Rock and Soul
It used to be, that an encore was an accolade earned by a stellar performance, where an audience would call an artist out for a bow, to thank them for a great show. Some artists responded in kind, taking up their instruments and thanking the audience.
Somehow, the encore changed, becoming the crowd’s call for more show because they wanted more.
Then there’s the SummerSounds encore. We’ve been graced by a lot of great shows by a lot of great artists over the years, and sometimes we’re logistically able to return the favor, by having them back in the year following their first appearance. Chris Smither, The Glenn Miller Orchestra and A Silent Film come immediately to mind.
Last summer we had a very late cancellation. We scrambled, really scrambled, to fill that date. We came up with The Commonheart, a Pittsburgh band on the verge of their first extended national tour. Anyone who attended last summer will tell you that they were absolutely terrific! So terrific that they’ve earned their ‘Encore.’
Obviously, they’ve got an excellent front man, the incomparable Clinton Clegg, who belongs right up there with Nathaniel Rateliff and John Moreland, those who have taken up the mantle of James Brown, and Joe Cocker, and any other vocalist who literally gives us a piece of their heart and their throat when they sing for us. Heck, Clinton even took out a piece of our concrete stage with our heavy mike stand, he got so emotionally involved.
The best part, though, was that The Commonheart is the complete deal -- a band that can more than keep up with their leader. Every single component part, from an Aretha rock steady rhythm section, to the backup singers, to a horn section with tasty arrangements, sweet solos and talent to spare. Oh, and did I forget to mention the tasty lead guitar and soul-deep keyboards? Collectively, they set the tone and the beat and the note for Clegg’s extraordinary vocals, all wrapped up in a sweat-busting, richly deserved encore.
This is what this concert series is all about, the discovery, by you and me, of a constellation of major talent that we can only hope will be recognized by the larger world.
Pre-show music byJasonGamble
Yeah, she’s John Hiatt’s daughter, but so what? All you’ve got to do is give her a listen, and all comparisons to Sean Lennon, Harper Simon and Chazz Bono go out the window. Oh, and comparisons to John Hiatt, too.
Without dwelling on it (well, yeah, so?) she’s her own girl, from her own psyche and experiences and demons. She started out in a college band, with influences of Dinosaur Jr., The Breeders and Pearl Jam, and bounced around for awhil e, from Denver to Nashville to Austin and back, to East Nashville, the most fertile Delta of today’s music scene, where she took up residence on Trinity Lane, not coincidentally the title of her latest album, a watershed of her life, and her sound.
The songs on Trinity Lane reflect, as she says “putting my faith in something I can’t see,” namely music. Relationships, substance abuse, long-simmering emotional issues are all addressed, as if the album is her catharsis. She’s still working on it.
Expect lyrics of great thoughtfulness, singing of great tone, and rock music drawn from her own influences. Ultimately, her songs are about the ever-healing power of music, of songs that explore the self.
Pre-show music by Meredith Holliday
When we first heard Butcher Brown they were truly rock-jazz fusion in sound and set-up: drum kit, bass, lead guitar, keys, centered on guitar and organ, a strong, straight-forward band. Then along came Marcus Tenney. Then came JAZZ!
Don’t get me wrong. What they were playing before was jazz, but Marcus and his horns, sax, trumpet, whatever, transformed it all into caps: JAZZ!
There’s a live performance on YouTube where the Butchers invite Tenney onstage to join in. Right there you see the transformation.
They all come out of the Virginia Commonwealth University jazz program; Tenney a bit older than DJ Harrison, keys and producer; Corey Fonville, drums; Andrew Randazzo, bass; and Morgan Burrs, guitar, where they’ve created a healthy, growing jazz scene in Richmond and Charlottesville. All around us the culturati declare the impending death of jazz, but VCU, and North Texas State and Duquesne just keep proving them wrong. Do what we did, wrap your head around it slowly and recognize the genius of jazz.
Christened somewhere as hip-hop Mahavishnu, Butcher Brown’s muscular, funky, rock-centered and jazz-flavored sound is bottomed on echoes of Weather Report and Return To Forever, but goes so much further, in each progressive, inventive, adventurous performance. Come and hear for yourself the genius that is jazz.
Pre-show music by Angry John Stangry
In acknowledgement of the rather sizeable contribution that she makes (singing lead vocals, writing the songs, co-producing albums and midnight snacks) to The Honeycutters, Amanda Anne Platt is up front in every way on their fifth album, including her name .
This is what New Country should sound like. Grounded in traditional country ways, with all the torch and twang, as k.d lang called it, with a greater introspection and turn of phrase, a la Sturgill Simpson. There’s Nashville, and then there’s East Nashville, not just a different spot on the compass, and there’s everywhere else, like Asheboro, NC, where Amanda A is from. She’s got a big, heartache of a voice when necessary, and the lilt of humor when it occurs. She deals in the ordinariness of life, and death and birthdays, with a wisdom and wit well beyond her 30 years.
She’s got a terrific band behind her, a real country band: tasty pedal steel and all, sometimes upright, sometimes Fender, bass, and a real nice, minimal drum pocket, just enough for a country beat. Country music fans, not hat-band country, but real country, will appreciate the attention to rhythm this band has, how it’s right there throughout, a perfect platform for Platt’s words and voice.
Pre-show music by Willow Hill
Somewhere east of Pea Ridge, on Highway 60 just outside of Huntingdon, WVA, sits Ona, WVA, an unincorporated spot where Ona, the band, got it’s name and it’s inspiration. Just remember, if you get to Hurricane or Nitro, you’ve gone too far.
While hailing from Huntingdon, the guys in Ona derive their essence from Ona, a tiny, nearly non-existent hollow nearly in the middle of nowhere— sort of like Brigadoon, with moonshine whiskey substituting for Scotch.
Brad, Bradley, Zach, Zack and Max (last names Goodall, Jenkins, Johnston,Owens and Nolte) have been friends for longer than they’ve been band, but not by much.
Their motto is What Would Neil Young Do? The answer is, be moody, along with dreamy and guitar-y, but with traces of Dawes and Duane Eddy, Great Lake Swimmers and Sufjan Stevens. They’re not at all derivative, but rather proto-evolutionary, trying to bring rock to a place like Ona.
They’re at work on an album, said to be a worthy successor to American Fiction, both of which will be sitting on a table at the gate to the park, to be added to your collection of Albums-I-Got-At-SummerSounds-And-Can’t-Stop-Listening- To. After all, what could be better than reminiscing about live outdoor music? Maybe a beverage?
Pre-show music by Zak Blose