Madonna Night At Radio Bean On March 24, 2012
Words by Tim Lewis.
The last time a bunch of local musicians got together to play Madonna songs at Radio Bean, it was a remarkably fun time. I’m not a fan of the Superbowl Half Time performer, but local music often provides a fun time. I knew that Vedora (pictured above in a photo from Caroline’s Facebook page) and Dino Bravo would be on the bill, so I thought I’d check it out.
I worked until 9:30 then stopped home for a minute. A long work day drained me, and I was very close to just sitting on the couch. It would have been so easy. Earlier in the day I walked to Winooksi to check out the Vermont Small Press and Comic Fair. It’s amazing how much talent there is out there. Everyone’s books looked nice and professional. What a great time we live in. I then walked back to Burlington for 8 hours of very intense work. I walked home, and contemplated not walking anymore for the day. I did not have to go out to check music. The Bears DVD that I recently ordered came that day, so I could have just sat and watched a show. Hmmm, Vedora were really good last time I saw them. Hmmm it’s been a while since I’ve seen Dino Bravo. Hmmm, OK, Let’s go!
Out the door I went. Unlike last time, there was no line and I walked right in. The Bean was pretty full, but not packed. Lots of women were dressed like Madonna from various stages of her career. A very tight schedule of performers was taped to the door. As I settled in, the show began.
A woman named Jodi and an acoustic guitar player, who’s name I did not catch, opened with a nice breezy version of La Isla Bonita. Last time Caroline played a sweet version of that one. This time, Jodi’s voice was rich and full and made it sound wonderful. The guitar had a nice sway to the music, and the night had begun in style.
Next up, Joe Redding took the stage with an acoustic guitar and a super deep voice. I’ve forgotten which two he played, but he gave the songs a country flair. They stood up well to the treatment. He remarked about how much is really going on in her songs. The audience were having a good time, but seemed to want something more dancy than the acoustic versions. It would not be long.
Joe Adler followed solo on the electric guitar. He played a subtle version of Dress You Up. It started slow enough that it caught the audience by surprise when he hit the chorus. It was pretty nice. He was just going to do the one, but Dino had not shown up yet. I did not know what the next song he played was, but he did say it was the last song that Madonna wrote on her own, before she started working with other songwriters.
After a bit of a load in and sound check, Dino Bravo took the stage. Matt played it up as if this was a gathering to celebrate the life and passing of Madonna. We’ll all remember where we were when we heard the news, you know, stuff like that. They followed with a heavy and haunting Borderline. Full of rage and pathos, they made the former dance song into a funeral dirge played at metal speed. It was pretty cool. I loved it, though the rest of the audience was really wanting to dance.
Vedora came up next, and gave them what they wanted. A smooth, cool version of True Blue lit up the room. People started dancing, and you could just feel the spark. They followed with a hard rock version of Papa Don’t Preach, and again I was moved to a happy place. It took a while for me to recognize it, and until I did, I just enjoyed the rock. Vedora are a band with a bit of firepower, and they let it loose on that one.
Pooloop moved it back to the dancy zone with Don’t Stop. Instead of straight up dance music, they moved it into a jammy Phishlike dance groove. Following Vedora’s lead, they pulled out a straight up rock and roll vibe for Burning Up. The full room was dancing and having a great time.
I had intended to hang out for Dino and Vedora, but I did have to work in the morning and knew I could not stay too late. Still, it had been a while since I had heard Jenny Montanna sing. I knew it would not be long until she took the stage, so I stuck it out for a bit more.
At 12:15 or so, cake was brought in and everyone sang Happy Birthday to Caroline O’Connor. She put the whole night together and played wonderfully with Vedora. It was a joy to be able to sing to her.
Again the stage became filled with musicians. Lily Sickles took the stage in a veiled white wedding gown. She was joined by a woman keyboard player that I did not know (Angie Mae according to Caroline), Matt Perry on guitar and the mighty Frank on drums. They did a bouncy Like A Virgin, making the lyric seem even more absurd than the original. They followed with a huge, over the top Like A Prayer. The music swelled and filled the room with it’s delightful sound. The party was going strong.
I was pretty tired after they wrapped up, but Jenny Montana was next and I was going to stick it out. She took the stage with a guitar player on her left, Alyssaon drums, and I think it was Paddy Reagan on bass. Her subtle voice and the bands true to form arrangements, made her set sound the most like the pop diva that everyone was here to celebrate (except for Dino Bravo, who were here to mourn). Open Your Heart sounded classic Madonna, with a bit of indie guitar to keep it cool. White Heat kept the party dancing. I thought that would be it, but they kept going. They played a full band version of La Isla Bonita that sounded sweet. Material Girl wrapped up their set and featured a nice robotic ending.
Though there were more bands on the bill, it was late and I was done. The minute the last Jenny song finished, I took the door and headed home. It would be another long work day on Sunday, but I was so glad to go listen to local music. Everyone took Madonna’s songs and made them their own for the evening. It was a joy to behold. I could have just sat on the couch and missed it. Instead I went out, and am richer for it.
This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog, https://timstriangletribune.wordpress.com.