I picked this compilation up a few years back at the Thrift & More Store, located in the median of Pocahontas Trail in New Kent County. The collection is named after the Larry Davis song — a tongue-in-cheek number about how attractive the women in Houston are. Given the events of the last few days, and the harrowing rescue videos coming out of Houston as Harvey continues to cause flooding, it’s tempting to think about the song’s title in another context. I’m not religious, but when I see people with small boats risking their safety to help others, that seems pretty angelic to me.
Davis is also the one who wrote “Texas Flood,” which Stevie Ray Vaughan would go on to cover and even name an album after. It’s an incredibly sad listen right now, but I hope it moves one or two of you to contribute to relief efforts. The Red Cross is where I decided to donate (click here to do so now), though plenty of other organizations could use your help. Consider it your own angelic act in the face of something truly awful.
Larry Davis — “Texas Flood” [YouTube]
[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]
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]
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]
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]
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]