American Tunes: “All Lives, You Say?”

[Editor’s Note: American Tunes is a series of posts dedicated to songs that address America’s social and political challenges. For more information on the series, click here.]

“Your skin so thin your heart has escaped.” What an image. It cuts deep, reaching an underlying truth that I’ve been thinking about since this weekend: Shows of force like the one that took place in Charlottesville often betray profound weakness.

Click here to snag “All Lives, You Say” — proceeds benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Wilco — “All Lives, You Say?” [Bandcamp]

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Virginia’s Travel Blog

One more post for Virginia’s Tourism Blog to tell y’all about, called “Building Bridges: International Music Experiences In Virginia.” I sincerely hope you’ll read it and send the link around — getting outside of your musical comfort zone is such a worthwhile and soul-replenishing thing to do, and I’m certain that if it happened more often, people would understand each other in ways they don’t currently.

Best of all, Richmonders can get started right away! You’ll find Afro-Zen Allstars among the bands mentioned, and they’ll be at Garden Grove Brewing Company in Carytown tonight, continuing their monthly residency there. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

I wanted to take a second to thank Andrew Cothern and all the other folks at Virginia Tourism for letting me write these posts. It’s such an honor to tell these stories and represent the musical traditions of the state I’ve called home my entire life. I’ve learned a ton in the last few months, and I hope to be able to share more stories like these in the future.

To play us out, here’s another Richmond band I mention in the post — venerated salsa outfit Bio Ritmo:

Bio Ritmo — “La Vía” [Spotify/iTunes]

 

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Minor Poet

When people are doing what they love, you can tell. Cooking, singing, repairing bicycles, doesn’t matter. Being in your element means tapping into something deep and true, and that’s what Andrew Carter’s debut album as Minor Poet sounds like to me. His love for recording is unmistakable; it stands out like a third dimension, with layers and harmonies only a devoted craftsman would seek out and execute.

Sitting down with Carter for an interview at Black Hand Coffee absolutely confirmed this first impression, and I’m excited to say that the results of that conversation are available now in the newly released RVA Magazine summer issue. Carter kindly called it the “definitive” version of the events surrounding the release of And How!, an album (out August 25 on EggHunt Records) that promises to reach many ears and make Minor Poet a very familiar name both in Richmond and beyond.

I want to thank Carter for such a candid interview, and Doug Nunnally for all his help with writing this piece. I also want to recognize the inimitable Joey Wharton — it’s an honor having my words next to his photos. Just stunning.

Click here to read the article online, or snag yourself a print copy around town. I have a couple other pieces of writing in the issue I’m psyched to tell y’all about, so stay tuned…

Minor Poet — “River Days” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

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Dharma Bombs

Y’all know about the Carter Family Fold, right? Hiltons, VA? Shows every Saturday evening? Johnny Cash’s rocking chair?

If you’ve been following along with my posts for Virginia’s Travel Blog, you know it’s one of the most sacred musical locations in the commonwealth, given the Carter family’s prominent role in the early days of country music. As it turns out, it’s also the perfect setting for some Appalachian Dixieland.

Richmond’s Dharma Bombs recently collaborated with the folks from Virginia Tourism and Overcoast Music on the above porch-set live session, shot right there on the grounds of the Carter Family’s homestead. Fittingly, they performed “Virginia Swing,” which can be found on the group’s Old Time Romance album from earlier this year.

The studio cut is below — you can snag it via Bandcamp, and in case you hadn’t heard, Bandcamp is donating its profits today to the Transgender Law Center, so don’t be shy about forking over some dough.

Dharma Bombs — “Virginia Swing” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

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DJ Harrison

Yesterday may have been Jerry Garcia’s 75th birthday, and it certainly was a watershed musical moment… but not because of Garcia. I’ll remember August 1, 2017 as the day Devonne Harris dominated my Twitter feed. (And I’m not the only one.)

Not sure which I saw first, but two big-deal things were signal boosted all day:

  • Style Weekly published a detailed profile of Harris and included his photo on the cover of this week’s print edition. I can’t recommend the article highly enough — it’s a panoramic view of a musician whose sweeping talents and growing influence are simply a wonder to behold.
  • Jack White’s Third Man Records label tweeted a picture of White alongside the folks who have been helping him record his new album… and there was Harris, standing to White’s left. Mind blown. I had no words. The best I could do was tweet out the siren emoji. I can’t wait to hear what he and White made together.

These are both wildly exciting developments — when combined with the vinyl release of his HazyMoods album as DJ Harrison, Harris is poised to reach more ears than ever. And seeing the Richmond community collectively celebrate yesterday was thrilling. Long live Devonne Harris Day.

Here’s one of my favorite cuts from HazyMoods, entitled “ProcessFresh.”

DJ Harrison — “ProcessFresh” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

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Community Center

A couple of years back, my band opened for a Baltimore-based group called Community Center at the Tin Pan, and I have such happy memories of that evening. One thing that stands out to this day as I look back is how warm and kind the Community Center folks were, and I can confirm after interviewing guitarist and vocalist Brian Loeper for the latest issue of River City Magazine that their commitment to inclusion runs even deeper than I realized, down to the bedrock of how they approach writing and performing.

I had such a nice conversation with Loeper, and I can’t recommend highly enough heading to Cary Street Café on Thursday, August 3rd to see them live. Click here to check out the article online, or here to find a print copy.

Community Center — “Baby Grand” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

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Seen/Eaten/Heard

One of my favorite spots on this pale blue dot. The Beer Garden in Corolla, North Carolina, a couple of minutes south of the northern endpoint of NC Highway 12. You get your Corolla Pizza slice/cheeseburger, you walk over to the Beer Garden, you hear good music like “Nancy From Now On,” from Father John Misty’s first album, and you feel like a human being again.

Father John Misty — “Nancy From Now On” [Spotify/iTunes]

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