Million Dollar Bash - a Tribute to Mavis Staples and Bob Dylan
at the Higher Ground Drive-In Experience

Million Dollar Bash - a Tribute to Mavis Staples and Bob Dylan

Midway Lawn at Champlain Valley Expo
All Ages
Celebrating the music of MAVIS STAPLES + BOB DYLAN


Benefiting the Vermont Arts Council + Burlington City Arts

Nicole Nelson, Bob Wagner and Higher Ground present MILLION DOLLAR BASH, celebrating the music of Bob Dylan & Mavis Staples, benefitting the Vermont Arts Council (VAC) and Burlington City Arts (BCA). The event also includes speakers from the Vermont arts community as well as two short films focusing on Vermont artists in these times, one from the VAC and one from BCA in association with In Tandem Arts.

Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples wrote and recorded music that was and is an indelible, essential part of the soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement. As individuals, perhaps their tale is made somewhat bittersweet in that they had a little known but palpable romance that never had the chance to fully take root. Nevertheless, their incredible song work lives on as does its historic relevance in our world today.

For this benefit near and dear to both of their hearts, Nelson and Wagner have forged a triple band supergroup featuring players from three of Vermont’s most active groups - Dwight & Nicole, Kat Wright’s trio and Soule Monde (Ray & Russ). With social distancing protocols and everyone’s health and safety a primary concern among band members and staff, this benefit concert is unique in that it can’t feature 20+ musicians all on the same stage, an understandably popular formula for benefit shows during normal times. Instead, it melds three different smaller groups who have, as groups, been able to remain in each other's “pods” these past few months.

A note from the performers:

When Covid-19 hit, the calendars (ie. primary touring income) of nearly all artists and musicians were erased overnight, with many remaining that way. In that very uncertain time, before the government was able to devise a plan for businesses and individuals, two Vermont arts organizations, the Vermont Arts Council (VAC) and Burlington City Arts (BCA) were immediately prepared to provide direct and substantial relief to VT artists by way of grant money. As artists, we thank both of these organizations with our whole hearts for their preparedness and their generosity and we're grateful for the opportunity to help replenish some of those coffers. Whether you can make the show or not, we encourage anyone and everyone to consider a direct donation to these amazing groups and to continue to support the arts in Vermont.


Dwight & Nicole’s gorgeous 2018 EP “Electric Lights” was recorded live to analog tape with Joel Hamilton at Studio G in Brooklyn. Showcasing their powerful vocals and a timeless blend of gritty soul and shimmering rock, the band was in top form - a tight-knit power trio with Nicole Nelson on bass, Dwight Ritcher on guitar and Ezra Oklan on drums. Their debut single “Wait” was a timely, socially conscious cry for a revolution. It landed them on many ‘best of the year’ lists. It also grabbed the attention of Melissa Etheridge and Mavis Staples, who invited the band tour with and open for them. The regional success of the EP also landed them their first publishing deal with Sony/Orchard.

Their follow up to “Electric Lights” was recorded back at Studio G in two sessions before the 2020 pandemic hit. They finished 14 songs, and in July, released the first single “The Next Go Round” to critical praise:

“The Next Go-Round” works nicely as a calling card for Dwight & Nicole’s sound. It resembles a gospel tune written a century ago and would also fit nicely on Brittany Howard’s 2019 experimental pop album.”

 -Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald

The Kat Wright Trio, composed of Kat Wright, guitarist Bob Wagner and bassist Josh Weinstein, is a leaner, more folk oriented approach to the roaring 8 piece ensemble so many have come to know from Kat’s regular touring band. This newer trio developed to meet the incredible opportunity of supporting their long time heroes, The Wood Brothers, on their US album release tour this winter. Finishing that tour and performing at the legendary Ryman Auditorium this past Valentine’s Day would be one of their last gigs until Kat and co. opened the Higher Ground Drive In Experience at the beginning of this summer.

Soule Monde is avant funk erupting from the syncopated minds of power drummer Russ Lawton + keyboard wizard Ray Paczkowski, with both players known throughout the US as crucial elements in the Trey Anastasio Band as well as regional favorites, the Dave Grippo Funk Band. An ideal union of swagger and raw talent, the duo is cemented into an indestructible pocket, where bold improvisational leaps by either player are met by a near-telepathic response from the other. A musical brotherhood like no other.

Plus, a special screening of RETRO SPEC. Conceived and directed by Trish Denton, RETRO SPEC is a socially-distanced spectacle that uses outdoor cinema to stream a live, theatrical performance. The performance is best described as a single take music video happening simultaneously in a separate location. An injection of creative consciousness that braids together the music of Kat Wright, JUPTR, and smalltalker, RETRO SPEC is a collaboration between 12 area artists who have come together to respond to racial inequity and increasing division in our country: with their bodies, with their voices, and with this vision.

All ages, rain or shine.

Code of Conduct

All guests are expected to adhere to CDC and Vermont guidelines in relation to social distancing while attending drive-in events.

General Guidelines to Follow:

• If you are sick, running a fever or have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home until you are healthy.

• For the safety of yourself and others, please only attend this event with people in your immediate quarantine circle.

• Please maintain 6 feet of social distance between yourself and those outside of your immediate quarantine circle at all times.

• Please wear a mask at all times, including when visiting restrooms/areas outside of the 6 foot radius in front of your parking spot.

• At the conclusion of the show, please drive slowly and follow all directions. Event staff will be onsite to facilitate exiting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are tickets sold ‘per car’ or ‘per person’?

Tickets are sold per vehicle. (1 vehicle requires 1 ticket)

Are tickets transferable?

Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable. All sales are final.

Is there a limit on the number of people allowed per vehicle?

There is a limit of five (5) people per vehicle, including children.

Will tickets be sold at the gate?

Tickets will only be available for online purchase online, in advance. There will not be a box office onsite day of show.

How do I scan my ticket?

At the designated entrance, please hold your physical or mobile ticket (phone) against the rolled-up window of your vehicle so staff can scan through the glass.

Are parking spaces assigned?

No. All tickets are general admission. Staff will direct you where to park upon arrival.

What kind of vehicles are permitted?

Personal two axle vehicles that fit into a standard parking space are allowed. Larger trucks and SUVS may be directed to the back of the lot so as to not block the sight lines of other concert- goers. The following vehicles will NOT be permitted: RVs, campers, buses, trailers, etc.

Are motorcycles permitted?

Motorcycles are welcome, however, they are considered 1 vehicle. Tickets are sold by the vehicle. Due to social distancing, 1 motorcycle per parking area is permitted.

Can I leave the hatchback of my wagon/SUV open?

Hatchbacks may be open but must be kept no higher than the top of the vehicle to prevent blocking the view of those behind you.

Can I leave my car running?

It is requested that all cars remain turned off during the show. Feel free to put your car in Accessory Mode to listen to the FM transmission. Cars may be turned on periodically to prevent battery drain.

Can I watch the show from outside my car? If so, are chairs and blankets permitted?

You will be allowed to watch the show from outside your vehicle (within an area of six feet in front of your vehicle). Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome. Please stay within your assigned parking area (six feet in front of your vehicle), and continue to maintain all social distancing requirements. Please use common courtesy to others around you.

How do I listen to the show?

All audio for live and recorded shows will be streamed via FM transmitter. Please make sure to arrive with a working FM radio in your vehicle or you will not be able to listen to the event.

My car stereo is broken. Can I bring a boombox or portable stereo?

Yes. Portable boomboxes and stereos are permissible for vehicles without a functional car stereo, please be respectful of the volume and those around you.

Can I attend the show via a non-motorized vehicle (e.g. a bicycle)?

Bicycles are welcome, however, they are considered 1 vehicle. Tickets are sold by the vehicle. Due to social distancing, 1 bicycle per parking area is permitted. Reminder that if attending via bicycle, you would need to bring a portable stereo in order to hear the event via FM transmission.

Is tailgating permitted?

Sitting on a tailgate or in the bed of a truck is acceptable during the show, however, traditional tailgating will not be permitted (yard games, grills, generators, etc.).

Can I bring my own food and/or will concessions be available?

There will not be food or concessions available on site at this time, but you are welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Can I bring alcohol to the event?

Outside alcohol is not permitted. Alcohol will not be available for purchase at events at this time.

Will restrooms be available?

Yes. Please follow all social distancing restrictions and instructions when leaving your designated parking area to use the restroom.

Can I smoke at the show?

Smoking is not permitted.

Can we come and go from the event?

Once your vehicle is parked in its space, barring an emergency, please remain parked until the show has ended.

Are pets allowed?

Pets are not permitted.

Will merchandise be available for purchase?

Not at this time.

What do we do with our trash and recycling?

To limit contact, please adhere to a ‘pack in, pack out’ approach and take your trash/recycling with you to dispose of at home. Leave no trace.

What happens if it rains?

All events are rain or shine.

What items are prohibited?

Weapons, fireworks, laser pointers, drones, tents/tarps, flags and/or accessories that may block the vision of other attendees are not permitted.

What if I need assistance during the event?

If it’s an emergency, please dial 911. There will be staff onsite if you need help that’s non- emergency.

What measures are being taken to ensure that social distancing guidelines are being safely practiced?

Please see our Code of Conduct for specific guidelines and protocols.

Venue Information:
Midway Lawn at Champlain Valley Expo
105 Pearl Street
Essex Junction, VT, 05452