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The Arts

Epsilon Spires plans holiday concert

Advance Bass, Ruth Garbus, and Dear Nora to perform

BRATTLEBORO—On Thursday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m., the Sanctuary stage at Epsilon Spires will feature a trio of musical projects from across the country performing a mix of stripped-down indie pop and mystical folk.

Headlining the show is Chicago’s Advance Bass, the solo project of musician Owen Ashworth, who will end the night with a set of original Christmas songs.

The program has been in development for the past 15 years.

“As someone who loved Christmas as a kid but grew to have more complicated feelings about the holiday as an adult, Christmas was a subject that I found myself returning to again and again,” Ashworth said in a news release.

Ashworth’s previous project, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, was active from the late 1990s until 2010, when hearing damage forced him to tone down his musical style.

As a result, Advance Bass features simple drum machine beats under gentle layers of keyboards and electronic pedals, topped off by Ashworth’s humorously melancholic lyrics.

“Writing about the holiday season was a shortcut through difficult emotional terrain,” says Ashworth, who believes that his holiday-themed songs are some of the best that he has ever written — although he hesitates to play more than one or two when performing for most of the year. “December is the one month that I allow myself to really lean into the theme and go full Christmas.”

The evening also features Ruth Garbus, a singer/songwriter who has lived in Brattleboro for the past 20 years.

As described in a news release, her “sparse, dreamy folk incorporates close harmonies and unexpected chord changes that will appeal to fans of the 1960s chanteuse Bridget St. John, albeit with an updated sound utilizing reverb and chorus effects to flesh out her ethereal vocals and guitar work.”

Rounding out the show is Dear Nora, the longtime project of Katy Davidson.

A staple of the West Coast indie pop scene, Dear Nora has toured with K Records artists such as The Blow and Mirah. “Davidson’s catchy melodies bely the complexity of their songs, which approach pop music from a clever slant that made Dear Nora a cult favorite in the early 2000s,” the press materials note.

After a decade-long hiatus, Dear Nora resumed touring in 2017, and the reissue of their influential 2004 album Mountain Rock has been named a Best New Reissue by Pitchfork.

Tickets for this all-ages event are $15 and can be purchased at epsilonspires.org.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #641 (Wednesday, December 1, 2021). This story appeared on page B3.

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