When it rains, it pours. Local favorites American Dumpster have just survived a stretch that makes Fleetwood Mac look like The New Christy Minstrels.
Among other things, many fans know that band leader Christian Breeden recently lost his dad. David Breeden was a longtime, well-respected and positive force around the Charlottesville community. Christian says that, at the time doctors stopped working to try and revive David, his mom put the American Dumpster CD on and played it through. When the CD ended, Breeden’s physician came back into the room and declared the time of death. Christian says that “it has been pretty intense, thinking about that time in between, while the CD was playing. His death especially changed the meaning of the first song, ‘Blue,’ for me. I played it at his funeral, and it was good, because I think it was the first time that a lot of my dad’s family had heard me play anything.”
Earlier this summer, guitarist Andrew Ewell was diagnosed with a brain tumor following a seizure episode. He had surgery in August, and was laid up for several weeks, but is now on the road to a full recovery. Bassist Steve Riggs says that Ewell’s guitar playing has been better than ever since the surgery. Ewell states simply that the band is intact, and “we always seem to play better when we play a lot.”
The Dumpsters do have a spate of gigs on their calendar this fall. You can go hear them open up for Lynyrd Skynyrd on Tuesday, October 3, at the Pavilion. Breeden calls Skynyrd “quintessential. They really bring out the inner redneck in me.”
But a better night out with The Dumpsters may be this Friday, October 6, at Starr Hill. Ian Gilliam and The Fire Kings, a brilliant local band that plays honking rockabilly, surf and blues are the openers and should not be missed. Then AD will take the stage for one of their first local gigs since July.
Another gig of note on their books is The Floyd Fandango (Floydfest’s autumn cousin) on October 21 and 22. AD got great feedback from their summer festival gig, and were invited back to the Fandango, which is more carnival than music festival. They will share the main stage with Junior Brown. Let’s hope the locals get paid.
Breeden says that he is also learning his way around his home recording studio, trying to work up original tunes. “I want to get back to writing more pop songs. Still edgy, but music that is really fun at the core.”
Speaking of music with a party in its pants, go see Heavy Trash this Thursday. Last week, the beautiful Satellite Ballroom brought you D.C. legend Chuck Brown, whose “Bustin’ Loose” provided the sample that made Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” actually hot. This week, the Satellite presents another legendary D.C. frontman in Jon Spencer. When The Blues Explosion last came through town, they seemed a little tired. Not pooped, but kind of over it. While there are no confirmed rumors that JSBX has packed it in after 14 years together, Heavy Trash seems like a deep breath of fresh air for Spencer. He has teamed up with Matt Verta-Ray (from the completely unsung band Madder Rose), and the ensuing cocktail is a rockabilly nod with greater esteem for the original tunes than Blues Explosion ever had. Both songwriters like Johnny Horton and Sleepy LaBeef, and in concert they are known to dust off some covers by Gene Vincent. Heavy Trash is also known to go for the entire look live: greasy hair, black jeans and bright pink shirts.
An interesting aspect of this show is that The Sadies are the openers, but it also looks like they will be the back-up band for Spencer and Ray.
Not to be outdone in the indie-rock-from-out-of-town department, The Grav-ity Lounge features Drag City rockers Smog on Friday, October 6. Bill Callahan has moved to Austin, but he still serves up a hypnotic, lo-fi sound.
Charlottesville sure feels like the epicenter of the music universe right now. From DMB to Clapton to Skynyrd to Los Lobos to The Chamber Music Festival to Free Bridge to American Dumpster. Does anyone even have money left over for a mojito? Next time you’re out, give a club owner a hug.