Second Vermont Republic

A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.

Spring Is Rising In Vermont: Sugar Shack Grooves @ Mad River Glen (MUSIC REVIEW)

2VR-VR-Sugar ShackEvery once in a while, you find yourself in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Last Sunday afternoon was one such rare moment. The place? Mad River Glen’s south-facing patio overlooking the ski pen. The time? 2:00 pm. The occasion? Sugar Shack’s annual MRG spring groovefest. Many of you Valley’ites, friends and neighbors all, found yourself there, too, and remember that special afternoon well. Bluebird sky, full sun, 65 degrees and almost windless, with some of the best spring skiing in recent memory, and, as an added bonus – a Hawaiian-shirted Chris Mayone, plus Lori, Doug and the whole MRG crew slinging drinks and greasy yummies of all descriptions like spring had finally arrived. Because, at long last and incontrovertably, it has.

And (the best part of all, perhaps) who was ushering in the spring with their tasty jams? Sugar Shack 2.0 – in their new five man sonic configuration. Many of you who have seen “The Shack” know the core posse – Dennis Derryberry on lead electric guitar and vocals, rhythm guitarist and band humorist Gary Frankel, and drum maestro Jamey Fidel holding down the rhythm in back. Into the mix add Mr. Jeff Guerin on organ and vocals (the dude can sing), and occupying the band’s middle, Mr. Steve Sharp on the big bass – full of poppin’ and infectious dance’able energy. How good did “Sugar Shack” sound? Maybe it was just the skiing, and sun, and heat, and hard cider, and smiles on everyone’s faces, and the sheer exhilaration of sticking my warm naked feet in the cold snow and bouncing up and down – but they sounded better than I have ever heard them before.

Folks who have never heard the Shack may have heard them described as a Dead-like sort of cover band. While it is true that Mr Derryberry brings a certain “je ne sais Jerry” to the table, Sugar Shack does so much more. Witness their killer cover of Dire Straits’ “Down To The Waterline,” in which Derryberry showcases his Knofler’like guitar licks, or “Cold Bev,” featuring Jeff G on the hip hop’like lyricizing – all G Love and such. “Mighty Quinn” (a Bob Dylan classic), “Willin’,” a Little Feat staple, and my favorite Dennis Derryberry song of all time (to date), “Grapefruit Mama,” an homage to his lovely and talented sweetheart Jenifer Tuck, all demonstrate the band’s range and chops. And Guerin and Sharp are fantastic additions to the Sugar Shack mix, both tightening up and expanding the sound of the core members in myriad musical ways.

All this is to say THANK YOU to Sugar Shack, and Mad River Glen, and the Vermont Gods, and the Weather, for conspiring to deliver on of the most remarkable and memorable musical MRV moments in a long, long time. May there be many more such moments in our future – and I hope to see all of us there.

It takes a Valley to make such a remarkable afternoon even more splendid.

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This entry was posted on April 14, 2015 by in Arts and tagged , , , .
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