Music for these times

Music for these times

Typically, I wait until December 23 to try and put myself in the holiday spirit, but some people prefer to take their time with the holidays.

Get in the spirit: Debbie Hunter and her group will present medieval English carols and more at St. Paul’s Memorial Church.

Debbie Hunter’s early music vocal group, Mira, will be putting on an event of holiday music on Thursday, December 7, at St. Paul’s Memorial Church across from the Rotunda. Mira consists of 18 singers and several string players, and the evening’s performance will include medieval English carols, European Renaissance motets, works of Palestrina and Gabrieli, and Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. Guest artists will include Richmond Symphony harpist Anastasia Jellison, and Marge Bunday, whom Hunter describes as a “very in-demand alto for early music and beyond, as well as a hot-shit D.C. soloist.” Custer LaRue will also perform, and Hunter says, “I know a lot of great singers, but she is one of the most amazing singers I have ever heard.”

If you cannot make that show, Hunter will also be performing a Solstice concert at the Gravity Lounge on December 21. Together with Mary Gordon Hall and other guests, the Gravity show will feature more folk carols, solstice songs and dance.

Hunter, who has more about her music posted at, has also been writing a lot lately in anticipation of a new recording in the spring. She has also been exploring the relationship between music/tonalities and healing.


Have a guitar player on your Christmas list? If so, you may want to stop into Specialty Guitars Plus, now in its second week of business. The store carries a mix of affordable and higher-end acoustics and electrics, some of which are limited-edition runs. Owner Larry Howard says that he shops around for interesting instruments, and he has a number of Ibanez, Gibson, Fender and G&L electrics, as well as Ovation acoustics in stock, and he is expecting Spector basses any day. He also says he has a good relationship with long-time local music shops Stacey’s and Charlottesville Music because his inventory is different. His shop is located on the terrace level of Woodbrook Shopping Center, but be sure and go around back. When I stopped in, Howard’s son was shredding in the front room.

This Sunday, December 3, Plan 9 and the Satellite Ballroom will be hosting the 3rd Record Wares and Robot Fair from noon to 5pm. This year’s event looks to be much more varied, with crafts, homemade toys and clothes, and so on. But at least two vinyl vendors will be on hand to sell records, and there is a good possibility that one of them will be eBay store Hall of Robots. Monkeyclaus members Matthew Clark and Chris Hlad will DJ. Vendors are invited to stick around for the Ballroom’s show with Skeleton Key. The next night, the Satellite hosts an interesting show with the Cape Verdean singer Lura, who has inspired and been inspired by Cesaria Evora.


Although I lived a few places before I landed here, Charlottesville gave me my first real taste of devout Deadhead culture. I never understood the depth of reverence. That love of Jerry Garcia is holding up well, eleven years after his death. We have our own fine cover band, Alligator. And Starr Hill is able to host two nights of the Dark Star Orchestra, the tribute band that faithfully recreates the sound and set lists from the Dead’s hallowed 2,500-concert history. The Chicago-based outfit has played 1,300 shows themselves, and are listed as a Top 50 National Touring Act. Their attention to the sound of the Dead’s music has been so exacting that Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Donna Jean Godchaux have joined them on stage. DSO even plots the stage based on how the Dead would have set up. At the end of every performance, the band announces the date and venue where the original Dead show took place. DSO will be here December 4 and 5, for Deadheads and rock historians alike.

Also for Dead fans, In New York this January, there will be two concerts to honor the release of the band’s two fine records, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. The American Beauty Project will honor the two albums, both recorded in 1970, with performances of tunes from the records by various artists including Jorma Kaukonen, The Holmes Brothers, The Klezmatics, Mark Eitzel and many others. Performances are free and will take place Downtown at The World Financial Center Winter Garden. For more info, go to


Debbie Hunter current spins: LaRue and The Baltimore Consort. The Tallis Scholars. I love Jai Uttal. New recordings by Mary Gordon Hall and Bahlmann Abbot. I am proud of both of them. Richard Thompson as always. And my son Blake Hunter’s band, Trees on Fire, who are playing Uncle Charlie’s this Saturday.

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