The Burlington-based nonprofit organization Big Heavy World has worked since 1996 to become a permanent cultural resource and to promote and preserve independent Vermont music. Big Heavy World, staffed mainly by high school and college volunteers, was established “to preserve the historical record of music originating in Vermont; to create economic opportunity for Vermont’s musicians and the industries vital to them; to develop community among Vermont musicians and their patrons; and to accomplish this mission in a substance-free environment that empowers and educates youth.”
While Big Heavy World works mostly to archive and promote Vermont artists, including the public listening library and community projects such as First Night Burlington, it also has a music shop that few Burlingtonites know about. The Big Heavy World shop, in an unlikely location (the third floor of the vacant H&R Block building on the corner of College and South Winooski), is home to ceiling-high bookshelves stuffed with independently released Vermont recordings. You can also purchase music online at www.vermontmusicshop.com, where Big Heavy World makes most of its sales to non-Vermonters.
With around 450 titles of Vermont music and genres ranging from Folk (“homespun goodness from the Green Mountains”) to Urban (“Newark is urban”) to Punk (“Oi! The bands that are keeping it alive…”), Big Heavy World is likely to have something to please almost everyone on your holiday shopping list. And with prices starting at $1, you really can’t go wrong!
Store manager Dave Donegan suggests Gregory Douglass’ new CD “Stark,” saying that Douglass is a talented singer/ songwriter who he “could totally see making it big any day now.” He also suggests Chin Ho!’s “Girl”, Donegan’s favorite CD in the store, which he says is “a lot of fun and sounds like something you could hear on the radio in any city in the country.” Donegan listed the top sellers (in no particular order):
¥ Woods Tea Company, “Standing Room Only”
¥ Banjo Dan and the Mid-Night Plowboys, “Some Rust… Runs Good”
¥ James Kochalka Superstar, “Don’t Trust Whitey”
¥ Donald Knaack, “Junk Music”
¥ Brown Trout and the Lunkers, “Songs for the Deer Hunter”
¥ Sandra Wright, “After Hours featuring Big Joe Burrell”.
“I think all of these CDs are great because they show how talented and varied our music scene really is,” Donegan said.
Vermont, to non-Vermonters, seems an ideal place – almost a maple syrup and ski resort utopia. Doesn’t every non-Vermonter you know ask you to mail maple syrup or bring a bottle when you visit for the holidays? Why not send an album by a Vermont band instead? By doing so you can help plug a little known band, give the band another fan, and support an unique community cultural resource.