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Soggy Po’ Boys to perform, hold workshops with students

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BENNINGTON — As part of the Basement Music Series, Vermont Arts Exchange (VAE) is excited to present a night of brass-fueled, swinging music of New Orleans with the Soggy Po’ Boys, May 3 at 7 p.m. at the Mount Anthony Union (MAU) High School Auditorium, 301 Park St., in Bennington.

This concert is free and open to the public.

VAE puts on this concert to celebrate 30 years as a nonprofit community arts organization, committed to arts education and empowering youth through music. As part of this special concert, VAE has partnered with the Soggy Po’ Boys to hold a day-long school residency with both Arlington Memorial High School and the MAU music departments during the day. Students will work alongside the seven talented musicians and break out into in sessions in percussion, voice and instrumental ensembles.

As part of the evening experience, students will join the band on stage for a few songs and surprises for the audience.

VAE director Matthew Perry says, “This part of the evening will be fun because it will not be rehearsed. The energy will be high and the students onstage will be learning a lot about improvisation and performing, all in front of a live audience. Well, ‘fun’ for us.”

Piano player Mike Effenberger says of the workshops, “Half of the members of this band are music educators as well as musicians, so we’re all eager to keep an ear out for ways to spread the news to generations to come. It’s a living tradition and we hope these kids will carry on appreciating and playing it. Seeing a student who wasn’t yet sure about improvisation or jazz suddenly imprint on this side of music is really great for all of us.”

For over 12 years, The Soggy Po’ Boys band has been delighting audiences around New England and abroad with their approach to the rich musical sounds of New Orleans. Perhaps less obvious, however, is the rich education inherent in the sprawling repertoire audiences have come to enjoy and expect from the band. A Po’ Boys show is a kaleidoscope of New Orleans musical history from traditional spirituals of the mid 19th century, to modern brass band party anthems and everything in-between.

The Soggy Po’ Boys (the band name refers to the iconic New Orleans “po’ boy” sandwich) plays New Orleans-style music that, in some ways, defies description. There’s an infusion of Caribbean undercurrents and their albums also carry the “funk” tag on Bandcamp, but neither of those descriptors will be helpful in anticipating their sound. The band members are careful to refer to what they play as “New Orleans music” and not “New Orleans jazz” to make space for the funk, brass, and Caribbean influences. Suffice it to say, it’s hot and driving when it’s fast, and sultry and gothic (in a good way) when it’s slow.

The band features Stu Dias on vocals and guitar), Eric Klaxton on clarinet and soprano sax, Josh Gagnon on trombone, Nick Mainella on tenor sax, Mike Effenberger on piano, Brian Waterhouse on drums, and Scott Kiefner on bass.

This show is sponsored by CoCard Anderson and Mahar McCarthy Real Estate. For more information, call Matthew Perry at VAE at 802-379-3763.

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