Category Archives: #rva

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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Landlady

landlady

Foregoing news and notes because this isn’t just any Friday — today is the day Bandcamp is donating their cut of all sales to the ACLU, which strikes me as a completely kickass move.

My plan is to snag Landlady’s newest album, The World Is a Loud Place. I had a chance to see and hear a few of these new tunes when the band came to Hardywood in August — “Driving In California” for sure, and I think “Nina” and “Electric Abdomen” made appearances as well. It’s a fantastic album, every bit as imaginative, tightly executed, and soul replenishing as Upright Behavior. In fact, Landlady has become one of the bands –maybe you have a similar list — whose shows are more like exercises in spiritual fulfillment than just a pairing of people playing music and people watching those people play music. They’ll be at The Camel on March 6, and I highly recommend grabbing a ticket. If you’re like me, you could use some spiritual fulfillment right now.

In fact, I was having one of those days just yesterday. I bet you know the kind. Checking Twitter every few minutes and bracing yourself for the awful shit it would reveal. Feeling sad/angry/confused about how so much could be allowed to go so wrong so quickly. I’ve had days that weren’t one of those days since January 20, but they’re the exception. Sad/angry/confused has become my new normal, even though I’m committed to the fight to keep intolerance from becoming America’s new normal.

You know who else is? The good people at the ACLU, and seeing that Bandcamp was doing what they’re doing today snapped me out of yesterday’s daze. I couldn’t wait to write this post and chip in.

Here are a few of the RVA bands and labels who are going a step further and pledging their own share of song/album sales to the ACLU:

And then there’s Lightfields, who have been donating their Bandcamp sales to Planned Parenthood for some time now. Richmond is full of amazing people. If you’re a band or label in town and I left you off the list above, please let me know so I can include you, because you’re awesome.

Happy Friday, y’all. Consider this today’s act of resistance. We’re just getting warmed up.

Landlady — “Nina” [Bandcamp]

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American Tunes: “Will You Love Me”

Big Inner

[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.]

I dunno about you, but given the way January 20 has been looming — ominously, darkly — on the horizon, the days before then have seemed unusually pregnant and worthy of cherishing. Today, especially, given that Martin Luther King Jr. preached lessons of love, progress, and decency that have, unfortunately, become urgently relevant of late. Holding up his example seems crucial, which is why I’m posting “Will You Love Me” — a song from Matthew E. White’s debut album that gently adjusts a King quotation on loving your enemies and refusing to co-opt despair:

Darkness can’t drive out darkness
Only love can do that

The original quote — “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” — appears to have first been said in a 1957 sermon, though it can also be found in King’s book Strength to Love. As it happens, I heard the very same quote at my mom’s church this past Sunday, when the rector included it in his sermon. With all the ugliness of the 2016 election, it may seem harder than ever to live up to King’s compassionate, loving example, but these words exude a deep, unchanging truth that’s bigger than any one politician, businessman, or political party, and I truly believe they represent the most direct line between where we are and where we need to go.

Matthew E. White — “Will You Love Me” [Spotify/iTunes]

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No BS! Brass Band

no-bs-brass-band

This post contains:

  • A quick update about an article I wrote that’s on newsstands now
  • A ticket giveaway — so be sure to read to the end!

I had the honor of interviewing Reggie Pace of No BS! Brass Band recently, and the resulting River City Magazine article can be found online here and in the real world as well.

He and I met up at Perly’s and discussed — between bites of matzoh ball soup — everything from the history of No BS! to the need for more coverage of Richmond’s hip hop scene. It’s a conversation I won’t soon forget, and it’s one I feel very grateful to have had. Many thanks to Pace for meeting up and to Lauren Serpa for letting the magazine use one of her photos for that amazing cover.

Now for the giveaway — be the first to comment below or on this blog’s Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr and you’ll win a pair of guest list spots for tomorrow’s No BS! ten year anniversary show at The Broadberry. Really excited for this one. I’m feeling a little under the weather, but I don’t care — I’m not missing it. Hope to see you there!

No BS! Brass Band — “Brass Knuckles” (live) [YouTube]

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2016 in Review: RVA Albums

Lots of great RVA releases this year. Here are a few I particularly enjoyed, with one notable absence that will make sense when I post tomorrow’s list:

Avers — Omega/Whatever

Avers

RVA Magazine let me blurb this one for their best local releases list — check it out here. I wrapped up by saying:

They can crack off a breezy summer jam like “Santa Anna,” power through a charged rocker like “Everything Hz,” or sink into moodier tunes like “Don’t Care” with ease. That’s one reason Omega/Whatever is such a gift — we get the clearest glimpse yet of the plurality of Avers’ abilities.

Avers — “Everything Hz” [Spotify/iTunes]

Clair Morgan — New Lions & the Not-Good Night

clair-morgan

I wrote a longish review of New Lions & the Not-Good Night around the time it was released. I’ve been doing fewer of those lately — writing time is in short supply these days — but I felt compelled to dive deeper into this one, and I think this bit from the review explains why:

There are a lot of good albums out there, but music that can make you feel pure joy is rare. There has to be something about it that worms way down, through the topsoil of everyday stuff — Is this recycling week? Do I need to go to the grocery store on the way home? — to the core of what makes us who we are. The permanent stuff. The stuff that was forged years ago via childhood experiences we may have only snapshot memories of. New Lions & the Not-Good Night… gets to that place.

Clair Morgan — “How To Set Your Bed On Fire” [Spotify/iTunes]

Angelica Garcia — Medicine for Birds

angelica-garcia

I got to see Angelica Garcia perform a happy hour show at The Camel earlier in December. She was drinking tea and commented at one point about the possibility of losing her voice, which makes what I heard — a voice as versatile and expressive as any you’ll find — all the more impressive. In the span of just a few words, she’d jump between talk-singing, pure tones, pop ornamentation, bluesy bent notes, and a rapid waver that feels connected to the vibrato you might find in folk, only more natural and urgent, somehow. Medicine for Birds compiles all these sounds nicely, and while it’s tempting to frame the album as indicative of a wildly promising future, the polish of the production and the quality of the writing and singing make this a destination in itself.

Angelica Garcia — “Orange Flower” [Spotify/iTunes]

Noah-O + DJ Mentos — The Rain

noah-o

I only recently started listening to The Rain, but the partnership it features — Noah-O’s storytelling and DJ Mentos’ classic, jazz-inflected production — is clearly a winning one. They recently put up a vinyl pre-order — I look forward to snagging a copy and getting to know this one in person.

Noah-O + DJ Mentos — “Byrd Park” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

White Laces — No Floor

white-laces

This may turn out to be my favorite White Laces album. I wrote about it a couple of times, once on here and again in RVA Magazine. The latter review struck a heavier tone, since I’d learned by that point that White Laces were disbanding:

Landis Wine’s gliding voice pairs beautifully with synthetic elements that call to mind the ’80s, merging the past and present to create something truly timeless. I know it should feel final, but I’d rather think of it as everlasting.

White Laces — “Cheese” [Spotify/iTunes]

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RVA Magazine

rva-magazine

It’s been a hot minute since I was in the print edition of RVA Magazine — the last time was in 2012 — but I’m happy to say I have an article in the new issue, which sports a truly gorgeous cover. Look at that thing. Greg Simkins, y’all.

I wrote about recording studios in Richmond, spending the first half my 2,000 words surveying options and the second half profiling the studio I’ve spent the most time in — Pedro Aida’s Audio Verite. Aida is a talented dude, and interviewing him gave me an opportunity to dig deeper into his relationship with music and how he got his start as an engineer/producer. It strikes me now that the reason that conversation was so rewarding and the reason Aida finds recording so rewarding are one in the same: It’s all about connecting with people. Finding the right studio… helping people make albums… writing… performing… at every stage, your success and your ability to connect with people are intertwined, and I feel like I now have a fuller understanding of that than I did before I started working on this article. Thank you, Pedro.

You can read the article here (I also have a few album reviews/blurbs in this issue) or find free hard copies around town. I found a stack at Belmont Pizzeria while out for a run and managed to tuck two into the front pocket of the hoodie I was wearing. They bounced around a bit on the way home, but it was worth it.

I’ll close by re-posting “Reinvent The Space,” which Positive No recorded with Aida at Audio Verite. (Click here for more info on the song and the great cause you can support by buying it.)

Positive No — “Reinvent The Space” [Bandcamp]

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Friday News and Notes: Holiday Music Edition

natalie-prass

In recent years, I’ve made the mistake of waiting until the two or three days leading up to Christmas to start spinning holiday tunes, so I’ve been hitting it hard in the last week or so. John Fahey. John Denver (Toddler YHT’s choice: “I want the mountain one”). The Kingston Trio. Charlie Byrd. Here are a few web-based recommendations:

Too much good stuff, too few Christmases per year, y’all. One more thing: Don’t miss tonight’s No BS! Brass Band show at The Broadberry — it’s three things in one: A canned food drive, a beer release and, well, a No BS! show. Luray opens. Click here for tickets.

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