On January 2, 2024

Rockin’ the Region 2023 music review

2023 was a great year for music in our region. Always check the listings to see where our great, local talent is playing because it’s all so good. We also, always, seem to get some great national touring acts to come around here. We started the great music with the Grand-Opening party of the new K-1 Base Lodge at Killington Resort on Jan.26  with Nord Peak 5. They say they’re a “Newly-formed, neo-80’s, jazzy, yacht rock super band”. Making up the band was Daniel Brown (guitar/vocals), Nick Morgan (keyboard/vocals), Aaron Normand (drums), Justin Burgess (bass) and Chazz Canney (horns/vocals). The resort went all out for this one. I don’t see this party being topped. The food incredible, the staff incredible, but the band was the most incredible. They hit you with great cover after cover and the crowd was going off. At one point there was a conga line going around the entire 3rd floor to “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte. Other favorites of mine they played were “You can call me Al”, “Dancing in the Streets”, “Glory Days”, “Honky Tonk Woman”, “Iko Iko” and “SOB with “Saints Go Marching In”, mixed in. Oh what a night.

There were a few good shows in February at the Pickle Barrel Nightclub. Chadwick Stokes from Dispatch played a solo, acoustic show on the 16th. He played Dispatch hits like “The General” and the crowd was singing along to every word. He also did some pretty cool covers. On the 23rd, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, made their Pickle debut. They play feel-good music and the crowd definitely felt good. My favorite was when they played “Mother and Child Reunion” by Paul Simon.

The great, Pickle shows continued in March with Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country on the 14th. I’d never heard of them but when Tom White, the Pickle Barrel sound guy, tells you he’s good, you definitely go. The Grateful Dead always said, “Never miss a Sunday Show” and those bands who follow them, say the same thing. Those in attendance, like me, saw the best concert in quite some time. The band is sick, and super tight. Donato is a star but the keyboardist really shined. He played guitar, keys and sings. At one point he was playing guitar and keys at the same time. I would travel to see this band. The 23rd was Ryan Montbleau with his new band, playing their 1st stop on their new tour. The new lineup is pretty sweet. It was an awesome show.

March ended and April began 3/31-4/1) with Remember Jones at the Pickle, who are one of my favorite bands on the planet. I first saw them close down the old K1 base lodge Teardown Party. That show was incredible from start to finish, and I didn’t want it to end. They pulled out a rare cover of “I Love You, Always Forever” by Donna Lewis. I’ve never heard anyone cover that. I bet most people don’t even know the song, but I do and they slayed it. They also did “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston, “Everyday is a Winding Road” by The Beatles but the show stopper, and the best song in the bunch was when they tore the house down with “Shout” by the Isley Brothers. MINKA opened the show and became a new favorite of mine. It was an incredible night of music. April ended with the birth of my son, Judah Raphael Hoffenberg on the 28th. That might not be a concert but it was an incredible event for me.

There wasn’t a lot going on in May, I was enjoying the 1st month of Judah but on the 6th was the 49th Anuual Bridgewater Raft Race. I DJ’d at the finish line and did some play-by-play commentary with comedians GW Foley and Hickory, the Drunk and Underwhelming. It was a beautiful Spring day, the race was fun and exciting. Tons of people turned out for it. That night at the Woolen Mill Comedy Club, upstairs in the Bridgewater Mall, was a great comedy show with headliner Vicki Ferentinos and special guest Liam Welsh.

June 18 was the 13th Annual Vermont Adaptive Charity Challenge, at Killington Resort’s Skyeship Base Lodge. It was an all Connecticut lineup of music. I DJ’d it, Kenny Mehler opened the show and then Jamie’s Junk Show with the Deep Banana Blackout Horns closed it out. That band was Jamie Livesey (guitar/vocals), Donnie Fortin (drums/vocals), Rob Somerville (sax/vocals) and Rob Volo (bass/trombone/vocals). There was even a guest appearance by Smokey Bear. Good times were definitely had by all with almost 300K raised.

July 21st was “Friday Night Live in Rutland” and the rain forced Uprooted to play inside the Paramount Theatre. Uprooted is Michael Glabicki from Rusted Root’s new band. I don’t like to see rain but on this occasion, it made for a better show than would’ve been outside. The new band is great, the show was awesome. They obviously played “Send Me On My Way” but the “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis stole the show. That’s a favorite song to sing by Glabicki and he does a wonderful cover of it.

Judah’s first concert was also a great “Cooler in the Mountains” show, outside at Killington Resort’s Snowshed Lodge on Aug. 13. The Dirty Water Dance Band from Cape Cod were awesome. The band is fronted by husband and wife duo Josh and Melissa Ayala. They’ve dubbed themselves “Dirty Reggae Soul”. It’s soulful vocals and harmonies. It was a high energy show. Melissa has an incredible voice and the band is tight. Annie Sullivan recommended them to me, months earlier, and they didn’t disappoint. I hope they come back. A new local favorite of mine, Nick Bredice, opened the show. 

Sept. 10 was Chip & Cowboy’s Ride at Moguls Sports Pub which is a charity event for the Rutland County Humane Society. It was Sal’s annual Pig Roast too. It’s a great day of music with The Gully Boys, Super Stash Bros and the duo of Kenny Mehler and Nick Bredice. They formed this duo just for this event. You would have thought these guys had played together a long time, due to how in sync they were with each other. They played some of Kenny’s originals and some choice covers. Nick is the only person I know that covers Kenny’s songs so I know this was as special for him as it was for me to see.

Oct. 20 was the 2nd Annual “Singer/Songwriter Festival” at Rivershed in Killington. They bring up Nashville artists who have written songs for Morgan Wallen, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, etc. There were six performers who each did a few songs of their own and then played some together. They were all having a great time on that stage. April Cushman is a semi-regular fixture at Rivershed Killington but I’ve never been able to see her until this night and wow is she awesome. Her songs are so relatable, she’s a great singer/songwriter. Chris Locke played some cool tunes. Blue Foley was a late addition and what a great addition he was. He has great, fun stories and his music is pretty great too. He mentors young musicians in Nashville. Lance Carpenter’s music is energetic. He played his hit song, “I Bought a Bar”. I interviewed him last year and became a huge fan of his music. Kylie Sackley was great. She has written a song for Faith Hill. Tiffany Goss aka @tifftycent on Instagram, ended her set with her awesome song, “80’s Tune”. That’s a great tune. I’m not a country music guy but I really enjoyed every performer. Look them up and go see them.

November brought the Women’s World Cup back to Killington Resort and that weekend is always filled with great music. My favorite this year was Matisyahu who performed on Sunday the 26th. I really enjoyed his whole set. This was my 3rd time seeing him but my favorite by far. His set included his awesome song and one of my favorites, “One Day”. 

December started with the 2nd Annual Vermont Comedy Festival, which is a 4 day festival that spans this region with incredible comics from across the country. It’s put on by Collen Doyle and Matt Vita. This year’s headlining show was at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre on the 7th with Collen, Matt, Jeffrey Gurian and Colin Quinn. Everyone was really funny and Colin Quinn was hilarious from start to finish. I’m really glad to have seen it.

The month ended with an incredible night of music at the Pickle Barrel. It was Night 2 of Mihalidaze which was Mihali, Zdenek Gubb and Adrian Tramontano of Twiddle, Scott Hannay from Mihali and Friends, Mike Oehmen and Michael Bafundo of West End Blend with special guests Brandon “Taz” Niederauer and G Love. The entire night was incredible, everyone slayed it but in my opinion, G Love stole the show. He was en fuego. My Favorites were “What I Got”, “Burning Down the House”, “Casey Jones” which had the entire building dancing and “Folsom Prison Blues” which electrified the crowd.

I know the shows I mentioned were only in Killington, Rutland and Woodstock but our entire region is filled with great music. Get out and see some.

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