Six Vermont bands are headed to Texas to represent the state’s musical diversity and potent talent, sharing a stage at the nation’s largest music industry event, SXSW. They’ll perform at The Trophy Club, 310 East 6th Street, Austin, Texas on Saturday, March 21, 8pm.
Vermont’s cultural ambassadors include Waylon Speed, The DuPont Brothers, Lowell Thompson, Zero Circle, Get A Grip, and The Snaz. The showcase rises from cooperation between the SXSW producers and Big Heavy World, Vermont’s independent, volunteer-run music office, with additional support from the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.
SXSW (“South by Southwest”), the legendary music festival presented annually in Austin, Texas, is the country’s most prominent opportunity for musicians to interact with the music industry. For the artists who apply to perform, acceptance is an authentication of their talent and a gateway to exposure and opportunity.
Big Heavy World’s SXSW Vermont Music Showcase is a project to stake an aggressive claim for the State of Vermont on behalf of its singular, deeply artful, identity.
Vermont excels at harnessing its identity to advance economic development; it has years of commitment to exposing its scenic agriculture, active lifestyle industries, and artisan foods to the wider national (and international) community of travelers and consumers. And the state has room to grow: It has not yet seized on the infinite resource of its creative community, reflecting its arts and culture to the world as a signal of creative diversity, quality, and originality. Vermont is a fountain of uniqueness, and the state will shine brilliantly as this is revealed to the world. Big Heavy World has established an opportunity to light this bright flare at SXSW.
Music is a key cultural resource: It’s portable, understandable, inspiring, marketable, and accessible. It’s nearly miraculous in its ability to proclaim ‘specialness’ and define a region. Vermont’ music community is also a fertile environment for building community, drawing it together in support of local musicians, cheerleading their cultural champions — and performances are an engine for expanding social capital.
Vermont’s showcase bands all applied to perform at SXSW, making the immense personal investment of traveling to Texas to share their art. Vermonters can support their efforts by contributing to their travel expenses at bigheavyworld.com where there are links to a PayPal donation page and Indiegogo campaign.
Donate to Indiegogo Campaign to Support VT Bands’ Travel Costs to TX!
For more information about the bands, visit their web sites:
Waylon Speed, waylonspeed.com
The DuPont Brothers, dupontbrothersmusic.com
Lowell Thompson, lowellthompson.com
Zero Circle, zerocirclemusic.bandcamp.com
Get a Grip, facebook.com/getagripvt
The Snaz, reverbnation.com/thesnaz
Vermont’s music showcase delegation to SXSW was selected by a panel of individuals who have invested time and purpose in the success of Vermont’s arts and culture, and created a lineup of artists that represented strengths in their originality and dedication to making the best of an opportunity like this, for all of Vermont’ s music community. The panelists were Kari Anderson, Managing Producer for VPR Classical, Vermont Public Radio; Dan Bolles, Music Editor, Seven Days; Alex Budney, President, Nectar’s Presents & Partner, Nectar’s Entertainment Group; Steve Cook, Deputy Commissioner of Tourism, VT Dept. Tourism & Marketing; Brent Hallenbeck, Arts & Entertainment Writer, Burlington Free Press; Meg Hammond, Events Manager, Goddard College; and James Lockridge, Executive Director of Big Heavy World.
Outlaw dirt rock from Vermont: While Waylon Speed is not influenced by mainstream music, they integrate each members individual influences to achieve a truly unique genre that’s all their own. They’ve won awards from both the New England Music Awards for “Vermont’s Best Band”, and Seven Days newspaper’s annual Daisy Award for “Best Americana Band”. Waylon Speed released their second full-length record Kin in 2014, followed by a national tour.
“Waylon Speed is a cross between Metallica and the Lumineers, with an unnecessary dash of Prince showmanship.” — Washington Post
Two brothers reunite after years of geographical separation by a fortified collaboration in music. Blending the contemplative winters of the northeast with the solitary beauty of southwestern desert, Sam and Zack DuPont are now coconspirators in a shared passion that runs deep in their family. This Burlington Vermont duo has hit the ground running since the formation of the group in March of 2013. The brothers have recently shared the stage with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Ben Sollee, Gin Wigmore, Chris Thomas King, Langhorne Slim, Howie Day and The Lone Bellow to name a few. Lush finger-style guitar work is complimented by elegant prose and a vocal blend that could only be matched by blood relation. The sound is Vermont made Folk-Americana.
“Together the duPont Brothers resonate at just the right frequency. There were moments that honestly gave me chills.” — Dan Bolles, Seven Days
Dark winters up north, an encyclopedic knowledge of Americana mixed with punk rock sensibilities, and a heart easily broken (and re-broken) make for songs and shows that are crushing and redemptive.
It’s easy to understand why Lowell Thompson and his band Crown Pilot are getting hailed as the “next big thing” for the alt-country set. It’s hard to find a review that doesn’t include favorable comparisons to the likes of Gram Parsons, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, vintage Rolling Stones, and the various Americana revivalists that used to grace the cover of No Depression. While there’s truth to the hype, the fact is that Thompson’s music is informed as much by the names above as it is by less expected sources like Fugazi and Elvis Costello.
Thompson’s latest album entitled “Lowell Thompson and Crown Pilot” features volunteered contributions by local Vermonter’s like Phish’s Page McConnell (piano), Grace Potter (backing vocals) and Son Volt’s Mark Spencer (lap steel). The record has been garnering positive media attention at home, nationally (including Rolling Stone) and in the press across the Atlantic.
“Inspired Alt-Country.” — Rolling Stone
Fresh off the release of their self-titled debut, Zero Circle have already begun to make a name for themselves in the Vermont music scene. Performing with such notable acts as Drowningman, Rough Francis, and Swale, Zero Circle continue to challenge audiences and themselves, finding as much inspiration from their hardcore and punk roots as they do from R&B, rock and pop. Boasting former members of Burlington’s own Alive & Well and The Urgency, Zero Circle have brought everything they’ve learned to the table, honing their abilities as songwriters and performers. Inspired by Rumi’s poem of the same name, Zero Circle has no agenda, no genre, and no limits.
“Vocalist Tyler Gurwicz has chops on top of chops…he is always in control, delivering soaring lines with seeming ease.” — Dan Bolles, Seven Days
Formed in early 2011 in Rutland, Vermont, Get A Grip has proven to be a major player in the Vermont and New England hardcore and punk scene. Through their hard work and dedication and a D.I.Y. outlook, the band has been playing shows with iconic acts such as Bad Religion, the Offspring, Pennywise, the Vandals, Bane, Trial and more. The band has a clear stance against bullying, injustice of all kinds, and self destruction amongst many other things. Get A Grip has proven that the Green Mountain State has more to offer than just jam bands and maple syrup.
The Snaz are four Vermont teenagers, Dharma Ramirez (16, singer, guitarist and songwriter), Mavis Eaton (16, keyboardist), Zack James (14, drums) and Nina Singleton-Spencer (15, bass). The band started in 2011 with a bunch of songs and few local gigs. In the fall of 2012, the Snaz gained the attention of Grammy award winning music producer, Peter Solley, who has been working with them ever since. When the Snaz won the Brattleboro Battle of the Bands, their prize was recording time at the world-class Guilford Sound studio in Guilford, Vermont. The resulting CD in the spring of 2013 produced a hit tune, “Anna”, which was the #2 song on Northampton’s WRSI 93.9 “Top 93 songs of 2013” and is still played regularly on 93.9 The River. The “Anna” youtube video got over 7,000 views. The Snaz were featured on VPR’s Vermont Edition radio program and the VPR 2013 Annual Music Show and gained national attention as finalists in the NPR Studio 360 Battle of the High School Bands. They were interviewed by Joan Holliday on The River Sound Café and twice by Phish on WTSA’s In the Morning show. Notable gigs included the Iron Horse (Northampton, MA), Radio Bean (Burlington, VT), Next Stage (Putney, VT), Upper Valley Music Festival (Turners Falls, MA), Keene Music Festival (Keene, NH), and The WRSI River Block Party (Amherst, MA). In short time, the Snaz have evolved into an all-original, super solid, indie-rock band.
“It’s every disc jockey’s dream to pop in an unknown record by an unknown band and then hear something that makes you believe that you may have discovered the next big thing. You like it so much you rush to the radio to play it for everyone. That’s what happened when I heard The Snaz’s “Anna.”” — Monty Belmonte – WRSI The River