Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Fridays Music Walk

First Fridays have gotten to be as much about music as visual art and you can imagine how that pleases me. In between gallery hopping, there's music to be found for all kinds of tastes.

After hearing from several people that tonight was going to be a light turnout for the art walk, it was actually exceedingly busy. As the evening wore on, people seemed to keep coming and forming audiences in front of all the various musical entertainments.

Gallery 5 had always done music and tonight I heard British-born Freddie Stevenson as part of their new music series, the Accents Tour, showcases up and coming European and Australian musicians. Metro Space Gallery, too, is a reliable place for listening, although they tend to lean toward blues and rock bands. Art 6 is good about having interesting music on a regular basis; tonight it was My Son the Doctor playing Balkana nd Jewish folk music.

But there was also a cover band playing in the lot near Visual Arts and they had a Goth-clad belly dancer interpreting their covers of Bad Company and the like. A trio of earnest young horn players (they all had to be under 20) were playing near Corporate Museum and Frame.

And in the courtyard at Adams, which over the past year has become a reliably excellent place to hear music during First Fridays, both Lobo Marino and the Colloquial Orchestra were impressing the crowds.

But lest you think I just skipped over the primary purpose of the art walk, I didn't. "Self Titled" at G5 was an exhibit of original artwork used for independently-released albums. I was struck by how the actual art sometimes had a wholly different feel than the piece of it used on an album cover.

"Last Dowry" at Quirk was a collection of sumptuous pieces made of jewelry, satin ribbons and lush fabrics. Some were square, or egg-shaped, some were U-shaped and one looked like a bone. They were incredibly feminine looking and invited the viewer to touch their beautiful textures. I'd have guessed instantly that the artist was a woman; and indeed, her name was Vadis Turner.
I ran into plenty of friends tonight (and, no, I did not wear black, garnering compliments galore) since absolutely everyone seemed to be out and about. It was great to see my neighborhood full of visitors again after the relative calm of the summer months.

So after an evening of art and all kinds of music, I naturally went out for (what else?) more music. Sprout Cafe was having a show with Athens, Georgia's Madeline followed by Jonathan Vassar and the Speckled Bird's last show until December. It all sounded good to me.

Madeline packed the room with probably forty people sitting, standing and sprawled on the floor, all eager to hear her unique voice and well-written emotive lyrics. Her voice and style owe a fair amount to Joni Mitchell and even Karen Carpenter.

At times she had an almost Irish lilt and at others her southern roots shone through (sometimes it is all about the dirty south). All in all, a stellar performance. Favorite lyric: "I want to be everything you need to prove."

JV and the Speckled Bird closed out my evening by superbly performing their last EP, The Fire Next Time. It was a fitting way to impress the room full of fans and give us something to remember until they're back playing live again.

And it won't have to be on a First Friday, but given the state of Richmond's art walk lately, it's certainly a possibility. Maybe we can get Madeline back to play her first album in its entirety, too.

It would be worth it for the title alone: Kissing and Dancing. Evocative, isn't it?

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