The love minivan

The love minivan

I once played in a band where members lived in Virginia, Baltimore and New Orleans. The long distance relationship may be hard, but it can be done.

Adam Smith of Truman Sparks ( has been figuring out where he wants to live. He recently checked out Philadelphia, where former locals The Extraordinaires have found a home. And he has spent time in Richmond, a city that he likes. But mostly, Smith says that he would prefer to tour all the time.

Two gigs are better than one: In March, Adam Smith (third from left) will play solo in Charlottesville, as well as with his band Truman Sparks.

He is in luck, because Truman Sparks will kick off a month-long tour at The Twisted Branch on March 16. The tour, his fifth, will go from New York City to Kansas City and Houston before making its way back through the Southeast. “Just the fact that we are touring is good enough for me. It will be a great time, and we’ll be driving in a minivan, so we will be very good friends by the time it is over.”

You can catch Truman Sparks in a tune up gig this Sunday night at Starr Hill lounge. Smith will be playing a solo gig again at Starr Hill on Thursday, March 1. Smith says that even though band members are living in separate cities, Truman Sparks has come up with new material that he is very excited about. And personally, he has been in a serious psychedelic and Pink Floyd phase that shows up mainly in his own music away from the band. He has also been under the sway of a lot of krautrock.

The night after his solo show, March 2, you can catch Smith’s friends, the expatriated Extraordinaires, at The Tea Bazaar. The show will be interesting because core members Jay Purdy and Matt Gibson have assembled a full band to take on the road. And their tour takes them all the way to California.

Find Truman Sparks’ CD on line at


Another Charlottesville musician who is undeterred by distance is bassist Tony Zanella. He joined the much-loved local band True Love Always ( around 2000 when Tobin Rodriguez grew up and moved to Boston. Some time later, band leader John Lindaman relocated to Brooklyn, but TLA, who records for Teenbeat, stayed together to tour and put out a CD, Clouds. They last played Teenbeat’s 20th anniversary party in 2005. Since then, Lindaman has pursued various projects, incorporating his love of Latin and samba music into Latin Hustle, a group that he wryly describes as Joao Gilberto meets the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Drummer nonpareil Matt Datesman made a CD with Teenbeat founder Mark Robinson, and that band, Flin Flon, toured as recently as last year.

TLA was playing The Knitting Factory in 2000, and former Versus’ members James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos were opening the show with their new band, +/- , a.k.a. Plus Minus. Zanella got along well with the band, and after the release of +/-‘s  first CD in 2001, Zanella got the call to tour with the band. They have taken him out on the road ever since, about once a year. Zanella says that highlights have included swings through Taiwan, and that Japan “is an amazing place to go to.” You can catch +/-  with Zanella at a local show at The Satellite Ballroom on March. The band has been described as a “perfect soundtrack for daydreaming.”


What did bluegrass music ever do to launch so many bastard stepchildren? This Wednesday, Bill Evans, saxophonist known for his work with Miles Davis and John McLaughlin, will bring his  new grass band to the Gravity Lounge. His latest CD, Soulgrass, was nominated for a 2006 Grammy and was co-produced by ubiquitous five-stringer Bela Fleck. His current band has young banjo star Ryan Cavanaugh on banjo (recommended to Evans by Fleck ) and fiddle player Christian Howes, who has been touring with Bill the last two years.


Board members at the former Prism Coffeehouse space have decided to christen the venerable venue 214 Community Arts Center. A grand opening fundraising event for the space will be held on Saturday, February 24, featuring Uncle Henry’s Favorites and new old-time band Naked Creek. For complete information on happenings there, check


True Love Always, or—if you prefer,TLA—are up in the Clouds these days.

And in case you did not get a ticket for Justin Timberlake’s show at JPJ. Club R2 is selling raffle tickets every Thursday night for Mr. Sexyback, and the lucky winner gets two VIP tix to the March 18th show and a limo to get you there and back. Winners will be announced Thursday, March 15.

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