Virginia’s Travel Blog

Hot off the blog presses — my latest post for Virginia’s Travel Blog is up! I explored a few ways you can walk in the footsteps of some of Virginia’s musical legends, from Ralph Stanley and Dave Matthews to Bruce Hornsby and René Marie.

One fun addendum: I included a section on Jason Mraz, and while it focuses on his involvement with SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community) and their annual LIVE ART show, Mraz brought this idea full circle by releasing a video that was shot in and around Richmond, meaning he’s essentially walking in his own footsteps. So meta. Check the video out below and click here to read my “Where They’re From” post on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Virginia’s Travel Blog

Very excited to share that I got to write a second series of music-themed posts for Virginia’s Travel Blog. And two are already up:

Here’s the setup:

Whether you enjoy a heartwarming song or a heart-racing outdoor adventure, your options in Virginia are nearly endless. In fact, you don’t have to choose between the two. The following festivals, venues, and pairings show how you can get your adrenaline pumping in the Old Dominion via live music and lively activities — often at the same time!

From FloydFest and Dominion RiverRock to the wilds of Southwestern Virginia, lots to explore here. Follow this link to read the post.

How do you sum up Virginia’s contributions to jazz in just one blog post? You can’t, obviously, but I tried to give a little info about some of the prominent people, places, and events that make the state such an amazing destination for jazz fans. Whether you’re big on Butcher Brown or wild about Warrenton, there’s a blurb or two here for you. Check out the post here.

For more information, I highly recommend Don Harrison’s article about Virginia’s jazz tradition in the February issue of Virginia Living. Tons of great info there as well, and the layout is stunning, complete with Devonne Harris and Marcus Tenney on the cover!

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West Nkosi

Found the 45 above at Goodwill earlier this week. A couple of tunes from South African saxophonist and longtime Ladysmith Black Mambazo producer West Nkosi. (The A-side is one of his hits, “Two Mabone.”)

Feels like now is the time to share it. The sun is shining, it’s warm, it’s Friday… maybe give B-side “1815 Special” a listen or two as you’re walking out of work. Not a bad way to greet the weekend, if you ask me.

Happy Friday, y’all.

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Kenneka Cook

Back in January, on the very same day that Bandcamp Weekly posted a new episode with Kenneka Cook as the featured guest, I had the honor of chatting with Cook over lunch at Pop’s Market. I’m excited to say the resulting RVA Magazine article is on newsstands now, and I hope it reflects how fun and wide-ranging that conversation was. We talked about everything from her approach to different songs on the album and the brilliance of American Paradox community to the music she grew up with and our shared love for Richmond’s record stores.

More than anything else, I hope you all get a sense for Cook’s vision and voice. Separately, those words point to different ideas. Different senses. A way you receive information about the world and a way you share information with the world. But vision and voice can both represent loftier ideas, as well, like imagination and influence — things that can come together in the creative process to render something truly new and special. That’s what I hear on Cook’s wonderful debut album, Moonchild. Check out the title track below and be sure to grab a copy of RVA Magazine if you see a stack around town.

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CD Monday

We have the Easter Bunny (hi, Mom!) to thank for the return of CD Monday.

Joan Baez’s latest was waiting for me in one of the Easter baskets hidden for my daughter to find, and I went ahead and started spinning it this morning. “The President Sang Amazing Grace” was playing when I made it to work, and I had a hard time leaving the car. It’s a really gripping and direct tune (written by Zoe Mulford), and Baez’s performance reminds me a little of her rendition of Bob Dylan’s “With God On Our Side” in how faithfully it renders the song’s sturdy structure. Maybe this is a leap, but both illustrate for me how you tend to cling to something solid when you’re shaken, physically or emotionally.

Joan Baez — “The President Sang Amazing Grace” (Zoe Mulford cover) [Spotify/Discogs]

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E.C. Ball and the Friendly Gospel Singers

Following the lead of the distinguished cvcfbds Instagram account by bringing church to the turntable on this fine Easter morning.

I hope y’all are having a nice weekend, with the comforts of family and/or candy close at hand.

E.C. Ball and the Friendly Gospel Singers — “Where Could I Go” [YouTube/Discogs]

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Hiss Golden Messenger

Coming out of blog hibernation to post a great song that’s being released for a great cause.

Hiss Golden Messenger recently teamed up with the Spacebomb gang to record “Passing Clouds,” a groovy Cameron Ralston-produced tune that combines the best of what the Spacebomb process and talent pool have to offer with M.C. Taylor’s distinctive and desperately needed sense of spiritual buoyancy. The cause I mentioned earlier? Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end gun violence via education and advocacy.

Click here to snag the song and read a powerful message from Taylor. All proceeds go to Everytown, so please do show your support by making a purchase — the digital version is $2, and you can pre-order a 7″ vinyl version for $10.

Hiss Golden Messenger — “Passing Clouds” [Bandcamp]

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