Albemarle High School sophomore Ryan Grant does not drink alcohol, smoke dope or have promiscuous sex. And his decision to live that straight-edge life has been inspired by music—good loud, fast, hard music.
He don’t drink, don’t smoke: But what AHS sophomore Ryan Grant does do is rock—hard.
Ryan Grant likes hardcore music. The first hardcore CD he ever bought was by Minor Threat, one of the bands credited with starting the punk rock lifestyle of abstinence from alcohol and drugs with a 1981 song called “Straight Edge.” About a year and a half ago, Grant adopted the “edge” philosophy for his own life.
“The music is a backdrop to making a statement” says Grant.
As for why he has adopted an edge lifestyle, he says, “It just feels right to me, although it also puts me out of place more often than not.”
Grant says that he is one of the few at school who adheres to the edge life, but he also says that very few of the kids at school make a big deal of his choice. They accept it for what it is. Needless to say, Ryan’s mom, Darlene, can find a lot more solace in finding Minor Threat’s music on her son’s iPod than when my mom found Bob Marley’s Catch A Fire on the turntable in 1973.
Ryan plays in three bands himself, including Demagogue, what he calls a “punk, melodic, crusty, 1977” style band. He played an afternoon show this past Saturday at The Music Resource Center. “The MRC is a really important place, because we can go in and record for free.”
Grant cites some older bands as his current spins: The Clash, Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits. But he also says that there are some new bands that interest him, like Insurgency here in town and Richmond’s Down to Nothing. Because the Charlottesville scene is small, Grant also goes to Richmond for shows (Alley Katz in particular after Nancy Raygun shut its doors). He also has taken note that the punk rock scene is divided, and that bands play mostly to fans of their genre (i.e., emo bands draw an emo crowd). This can make it hard to get a crowd. “But,“ he says, “music is what connects people.”
Warn the elderly neighbors: Kevin Ardrey may be bringing his heavily amped metal music to a home near you.
Bassist and drummer Kevin Ardrey describes the local metal scene as just as splintered as punk rock. “There are so many subgenres. Some people only like one kind of style. But when it comes down to it, it’s all metal.”
Ardrey plays bass in established band Charred Martyr as well as Sanguin, a metal band that recently got together and is in the writing phase. Charred Martyr was just invited to play a one-time show in the Tokyo Rose basement. They will also play a gig May 19 in Waynesboro at The Federal Building with a heavy metal band on Prosthetic Records called Byzantine. Ardrey says the show “will be big.”
“Playing music is one of the most important things going on in the lives of the guys in the bands,” says Ardrey. But, he says, “The Charlottesville metal scene is a little dismal. I don’t think there are enough pissed-off metalheads in town.”
Still, there are good metal bands in the area, says Ardrey. “One Eyed Suicide is good quality metal. A Cosmonaut’s Ruin are amazing.” He also likes Zero Presence from Greene County.
Ardrey finds out who is coming to town through online forums, and he downloads most of his music from iTunes, which has a very extensive metal library. “I like the Scandinavian death metal bands, like Opeth, At The Gates, and Dissection’s older material.”
Despite several recent club gigs on the books, Kevin Ardrey says that club bookings can be hard for his bands to come by. For that reason, he says metal bands often play parties at people’s houses. The rise in the number of live music events hosted at house parties seems like a good indicator of the number of musicians who want to play in front of people, but cannot fit into the structure of the clubs. And it is not just metal bands. Several house concert series in town host very good out-of-town acts, often singer/songwriters. The Barking Cherry series, for example, will feature folk favorites Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen, on Saturday evening, May 5, at 8pm. Refreshments will be served, and you can make a reservation by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Musicians Bobby and Sara Read, Scuffletown’s John Whitlow and Alex Caton have also generously opened up their living rooms for shows. Caton just had Jake Amerding at her place. The trick to house parties is always finding out the when and the where.
Open your April copy of Southern Living magazine, and there is ex-Charlottesville guitarist Rick Olivarez working his six-string in New Orleans.