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]
We’re just a few hours away from one of the Friday Cheers shows I was most psyched about when the schedule was announced, and while it was Conor Oberst’s name that first got my attention (big fan of Bright Eyes, never seen him live… been enjoying Salutations…), I’ve been getting more and more jazzed about seeing Big Thief’s opening set.
Just a couple of days ago, NPR posted a new Big Thief tune called “Mary,” and I’m totally in awe of it. The word “perfect” comes to mind. It’s stately but not staid… carefully crafted yet natural… complex in spite of the fact it was recorded in one take… It actually reminds me of the Devon Sproule tune I posted last week, only it strings together the past instead of the present.
Fingers crossed we get to hear it tonight. See y’all on Brown’s Island.
Big Thief — “Mary” [Spotify/iTunes]
I first started writing this blog in 2011. The decision to do so was fairly spontaneous, and I had no idea that writing about music would change my life as much as it has. I might have expected that I’d learn about bands and albums, and that my world would expand in that way, but I couldn’t have guessed that I’d meet so many people who make the universe seem like a bigger, more beautiful place.
Two of those people play in Afro-Zen Allstars. One is Brian Cruse, the friendly, talented, and in-demand bassist I interviewed for River City Magazine in 2015. The other is the band’s founder, leader, and arranger, George M. Lowe, who is the subject of my latest article for the magazine. A short time back, Lowe and I met up at Addis downtown for Ethiopian food and an interview. As was the case with Cruse, we talked for nearly two hours, and I walked away amazed at Lowe’s warmth, his bravery, and his other-worldly devotion to music. That’s where the title of the article came from (the “Golden” part is a reference to the Ethiopian music that inspired Lowe to form the Allstars). I hope you’ll take a look online or find a print copy. I have a feeling you’ll end up as devoted to Afro-Zen Allstars as I am.
Many thanks, George, for all your help, and for making the world a bigger, more joyful, and better sounding place.
Afro-Zen Allstars — “Aj Aj” [Bandcamp/iTunes]