DOGWOOD TALES DROP DEBUT VIDEO

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WORDS BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTO PROVIDED BY GENEVA RECORDS

On July 28, the acoustic duo DOGWOOD TALES released the music video for “Another Harvest Moon,” which will be featured on their debut self-titled 7″ available August 12 through Geneva Records. Kyle Grim, one of the co-founders of the band, released the following statement about the concept of the video:

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DELAPLANE CAPTURES GOODNESS

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS BY LEE WILKERS AND ROXPLOSION

Named after Virginia’s famous Piedmont Hunt Country, DELAPLANE captures many elements of the human experience from the pain of growing up to the joy of new experiences. As finalists of the Jammin’ Java Battle of the Bands, the band is one the verge of releasing its debut EP that is eight years in the making. But how will you experience it?

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SPREADING CHILLS: THE SECRET OF IAN FRANCIS

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS BY EMILY ROSE

It’s been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, even if that beauty is a little frightening. Born and raised in the District, songwriter IAN FRANCIS transitions from punk to folk to swamp stomp. While you probably won’t find him singing praises in a revival tent any time soon, you migh catch him playing a basement or nightclub in the DMV.

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BUSKING AROUND THE DISTRICT WITH THE CAPITOL HEIGHTS

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE CAPITOL HEIGHTS

Great musicians are made on the streets, out there grinding away to get heard by the public and make a name for themselves. In a scene dominated by rock bands of all genres, folk bands are few and far between. But Joshua Franklin and Kenneth Thompson, better known as THE CAPITOL HEIGHTS, are turning the tide by making  folk music loud and proud across the region.

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STRENGTH AND KINDNESS: MUSIC IN BEN EPPARD’S GARDEN

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY BEN EPPARD

Creativity doesn’t always come naturally. Just like a garden, it must be grown, cared for, and worked on in order to produce beautiful results, whether it be ripe fruits and vegetables or music. Based out of Charlottesville, Va., folk singer-songwriter BEN EPPARD knows very well that music takes work, and he constantly tries to sow as many seeds in the local community near and far with the strength and kindness of his voice and guitar.

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VIRGINIA’S SON, MIKE FRAZIER, RELEASES DEBUT ALBUM ON GENEVA RECORDS

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS BY EMILY TANTUCCIO

Formerly known as the voice of the pop punk duo RANDOM HOLIDAY, vocalist and guitarist Mike Frazier is setting out on his own, but he is not doing it alone. Instead, he has been actively writing songs from the heart based on his most personal stories and life experiences with the support of close friends in an out of bands in Virginia and throughout the U.S.

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CHESAPEAKE INDIE-FOLK BAND THE HUNTS PREPARE FOR THE RELEASE OF NEW ALBUM, THESE YOUNGER DAYS

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ARTICLE BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTO BY VICTORIA STEVENS

Hailing from the southlands of Chesapeake, Va., THE HUNTS are an indie-folk band quickly taking the U.S. by storm. As of March 24, the seven member band of brothers and sisters — yes really — announced the release date, track listing, and album art for Those Younger Days, which will be released through Cherrytree Records on June 9, 2015. The album art and track listing can be viewed below, as well as their video for “Make This Leap,” which is track five on the album.

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BIG MAMA SHAKES RELEASE TRAILER ANNOUNCING RELEASE DATES FOR NEW ALBUM, AS SHE DOES, AS WELL AS TWO SINGLES

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS BY KEITH REAGAN, LIZ PALOMA, CALEB AUSTIN, AND TECUMSEH ALLEN

Since forming the lifelong friendships in their hometown of Williamsburg, Va., the members of BIG MAMA SHAKES have been hard at work building a name for themselves both in the local scene and beyond the Commonwealth. After relocating their unique version of “soul rock” to the new home base in Richmond, Va., the band, whose current lineup includes guitarist and vocalist Brady Heck, keyboard, harmonica player, and vocalist Elijah Righter, guitarist and mandolin player Caleb Austin, drummer Chandler Matkins, and bassist Peter Cason, has been consistently rising to the top of the Richmond music scene. They are currently working on finishing their debut album, As She Does, which will be released in spring 2015. We caught up with the band to discuss their popular status in Richmond and the wild performances they deliver on stage, their recent Indiegogo campaign to help fund their new album, and whether or not their song “Let It Grow” is about growing out a big lumberjack beard.

Your band recently performed at The National as part of their “On the Verge: Best of the 804” concert series. How were you selected to headline that show, and how was the performance?

Peter: We did not headline the show. It’s a local show, and it’s set up by ticket sales. I do feel very good about the performance, though. There were 400 people there, and they were going nuts (laughs). So it was a whole lot of fun, and the rest of the bands seemed to really like us.

Brady: That show is going down in the books as one of the wildest shows we’ve played. Over the last year, we’ve been doing a whole lot of stuff, and we’ve got a reputation for being a pretty wild band live. That kind of took the cake as far as our live sets go.

Elijah: Just to make a note, some of the bands that we played with were GRIFF’S ROOM BAND and LUCY IN BATTLE ARMOR. LUCY IN BATTLE ARMOR was the headliner that night.

Just out of curiosity, what about your performances make them so wild?

Chandler: I personally think what makes our performances so wild is the energy that we bring to the stage. Most of us have been playing together for years since high school. We all have such a passion for it and charisma, and when you bring five people together that love music as much as we do, it kind of just clicks. We just rip it wide open.

Elijah: I would like to say that one of the things that brings the energy we have on stage is BMS 1Chandler and his ridiculously intense drum playing (laughing by the other band members in the background). Chandler breaks his sticks just about every show. Like imagine an octopus playing drums (collective laughter).

That’s a good analogy. Are you all originally from Richmond?

Chandler: We all grew up in Williamsburg, Va., and that’s where we all met. But we are based out of Richmond, Va. right now.

Is BIG MAMA SHAKES a reference to a movie or something?

Brady: Actually, the dumb name comes from an old band that me and our bassist Peter used to be in. One time, our keyboard player Elijah played with us, and he wasn’t actually a member of the band. So for laughs, and whatnot, we called him BIG MAMA SHAKES. … It sounds good; it’s got a good ring to it.

Currently, your band has an Indiegogo campaign in progress to fund your debut full-length album, As She Does, and, as of this interview, you have raised more than $1,300 of your $4,000 goal. Do you think crowd funding will continue to be a popular trend in the music industry for many years to come?

Caleb: I think it should be, as long as people don’t get too tired of it. But I hope not because we really need to make some money.

Peter: It’s an extremely useful tool if it’s able to get out there. When you go on the Indiegogo website, you can see all these [campaigns] that are at 150 percent of their budgeting, and they got there because they got number one on the Indiegogo views or something. They basically paid to get it. … It’s a really weird system that I don’t understand, and I hope to understand it (laughs).

With the increase in bands having a social media presence, do you think that there is less of a desire for bands to get signed to a record label to put out their music? How does BIG MAMA SHAKES feel about that?

Brady: For sure, definitely. It seems like these days record labels actually are pretty lackluster in what they offer. Most don’t offer support to upcoming bands; you have to build yourself before record labels will actually do anything for you. It kind of defeats the purpose [of getting signed to a record label] in that sense. A lot of the bands that we associate with have done bigger and better things than us. We’ve kind of had to work for everything we’ve had, and, in a sense, it seems like record labels take a little bit away from that. As rewarding as it is to have a big name backing you, it doesn’t really work [in your favor] to make out with everything that you deserve.

Peter: For an example of what Brady was just talking about, a friend’s band of ours here in Richmond — they’re relatively big — was offered a contract by a big name record lable, but they weren’t offering tour support or album support. So basically they were just doing nothing and putting their name on their CD. A lot of bands, from what I [understand], are receiving such offers. I don’t understand how that helps us at all.

Elijah: This is really unfortunate because there’s really not much that we have been able to find on our own that makes you money, like “real money,” as a band, and record labels used to be a certain amount of opportunity for that. Live music, as a whole seems to be becoming a lot less profitable, and it’s already starting to disappear a little bit. It’s probably going to keep disappearing unless we do something about it.

Chandler: I think one of the big things is that there is so many people trying to be musicians now. Everybody and their brother wants to be the “next big thing.” I think it’s good; it brings a lot of diversity to the music world and arts world in general. But it’s not always necessarily the greatest thing.

What is the current status of the songs that will be on your new album, As She Does?

Peter: All the drum tracks are done. Most of the guitar tracks are done. Almost all of the bass tracks are done. We’re nearing completion.

Where are you recording the new album, and who is producing it?

Chandler: We’re recording the album in a studio in Williamsburg, Va. called Unkempt & Overcaffinated Studios. It is more of a home grown studio, not a big place. It’s got a very homey vibe to it, and they offer fantastic prices for what they are willing to give you. The studio also has great connections inside that can really help you as far as mixing and mastering, even shows. The studio engineer that is recording our album, Colin Cross, is the drummer for BROKE ROYALS, who was also one of the bands we played with at The National, and it all came together because we were recording the album together.

Have you set a release date for the new album yet?

Peter: The release date is Tuesday, May 5, and we are looking to have an album release party the weekend before that and invite people to the prerelease party. But before that, we are having two singles come out.

Chandler: The first single will be coming out on April 21, and the second single will be coming out on April 28.

BMS 2In August 2014, you guys released a video for your song “Let It Grow.” I’m assuming this song isn’t about growing facial hair, or is it?

Peter: It might as well be at this point (thunderous laughter).

Brady: I wrote that song, but considering that my facial hair is pretty lackluster compared to the rest of the band, it might as well be about my sheer desire to grow a full lumberjack beard (more thunderous laughter from his band members). I grew up in a really country, rural way, in the sense that my dad was real backwoods, and my whole family was like that. It’s sort of like paying homage to that, in a sense. The reference, “We were raised here by the river,” which is the first line of the song, and that is in reference to the Chickahominy River, which runs right by and through our hometown.

Probably my favorite part of that video is the two vocalists singing at each other in the same microphone. Is that common for you guys to do while recording?

Brady: Actually, yes. Me and Elijah, our keyboard player, are the two main vocalists in the group, and that’s a pretty common practice for us when we are in the studio especially if we are doing harmonies together. On one of the new songs that is coming out on the new record, we just sort of did this entire disco harmony just the two of us locked up in the room.

Elijah: A funny note about that harmony that we were doing, [while] we were doing it, we found out that we only hit the right pitches to that backing harmony when we were doing jazz hands together (laughs from the band). If you are listening to “The Fighter,” when the harmonies are blowing up in the background, just remember that jazz hands made it happen.

Brady: Those harmonies are sponsored by jazz hands. I think [singing into the microphone together] actually helps the recording quality of it, or at least the vibe altogether. Me and Elijah have the opportunity to vibe really well off each other in a setting like that, and I think it makes the entire thing more natural.

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Do you have any other shows coming up that you would like to announce?

Chandler: On Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, we will be opening up for GRIFF’S ROOM BAND at Capital Ale House in Richmond. On Saturday, March 14, 2015, we will be playing a showcase at Peabody’s (18+) in Virginia Beach, hosted by Shaggy from Z104. On Friday, March 20, 2015, we will be playing a house show in D.C. called Babe City. We will be playing with THE DELTA SAINTS and THE VACANT STAIRS on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at The Camel in Richmond, Va. On Saturday, May 2, 2015, we will be playing at Cary Street Café (21+) in Richmond. We are so swamped with the album right now, but the moment it’s released, it’ll be a whole new ball game with too many shows to count. We will have a huge CD release party in May, [with more details] to be announced.

Peter: We are also going on a tour of the east coast from Richmond, Va. to Portland, Maine in June and July.

For more updates on BIG MAMA SHAKES, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to their music on Soundcloud.

HARRISONBURG STRING BAND THE STEEL WHEELS DISCUSS TIES TO THE LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT AND THEIR UPCOMING ALBUM DURING THEIR SHOW AT THE HAMILTON IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

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INTERVIEW WITH STEPHANIE MCKENDRICK

PHOTO BY BLUE MUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

During their show at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C., THE STEEL WHEELS, a string band from Harrisonburg, Va., sat down with us to talk about their roots in the Mennonite community heritage, some of their favorite festivals to play in Michigan, North Carolina, and Kansas, as well as their upcoming record, Leave Some Things Behind, which will be released in April 2015, and their ties to the local food movement.

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GRIFF’S ROOM BAND TO PERFORM AT THE NATIONAL WITH BIG MAMA SHAKES FOR “BEST OF THE 804” ON THE VERGE CONCERT SERIES

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GRIFF’S ROOM BAND AND SAMANTHA FEIN-HELMAN

Though no one in the band is named Griff by nickname or by birth, he has been immortalized for his contribution in bringing fiddle player and vocalist David Adley, guitarist/vocalist Liam Anastasia-Murphy, and guitarist/percussionist/vocalist Michael Cammarata together to form GRIFF’S ROOM BAND. Though the band originated in a dorm room on the William and Mary College campus, they have since relocated to Richmond to focus more time on their budding music careers in one of Virginia’s most diverse and active music scenes. On May 31, 2014, the band released their debut EP, Shut The Case, and they have been busy building a following all over Virginia, Washington, D.C., and beyond. Recently, the three founding members brought on drummer Kyle Osterhaus and bassist Clayton Perry to complete the sound of the band’s live performances.

Who is Griff?

Liam: Griff was a roommate of mine in college, and he had many instruments in his room. He wouldn’t be there very often, so we would go in and play the instruments in his room when he wasn’t there. It kind of started as a joke at first, … but things then got a bit more serious and we started playing a bit more often. It kind of spiraled from there.

How long ago was that?

Liam: That was about three and half or four years ago.

Your music is self-described as “Americana pop,” which seems to be on the rise in popularity . Do you feel like your band has contributed to that in any way?

Liam: Maybe on a micro level. I don’t know.

David: I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’ve had any effect on the larger scene, but perhaps around here in Richmond, I think so.

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Do you guys play often at any breweries or wineries in Virginia or Washington, D.C.?

Michael: We’ve played a lot of different breweries and wineries. There’s one up near where we went to school called Saudé Creek; that was one of the first wineries we’ve ever played.  We love going back there. [We have] a lot of really great fans there, and really good barbecue and wine too, so that helps. We’ve played at AleWerks, also from Williamsburg, Strangeways here in Richmond, Legend, which was awesome, and we have yet to play at Hardywood, which is a pretty awesome spot and a lot of great bands play there. So we’re hoping to get on a bill there sometime soon.

You guys seem to be busy on social media promoting your upcoming show at The National on Friday, January 23 with BIG MAMA SHAKES. How did you end up getting on that show?

Liam: They contacted us a few months ago and asked if we wanted to do a “Best of the 804” On The Verge series, and we said, “Absolutely.” … Another band playing, called the BROKE ROYALS are friends of ours from William and Mary, and then we know BIG MAMA SHAKES just through the Richmond/Williamsburg scene, because we had been a part of both. David had actually played with the lead guitarist Brady and lead guy for BIG MAMA SHAKES a few times. We really like them, and they’re an awesome band … It should be a really fun show and a really great experience to play at The National.

I love your music video for your song “Corner Booth.” Is there an interesting story behind the meaning of that song?

Liam: “Corner Booth” is kind of a concept song.  I wrote it a while ago when I was at home working in a restaurant, and it’s loosely based off of this fellow who used to come in pretty late three or four times a week to the restaurant and eat by himself. He would just hang out at the restaurant, have dinner, and hang out for a little while, and then leave. It was one of the first songs we ever wrote together as a group. I kind of brought the basic foundation, and it really built up from there once I brought it to the guys.

What would you say is your favorite song to play off your most recent album Shut The Case?

Michael: I’m gonna go ahead and pick my own song, and it does happen to be one of the songs that I sing on — “Could Be,” which is the second track. On the EP is just a couple acoustic guitars, a fiddle, bass, and our vocals all together, but lately, when we have been performing it as a five-piece, this whole new sound with the drums added in has so much energy. It’s just a lot of fun to play, but at the heart of it, there’s still the same feeling there is on the recording, where it’s pretty simple instrumentation and the harmonies. It’s still a very satisfying song and a lot more groovy.

David: I think my favorite to play live is “Corner Booth.” I just really like the energy of that song, and I  think with our new drummer, he plays a sweet intro that really gets things going for the crowd, and for me personally playing up there. It gets me hyped.

I saw that you guys recently played a show at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C. How did the audience respond to your music there?

Liam: It was great. That was a really fun show. It was a bit of a funny story. We opened for this band called THE SHADOWBOXERS, and they’re a pretty well known regional act out of Atlanta but they actually just moved to Nashville, Tenn. We got to open for them this summer in Arlington at Iota Club, and the sound was so bad. It was probably the worst show we’ve ever had. I don’t know if the sound guy was having a bad night, but there was so much feedback. The whole set was so terrible. I think they realized it was the sound guy’s problem, and they were very receptive to us opening for them again. This time U Street had incredible sound; it was really fun. It was a great crowd, and they were really responsive. We got to showcase a few new songs that we hadn’t before because we have a pretty good following up in D.C. because Michael is actually from there.

Michael: It was an early show because the way U Street works is they have these DJ sets at night. But despite the fact that it was an early show, there was still a good crowd there for us, which was great, and by the time THE SHADOWBOXERS played, the place was totally packed.

Liam: The other band, WHO NEEDS A PULSE, which is a D.C. based band, was really good.

David: I think for me, that show was one of a handful of times where we got a taste of what it was like to be a real rock band. The crowd was totally engaged, and Liam was standing up on an amp on the last song. The energy was translating really well between us and the audience. Between that and another show we played at Virginia Tech were the most surreal show experiences  we’ve ever had.

Would you say that would be the closest thing to a “perfect show” that you  guys have ever experienced together?

Liam: I thought as a full band, it was the tightest we’ve ever been as a five piece in a live setting, and musically, sound wise, and crowd engagement wise. It was pretty on point.

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Are you guys currently on tour, or are you back home for a while?

David: We’re back here for a bit. We have a couple mini tours coming up.

Liam: And we’re always playing shows. If you want to call it a tour, we’re always playing around Virginia — Richmond, Hampton Roads, and the D.C. area. There’s rarely a weekend we’re not playing.

Michael: We’re doing a sweep through Philadelphia, and hopefully New York in March.

For more updates on GRIFF’S ROOM BAND, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to their EP Shut The Case on iTunes.