With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’d like to share a link to an article I wrote about a place I’m truly thankful for: Small Friend Records & Books. I had an opportunity to interview the shop’s owners a little while back, and it was such a pleasure learning about how they got started, how they envision their store’s role in the Shockoe Bottom community, and how they see that space evolving in the future. They have such clear and admirable passion — not just for music, books, and zines, but also for the ideas represented in and by the items they stock.
Here’s how I started the piece:
When you walk into a house and scan the walls and shelves for the first time, you learn a lot about the people who live there. In that sense, Small Friend Records & Books, which opened its doors on 17th Street in April, feels as much like a home as a place you’d go to buy albums or novels.
I’ve written about this before, but one reason I care so deeply about — and am so thankful for — the record stores here in Richmond is the way they represent the importance of a sense of place in our lives. Places connect us to other people. They keep us engaged with those people, even when we don’t agree with them. And places connect us to our past, helping us better understand our present and future. Without a sense of place, we are diminished.
Small Friend is a wonderful place, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the interview. More importantly, head downtown to check out Small Friend for yourself. I’ve been there a number of times, and of the albums I’ve snagged there, I think I’m most in love with my copy of the Wild Wild Country original score, which was composed by Brocker Way — brother of the pair of brothers who made the Netflix docuseries. (There are three brothers total. Well, three brothers involved in the series. I guess they could have other brothers… I’m gonna stop. You get the idea.)
In many ways, the show is itself a meditation on the idea of place — on what it takes to build an organic community, and how quickly a place can grow without losing its sense of self. Here’s a favorite track of mine from the score — the elegiac “Church and State.”
Really neat shindig happening tonight at the Hofheimer Building in Scott’s Addition. Trey Pollard will be debuting pieces from Antiphone, his soon-to-be-released album of contemporary chamber music (out Friday — preorder here). They’ll be played by a string quartet in collaboration with Classical Revolution RVA, an organization that aims to present classical music in inventive ways “by taking it into local bars, restaurants, cafes, and galleries.” Did I mention Matthew E. White will be opening? This promises to be special, y’all. Hope to see you there.
If you’re interested in learning more about Antiphone, be sure to check out the interview I did with Pollard for the Auricular. He was incredibly candid and thoughtful throughout our conversation, and I think you get an especially keen sense for the dedication he brings to his work, whether he’s composing original pieces like the ones being performed tonight or arranging songs written by others. Here’s how Pollard put it when we spoke:
Matt and I talk about it a lot. The craft of what you do is important… It’s about how you go about it — caring about the details, caring about the parts that make up the bigger thing.
While Antiphone certainly represents a moment of cultivation, it’s also a window into how Pollard approaches music on a daily basis. In that sense, his story and Spacebomb’s are one and the same: When you do things the right way, it shows. And Antiphone is nothing short of an achievement. What a gift it’ll be to see these pieces in the live setting.
Get your ticket here, check out my interview with Pollard here, and listen below to a piece from the album entitled “8 Pairs: Fugue VI. Very Slowly.”
Big day today. I bet many of y’all have already voted, but for those of you who haven’t or are on the fence, I want to add my voice to the many I’m sure you’re hearing saying things like “Vote!” and “Please vote!” and “This could be the most important midterm election in our nation’s history, so for crying out loud, PLEASE VOTE.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Democracy works best when all of us are involved. Your vote matters. You matter. Please vote.
For those in Virginia: Here’s the information I typically share about what forms of ID you can bring to the polls, this time in the form of a handy YouTube video:
For those of you who have already voted and are nervously awaiting results, I thought I’d share some self-care music to get you through the day. (I know I’m a nervous wreck, and I’m leaning hard on tunes like these today.) Courtesy of a Mark Richardson tweet, here’s Charlie Haden and Hank Jones playing “Going Home,” which is based on a passage from Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9.