The Corner is growing quite big on Charlottesville’s musical radar these days. Satellite Ballroom, for one, has been bringing many great national acts (and their fall lineup becomes more mouth-watering each day). But if you’re looking for enthusiastic local music, Wednesday nights at Orbit Billiards is (to borrow from Beck) where it’s at.
Lights, camera, interaction: J.J. Cohoon makes the Charlottesville Music Showcase a unique and interactive multimedia affair.
Sure, a band playing in a Corner bar is nothing new, but Orbit isn’t just providing a soundtrack for collegiate drinking. For almost a year, a group of dedicated music-lovers have been working hard to, as they put it, "cultivate Charlottesville’s musical mojo." Their weekly Charlottesville Music Showcase has included The Hamiltons, Sarah White and The Nice Jenkins, just to name a few. Feedback met up with the showcase’s tech guru J.J. Cohoon to chat about the special ingredients that go into their weekly recipe.
"Our goal is to give smaller, local bands a level of production that they aren’t normally getting in bars," he says. And he’s not just talking about a high-end sound system. Cohoon combines lights, live video feeds, two projectors and computer animations to create a unique multimedia extravaganza.
With that formula, Cohoon and his comrades have chalked up a year of successful shows, and on August 22 they’ll celebrate their one-year anniversary with a marathon lineup of great local groups. Want to see Best of C-VILLE winner Sons of Bill play an acoustic set? Or how about Lola Mullen‘s Americana-tinged strumming? Or some scratching skills from The Beetnix‘s DJ XSV? The festivities will kick off at 3pm, and you’ll get all that and more. Of course if you can’t wait that long, the Adrian Duke Projek and Mountain Man Jr. will bring the funk this Wednesday, August 15.
The Virginia Commission for the Arts gave the Music Resource Center a $9,000 grant to fund a residency by vocalist Heather Maxwell (pictured here with MRC’s Outreach Coordinator Damani Harrison), as well as $26,300 in general operating support.
And while one local showcase is blowing out its first birthday candle, another is being born. As if musician and producer Lance Brenner hasn’t given us enough aural goodness lately, he just unveiled another project: C-Fest, a "series of quarterly themed music festivals," to help promote local music. The first installment, Freakfest, will take place at Satellite Ballroom on September 8 and will feature "fringe-rock, goth and out-there acoustic music" from the likes of This Means You, Love Tentacle Drip Society, B.C. and more.
On the topic of local fests, Feedback got word that the folks out in Crozet have their own in the works. Bill Rossberg, the event’s organizer, tells us that the first Crozet Music Festival, scheduled for October 20 at Crozet Park, will be an all-day affair filled with live music, food, drinks and more. They already have some big names on the bill (Terri Allard, American Dumpster, Alligator), and, with proceeds from the event benefiting the park, Feedback (who has a soft spot for such things in his western Albemarle County heart) can tell this will be a fantastic shindig.
Tea, twilight and a dream gig
Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar (the Best Place to Inhale) isn’t going the festival route, but it is bringing a lot of eccentric noisemakers through its doors this week. Feedback talked with one of those, Pennsylvanian guitarist Mike Tamburo (he’ll be hitting the tea house on Friday, August 17), to see what he’s got up his sleeve.
|Take a listen to "The Last Museum" by Mike Tamburo:
Tamburo’s musical philosophy is spaced-out, but we like it. "Music allows your mind to drift and it creates an environment for you," he says. "I want to open someone up to a twilight space. Some sort of subconsciousness." Listen to Tamburo’s songs and you’ll see just what he means. His tunes combine the finger-picking folk sounds of John Fahey with Sonic Youth‘s atmospheric experimentalism to create engulfing, contemplative music. We’re eager to see just how he paints these soundscapes (his brushes are guitar, hammer dulcimer, vocals and effects) in a live setting.
We can’t help but be giddy with all of these festivals and great shows on the horizon, but Feedback also loves to see Charlottesville musicians making their way out of town and onto other big stages. Local violin and guitar duo Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun have landed an opening slot for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at Roanoke’s Jefferson Center on September 27. Pun says that this chance "is probably one of our ‘dream gigs’ as far as who we’d like to open up for."
Dynamic duo: In September Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun will head to Roanoke to play with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.
It’s not just that the duo has a style similar to Bela Fleck’s jazzy, folk fusion sound, but also because they’ve earned the slot on their own. "We’ve never thought of a gimmick to make our music more widely known or ever thought that any one person or way could help us craft our style to further our career," Pun says. "We are what we are." That independent, DIY spirit is sweet music to Feedback’s ears.
And we can’t forget about those future local musicians. Without them, how would Charlottesville music keep on keepin’ on? That’s where the Music Resource Center comes in. Giving area kids a place to jam and record songs since 1995, the MRC just received two grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. One ($26,300) will help the Center maintain its current studio space on Ridge Street, and the second ($9,000) will fund vocalist and world music expert Heather Maxwell‘s MRC residency.
The Commission’s panel commended the center not just for the musical opportunities it offers, but also for its impact on the community. "[It is] good to see qualified professional artists not only working with the youth, but also serving as role models," they said. "Musicianship is high, but secondary to teaching life skills through the arts." Feedback recommends that any kids in grades seven through 12 take advantage of the MRC. You don’t have to be the next Jimi Hendrix or Gwen Stefani. Just get out there and make some noise.