Father knows best

Two local bands with plenty of big buzz, Sons of Bill and Sparky’s Flaw, are putting their draw together for a Starr Hill show this Friday. Sons of Bill comprises three sons of UVA philosophical theology Professor Bill Wilson. He taught all of his kids how to play guitar and, according to brother James, he knew within a week that eldest brother Sam had that passion to play music. Sam took his love of classical and jazz guitar to James Madison University, and then moved to New York City to test the water. James was on a New York visit from college in California, and the two decided to recruit third brother Abe and start a band.

Immersed in writing good songs, the Sons draw inspiration from the likes of Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam and The Drive By Truckers. Asked about their quick popularity, James says that the band’s sound has an honesty to it, and “every time we play, we put our hearts into it.” The band has sold the first run of their CD, A Far Cry From Freedom, and they are currently remixing it with Chris Kress for rerelease. Both bands have sold out the room, so a line around the block is not out of the question.

Jon Spencer returns to Starr Hill Sunday, November 12, with a second interesting collaborative project in a month. Spencer teamed up with Luther and Cody Dickinson of The North Mississippi All-Stars, and they cut an album in eight days in 2000 in the Mississippi barn studio of their dad, Jim Dickinson. The CD, The Man Who Lived for Love, was released in Japan but has never seen daylight in the United States because, as Spencer puts it, “I got busy with other things and time has a way of slipping by.” Both Spencer and the Dickinsons say their collaboration is no stretch. Spencer’s Blues Explosion has always played blues-inspired music in a punk-rock style, and he says that both he and NMAS draw from the same inspirations—Memphis’ Tav Falco, for one. Guitarist Luther Dickinson says that Spencer works very quickly and intensely: “He is a band leader that you have to keep your eye on.”

Dickinson also says that he and his brother have always operated with the idea of being a rhythm section that could back up anybody, a concept that comes from their old man. And as far as doing side projects, he says mostly they play with different people in order to stay musically interesting to themselves. The Dickinsons toured with their dad this past year, and will go out on the road next year with Mavis Staples and Charlie Musslewhite, which should be amazing. As for JSBX, Spencer says they are “taking a long nap.”

The Hackensaw Boys play Starr Hill this Saturday night, but earlier in the week you can catch Hacks’ banjo player Jimmy Stelling with his second band, Rose’s Pawn Shop. The L.A.-based bluegrass/country rock band was voted best new West Coast band by Billboard magazine, and they are out on their first natonal tour. They play Tuesday, November 7, with Stelling at Atomic Burrito, and then the band plays the next two nights in town (probably at Fellini’s #9 or Michael’s Bistro) without Stelling, who is off with the Hacks. 

For fans of progressive acoustic music, CX-1 from the Asheville, North Carolina, area will be playing at Uncle Charlie’s in Crozet this Saturday. CX-1 is made up of Jay Sanders from Acoustic Syndicate, as well as members from The Snake Oil Medicine Show, and the band probably would not be stopping in town without the connection to Charlie’s music booker, Al Hinton. Hinton was Acoustic Syndicate’s manager for five years and led that band to the promised land of label affiliation before the road took its toll on band members. Hinton says that CX-1 is young, but also has experience touring. The band plays a mix of styles, with a strong dose of reggae. Also, banjo player Andy Pond was one of few invitees to the prestigious Porous Borders of Music series, which took place at Carnegie Hall and featured Bela Fleck and Mike Marshall.

It is very good news for music fans in town that Bill Baldwin has started booking Gravity Lounge shows again for December and that rumors of the club’s end may be premature.

Live…From The Hook’s premiere definitely put lead in the old nostalgia pencil. Nicely done.

What’s on Luther Dickinson’s CD player? “I really like that new Bob Dylan. I bought it on vinyl because LPs are works of art, sort of romantic, and good for your attention span.”

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