Friday News and Notes

Commonwealth of Notions

Very special edition of Friday News and Notes: It’s time for Commonwealth of Notions Presents! WRIR and venerated DJ/writer/bassist/Off Your Radar contributor Shannon Cleary are teaming up for a sixth iteration of the always-entertaining and brilliantly booked local music showcase/station fundraiser. 13 bands. Two nights. Two venues. Tonight at Gallery5, tomorrow at Strange Matter. It’s the perfect way to simultaneously support and explore Richmond’s music scene.

In that same spirit, here’s an almost-exhaustive bulleted Bandcamp sampler of what’s about to go down:

Friday @ Gallery5 (suggested donation $5)

Saturday @ Strange Matter (suggested donation $7)

Apologies to K.A. PEDERS, who has music on MySpace but my laptop won’t play it for some reason, and I’m not sure I could embed it regardless. All the more reason to head to Strange Matter on Saturday night!

Click here for more info on both nights.

CD Monday

Nelly Kate

Yesterday was a pretty dark, emotional day, and the sadness I feel in association with what happened in Orlando isn’t dissipating. I feel hungover, really, but it’s not the type of hangover that goes away with Advil.

I thought about skipping CD Monday, but I’d like to instead share an album (Nelly Kate’s Ish Ish) that I find very helpful when it comes to emotional processing, which is an important part of the aftermath of horrific events like Sunday morning’s. Regardless of whether you lost someone in that club, got scared half to death because you have friends who were in Orlando at the time, don’t know a single gay person but just really don’t want the government to take your guns away, or you’re overwhelmed thinking about the disproportionately large effect a single small mind can have… I’m certain that everyone can benefit from honest introspection about what comes next.

Find the corners of your mind. There just might be nuggets of truth — newfound clarity or unexpected empathy — in those places that can help us all move forward from this. Not away, but forward.

Nelly Kate — “Minds + Corners” [Discogs]

Angel Olsen


A few hours before Monday’s show at Strange Matter, I went for a long run down Grove Avenue with this weekend’s episode of This American Life. Titled “Secret Identity,” the show included a lengthy segment about people afflicted with a rare psychiatric condition called delusional disorder — a distant cousin of schizophrenia that causes otherwise-high-functioning people to convince themselves of fictional yet totally plausible delusions. This was either the exact right or exact wrong way to prepare for seeing Angel Olsen perform. That’s because, for entire sections of her set, which followed enjoyable opening performances by Richmond’s own Nelly Kate (who I’ll be posting about separately) and Chicago-based Pillars and Tongues, I thought Olsen was staring directly at me.

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5×5 Regrets


(Click here to browse my 5 original year-in-review posts.)

While Mrs. YHT was making a delicious Mexican corn chowder thing the other night, a song that was released in 2012 came on our under-cabinet CD player — yes, we still have (and use) an under-cabinet CD player — and a wave of regret began to wash over me. No… that metaphor isn’t strong enough. Hearing this particular song was more like regret giving me a spirited kick to the nuts. (You’ll find out which tune it was in a minute.)

In some ways I’m glad it happened, because there are a few artists and albums I’d take a mulligan to include, either because I screwed up or because of my short-sighted — albeit merciful, for sleep-getting reasons — decision to limit myself to 5 of each superlative category.

If you’ll indulge me, I promise not to ever talk about 2012 again.

OK, I can’t promise that, but indulge me anyways?

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Tom Tom Founders Festival

If you would have told me in September of last year that central Virginia would see the establishment of three brand new music festivals in 9 months, I would have said, “That’s just cray.” But you would have been right! In the time it takes to make a human child, RVA Magazine has hosted RVA Music Fest (my coverage here and here), Style Weekly has put on the Shadrock Music Festival (Cheats Movement’s coverage here), and now — and I really do mean now, as it’s already started — we have Charlottesville’s Tom Tom Founders Festival, a month-long, SXSW-style music, arts and innovation conference that culminates in two amazing days of music this weekend. More than 50 bands will be performing on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12, and the lineup includes a wonderful mix of heavy-hitting national acts (Those Darlins, Futurebirds, Josh Ritter and J Roddy Walston & the Business to name a few) and VA-based artists that promise to showcase the amazing pool of talent found in the area (Dead Fame, Eternal Summers, The Hill & Wood and No BS! Brass Band among them). Have a look at the full list of performers and their set times here. Though several jump out as must-sees, two in particular have me worked up into an anticipatory tizzy, the first of which is Nelly Kate.

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Nelly Kate

Ish Ish

On Tuesday, I praised 2011’s wave of remix EPs for two main reasons,  the first being that these companion albums provide a fresh perspective on familiar songs, which, for me, raises the value of the original compositions. But then again, I’m a sucker for intertextuality. The second reason I like these remix albums is that they put the artist in driver’s seat of something that is typically out of their hands — secondary consumption. Whether you’re dealing with remixes, live covers, or illegal downloads, songs take on a life of their own once they’ve been released, and their writers rarely benefit. Remix EPs provide a way for musicians to have some agency in a distribution paradigm that’s stacked against them. Lemons, meet lemonade. There’s another phenomenon happening right now that has that same lemonade-y feel to it, as Staunton-based musician Nelly Kate can attest: Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a service that lets you solicit funds online so you can turn your creative vision — be that a documentary, music recording, or modular and expandable crop production unit (I did not make, and could not have made, that last one up) — into a reality. After all, in the age of the interweb, why should anyone with a great idea sit around waiting for a big company to swoop in and save the day? As the not-so-great Bill O’Reilly once said, “Fuck it! We’ll do it live!” A few days ago, I found the Kickstarter page for Nelly Kate’s album Ish Ish as a result of an RVA Magazine article, and I quickly fell in love with her story. In the video on her page, Kate describes so eloquently her inspiration and goals for her album, which she recorded via reel-to-reel and will have pressed to vinyl to complete the analog process. As she mentions in the video “It takes a true sense of commitment to press a record onto vinyl,” and that’s the beauty of her project, and why it’s so perfect for Kickstarter — Kate’s passion shines through, making it impossible not to root for her. Listen below to the beautifully written and layered song from Ish Ish that she’s provided to whet our appetites, “Blue Badges,” and if you enjoy it, please head to her Kickstarter and contribute. Even though it appears that she’s reached her goal, you can still contribute at different levels and receive various gifts in return, from a digital download of the album, to a vinyl copy, to a limited edition 50-page book that features Kate’s line drawings, lyrics and inside secrets, complete with an autographed and a personal message.

Nelly Kate — “Blue Badges