Monday, October 7, 2013

I am Listening, I am All Ears

What a difference a day makes, or 24 little hours of music all over the map.

Yesterday at 5:30, it was funksters Morris Day and the Time at the 2 Street Festival and today at 5:30, it was garage band Jacuzzi Boys at Steady Sounds.

Both were mere blocks away, making them irresistibly convenient ways to start my evenings.

Today, 30 or so of us gathered at my neighborhood record store to hear the Florida group bang through a half dozen songs as a prelude to tonight's show at Strange Matter.

One attendee spent the entire show with his fingers in his ears, but most people just rocked in place to the most basic of songs on a sunny late October afternoon.

Walking home, I could hear music still coming from the 2 Street Festival a few blocks down, so I took today's Washington Post out to my balcony to enjoy to the final strains of music on Clay Street.

Once it got fully dark, I came inside and made the simplest of suppers - an omelet from eggs I'd gathered at a farm recently - before getting ready to go out for more music and dessert.

Tonight was Live at Ipanema with Psalmships and Valdosta, singer/songwriter David Shultz's new project.

I found the front door to the restaurant propped open and a cute friend already warming up her bar stool when I arrived.

That was my cue to begin contemplating the dessert choices, eventually choosing blueberry pie a la mode.

About then, another friend came in and joined me, posing today's Southern Foodways Alliance topic for discussion: cake or pie?

"Team cobbler!" cute friend piped up cleverly before I could say a word.

After careful consideration, I stated for the record that if I could only have one or the other for the rest of my life, I'd have to pick cake.

I then proceeded to share my pie with the cute one until the show started.

Psalmships is Joshua from Philly and I'd seen him before at the Listening Room and at Sponge HQ.

What I recalled was his distinctive four-string guitar playing and raw, emotive voice and, like the prior times, his band had not made the trip with him.

What was annoying tonight was a gaggle of people at the end of the bar talking and laughing throughout his set, insulting the man's efforts to be heard.

Friend and I considered shushing them and settled for sending them withering looks which they were too busy talking to notice.

Excuse me, children, but this performance is being recorded and no one will want to hear your hyena laughs on the recording.

After a set of keening songs, Josh joked, "This will be my last song. I hope I brought you guys up."

He hadn't but that isn't really what Psalmships is about, rather it's that life can be cruel and you deal with it and move on.

After the break during which a lot more people arrived, David Shultz's new project settled into the tiny performing space.

Photographer PJ was kind enough to adjust one of the stage lights so it wasn't blinding me and we were ready to start.

Valdosta, the trio of David on guitar and vocals, Michael on bass and Willis on drums, was notable for how very un-Richmond-like they looked.

Despite how ingrained the three of them are in the RVA music scene, there was nary a beard to be seen.

It was clear from the first song that this new configuration has spent considerable time practicing together.

David's vocals, always a pleasure to hear, were easy and natural and it took him only until he sang "Bug Spray" to remove his glasses and set them aside.

This was about sound, not seeing.

"This is an old song called "The Room," David said. "It's from my very first album I ever made, back when I used to be David Shultz."

Ah, I remember those days.

I've long been a fan of Willis' stellar drumming and percussion skills and he and Michael provided strong support for David's song stories.

It was amazing how tight they sounded given that this was their first show out.

"The best thing that could happen when you have a new band is that all these people show up to hear it," David said. "Thank you."

Truly, the thanks should have been directed at the band and at the Live at Ipanema crew who keep delivering superb musical evenings to us.

In fact, I predict that as this project grows and if they add in more people, those of us lucky enough to have heard them tonight as a trio will always have the best of memories of what a special moment it was hearing them on an unseasonably warm Fall night.

You know, after hearing a band last night and another this afternoon, some people would have blown off yet another show tonight.

I can understand that, but they would have missed hearing the start of something extraordinary.

And blueberry pie.


  1. Totally off subject...but your header photo is from the Nasher...have you seen it or did you chose it because it sort of goes along w/ the name of your blog? Just curious. Originally from Virgina and now I'm transplanted to Texas so I just wondered.

  2. Yes! It is from the Nasher and I took the picture on my first visit there in 2008. Hate, hate, hate Dallas yet love, love, loved the sculpture and a year later when I started the blog, it just seemed to fit.

    I have fond memories of laying in the grass shooting that photo. I have other pictures of me from that day mimicking other sculptures, too.

    I'm thrilled that you recognized where I shot that!