Saturday Night Live to Next Stage

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PUTNEY — The singer of the Saturday Night Live band, her big blonde hair and fellow band mates from another project are no stranger to these corners of Vermont.

"This might be our fifth time," Christine Ohlman said an upcoming performance at Next Stage.

Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez are back by "rousing popular demand" for "an all-out rock 'n soul concert" and dance party on Saturday, Feb.10, at 7:30 p.m., according to a press release. A snow date is set for the following night.

Tickets can be purchased for $20 at the door or $18 in advance at nextstage.org, Turn It Up in Brattleboro or the Putney Co-op. Next Stage Arts is touting its improved dance floor and lighting.

Besides having a standout voice, Ohlman has a hairdo that earned her the nickname "The Beehive Queen." After being inspired by the hair of Ronnie Spector and other members of girl groups about 25 years ago, she has never looked back.

"I started teasing it up and people started going crazy," she said. "I wasn't expecting it. They really liked it so I kept doing it. It's cool for me. It's like putting on a persona."

The late Tom "T. Bone" Wolk, the bassist in the SNL band who left the year Ohlman joined, was friends with Ohlman and Billy Strauss, a music producer and one of the founders of Next Stage. After Wolk's death in 2010, the mutual friends were in touch. Ohlman learned about the renovations at Next Stage and soon found herself booked at the new venue.

Her band usually performs there in winter months.

"We love the place," said Ohlman, who splits her time between New York City and Connecticut.

She is now busy recording "The Grown-Up Thing," her band's seventh album that will be out later this year.

Ohlman considers herself a big record collector and musicologist. She mostly picks obscure tracks to cover. Usually, one or two songs written by other musicians make her albums' track listings.

The latest album is "a little more bittersweet than the last one, maybe," Ohlman said. "It's still talking about all the different sides of love. That's pretty much what I write about."

Ohlman looks forward to showcasing some of the new tunes in Putney.

"We really do think of Next Stage as one of our musical homes," she said. "There are some venues we play every year, not too many, but Next Stage is one of them."

The audience can expect Ohlman's signature storytelling. Speaking of stories, there is a funny one about how Ohlman got her start at SNL.

G.E. Smith, the show's former musical director and guitarist, invited her to sing at a wedding in Long Island. The two musicians had worked together in Connecticut.

Smith told Ohlman she would be playing with the SNL band but did not tell her much else about the gig. It was not until she arrived at the wedding that she learned it was Lorne Michaels, the show's producer and creator.

"Everyone in the world was there," Ohlman said, "out in the Hamptons."

When the crew assembled to shoot SNL the following week, she said, Michaels asked, "Where's the girl?"

Michaels then had Smith get Ohlman on the show. And the story serves as a lesson to budding musicians.

"Don't discount a wedding gig because you never know," advises Ohlman.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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