Justin Golden

I thought I’d start off the week by sharing a song that’s been an uplifting presence in my life — Justin Golden’s new one, entitled “Arm’s Length.”

I chatted with Golden for a River City Magazine piece published at the very start of 2020, and it stands in my memory as such a rewarding conversation. It was a joy learning about Golden’s journey and influences, and about his devotion to musical preservation. Here’s one passage of that interview that stuck with me, about why he started transcribing lesser-known blues songs from the past:

What motivated you to start transcribing?

Documentation and performance. I’m not really so worried about recording it for me to put out to make money. I just want to have it in my repertoire, and be able to show it. In the blues community, some people are considered culture-bearers, or torch-bearers, and I think I’m starting to be one of those people. I feel the charge to actually get out there and do it, because that’s what I like to listen to, and another 100 years goes by and no one’s going to know how to do this…

“Arm’s Length” is a testament to the timelessness of Golden’s approach. The sharp guitar licks, the simmer of the slide, the overall warmth of the mix… “Arm’s Length” is a joy to listen to, and it paints a vivid picture of Golden’s knack for making traditional elements feel fresh and vibrant.

Most of all, I love how cathartic the chorus is. I think we all need to hear that “It’s ok” from time to time, and it’s especially meaningful hearing that in between verses in which ambiguity is present.

Whatever the upcoming week brings, I bet it’ll be better with “Arm’s Length” in your life.

Justin Golden

In November of last year, I had the honor of sitting down with Richmond singer-songwriter and guitarist Justin Golden for an interview. I’d seen him open for C.W. Stoneking at Richmond Music Hall not long before, and it was such a joy getting to chat about music with him — both the music from the past that he and Stoneking draw inspiration from, and the music currently being made in Richmond that we both find meaningful.

I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the interview here. You can also find it in the current print edition of River City Magazine on newsstands around town. (Just saw a stack at Wawa over lunch today!)

Many thanks to Justin for his generosity with his time and conversation, and for all his help with the piece. The depth of Justin’s love for music is inspiring. Check out his music below, and be sure to keep an eye out for when he’s performing around town. I think you’ll walk away as inspired as I did.