So I’m going to attempt to end this jerk of a year with five wrap-up posts in five days. Fingers crossed this works. I tend to overwrite these things until they become albatross-y, so I’ll try to keep things snappy, starting with a quick list of links to music writing I did in 2016. Add in weekly contributions to the Off Your Radar newsletter and an August appearance on Sound Gaze and I can definitively say that this is the most blabbing about music I’ve done in a year.
Many thanks — seriously, too many to mention here — to the people I interviewed and the people who made what I wrote sound better and look prettier. Y’all know who you are, and I hope you also know how awesome and appreciated you are. Lots of fun stuff in the works for 2017. Until then…
Featured Off Your Radar weeks:
For Boomer Magazine:
For Richmond Navigator online
For River City Magazine
For RVA Magazine
For West End’s Best
[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
Have to break vacation silence because I’m too excited about this River City Magazine article to stay quiet: I had the chance to chat at length with Kelli Strawbridge, who fronts Richmond’s beloved James Brown tribute band, The Big Payback. He’s an incredibly inspiring person to talk music with. His interests are both broad (his other projects include KINGS, Mikrowaves, and Mekong Xpress & The Get Fresh Horns) and deep, given his clear passion for the pivotal soul that Brown made in his heyday. I learned a ton from speaking with him, and I was also lucky enough to chat with Bob Miller, who joins Strawbridge in both Payback and Mekong Xpress. I decided to write this article because the talent you’ll find in Richmond’s tribute bands is so much more illustrious and interconnected (Miller also plays in Fear of Music, which honors Talking Heads) than some may realize, and Strawbridge and Miller are excellent examples. Many thanks to both for all the help with the article.
Two upcoming shows I want to make sure to plug:
Click here to read the Payback article over at Richmond Navigator’s site.
James Brown — “Payback” [Spotify/iTunes]