Ben Slotnik

Rocket Shop 11/19/2014: Ben Slotnick

Words by Jess Slayton. Photos by Joey Lord.

Ben Slotnick, mandolinist, joined Jim in the Radiator Studio for Big Heavy World’s ‘Rocket Shop’ local music radio hour this Wednesday night! He is originally from a Long Island suburb and moved up to Vermont for school. Slotnick joked that much to the chagrin of his parents, he is a music junkie pursuing a degree in philosophy. He has been playing mandolin since age 15, and when asked how he got started with that, he told us that it must have been something in the water, because a surprising amount of mandolin players are Jewish and hail from New York City. I found that Ben was extremely animated throughout his time on Rocket Shop, and that this absolutely was an irreplaceable aspect of his music. He tends to play bluegrass and American folk music, and likes to mix it up between original, modern music and classic, old timey-folk  In creating his own personal style, Slotnick finds himself torn between the purists and the progressives, always starting from “roots” music but ending by incorporating his own spin. One of the songs from his up and coming EP, titled “The Darkness” comes from a personal place, inspired by the nights one spends lying in bed unable to sleep due to the thought of something he or she did years ago that no one else would remember. Although his music is one of the most defining aspects of his life, Ben’s end game with it is simply to play—unlike many artists, he will not be disappointed if he doesn’t make it big, but is instead enthralled by the ride itself. Check Ben and his band, Right Coast Leftovers at or see them live at the Brewster River Brewery on December 13th, or Moogs in Morrisville on December 14th.

Ben Slotnik

Ler Stevens

Rocket Shop 11/12/2014: Bob Peace; Ler Stevens

Photo by Joey Lord.

Bob Peace joined host Edward Burke by phone from southern Vermont, and Ler Stevens joined us with Crusty Cuts (see photo) in the Radiator studio tonight to celebrate the release of the new mixtape ‘Green Hour’ at the Wild Life Shop, 161 Main Street in Burlington this Saturday, November 15, 7-10pm. Also performing at the release party, Al Matic & Notation.

Lowell Thompson

The Lowell Thompson Interview

Words by Jess Slayton.

After meeting up and having coffee last Wednesday night at Muddy Waters, Lowell Thompson struck me as the most genuine sort of musician out there—he was simultaneously serious about making it as an artist while also still so clearly enraptured in staying true to his music and as he so bluntly put it, “doing it his way.” He was born and raised in Vermont, and although his music has brought him all over the world, he always comes back to Burlington. Thompson most recently returned to Burlington after living in Austin, Texas for a few years, but has also spent time out west, touring in Germany and in Holland. After watching him stare past me as if visualizing the memories and go off on tangents about these places, it was clear how much of a role his travels have played in both his personal and professional life. He also just got back from a short tour with Kelly Ravin, a friend both on and off the stage. They travelled to Portsmouth, Boston, and New York City, and I learned that outside of Burlington, Thompson’s biggest following is likely in New York City. He is planning a potential album release tour in February, and hopes to continue collaborating with other bands in the meantime.

When speaking about the culture of Austin versus Burlington, Thompson commented that he found it more difficult to get his name out in Austin but that the general musical vibe was more his style. However, having grown up in the scene here in Burlington was invaluable for his musical evolution due to the homegrown nature of Burlington music. What I found extraordinarily powerful was that it was essentially friends’ older brothers that helped him gain exposure and experience here—that’s how tight this artistic community is. He just released a new album, “Stranger’s Advice,” and already has two new albums in the making. Regarding his new album, he said that he finds the tracks to be more pop rock than his more traditional Americana style. This just happened as a subset of his changing life and new experiences, not due to anything intentional. When asked about where he takes his inspiration from, he said, “For me, inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. I feel like it chooses me.” One of the tracks, “Rose Petals,” was made into the video by Pennington Productions, run by Thompson’s friend Myles Jewell. The style is unique to say the least, as it was born out of fabulously bizarre ideas that came from many different people. It’s done in the stop motion style and was compiled by Jewell—according to Thompson, they had a ton of fun with the making of it. Thompson is currently working on another video, for “Bradley Street,” another track off of his new album. Stay tuned for more awesome work from Lowell Thompson—with his inspired creative energy and dynamic music, he is definitely a local artist to keep an eye on.

The Cush

Rocket Shop 11/5/2014: The Snaz; The Cush

Words by Jess Slayton. Photos by Joey Lord.

The Snaz joined hosts Jim and Jess by phone from Brattleboro, VT tonight, then Gabrielle and Burette Douglass of The Cush visited the studio to play songs from the unreleased new CD, ‘Transcendental Heat Wave.’

Mavis, Dharma, Nina, and Zack from The Snaz joined Jess and Jim in the Radiator Studio for Big Heavy World’s ‘Rocket Shop’ local music radio hour this Wednesday night! We spoke with them via phone because the quartet hails all the way from Brattleboro, VT. The self-labelled “rock-ish” band is especially impressive due to the fact that it consists of three sixteen year olds and one fourteen year old—I think about what I was doing at that age, and it was nowhere near as cool! However, the vocals from the first track we played, “Anna,” said otherwise. Dharma’s voice sounded far more mature than that of your average teen, but that was just one of the many extraordinary facets of this talented young group. They’ve performed mainly in Southern Vermont and Northern Massachusetts, and are working to find their place in the local musical scene. In order to do so, they’ve communicated with many venues and organizations, and have in return forged a relationship with many of these.  It was truly inspiring to hear how excited the four seemed as they reflected on how amazing it was to now have people coming to them for performances, rather than always having to ask others to play. They even scored a spot at the Green River Festival in Greenfield, MA, which allowed them to play at the same event as huge names in the music world, such as Norah Jones. Check them out this Saturday at the Radio Bean, or online at!

The Cush

Gabrielle & Burette Douglas: The Cush.

Burette and Gabrielle Douglas from The Cush (photo at top) joined Jess and Jim in the Radiator Studio for Big Heavy World’s ‘Rocket Shop’ local music radio hour this Wednesday night! The husband and wife duo are originally from Austin, TX, but moved up to Burlington for a change of pace. Although they are now living back in Austin, they still come back up to Burlington to perform. They consider both places a home, and have taken much of their inspiration from one of the two vastly different environments. The two have been playing together for 22 years, and work under a few different record labels, one of which is based in Sweden. The band believes in remaining true to a grassroots form of art; this connection occurred after playing with a British band at Union Hall in New York City. The road manager approached The Cush and proposed that they play at a British Festival, which allowed for the opportunity to connect with the Swedish record label. We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of their new album, “Transcendental Heat Wave” which comes out in January. They are releasing it on both vinyl and CD format because they find that much of their fan base prefers to buy vinyl over CDs. Take advantage of the unique opportunity to see them live while they are up here this Friday at Arts Riot, or check them out online at!

“Droids” by The Cush



Zero Circle

Rocket Shop 10/31/2014: Zero Circle

Words by Jess Slayton. Photo by James Lockridge.

Rafe, Tyler, Matt, and TJ from Zero Circle joined Jess in the Radiator Studio for Big Heavy World’s ‘Rocket Shop’ local music radio hour this Wednesday night! They came bearing their yet-to-be-released self-titled EP, complete with five awesome songs. We were even lucky enough to get to hear a brand new song from them, live in the studio! I would never have guessed that it was a new song, either—the way that Tyler and Matt played together while Rafe and TJ were so clearly tuned in really demonstrated just how close these guys are. All four members of Zero Circle have lived in the area and known each other for their entire lives. They’ve all played music forever, but didn’t start this current project until just a year ago. Upon learning this, my first question was WHY? How did it take so long for four friends, all talented musicians, to get together to form Zero Circle? Lucky for us, they explained—they all had individual projects, but found these projects dying down all at the same time… and thus, Zero Circle was born! From the looks of it, it’s about time too. The energy between the four as they joked around and played off one another was infectious. Check them out live this Thursday at the Monkey House or this Saturday in Rutland, or online at

Jeremy Gilchrist

Rocket Shop 10/29/2014: Jeremy Gilchrist

Words by Jess Slayton. Photo by James Lockridge.

Jeremy Gilchrist joined Jim, Rockin’ Rob and Jess in the Radiator Studio for Big Heavy World’s ‘Rocket Shop’ local music radio hour this Wednesday night!  He’s new to the local scene, having lived in the area for only a year after growing up on Long Island and spending some time in North Carolina.  First take on the scene in Burlington?  He loves how receptive and supportive it is but definitely feels the challenge of having only a few venues to play at and many artists looking to play.  Although he plays guitar and considers himself a folk/acoustic act, he would actually first and foremost refer to himself as a lyricist, and from hearing and watching him speak passionately about his music I absolutely agree.  His songs appear to be an extension of himself, effortlessly jiving with his interpretations of his surroundings.   He takes inspiration from everywhere—for example, the seemingly month-long rains that VT gets in the spring coupled with the homeless people on Church Street provided the inspiration for Thunder from Mansfield to the Lake.  On top of all of this, Jeremy is a meteorologist and an actual storm chaser.  He’s having an album release party this Saturday at 7:00 at the Radio Bean, and you can also find him at

Great Western

Rocket Shop 10/22/2014: Great Western; Silent Mind

Photos by Joey Lord.

Great Western and Silent Mind joined Bolton in the studio for Rocket Shop tonight!

Great Western

Great Western in the Radiator studio with Bolton.

Silent Mind

Silent Mind (Jamie Bright) at Big Heavy World.

Silent Mind


Arts by Brian Capes1 Clark for Arts Riot.

Community Arts Leaders Launch Effort to Expand City Support for Arts

Art by capes1. Photo by James Lockridge.

A group of artists and community arts leaders have organized to improve how the City of Burlington supports the arts. They’re asking that Burlington’s public arts funding be used to create resources that are useful to artists of all kinds, from visual artists to dance, theater, music, writers, and art forms that might not be so easily definable.

A central theme to their concern is that Burlington has matured as a city to the point where it has many community members who are deeply experienced in arts and arts organization and who would like to play a role in governing how arts resources are managed in the city. By playing a role in budgeting, mission and policy development, and city planning that includes the arts, they’ll be ensuring that arts are represented fairly and thoroughly. This would address a shortcoming in local arts governance, bringing the community together to better itself and make ready for an inclusive future.

An online petition to create a city arts commission of citizens who would play a meaningful role in guiding how arts funding is spent, reporting to the city council like the commissions of other city departments do, gathered more than 250 signatures within three days this week. See

Sign the Arts Fairness Petition

James Lockridge, Executive Director of Big Heavy World, says “Burlington is fortunate to have so many people willing to recognize how they can contribute to making our city better, and being willing to make the effort to do so. Changing city government to accomplish a positive, permanent improvement that embodies community values and engages our brilliant arts community in public services demonstrates the joy and purpose of all arts. We’re a can-do community that recognizes our own potential and aspires to achieve it.” Big Heavy World is a Burlington-based volunteer-run nonprofit organization with a mission of preserving and promoting Vermont-made music.

Members of this expanding group of arts advocates met with Mayor Weinberger in March and spoke during public forum at the city council’s Parks, Arts & Culture Committee on October 15. The draft version of those meeting minutes is available at

For more information contact James Lockridge,, (802) 373-2890.

Rocket Shop 10/15/2014: Black Rabbit

Words by Wes Silver. Photos by James Lockridge

Black Rabbit

Marc and Darlene Scarano from Black Rabbit joined Bolton in the Radiator studio for Big Heavy World’s ‘Rocket Shop’ local music radio hour tonight! Find more at

After pursuing their love for the lake and mountains a young couple by the names of Marc, and Darlene Scarano decided to leave their haven in Saratoga, New york. They now reside in Burlington, Vermont, and shortly after arriving they teamed up with Jane Boxall to form a new band that goes by the name of Black Rabbit. Yes, that was Black Rabbit folks, not Black Sabbath, and now that you’re familiar with them it’ll be easy to find them in music libraries just above the famous English rock band, says the lead guitarist. Anyhow, Big Heavy World was lucky enough to have the trio take over the “Rocket Shop” local music radio hour. What was discovered during their time on air is that together, with Marc Scarano on guitar, Darlene Scarano on bass, and Jane Boxall on drums they all create an undeniable force to be reckoned with. They played their first show at the Radio Bean, and since then have been able book gigs all around the city of Burlington. You can find them playing at venues like Club Metronome, or The Monkey House, and even more unique places such as the basement of Big Heavy World’s Executive Director, Jim Lockridge. Wherever you find them next though it’s sure to be a dynamic, high octane, and lifted experience that will leave the crowd amped and cheering for more.

Now, normally when you think of bands it can be assumed that they’re all over the place, and don’t have much time to build local roots. This group flips that paradigm upside down, and just being a part of the local scene fills them joy. Their music seems to draw in good people, and so the network of garage, punk, and pop bands alike has definitely gained another inspiring source. Establishing themselves in Vermont will be essential to their future success, and with the husband-and-wife duo leading the charge there’s no telling just how far they will go. So, if you want to get down with these up and comers be sure to catch the trio at their next shows. Specifically, on October 30th at The monkey House, and the 31st at Charlie O’s. Both nights are sure to be a blast as the heavy hitting band performs live in Halloween costumes, which will be unique, and different for each spooky night. If you can’t make it to the stage though be sure to check out their website for all of the trios music releases, such as their recent Lipstick and Dynamite album. You’ll also be able to find the bands upcoming shows on that site, as well as their social media pages where fans can show support, connect, and continue to spread the word about a trailblazing dynamo in the queen city. Thus, it was a pleasure having Black Rabbit in the Radiator Studio, and we wish them luck in all of their future endeavors. Find more at


Wes Silver

Wes Silver Joins BHW Development Team

“Whatsup everybody, my name is Wes Silver. I’m a New England native who’s been living in Burlington, Vermont for the past few years now. Currently I’m finishing up my business degree at Champlain College, but more interestingly I recently joined the crew at Big Heavy World! Here, I’ll be putting my skills to use, and mainly helping out with the organizational development of the company. Music has always been a huge influence in my life, and so I wanted to help push the scene further by taking advantage of such an awesome opportunity. That being said, I’m stoked to be part of such an inclusive group of like-minded people, and our purposeful efforts are bound to show the world what the Vermont music scene is all about.”