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Highlights: Western Terrestrials celebrate the release of their first recording

  • Western Terrestrials, if lead singer and guitar player Nick Charyk, right, gathered band mates Jared Croteau, of Grafton, N.H., left, Alex Kelley, of Windsor, and Jason Pappas, of Jericho, Vt., at his garage in Sharon, Vt., for a rehearsal on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. The band will perform a show to celebrate the release of their album The Clearlake Conspiracy at The Engine Room in White River Junction, Saturday, Nov. 30. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Nick Charyk, of Sharon, sings during a rehearsal with the Western Terrestrials in his garage in Sharon, Vt., Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Jason Pappas, of Jericho, Vt., warms his fingers in front of a propane heater in the garage of his Western Terrestrials band mate Nick Charyk while rehearsing in Sharon, Vt., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Jared Croteau, of Grafton, N.H., provides the beat for the honky tonk music of Western Terrestrials during rehearsal in the garage of lead singer Nick Charyk in Sharon, Vt., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Alex Kelley, of Windsor, on keyboards, right, and Jason Pappas, of Jericho, Vt., on bass, rehearse in Sharon, Vt., Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2019 in preparation for the release of The Clearlake Conspiracy a new album from Western Terrestrials recorded in Nashville. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/27/2019 9:14:03 PM
Modified: 11/27/2019 9:13:58 PM

Nick Charyk swears that he and his fellow Western Terrestrials didn’t time the release of their Nashville-recorded debut album to coincide with public TV’s airing of the Ken Burns documentary series Country Music.

Better to call the mid-September launch of The Clearlake Conspiracy serendipity, or maybe, simply, a matter of catching a wave of appreciation for the original spirit of the genre.

“This album just happens to be our version of the approach of that series,” Charyk, a 2004 graduate of Thetford Academy, said on Sunday. “We’re consciously steering away from the mainstream of bro-country — the corporate, monetized version of the music — and celebrating outlaw/honky-tonk artists like Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons.

“Doing our own take on the canon.”

Charyk and drummer Jared Croteau, bassist Jason Pappas and keyboard player Alex Kelley — three of them Upper Valley-grown, Pappas from Jericho, Vt. — will play their counter-vision of country live at The Engine Room in White River Junction on Saturday night.

If The Western Terrestrials — who often tour with pedal-steel player Asa Brosius — ​​​look and sound somewhat familiar during their album-release party, it’s because the quartet made up the final incarnation of the Americana/roots band Pariah Beat, after lead singer Billy Scharff moved on to filmmaking.

“There’s a slightly narrower focus now,” Charyk said. “Over the years we probably had a dozen to 15 members cycle through,” Charyk said. “It was always a collaborative approach. Our last real tour was in 2015, and the (2018) Gory Daze party at the Main Street Museum was our last official Pariah Beat show. But we wanted an excuse to keep playing this music together.”

Toward that end, the core foursome took time from their day jobs (Charyk manages communication and public affairs for AllEarth Renewables in Williston, Vt.) to book two days of recording at Cinderella Sound Studios in Nashville in October 2018. There, they and Brosius, fiddler Justin Branum and singer Abby Jenne worked with Wayne Moss, who turned to producing after decades as a songwriter and guitar- and bass-playing side man on albums ranging from Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and Rob Orbison’s Pretty Woman to works of Joan Baez, Kris Kristoffersen, Dolly Parton and Burl Ives’ Christmas album.

“We were expecting to do maybe two songs and we wound up with nine,” Charyk recalled. “It clicked very well in the studio. There was an energy we picked up in there from the people who had been through. There was even a baby grand piano that Ray Charles played on Hee Haw.

“We came out with a much more cohesive performance than we expected.”

What they didn’t come out with was a name. During two subsequent trips to Cinderella Sound to apply the finishing touches to The Clearlake Conspiracy, “we realized we definitely wanted to do this as seriously as we could, and by the end of the summer we started performing as the Western Terrestrials.”

On Saturday at the Engine Room, they’ll perform with the Brattleboro-based roots quartet Moon Hollow and with two of Charyk’s former Thetford neighbors and mentors: guitarist/recording engineer Ed Eastridge and singer Dixie Eastridge.

“Their daughter Emily played bass in the original Pariah Beat, and their son Chico played in some of the garage-type bands I was in in my teens,” Charyk said. “When we practiced, we knew that we could play a little louder over at the Eastridges’. As I got to know them better, I realized how accomplished Ed and Dixie were, as high-level working musicians around (Washington) D.C. in the 1970s and ‘80s. Dixie has the most incredible voice, and most amazing stories.”

Charyk hopes that The Clearlake Conspiracy opens doors for the Western Terrestrials to experience and to tell stories of their own.

“In the beginning, we went into the studio a tad heavy on the homage part of country,” Charyk said. “As we went along, it became clear that we’re not paying tribute to something that happened, so much, as we’re trying to bring that legacy forward.”

The Western Terrestrials celebrate the release of their debut album with a concert on Saturday night at 8, at The Engine Room in White River Junction. Admission $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Best bets

After taking a break for Thanksgiving, Northern Stage resumes its production of The Sound of Music with four performances of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical from Friday through Sunday at the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction. Several Upper Valley actors portray key supporting characters in the play, which runs through Jan. 5. Tickets ($17.75 to $57.75) are selling quickly, so Northern Stage advises ordering at or with a call to 802-296-7000.

■Vermont-based rocker Grace Potter is among the musical acts that will perform between runs of this weekend’s World Cup women’s alpine skiing competition at Killington Mountain Resort.

Recycled Percussion is the opening-day act, taking the Festival Village Stage on Friday afternoon.

The Saturday line-up features DJ Logic at noon, after the opening run of giant-slalom competition. And after the second run, Potter and her band will play.

The roots-rock ensemble Twiddle plays at noon on Sunday, following the first run of the slalom.

Admission is free to all events, but enhanced-viewing locations and preferred parking are limited. To learn more, visit

■Human Host, aka Pennsylvania musician Mike Apichella, unveils, broadcasts and records its multi-media show of alt-pop next Thursday night at 6:30, at the CATV8 studios on North Main street in White River Junction. Admission free.

Theater/performance art

No Strings Marionettes, puppet show, Saturday morning at 11 at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph. Admission $6 to $7.50.

Blizzard, five performances by Quebecois circus acrobats of FLIP Fabrique between next Thursday night and Dec. 8. Tickets $20 to $40.

■Comedy, stand-up artists from New Hampshire and Vermont face off for Twin State bragging rights next Thursday night at 8, at The Engine Room in White River Junction. Admission $10.


Dirty Deeds, AC/DC tribute band, Saturday night at 8 at Claremont Opera House. Tickets $29; visit or box office in City Hall, or call 603-542-4433.


Final fall session of social dance with instructor Gina Sonne, Friday night at 6:30 at Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon. Waltz, 8-count swing, Lindy hop and swing blues. Admission $10 to $12.

Bar and club circuit

John Lackard Blues Duo, Friday night at 6 at Big Fatty’s BBQ in White River Junction.

■Better Days, classic rock, Friday night at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

■Singer-guitarist Will Gardner, rock and pop, Saturday night at 6 at Peyton Place restaurant in Orford.

■Singer-songwriter Jim Yeager, Monday nights at 6:30 at 506 on the River in Woodstock.

■Jazz saxophonist Michael Parker, with his trio on Tuesday night at 7 at Carpenter and Main in Norwich, and with guitarist Norm Wolfe on Wednesday night at 5:30 at Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm.

■Milk House Heaters, roots/Americana, Tuesday night at 6 at Windsor Station.

■Mad Hazard Band, jazz, bossa nova and blues, next Thursday night at 5:30 at the Quechee Club’s Davidson’s Restaurant.

Open mics, jam sessions

Traci Fulton’s annual session of Black Friday Karaoke, 10 p.m. at Windsor Station.

■Fiddler Jakob Breitbach hosts jam session of roots music on Tuesday night at 7 at Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

■Tom Masterson’s open mic, Tuesday nights at 7 at Colatina Exit.

■Jim Yeager hosts open mic on Tuesday night at 8 at The Public House Pub in Quechee.

■ Jes Raymond’s String Band Karaoke session of roots music, Wednesday night at 6 at Skinny Pancake in Hanover.

■Peter Meijer’s open mic, Wednesday nights at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern.

Looking ahead

Fa-la-la Holiday Revue, variety show of community theater, dance, music and film, next Thursday night at 7 at Briggs Opera House in White River Junction. Admission fee of $15 benefits Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity. To reserve tickets, visit

David Corriveau can be reached at or 603-727-3304. Send entertainment news to

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