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A guy walks into a bar and…starts singing? If that bar is Brattleboro’s McNeill’s Brewery and it’s the third Saturday of the month between 3-5 pm then the chances of this happening are pretty high.

That’s when the Brattleboro Pub Sing meets.

And in this episode of VT Untapped you get to come along!

The pub-sing or pub-session tradition originates in the British Isles. “The Pub” being a place where people gather as much to socialize with friends and family as to enjoy a local brew, the addition of music seems only natural. A pub-sing isn’t a performance, it’s more like a participatory grown-up sing along—think group karaoke only without a machine—and everyone is welcome. Popular repertoire tends to be songs with a call-and-response structure or with an easily repeated chorus so that the crowd can join in and ‘raise the rafters.’

Amanda Witman and Tony Barrand started the Brattleboro Pub Sing in 2011. Tony is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences, Boston University and a prolific musician and performer. He’s best known for his musical collaboration with John Roberts in their duo “Roberts and Barrand,” who recorded ten albums together between 1971 and 2003. A longtime Brattleboro resident, Tony has been teaching English folk song for years through the Brattleboro Music Center and other local events. After several successful one-off pub sings at the BMC’s Northern Roots Festival, Amanda, a local folk song enthusiast, asked if Tony would help her make pub singing a regular occurrence.

To learn more about VT Untapped visit: www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/untapped

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