Yesterday may have been Jerry Garcia’s 75th birthday, and it certainly was a watershed musical moment… but not because of Garcia. I’ll remember August 1, 2017 as the day Devonne Harris dominated my Twitter feed. (And I’m not the only one.)
Not sure which I saw first, but two big-deal things were signal boosted all day:
- Style Weekly published a detailed profile of Harris and included his photo on the cover of this week’s print edition. I can’t recommend the article highly enough — it’s a panoramic view of a musician whose sweeping talents and growing influence are simply a wonder to behold.
- Jack White’s Third Man Records label tweeted a picture of White alongside the folks who have been helping him record his new album… and there was Harris, standing to White’s left. Mind blown. I had no words. The best I could do was tweet out the siren emoji. I can’t wait to hear what he and White made together.
These are both wildly exciting developments — when combined with the vinyl release of his HazyMoods album as DJ Harrison, Harris is poised to reach more ears than ever. And seeing the Richmond community collectively celebrate yesterday was thrilling. Long live Devonne Harris Day.
Here’s one of my favorite cuts from HazyMoods, entitled “ProcessFresh.”
DJ Harrison — “ProcessFresh” [Spotify/Bandcamp]
[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.]
On Tuesday, The Spacebomb Sound hosted a really candid and informative roundtable on race that aired on Red Bull Music Academy Radio. Tiffany Jana, Reggie Pace, Kelli Strawbridge, Devonne Harris, Cameron Ralston, and Matthew E. White participated, and while I’m not sure if audio is available to be replayed, RBMA just posted a fairly extensive transcript of the discussion. I hope you’ll read it and share — read to absorb the ideas and experiences that were relayed on Tuesday, and share to keep the momentum going so honest, substantive discussions like this one keep happening all over the country.
One song they played during the show was Sharon Jones’ version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” I hadn’t heard her version until recently, but I’ve grown very attached to it in that short time. It’s amazing how much gravity her voice adds. Growing up, I didn’t realize how political the song was — depending on which verses people choose to include, it can still seem apolitical and/or downright hypocritical — but I had a conversion experience last year when Dave Rawlings Machine closed their November show at The National with it. The verse about the signs and private property and how signs say nothing on the back… I don’t know whether I hadn’t heard that verse before or if I just wasn’t listening intently, but when Dave Rawlings sang it, it felt powerfully subversive. Got goosebumps and everything.
Here’s how Jones sings it:
As I was walking, they tried to stop me
They put up a sign that said “private property”
On the back side, it said nothing
That side was made for you and me
Sharon Jones — “This Land Is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie cover) [Spotify/iTunes]
Filed under #features, #rva
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]