Really excited to spread the word about this. A few months ago, I had a chance to interview Mark Branch, the blues singer you might have seen at the entrance to the South of the James Farmer’s Market. My family goes there just about every week when the weather is warm, which makes Markiss Blowfish — that’s Branch’s stage name — the Richmond musician I see most often.
Whether I’m walking by in a hurry or stopping with my daughter to move along with Branch’s steady, chugging guitar playing, the amount of joy in my day increases as a result of hearing him sing, and I can report that speaking with him about music and his journey in life had the same effect. The experience left me thanking my lucky stars for my sense of place. Places matter, and they’re more than just locations. They’re the routines you settle into. The people you see. I’m so thankful for that market and this city and the feeling I get when I hear Branch’s voice booming in the distance when I’m walking toward him. Also Mrs. Yoder’s donuts. Can’t leave those out.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of River City Magazine or read online to learn more about him. And be sure to check him out at the South of the James Market. It’s a wonderful, soul-nourishing way to start your weekend.
This post contains:
- A quick update about an article I wrote that’s on newsstands now
- A ticket giveaway — so be sure to read to the end!
I had the honor of interviewing Reggie Pace of No BS! Brass Band recently, and the resulting River City Magazine article can be found online here and in the real world as well.
He and I met up at Perly’s and discussed — between bites of matzoh ball soup — everything from the history of No BS! to the need for more coverage of Richmond’s hip hop scene. It’s a conversation I won’t soon forget, and it’s one I feel very grateful to have had. Many thanks to Pace for meeting up and to Lauren Serpa for letting the magazine use one of her photos for that amazing cover.
Now for the giveaway — be the first to comment below or on this blog’s Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr and you’ll win a pair of guest list spots for tomorrow’s No BS! ten year anniversary show at The Broadberry. Really excited for this one. I’m feeling a little under the weather, but I don’t care — I’m not missing it. Hope to see you there!
No BS! Brass Band — “Brass Knuckles” (live) [YouTube]
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
Quick non-bloggy writing heads up: I recently got to interview Barry Privett, the lead singer of Carbon Leaf, and while the article doesn’t appear to be online yet, you can grab a print copy of River City Magazine/West End’s Best at these locations.
Carbon Leaf is a name you hear and see quite a bit living in Richmond, but I didn’t know the group’s full backstory — how they all lived together in one house on Floyd Avenue at one point, how they were originally a cover band and had to make the tough transition to playing original music, which venues in town they played in their early years… At the same time that Carbon Leaf has evolved over the years, they’ve been a constant amid a great deal of change during the last two decades. Really interesting, I think. I hope y’all will grab a copy and then grab a ticket to their show this Saturday at The National — should be a really good time.
Carbon Leaf — “Indecision” (live) [Spotify/iTunes]
So happy to see my interview with Perpetual Groove hit the interweb. This was a pleasure to work on, in part because it’s such an exciting moment for the band. They’re picking up steam after taking some time off — new EP, on tour now, and they’ll be stopping in Richmond at the National this Saturday night. Should be a special show — keyboardist Matt McDonald said some really nice things about the National in our interview. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about their journey and their history of environmental activism in this River City Magazine article.
Perpetual Groove — “Best Of Anything” [Spotify/iTunes]
Call it creative vision. Call it a sense of purpose. Clarity. Self-awareness. However you want to describe it, talking to drummer/percussionist Jake Sellers convinced me: The Hot Seats have it.
I walked away from our recent interview with a stomach full of delicious Pho Tay Do food and a huge amount of respect for the group, which has won fans on both sides of the Atlantic. They strike me as protectors of something vital — something funny and fearless and closer to the actual “root” of the roots music that’s experienced a recent resurgence.
This quote from the article might say it better than any other:
“I think we very much as a band like [what’s] scratchy, looser … I don’t want to say dangerous, but less safe. Take a chance. We’re certainly willing to fall on our faces trying a song we’ve never played before in front of an audience because that’s where the excitement is.”
I love that, and I want to thank Jake for taking the time to meet and explore what he and the band are doing. Click here to read the whole River City Magazine article, or pick up a hard copy at one of these locations.
The Hot Seats — “I Ain’t No Better Now” [Spotify/iTunes]
Very excited that my River City Magazine interview with Clair Morgan is up — click here to check it out at Richmond Navigator’s site. Or you can grab a print copy on newsstands now. My favorite is the red stand outside the Byrd Theatre, but there are a bunch of other places you can go. Here’s a full list.
I mentioned this on Instagram last night, but what a privilege this was to work on. These are some of the most talented and friendly musicians you will ever meet, and they took the time to chat about all sorts of fun stuff, including their upcoming album, New Lions & the Not-Good Night, which I’m 100% certain is going to blow minds and win hearts. Morgan won mine in our interview with how much forethought and emotional investment went into the album’s overarching narrative. Check out this snippet from the article:
While the music is light at times, heavier themes lend balance to “New Lions.” “When you think about an adventure you took as a child,” Morgan said, “when you’re looking through that lens, that really happened. But now you’re looking through a completely different lens, whether you’re an adult or a father, and you look back at that scenario from a completely different perspective. What did you not soak in that actually happened that you were not able to absorb?”
Mind already blown. Click here to read the rest, and don’t miss their show at the Camel tonight — they’ll be closing the book on their previous album cycle by playing No Notes in full. Here’s one of that album’s standout tracks, “Battleship Heart.”
Clair Morgan — “Battleship Heart” [Spotify/iTunes]