Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spiritualism in Vermont with Joe Citro

Joe Citro
Spiritualism in Vermont: Religion, Politics and the Preternatural
Presented by Joe Citro, A Vermont Humanities Council Sponsored event.
October 19, 2011 Martin Memorial Hall Ascutney VT
Hosted by the Weathersfield Proctor Library
Library Director, Amity Aldridge DeAngelis introduces Mr. Citro
On a dark and rainy Vermont evening, 25 adventurous Weathersfield souls made their way to the basement of Martin Memorial Hall in Ascutney VT to hear about the history of Spiritualism in Vermont. Spiritualism was very popular in the United States in the 19th Century. Many traveling lecturers brought the works of mediums to all corners of the urban and rural regions of the US.

In May of 1844 Samuel Morse invented Morse Code and typed out " What hath God wrought" according to Joe Citro, "Four years later, Spiritualism!" Citro explained that Spiritualism moved from being a fade to a religious movement to a religion in America on the late 19th century. This was a time of great change in the US with slavery, the Civil War, medicine coming into play. There was no formal religion, no voting for women, and science was in it's infancy.

Citro laid out the path for Spiritualism in the US, giving the audience a brief history of some key players: Emmanuel Swedenborg, who was believed to talk with angels; Anton Mesmer, know for trace like states; the Shakers, who regularly held dialogues with departed souls; Andrew Jackson Davis, who communicated with Swedenborg's spirits--he had one year of formal schooling yet wrote 800 page books.

In a small town of Hydesville NY, 30 miles east of Rochester NY, population 40 souls in 1848 in a cabin in the woods, the Fox family reported hearing strange rapping and noises at night. Margaretta and Katherine Fox the young daughters of John B and Margaret changed the world. Their house was "haunted" by Mr. Splitfoot (a name used in the 19th century for the devil). This spirit later communicated, through an alphabet of raps, that he was a 31 year old peddlar, Charles Roseman that was murdered in the house. In 1904 some human bones were found in the house basement--Roseman's or not??

To enhance communication with the spirit world, in 1855 G. P. Cobb of Woodstock VT invented the Rapping Machine. Other forms of communication included: auto-writing--when in a trance-like state the medium would write, sometimes in unknown languages to the medium; a Planchette--a precursor to the Ouija Board and a spirit trumpet.
A Spirit Trumpet
 Citro told the audience that Queen City Park in Burlington VT (behind the current KMART) was founded by spiritualists who would "summer" there during the late 19th Century.

Of the Vermont Mediums covered by Citro's extensive research, the one he believes to be the first was Achsa Sprague a young school teacher from Plymouth Notch VT, she even performed one of her trans-lectures (a lecture given in a trance like state, typically not remembered by the speaker when awoken from the trance) at the Union Church in South Reading VT.

Another was Lucy Ainsworth, was a medical clairvoyant from Calais who treated folks in Cavendish, Reading, Montpelier and Boston MA. One of her clients/patients was Mary Baker Eddy the founder of the Christian Science religion.

Then there was Mrs Blanchard, would reveal strange images through a mixutre of water and clay--when the water evaporated images would appear in the clay.

And Miss Coggswell of Middlebury who could be asked questions when in a trace and have the answers revealed in what appeared to be blood on her skin.

But, Citro explained, not all mediums were women. One very famous male medium lived in Brattleboro Vt and attended a seance as a form of entertainment and channeled Charles Dickens. Thomas Power James in 1873 allegedly was contacted by Dickens (who died in 1870) through auto-writing to complete his novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

The most intriguing events took place in 1874 in Chittenden, The "Spirit Capital of the Universe"; the Eddy brothers William and Horatio were extensively investigated by Col. Henry Olcott for fraud but after 10 weeks of intense scrutiny, Olcott declared the brothers true mediums. Olcott even penned a book entitled "People From the Other World". The skeptic had become a believer.
Mr. Citro took a few questions from the audience then made his way out into the dark and rainy night to spread more tales of interesting things that have happened in this little Green Mountain state of ours.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

David Bromberg Quartet WOWS Tupelo WRJ

David Bromberg and his quartet are on the road promoting their new CD "Use Me". The crew rolled into White River Junction for a show at Tupelo Music Hall. (As one of the younger audience members, I was impressed by the turnout of the Upper Valley "experienced" music lovers.)

The follow up CD to the Grammy nominated "Try Me One More Time" was recorded in a unique manner, Bromberg recruited friends to write, produce and perform songs tailored to Bromberg's style of vocals and guitar.

From Bromberg's website: "Answering David’s call were well-known artists from the many genres comprising the amorphous “Americana” musical category. Representing contemporary rootsy singer-songwriters: John Hiatt, the first musician Bromberg approached, who penned the pensive “Ride On Out a Ways” for him; for New Orleans “fonk,” Dr. John; there’s three-guitar jam band interplay with Widespread Panic and jug band music with Levon Helm (the sprightly “Bring It With You When You Come,” produced by Grammy-winning Larry Campbell). Linda Ronstadt puts in a rare appearance on a soulful Brook Benton ballad, Los Lobos contribute a Mexican-flavored waltz, Vince Gill and Tim O’Brien take care of the country and bluegrass quotient, Keb’ Mo’ brings the blues, and the hitmaking Butcher Brothers, producers Phil and Joe Nicolo (Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Cypress Hill, Nine Inch Nails), provide the languid R&B groove for the title song, a cover of Bill Withers’ classic “Use Me.”"

Bromberg hit the stage a little after 9 pm and played until 11 pm. He opened the show with a Muscle Shoals Sound Studio song written by Carl Montgomery and Earl Green "Six Days on The Road" which ended with three of the four quartet playing fiddle. He chased that song with Memphis Slim's "If The Rabbit Had a Gun", a great blues tune that Bromberg ended by saying " Willie Nelson was right, Willie 'said there are two songs The Star Spangled Banner and Blues!"

He then told the crowd that he got a call from Obama. Bromberg asked the President how he (Bromberg) could help with the recovery; Bromberg said the President said "Bring a lot of shit to sell, CDs. DVDs, BVDs." Bromberg then added "If you love your country you'll buy as many as you possibly can!"

He spoke about the "Use Me" CD and how it came to be then played the song penned by John Hiatt "Ride on Out a Ways" (and told the crowd that some reviews are saying Hiatt shouldn't have let it get away--this reviewer has to agree!) 

Bromberg dug deep in his song list and closed with "Oh Sharon" with the Angel Band backing the quartet on vocals. 

The first encore was John Denver's  "Kissing You Goodbye" (which has been covered by such artists as Waylon Jennings, The Used, Jesse McCartney and The Pierces)

The Quartet closed the show by unplugging their instruments, leaving the stage and performing in front of the front row seats. They chose Bob Dylan's "Roll on John" and the sound and harmonies were amazing.

Angel Band opened. Their new CD is "Shoot the Moon" and to promote it they had three sling shots on stage imitating the CD cover artwork.
Their "shot" was rolled up glow-in-the-dark detailed underwear, one with gold writing. The recipient of the special gold undies (in the Willie Wonka Gold Ticket way...) won a copy of Angel Band's new CD.

In addition to Angel Band merchandise, Bromberg's wife Nancy Josephson also promotes the Haitian charity Art Creation Foundation for Children.
 Josephson brings on tour with her hand crafted paper mache birds, which are sold for $10, with all the money going back to Haiti to help educated the currently enrolled 84 children. Jospehson says she tries to visit Haiti at least three times are year to help out with various charities and humanitarian projects.

More performance images may be viewed at: Photos by Nanci SmugMug

Monday, October 10, 2011

Goodnight Irene: Flood Relief

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals performed a benefit concert last night October 9, 2011 at the historic Flynn Theatre in Burlington VT. In addition to the concert the band is hosting an online auction with some pretty awesome stuff. The auction can be accessed at  The concert was also be aired live on Vermont Public Television and was available for streaming on

The concert included guests The Logger, Rusty Dewees and Martin Sexton.
Martin Sexton
Grace and crew played two hours of kick-ass rock and roll for the sold out audience.
You can continue to donate even after the concert is in the archives, as funds will be need for a long time to help our friends and neighbors and Vermont's Farmers. The Vermont Community Foundation is a good place to put your money. You can donate directly to them DONATE. Do want you can to help out Vermont!!
More concert images can be viewed at: Photos by Nanci/SmugMug
More GPN images may be viewed at:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jackson Browne, Solo Acoustic Show

17 guitars, no set list and Jackson Browne on stage. 

What a wild ride it was last night in Albany NY. Browne played before a fairly full Palace Theatre Monday Night October 3. With no set list, the crowd shouted song suggestions prompting Browne to tell stories from the past that had the audience leaning forward in their seats for more information. He covered the late Warren Zevon's "Mohammed's Radio" and Steve "Little Steven" Van Zandt's "I Am A Patriot"
Early in the show, during the crowd shouts, Browne said "usually folks ask for either 'Rosie' or 'For a Dancer' should I play both?"

More Jackson Browne photos may be viewed on my archived page:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Anais Mitchell and the Hadestown Orchestra

Anais Mitchell
Anais Mitchell and the Hadestown Orchestra performed a benefit concert for the Long Trail School in Dorset VT on October 1, 2011. The audience was treated to the folk opera in its entiretiy, played in sequence to tell the tail of The Orpheus Myth.
Michael Chorney
 Blogcritics says "It's a musical opera that's unlike any opera you've ever witnessed. It's Indie Rock mixed with Dixieland. It's Homer's Odyssey as performed by Pink Floyd." And Folk and Acoustic Music Review says, "When 98% of what passes as music today lacks even the remotest twinge of an idea, thought, emotion or worse  heart  Hadestown and Anais Mitchell deserve all the listeners and accolades we can give."

Anaïs Mitchell's Hadestown tells the story of the ancient Greek myth of the poet Orpheus and his doomed quest to rescue his love Eurydice from the Underworld. But in Mitchell's hands, the familiar saga is reimagined as unfolding in a version of the U.S. that simultaneously evokes our Depression-era past, the current financial disaster (though it was written before the stock market collapse), and a post-apocalyptic future. It's a land where people hide behind walls in a misguided attempt to preserve their "freedom" and protect their riches.

Photos from the performance:

When the Chips Are Down