Art Notes: The Pilgrims to perform ‘last’ show Saturday in Hanover

The Pilgrims, from left in front are Kiel Alarcon, Davis McGraw and Chris Egner
. In the back are Chris Rosenquest, left, and Brendan Dangelo. (Courtesy photograph)

The Pilgrims, from left in front are Kiel Alarcon, Davis McGraw and Chris Egner . In the back are Chris Rosenquest, left, and Brendan Dangelo. (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

By ALEX HANSON

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-10-2024 5:01 PM

The journalism and the arts can meet at a fraught crossroads. One relies on facts and on creating an account as close to the truth as possible in the time available. The other is interested in truths that are more personal, less grounded, and time matters little.

So here’s what I think I know for sure: The Pilgrims, a fun-loving garage rock band from Windsor, will play a show Saturday night at Sawtooth Kitchen in Hanover. The White River Junction garage-punk trio Time Life Magazines opens. There’s a $5 cover.

Beyond that, the details get murky.

Posters for the show say this is The Pilgrims’ last show, which sounded like news to me. In one form or another, the band has been making records and playing shows since around 2010. The current lineup includes Davis McGraw, Chris Rosenquest, Kiel Alarcon, Chris Egner and Brenden Dangelo.

But the band also has been working on a new recording over the past 12 months, laying down tracks for it in locations all over the Upper Valley, McGraw said.

That doesn’t sound to me like a band playing its last show. But I’ll play along, to a point.

McGraw, Dangelo and Chris Goulet started the band to play music  that was “a little more straightforward” than what they were playing in other bands, McGraw said. They’re all part of the What Doth Life collective of bands in the Windsor area, and McGraw, Alarcon and Dangelo have all been playing music together since they were 12 or so.

The aim, McGraw said, was to turn out “hooky, poppy, garage-punk songs, making it fun, not over-thinking it.” They weren’t interested in complex arrangements or intricate solos.
“We’re not King Crimson,” McGraw said, referring to the virtuosic prog-rock band.

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The proof of that is on the What Doth Life website, where visitors can listen to multiple Pilgrim’s releases. The new record is as yet untitled.

“It will have a name and somewhere between eight and 10 tracks on it,” McGraw said. “I think it’s coming out in the next couple months.”

The Sawtooth website offers this: “The Pilgrims are the best band in the world and this is their last show ever.”

That it’s the last show “is what’s written on the poster,” McGraw said. To come back and do more shows after that “would be unprecedented and kind of crass,” and The Pilgrims would never do that, he said.

We were talking on the phone, but it sounded to me like McGraw had his tongue planted in his cheek.

I’m chalking what he told me up to another of McGraw’s statements, this one about the What Doth Life ethos: “There is a sustained commitment to amusing ourselves.”

For advance tickets ($5) to Saturday night’s show at Sawtooth, go to sawtooth.com.

String improv

Cellist and composer Tomeka Reid brings one of the more unusual jazz ensembles to visit the Upper Valley in recent memory into Hanover’s Our Savior Lutheran Church on Thursday evening. A Hopkins Center production, the show features Reid’s Stringtet, a 16-piece jazz band laid out like a chamber orchestra. Reid is a longtime friend and collaborator of Taylor Ho Bynum, director of Dartmouth’s Coast Jazz Ensemble, who will conduct Thursday night.

As of noon Wednesday, tickets ($30) were still available via hop.dartmouth.edu or at 603-646-2422.

Course work

As preparation for its May 18 and 19 performances of Bach’s “St. John Passion,” Upper Valley Baroque is teaming up with the Upper Valley Music Center to offer a course taught by Mark Nelson intended to teach a listener how to experience such a masterwork. The class starts April 22 and includes two course periods a week for five weeks at a cost of $140 a head. To sign up or learn more, go to uvmusic.org.

The art of Ukraine

A group of Ukrainian artists who have been in residency at Dartmouth College will give a free talk from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Upper Valley Music Center. Organized by curator Veronika Yadukha, the talk also will feature composers Albert Saprykin and Boris Loginov, and violinist Orest Smovzh. The music center is at 8 Park St., in Lebanon.

Sign of spring

AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon opens its annual silent auction exhibition on Friday. The galleries will be full of art and other items donated for the nonprofit art center’s benefit. The show concludes April 27 with a big party from 6 to 9 p.m. It’s free to go see the show, but bidding will cost you. Admission to the final auction party is $55 in advance or $60 at the door. Go to avagallery.org for more information.

Punk in the sticks

This is a bit far afield, but it sounds irresistible. On Saturday, from 3 to 9 p.m., a host of alt-rock and punk bands will take the stage in the town hall in Braintree, Vt., to celebrate the 30th birthday of Vincent Freeman, founder and operator of The Underground, a recording studio and listening room in Randolph. Bands on the bill include Dead Street Dreamers, Shy Husky, Mr. Doubtfire, Jonee Earthquake Band, Embers in Umbra, Billy, and The Champlain Shoregasm. Tickets are $20 in advance through Seven Days Tickets, and $25 at the door.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.