I will only say this. December might be for the birds. The very morbid, morbid birds. Be on the lookout.
I will only say this. December might be for the birds. The very morbid, morbid birds. Be on the lookout.
All the videos are up and available. So this gives me a bit of a luxury of unveiling them at my own discretion. White Laces have a big week ahead of them. A release party on Friday with Ohbliv and my friend DJ Mike Albrecht at the helm. It should be a blast and it takes place all at Balliceaux. If you want to see what they were up to on the 14th at Gallery 5, look no further. Enjoy!
And now even more videos! Silver Persinger is a solid commodity for the city of Richmond. When organizing this, I knew he would have to be there to be involved. He shot video of most all the bands. Here is the first set of the day from The Milkstains!
My Friend Todd Raviota shot a bunch of videos on July 14th. Here’s the link to access them all. I promise. There are many more on the way.
It’s been exactly two weeks now. It feels like forever ago. I guess that’s how fast moments can speed by you. When the anticipation is at an all-time high, you never can quite comprehend what this can all mean. I have yet to see it, but it makes me think of the trailers for the LCD Soundsystem documentary. James Murphy awakens after his band plays their last show ever at Madison Square Garden. His eyes tell more than anything he says to Chuck Klosterman can ever pull from what he is willing to reveal. By no means am I comparing what I tried to pull off at Gallery 5 to what LCD were able to do in their last fleeting moments. I simply can understand how difficult it is to absorb everything when it all happens and that’s perhaps why I waited two weeks to write this.
I could go on and on about what The Commonwealth of Notions means to me and the purpose I hope it serves. I have probably have already talked dozens of people’s ears off about that exact subject. At the end of the day, it’s not about changing the world. It’s about making people see how beautiful it is through what we all create. I celebrate local music because I don’t know what else to do. It’s what comes naturally to me in all of it’s ambitious strides and late night coffee binges. I wouldn’t have kept doing this for close to four years if it weren’t something that really meant a lot to me or made a difference to people around me.
I have a lot of ground to cover so I will try my best not to fall too much into the whimsical side of things. I knew that walking into this I was going to do something very abstract and different compared to other projects I have ever worked on. I was going to trust a very unreliable city to believe in what I was assembling. I set a date at Cellar Door with the complete intentions of leaving little to no room for announcement. I wanted to see if you could literally put together a solid line-up and just see what would happen. I wanted to include Paul Ginder. When I first was given the opportunity to be one of the Local Music Directors at WRIR, he introduced himself and seemed to feel fairly confident that I would be able to do great things with this new responsibility. I never could imagine that his show would get a huge plug in the Richmond Times Dispatch. In many ways, that was a great thing I could do for a respected colleague and a close friend. Justin at Cellar Door also believed in what I was doing. I don’t know if I would necessarily, but it seemed like he was on board from the moment I talked to him outside of my work place. In possibly the most difficult of all tasks, I approached a few individuals about designing a poster for this event. Michael Harl was the last that I would approach and he was given the task of designing a poster with little to no available details included. All of these people helped to make everything flow smoothly in regards to how July 6th would go and I can’t be grateful enough.
The idea of the 6th was to revisit the first event. Bring people back from the original eight and see what they were up to. As it eventually turned out, it ended up being all spin-offs and that was perfect. Ben Shepherd played solo away from his Veins brethren. David Shultz invited a few Skyline friends to play an encouraging set for what is hopefully yet to come. The Big East let the ashes simmer from the legacy of Amazing Ghost and showed that they are ready to take Richmond by storm. Fist-A-Crotch were never supposed to be there, but they made it count and it was all the better with their inclusion in these proceedings. It was really wonderful and it left me full of hope and excitement for the 14th.
I did an interview with my friend John Morgan and I finally realized something today that I couldn’t when I first read our conversation. It’s something else to be able to have an artifact of a moment where you feel like you are going nuts. I practically stated that I felt like I had no support from any of WRIR and that was so far from the truth. It’s ridiculous even. What it comes down to is this. I am trying to learn how to bestow responsibility to others and not take on all of the weight of every endeavor I involve myself with. It’s not easy. I’ve been doing it this way for close to twenty-nine years. I am easily stressed and I become so involved with my work that it can get intense. The truth is that I am so unbelievably fortunate to have a crew of people at WRIR that believe in what I am doing and help set aside their lives for a day of complete chaos. These people are Lindsey Spurrier, Mike Rutz, Tim Falen, Jay Westermann, Jaime Barnett, Mike McKenzie, Ethan Vaughan, Jason Matty, Ceci Hull, Andrew Barnes, George Pembleton, Noell Alexander, Gabi Schatzi, Rachel Solomon and the list goes on and on and on. If I forgot anyone, I am totally down with being one-inch punched by you at a time of your choosing. I am lucky to be involved with something like WRIR and our volunteer base only improves every year.
Until it becomes impractical, Gallery 5 is going to be one of the solid homes for this event. They are important and vital to the city. I can only imagine having an event that celebrates the art and culture of the city at a place like this. Amanda Robinson does a thankless task every day by making sure that the doors of this place stay open forever. Bizhan helped design the poster and I have only heard the most amazing of compliments in regards to its design. Kimberly, Pete and many of the Gallery 5 volunteers were all great in helping organize this event and we all walked away benefiting greatly from it all. Not that it needs to be said, but for anyone that had complaints regarding the deteriorating sound over the course of the evening, this is being addressed and worked on as I type this. By next year, that will never have to be an issue. If anything, I’m glad that my event could help address any of these issues or concerns that were had by any and all that helped organize the event or attended the event.
The bands were impeccable if I might say so myself. The Milkstains were the perfect opener and helped to prove to everyone why they are so far beyond the rest of the music scene in terms of their talent and finesse. The Blue Rajas are the band that writes my favorite pop songs and they jingle through my head nonstop all the time. Dogs on Main Street has honesty bursting through every seam and I hope that Mac Rowe slowly becomes one of your favorite voices and songwriters; he’s already one of mine. How else can The Snowy Owls have an even more incredible year and also continue on the tradition of spontaneity at WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents? I guess they could just blow everyone away and throw in a White Laces cover to boot. White Laces played a grand showing from their upcoming full-length Moves and I think everyone can agree that there is no stopping this Richmond force. If you have ever seen anything like The Colloquial Orchestra before this, I am going to call you out on your bullshit. That was on another level and totally went beyond my wildest imagination for what any and all bands could pull off. If I forget, I have to offer the greatest of thanks to the one and only Dave Watkins. He’s always down for making things happen and if I weren’t surrounded by creative minds like that, I’d be worse off.
Isaac Ramsey was a last minute addition. It all came up in a conversation with Watkins after he saw Double Rainbow. He mentioned how impressed he was with his flow and lyricism. I couldn’t believe that I had considered asking him to be a part of the event in the first place. He immediately confirmed and I happy this all happened. He fought the sound issues and emerged victorious. At the end of the day, I think the reason I invited Ramsey to be a part of this was more out of who he represents to me in my eyes. He’s a conduit of creative talent that comes across impressively in every musical project he has ever been involved with. He is a voice for the necessary revolts and protests of the city. He is an advocate for any and all to be given equality and to bestow common decency to all when civil rights come up as an issue. He is such a vital and important part of this city that it only makes sense that I would want this individual to be a part of what I am trying to showcase when it comes to Richmond talent.
The Low Branches have been breaking my heart since 2009. When I first heard “Giant Sounds,” that was it for me. I have never really been the same and although I wanted them to be a part of the first year, I’m glad I waited. They were the perfect closer to me for the upstairs space and I wanted to celebrate why they are one of the most important groups to emerge from Richmond in recent memory. There is no doubt in my mind that their next full-length will blow everyone away and I will no doubt be along for the ride.
I wanted to say something about this before the last two bands played. I am happy that I get a chance to articulate it better by writing it all down here. I didn’t realize this until I got home from doing the radio show and watched an episode of Sons of Anarchy. Bermuda Triangles and Canary Oh Canary have a very common lineage when it comes to their respective histories. The groups started with different line-ups and it is important to acknowledge that. The both lost drummers and the loss of these drummers was somewhat insurmountable. Between the two, they were responsible for how each group developed their sound and enacted a dynamic to converse with the Richmond music scene. In this loss, both bands had to pick up the pieces and determine which direction they were headed. I am happy that they decided to carry on, but you should never ignore the past. That is why I can’t help but offer my gratitude to Noell and Jared for what they contributed to the bands that they helped start.
Bermuda Triangles are one of the best bands in Richmond. I don’t know if they get the respect they deserve. That’s why I wanted them to be one of the last bands. Jason Hodges inspires me with how long he has been doing this and how much of himself he puts into everything he does. It’s not easy and you can tell when you see your friend at the brink of exhaustion. Yet, I felt the need to reward that by giving them a chance to truly showcase what makes this particular band so special. I don’t think I need to say it, but I have never seen them better. That was them at their best and I can’t say that I have ever felt that proud of my friends in Bermuda Triangles. It’s also worth noting that I am so fascinated by the constant evolution of Hodges’ projects. When you look at the early days and even Suppression and The Amoeba Men, it’s incredible to see how bands like Bermuda Triangles can come about and still be so integral and vital for the music scene. It’s truly a gift to behold that can’t be denied.
A close friend of mine, who is a constant source of support and a remarkable inspiration, may have put it best when describing Canary Oh Canary. I am amused and fascinated by what they had to say, because I wrote a whole article about the band. They could articulate it in one sentence and it all seemed to make sense. A band with a name like Canary Oh Canary is deceptive in how it initially suggests something sweet, yet the results are darker than you would suspect. That alone is what draws me to their music. I mentioned “Giant Sounds” by The Low Branches earlier. To me, I felt that way when I first heard “Embrace.” It was a game changer and when I was putting together this line-up, I wanted Canary Oh Canary to have this event as a victory lap for all they have accomplished in their one and a half year lifespan thus far. They are one of the finest Richmond groups and I don’t know how to say this enough. I don’t want to imagine a Richmond music scene that never had Canary Oh Canary. I think they are that important and that’s why I felt the need to run on stage after they finished to encourage them to play another tune.
We are already talking about volume three and I am getting impatient. People have asked me about doing it quarterly or even bi-annually and I don’t think that would make sense. Doing other Previously on WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents could happen, but the big kahuna needs time to come to fruition. What I tried to consider this year was how to pull together a roster of bands that deserved to feel rewarded and celebrated for all that they accomplish. I think in order to keep that in mind for future installments, I have to wait to see what Richmond comes up with next. I already have bands in mind and wish lists that I keep writing on bar napkins. I have already started talking to people about being a part of next year. I don’t know if their bands will even be together by then. All I know is this. I can’t wait to bring this back to you in a year’s time and just go even further to display how great of a honor it is to live in a city where I can call these bands my friends and my creative peers.
I have one last thing I want to write down and if you’ve made it thus far, kudos to you. I can only exist as the person I am because of the people I am surrounded by. I don’t get to say it very often, but things like this that I do are made possible by the inspiration of the people that I am fortunate to be around. There were so many people that came to my aid for this event. They came to support what I was doing. They came to shoot video or pictures. They came to enjoy themselves. They came because they believed in what I was doing. For that, I can’t thank you all enough. If I had a drink in my hand right now, I’d offer a cheer to all of. But I will just leave you with one of my favorite Leonard Cohen proverbs. Here’s the few who forgive what you do and the fewer who don’t even care.
Take Care and If I Don’t See You Soon, I’ll See You Next Year
Host of The Commonwealth of Notions
Here is video number two from the Fist-A-Crotch set on July 6th at Cellar Door. Also, many thanks to Celina Williams for shooting these videos and dropping by for the show. If you want to check out what she works on endlessly, this is the place to check it out.
I apologize for being aloof in regards to this site. I am still receiving content from many of the people that took part in Saturday’s festivities. As I get those, I will post more content up here. So stay tuned, but I do have something special for you for the next couple days. Did you miss Previously on WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents at Cellar Door? Well, don’t fret. Here is the first of several videos showcasing Fist-A-Crotch. I wonder who this band could possibly be.
This is the new music video from WRIR and the Commonwealth of Notions Presents Alumni White Laces. It was directed by Richmond filmmaker Marleigh Culver and it’s for “Crawl/Collapse.” Lots more content from this past Saturday is on it’s way. So be on the lookout!
I am still fine tuning my write-up of Saturday’s festivities. Until then, go head over to my friend Marc Cheatham’s siteThe Cheats Movementand go see his coverage of the last four acts of the night. There is great insight regarding Swordplay, The Low Branches, Bermuda Triangles and Canary Oh Canary. You even get to see a shot of me being super serious and me smirking. It’s intriguing and insightful at the same time!
Take Care and Lots more content is on the way,