Summer Concert Series showcases Americana music


DUMMERSTON — On Saturday the summer concert series continues with an "Americana" music festival at Kampfires Campground on Route 5 in Dummerston. This outdoor festival includes food, music and fun for all ages. Get ready for some foot stomping, feel good music by three bands: The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, The Backyard Committee and Eben Viens Band. Sponsors include: Kampfires Campground, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Brattleboro Reformer, Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery, Crumpin Fox Club, Sandri Energy and Fenton Family Dealerships.

David Hiler, co-founder and general manager of Whetstone Station says, "With all of the music festivals going on this summer, this one is a true original. We are huge fans of WTR and are excited to see Backyard Committee and also Eben Viens who opened our Street Food festival last year. We are looking forward to continuing this rock and roll adventure."

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow has come a long way from their first gig in July of 2014 at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass. They now tour all over New England, play several notable music festivals, and consider themselves a "hometown band" for the Berkshires and western Massachusetts. This collaborative of five Massachusetts-based singer-songwriters includes: Tory Hanna, Billy Keane, David Tanklefsky, Greg Smith, and Chris Merenda. As individuals they have released a total of 18 albums and their live album "The Heart of the Run" (2015) was their first release as WTR.

They play all original songs. Hanna said, "We think of ourselves as a sort of folk Eagles band where everyone brings something to the table, which keeps it fresh and interesting — you're not just listening to one person." Hanna's high school friend Tim Bradley wanted to showcase WTR so he told their story in a short documentary film, "The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow" (2015), winner of six national short film awards.

When asked about their style of Americana music, Hanna explained, "Its roots driven and very lyrically driven — the story line and lyrics define Americana. It has a foot stomping, percussive element." He added, "The guitar heavy aspects are most like country and bluegrass. It brings together all of those genres." He said that "Tom Petty defines Americana music, which is so percussive that every song is lyrically driven, guitar driven and really foot stomping."

WTR will play at the Cayuga Sound Festival and the FreshGrass festival at Mass MoCa in September. This winter they will begin recording their second full length album at a studio in Woodsock, New York. They are currently holding a pledge campaign where if you donate $10 you can pre-order this album.

Hanna concluded, "We hope that the light bulb comes on and that people see us as a local, hometown band. We're singing about and speaking to what life is like here with the beautiful rolling hills and amazing summers where people see live music and participate in community."

The Backyard Committee

Based in New Haven, Connecticut the Backyard Committee plays melodic roots rock injected with moments of improvisation and experimentation, much in the spirit of the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, but with indie rock influences like Guided by Voices, Pavement, and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Mike Sembos (vocals, guitar or bass) writes the songs and then serves as the editor of the project. His rotating cast of musicians is encouraged to play their instruments using their own ideas and their own voices to make each lineup and each show completely unique. The lineup on Saturday will include: Mike Sembos, guitar and vocals, Tim Walsh on bass, Nick D'errico on drums and Chris Cavaliere on guitar. As Sembos explains, "The lineup changes from show to show as we are all in five or six bands. We revel in the looseness of things, there is a lot of freedom in that. To play things differently and to leave things open for spontaneity is what we are all about."

They are looking forward to performing in southern Vermont. "This is exactly the type of show we like to play, an outdoor show with people who like to dance and have a good time," Sembos said.

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Eben Viens Band

Local musician Eben Viens grew up between Turners Falls, Mass., and Brattleboro where he lives now. He attended Hilltop Montessori School through Middle School and then attended Brattleboro Union High School. During his four years at BUHS, Viens could be found busking with the "Dusty Neutrals," playing percussion in the Concert Band, drum set in the Jazz Band and singing a cappella with "Shoulder Narrows."

He credits the music department at BUHS and especially Steve Rice, Music Teacher and Band Director, with inspiriting him to pursue a formal music education. "Steve's commitment to his students and passion for music was always visible and I loved working with him and Patty Meyer." His father and uncle exposed him to many genres of music growing up, including Celtic, classical and jazz. Andy Partridge of XTC and Paul Westerberg of The Replacements were huge influences, as well as Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

After graduating from BUHS in 2010, he attended University of Vermont with fellow band-mates Jacob Ungerleider and Ian Straus. He recalls playing house parties as the "Dusty Neutrals" with its jangle pop mixed with folk sound. Viens received a B.A. from UVM in Anthropology and Music. Nowadays, he works full time for Inn Partners, a consulting company for the Innkeeping industry.

The local musicians who will join him for this Saturday's concert include: Scott Griswold on bass, Joshua Francis on drums, Evan Lincoln on guitar, and Eben Viens on guitar and vocals. He calls their music folk and pop inspired indie rock.

Viens comments, "Scott, Evan and I played at the street food festival at Kampfires last year and we're excited to be back. I'm also looking forward to playing with WTR who are known to put on a lively show." When asked about living here, he said, "Brattleboro is a great place to live — there is an energy here. You travel to Portland and Burlington and, in many ways it is a microcosm of those places, where arts, music, nature and history all come together."

Festival details

The festival starts at 2 and ends at 8 p.m. Food trucks and brews at the festival will be: Tito's Taqueria, Anon's Thai Cuisine, and Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery. This event is outdoors and will be held rain-or-shine. Dogs will not be allowed and it is not BYOB. Bring a lawn chair and a blanket if you'd like. Limited general admission seating will be provided. The Amphitheatre does not have seats, but hay bales and tables and chairs will be set up under tents. The Amphitheatre is partially handicapped accessible and there is handicapped parking available. Coolers with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are allowed and are subject to be searched.

There is camping onsite, contact Kampfires Campground, Inn & Entertainment at 802-254-2098 or for more information. They have festival packages where if you camp for the weekend, you get free tickets and VIP passes to the festival.

The Vermont Foodbank is the charity of choice for the Summer Concert Series. Please bring a non-perishable food item to donate.

This is a family friendly event; children under 12 receive free admission. Tickets are $15 each, general admission, and will be available at the gate. Gates open at 1:30 p.m. To buy tickets visit summerconcertseries.


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