This Friday at Starr Hill, The Easy Star All-Stars will appear on the heels of the release of their CD Radiodread, a complete reggae version of Radiohead’s OK Computer. Local Easy Star label honcho Lem Oppenheimer says that expectations are high after the success of Dub Side of the Moon, which reimagined Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but “we also know a lot more about what we’re doing.” One thing the label has done is recruit some very respected guests for the new CD, like Toots Hibbert, Citizen Cope, Horace Andy and Skelly Spence from Israel Vibe. Plus, this time out, the label is shooting a video for the single “Let Down,” which features Toots.
As for following up Dub Side, Oppenheimer says, “Put the same love and care in, and out comes a great product.” It also doesn’t hurt that the CD has gotten good press from two of the members of Radiohead. The Starr Hill gig will be the second stop on a long fall tour.
In July, Easy Star released a live DVD from the Dub Side tour, and that CD still moves as many as 300 copies a week in this country alone, three years after its release. Besides an upcoming CD from Ticklah (keyboard wizard for Antibalas, as well as the Easy Star All-Stars), the label has managed to stay busy with the two releases from The All-Stars. (You know, I just can’t figure how Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahu sells like he does, while John Brown’s Body, twice as tuneful, is still searching for respect.)
The night before the Easy Star gig at Starr Hill, look for a heavyweight battle of the Americana bands. In this corner, weighing in at three brothers, is Charlottesville’s own Sons of Bill. With a fresh new CD, A Far Cry From Freedom, The Sons bill themselves as “Charlottesville’s original country rock band.” Sorry boys, did you forget about Kathryn Caine, Benny Dodd, David Witt, Duke Merrick, et al? (I’m guessing the Sons shopped out their press kit.) The band has been getting raves locally, though. You also get to hear Peyton Tochterman open.
In the other corner, at The Satellite Ballroom, the triple bill: The Nice Jenkins, Wrinkle Neck Mules and Cashmere Jungle Lords. The Mules, who are Americana and then some, recently played showcases at SXSW in Austin, where they also did recording for a new CD. They are currently supporting a CD, Pull The Brake, which was recorded at DMB’s Haunted Hollow studio, and band leader Andy Stepanian gives a lot of credit to producer/engineer Chris Kress: “He has been really helpful to us. We’d been looking for someone to polish up the mess we made, and he was the one who returned our calls. We have a great relationship with him.”
Pull The Brake has a guest appearance by Bonnie “Prince” Billy, who met the band in Charlottesville to record. They have been getting lots of good press lately, with a good review in Pop Matters. Stepanian says their crowd includes everyone from indie rockers to alt-country types.
One highlight of the show may be the first band, The Cashmere Jungle Lords. It has been nine years since CJL’s last CD, Southern Barber Supply. Every tune on that CD was licensed to MTV, where the band could be heard on episodes of “The Real World” and “Road Rules.” Dominic Carpin says that the band’s progress has been through his own efforts, but he also admits, “While the MTV stuff probably helped our stature, I have been pretty content doing the self-release thing, especially with all the technology. We are pretty much a cottage industry now.” The new CD, Bloodstone Follies, is a great piece of excellent rocking pop, and features Richmond heavyweights like drummer Johnny Hott. Be sure and get to Satellite early: CJL starts at 9pm.
Headliners at The Satellite are our own The Nice Jenkins, who have a pretty great CD out right now, as well. Recorded at Rod Coles’ Purvis’ Store Studio, the disc features The Jenkins’ wide-open approach to musical styles and imaginative in-studio musicianship. Guitarist and detergent-bottle player Rob Cheatham says that the band would really like to get a regular thing going at the Ballroom. “I feel like there is such a great scene going on in Charlottesville right now, that we owe it to the scene to put out as good music as possible. And, of course, we just want to get a party started.” You can pick up discs by all four bands at either of the shows.