Friday News and Notes

Toddler YHT
Toddler YHT is clearly ready for the weekend — are you?

  • CD Monday update: Mudcrutch was a hit. My daughter dug it. I dug it. A great time was had by all. There’s a great looseness to it — I’m not sure how long recording took, but it reminds me of the great, lightning-in-a-bottle spontaneity of that Shouting Matches album. Thanks so much to Marcus my coworker for loaning it to me!
  • I saw Car Seat Headrest on Monday night in D.C. I have thoughts about it. While I try to get those thoughts organized and typed up, I recommend reading this Doug Nunnally-penned RVA Magazine interview with Will Toledo and listening to anything and everything of his you can get your hands and ears on.
  • I could have met Bob Boilen on Monday night but got too nervous. So pissed at myself.
  • New Debo Band album!
  • This week’s is a must-see Friday Cheers. RVA Music Night. Natalie Prass. Sam Reed. Lady God. I’ve seen the first two, and am crazy about both, but this will be my first time seeing Lady God. Very much looking forward to it. We’re going to book it down to Brown’s Island after work, and by “we” I mean the whole family. Fingers crossed everyone gets in their respective car seats in a timely fashion. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MRS. YHT.
  • This is a two-show weekend, actually, because I have a ticket to go see Son Lux at Strange Matter tomorrow night. I was psyched to see that the opening act, Xenia Rubinos, has a new record streaming over at NPR. I’ve yet to hear the whole thing, but what I have heard is varied and intriguing and I’m hoping I can show up early for this one as well.

See y’all at Cheers. First round is on Toddler YHT! (JK she’s broke as a joke.)

Phil Cook

Phil Cook

It’s hard to overstate the influence the people in this photo have had on my musical life.

Not long after Phil Cook started playing at last week’s Friday Cheers, I saw Matthew E. White walk through the crowd and settle in near the front, and at the risk of being a little bit of a creeper, I made sure to get a shot of these two hugely important people in one place.

This was my first time seeing Phil Cook play under his own name, but I’ve gotten to see him perform three (I think) times before — twice with Hiss Golden Messenger in Richmond and once with Megafaun in Portland, OR. That 2011 Portland show at the Doug Fir was the seed of something that’s grown much bigger. I’ve written about this idea before, but every single thing the Megafaun diaspora touches or is associated with — HGM, Sylvan Esso, The Shouting Matches, Grandma Sparrow — turns to gold, and those projects and Phil Cook’s solo album have brought me a great deal of happiness in the years since Portland.

Less than a year after that show, the first songs from White’s Big Inner debut (Phil Cook was involved with that too) started appearing on the interweb. I hadn’t been clued into Fight the Big Bull back then, so these songs were my introduction to White. It was a little like when I first heard White Laces — it felt like I’d stepped on a live power line in my own backyard, like “Holy crap! Was this here all along?” I preordered the album and followed White on all possible social media channels, including his Spotify profile.

I’m not sure how many of y’all use the feature that allows you to see what your friends/the people you follow are listening to, but White’s feed changed everything for me. It’s how I found out about Randy Newman. About Harry Nilsson. About Stevie Wonder. And then Stevie opened up the whole world of soul music for me — Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Nina Simone… there’s an entire section of my record collection that probably wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for White’s Spotify feed.

The same goes for one of the happiest moments of my life: In the spring of 2014, Mrs. YHT and I did a long weekend in Corolla, NC while she was very pregnant, knowing we were going to skip my family’s summer beach trip that year. On the last day, before heading back to Richmond — and back to reality, where parenthood was imminent — we spent a few minutes in (what I believe is called) Historic Corolla Park literally sitting on the dock of the bay (OK, the Currituck Sound) listening to Otis Redding. For that short time, I felt completely at peace with the world and my place in it. Peace was scarce in those days, given how anxious I was before our daughter was born, so I’ll never forget listening to that song in that setting in that moment. Without Otis Redding, and by extension, Matt White, I’m not sure I would have found that sense of peace.

Toward the end of his Cheers set, Phil Cook dedicated a song to a friend in the audience, and while I can’t remember the exact words of his dedication, it seemed clear he was talking about White. The song ended up being Randy Newman’s “Sail Away.” Two days later, at the P.S. 321 Flea Market in Brooklyn, I found a copy of Newman’s album of the same name. It felt like all the musical connections I’d been thinking about for those two days came together in that one record I was holding. I’d held a copy of the album before — while flipping through records at Deep Groove a while ago — but on Sunday, it felt like the most valuable record in the entire world.

I really wish I had video of Cook doing “Sail Away” on Friday. My phone’s battery was low because I had already taped Cook playing “Crow Black Chicken,” which Ry Cooder recorded for Boomer’s Story. Here’s that recording — it’s a little blurry, but there’s an excellent bass solo from Michael Libramento. And it seems only fitting, given that this is a story about connections, to share that Ry Cooder played on Newman’s Sail Away album.

Phil Cook — “Crow Black Chicken” (Ry Cooder cover) [YouTube]

Friday News and Notes

Simpsons

A few Friday News and Notes items to finish out the week:

  • CD Monday update: The Sufjan song is excellent, and I enjoy the Rafter track, but the real winner is the Helado Negro song I posted on Monday. Baby YHT (who isn’t really a baby anymore — maybe she should be Toddler YHT for now?) even liked it and gave it the “Again!” seal of approval a couple times.
  • I can’t remember what day this week it was, but I had to get out of the car right when Marketplace was starting a story about Radiohead’s finances and, presumably, how they start new companies for each record they release. Bandmate 4eva Doug unknowingly came to the rescue by sending me this Guardian article about the same thing a day or two later. Interesting stuff, I think. Maybe I need to start a couple corporations for YHT, especially now that I bought an actual domain for the site.
  • Hey! I forgot to tell y’all! I bought youhearthat.com, so there’s that. Feels like I got my own little plot on this great big internet, and it feels like I should be saying that while standing with a cup of coffee in one hand and a suspender strap in the other, looking out over my growing crop of blog posts through the early morning haze. That’s how the internet works, right…
  • James Blake? Gooood. Radiohead? Goooood. Beyoncé? I trust that it’s good, but I still haven’t heard more than a couple songs. I don’t want to pay to download it, since it might come out on vinyl at some point, and it’s not on Spotify, and I’m not about to sign up for Tidal while I’m still paying for Spotify Premium, so…
  • A+ Friday Cheers tonight, y’all: Phil Cook and Shovels & Rope. Don’t miss it. And might I suggest heading to the Broadberry after for The Big Payback and Life on Mars?

I’ll be heading up to NYC this weekend, which makes three trips up 95 in four weekends. Yet somehow I still get a kick from zooming through E-ZPass only toll lanes. It doesn’t take much.

Have great weekends! See y’all tonight at Cheers!

Friday News and Notes

Friday Cheers

Happy Friday Cheers, y’all! A few News and Notes items to celebrate the start of my favorite 1/6 of the year:

  • An article I wrote about Friday Cheers and Lucy Dacus for River City Magazine just hit the interweb yesterday. Stephen Lecky and Lucy Dacus are such tremendous people and tremendous contributors to this musical community (who happen to have the same birthday, which happened to happen this week), and getting to meet and interview them meant fulfilling two huge #rvamusic bucket list items. I hope you’ll click here to check the article out or grab a print copy, which has a really snazzy “Cheers to Cheers” cover. Speaking of Friday Cheers…
  • The season kicks off tonight with The Soul Rebels and Mighty Joshua & the Zion #5. Wanna hear something crazy? Mighty Joshua has that same birthday! As Stephen Lecky pointed out on Twitter, this calls for a party on Brown’s Island. How does tonight sound? It may be a little wet, but some of my absolute favorite Friday Cheers experiences have been in the rain. Charles Bradley, the Funky Meters… I’m sure this week will follow suit.
  • Lots of great new music this week. Radiohead’s new songs are instant classics, James Blake has a new album out today (I’ve yet to hear it the whole thing, but what I’ve heard I love), and I’m really digging this new Red Hot Chili Peppers song.
  • CD Monday update: What a wild ride. Sunrise can feel disconnected, and my lasting impression of it will be as a collection of individual moments, but one endearing constant glued the whole thing together for me: Masabumi Kikuchi scratchily singing along with his piano parts. His voice borders on a growl, and while it’s quiet, it’s almost always there, so it’s something of a reassurance amid the chaos. NPR described his voice this way: “His hazy voice is like a walkie-talkie transmission from the moon. It’s too weird to dislike.” Well put.
  • The Broadberry is the place to be this weekend. Clair Morgan’s release party tonight, People’s Blues of Richmond’s release party Saturday night. If you find a good enough overnight hiding place, you might not have to leave all weekend! Speaking of show recommendations, I highly recommend following along with Drew Necci’s RVA Must-See Shows. Great advice from one of Richmond’s most thoughtful and knowledgeable music journalists (she’s also one of the contributors to Off Your Radar).

Have a great weekend, y’all. Don’t forget Mother’s Day!

Moon Taxi

Very excited for tonight’s Friday Cheers. A big part of that has to do with getting to see Sleepwalkers do Sleepwalkers things. It’s been too long since I’ve seen them, though I’ve enjoyed following along on social media as they’ve melted faces all over the country with J. Roddy and others. When the Cheers schedule was announced, my eye jumped to this show because I love this venue for them. Their sound is big and can easily fill that beautiful Brown’s Island space. Their writing is versatile, meaning that olds, youngs, moms, non-moms, country mice, city mice, babies and barflies alike can enjoy. It’s a pre-summer highlight waiting to happen.

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Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell

This has been one of the best live music weeks of my life. Sunday: Old Crow Medicine Show with Sturgill Simpson. Wednesday: Sufjan Stevens with Moses Sumney. Tonight: Jason Isbell with Horsehead. I feel a little like a dog whose owner opened up a brand new bag of food and dumped the whole thing on the floor. If one good thing about music is when it hits, you feel no pain, I’d say a second good thing is that when you gorge yourself on music, you don’t risk yakking it all back up. (Unless you count blogging about it, in which case I have a serious case of reflux.)

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Neko Case

Aaaaand we’ve reached the final Friday Cheers of the season. Le sigh.

It always feels to me like Friday Cheers goes by in a flash, but not because it’s uneventful (after tonight, I will have made it to four of the season’s shows — Todd Herrington, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Funky Meters and Neko Case). It’s just one of those things — once you get a taste, you want it to be there all the time, even though you knew from the outset that it was only temporary. Like good peaches. Or fresh corn. Or happiness with your decision to eat Taco Bell.

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