The Vermont Joy Band spent a week in Ticonderoga preparing for his next tour. The band includes Anna Pardenik on guitar, Dan Fancher on percussion, Taylor Smith on bass, Ben Aleshire on cornet and sousaphone, Galen Peria on accordion and piano, Devin Robinson on double bass and Benjamin Strosberg on banjo and washboard. Peria, a Ti native, is kneeling at the right.
Vermont Joy Parade, a Burlington-based band, has a simple goal.
“World domination,” Ben Aleshire exclaimed. “We want the entire world listening to our music.”
The band spent a week in Ticonderoga recently preparing for two-month spring tour that will take it from New England to the South to the Midwest and Canada. It’s the band’s sixth U.S. tour. It has twice toured Europe. The group stayed with the family of band member Galen Peria.
“Being able to spend time together rehearsing in this atmosphere is like being with family,” Devin Robinson said. “The Perias are wonderful. They’re our biggest fans.”
The tour follows the March 31 release of Vermont Joy Parade’s second CD, “New Anthem.”
The group, which formed in 2008, has an irreverent streak and tours in a used-vegetable-oil-powered, red-painted school bus — making it reminiscent of the Merry Pranksters of the 1960s. In 1964 Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters traveled across the United States in a psychedelic-painted school bus. Their escapades were chronicled by Tom Wolfe in “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” Among the Merry Pranksters were the Grateful Dead, Wavy Gravy and Neal Cassady.
Peria, son of Barbara and Brad Peria, doesn’t discount the comparison.
“There are comparisons to the Grateful Dead, but we’re not that easy to figure out,” said Peria, a 1999 Ticonderoga High School graduate.
Vermont Joy Parade has been described as a “circus.” Along with its music, the band provides audiences with a series of theatrical and comical treats. There’s juggling, unicycles, extending fists and more.
“We start every show by coming out of a piano — like people getting out a clown car,” Peria said. “There’s a lot of confetti, jokes — you never know. It’s audience beware.”
The group’s name tells it all, according to Benjamin Strosberg.
“We’re from Vermont,” he said. “We really do have fun and want to spread that joy — and every performance is like a parade.”
The Vermont Joy Parade is a seven piece ensemble featuring banjo, trumpet, accordion, guitar, upright bass and drums/percussion. Other members of the group include Anna Pardenik, Dan Fancher and Taylor Smith.
It plays a blend of Americana, old-time, country, blues, Dixieland, Cajun, jug and “suspender fusion.”
“Suspender fusion means music that sounds like it was played by a guy wearing suspenders,” Peria explained.
Vermont Joy Parade is a self-described “grassroots” band. It has no manager and no promotional assistance. Members tour and live on the bus.
“The bus is the eighth member of the band,” Peria said. “It’s magical. When we roll into a town it attracts a lot of attention. It’s great for stirring up curiosity.”
“It’s all about having fun and making music,” Strosberg said. “We have scheduled concerts, but we also just decide to pull over in a town and start to play music. It’s common for us to play on a street or in a park with no notice, no planning. We’ve played in Walmart parking lots, at gas stations, all over.”
Vermont Joy Parade did just that in Ticonderoga twice — once on a Lake George Avenue lawn and again at Heritage Commons nursing home.
The band came together mostly by chance. Members hail from all over, but were attracted to Burlington because of the city’s ever-growing music scene.
“The collection of talent in Burlington is amazing,” Peria said. “In a few years Burlington will be mentioned right along with New Orleans and Memphis.”