By Art Edelstein, Arts Correspondent, Times Argus

. . .Best Country Album The Western Terrestrials released their second album “Back In The Saddle of a Fever Dream” with a very different approach to country music winning Best Country Album. The track “Ethan Alien” delivers the message of Vermont as “a sanctuary state for wierdos and aliens and other outsiders,” according to co-writer Nick Charyk, bandleader based in Sharon. Charyk imagines an alternative Vermont history in which the Green Mountain Boys leader was actually a little green man.

As we wrote in July, “From the first thump of bass guitar on ‘Space Cowboy’s Got the Blues,’ to the last steel guitar arpeggio riff on ‘Space Coyote Dub,’ we hear a musically creative quintet who can navigate a variety of country music styles, from Texas Swing to Rockabilly and Nashville cool. Each track from this alt-country ensemble has great energy, and this is definitely an album that you can dance to.”

Original Story, here.

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By: Paul Heintz, Seven Days

It's a good thing I mostly cover hard news. Unlike Seven Days' valiant arts and culture writers, I rarely find myself interviewing celebrities or artists whom I particularly admire.

When the bosses do let me cover the occasional story outside my beat, I tend to blow it. Take, for example, when I encountered Phish drummer Jon Fishman — one of my favorite musicians — testifying at the Vermont Statehouse in April 2015. Suffice it to say that, while interviewing him, I nearly pissed my pants.

"I'm wondering why you're such an awesome drummer," I actually asked.

That episode nearly repeated itself in June, when an old pal approached me with a wild story. Nick Charyk, whom I'd gotten to know in his days as a political operative, called to tell me that his band, the Western Terrestrials, had collaborated on a new song with another of my favorite musicians, Old Crow Medicine Show bandleader Ketch Secor. If I wrote about it, Charyk suggested, I might get to interview Secor.

Didn't take long for me to say yes.

When I connected with Secor over the phone a couple weeks later, I held my fanboy impulses in check — at least, for a time. Only toward the end of the call did the gushing commence. I didn't quite say, "Dude, man, I really love your music." But it was close.

Speaking of unprofessional, a good reporter never accepts anything of value from a source. But, come September, I heard from Charyk again — and this time he was offering me a cameo in a film adaptation of the Secor collaboration, called The Ballad of Ethan Alien.

Once again, I said yes.

Charyk told me I'd be playing a television news reporter — OK, a bit of a stretch for this scruffy scribe — and promised to get me my lines ahead of time. He didn't. And when I showed up at the set at Middlesex's Camp Meade, I learned that I'd be improvising. Not exactly my strong suit.

What followed was an excruciating period of line-flubbing, bad acting and general awkwardness. I was amazed Charyk's crew didn't fire me on the spot.

Like I said, a good reporter never accepts anything of value from a source. But when Charyk handed me a tall boy of Upper Pass Beer's Fred Red Ale to compensate me for my time, it again didn't take long for me to say yes.

Paul Heintz is a staff writer for Seven Days. He previously served as political editor and wrote the "Fair Game" political column.

Original Story, here.

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From The Vermont Digger

UPDATE: Because of the weather, the film Ethan Alien — which had been scheduled to be shown on the Statehouse lawn today, Nov. 2, at 5:30 p.m. — will be streamed virtually. The link to stream is Or, people can watch it on the Western Terrestrials Facebook page. 

Right before the pandemic began, Nick Charyk and his band, the Western Terrestrials, were in Nashville, recording an album that includes “Ethan Alien” — a song with a simple premise: that Ethan Allen, founder of Vermont, was an extraterrestrial. 

“You can’t take the green out of these mountains/or the ET out of Ethan Allen/Can’t take Champy out of the Vermonster lake/It was immigrants from outer space/Helped to make this country great,” the band sings in honky-tonk style.

The song was written with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, a band that Charyk is a huge fan of. 

“Certainly in the music world, they’re top shelf,” he said. “As good as it gets.”

The pandemic put the Terrestrials’ album on pause, but after a few months, they were able to reconvene and release the album. And when they did, Charyk said “Ethan Alien” took off — and he is building on that momentum.

Charyk said the Western Terrestrials had tried livestreaming concerts, but the feeling was nowhere close to a live performance. 

“It’s a loss that everyone in the creative industries is feeling right now — both a direct financial loss and also the loss of a performing outlet, which is fundamental to your character if you’re a performer,” he said.

The idea to turn the song into a full-length feature film started as an abstract idea — all Charyk knew was that he wanted to do some kind of multimedia project. But he said with the realities of Covid, making a movie seemed like the only viable option. A traditional concert would have brought too many people together.

“We wanted to make as much of a spectacle as we could,” he said. “We wanted to capture the energy of a live rock ’n’ roll show, in a different medium.”

So late in the summer, Charyk got started on “The Ballad of Ethan Alien.” He used his connections in the Statehouse and in the Vermont music scene to put together an all-star cast, including Hollywood actor and Vermonter Luis Guzman, entertainer Rusty DeWees who’s known for his character “The Logger,” former U.S. Senate candidate Donny Osman, artist and songwriter Bow Thayer, and former state legislator Kiah Morris.

“I realized that everyone I want to work with is available right now, and everyone is looking for an outlet, or a project,” Charyk said.

The film is set in a dystopian near-future in Vermont, where a fascist leader has banned music, singing, dancing and creativity, and a lot of young people have forgotten about music entirely.

Over the course of the film, Vermont’s musical history is rediscovered, reigniting a full rebellion to overthrow the fascist leader. The film premieres on the Statehouse lawn just days before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“The song is a love letter to the eccentric, weird, slightly off-kilter Vermont that I love,” he said, citing Vermont’s legacy of outsider art at places like Goddard College and Bread and Puppet Theater, and progressive politics being woven into that through people like Ben and Jerry and Bernie Sanders.

“It feels to me that it’s important to put this out into the world right now,” Charyk said. “And we thought doing it on the Statehouse lawn would be the biggest, proudest way to do it.”

So what is the difference between making music and making a movie?

“It’s much, much harder,” Charyk said. “When you’re recording sound, you’re working in one dimension, which is plenty complicated. When you expand it to the dimensions of lights and sounds and costumes and props, there’s so many logistics.”

He had to get used to spending three hours setting up lights for a shot that took 10 minutes, and ultimately would only make up only 20 seconds of the movie.

During filming, Charyk said his team worked 18-hour days for 15 days straight.

The whole project ran at light speed, from conception to on set in just a month. Then, the entire movie was filmed in just two weeks. Now just two months into the movie-making adventure, a rough cut is ready to be debuted on the Statehouse lawn.

“By anybody’s standards, that’s super quick,” Charyk said. “Only in this unique moment were people available and willing to put in the barnraising to get this done before the snow falls in Vermont.”

A Kickstarter for the project has so far raised $3,800 of the $10,000 goal, but Charyk said he’s optimistic he’ll get the rest of the money that’s needed.

The film will be shown at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, on the Statehouse lawn. The premiere will be free, with mask-wearing mandatory and social distancing strictly enforced. Additional showings are expected to be made available statewide once the movie’s final version is released.

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