Tag Archives: Mekong Xpress and the Get Fresh Horns

J.C. Kuhl

This is a J.C. Kuhl appreciation post.

I realized on Wednesday night that I’d been hearing Kuhl’s saxophone with a remarkable regularity over the course of the last week. Thought I’d share the timeline:

Last Friday, I set a new personal record for earliest Record Store Day arrival time, motivated primarily by Known About Town: Library Music Compendium One — the snazzy Coke-bottle-green vinyl compilation that pulled together tracks from the quarterly Library Music cassettes the Spacebomb House Band released throughout 2018. How motivated was I? Back on February 28, the day Spacebomb announced Known About Town, I emailed Bill at BK Music to say “I may end up setting a new personal record for earliest RSD arrival time this year.” I made it to BK a little before 5:30 a.m., when it was still dark and raining cats and dogs. Fortunately the Stratford Hills Shopping Center has a covered walkway perfect for a line of lawn chairs, and even more fortunately, I was near enough to the front to snag one of a few signed copies of Known About Town. Guess who contributed sax to the album? J.C. Kuhl.

Two days later, in the considerably comfier environs of my couch, I took in a live set by Mekong Xpress & the Get Fresh Horns. The band has started streaming their regular Monday night sets at The Answer via Facebook, and joining in has become a weekly ritual. It’s not the same as being there in person, which happened more regularly when the YHT crew lived just a short bike ride from the Mekong/Answer epicenter, but I love that I can still stay connected to the group, which is as stacked and sensational as any in town. And who’s there on sax, whipping songs into a frenzy with screaming solos that make you feel like you are there in person? J.C. Kuhl.

Two days later, Mrs. YHT and I made it out — got a babysitter and everything — to the Tin Pan, excited to see fellow University of Richmond alum (and my former bandmate, briefly) Andrew Schutte play bass with the Latin Jazz Messengers, a group led by trumpeter and UR professor Michael Davison. We were seated front and center and treated to an excellent set, which ranged from standards like “Caravan” and “Guantanamera” to a few unfamiliar tunes I’m looking forward to getting to know better. (I’m especially excited about having heard “The Preacher” and “Sister Sadie,” a pair of Horace Silver compositions that I’m hoping will serve as an overdue entry point to Silver’s body of work.) And guess who was there — and I mean right there, just a few feet away from our table, sipping red wine and trading solos with Davison and the rest of the gang? I think you see where I’m headed here.

J.C. Kuhl: a player for whom “known about town” couldn’t be more fitting.

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The Big Payback

The Big Payback

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]

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The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats

Step 1: Head to the Answer on a Monday night to interview Kelli Strawbridge and see Mekong Xpress and the Get Fresh Horns.

Step 2: Finish the interview and sit at the bar next to trumpet player Bob Miller.

Step 3: Chat with Miller about being part of the horn section that Matthew E. White and the Mountain Goats shared when they toured in support of their respective 2012 albums.

Step 4: Head to Steady Sounds the next day over lunch to snag an original pressing (!) of D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

Step 5: Take a quick look through the bins and find a used copy the aforementioned 2012 Mountain Goats album, Transcendental Youth, and pull out the liner notes to see if Bob Miller played on the album.

Step 6: See that he did and feel that “Everything is connected and beautiful” feeling.

Step 7: Play the album later that night and soak in White’s smart and reverential arrangements.

Step 8: Listen as a hair gets stuck on the needle, causing the lyrics “I could do this all day” from “Counterfeit Florida Plates” to loop perfectly about a dozen times.

Step 9: Feel that “Everything is connected and beautiful” feeling again.

Step 10: Buy tickets to the Mountain Goats’ September 19 show at the National.

The Mountain Goats — “Counterfeit Florida Plates” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Daniel Clarke

Daniel Clarke

I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Daniel Clarke on Sunday when I went to Hardywood to fill a growler.

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