 Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon series returns from a holiday break at 4 p.m. Sunday with a show from alto saxophonist Greg Abate. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Abate’s career has included stints in the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Artie Shaw Orchestra and he was nominated for a Grammy for his 2004 CD Evolution ($18, adults; $16, children 18 and younger).

Looking Ahead

Less than a year after it was founded, the BarnArts Center for the Arts has already presented a robust schedule of artistic programming, from mainstage theater productions to performances from the BarnArts Chorale. Next up is John Cariani’s romantic comedy Almost, Maine, which BarnArts will stage at 7 p.m. Jan 18 and 19 and 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at Barnard Town Hall ($12, adults; $5 students; call 802-332-6020 or email info@barnarts.org to reserve tickets).

∎ The string quartet Brooklyn Rider has drawn notice for its offbeat approach to classical repertoire, and in performing works by modern composers. To date, they are the only classical group to perform at the annual SXSW art and music festival in Austin, Texas, and they’ve participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. The group arrives in Hanover next week for a concert at 8 p.m. Jan. 18 in Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Brooklyn Rider will premiere five Hop-commissioned pieces from the Brooklyn Rider Almanac, in which the group asks modern, non-classical musicians to create pieces for string groups. Pieces from jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, Australian composer Padma Newsome, Greg Saunier of the indie rock group Deerhoof and pianists Nik Bärtsc h and Ethan Iverson will be performed in the Hopkins Center concert, as will a piece from Beethoven and Seven Steps, one of the group’s own compositions ($18-$40).

During their week in the Upper Valley, Brooklyn Rider will also participate in “Upper Valley Almanac,” a conversation about creative influence and output on a local level at 6 p.m. Monday at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction. Also taking part in the talk are Main Street Museum founder David Fairbanks Ford, James Sturm of The Center for Cartoon Studies and Kim Souza, owner of Revolution clothing store in White River Junction. The conversation is free and open to the public.

Dancing

The second Saturday contradance at Norwich’s Tracy Hall takes place Saturday at 8 p.m. with David Millstone calling and Northern Spy providing the music. Lessons begin at 7:45, and beginners and singles are welcome ($8, adults; $5, students; free for children 16 and younger).

∎ A family contradance with music from fiddler Harold Luce will take place tomorrow from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at 279 Route 110 in Tunbridge ($5 donation).

∎ The second Saturday of the month is salsa dancing night at Gusanoz Mexican Restaurant in Lebanon. DJ Spin Doctor plays Latin dance music starting at 8:30, and John Temeny will lead the group in a free salsa dancing lesson at 8:45.

Folk Music

Irish folklorist and singer Tom O’Carroll performs traditional and modern Celtic music at the Sunapee Community Coffeehouse, which takes place at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the basement of the Sunapee Methodist Church.

∎ Phil Singer and Laurianne Jordan will perform their blend of folk, blues and jazz at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Stone Arch Bakery in Lebanon.

Film

Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts will screen films presented at the Ottawa International Animation Festival tomorrow through Sunday in Loew Auditorium. It’s part of the Hopkins Center’s “Best in Show” series, highlighting selections from different world film festivals. For a complete list of films, visit hop.dartmouth.edu/films/ottawa-international-animation-festival.

Bar and Club Circuit

Jason Cann performs his weekly set at Harpoon Brewery in Windsor tonight at 6.

∎ Singer-songwriter Tony Lee Thomas stops by Fire Stones Restaurant in Quechee tonight for an 8 o’clock show.

∎ The rock trio Baldilocks performs at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon at 9 p.m. tomorrow. At 9 p.m. Saturday, the rock-funk-blues band Flabberghaster from Southern Vermont performs at the pub. And the pub has live traditional Irish music sessions at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

∎ The Squids play Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

∎ Shepard’s Pie on Route 4 in Quechee has music this weekend from Miles Past at 7 p.m. tomorrow and Dave Clark and JukeJoynt at 7 p.m. Saturday.

∎ Dan Walker, an acoustic singer-songwriter from the New Hampshire Seacoast, comes to Jesse’s Restaurant in Hanover for a show at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

∎ Carlos Ocasio of Frydaddy plays a solo set at Salt hill Pub in Newport at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

∎ New Hampshire bluesman Arthur James does double duty at two separate Salt hill Pub locations this weekend. First up is a show at 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Hanover location, followed on Saturday with a 9 p.m. show at Salt hill in Newport.

∎ Hanover’s own Green Room delivers their funky sound twice this weekend: at Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon tomorrow, and at 9 p.m. Saturday at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

∎ The Canoe Club in Hanover has the duo of vocalist Lydia Gray and guitarist Ed Eastridge tonight, classical guitarist Joshua Hall tomorrow, guitarist and vocalist Ted Mortimer on Saturday, pianist Gillian Joy on Sunday, folk and blues pianist Jonathan Kaplan on Tuesday and the jazz duo of Billy Rosen and Steve Ellis on Wednesday.

∎ Pat Stebbins and Gil Williams play music for Wednesday night diners at The Quechee Inn at Marshland Farms, starting at 6 o’clock.

Open Mics, Jams

Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock has an open mic led by Brian Warren at 8 p.m. Monday.

∎ Chad Gibbs hosts the Monday night open mic at Salt hill Pub in Hanover, starting at 7:30.

∎ Shepard’s Pie Restaurant on Route 4 in Quechee is the site of a Tuesday night open mic, starting at 6.

∎ The Colatina Exit in Bradford has an open mic on Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

∎ There’s an open jam every Tuesday night from 7 to 9 at Tuck’s Rock Dojo in Etna.

∎ Wednesday night is open mic night at Skunk Hollow Tavern. It’s led by Gregory Brown and starts at 8:30.

∎ Anthony Furnari hosts an open mic at Seven Barrel Brewery at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Entertainment Highlights appears each Thursday. Email news of upcoming shows and events to kbryan@vnews.com.

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