Article and Phtos by: Ian Urquhart
BURLINGTON, VT – For as long as I’ve known, live musical entertainment has perpetually included two contributing factors: instruments and lyrics. I always figured you needed both in order to effectively demonstrate one’s emotions and thoughts through notes and harmony progressions. What other way could a musical artist paint his or her canvas to those watching? These were my thoughts before I walked through the doors of Higher Ground Ballroom on Friday 1/21/2017, to witness a language-less conversation between performers and their audiences.
The first performer of the night took the stage to accompany his lonesome piano. Josh Dobbs, a Burlington, Vermont Pianist for the band Dead Set, taught an important lesson to all those who have dreams of performing live: to absorb and emit your musical admiration. Josh’s stage presence was nothing short of extraordinary. With the touch of every note, key, chord and pitch, he turned a conversation-filled crowd into a symphony of onlooking silence. Although no individual song titles were voiced, none were needed. Throughout the thirty minute set, Josh provided a compelling performance worthy of ballroom of his own.
Following up as the second performance of the evening, the dance-funk and rock fusion band from Burlington, Vermont by the name of Brickdrop took the stage in overwhelming fashion while introducing the crowd to their opening ballad, 104.3. This group of jam integrated artists got the dance floor bumping as the night became alive with foot-tapping rhythms and face-flexing pulses. Alto and tenor saxophones intervals by Meghan Waterhouse and Rob DeBruyn harmonized with the groovy bass riffs and chest-beating drum fills laid down by Billy Comstock and Rob Stahle. A head nod displayed the minimal amount of communication needed in order to signal a silky guitar solo performed by the talented, Ben Bivins during the crowd favorite, Dragon Slayer.
Completing the nightcap,the third and final performance of the evening belonged to the New Hampshire based band, Swimmer. As a Plymouth State University, Class of 2015 graduate myself, North Riv, Langdon and Pleasant Street were the locations to be when the fellas of Swimmer were entertaining the college crowd of PSU. Forwarding to the 2017, Matt Dolliver – Saxophone/Synthesizer and the Plymouth guys filled Higher Ground music hall with high-energy, progressive rock fusion while culminating synthesized piano rhythms charged the opening anthem Donkey Pimp. Fueled with a dancing nature, the Burlington concert-goers rocked the floor to the bass-grooving singles, Catch and Languid.
This evening was eye-opening in more ways than one. Once more, I was exposed to a symphonic genre where hundreds of people mutually admired a display of musical talents without the necessity of lyrical expression. I witnessed three, talented performances. Each performance brought a separate sense of individuality and creation. This evening is what music is made of and I was fortunate enough to be present.