Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Graffiti Vault Unplugged (Episode 1 Review)


"This is a good thing. It's good to be
playing music in town again after
years of it not happening."

BENNINGTON -- This live-stream music show from the vault is going to work. Bank on it.

Seth Bartholdi and Brandon Olson performed 17 songs on the debut of "Graffiti Vault Unplugged!" from inside the chalk-filled guts of Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery. 

Seth and Brandon comprise half of the Bennington rock band Vice-Versa, which spent 6 hours Saturday recording a 7-song demo album at Soundmind studio on Main Street in Bennington. 


The original 2 members of Vice-Versa rebounded last night and strummed and plick-plucked their acoustic 6-strings pretty well in the 84-year-old bomb-proof gold vault while singing several Vice-Versa songs and covering America, Pink Floyd, Oasis, Zeppelin, Chili Peppers, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Bad Religion and 7 Mary 3. Brandon led an Irish folk song called "Black and Tan" that rings with themes of the IRA.

Fiddlehead manager Joey Kulkin asked Seth to do at least one Oasis song -- "Songbird" -- and the 19-year-old Southern Vermont College student delivered as well as one can expect after he learned the chords and words in 5 days. Turns out "Songbird" is his girlfriend's favorite love song so he had extra motivation to learn and play it with special oomph.

Brandon is Vice-Versa's drummer and a 16-year-old Mount Anthony High sophomore who picked up a guitar 9 months ago out of boredom. The endearingly sweet and shy kid called himself "musically illiterate" so he learns to play by watching Brandon. He paid homage to his rocker dad Ron Olson by performing "One Of These Days" and "Two Hearts" -- songs the elder Olson wrote 25 years ago. They would dominate airwaves and iPods today.

Fiddlehead owner Joel Lentzner, watching the Google+ live-stream overseas, priased Brandon during Zeppelin's "Going to California" when the kid got as close to falsetto as he could: "He does a pretty good Robert Plant."

Seth performed "The First Time", which he wrote about his father. His father texted a few minutes later and told son he was watching and loved the tribute.

From a technical standpoint, the visual was strong with a new webcam but Kulkin told this blog that he needs to find better microphones for future GVU! shows. The live-feed also dropped at the 52-minute mark which is why there are 2 parts to this performance.

Just before they went live, Kulkin told Seth and Brandon to make Graffiti Vault Unplugged! their best performance. "For the last week I've been listening to the Halloween '94 Phish show from the Glens Falls Civic Center and it's one of the best music shows I've ever heard," Kulkin said. "It wasn't Madison Square Garden or some other big venue. On that night they gave their heart and soul to Glens Falls."

The heart and soul of Vice-Versa gave their best effort inside Fiddlehead's bomb-proof gold vault at the old marble bank turned art gallery.

Performing this Sunday (June 16) is North Adams guitar god Tommy Marshall and his ax wingman Sam Clement of Bennington. Maybe 6 people will watch this performance.

Here's a photo gallery of Seth and Brandon in action, then the music.

"This is a good thing," Seth said of Graffiti Vault Unplugged!" It's good to be playing music in town again after years of it not happening."