Blown Away...

For those of us on hand for the first of two evenings with harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy at In Your Ear laslevy-dowdy 9-24t night, it was one of those special nights that makes one grateful for the gift of music and those who invest their hearts and souls into the art of making it.  Howard and his gifted and tasteful guitarist Chris Siebold mesmerized the intimate audience which included local blues legend L'il Ronnie along with jazz mentor and JAMinc co-founder Doug Richards.  It was a profound experience to see such serious musicians truly astounded by Chris' and Howard's stunning artistry.  And the recording is spectacular...we'll let you know when some of it might air on WCVE-FM.  You should have been there...but the beautiful thing is, we have them for one more incredible show tonight at 7:30.  (Doors at 6:30, $20)   I can't urge you strongly enough to be spontaneous.  Just do it.  And be looking out for a short Flecktones reunion tour with Howard onboard this November.  In Your Ear Studios are at 19th and Broad.  (photo by Page Dowdy)


BT&B Honky Tonk

And it was a big night for Brad Spivey and his Honky Tonk Experience as they provided the proper backdrop for Black Tie & Boots, the annual pre-State Fair throwdown at the brand new venue, Meadow Event Park.  Don't let a little needed rain keep you away from this sprawling and much more appropriate setting for the State Fair of Virginia.  Just north of Ashland, exit 98 off I-95.  It runs through Oct 4th and there's a lot to see...and hear.


rootsmusic_logo The Experience is playing one of a handful of terrific pre-Folk Festival gigs starting Sunday, October 4th (theirs is at the Hat Factory on the 7th) called the Richmond Roots Music Sessions.  Check out the full lineup here.  Big thanks to Todd Ranson for all his legwork in putting this awesome addition to the Festival together.  Crank it up!



Crown Jewel

By all indications, Richmond's elegant new performing arts complex CenterStage has been more than worth the wait. We got a first look tonight during dress rehearsal for the grand opening Saturday night in the fully enhanced and expacarpenter marqueended Carpenter Theatre. It's been meticulously restored and repainted with more bars, more restrooms and inviting lounges and public spaces. First class all the way...and we didn't get to see the 200-seat Gottwald Playhouse and the smaller Rhythm Hall that will afford more intimate venues under the same big roof between 6th and 7th Streets along East Grace. You can take in the big show featuring all of CenterStage's resident companies including the Richmond Symphony, Ballet, Shakespeare and Jazz Society plus SPARC, The African American Repertory Theatre, Barksdale/Theatre IV, Elegba Folklore Society and the Virginia Opera. Tim and Daphne Maxwell Reid proved genial and light-hearted hosts during tonight's rehearsal and the challenging stage changeovers were amazingly smooth.john & jack If you make the scene on Saturday, look for John Winn and his dad Jack (left) blowing twin saxes and crooning "The Best Is Yet To Come" with Desiree Roots Centeio. (That's David Hoggard on drums) And prepare to be impressed by the AART tap and stomp production of Langston Is My Man inspired by Harlem poet Langston Hughes. (below)langston's my man Hats off to producer/director Keith Martin who did a sterling job of wrangling hundreds of performers and crew, and this was just rehearsal. Richmond's new star attraction should shine brightly Saturday night. Plus you can tour the place for free during a Sunday afternoon open house. Details and info on all the above on the CenterStage Website. climb every mountain Oh, and fittingly, Mother Abbess showed up from the Sound of Music and sang "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." The climb has been challenging and contentious but the view from the top is spectacular.



September Songs

walden pond sky So far, the ninth month has brought luxuriously less humid more comfortable weather, a full corn moon, a much-needed soaking rain at the end of the Labor Day weekend, and a heightened anticipation of the season that comes next. Fall is my favorite of the four, and I find that preference grows with each passing year. The AC-free open windows, the lengthening shadows cast by more golden rays of sunlight, and the wistful awareness that life is indeed passing and every moment is more precious. Music plays a big part in that and there’s so much to look forward to in this and the months to follow. A few highlights…

The much-anticipated opening of Richmond CenterStage is this coming Saturday downtown at 6th and Grace. After a long and often painful gestation, we’ll all be anxious to see the birth of the new Carpenter Theater witcenterstage renderingh wider, more cushy seating, a freshly fancy paint job and a greatly expanded backstage/load in capacity. The first glimpse will feature performers from nine of our area’s cultural fixtures including the Richmond Symphony and Richmond Ballet. Hopes are high that this re-burnished jewel will assume its rightful place as Richmond’s cultural focal point, with creative booking that gives everyone a reason to come downtown and be inspired.

bennys_vol 1 number 5 sept-oct 1981 If you want to give the CenterStage folks a little time to work out the inevitable bugs and don’t feel the need to be there on opening night, you might want to witness the potent reunion of Chuck “Rockin’ Daddy” Wrenn and Barry “Mad Dog” Gottlieb who’ll be overseeing the festivities this Saturday at the BennyFit for Hospice at the Playing Field out on West Broad. For those who frequented Benny Waldbauer’s punk rock club Benny’s, near Monroe Park back in the eighties, you can bask in those hazy memories as members of the Ortho-Tonics, Beex, The Good Guys, the Diversions and others give it their all to recapture the magic. Outspoken smooth operator Chris Bopst will also partake. Proceeds go to Bon Secours Hospice. (old Benny’s poster from The Throttle-1981)

ibma sammyThe following weekend, the Virginia Folk Music Association will bestow its highest honor to native son Sammy Shelor for his contribution to bluegrass and evolution of the five-string banjo. He will join fellow finger pickers Roy Clark, Ralph Stanley, Bill Emerson, Eddie Adcock and Ben Eldridge in the VFMA Hall…Sammy’s a four-time winner of IBMA’s banjo player of the year award and is a finalist again this year, has played with the Heights of Grass, the Virginia Squires and currently leads the solid-as-ever Lonesome River Band. Sammy’s induction will include an LRB performance at the Chesterfield Fairgrounds on Friday, the 18th. More info and tickets are available here. Let’s all turn out and celebrate one of this generation’s true stylists and genuinely nice guys.

ac&t logo Ashland Coffee and Tea has regained its stride with some very compelling local and touring artists on its fall schedule, including Bill Kirchen, Chatham County Line, Chris Smither and Jesse Winchester. Keep an eye on their ever-changing Website.

A fine lineup of players will join Mark Newton in Fredericksburg on September 19th for his Homecoming Pickin’ Party at Maury Stadium.  Artists include Larry Stephenson, Claire Lynch, IIIrd Tyme Out and the Seldom Scene and a big jam at the end of the day.  Advance tickets are $30 available here, and proceeds benefit the James Monroe High School athletic program…I think Mark played baseball there.  So its a….homer!

levy press JAMinc presents a double opportunity to experience the remarkable virtuosity of Grammy winner Howard Levy, one of the most innovative harmonica players of all time on September 24th and 25th at In Your Ear Recording in the Bottom. Howard and his veteran guitarist Chris Siebold will offer a far-ranging set list including jazz, blues, latin and pop melodies with a few old Flecktone favorites thrown in for good measure. flecktones cd You can reserve one of 80 seats we’ll have each night here (click on “events”) or you can get lucky and win a pair for Thursday night here by answering the following question: Mr. Levy’s harp was heard on the soundtrack of what 1996 film adapted from a novel of the same name by a Virginia writer? I’ll draw from all correct responders to mail@timtimberlake.com on September 12.

todd sheaffer rre Jamgrass devotees will welcome Railroad Earth back to the National on Friday, the 25th and I’ve got a pair of comps to that show as well…here’s the question: Name the band lead vocalist Todd Sheaffer played in prior to starting Railroad Earth. Email answers again to mail@timtimberlake.com. Drawing for duplicate correct replies on September 14th.

Richmond-Folk-Festival-General-Identity There are still quite a few volunteer slots in numerous capacities available for the 2nd annual Richmond Folk Festival, October 9-11. Check the Website to sign up and enjoy the sweet satisfaction of being a part of one of the best things ever to happen to our city. And stay tuned for the soon-to-be announced lineup of the Richmond Roots Music Sessions, a nightly warm-up for the Festival starting at Legend Brewery on Sunday, October 4th. Some of our town’s best from all over the musical map will be performing at places like Capital Ale House, Plaza Bowl, Gibson’s, and The Hat Factory. What an amazing week we have in store…soak up as much as you possibly can.

P1050971 And if RFF II leaves you hankering for more, the west coast’s Waybacks blow into town on Wednesday, October 15th at Capital Ale House.  Preaching to the choir for many of you extolling their extensive musical virtues, but this is definitely a band that shines live.  The records don’t do them justice.  They can do it all.  Tickets available online.

A footnote: the previously announced reunion concert with the Robbin Thompson Band at the National on November 27th will be re-scheduled to another date shortly…

Hope your summer’s been as memorable as mine…hard to let the memories fade so quickly. But that’s ok…fall’s in the air and that will ease the post partem summertime blues.

Thanks for the read…TT

(Howard Levy photo from his Website)