Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Interview with Victor Wooten

Victor Wooten is best known as the much-celebrated low end of the Grammy-winning jazz-fusion group Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He's also an educator, an author and a solo bandleader who has been playing music professionally since he was a small boy. He's currently touring behind a new solo album, “Trypnotyx,”  another expansive genre-mixing of jazz, funk, hip-hop and experimental fusion,

Read my Richmond Magazine interview with this singular instrumentalist -- named one of the greatest bassists of all time by Rolling Stone -- by clicking here.

And for more on Victor Wooten, go here.  

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Fallen Angels: It's a Long Way Down

I don't normally put my "smaller" work on this blog - reviews, previews, blurbs-- but my recent piece in The Washingtonian on the legendary Washington D.C. psych band, The Fallen Angels, grew out of a longer feature that I wrote for the magazine that got cut down for space.

Attention all editors: I still have a wonderful long-form feature article here, if you want it. Contact me if there's interest.

The story of the Fallen Angels is rich with period detail, and several key members survive to tell it. Popular in Georgetown clubs in the late '60s, the group opened for  bands like the Velvet Underground and the Yardbirds, recorded at the same time and in the same studio as Hendrix, and had the misfortune of getting tied up with the Roulette record label, which was mob-owned.

The piece that ran in the Washingtonian is mostly about the band's rarer-than-rare second album, It's a Long Way Down, which was released 50 years ago.  Read the article here. 

And here's a Fallen Angels' promotional video from that album, a strange little time capsule.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Interview with Bettye LaVette

"Bettye LaVette does Bob Dylan. It's like those movies they did in the '50s, like 'Dracula Meets Frankenstein.'" 

For years, Detroit native Betty LaVette was the secret weapon of soul, beloved by music purists and record collectors, but comparatively little known next to her peers Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross.

All of that is changing these days, thanks to a series of well-received comeback albums and a jaw-dropping autobiography, “A Woman Like Me.” She's got a brand new album of Dylan covers, and a new, autobiographical one-woman show that reflects on her rocky past, the people she's known, and her signature songs.

Read my Richmond Magazine interview with this soul music legend right here.

(Photo by Mark Seliger)

A History of Jazz in Virginia

Even in unlikely hamlets like Bedford, Suffolk and Lawrenceville (home of legendary saxophonist Sheldon Powell, pictured), Virginia has been one of jazz music’s most fertile growing fields.

My cover feature on Virginia's jazz history is now online at the Virginia Living Magazine website, tricked out with all kinds of rare photos, music clips and supplementary pieces -- like my feature article on Salena Jones, and Markus Schmidt's interview with Richmond jazz keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith.

Spend some time here and learn about all that jazz.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reel Life: How to Make a Documentary

Thanks to advances in technology and online distribution, it’s never been easier for budding Michael Moores to make and market their own documentaries.

But what does it take to create reality-based films? For a recent feature in Richmond Magazine, I picked the brains of some Virginia documentarians: Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren of Field Studio, co-directors of “An Outrage” and the recent “The Hail-Storm: John Dabney in Virginia”; Nathan Clarke of Fourth Line Films, co-director of numerous shorts and feature-length docs, including the forthcoming film “The Funeral Home”; and Brad Johnson, a longtime DJ and the man behind El Bravador Filmworks, which has made two independent documentaries, “The Soul: R&B Radio Legends of Central Virginia” and “Hip-Hop Legends of Central Virginia.”

Read "Reel Life" by clicking right here.

(Photo courtesy Field Studio)

Funny Business: Interview with Bryan Tucker of SNL

Veteran comedy writer and Virginia native Bryan Tucker celebrates his 13th season with NBC-TV's Saturday Night Live this year. A multiple Emmy nominee and Peabody Award winner, the boyish co-head writer, 45, works at 30 Rock but has some interesting side-gigs too, like his new sports comedy website, The Kicker.

Recently, Tucker took some time to talk to me about, among other things, how SNL has kept its mojo after all these years, writing comedy in the age of Donald Trump, and what in the heck is so funny about Chesterfield County.

Read my Virginia Living Magazine interview with Tucker here. 

(Photo courtesy NBC-TV)

Interview with Gary Lucas

Gary Lucas has been the guitar sideman of choice for some larger-than-life singers — like Jeff Buckley and Captain Beefheart -- so maybe backing up a golem and Popeye the Sailor Man isn't such a stretch.

The Syracuse, New York native recently came to Richmond's James River Film Festival to be a live soundtrack provider at a screening of the 1920 German silent film, "Der Golem" (cited as the first superhero movie), and provide the tunes for a Sunday-afternoon program at The Byrd Theatre of vintage cartoons from the legendary Fleischer Studios (Popeye, Betty Boop, etc.).

I  recently spoke with Gary Lucas about the art of film music, collaborating with legends and his love for vintage Chinese pop. Read my Richmond magazine interview the man the New York Times called "the guitarist with 1,000 ideas" right here.

(Photo: Bram Belloni)