J.C. Kuhl

This is a J.C. Kuhl appreciation post.

I realized on Wednesday night that I’d been hearing Kuhl’s saxophone with a remarkable regularity over the course of the last week. Thought I’d share the timeline:

Last Friday, I set a new personal record for earliest Record Store Day arrival time, motivated primarily by Known About Town: Library Music Compendium One — the snazzy Coke-bottle-green vinyl compilation that pulled together tracks from the quarterly Library Music cassettes the Spacebomb House Band released throughout 2018. How motivated was I? Back on February 28, the day Spacebomb announced Known About Town, I emailed Bill at BK Music to say “I may end up setting a new personal record for earliest RSD arrival time this year.” I made it to BK a little before 5:30 a.m., when it was still dark and raining cats and dogs. Fortunately the Stratford Hills Shopping Center has a covered walkway perfect for a line of lawn chairs, and even more fortunately, I was near enough to the front to snag one of a few signed copies of Known About Town. Guess who contributed sax to the album? J.C. Kuhl.

Two days later, in the considerably comfier environs of my couch, I took in a live set by Mekong Xpress & the Get Fresh Horns. The band has started streaming their regular Monday night sets at The Answer via Facebook, and joining in has become a weekly ritual. It’s not the same as being there in person, which happened more regularly when the YHT crew lived just a short bike ride from the Mekong/Answer epicenter, but I love that I can still stay connected to the group, which is as stacked and sensational as any in town. And who’s there on sax, whipping songs into a frenzy with screaming solos that make you feel like you are there in person? J.C. Kuhl.

Two days later, Mrs. YHT and I made it out — got a babysitter and everything — to the Tin Pan, excited to see fellow University of Richmond alum (and my former bandmate, briefly) Andrew Schutte play bass with the Latin Jazz Messengers, a group led by trumpeter and UR professor Michael Davison. We were seated front and center and treated to an excellent set, which ranged from standards like “Caravan” and “Guantanamera” to a few unfamiliar tunes I’m looking forward to getting to know better. (I’m especially excited about having heard “The Preacher” and “Sister Sadie,” a pair of Horace Silver compositions that I’m hoping will serve as an overdue entry point to Silver’s body of work.) And guess who was there — and I mean right there, just a few feet away from our table, sipping red wine and trading solos with Davison and the rest of the gang? I think you see where I’m headed here.

J.C. Kuhl: a player for whom “known about town” couldn’t be more fitting.

Durand Jones & The Indications

Durand Jones

Talk about wish fulfillment.

Last Friday, I whined about being late to the Durand Jones & The Indications party, and how it meant I likely wouldn’t get my hands on a copy of the group’s self-titled debut album, which was pressed in relatively small numbers.

BK Music to the rescue.

They just got in an incredible haul of used vinyl, and to get the word out, they did something that I’m seeing more and more — they posted a short video of disembodied hands flipping through the albums. I saw Durand Jones was in there, blacked out, and when I came to, I was listening to it on my turntable. Feeling very lucky right now.

Quick, related side note: A coworker once told me about how her daughter was hooked on these YouTube videos in which disembodied hands (OK, so there really are bodies attached, you just can’t see them) open up plastic or paper mache eggs and show what’s inside. Toys, candy, whatever. Depending on how your brain’s reward system is wired, you’re probably either saying to yourself “What’s the big deal?” or “I TOTALLY GET IT.”

And I totally get it, because I’m pretty sure those videos poke the exact same part of the brain that makes it so fun to flip through records. The element of surprise… the possibility that the next item could be the very thing you’re looking for… and experiencing that vicariously online is such a logical extension of that impulse. Not as great as being at the store to dig in person, but it’s still pretty great.

In summary, I have the brain of an addict, record stores everywhere should be doing this, and BK makes dreams come true.

Back to Durand Jones. This album cuts to the core of what I love most about soul music. It’s not about being polished or elaborate. Tons of legendary soul songs were recorded minutes after the band ran through them for the first time. It’s about the magic in the air when you do hit the record button — the emotion in the singer’s voice, the groove the band finds — and Jones & Co. have that magic in droves. See what you think:

Durand Jones & The Indications — “Tuck N’ Roll” [Spotify/iTunes]

Friday News and Notes: Record Store Day Edition


These aren’t your usual Friday News and Notes — tomorrow is Record Store Day, so let’s get some special edition, limited pressing, hand-numbered (OK, so they’re not actually numbered) bullets going…

  • As per usual, I’ll be starting the day where so many of my RSD wishes have been granted: BK Music. I have a gig at McCook’s tonight, so waking up early and getting close to the front of the line tomorrow will involve an extra degree of difficulty, but Bandmate 4eva Doug is giving me a ride, and a 7-inch copy of the Matthew E. White/Natalie Prass/DJ Harrison collaboration “Cool Out” is on the line, so there’s plenty of motivation for getting out of bed when my phone’s alarm tells me to. Also I’ll be having bad FOMO dreams all night, so that should help.
  • That “Cool Out” single is the only item I’m dead set on, but there are a few others I’m interested in taking a closer look at: There’s the Etta James At Last reissue, the Allen Toussaint Live in Philadelphia 1975 album (with “Southern Nights” on it), J Dilla’s lost vocal album, Charlie Parr’s releasing an EP (got into him thanks to Phil Cook), the Hamilton Leithauser/Paul-Maroon EP… I love Hoist, but I just want Phish to release twenty-something dollar reissues of some of these albums. I’d still be up for, like, holding it for a few minutes, maybe?
  • Lots of fun stuff happening around town in addition to BK’s celebration: Steady Sounds has DJs and an attractive mention of pizza on the FB event page, Plan 9 is hosting performances by Ohbliv, Lady God, and Zgomot, Deep Grove will have Sugar Shack donuts and a raffle for a Music Hall Turntable, Vinyl Conflict will be continuing their self-styled oppositional Customer Appreciation Day, featuring a Parking Lot Party and a Simpsons arcade game tournament… so many options, so many ways to support stores that bring you closer to the music that you love, past and present.

Hope you find your ideal spot to cool out tomorrow.

Matthew E. White — “Cool Out” (feat. Natalie Prass) [Spotify/iTunes]

CD Monday

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Picked up this promotional single at BK Music a few weeks back, and I’m excited to dig in this week. OK, so maybe not ALL week — two songs over and over might make Davy a dull boy — but I’m enjoying “Don’t Know What It Means,” with its meaty four-on-the-floor beat and horn arrangements that remind me of the ones Allen Toussaint did for The Last Waltz.

Tedeschi Trucks Band — “Don’t Know What It Means” [Spotify/iTunes]

CD Monday


Congrats to JR JR on the new name! I loved the NASCAR reference, and I’d be lying if I said their old name wasn’t part of why I started listening to them, but it’s definitely not why I’ve kept listening to them. The Speed of Things was an excellent follow up to an excellent debut, and I know that spinning the copy I picked up at BK Music a while back is going to make my week markedly better.

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Record Store Day

When I Reach That Heavenly ShoreIn what is already or is now becoming a yearly tradition, I’d like to nervously post about an album I’d really like to get on Record Store Day but secretly want to say nothing about on the off chance that someone in front of me in line at BK Music will see this, get excited about what I’m excited about and grab the last copy seconds before I can…

[takes a deep breath]

I have a FOMO problem. Me and Record Store Day were made for one another.

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Y’all see this?

If not, the long and the short of it is that if you agree to buy a vinyl copy of Spoon’s soon-to-be-released (8/5, to be exact) They Want My Soul album from a participating, locally-owned store, you get to take home a 10-inch record with three of the album’s songs on it. They’re calling it Vinyl Gratification. The offer went into effect this Tuesday, and I’m not sure how many each store got, but you can click here to find a participating location — they may still have copies of the above-pictured 10-inch.

I got mine at BK Music on Tuesday, and I was pleased to find that the two They Want My Soul tracks I’d heard and fallen madly for — “The Rent I Pay” and “Do You” — were both on it, but I’m even more pleased by the Vinyl Gratification idea in general. Offering perks for pre-ordering albums isn’t new, but this initiative has a wonderfully collaborative feel to it. Just read the open letter Spoon frontman Britt Daniel wrote to introduce the promotion. There’s a palpable sincerity there, and an understanding that correcting the imbalance that currently exists between the amount of music people consume and the amount of money that music-makers make will involve bringing all the stakeholders together. The fix, as it almost always does, requires us to work together.

The majority of bands obviously can’t afford to offer free 10-inch records when you pre-order their albums (pressing an LP to vinyl is an expensive undertaking to begin with), but part of the reason I love what Spoon’s doing is that the idea has a bit of the same spirit that Jack White’s recent efforts have had. I haven’t said much about Lazaretto — I’m pretty sure it’s falling into the same “I like it so much that I have no desire to write about it” category that Modern Vampires of the City occupied last year — but I will say that the ultra LP created a genuine moment.

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