The Vermont Cynic

Fun with Friends and Family


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F+FIn warehouses, coffee shops and living rooms across town, a local collective of musicians and music-lovers called Friends and Family is working to bring live music from concert venues to the community.

“We’re an outlet for DIY performance in Burlington,” said Dana Heng, UVM alumna and member of the collective. “We book bands we want to see and that we couldn’t see any other way.”

Friends and Family started in 2011, filling the void that local concert booking group Tick Tick left when they disbanded in 2009.

“We were seeking out something that was missing and this is what was missing,” Heng said.

The collective seeks to cultivate a vibe different from shows held in beer-soaked basements, while maintaining a down-to-earth, welcoming atmosphere.

“I want to feel comfortable at a show, and I’m not as comfortable in normative spaces with all the bro vibes,” said UVM junior and collective member Claire Macon.

“[At the shows] we’re having a great time, we’re all calm and happy,” Macon said. “It’s by us, for us.”

Friends and Family is unique in that they aren’t chained to a single venue. “We book bands that want to come to Burlington but don’t want to play Higher Ground,” Heng said. “It’s more accessible that way.”

Heng emphasized the strong connection to the community fostered by the traveling venue setup. “People will offer spaces, people want us to play a show in their basements,” Heng said.

Close community ties allow Friends and Family to branch out beyond the college music scene.

“Young kids, families, everyone comes to shows,” Macon said. “It’s not just a party.”

The collective has organized shows throughout the area from South End’s Speaking Volumes to Winooski’s Monkey House.

“We want [the shows] to be safe spaces for everyone — a community of love, support and respect,” Macon said.

That community of support and respect extends beyond Burlington’s borders, with Friends and Family’s sister organizations from Chicago to Montreal.

“When you do things together, there’s a sense of accountability,” Macon said of the collective’s “extended family.” “It’s great for networking, bands can come from all over and have a place to stay.”

The extended family is not only a support system, but also an ideological union. “We’re meeting people who are working towards a broad main goal, fighting the shitty stuff,” Macon said.

In addition to a diverse array of venues, Friends and Family welcomes musicians of all different calibers.

“There are people from Berklee and the Boston Conservatory who play up here, and then people who just want to pick up and instrument and play for the first time,” Heng said.

“It’s all about what’s happening out of the mainstream,” Macon said. “It’s the weirdest stuff.”

The collective’s next show is Sunday, Sept. 20 at Burlington City Arts.

 

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Fun with Friends and Family