(As the self-proclaimed coolest newspaper office in New England, The Outlook has its own working disco ball, an icon to truly inspire random, deep thought, for sure.)
A friend recently gave me a few CDs from a band that he'd seen play several times in this area, and that he assumed was a local, Vermont-based band. The band is called The Alternate Routes. I didn't like the name, and expected a local band sound, but was blown away when I put on the CDs.
This is a good band, and I knew within a couple of songs that this was no local outfit. A band this talented anywhere in Vermont would be getting a lot of attention.
Formed at Fairfield College in Connecticut in 2002 by Tim Warren and Eric Donnelly, the Bridgeport, CT-based band played extensively around the Northeast during it's early years. An early Cd, The Brooklawn Sessions, was later redone in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce and released in2007 on Vanguard as goodandrecklessandtrue, and it's a great CD. Their latest release is A Sucker's Dream, which includes a guest appearance by Patty Griffin.
Warren is the distinctive and very talented lead singer and songwriter. His songs are intelligent , and his writing is as distinctive as his voice. Donnelly is the lead guitarist, and also plays lap steel and provides backing vocals. Other long time members are Chip Johnson on bass and keys and Mike Sembos on rhythm guitar and keys. There have been a revolving trio of drummers, with Mike Stavitz currently filling that role.
Earlier this year the band opened for Kevin Costner's band Modern West. They probably won't be playing many small local venues anymore!
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Website Recommendation of the Week: www.pandora.com.
If you haven't discovered Pandora Radio yet, you're in for a treat. Pandora is a website that allows you to essentially create your own radio stations based on a particular song or artist and expanding out weblike from there.
You direct the programming by noting whether you like or dislike the songs the station selects. It pays to stay on top of the programming. My Bottle Rockets station keeps trying to drop in Tim McGraw and Toby Keith, probably because it includes Pat Green. No offense against McGraw and Keith, but I've got no interest in listening to music you can hear on a thousand FM radio stations. Pop country is not on the top of my musical interests.
Which brings us to my favorite part of Pandora - all of the new music that it will introduce you to. Based on several leading indicators in your music of choice and in the songs that you check as liked or disliked, the station will play songs that it feels are similar.
Sometimes the selections are definitely off-base, but more often than not, there will be some good choices, and frequently this will include new music you may not be familiar with. Pandora has introduced me to a dozen or more obscure bands that I really like, but probably would not have heard about.
Another favorite feature is that for each song, you can access background information on the performer or band, and some of it is by some very good music writers.