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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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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DIY SINGER/SONGWRITER OKLAHOMA CAR CRASH RECORDING NEW ALBUM WITH LONGTIME FRIEND AND MUSICAL PARTNER WITH PLANS FOR ALBUM RELEASE TOUR THIS SUMMER

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INTERVIEW BY MATT WALKER

PHOTOS BY HEATHER MCPHERSON, NAT BROWN, AND DAKOTA FLOYD

Nat Brown — also known as OKLAHOMA CAR CRASH (OKCC) — is all about DIY, from self-booked tours to more than five self-released EPs. He was even doing-it-all music wise, that is until his recent announcement of a new permanent member. While not on tour or visiting his favorite coffee shop, he is writing and recording new music, most of which for OKCC’s next release sometime this summer. We recently had a chance to get an idea of exactly what Brown was up to, as well as find out about the future of OKCC.

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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.

HELPING TO KEEP THE FOLK-POP SCENE ALIVE AND WELL, NORTHERN VIRGINIANS’ SAVE THE ARCADIAN HAVE COME TO SAVE THE DAY WITH THE HELP OF THEIR FANS

save the arcadianINTERVIEW BY KNIAL SAUNDERS

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY WILL MCCARRY

Standing on the precipice of success, Northern Virginia natives SAVE THE ARCADIAN, most known for their emotive melodies, eyebrow raising composition, and lively performances, have returned to the studio to craft their next piece of magic. Frontman Will McCarry was able to find the time amidst their busy schedule to reflect on how far the band has come, their success in 2014, and what fans can expect from their new record.

Tell me about the evolution of SAVE THE ARCADIAN from How’d They Get Up There? to today, where you are now working with Ted Comerford and other notable professionals on your new record. Has your progress really sunk in yet?

It’s interesting. We’ve always had huge aspirations for our music, and it’s only now that we truly have the means and the production help we need to realize those lofty goals. Even on the first album —recorded, mixed, and produced by me on one $200 microphone in my college apartment — we went all out, recording tons of guest instrumentalists as well as our school’s a cappella group on a few songs. And though I’m proud of the product we put out, it became immediately clear during our time recording the new album with Ted at the Fidelitorium that we are going to finally be able to fully capture our vision, which is an awesome feeling.

As far as our progress outside of recording, 2014 brought a ton of exciting opportunities like opening for bands such as DEV, GOSSLING, MANSIONS ON THE MOON, and THE HUNTS, as well as many headlining gigs across VA and D.C. We’re so grateful to have fans support us by coming out to so many of our shows.

What about your new record helps to distinguish it from music made by your peers?

I think we’re in a really good place for listeners to take note of what we’re doing. Our new record straddles a line between folk rock and indie pop that [to us] feels all its own. Many of our instrumental choices [including violin and mandolin], though seldom seen in pop music, contribute greatly to the emotional appeal of the lyrics. We’ve also taken great strides to develop the cinematic elements of our sound as well, focusing our big “anthemic” moments to resonate more deeply alongside smaller more intimate stretches. I think it’s fair to say that these are easily the best songs we’ve written, and I hope our audience will agree that this is the next logical step for SAVE THE ARCADIAN.

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What elements came together to inspire the creation of the album?

Though we write a lot as a group, many of the initial ideas originated as a personal narrative for me. We’re lucky that all six of us, having played together for several years at this point, have a clear, singular vision for what this album is, and how it should feel to the listener.

What was it like turning to your fans to fund the album? Were there any reservations about moving forward that way?

There actually wasn’t too much dissension among the group when we first brought up the idea of launching the Kickstarter. Since we’ve always given our music away for free to our listeners, we felt like, given our great opportunity to record with Ted, this was the right time to give it a try. Kickstarter is really unique because each fan’s investment is rewarded with an advanced copy of the new album, as well as lots of other great prizes. We’re lucky to have a really supportive fan base that pushed us far above our funding goal. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to do all these exciting things.

The folk-pop sound is one that is often replicated and still very hard to master. SAVE THE ARCADIAN consistently takes from that and crafts its own signature sound. How did you decide what instruments, harmonies, and concepts would fit the new record?

Crafting this new album has been a lot of fun. With this new record, we wanted to still be able to include our fun, fast-paced songs that people really enjoy singing and dancing along to live, and have those songs feel right at home next to more introspective, intimate songs about loss and heartbreak. So given that, in crafting the album’s flow, we also worked to introduce a loose narrative that follows through the entire album and ties all the pieces together.

In terms of choices for individual songs, most our songs go through countless drafts before we arrive at the final version on the album. Harmonic and instrumental choices constantly change, and no one in the band is afraid to stand up and voice their opinion when something doesn’t feel quite right.

What message do you want fans to take away from this release?

I don’t know that there is a specific message we have in mind. There are themes we want to convey, and I hope that those themes really resonate with listeners. It’s hard to convey those ideas concisely here, but there is a personal narrative here that draws from my own life, as well as from Lonnie [Southall, bassist/vocalist] and Sam [Rodgers, guitarist/vocalist, and mandolin player], who have been contributing to the lyrics.

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Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?

We’d, of course, like to thank all of our backers on Kickstarter. Remember that anyone can follow our project updates on Facebook, Twitter, and on our website. We will be finishing up the album at Bias Studios in Springfield in just a few short weeks.

For more updates on SAVE THE ARCADIAN, we invite you to follow them on Twitter, “like” them on Facebook, and purchase tickets to their upcoming shows on their website.

THE JUDY CHOPS SATISFY ALL CRAVINGS FOR GOOD WHISKEY AND GOOD MUSIC, AND RELEASE NEW “ZOMBIE KILLIN’ ALE” WITH LOCAL VIRGINIA BREWERY JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE JUDY CHOPS

VIDEO BY DOUG STANFORD

American novelist Mark Twain once said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough,” and the same could be said for good music. Inspired by this bourbon spirit, as well as country music, jazz, swing, and good old rock ‘n’ roll, THE JUDY CHOPS of Staunton, Va. are living proof that you can never have enough good music or whiskey, but they can certainly satisfy those cravings. Led by guitarist/vocalist William Howard, the rest of the band includes guitarist/vocalist Molly Murphy; banjolele player/vocalist Sally Murphy; violinist Anna Matijasic-Hennessy; drummer/percussionist Jess Bergh; trumpet and flugelhorn player David Boudouris; trumpet, saxophone, trombone, and euphonium player Richard Adams; and upright bassist Jims Hinkle. The band recently released their third studio album Minor Sunshine and is doing more innovative things with their genre than anyone else. We spoke with Howard regarding his band’s beginnings and how their name came from a hillbilly ninja, their love for whiskey, as well as their new beer which might make you want to kill some zombies.

While browsing your band’s website, I noticed that you have the Ohm symbol tattooed on the inside of your left forearm. What is the significance of that symbol to you?

It’s actually about my dad. When I was a kid, my dad used to live in California, and I lived on this coast. He would always send me letters, and that symbol was always drawn next to his name in his letters. I didn’t really know what it was when I was a kid, but I thought it was a cool symbol. He passed away when I was 21. My dad was covered in tattoos, so when I got older, I got that as a tribute to him, but he was not the most peaceful guy in the world (laughs).

Your band has been playing together since 2008, and your music combines a lot of unique elements that aren’t too common in modern music. Yet I feel drawn to the simplicity of it and the three-part vocal harmonies. Can you tell me how your band was started and why you chose this musical direction?

The main act was me and Molly and Sally Murphy, and then our drummer Jess [Bergh], and when we first started the band is was just that as our lineup. Molly, Sally, and I had been in a band called THE BOURBON SPECIALS out of Charlottesville, and the drummer Jess and I were in a band called HEART GETS MONKEY. Those bands kind of ran their course, and I was in the middle of both bands at the time. So I decided to take the best elements of one and the best elements of the other, and threw it all together. That became THE JUDY CHOPS. We kind of threw the rule book out at the beginning as far as genre. We didn’t really pinpoint anything. We just kept trying to learn whatever style or song we wanted to learn.

Can you explain the back story behind your band name?

If you do a YouTube search for “judy chop” you will find another guy names Diemon Dave, who is a redneck, hillbilly ninja, and THE JUDY CHOPS is actually referencing that video. It’s a move he does on his ninja training video. He says, “You got your karate chop, and your judy chop…” (laughs). We needed a quick name for our first show, and we had just watched that video. So we were like, “What about THE JUDY CHOPS?” (laughs). Since then, it stuck for six and a half years.

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I really like your song, “I’d Rather Be Drinking Whiskey,” as it is my preferred spirit as well, and I know you guys sing about it very frequently, as well. What is your personal favorite type of whiskey?

It’s hard to say exactly. I’m a big fan of Bullet or Buffalo Trace. Those are my two favorites. I guess it grew out of that band THE BOURBON SPECIALS. We kind of had an affinity for whiskey in that band, and I guess it stayed on with this band.

How does your latest album Minor Sunshine compare to your other two albums?

The other two are a little more country music based. They are more in that vein, I guess you could say. Minor Sunshine was a lot more rooted in jazz or swing, and even gypsy jazz a little bit. It was written with those minor key elements. This album isn’t a concept album per say, but it was definitely a little bit more conceptual in terms of the way we thought about it. It’s mostly in minor key songs, but they either have some kind of major tonality (laughs). It’s also kind of a play-on-words, the title Minor Sunshine. It starts in the minor key, and it moves throughout the album and becomes a major key (laughs). It’s homage to that light and dark idea.

In order to fund the creation of Minor Sunshine, you created an Indiegogo campaign, and some of the incentives included private house shows, writing a song, and “fan swag packs.” Have you made any progress yet on doling out these rewards?

We’ve done a couple of the house shows, and we are slowly giving out the rest of the physical awards. The very last piece of that puzzle is going to be the vinyl. We kind of had to wait til the very last minute on that one, but I think the vinyl will go into production sometime this week. We are hoping to get everything out by October 24, and the vinyl stuff will go out six weeks after that (laughs).

Have you started booking yet for your nationwide tour?

We haven’t yet. The next big piece of that puzzle is going to be securing a better vehicle. Ours is still running, but it’s definitely not running very well. We are hoping to coast out the end of the year on this van, and our first priority for 2015 is getting a new van. Then we can start thinking about how far we can go out (laughs). That’s kind of always been our limit in terms of our touring radius — how far can our van make it there and back.

This Friday, you will be playing the release party for Three Notch’d Beer’s new “Zombie Killin’ Ale.” Do you have anything special planned for that show?

We did a big roll out when Three Notch’d did the beer, and this one is our Staunton, Va. beer roll out show. Baja Bean Co. is one of the neighborhood bars in Staunton, and the rest of the band is all from Staunton. So we have a strong, hometown tie to that place. That will also be the kick off for Halloween too, so we will probably do more of our spooky songs, and that will probably serve as our main Halloween show as well.

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Are there any bands from Virginia or Washington, DC that you would like to give a shout out to?

We’ll shout out to one of our friends. They’re called TWO TON TWIG from Falls Church in the Northern Virginia area, and we actually share a member. Our violinist we had on our last album moved up to Falls Church last year to teach orchestra, and she has been playing with them since she moved up there. We’re getting ready to hopefully do some touring together.

For more updates on THE JUDY CHOPS, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube channel. and check out their music on Bandcamp.

THE DIAMOND CENTER FIND A HOME IN THE VIRGINIA MUSIC SCENE WITH THEIR BLEND OF PSYCHADELIC, ELECTRIFIED FOLK

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE DIAMOND CENTER

Though they are not originally from this area, the members of THE DIAMOND CENTER have found their home in Richmond, Va. and sowed their roots deep with a passion for the indie music scene and a new child as well. Formed in 2007 by Kyle Harris and Brandi Price, the band also includes their friends Tim Falen and Lindsay Phillips, as well as a rotating cast of friends. Their most recent album My Only Companion, as well as multiple cross-country tours helped establish the groups psychedelic aesthetic, and they have utilized these stories in making a name for themselves locally as well. Currently Harris and Price are busy juggling their multiple music projects, as well as the life of their almost 2-year-old girl. We spoke with Harris regarding the cult background of their band name, the folklore of their most recent songs, and their involvement with the local music scene.

Can you tell me the origin story of your band name?

Basically, it was a place I used to work at in Athens, Ga. called THE DIAMOND CENTER, and I remember thinking while I was on my lunch break, sitting alone in my truck eating my lunch, that it has multiple meanings, with “center” as a noun or “center” as an adjective, I guess. I always thought, “Oh, that would be a fun band name,” not really thinking much about it. Then a year later, I started this band with Brandi, and we decided to use this name. Then it stuck, the depth of that name.

Was it a jewelry store?

It was formerly, yeah. People send me pictures from all over. I know there’s one in New York and different places. There’s one in, like, I don’t know…Wisconsin or maybe in Michigan, and they have these commercials that are cult favorites regionally in the area, which kind of adds to the ridiculousness of it all.

Your song “Skeleton Key” was recently featured on a Halloween-themed compilation called Nightmare on Grace Street, which features a slew of local bands playing ghoulish songs. How did your band get involved with that?

The folks putting it together, Allison Aperson, Mark Golden, and Kelly Queener, are all really good friends. I play in a band with Kelly Queener called PEACE BEAST, and I play in a band with Mark Golden called THE SHANGRI-LORDS. Allison is just a good friend. She was in HOT LAVA, and we used to play together. They got the idea and asked us to be on it, and it came together pretty quick. I’m sure that like 99 percent of the rest of the bands, we [recorded] it the night before we were supposed to turn it in.

Can you tell me what that song is about?

Brandi had recently read a story about a wealthy, really nasty man who tried to convince three sisters to fall in love with him, and one of them said, “He’s not so bad, and he’s really wealthy. Why not?” It’s some kind of folklore; I’m not sure what country it’s from. So the one sister agreed to marry him, and he said, “You can go anywhere in my house. You can do anything you want, except you can’t go behind this one door. Whatever you do, do not open that door,” and he gave her a key to all the doors in the whole house. So he goes away, and the first thing she does is go in that door. I don’t remember exactly what she finds, but there is something morbid in there. She slams the door but couldn’t get it to relock, and when the man came back he was very angry, of course. He was chasing her around the house, and miraculously her brother showed up and saved her. There is some moral to it, like don’t go poking around, or do? I don’t know. It was loosely based on that.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO "SKELETON KEY" AND MORE

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO “SKELETON KEY” AND MORE

Are any of your other songs based on folklore?

We’ve got one that is gonna be on the upcoming album. It’s called “Messenger of Wonder,” and it’s loosely based on a story I read. It’s about these mounds that were supposedly located in Oklahoma, and there were these figures at the top and no one could ever reach the top. There were two different figures. There was a headless man that walked back and forth, and there was a woman carrying a lantern. Supposedly, this one guy tried it, and when he got back down, the only thing he could say was “old, old, old.” It turns out to be an entrance to an ancient civilization that still exists. A lot of our songs are based on landscape-type lore. We spent a night or two in Joshua Tree, and that’s what “Bombay Beach” is about. A few of our songs are written about that area. Location has a lot to do with things.

Can you tell me about the new album you guys have been working on?

It’s been a long process. We started it in Fall 2012, and in the meantime, we found out that Brandi was pregnant, so we actually made a human since then. So the trajectory of the whole, writing, band, record shows, everything has changed with a child. But there may be one more to track, a kind of newer song that we might want to include on it, but everything is pretty much tracked and mixed. We’re kind of sorting out who is gonna be releasing it. It will probably be a somewhat local release, but I’m not sure yet. It might be out before the end of the year, or it might not, because if there is anything that having a child will teach you, timing is all relative. The things that you thought were super important aren’t necessarily as important any more. Everything changes.

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This Saturday, your band will be playing the Instant Pleasure Festival at The Broadberry in Richmond. What are you most looking forward to about that show?

We’ll just try to get up there and do our thing, and try to open minds and hearts. I’m actually playing twice that night. I play bass in the band THE YOUNG SINCLAIRS, and they’re playing also. We haven’t played The Broadberry yet, so I’m excited about that. It’s Instant Pleasure 2. The first Instant Pleasure Festival was put together by me and Ryan Muldoon. We coordinated it a couple years ago and then let it rest because we both have been busy. I’ve been making buttons for it, and I think they are making limited edition screen printed posters to sell at the show.

Earlier this year, your band played the Fall Line Festival. How did that go?

I had not played at The National before, which was fun, and we got to open for the newly reformed band DEATH. It was fun playing to some people that you might not normally play to. That’s the fun thing about a festival, as opposed to a club show. You may get a few people there to see the other bands and catch you, but it turned out really good.

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What are your thoughts on the current state of the Virginia music scene?

It’s definitely healthy. I can’t really speak for all of Virginia, but Richmond is good. I’ve spent some time in Roanoke and some of the smaller towns. There’s some good bands out of Lynchburg. I think it’s just like any music scene. There are some people that work really hard; there’s some people that do it for fun; and there’s some people that just play, and that’s cool too. We’ve been here for about five years now, and there is a ton of talent and creativity, and a ton of interesting people that do it because they love it. Most shows you play you are either local support for a touring band, or playing with friends. It’s just cool that there are a nice chunk of people doing it, as well as bands that tour and travel, which we were doing for a while, but that’s something we put the brakes on with the little one. I’m definitely happy to be here. After moving here, within six months we were fully embraced by the local scene.

For more updates on THE DIAMOND CENTER, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Tumblr, and Instagram.

JUSTIN JONES JOINS THE DEADMEN TO REKINDLE HIS LOVE FOR MUSIC, GIVING HIM TIME TO TAKE A STEP BACK FROM HIS OWN BAND AND FOCUS MORE ON HIS FAMILY

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS BY SAM HOLDEN AND MARK SILVA

Recently, Jones and his band performed at the bi-annual Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Park in Centreville, and we had the opportunity to catch their performance. After being entranced by Jones and his band, we were determined to get an interview with this talented musician.southern soul, blues, and rock

Born in Rawley Springs, VA, which is a small town just outside Harrisonburg, JUSTIN JONES is the epitome of true American rock and roll. Though he may not be African American or live in the Deep South, Jones has a true connection to blues and soul music, which is coursing through his veins with each strum of his guitar and the hum of his voice. Raised since he was a boy on southern soul, blues, and rock, Jones has been captivating audiences all over Virginia and across the country for more than 10 years, and recently, he has taken time away from the road to focus on his new band THE DEADMEN with some of his friends and fellow songwriters, as well as to be with his wife and children.

We spoke with Jones about how his music career began and some of the highlights that got him to where he is today, his signature “quintessentially American” sound that resonates through each of his songs, as well as how he plans to balance his time between THE DEADMEN and the JUSTIN JONES band going forward.

According to your story on your website, you see yourself as a 68-year-old black guy named Luther black guy with one green eye and a couple gold teeth, and you play harmonica in a blues band that plays at a dump in the ghetto. Can you tell me how this perception originally came about?

Well, that was sort of a stream of consciousness. It’s not wholly accurate with how I perceive myself and my music.

Ok then. So how would you describe your sound?

I was actually talking about this with someone recently, and I like to think it’s more about how grew up in my hometown outside of Harrisonburg.

When did you move to Arlington?

I have lived in the DC area for the past 13 years, and in July of last year, I moved from Southern Maryland to Arlington with my wife.

Your musical career spans over a decade. How did you get started playing music?

I started playing guitar when I was pretty young, and I started writing when I was pretty young. When I turned 21, I started going out to open mic nights, and I really enjoyed the attention because it fed my ego.

How did you meet the rest of your band?

The band has expanded over the years through meeting new people, people leaving, and people getting replaced. It’s not like I met them all at a bar one night and that was that. Two of the guys I met through friends have been playing with me for four years. You meet people slowly. Another two of the guys have been in my touring band for years. Now if someone can’t go on tour, I’ll just have another guy fill in. It’s always changing.

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What has been some of your proudest accomplishments as a musician?

I’m not really sure. As a musician, I have played some great gigs and toured around the country, but it’s a disappointing business. Even if you think you are making it, you are quickly brought back down to earth. I sang background for LUCINDA WILLIAMS at Merriweather [Post Pavilion] with my daughter in my arms. That was two years ago with her, myself, and DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS.

Additionally, in your story, you describe your music as “quintessentially American”, but what are the specific characteristics of your music that embody this genre?

To me, the content is so derived from my environment and my experiences from traveling around the country. It’s not about Chevy trucks or the Fourth of July, but it captures the real America. Not white picket fences and manicured front lawns, but a rusted Pontiac Firebird sitting in the driveway.

Tell me about your other band THE DEADMEN. How did you get involved with that project?

I have been buddies with the guys for a while. We had talked for a while about doing a band together for a couple years, and we finally made it happen. We have been playing some gigs, and it’s been fun getting to play with some of my favorite people. I love being able to sing in the background on other people’s music and play my songs as well.

Do you feel comfortable giving up the spotlight to be more of a supporting band member rather than the lead role?

I’m not stepping out of the spotlight necessarily, but it is shared. We all sing and play guitar and write songs, so we rotate who leads each song. I like it because it lessens the importance of me. When you are the band leader, every decision is yours to be made, whether it will be where you will eat dinner while you are on tour or what the track order for your record will be. There are some band stuff that I would rather let someone else do that hasn’t done it 100 times like I have and be excited about doing it for the first time.

I read on your website that you are taking more time with them than with your own band. What motivated that decision?

I have really pushed the JUSTIN JONES moniker really hard for a long time, and we have not been growing enough recently in a tangible way to justify me being away from home for six or seven months per year. I feel like we have plateaued, and now is a good time to take a step away from it. I have worked very hard on it, but the experience of me playing can no longer be a reward for me. THE DEADMEN is about writing good music and playing shows occasionally. I tried to make a business out of music, which made me not enjoy it as much, and it’s exciting to take that step back.

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Since you won’t be doing music full-time, what do you plan to do as a career?

I have been bartending at the 9:30 Club for the past nine years. It’s not much of a career, but I make a decent amount of money to support myself and my family. I have lots of ideas about potential careers, but I’m not sure yet what will make sense for me.

What does the future have in store for the JUSTIN JONES band? Will it co-exist with THE DEADMEN?

It has to co-exist. I can’t give up on this thing that I have put 10+ years into. Honestly, I’d like to record an acoustic album for my next project. I recorded acoustic for my first album, and I would really like to do that again.

For more updates on JUSTIN JONES, be sure to visit his website, “like” his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and download his sampler 8 Years in 11 Songs on Noisetrade.

CABIN CREEK VENTURES INTO NEW GROUNDS COMBINING ELEMENTS OF MODERN FOLK ROCK WITH AN OLD TWIST ON EARLY 1900’S STRING BANDS

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INTERVIEW BY SHELBY BAKER

PHOTO AND VIDEO BY TRAVIS FERRELL

ALBUM ART BY JERR MEDIA

For those interested in new music with an old twist, look no further than CABIN CREEK. The band, which consists of David Hall (Lead Vocals/Banjo/Guitar), Blayne Laures (Drums/Percussion), Travis Ferrell (Vocals/Guitar/Harmonica), and Eric Dzik (Upright Bass), is a group of friends with the intention of writing pure, simple music. Their music is alternative with a distinguishing folk and country twang; sort of like a blend of MUMFORD AND SONS and JIMMY EAT WORLD. The band draws influences from a range of musicians including new age acts, such as JOHN MAYER and OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW, as well as string bands from the early 1900’s.

The latter influence is something that is unheard of in the current wave of music and is what makes their sound so unique. String music is classified as an old-time ensemble consisting of mostly string instruments, which the band exhibit through a range of instruments from the banjo to the upright bass. We spoke with Hall and Ferrell to learn more about the band’s unique string-based sound, the musicians that inspire them, and what they have planned as a follow-up to their self-titled debut record.

How did the band come together?

Travis: The band came together when David and I moved to Fredericksburg. Our previous band broke up, and we hadn’t done anything for a long time and we wanted to start a string band. Both of our families grew up on that. We started writing music, and we ended up calling our old drummer, Blayne. We also needed a bass player, one who didn’t play electric bass; we wanted a double bass. Eric came down to Fredericksburg after we hadn’t seen him for like seven months. We ended up showing him what we were working on and he loved it. He agreed to buy a double bass and the rest is history. CABIN CREEK is our previous band reborn with a new sound.

What inspired your band name?

David: We were sitting here at our house one day, and we were thinking of what we should call the band. We wanted a name that represents the band but also [a name that has] a nice ring to it and everything. We decided to do some research, and I studied coal mines. In West Virginia, which is where one side of my family is from, there was a mine where my grandfather died, and [I was] looking at the history to see if I could get a good band name. There was a cabin creek mine nearby, and we thought it sounded perfect. It worked, so we decided on that as our name.

You guys recently posted a video of a stripped-down version of “Belong”. What is the meaning behind the song?

David: Obviously, it’s talking about belonging. But it’s also about where you belong and figuring it out on your own, not someone telling you. It also talks about alcoholism and a lot of other topics, but in good ways.

How would you describe the “CABIN CREEK” sound?

Travis: It’s the sound of David’s brain producing a song and then my brain helps his brain finish the structure and production aspect, meanwhile, Eric and Blayne are grooving in the rhythm section. This is all done with guitars and banjos. It’s weird.

In January, you guys released a self-titled LP. What was the general theme or inspiration?

David: It’s about the years from 2012 to 2014, and it was some of the hardest years of our lives. Except our drummer, it was the best time of his life. For the rest of us, it was a really hard time.

Travis: The general inspiration was heart break and finding yourself.

What band or musician inspired you to create music?

Travis: More recently for me it’s probably JOHN MAYER. He’s a big influence, as well as NORAH JONES. On a side note, I can’t stop listening to NAILS or MANDOLIN ORANGE.

David: JOHN MAYER is a massive influence for all of us. In recent years, THE AVETT BROTHERS have influenced me. We also get a lot of writing influence from really old music that you don’t hear too much about, like THE STANLEY BROTHERS, CLARENCE ASHLEY, and DOC WATSON.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CABIN CREEK'S DEBUT SELF-TITLED ALBUM

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CABIN CREEK’S DEBUT SELF-TITLED ALBUM

Are you guys working on new material?

Travis: That’s pretty much all were doing now; were working on the full-length record. We aren’t playing too many shows at the moment.

David: For the new record, we’re going to Knoxville to record it in July. It’s going to be about 14 songs, and titled Saturday 6.

For more updates on CABIN CREEK, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and check out their recent self-titled EP on Bandcamp. Also, be on the lookout for their next album, Saturday 6, which should be released later this year.