Category Archives: #live

Friday Cheers

fridaycheers2017-logo-color-highrez

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
-Christmas song written by someone who hasn’t witnessed a Friday Cheers schedule rollout

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Friday Cheers is my favorite part of the year. It’s warm but not sweaty, the weekends feel longer, since the early Cheers start times mean you’re outside and enjoying yourself ASAP… it makes me so happy. Here’s the full schedule. Things are going to be a little nutty this year, given that Mrs. YHT is set to deploy Baby YHT #2 in early May, but here are three of the shows I’m hopeful that we/I/y’all will be able to make:

Lee Fields & the Expressions with Kings — May 5

This show being announced was my Lee Fields wake-up call. I see his records nearly every time I go to Steady Sounds, and I keep meaning to learn more about him — now’s the time. I’m doing it. You can’t stop me. Friday Cheers has hosted two of the best soul shows I’ve ever seen — Charles Bradley and the late great Sharon Jones — so this one shouldn’t be missed.

 


Conor Oberst with Big Thief — June 2

Already snagged a ticket for this one. I wrote a short time ago about how psyched I am for his special-guest-heavy upcoming album Salutations, and since it’ll be out by the time this show rolls around, I’ll almost certainly be spending some quality time at the merch tent on June 2.

 

Car Seat Headrest with Gold Connections — June 30

OK, so I saw them twice last year. I don’t care — as Toddler YHT’s hero Ariel once said so poignantly “I want more…” Speaking of wanting more, I managed to find a used copy of Teens of Style, the album prior to Teens of Denial, and I was surprised by how many of the older (relatively speaking — he’s released ocean of material already) songs I knew. I recommend prepping for this show by diving into Will Toledo’s earlier stuff, which can be found on Bandcamp.

Hope y’all are getting excited as well. Here’s another link to the full schedule and here’s a link to an article I wrote last year about Friday Cheers that includes an interview with Venture Richmond Festival Manager Stephen Lecky.

 

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Friends For Equality

flyerbenefit

I posted a little while back about Feral Conservatives’ gorgeous track on the Friends for Equality compilation, which benefited the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I wanted to give the cause another quick signal boost, as a Friends for Equality benefit show is being held tonight at Strange Matter.

You’ll find a number of details on the flyer above (music starts at 8, $5-20 suggested donation), as well as the lineup, which includes those very same Feral Conservatives. This time, funds are being raised for Forward Together (“Our mission is to ensure that women, youth and families have the power and resources they need to reach their full potential.”) and SisterSong (“Sistersong’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.”).

Doors are at 7, but you can start prepping now by clicking play on the 15-minute journey RAIC calls “Penance.”

RAIC — “Penance” [Bandcamp]

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Lonnie Holley

lonnie-holley

Passing along a piece of advice Matthew E. White issued regarding your arrival time for his show tonight at The Broadberry:

The opening set will be played by Lonnie Holley, who is an artist in more than one sense of the word. Holley first gained recognition for turning reclaimed junkyard objects into arrayed sculptures on a massive scale, which he started to do when he was 29. More than 30 years later, he’s still in constant creative motion, and from the sound of the New York Times profile White tweeted out, creation isn’t just an impulse for Holley — it’s more elemental than that. Here’s a bit I found fascinating:

We were sitting at an outdoor table with a partly filled ashtray. Holley stopped talking to reach over and pluck out a cigarette butt, examining it as if he had discovered a rare penny in a handful of change. He asked me for a sheet of paper from my notebook, then tore apart the butt and affixed its cottony filter to a wooden coffee stirrer, also liberated from the ashtray. “This is called white oak,” he said. “It’s what they use to weave baskets and things, because it’s flexible.” He fashioned a miniature paintbrush and then painted a heart and the word LOVE using ashes mixed with a few drops of his iced coffee, the solution creating an appealing speckled-eggshell patina.

It wasn’t until later, but Holley started recording music in which looped elements backline winding and soaring image-based vocal storytelling. That same New York Times piece described how all of Holley’s musical performances are unique pieces — how he makes something new each time he addresses an audience. As a person who tries to write songs and feels lucky for whatever fleeting moments of inspiration I can hold onto, I’m in awe of the total paradigm shift Holley embodies. He doesn’t so much grasp at inspiration as he floats in it. Surrounds himself in it.

I can’t want to see what he has in store tonight. In his tweet, White called it a “rare event,” which I love, given the irony at work here: Everything Holley does is once-in-a-lifetime.

Lonnie Holley – “From The Other Side Of The Pulpit” [Bandcamp]

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Julien Baker

julien-baker

Over the weekend, I stopped by Deep Groove (well, the alley next to Deep Groove) to catch a performance by Julien Baker.

I stayed near the back so I could make sure the bike I was too lazy to lock up didn’t roll away, and I’m so happy I stood there. We did miss out on quieter moments, but Baker’s voice emerged clear and resonant and triumphant again and again, and it turned into this incredibly inspiring group experiment in active listening. During songs, people were silent. Cars drove by and the wind picked up here and there, but none of the humans assembled to see Baker made a sound while she sang. It was inspiring.

The quieter moments helped me soak in what I was seeing, from the gentle slope of the alley to the way Baker’s expressions grew more pronounced the further into songs she got. It was like a cycle — the song would build, the lyrics would overwhelm, and those of us in the back would hear the climactic words loud and clear. It’s amazing how smooth and consistent those loudest notes were. Even though they delivered the most emotional words, her singing was as steady as it could have been. That alchemy that turns turmoil into strength via music — she’s got it down.

One word I was surprised to hear emerge in one of those climactic moments was badlands, as in Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands.” I was standing next to Deep Groove’s Jay Leavitt, and I think we recognized the song at the same moment. It was awesome. Here’s a video of Baker doing the song backstage at this year’s Newport Folk Fest.

Julien Baker — “Badlands” (Bruce Springsteen cover) [YouTube]

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Guy Clark

Guy Clark

I was lucky enough to see Gillian Welch at Maymont on Sunday night. The show was excellent, aside from cicadas trying so hard to drown out the music that Welch and Dave Rawlings actually commented on them. Seeing her sing “Hard Times” was incredibly meaningful, but what’s stuck with me most is a cover they played.

“Stuck with me” might not be strong enough language. It’s more like I’ve been haunted. It’s been stuck in my head, I’ve been singing the chorus to my daughter, I’ve missed out on some sleep because my brain has decided that bedtime is when I should try to run through the lyrics… It’s a little nuts.

I’m talking about “Dublin Blues,” a Guy Clark song. Welch played it as a tribute to Clark, who died in May of this year, finishing with “We love you, Guy!” and a story about Clark championing her music early in her career. I took a video of it (I try to keep my phone in my pocket as much as possible at shows these days, but hearing “This is a cover of…” causes involuntary reflexes to kick in) and I watched a few times when I got home, then found Clark’s studio version, and haven’t really stopped listening since, if you count the intra-cranial plays.

It’s hard to put a finger on why “Dublin Blues” managed hijack my brain, but if I had to guess, I’d say it has something to do with the way it plays with the idea of sophistication. By singing “I have been to Forth Worth, and I have been to Spain,” Clark upends the notion that people who drink Mad Dog margaritas have no culture, while simultaneously elevating the everyday experiences of those who may not have the means to visit Europe. He does the same by finishing a list of wonders he’s seen — Michelangelo’s David, the Mona Lisa — with seeing Doc Watson play “Columbus Stockade Blues,” a wonder that, ironically, will never be seen again. (For a sillier take on the same idea, try “We’re Not The Jet Set.”) And the whole story is couched in heartache — something that can strike anyone at anytime. All that nuance, just three chords, as best as I can tell.

Speaking of just three chords, hey band guys — if you’re reading this, wanna cover it? I’ve been working on the lyrics…

Guy Clark — “Dublin Blues” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Doors Wide Open

Oleta Adams

Being there. It’s paradoxically simple and incredibly difficult. It’s also a great Wilco album, but that’s beside the point.

I struggle with balancing work and fun and music and running and writing and sleep in a way that ensures that I’m present enough. Home. Awake. Attentive. Resisting “the urge to live inside my telephone,” as Jason Isbell put it. Shit is hard.

I think that’s why seeing Doors Wide Open cover “Get Here” during last week’s Shockoe Session was so affecting. At first glance, it may seem like the lyrics beat the premise into the ground. Here’s just a sampling of the ways Brenda Russell wrote that her significant other can reach her:

  • Railway
  • Sailboat
  • Rope swing
  • Sled
  • Horse
  • Windsurfing
  • Magic carpet
  • Balloon

And that list isn’t even comprehensive. The repetition is silly, on a certain level, but it also reflects the paradox at work here. The increasingly absurd modes of transportation mirror how some of the most elaborate obstacles that stand between us and the people we care about are self-imposed. Maybe a more glass-half-full way of looking at things would be that, regardless of where you go, there’s always a way back. Or as Bill Callahan put it, “No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around.”

The irony here is that I had to spend time away from home to have this experience. But I really enjoyed seeing Doors Wide Open, and I hope to be invited to more Shockoe Sessions. (In Your Ear does a great job — good food, good drinks, good music, good people.) To help ensure it was time well spent, I’m putting Oleta Adams’ version of “Get Here” on my Rx playlist — songs with curative powers — alongside “Three Little Birds” and “dlp 1.1” of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops.

Oleta Adams — “Get Here” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Friday News and Notes

Commonwealth of Notions

Very special edition of Friday News and Notes: It’s time for Commonwealth of Notions Presents! WRIR and venerated DJ/writer/bassist/Off Your Radar contributor Shannon Cleary are teaming up for a sixth iteration of the always-entertaining and brilliantly booked local music showcase/station fundraiser. 13 bands. Two nights. Two venues. Tonight at Gallery5, tomorrow at Strange Matter. It’s the perfect way to simultaneously support and explore Richmond’s music scene.

In that same spirit, here’s an almost-exhaustive bulleted Bandcamp sampler of what’s about to go down:

Friday @ Gallery5 (suggested donation $5)

Saturday @ Strange Matter (suggested donation $7)

Apologies to K.A. PEDERS, who has music on MySpace but my laptop won’t play it for some reason, and I’m not sure I could embed it regardless. All the more reason to head to Strange Matter on Saturday night!

Click here for more info on both nights.

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