Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Virginia Music Hall of Fame: Making The Case

Alabama has a state music museum, as does Rhode Island. The neighbors in North Carolina too. Oklahoma not only has a music hall of fame, it has an Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Virginia's musical legacies arguably run wider and deeper than any of those places.

In the September issue of Richmond Magazine, I make the case for why the time is long overdue for a real, honest-to-goodness, diverse, lively Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Museum. And not just something on the side of the road with a bunch of old instruments but an institution that would pay ongoing tribute to homegrown legends, and maybe make some new music history.

I'm just scribbling ideas on napkins here. Read my argument by clicking this spot.

And go here and read the details on what such an institution would look like, and what it could do. 

(Illustration by the mighty Bob Scott!)

Evergreen Cemetery: Community Conversations

My September piece for Richmond magazine about the planned restoration of Evergreen Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia's most prestigious African-American grave site, is now online. It's been updated to include news of specific community conversations happening around the planned overhaul, which is being administered by the Enrichmond Foundation.

These public gatherings will help to determine how best to proceed with battling years of neglect at Evergreen, and how to restore it to its former glory. "We want people to get involved," says Rev. Creed Taylor. "Churches, social groups, students, family members, everybody, we need your help."

Read about all the effort by going here.

The article is an update to my earlier piece about Evergreen's dogged volunteers, and another about the concerns of descendants and stakeholders of Evergreen and neighboring East End Cemetery. Read those reports here and here.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Death Drive: The Colonial Parkway Murders

Colonial Parkway connects the southern edge of Jamestown to Yorktown via a winding 23-mile route that cuts through Williamsburg like a scenic scar.

Unfortunately, this bucolic thoroughfare will be forever associated with a brutal series of unsolved killings that occurred thirty years ago.

My latest Coastal Virginia Magazine story takes a look at the lingering questions and mysteries behind the Colonial Parkway murders. Among those I talked with were Victoria Hester and Blaine Pardoe, authors of A Special Kind of Evil: The Colonial Parkway Serial Killings, the first-ever book-length account of these four notorious double homicides.

Read the article at the Coastal Virginia Magazine website.

For more on A Special Kind of Evil, go right here

To learn more about the cases, and to share tips, visit Bill Thomas' Facebook page by clicking here.











The victims of the Colonial Parkway murders were, at top: Rebecca Dowski, Robin Edwards, Keith Call, Annamaria Phelps. At bottom: Cathy Thomas, David Knobling, Cassandra Hailey and Daniel Lauer.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Snocko's Lament: Interview with Michael Hurley

Another one from the archives that I'm happy to see on the web: My 1993 Daily Press feature on the legendary singer-songwriter Michael Hurley.

Hurley's music sure knows how to take its time, rolling along the rickety bridges connecting Appalachia, R&B, folk and blues. But where his songs -- "The Werewolf," "The Slurf Song," "Uncle Bob's Corner," etc. -- can take you is often worth the time spent getting there.

Read about Doc Snock by going here.

And Hurley's quixotic career continues to this day, with new recordings and the occasional live appearance. Get the man's latest music AND some of his past treasures by going to the Light in the Attic page.

(Photo: Light in the Attic)


Friday, August 24, 2018

Dark Star: Lost and Spaced


I found myself again.

This happens from time to time. I do a search on a completely unrelated topic and somehow one of my old stories pops up -- usually something that I had completely forgotten about. This thrills me to no end because that means I get to read it "fresh," as if someone else wrote it.

This time, I went looking for information on the films of John Carpenter and I ended up finding a review I wrote for Style Weekly of Carpenter's first movie, Dark Star.  This amazing student film manages to capture the fried zeitgeist of the post-'60s counterculture while successfully skewering the great epic sci-fi films of its day.

Surf over here to read the review.

You can snag a copy of Dark Star by going here.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Interview with Dee Dee Bridgewater

"I was gifted with a flexible voice that can sing all styles," the great Dee Dee Bridgewater says. "And if I commit to it, you'd think that was the style I've been doing all my life."

In a career spanning 50 years, Bridgewater has traversed the tonal spectrum with her chameleonic voice and boisterous stage presence. From avant-garde jazz to disco to show tunes, Bridgewater has been all over the place. The Grammy- and Tony-winning vocal stylist — recently an expatriate residing in France — is enjoying meaty reviews for her new disc, Memphis...Yes I'm Ready. Here, she sinks her teeth into Bluff City classics by Elvis, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and Ann Peebles.

Read my Richmond Magazine interview with this fascinating diva (and careful with that alligator, Ms. Bridgewater).

For more on the lady's music, go here.

Virginia Music Hall of Fame: The Blueprint

Roanoke has a pinball museum, Arlington can boast a museum that honors the Drug Enforcement Agency, and there's a place in  Colonial Heights that pays homage to tractors and farming equipment. Virginia has a Sports Hall of Fame and a Communications Hall of Fame. There's a spot in Harrisonburg that honors Virginia quilting culture, and there also exists a (what?) Charlottesville Business Hall-of-Fame. 

All of that, and Virginia still don't have an official museum or hall of fame dedicated to its music. 

Alabama has a state music museum, as does Rhode Island. The neighbors in North Carolina too. Oklahoma not only has a music hall of fame, it has an Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame (believe it or not). West Virginia? You've got to be kidding me. Virginia's musical legacies arguably run wider and deeper than any of those places. 

In the September issue of Richmond Magazine (on newsstands now), I make the case for why the time is long overdue for a real, honest-to-goodness, diverse, lively Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Museum. And not just something on the side of the road with a bunch of old stuff but an institution that would pay ongoing tribute to homegrown legends, and maybe make some new music history.

But what would such a place look like? For this online extra, I get into the weeds, scribble on some napkins and outline just what an official Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Museum might look like. It's a daydream, sure, but let me dream. 


Read the rest by buying the September issue of Richmond Magazine (print lives!) or watching this space