Acknowledging that this is a music-oriented blog, I can’t ignore an overwhelming achievement witnessed this past Saturday at the Byrd Theatre. A grateful generation that came of age as loyal schooner mates of Channel 12’s Sailor Bob Griggs and his crew of characters were able to savor the memories evoked by a masterful 90-minute documentary screened before a full house moved to tears and frequent rounds of spontaneous applause. Bob’s warm and witty presence on our hometown TV screens during the 60s and early 70s gave him celebrity status not seen here before or since. His daily live shows with Gilliver Gull, Mr. Mouse and Bluebird endeared him to children with his drawing and musical stories as it ensnared the grownups with often hilarious improv. The Sailor Bob Story lovingly captures this precious time in our past with on-air and behind-the-scenes clips, interviews with those involved in producing the show and some quality time with Bob himself, a humble and unassuming hero if there ever was one.
The VGO Productions team (above) that crafted this fitting tribute to Sailor Bob’s life and legacy enjoyed a well-earned moment in the spotlight at the Byrd. From left, director Paul Roberts, producer Leslie Custalow, videographers Tim Wright and Charlie Reilly, video wizard Guy Spiller and original music composer Frank Coleman. Frank gathered a studio full of Richmond’s most accomplished players to provide just the right sonic foundation for these perfectly-edited nostalgic images…including Charles Arthur, Daniel Clarke, Stefan Demetriades, Chris Fuller, Randall Pharr, John Winn and Forrest Young. If you missed the premiere, you missed a heartwarming celebration of a career that mattered, made all the more special by Bob’s being there to absorb all the love in the room. But The Sailor Bob Story will see its first air time on Tuesday, February 8th at 9pm on WCVE/Channel 23. So you’ll have another chance. And your chance to own your own DVD of the doc with lots of extras will come soon at the official Website. And the Virginia Historical Society has committed to archiving and displaying the extensive collection of Sailor Bob video, artwork and memorabilia. Stay tuned. Incidentally, the aforementioned Coleman & Fuller will continue their long-running ‘brotherly love’ tour this Saturday at the Iron Horse in Ashland from 9-12. No cover…no kidding!
Our day of re-living the best of the 60s continued that night at the CenterStage Carpenter Theatre as the Richmond Symphony feted 50 years of Motown with one of Berry Gordy, Jr.’s chosen groups, The Contours of “Do You Love Me” fame. Despite having only one remaining member from the era of their one big hit, Sylvester Potts, the stylish quartet had us boomers singing along with songs wisely picked from the Smokey Robinson/Temptations/Four Tops set lists at the expense of their own. It was an entertaining show but from our seats (orchestra right, row Q) the symphony was effectively inaudible behind the Contours’ six-piece band. Conductor Erin Freeman appeared to be doing pantomime…was it just me? Disappointing but a fresh reminder of how solid and durable those Motor City melodies remain.
Looking ahead for the next few weeks, we’re eager to catch Teddy & The Roosevelts for the first time, the latest evolution of King Wilkie co-founder/guitarist/composer Ted Pitney. Opening will be our favorite Honky Tonker unplugged-Brad Spivey doing a solo set starting at 8p on the tracks at AC&T. As we move into the shortest month, don’t miss the return engagements of
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen on February 2
And dazzling C’ville violinist Morwenna Lasko and her guitar-wielding pal Jay Pun return with bass and percussion this time around…that’s right, the Lasko/Pun Quartet on Feb 18. They were a hands-down highlight at last summer’s Floydfest. Not to be missed. All coming soon to AC&T.
The Richmond Jazz Society hosts another of its terrific Guest Educators Series at the Capital Ale House music hall downtown on Feb 8th in tribute to the great pianist/educator Dr. Billy Taylor who passed away in late December. Some of our town’s best players including Debo Dabney, Dr. Weldon Hill, Russell Wilson and Lucy Kilpatrick will perform on twin grand pianos. Tickets available here.
Our next JAMinc/In Your Ear Studio Concert comes up on Thursday, February 10 with the engaging folk duo Dana & Susan Robinson from Asheville, NC. These two life-and road-mates armed with guitar and clawhammer banjo promise an intimate evening of traditional treats, enhanced of course by our trademark pre-show pot luck buffet. Reservations right here.
Almost forgot about a great band headed for Kenbridge this coming Saturday thanks to Chris Gowin who runs “Virginia’s Country Legend,” WSVS 800 AM in Crewe: frequent IBMA bass player of the year Missy Raines and her talented young group, The New Hip. The WSVS studios are being faithfully restored to look and sound like they did back in the early 50s when Flatt & Scruggs were regulars. It’s a very cool and commendable project that’s well underway. Go Chris!
Parting gift for this post is a video from a new Canadian duo named Dala whose first Compass Records CD Everyone is Someone is just out this week and is generating loud and loving buzz in the pop-folk arena. Check out Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine singing “Horses.” Nice.
For those who’ve seen the remarkable Oscar-nominated film The King’s Speech, did any of you think of Mel Tillis?
Hoping for a cloudy Ground Hog Day…