Jer Coons, Back at Higher Ground

Last Friday, in the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, Jer Coons returned home to play for his friends & family. Opening for him were Seth Glier

and Jesse Ruben.

We didn’t hear about the show until the middle of the week, so I suspect that’s why the room wasn’t sold out. (Jer has a history of selling out the Showcase Lounge.)

After Jesse Ruben finished his set, the lights went down, the stage was prepped, and quietly, the band took their places. Sans Jer, they started into a driving rendition of the 2001 theme music and  Jer took the stage wearing a space suit.

And cowboy boots.

As he jumped into “Speak”

the crowd stared on in awe.

Clint Bierman hung out in the shadows, par for the course.

Peter Day brought out the upright bass.

Jamie Bright killed it on the keys.

and Jeff Vallone largely avoided my lens for the night. (Sorry Jeff!)

These are but a selection from the full gallery of photos from the evening.

Nice to see you back in town, Jer!  Looking forward to the next show. Give us a few more days notice next time, we’ll spread the word!

Music Photograph Portraits

Portraits for a San Francisco based, but Vermont bred, musician

Early last month — you remember, then the temperatures were in the mid 90’s and the humidity matched — I connected up with Miranda Ferriss Jones to take some photos for her upcoming album. She was back in town visiting her family and had a vision for some photos contrasting the vintage dresses she performs in with the rustic farmhouse, barn, and tractor she grew up with. So, Tawny & I hopped in the car and drove down to Monkton from Burlington. It was a welcome road trip because it meant we had a brief reprieve from the heat in the car’s AC! We spent a couple of hours walking around using a few locations, one of which included the upper floor of the old barn which had to be well over 100° and filled with bat guano. Despite the heat, we had a lot of fun and came up with a variety of looks.

If you haven’t heard of Miranda before, I recommend visiting her site. She described herself as a singer-songwriter when she contacted me, but it’s a bit of a misnomer. While she writes and performs her own material, she’s got a heavy Jazz influence which is quite refreshing in today’s world of mediocre pop. Give her a listen!

It was nice to meet & work with you, Miranda.  Best of luck with the new album; I’m looking forward to hearing it!


The Sweet Remains: Outdoor music at American Flatbread

Normally, when The Sweet Remains comes to town they’re booked in the Flynnspace or Higher Ground.  For Jazz Fest, they came to American Flatbread to play an outdoor show in the back alley. I had never seen music there, and didn’t know what to expect.  The wait for a table was over an hour, but they had set up seating and standing areas near the stage so you could drink a beer and enjoy the music. It was a little chaotic as people jockeyed for position and figured out the pattern, but eventually it settled down as the sound check completed and the music started in earnest.  The alley way was jammed from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.

When we finally got a table, we enjoyed watching people walk by the alley, slow down a little, and many stop for a minute to listen to the music as the melodies and harmonies tickled their ears.


Stressed out? Swing into Burlington for the Discover Jazz Festival

The work day came to a close and on the way home I tried to figure out what I wanted to do tonight.  Initially it was just going to be a simple dinner and maybe a movie at home.  I turned on some music (Rich Price, Sweet Remains, Peter Day, and a few others) and turned up the volume.  As I drove home, I started thinking about the chatter from all the #BTV folks on Twitter and remembered that Jazz Fest was in town.  It’s Friday night, no where to be tomorrow, and good tunes on the radio really got me in the mood to go downtown for some eats, a beer or two, and some more good music.

After walking the dog and a very quick snack (we figured the wait was going to be over an hour no matter where we went) we headed downtown.  Church Street was slammed as we made our way down from the top of the block.  With no real destination in mind, we ended up at the Farm House Tap & Grill.  While they didn’t have live music, they were close enough to Church St. that we could hear some spill over and still have a conversation.

The Farm House Tap & Grill; a new gastropub in Burlington with a great beer selection.

After dinner, we walked around the corner and watched the stage in front of Ken’s Pizza for a while.  From our Southerly location, we couldn’t see much of the stage, but the music was solid with exceptionally tight drumming.  As we rounded the corner of the stage, we discovered why: Russ Lawton was on drums.  If you haven’t seen him play, check out anything he’s listed on.  I haven’t seen him around lately, but he’s in town a lot this week and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him!

Russ Lawton drumming on the Church Street Marketplace for the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

Live Music on the Church Street Marketplace for the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

Of course, Dux The Balloon Man was out twisting flowers, swords, wands, and (of course ducks!) If you haven’t stopped to get a balloon, I recommend it.  He’s a fun guy, great with kids, and I’m always entertained just watching him effortlessly craft his work.  I hear he’s going to have something special lined up for the Independence Day festivities down on the Burlington Waterfront.

Dux The Balloon Man twisting his creations on Church St at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

It was a B&W night, but he screams for color!

Dux The Balloon Man twisting his creations on Church St at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

Dux The Balloon Man twisting his creations on Church St at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

And finally at the top of the block, a good crowd was gathered for some funk. I didn’t catch the name of the act, but we enjoyed a few songs as we checked out the crowd and statue of Big Joe Burrell, well crafted and placed outside of Halvorson’s as a perfect tribute to the man.

Live Music on the big stage at the top of Church Street. The Discover Jazz Festival is in full swing in Burlington, Vermont!

Seeing Big Joe’s image while walking around Church St. during Jazz Fest really brought back some great memories of past years’ events with my Dad.  It’s a really great time of year in Burlington. There’s something new going on behind every door and on every block. Occasionally you’re surprised with something fantastic, but you’re guaranteed to at least hear something good and the atmosphere, with smiling faces all around, can’t be beat. We haven’t made it down much for the last few festivals, but I hope we make a few more events this week. See you down there?


Jer Coons at Higher Ground

Jer Coons played to a nearly sold out Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, in Burlington, VT, with Taylor Carson opening up the show.. We’re lucky to have a lot of big acts come through the area (Jakob Dylan played with Neko Case just this weekend) but I tend to prefer the local musicians, or at least the ones with local connections. Jer’s about as local as they get growing up in Middlebury. Below is a slideshow with a few of my favorites from the evening. The full gallery is available if you’d like to see more or buy a print.

Artist: Jer Coons
Album: Speak
Song: Speak

You can buy the album straight from Jer or via iTunes.