The Van Buren Family Road Show Season 3!

imageJoin Boston band the Van Burens and their talented weirdo extended family for the Van Buren Family Road Show. Premiering its third season at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge Thursdays in December, Van Buren Family Road Show is a variety show that mixes subversive hipster anti-humor with musical theater and concert rock opera. With a brand spankin-new variety show every week, the VBFRS is full of surprises for both the audience and for the cast of eccentric characters that populate the stage. Past episodes include a locked room murder mystery, a 90’s kids sleepover, a shipwreck on a desert island, and a John Hughes high school prom party.  The schedule for season 3:

Episode 1: TV vs. the Internet: Battle of the Century

Episode 2: Galaxy Skirmishes (our ode to Star Wars)

Episode 3: Holiday Pageant

Click here for the FB event and more info, and join the Family at the Lizard Lounge for some laughs, music, and merriment!

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VBs + CWBs @ Flying Monkey


The Van Burens will be joining our good pals the Crunchy Western Boys this Friday night to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Flying Monkey with a musical extravaganza! Those dern pickin fools the CWBs are one of the premier country/bluegrass crews around, and some great dudes to boot! The Flying Monkey is a high-end theater in Plymouth, NH that hosts national touring acts, and we are super pumped to play such a great stage. Hey! It’s only 5 bucks! What? For a killer double bill at a super awesome venue? You heard right, the ticket is a mere $5 in honor of the Monkey’s Five Year Anniversary! So come on down (or up) Friday night for a fantastic evening of music! Early show, it starts at 7:30.  Click the monkey for FB event and more details.

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The Alphabet Song

The Alphabet Song from The Van Burens on Vimeo.


See!  The Van Buren Family Roadshow crew performing in the guise of their Saturday morning educational kids TV band The Goofy Dumbshits!

Hear!  The alphabet taught as never before, with some unconventional mnemonic devices!

Behold in wonderment!  As the gang cavorts and capers to the delight and amusement of millions worldwide (estimates vary)!

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The Van Buren Family Road Show Lost Episode!

Watch the lost episode of the Van Buren Family Road Show, featuring the VBs and the extended family playing your favorite game shows with some insane celeb cameos!

Catch the Van Buren Family Road Show season 2 Thursdays in April at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge starting this Thursday, April 2.  Come for music, laughs, surprises, and a new show every week.  Click the season 2 poster for details.


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The VBs @ Fury’s Friday!


The new-look Van Burens are returning to Fury’s Publick House in Dover, NH this Friday night for some exceedingly tasty jams and madcap revels.  Join us and do some old-fashioned get-down-and-boogeyin’!  Click here for FB event.  

And…people of Boston and beyond!   Make sure to catch the Van Burens the first and third Saturday of every month from here unto perpetuity at the Middle East Corner Bar in Cambridge.  We love playing the corner for it’s intimate, high-energy atmosphere, and had a great time there this past weekend playing for a packed house.  You can find us at the Middle East Corner on March 7th and 21st.

You can also check out several VBs sitting in with the monkey section of Hayley Jane and the Primates tomorrow (Thursday 2.26) at Atwood’s in Cambridge.

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The Van Burens and Hayley Jane Behind A Tiny Desk

The Van Burens and our pal Hayley Jane recently recorded our tune “Abey Baby” as a submission for NPR’s Tiny Desk contest.  We are pretty psyched about how it came out, give it a look!

View on YouTube


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Second Episode of the Van Buren Family Road Show Tuesday Night!


After a wildly successful premier, the Van Buren Family Road Show is returning to the Lizard Lounge tomorrow (Tuesday) night!  The show starts at 9 and we will be joined by the extended VB family as well as local gypsy punk legends Somerville Symphony Orkestar.  While last week’s show was set on the 1800’s Oregon Trail, this episode finds the VB Family in a vastly different time and place, with new music and comedy for the occasion.  Hint: Wear your moon shoes!  Click here for FB event and more info.

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The Best Christmas Songs Of All Time Part II


Ho ho ho!  Just like the jolly old elf himself, The Van Burens are BACK!  Catch us this Friday night at the Middle East Corner Bar for the VBs’ Boxing Day Extravaganza, a night of music and merriment to cure every yuletide hangover.  Saturday will find us spreading good cheer and wassailing our little butts off when we return to the Dutch Treat in Franconia, NH for an evening of North Country revels.  Annnnd, coming very soon: the Van Buren Family Roadshow every Tuesday in January at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge!  The Roadshow will feature the extended VB family caroling, cracking jokes, and cavorting like crazy people.  Every show will include a different theme and set list, so be sure to catch this variety act the likes of which has ne’er been beheld by human eyes and ears!

Every Christmas, the people of this great nation are bombarded in the ear-holes by holiday music, and the Van Buren blog is here to answer the age-old question: is this music awesome as eggnog or dreadful as fruitcake?  We’ve touched on almost every angle imaginable; you can read the VB take on the Worst Christmas Songs, The Oldest Christmas Songs, the Raciest Christmas Songs, the Funniest Christmas Songs, the Best Christmas Album, the Best Christmas Songs, and an entire post devoted to Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmastime?”  Catch up on your holiday tunes with some quality peanut-gallery commentary with P. Bear ‘n’ the gang!

Today, in a spirit of thankfulness and giving, we return again to look on the bright side of holiday music with tunes we treasure and look forward to this season.  While the Justin Bieber + Busta Rhymes “Little Drummer Boy” induces us all to vomit candy canes into a toys-for-tots collection bin, these songs on the other hand make our hearts grow three sizes bigger.

Speaking of which, the song “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” from the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a stone-cold classic holiday number about the grinches and scrooges and Bill-Murry-from-Scrooged‘s we all experience during the holiday season.  Some folks just aren’t built for yuletide cheer!  The song itself is a creepy, slinky tune featuring a jazzy arrangement, fantastic Suess-meets-Shakespeare lyrical insults, and an awesomely scary bass vocal performance from Thurl Ravenscroft, better known as the original Frosted Flakes pitchman Tony the Tiger.  Heeeeeeee’s great!  And while the song has been covered by artists as varied as Cee-Lo, Aimee Mann, and Brian Setzer, nothing tops the original.

“Do You Hear What I Hear” is a gorgeous, idealistic holiday song written in 1962 as a call for worldwide peace during the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  While the lyrics invoke the nativity scene, the piece is a critique of modern inhumanity that gives hope for a future of universal brotherhood.  In essence, “Do You Hear What I Hear” looks to the lessons of the New Testament for assintence in the trials of a more contemporary age; few songs capture “the true meaning of Christmas” quite so well.  The melody supporting the titular line is a wonderfully jumpy, catchy hook based on the sound of chiming bells, and the B-section (“a star, a star, dancing in the night…”) brings a feeling of wistful nostalgia by way of minor chords and child-like imagery.  Bing Crosby’s 1963 recording established the song as a timeless classic, and his unmistakably smooth croon on top of lush early ’60’s production is the sound of a hot mug of cocoa in front of a warm winter fire.

It’s been said that Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the only Christmas song of the past fifty years to achieve canonical status.  Check out this excellent music nerd article from Slate explaining how the multitude of jazzy chords in the song lend the song a classic tin-pan-alley vibe a la “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).”  This old-school songwriting combines with the astonishing vocal virtuosity of early Mariah to create music that really does make its modern Christmas song peers sound bland by comparison.  We’re looking at you, “Christmas Shoes”!  Plus, I mean, 1994 Mariah Carey….I, uh, wouldn’t mind meeting her under the mistletoe if ya know what I mean!  (Watch for Mariah playfully tussling with Santa in a winter wonderland.  He is LOVING IT!)

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” perhaps more than any other X-mas song perfectly encapsulates the bittersweet ambivalence of the holiday season. It’s a song of reflection, a song for the moments in between the joyous celebrating and raucous reveling where happiness begets sadness. This is a tune for dying embers and sleepy children and a quiet home covered in tinsel and wrapping paper and pine needles. Originally sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 film musical Meet Me in St. Louis then made more popular by Frank Sinatra, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a pristine diamond of music and lyrics, featuring a melody both soaring and melancholy, intimate and universal, immediate and unforgettable. Here’s one of the breakout singers of 2014, Sam Smith, with an achingly beautiful rendition.

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VBs Across Mass!


How do you like them apples!?

Catch the Van Burens around Boston this holiday season!  Wednesday night (12.17) we are moonlighting as Hayley Jane’s backing band the Primates (with Justin “Juice” Hancock) as part of Wobble Wednesday at Wonderbar in Allston.  Friday night (12.19) the VBs head to the Spotlight Tavern in Beverly to play with North Shore powerhouse TeraFunk, a band helmed by the VB’s own Lady Lizard Nicole Henley.   Click the links for the FB events and more info, and find us rocking with the ladies of the VB Family Band!

The Van Burens will celebrate Boxing Day (12.26) at the awesome Middle East Corner Bar in Cambridge as a teaser appetizer to our extended residency: starting January 24th, we will be playing the Middle East Corner bar every first and third Saturday of the month!  Oh wow!

But mark your calendars for our even wilder residency and catch the Van Buren Family Roadshow, a wild variety show of music, comedy, and much more every Tuesday in January at our favorite hometown venue, the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge.  We’ve been working very hard to make each Roadshow event unique and special, so make sure to join us!


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William Henry Harrison (1773-1841)

Hey everybody, it’s the VBs’ latest music video!  Watch!  as the Van Burens and their freaky friends convene to celebrate the life and death of William Henry Harrison, the worst President in the history of the United States, with a ceremonial funky funeral dance party!  Marvel!  at a macabre march with wandering weirdos and boogie-ing boogey-men getting down in a fiendish festival for a Commander-in-chief of such little effect, he makes James Buchanan look like James K. Polk!

Turn it up, fullscreen it, and buckle your socks.

Thanks! to all who made our music video possible: Chris + Abel Bernstein, Jennie Berglund + Danielle Myers, the Knoxes, Kings, Smiths, and Spitzes, and to our amazing cast who came from far and wide to look great and get weird with us!

Gadzooks!  The Van Burens will be taking this parade of misfits to the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA every Tuesday in January when we premiere the Van Buren Family Roadshow, a variety show-in-residence jam-packed with special guests, surprises, and new music every week.  Come one, come all!  Click the fine artwork by Caleb Williamson for FB event and more info.


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