Making hits

Making hits

You got to give it to Jon Thompson. Dreaming Isabelles lead guitarist and singer goes after what he wants. He was a walk-on from Wise High School to the UVA football team and got to play linebacker alongside Darryl Blackstock and Aaron Brooks.

Thompson brings this sort of determination to his band, which just won the Snocap sponsored Charlottesville Battle of the Bands. But he also brings a very levelheaded practicality to playing in a rock band. “All of us have that need to play music, so we are making music and seeing where that leads. Our thing now is to get to the next step.”

Jon Thompson (far right) says that Dreaming Isabelle’s influences include The Beatles and Wilco, and that songwriter Daniel Lipton writes with a driving, Jimmy Eat World-inspired sound.

The four members of the band graduated from UVA, and they have worked their way up from frats and open mics to gigs at The Lion’s Den and Piano’s in New York. Thompson says that band influences include The Beatles and Wilco, and that songwriter Daniel Lipton writes with a driving, Jimmy Eat World-inspired sound. Recently, they won the local competition that earns them an opening slot this season at The Charlottesville Pavilion, as well as a consultation with ATO Records execs.

They welcome the advice, but they have already been plenty smart about their path. Thompson works at Musictoday, where he gets to see the behind-the-scenes workings of the business. And drummer Chris Doermann recently bought recording studio Virginia Arts. They recorded their first CD there, and they continue to work on new material there. They have a new EP in the works.

As for digital music distributor Snocap, Thompson says that the band aims to make it as easy as possible to put their music in front of people. Snocap allows fans to buy music directly from artists. Artists therefore set their own prices, and Dreaming Isabelle has tried to keep prices for their music as low as possible. They also used Facebook to promote their recent headline performance at Starr Hill. Thompson says, “It is hard to not feel gimmicky with online promotion. But I am a fan of whatever connects fans to music.”


Believe it or not, very occasionally I get criticized for being out of touch with the local rock scene. (Didn’t I make the call on Corndawg being the next big thing?) If you are looking to go deep into the local rock scene, go to John Ruscher, (who also writes reviews for this paper), started Nailgun in June 2004, after the close of Tokyo Rose. He decided to blog as a way of providing a central place for information about underground music. Ruscher originally covered shows in D.C. and Richmond, but the fact that more and more great shows were coming here focused the site locally. He credits all the local clubs for offering spots where bands can play.

“When I first started I was grasping for any information to post, but now I have to work hard to keep up with everything that’s going on. After I had been running the site for just a little while, I thought about stopping, but luckily some of my friends encouraged me to keep it going. I’m really thankful for that support.

“One of my favorite moments has probably been attending the grand opening of Monkeyclaus Studios. They were projecting films onto a white sheet outside, and Sarah White and Richmond’s Them Against Them played a show in the studio. One of my most memorable moments was helping promote UVA’s Fest Full of Rock last spring. Former Charlottesvillians USAISAMONSTER played, and we got Les Savy Fav, one of my favorite bands, to headline.”

Nailgun is sponsoring the Satellite Ballroom performance of Bonde Do Role later this month. The band consists of Brazil-based DJs who favor the funk. DJ Gavin Holland and Mad Happy will open. “It’s exciting for Nailgun to be actively presenting a show, rather than just writing about what other people are doing around town.”

Check out Nailgun for interviews with Neil Hagerty, Andy Friedman and Sarah White.


Sometime American Dumpster members Steve Riggs and Betty Jo Dominick have joined Tanya K’s Two Red Shoes and the band has been working hard on new tunes. Catch them this Sunday night downstairs at Starr Hill.


Jon Thompson’s recent spins: “I like Sigur Ros, and Explosions in the Sky (who played a sold out show at Starr Hill this past week). And I like Gomez, who really remind me of The Beatles.”

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