Hey, Virginia! In case you hadn’t already gotten the hint from the terrifying commercials they’re showing between Jeopardy! segments, there’s an election today! A big one, too — we’re choosing a new governor, and we’ll either be promoting current lieutenant governor Ralph Northam (recommended by this blog) or handing the keys to the race-baiting Republican who turned our state into a gerrymandered mess and is suddenly retweeting Donald Trump (gross).
I’ve already voted, and I’d love it if you followed my lead and voted for the folks with a “D” next to their names, but regardless of which bubbles you fill in, I hope you vote. There are so many important choices being made today, and more people being involved means better choices. I truly believe it.
Here’s some info on what to bring with you to the polls:
And here’s a song to listen to on your way there. It has nothing to do with politics, as far as I know, but it’s what my phone decided to throw at me while I was driving to the polls. Then again, I guess a voting booth could qualify as an A/B machine? I dunno, just please go vote, y’all.
Sleigh Bells — “A/B Machines” [Spotify/iTunes]
Currently sitting in Reagan National Airport, fixing to hop on a Chicago-bound plane with the whole fam. Two parents. One three year old. One five month old. Pray for us.
Speaking of prayer, I thought I’d designate “Jesus, Etc.” as my musical away message. I found an original pressing of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on Wednesday, which still blows my mind. I’d even saved the repress on my Discogs want list, thinking I’d never find an original within a reasonable price range. The vinyl gods have clearly blessed this mess of a trip.
I’ll be sure to say hi to the Wilco Towers™ for y’all.
Wilco — “Jesus, Etc.” [Spotify/iTunes]
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]
Music and beer. Two of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Two things Virginians are really, really good at. The kind people at Virginia’s Travel Blog let me write a big long thing about the glorious middle of that Venn Diagram — breweries around the state that do music right, whether that’s hosting shows, brewing beers inspired by music, or letting customers bring and spin their own vinyl.
Click here to read the post. Hope you’re thirsty.
I mentioned Todd Herrington’s Things album near the end — I can’t imagine a better song to share when talking about the intersection between Virginia music and beer than “An’s Mekong,” named after the Richmond restaurant that’s won CraftBeer.com’s Great American Beer Bar competition multiple times.
Todd Herrington — “An’s Mekong” [Bandcamp/iTunes]
My latest post for Virginia’s Travel Blog went up late last week! I hope you’ll click here and take a look — I offer a few suggestions for digging into the history of bluegrass in Virginia.
I was especially excited to write this one, in part because of how essential and elemental this state’s connection to bluegrass is. Forgive the expression, but it practically sprouts up out of the ground around here. Virginia has contributed so much to the genre throughout the last 70 years, and it really struck me while I was working on this post how those contributions comprise a kind of inheritance. Something we can all enjoy and engage with. Ralph Stanley, the gorgeous Lincoln Theatre in Marion, a museum exhibit on banjos, Bill Monroe’s mandolin… there’s so much to do, see, and hear, and I went ahead and included some recommended listening for the ride to each landmark.
One of those recommendations is Clippin’ the Grass, an album released in 1983 on a Virginia label called Outlet Records. (If you follow me on social media, you know I love posting pictures of records, and you’ll see a picture in the post of my copy of Clippin’ the Grass. Couldn’t resist.) Here’s the whole thing via YouTube:
The Bluegrass Clippers — Clippin’ the Grass [YouTube]
My latest post for Virginia Tourism is up, and I’m especially eager to get the word out about this one.
You know that feeling when a song references where you’re from? That sense of collective pride? These are a few of the songs that give me that feeling. I originally intended to list more, but these five had such interesting backstories, and I couldn’t resist diving a bit deeper. Fingers crossed I get to do another post expanding the list.
With that in mind, I hope you’ll take a look and spread the word — and please share which songs you’d have included. I won’t list all five of mine here, but I will say that there’s a mix of instrumentals and songs with lyrics, that Lin-Manuel Miranda is involved, and that I hope folks take this opportunity to get to know Daniel Bachman’s music a little better. His playing is steeped in history, from his stylistic depth to song titles that pay homage to the region is different ways.
Here’s the song of his I included in the post, the title track from his 2014 Orange Co. Serenade album.
Daniel Bachman — “Orange County Serenade” [Spotify/iTunes]
Been laying low and getting to know the newest addition to the YHT gang — he turned three whole days old this morning — but I wanted to surface quickly and share that my second post on Virginia’s Travel Blog was published today, entitled “Live Music And Breweries In Northern Virginia: A Pairing Guide.” I thought something like this would be helpful because meeting up with friends before a show is great, and even better is meeting up close to the venue so you can enjoy a drink and still make it to the show in time to catch the opener. Given how many tasty beers there are to be tried in the area, carving out extra time to make a day of your next NOVA show is well worth it.
Click here to check out the post.
As a side note, I’ve gone down a serious rabbit hole searching through archive.org for Jammin’ Java shows I went to when I was in college. I can’t remember which ones I definitely went to, but Stephen Kellogg sure was covering some fantastic songs in 2003. Might I suggest this show from June and this one from October?
Here’s one of my favorite tunes of his from that era — “Such A Way” — performed at Jammin’ Java some 10 years further down the road.
Stephen Kellogg — “Such A Way” (live) [Youtube]