...of what could well be the most potent offering of great live music a spring season has ever seen in our home town, where we've already seen Jesse Harper lure Brooklyn's Richard Julian to our favorite new venue, Glave Kocen Gallery along with Trey Pollard, Wells Hanley and Daniel Clarke, we're off an running toward some huge payoffs in places familiar and not...indoors and out, over the next couple of months. Before we leap ahead, a rearview thank you to BJ Kocen and Jenn Glave for opening their inviting artspace on West Main to some fine musicians who needed a place to play. There was way too high a dose of music per person last Saturday as mostly friends and family shared some of Richard's select tequila and his observant tunes of life and love in the boroughs. A highlight was witnessing Wells, VCU's new jazz piano professor, and Daniel, the latest addition to the Dixie Chicks touring band out with the Eagles this summer, seated at the same keyboard and dueting to their own delight and ours. (dark fuzzy foto above) Sorry most of you missed that one...we hope to see them together again. Jesse's got a few dates coming up opening for Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins who by the way will be at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden as part of Garrison Keillor's "Summer of Love" Prairie Home Companion live show on August 13th. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
While we're on the subject of Jesse and Daniel, I want to happily announce that our very first JAMinc/In Your Ear compilation CD (featuring Jesse w/Daniel on track 7) is finally out and available on our Website and at Plan 9 in Carytown. Fourteen outstanding tunes, most composed by the artists themselves recorded over the past six years at our live studio concerts with no re-takes or overdubs. With the likes of Howard Levy, the late John Cephas, Wayne Henderson, Cadillac Sky, Bryan Bowers, Bruce Molsky and the Kruger Brothers on board, you know you'll want one and a couple of extras to gift your discriminating music-loving friends. We'll also have them at our next concert on May 26th with guitarists-extraordinaire Todd Hallawell & Robin Kessinger. We'll be recording a live DVD that night too...don't miss it. Reservations here.
For those of us who make the annual pilgrimage to Wilkes County, NC for the sprawling spectacular gathering known as MerleFest, it's hard to believe another year's rolled by and we'll soon be stressing on how much we'll be missing no matter how we try to take it all in. It runs April 29-May 2 and the big names this year are Dierks Bentley with a bluegrass set, Zac Brown, Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes, Dailey & Vincent, the Waybacks, Sam Bush, the Avett Brothers, and a special Saturday night set with Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. And we'll enjoy seeing some or our past JAMinc/In Your Ear performers like the Krugers, Wayne Henderson and Anne & Pete Sibley. Conspicuous in his absence this year will be John Cowan, who is doing a short tour as a Doobie Brother, something he did some 20 years ago in the wake of NGR's breakup. MerleFest is like no other music festival and it's a joy to reconvene each April to renew old friendships and make new ones in the stimulating environment of great live music. It's a true privilege for which I'm deeply grateful. For those staying home, how about Cadillac Sky at Ashland Coffee & Tea Thursday night followed by the finals of the Songwriter's Showdown on Saturday. And how about Jimmy Gaudreaux & Moondi Klein back along the tracks on May 7th. The night before marks the kickoff of the hottest season yet of Lewis Ginter's Groovin' in the Garden with the power-packed R&B of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. If you missed this knockout band at the National back in December, don't pass up this night under the stars in the Rose Garden. And just check out the other seven shows, each Thursday in May and June. It's killin' me to have to miss Patty Griffin with Buddy Miller on June 3, but you sure shouldn't. Vancouver's ice man Tom Beals has put together another amazing season, plus PHC in August!
And props to Venture Richmond's Stephen Lecky for booking another strong lineup for Friday Cheers on Brown's Island (think Railroad Earth and the Emmitt-Nershi Band) almost free again this year at two bucks...come on! Check the schedule here including the Dominion RiverRocks weekend May 14-15 with FloydFest faves Grace Potter & The Nocturnals on Friday and Robert Randolph & the Family Band on Saturday. And that's not even mentioning the great indoor concerts headed to the National including Dierks Bentley with the Traveling McCourys, Brandi Carlile, Shawn Colvin, Indigo Girls, and Merle Haggard among many others over the next few months. Dierks and Del's boys bring the bluegrass tour to town on Tuesday, May 18th and we'll put you + 1 on the guest list if you can tell me who produced Mr. Bentley's upcoming acoustic album Up On The Ridge. (firstname.lastname@example.org) One winner...we'll draw from correct responses on May 10th. There's an all-star lineup backing the country mega-star and it was engineered by the terminally tasteful Gary Paczosa who also did the Infamous Stringdusters' new project Things That Fly, which is killer by the way. Dierks guests on that too. So much great music being made by so many. Soak up as much as you can.
And to add to the embarrassment of riches, on sale today tickets to the 6th annual Music For Massey concert marking the return of the Waybacks (they've anchored the show every year) plus the fabulous Marc Broussard and alt-country king Chris Isaak! How's that! It's on Sunday, July 25th not at the Science Museum but at the SnagAJob Pavilion. More room. Get your tickets here.
What a country!
(Chris Isaak photo from his Website)