Rocket Shop 6/29/2011: Phineas Gage; Crucial Times and the Screaming for Change Festival

phinneasgage Photos by Brianna Christenson.

Mikey X stepped in to host for Kelsey and Samantha who were both out of state this week (thanks Mikey!). He interviewed Erica, James and Rob of Phineas Gage, who joined us on Rocket Shop for a bunch of live songs before heading to their show at 1/5 Lounge. Then Jim stole Mikey's iPod to play Crucial Times to show everyone that Mikey is really a masked hardcore superhero who is playing at Screaming for Change, the two-day campover all-ages hardcore punk rock festival at the Hub Teen Center in Bristol this Friday and Saturday.

Words by John Powell.

The three members of the Phineas Gage Project are psyched about their new logo, a smiley face with a guitar neck jutting out of its head. The symbol and group name come from the legendary Vermonter that had a railroad spike jutted up into his head and survived, and then his temper exploded. “I think he was always an angry guy,” said Erica Stroem, one of the players. “The spike just removed the shield.” She, along with Rob Williams and Jame Kinne, harmonize over originals and covers. “I’d say we’re about 80/20 covers to originals,” said James, who’s been playing music forever and has with his group written an album’s worth of material for their new and all original album. Their first was all covers. “We like to take pop and rock bands and ‘Phineasize’ them,” jokes Rob, as James riffs their latest, a Def Lepord cover, on acoustic.

Rob plays guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and sings, just to give you an idea of how versatile and interesting the group’s music is. The three unique voices produce interesting harmonies and backing vocals, such as the excellent cover of “Layla” they perform live in the studio, and its lead vocals are sung by Erica.

“I love being a part of this community,” says Erica, “where everything’s connected: the music, the food, the art.” The other two had been playing around for a while and she “stalked” them until they let her join. It’s been two years and many concerts. “We’re doing a farmers market circuit,” adds Erica, “all across the different counties.” They play regularly at The Skinny Pancake, 156 Bistro, Purple Moon Pub, and other venues in their hometown of Waitsfield.

While Rob was always influenced by artists like James Taylor and Mark Knopfler, James likes the pop and rock songs that they cover, listening to music they can convert and make their own. Their originals are a sweet mix of folk and pop, perfect for anything from Farmers Markets to clubs. If you’re looking for them online, Erica says, “Remember, it’s the Phineas Gage Project,” and when I ask them why they took their name from the skewered railroad layer, they just grin: “We’re music for happy brains.”



Words by Jack Haskell.

Today the hardcore punk festival Screaming for Change will kick off at 2PM in Bristol Vermont. This will be Screaming for Change's third annual celebration featuring 20+ bands, all-vegan food and desserts, cliff jumping, camping, swimming, waterfalls, and bonfires. Parents, be not afraid of the music, for as it says on the festival flyer, "This will be a substance-free, all-ages event. Drugs and alcohol or being under the influence will not be tolerated."

The event will run amplified music from 2-10pm on both Friday and Saturday. After 10pm on Friday acoustic acts will play until 11pm. Located at the Hub Teen Center and Skatepark, 110 Airport Drive in Bristol's village, the music will all be performed inside. However, the skate park will be open for all to enjoy when it gets too hot inside and you want to do some kick flips or just hang out.

Mikey X, band member of Crucial Times (performing around 4pm on Friday), stopped by the studio to host Rocket Shop since Kelsey and Samantha were away from Vermont. Mikey says that they are expecting around 200 people to show up this weekend for the music. "The town of Bristol probably shits itself when the festival comes through every year, all of a sudden a bunch of hardcore punk kids take the place over for two days. It is a great time," said Mikey. I asked Mikey to explain hardcore music for those of us who might not be too familiar with it and he responded, "hardcore is punk music stripped down into the rawest, angriest form ever. Passionate and politically charged." When I asked him why he likes playing raw and angry music he explained that "it is a total release. You can just let it all go." Even though Mikey has had to pay a good amount of money fixing his guitar after he beats it up in a raging frenzy, the fees do not compare to the amount of joy that Mikey gets from the energy release (and the crowd). I think his fellow hardcore and punk musicians would agree.

Jim (the Big Heavy World commander and chief) and Mikey closed out Rocket Shop while playing new music off their iPods and jamming out in the studio. Jim made a statement that seemed to really capture why Screaming for Change is so cool. He said, "It is a family picnic style event with punk and hardcore music. It is one of the only places in Vermont you can find this type of festival so it is really special. It is an immensely positive experience." I will be rolling down with the Big Heavy crew in the van tomorrow. Pictures and stories to come soon. See you all there!


The Rocket Shop playlist: Crucial Times, "There Is No Debate" Unrestrained, "A Day No Pigs Would Die" My Revenge, "Rats, Night of Terror" Strike Anywhere, "Infrared"