Even in living here in Vermont for a year now (minus a few weeks) I am still navigating the music community and the intricacies of where you can take in the best music in and around the Green Mountain State. Burlington has become a go to with clubs like Radio Bean and its sister next door Light Club Lamp Shop. We occasionally will catch something at any one of the Skinny Pancakes and the Friday night Honky Tonk Happy Hour at Sweet Melissa’s always gets us smiling and tapping our feet. While all these places are becoming special spots for us, there is still an exploratory phase we are undergoing when it comes to music here. Last evening, even for a brief moment in time, I was able to capture that feeling again. The feeling felt so many Tuesday nights down in the basement at the Lizard Lounge…and I suppose a big part of that was due to the fact that the very special band that made those nights so special was in town.
White River Junction is where we go to get our produce, we have just started to delve into the cultural aspects of the area. Quaint. Its timeless architecture throwing back to the industrial era and the train running through the town center to further cement that feeling. Up a steep flight of stairs, amongst some offices and an extreme surprise behind a bank of double doors is the Briggs Opera House…and somehow it is able to capture that vibe of the Lizard. Seats surrounding the stage and hugging the band as they perform. It was a perfect pairing for the fellas of Session Americana.
They picked and jammed their way through some old favorites and sing alongs like Beer Town and The Drivin. A few choice off of the last two fantastic records as well, with Jim Fitting’s leads on tunes like Mississippi Mud evoking a feeling from locales far further south than Vermont. The band tossed instruments around the stage, sharing vocal and lead duties over the course of two sets that ebbed and flowed from soulful and delicate harmonies to raucous rolling numbers that got people singing along and clapping. At one point the band joked back and forth about their humble beginnings as an almost living jukebox in the corner of a favorite pub, picking songs more for themselves than anyone tipping back a cold one after a hard days work. The list of rules being quite loose, but one in particular sitting particularly stern…no Dead…for fear of never-ending jams being threaded through the evening. At which point Jefferson Hamer chuckled a bit and launched into this particularly moving rendition of “Loser”, his guitar playing reminscent of Garcia’s and the band following suit and lifting up Hamer’s lilting voice, harp a blowing, pump organ pumping and some of the tightest rhythms you have ever heard. Give it a watch below and be on the look out for the boys this summer.