Tag Archives: Butcher Brown

Virginia’s Travel Blog

Very excited to share that I got to write a second series of music-themed posts for Virginia’s Travel Blog. And two are already up:

Here’s the setup:

Whether you enjoy a heartwarming song or a heart-racing outdoor adventure, your options in Virginia are nearly endless. In fact, you don’t have to choose between the two. The following festivals, venues, and pairings show how you can get your adrenaline pumping in the Old Dominion via live music and lively activities — often at the same time!

From FloydFest and Dominion RiverRock to the wilds of Southwestern Virginia, lots to explore here. Follow this link to read the post.

How do you sum up Virginia’s contributions to jazz in just one blog post? You can’t, obviously, but I tried to give a little info about some of the prominent people, places, and events that make the state such an amazing destination for jazz fans. Whether you’re big on Butcher Brown or wild about Warrenton, there’s a blurb or two here for you. Check out the post here.

For more information, I highly recommend Don Harrison’s article about Virginia’s jazz tradition in the February issue of Virginia Living. Tons of great info there as well, and the layout is stunning, complete with Devonne Harris and Marcus Tenney on the cover!

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2017 in Review: RVA

2017 was fucked up in a truly barf-inducing cornucopia of ways, but I can point to one way in which it was unreasonably generous — how many of this city’s talented and creative musicians I had the opportunity to meet and interview. It’s an honor to experience so directly the warmth and kindness of this city’s creators. These conversations mean the world to me, and each one makes me want to redouble my efforts and get the word out about the amazing things this city’s musicians are capable of.

Speaking of what #rvamusic is capable of, here’s my list of favorite Richmond albums, with quotes from the folks I chatted with. To those people and everyone else on this list: Thank you for giving me the gift of inspiration throughout a truly messed up year.

Afro-Zen Allstars — Greatest Hits

From my River City Magazine interview with Afro-Zen bandleader George M. Lowe:

“I do this stuff to increase the amount of joy in the world. Nothing brings people together quite like music does, and being exposed to the musical culture of some other place can result in understanding more and grasping the fact that people are much more alike than they are different.”

Afro-Zen All Stars — “Cha Cha” [Bandcamp]

Saw Black — Azalea Days

So you know how Spotify spits out stats at the end of the year? My top songs were all from Moana or the Trolls movie, because I’m no longer the boss of my own car stereo. Also the Monster Mash. Halloween never really ended, as far as my daughter is concerned. The first real song on my Spotify list was “Rosie’s Comin Home.” A true crossover hit — dad and daughter singing along in the car to something not voiced by an animated character. Thank you, Saw Black. There are only so many times you can listen to the Monster Mash before you start unraveling. Yes, that was a mummy pun. I really need a break from the Monster Mash. By the way, what other song requires “the” before its title and therefore looks prohibitively strange inside quotation marks? I’ve gone back and forth about how to punctuate this paragraph for longer than I’d like to admit.

Saw Black — “Rosie’s Comin Home” [Spotify/iTunes]

Butcher Brown — Live at Vagabond

RVA Magazine was kind enough to let me review this one. Here’s a snippet:

Live at Vagabond captures both the energy of the crowd and the virtuosity of individual instrumentalists with remarkable clarity, giving listeners a taste of Devonne Harris’ compositional gifts, his adventurous approach to keys, and the ensemble’s knack for seizing the moment.

Butcher Brown — “Tunnelvision” [Spotify/iTunes]

Camp Howard — Juice

The title track is a true jam. I heard the band say they approached the instrumental work on “Juice” like they might have if they were using sampled sounds. It’s a neat thought experiment, and it resulted in a really great tune.

Camp Howard — “Juice” [Spotify/iTunes]

Dazeases — Local Slut

From my RVA Magazine interview with Dazeases:

Nevertheless, her performance style is self-made and singular. She prefers low lighting; just the night before, at a show in Charlottesville, she improvised her own ambiance using lamps she found at the venue. “Any photos — if you see a lamp on a chair, that was me.” And she described an approach to organizing set lists that involves front-loading upbeat material. “It’s really cool to watch that tone change or make that tone change happen,” she said. “I usually do an emotional slope in my sets, so it’ll start out as positive as I get for my music — it’s not really positive or happy by nature — and then just drag it down. Down, down, down. Like, unrelenting.”

Dazeases — “Laurel” [Spotify/YouTube]

DJ Harrison — Hazymoods

RVA Magazine let me review this one as well. It truly is an honor to document Devonne Harris’ brilliance as it unfolds. Here’s a section of that review:

Newcomers to the respected RVA collaborator’s solo work will get a sense for his keen ear — how he can blend disparate sounds, often from his own storied output as a producer and multi-instrumentalist, and make a cohesive musical moment.

DJ Harrison — “ProcessFresh” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

Thorp Jenson — Odessa

Another one RVA Magazine let me blurb:

It plays like an expertly crafted survey of styles from the last 60 years, from Stones riffs and heartland rock to country waltzing and soul not unlike Matthew E. White’s. Well-worn and world-class, right out of the gate.

Thorp Jenson — “Odessa” [Spotify/iTunes]

Sid Kingsley — Good Way Home

I was also fortunate enough to interview Sid Kingsley this year. What a brilliant, friendly, and humble person. If I were to assign a Revelation of the Year, it would be Kingsley’s voice. Arresting in the best way imaginable.

People assume that I’m influenced, and I’m trying to emulate some of these [singers]. Singing is totally a newer thing for me. It’s even newer than the piano, because I was definitely just playing piano and not singing at all. Super-bashful about it. I haven’t tried to emulate anyone vocally. Saxophone – I used to try to emulate Charlie Parker, Joshua Redman. But with my voice, I just sing. This is what I sound like.

Sid Kingsley — “Sam Stone” [Spotify/iTunes]

Minor Poet — And How!

I’ve written a bunch about And How!, and Andrew Carter was kind enough to call an article I wrote the definitive retelling of how the album took shape. Here’s a link — hopefully it gives you a sense of Carter’s love for the recording process. It was a truly inspiring conversation.

That curiosity led to years of experimenting with the recording process, and if there’s one thing And How! makes perfectly clear, it’s that Andrew Carter loves to record. You can hear it in the album’s opening moments — his knack for molding off-kilter sounds by manipulating sub-par equipment. “[In] that first song, ‘Plot Devices,’ there’s that weird, lo-fi stringy sound. It’s this little toy Casio run through a shit-ton of weird effects. That was part of the fun of making it. ‘What cool sound can I make that doesn’t exist?’”

Minor Poet — “River Days” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

Opin — Opin

I find myself coming back to this record time and again, finding new reasons to love it. There’s one constant, though, and that’s “Lift Canal,” which is at or near the top of the Best Songs of 2017 list I’m too overwhelmed to make. Speaking of overwhelm, “Lift Canal” has been there for me in some tough moments this year. Very thankful it exists.

Opin — “Get Home” [Spotify/iTunes]

Positive No — Partners in the Wild

The first tape I bought after being gifted a cassette player for Christmas. So begins a new era of jamming out in the car. Exceedingly psyched about this development.

Positive No — “Y.A.A.Y.Y.” [Spotify/iTunes]

Skinny-E — Brown Paper Bag

From the post I wrote after seeing Evan McKeel perform at In Your Ear studios late last year:

His set at In Your Ear was short, but he needed only sing a few lines for me to hear what millions of fans of The Voice had already heard — a truly incredible singing voice, able to ascend with ease and smokier than his years, with a natural distortion that provides texture and complements his precision. When I thought about the literal and figurative stage that he’d occupied on TV, sitting in that studio listening to him seemed like such a gift. It quickly sank in that he could sing pretty much any song he wanted to, which begs the question: What do you do when you can do anything?

Skinny-E — “Love Again” [Spotify/iTunes]

Eric Slick — Palisades

What a joy it was to speak with Eric Slick over the phone for this River City Magazine article and then shake his hand at the Richmond Symphony’s RVA Live! night. Two quick tangents: Did you know he hosts a truly awesome podcast called the Strange America Radio Half Hour? Or that his other band Lithuania (remember, he’s also the drummer for Dr. Dog) just released an album? Dude never stops. A few words about Palisades:

“These songs were birthed out of learning how to meditate. I started meditating and my creative life began, outside of drumming. So, it’s all still really new to me, and I’m still navigating how to be at the front of a stage, and how to be a performer. I feel like I’m juggling when I’m up there, but it’s really challenging and exciting and it’s a necessary part of my creative process. When I do go back to the drums now, I have this whole other perspective on how to play drums.”

Eric Slick — “You Are Not Your Mind” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

J. Roddy Walston & The Business — Destroyers of the Soft Life

Being the first to snag a copy of Destroyers of the Soft Life at Plan 9 was exceedingly rewarding, as evidenced by the test pressing pictured above. Digging into the liner notes in my companion copy was rewarding as well, as finding out that Michael York of Sleepwalkers played on “The Wanting” turned a song I already loved into a multifaceted celebration.

J. Roddy Walston & The Business — “The Wanting” [Spotify/iTunes]

Matthew E. White & Flo Morrissey — Gentlewoman, Ruby Man

White and Morrissey played four cities in support of Gentlewoman, Ruby Man: Paris, London, New York, and Richmond, Virginia. Their show at the Broadberry kicked off the tour, and I feel very lucky to have been there to see it. An all-star Spacebomb backing band, including Devonne Harris. A set of stunningly rendered cover tunes. I was especially thrilled to hear their take on Leonard Cohen’s legendary “Suzanne.”

Matthew E. White & Flo Morrissey — “Suzanne” (Leonard Cohen cover) [Spotify/iTunes]

More 2017 in Review:

2017 in Review: Live Albums
2017 in Review: Blasts from the Past
2017 in Review: Americana
2017 in Review: 25 Favorites

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Friday News and Notes

Butcher Brown

  • CD Monday update: Didn’t end up listening to Blauklang much this week. Lots of singing on the way to daycare. Toddler YHT damn near did a recital yesterday. The setlist: “Old McDonald” -> “ABCs” -> “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” -> “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” -> “I’m Bringing Home A Baby Bumblebee.” It was [insert fire emoji here].
  • Speaking of fire emojis, congrats to Butcher Brown on the new EP. Love the title — Virginia Noir — and I love how tight they sound. What a machine they are. Fierce and smooth at the same time, somehow.
  • New Hiss Golden Messenger, y’all. 10/7. So damn excited.
  • Also excited for this new Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) solo album. “In The Dark” has that same breezy, jazzy feel his older solo stuff has. Can’t wait to hear more.
  • I already posted to Instagram about it, but cheers to Steve Gunn and Steady Sounds for the in-store on Tuesday. What a treat that was. Eyes on the Lines is my first experience with his music, and I’m not sure I would have jumped in with both feet if it weren’t for Tuesday’s performance. Just voice and two guitars, but man, was it good. Both instruments totally under control, ebbing and flowing, effects on, effects off, singing, no singing… the whole thing was like a comfortable, confident conversation.
  • Are y’all as bananas for this new Avalanches record as I am? It feels like I’ll be getting to know it — the samples, verses, and interludes — for some time, like a book I know I want to reread while I’m reading it for the first time. So much going on, and so much fun to listen to.
  • No show recommendations this week — heading out of town again next week. But keep an eye out for next week’s recommendations

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Beach Week

Took this at the turnaround point of yesterday’s run (back at the beach this week). This fence separates the rest of the Corolla beach from the northernmost 4WD-only part, which cracks me up because it makes me think of Jurassic Park, like the trucks and SUVs are going to break out and wreak havoc when they find out the fence isn’t electrified. Whenever I want to run a little further and need to wriggle through the cables, I half expect this to happen.

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Friday Cheers

Friday Cheers

Time to say goodbye to another Friday Cheers season. Sniff. It’s incredibly sad to think of how far off the next one is, but I figure I can suppress some of that longing by looking back at highlights from the shows I was able to make it to.

Without further ado, I present the inaugural YHT Friday Cheers Awards.

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Top 10 Albums of 2014

Parks and Rec

Fun fact: When you wait until December 31 to finish your top 10 albums of the year post, your top 10 albums of the year post becomes, by default, your New Year’s Eve post! Before getting to the list, I just want to thank everyone who takes the time to read this blog, whether it’s once a week, once a month, or just this once. It’s such a gift thinking/knowing/believing that there are people out there who share your enthusiasms, and to everyone who left comments, retweeted links, reblogged posts, did guest posts, invited me to do guests posts, or interacted with YHT in any other way, thank you for being such awesome Internet buds.

Now for the 10 albums that meant the most to me in 2014:

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Top 10 RVA Albums of 2014

Bob's Burgers

A few days ago, I saw yet another malcontented article about how 2014 wasn’t a great year for music, and how there were “good” albums but no “great” albums. I can’t remember where I saw it, and I’m not going to bother trying to find a link, because it’s crap. I’ll give you three reasons why:

  • One person’s good is another person’s great.
  • The way an album is perceived can and will change over time, so good now can be great later.
  • This was a great year for Richmond music.

That last one warrants its own list, so here are 10 reasons we should join Tina Belcher in raising a glass and toasting RVA music’s 2014. Consider it an alphabetically ordered top 10 that doubles as a drinking game.

Avers — Empty Light

Avers

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because Avers shows how, in a tightly knit community full of talented people, the lineup possibilities are endless and endlessly rewarding.

Avers — “The Only One” [Spotify/iTunes]

Black Girls — Claire Sinclaire

Claire Sinclaire

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the snuff rock sound took a giant leap in terms of realization and articulation.

Black Girls — “Buyin’ Time” [Spotify/iTunes]

Butcher Brown — All Purpose Music

Butcher Brown

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because truly groovy music — songs that find a pocket, set up shop and explore all the space it has to offer — can be enjoyed over and over, and in any situation.

Butcher Brown (ft. Nicholas Payton) — “Jellowstone Room” [Spotify/iTunes]

Dead Fame — Vicious Design EP

Dead Fame

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because you don’t have to choose between intensity and danceability.

Dead Fame — “Joan Crawford” [Spotify/iTunes]

Everyone Dies in the End — All Things Lead to This

Everyone Dies in the End

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the cycle of creation and destruction is a powerful thing to witness.

Everyone Dies in the End — “We Bears Are A Proud Race” [Spotify/iTunes]

Lightfields — Junior

Lightfields

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the chorus of “Junior” feels like an invitation — the kind of singalong that makes you feel like a part of something.

Lightfields — “Junior” [Spotify/iTunes]

Sleepwalkers — Greenwood Shade

Sleepwalkers

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because every track being dynamite and not being able to pick a favorite is a wonderful problem to have.

Sleepwalkers — “Breaking My Heart” [Spotify/iTunes]

Sundials — Kick EP

Sundials

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because Sundials’ Kick EP packed a full-length album’s punch into six tightly crafted songs that can be enjoyed over and over without losing an ounce of their emotional impact.

Sundials — “Gained A Grip” [Spotify/iTunes]

Trio of Justice — Pookie’s March

Trio of Justice

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the roomy, thoughtful mastery of Pookie’s March tells us that Jellowstone’s success will be varied and fun to follow.

Trio of Justice — “Motherland” [Spotify/iTunes]

White Laces — Trance

White Laces

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the word is getting out about White Laces, so Richmonders and non-Richmonders alike can cozy up to the many-splendored warmth of TRANCE.

White Laces — “Nothing Clicks” [Soundcloud]

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