Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, y’all! I hope everyone is able to find ways to celebrate that are safe, spooky, and surpassingly sucrose-soaked.

A quick recommendation on the spooky side of things: Pumpkin, the new musical radio-play from Adam Schatz of Landlady.

In addition to being one of my favorite musicians on the planet (follow the Landlady tag at the bottom of the post for more on that), Schatz is one of my favorite writers on the planet, having penned a number of incisive essays for The Talkhouse that address heavy stuff — COVID-19 isolation, the perils of South by Southwest, and the creator-creative dichotomy — with humanity and generosity, and a clarity that can make it feel like he’s speaking directly to you. His honesty is consistently inspiring. I always leave Landlady shows feeling changed for the better, and I feel the same way after reading something he’s written.

He’s also hilarious, and Pumpkin — which takes the form of a scary bedtime story in which humans and monsters live (and die) side-by-side, parents strive to connect with their kids, and serial killers sing about crafting — is bursting with levels of moment-to-moment brilliance and silliness that only Schatz is capable of. It had me literally laughing out loud multiple times while running around my neighborhood this past week. I’m already an unsettling sight when jogging these days, thanks to COVID and early sunsets; my mask and headlamp make it look like I’m late for a surgery that’s happening just down the block. Add in laughter and you’ve got something truly special. Happy Halloween, I guess?

Per Schatz’s request, my favorite Pumpkin joke has to be the self-doubting student reporter singing “They call me a loser just because I always lose / Maybe they’re right.” Kills me every time. (Halloween pun very much intended.)

Much like his last festive radio-play, The Holiday Party, Schatz largely wrote, recorded, and edited Pumpkin himself, though it comes to life via a wildly talented cast of voice actors (Charlyne Yi is the fear-craving title character), and a band that includes Richmond’s own Pinson Chanselle on percussion. It runs about two hours — perfect for a leisurely Saturday early in-person voting experience. Did I mention it’s the last day for early voting in Virginia? Please vote, y’all. And if you end up enjoying Pumpkin, you can download the soundtrack over at Bandcamp for $10, with proceeds going to the The Okra Project.

You need a Stitcher Premium account to listen, but free trial options are available, and a few of the songs are streaming on the Bandcamp page. Hear “Pumpkin’s Fears” below:

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