There are a lot of places in the world that have a bit of my heart but my happy place is in Richmond, VA. The past two weeks of getting to *mostly* be in the RVA have been beautiful. It is the city that is always home. If you have been here, you know this. If you visit here, you will feel this. The people, the history, the art, the music, the food, the river and again, I’ll say, the people. It isn’t hard to find happy here.
I found myself grateful that the childhood memories of snow days still ring true as an adult, getting nicely snowed in at Danny & Jaime’s house of fun for a few days and braving the winter nights to see loads of my favorite people and music, music, music, oh so much music. There is a glow about the RVA music/art scene. Things are happening here, people are working together to make things happen, the talent is contagious. I love it, have always loved it. Love NYC & LA for different reasons, they both have bits of my heart…but my happy place, my happy place is in RVA.
The two weeks of awesome started out with Mekong Xpress & The Get Fresh Horns at the #1 beer place in the usofa, Mekong. You like beer? This place is your place. You like music? Monday nights are the place to be at Mekong. Every Monday night Mekong Xpress & The Get Fresh Horns take over the rooms to let loose their funky fresh sound.
Danny P. at Cary St. I love that Cary St. still feels exactly the same as it did 10 years ago. I love everything about Cary St. Café except that the “Pee for Slicky, Pee” graffiti seems to be gone, or perhaps I was just in the wrong bathroom stall. Cary St. Café is warm and comfortable, great food and staff. It was the regular spot for Wed nights back in the days of Gray-V and it still embodies the same feel, just better. Danny P. always brings a lotta good tunes and even more smiles when he takes the stage. His original works are ridiculously awesome and he covers the two greatest bands in the world – Ween & BooB.
After Danny was done making the crowd (cuz dang, another thing about RVA – the people come out to shows! Place was packed even though the city was semi shut down due to the weather) howl with laughter and get their boogie started, Fear of Music took the stage. This was my 2nd time seeing FOM and I can’t wait till I say 100th time, cuz their shine will never dull. The talent in this band is ridiculous and they rock out exactly what I want to hear with all heart wrenching, ironical, make you dance – make you groove, scorching intensity that unifies this Talking Heads tribute band.
The next night took me to The Camel to see Big Daddy Love. I wasn’t a huge fan The Camel when it first started to be the place to see music. The layout felt awkward and I was always nervous I was going to knock something off of the walls. It was very much a coffee house, daytime type of place. In the time that Rand Burgess has owned and operated The Camel he has turned the spot into one of the best bars and places to see live music! He created a scene in an area of town where, really, nothing was going on and has created a safe environment for people to have fun in a damn cool space. Seeing local artists on the walls in a place that allows for people to both dance to live music and hang in the bar area comfortably plays a huge part in making the Richmond music and arts scene so incredible. Kudos to Rand for turning that space into pure awesome.
Big Daddy Love welcomed me to The Camel, along with a ready to dance packed house. The guys in Big Daddy Love – love playing and their huge grins, rocking sound and endless energy are contagious. Watching people love what they do is the best thing in the world, made only better when they are that damn good at doing what they love. Big Daddy Love brings their raucous sound of Appalachian Rock wherever they go and everyone has a seriously good time whenever they play.
The weekend started off with a recording session with The Milkstains out at Russell Lacy’s place, Virginia Moonwalker. Virginia Moonwalker is tucked away in the middle of the woods, a hidden resort for creativity. The energy of the space can’t help but be a catalyst for great music. The Milkstains took a break from overdubs and rocked out a few of their high energy tunes for me. Hell yeah. I want to see them live.
That night it was back to The Camel for the Jackass Flats show. The room was at capacity and everyone was sweaty from dancing by the time I got there. I walked in for the last few notes of The Northerners set, looking forward to hearing a full set soon.
I know that I have a ridiculous grin on my face the entire time Jackass Flats plays a show. I love them. I love how happy they make everyone. I love how happy the happy crowd makes them. & I love the way their sound has evolved through the years. I’ve been seeing them for over a decade and their jam has evolved into a rocking out bluegrass/honkeytonk/country tunes with an energy that you just have to experience live.
The music doesn’t stop in RVA and after the JAF set we made it to Emilios to hear the end of the very last song, which turned out to not be even close to being the very last song. The band and bar were easily persuaded for one more by The Super 45’s and then just as we thought the night of music was truly over, Melissa and Chelsea brought two of the peeps from Snarky Puppy in and everyone had to get down to some funk with Kelli Strawbridge leading with his royal James Brown.
Sunday brought me a little respite from the crowded Camel to the bluegrass brunch Camel. Every Sunday, The Camel hosts a Bluegrass brunch with a hella lot of talented folks rotating in. That brunch brought the lovely Elizabeth Wise and The Shoo Flies. Liz has a voice that makes me want to be able to sing. That girl can sing the blues and belt the joys. dayum. She also plays one hell of a mean slide guitar.
Nate Griffith invited me to join him at the new Sound of Music space to check out the session with Jordan Tarrant. Sound of Music just moved to a new space over on Broad Street and boyah it is awesome. Huge, eclectic rooms filled with music making machines. I love it. It feels like a place where amazing things can happen and amazing things were happening. I love studio sessions. Watching people create and make magic moments together is really special. I had the treat of listening to 3 of the tracks later and hell yes, it is awesome. I pulled out the t/s lens to play a bit more and am in love with how you can truly pinpoint the focus. SOM was a pretty fantastic environment to play a little with this lens, the levels and wall papers, and lights and drum room create a wonderful space. Oh! & the bathroom! So awesome. I didn’t get a shot of the bathroom but will the next time I visit. Kudo’s to the creating team on that space. Looking forward to seeing how it grows.
Being that it was Monday again, I headed to Mekong after the studio for some more Mekong Xpress & the Get Fresh Horns. You seriously can’t go wrong with this Monday night. An Mekong also picked another winner. I’ve liked the taste of two beers in my life and both have been picked by An Mekong. He is the only man who can get me to drink beer and enjoy it. Like I said, if you like beer & music, Monday nights at Mekong are the only place to be.
As I write and get ready to post this blog, I sit in Virginia Moonwalkers listening to Russell Lacy run through old tunes that he hasn’t picked out in a while as he is getting ready to go play a show at Ashland Coffee & Tea. Two weeks of RVA music is a very good thing. Looking forward to testing more with the tilt & shift tonight.
<3 what you do.