Heaven isn’t too far away, y’all.
Regardless of your beliefs on what awaits in the afterlife, Hopewell isn’t that far a drive for those of us who live in Richmond, and I can confirm that the Beacon Theatre is truly a heavenly place to see a concert.
I was in the area a few weeks back, on a Friday that was mostly spent exploring the past and present of Petersburg, VA. Good beer, lots of history, and evidence all over town of the film being shot there based on the story of Harriet Tubman.
That night, I got to see the results of a very different kind of historical project — the restoration of the Beacon Theatre, which originally opened in 1928 as a silent movie theater but was left vacant starting in 1981. Intentions to reopen the space turned into action in the late 1990’s, and in 2014, the Beacon reopened its doors as a music venue with beautiful bright red seats and carpets, balcony seating, and the air of grandeur you’d expect given the theater’s vintage.
And what better way to experience that grandeur for the first time than a band whose double-platinum selling debut album was called Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich? That’s right: I got to see Warrant in all of their hair-flinging, riff-spitting glory. It was quite a moment: Warrant had that room in a feverish state, with longtime fans and younger attendees alike on their feet and shouting out lyrics — especially the ones to the debut album’s title song.
If you haven’t heard it, listen below. And if you haven’t yet been to the Beacon in its current form, take a look at the schedule here and make a plan to head to Hopewell. You’ll be happy you did.
Hot off the blog presses — my latest post for Virginia’s Travel Blog is up! I explored a few ways you can walk in the footsteps of some of Virginia’s musical legends, from Ralph Stanley and Dave Matthews to Bruce Hornsby and René Marie.
One fun addendum: I included a section on Jason Mraz, and while it focuses on his involvement with SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community) and their annual LIVE ART show, Mraz brought this idea full circle by releasing a video that was shot in and around Richmond, meaning he’s essentially walking in his own footsteps. So meta. Check the video out below and click here to read my “Where They’re From” post on Virginia’s Travel Blog.
Very excited to share that I got to write a second series of music-themed posts for Virginia’s Travel Blog. And two are already up:
Here’s the setup:
Whether you enjoy a heartwarming song or a heart-racing outdoor adventure, your options in Virginia are nearly endless. In fact, you don’t have to choose between the two. The following festivals, venues, and pairings show how you can get your adrenaline pumping in the Old Dominion via live music and lively activities — often at the same time!
From FloydFest and Dominion RiverRock to the wilds of Southwestern Virginia, lots to explore here. Follow this link to read the post.
How do you sum up Virginia’s contributions to jazz in just one blog post? You can’t, obviously, but I tried to give a little info about some of the prominent people, places, and events that make the state such an amazing destination for jazz fans. Whether you’re big on Butcher Brown or wild about Warrenton, there’s a blurb or two here for you. Check out the post here.
For more information, I highly recommend Don Harrison’s article about Virginia’s jazz tradition in the February issue of Virginia Living. Tons of great info there as well, and the layout is stunning, complete with Devonne Harris and Marcus Tenney on the cover!
One more post for Virginia’s Tourism Blog to tell y’all about, called “Building Bridges: International Music Experiences In Virginia.” I sincerely hope you’ll read it and send the link around — getting outside of your musical comfort zone is such a worthwhile and soul-replenishing thing to do, and I’m certain that if it happened more often, people would understand each other in ways they don’t currently.
Best of all, Richmonders can get started right away! You’ll find Afro-Zen Allstars among the bands mentioned, and they’ll be at Garden Grove Brewing Company in Carytown tonight, continuing their monthly residency there. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
I wanted to take a second to thank Andrew Cothern and all the other folks at Virginia Tourism for letting me write these posts. It’s such an honor to tell these stories and represent the musical traditions of the state I’ve called home my entire life. I’ve learned a ton in the last few months, and I hope to be able to share more stories like these in the future.
To play us out, here’s another Richmond band I mention in the post — venerated salsa outfit Bio Ritmo:
Bio Ritmo — “La Vía” [Spotify/iTunes]
Music and beer. Two of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Two things Virginians are really, really good at. The kind people at Virginia’s Travel Blog let me write a big long thing about the glorious middle of that Venn Diagram — breweries around the state that do music right, whether that’s hosting shows, brewing beers inspired by music, or letting customers bring and spin their own vinyl.
Click here to read the post. Hope you’re thirsty.
I mentioned Todd Herrington’s Things album near the end — I can’t imagine a better song to share when talking about the intersection between Virginia music and beer than “An’s Mekong,” named after the Richmond restaurant that’s won CraftBeer.com’s Great American Beer Bar competition multiple times.
Todd Herrington — “An’s Mekong” [Bandcamp/iTunes]
My latest post for Virginia’s Travel Blog went up late last week! I hope you’ll click here and take a look — I offer a few suggestions for digging into the history of bluegrass in Virginia.
I was especially excited to write this one, in part because of how essential and elemental this state’s connection to bluegrass is. Forgive the expression, but it practically sprouts up out of the ground around here. Virginia has contributed so much to the genre throughout the last 70 years, and it really struck me while I was working on this post how those contributions comprise a kind of inheritance. Something we can all enjoy and engage with. Ralph Stanley, the gorgeous Lincoln Theatre in Marion, a museum exhibit on banjos, Bill Monroe’s mandolin… there’s so much to do, see, and hear, and I went ahead and included some recommended listening for the ride to each landmark.
One of those recommendations is Clippin’ the Grass, an album released in 1983 on a Virginia label called Outlet Records. (If you follow me on social media, you know I love posting pictures of records, and you’ll see a picture in the post of my copy of Clippin’ the Grass. Couldn’t resist.) Here’s the whole thing via YouTube:
The Bluegrass Clippers — Clippin’ the Grass [YouTube]
My latest post for Virginia Tourism is up, and I’m especially eager to get the word out about this one.
You know that feeling when a song references where you’re from? That sense of collective pride? These are a few of the songs that give me that feeling. I originally intended to list more, but these five had such interesting backstories, and I couldn’t resist diving a bit deeper. Fingers crossed I get to do another post expanding the list.
With that in mind, I hope you’ll take a look and spread the word — and please share which songs you’d have included. I won’t list all five of mine here, but I will say that there’s a mix of instrumentals and songs with lyrics, that Lin-Manuel Miranda is involved, and that I hope folks take this opportunity to get to know Daniel Bachman’s music a little better. His playing is steeped in history, from his stylistic depth to song titles that pay homage to the region is different ways.
Here’s the song of his I included in the post, the title track from his 2014 Orange Co. Serenade album.
Daniel Bachman — “Orange County Serenade” [Spotify/iTunes]