“I’ve been playing music for 23 years and am inspired to play simply by the sheer joy of creating something that will hopefully make someone else as happy as it does me. Performing music, especially for an energetic crowd is a powerful experience.”
An intimate night among friends
Friday night, the White Room at Blue 5, in downtown Roanoke held its second “Songwriters in the Round” series. The event featured a juxtaposition of three very different talents who mine their writing material from diverse veins.
The death of Prince is utterly heartbreaking. While the closest he ever performed to us in recent years was in Charlotte, NC, his influence was certainly felt throughout our region. He was an incredible songwriter, guitarist, and most of all, a consummate professional performer.
A lesser man would have cancelled the Super Bowl performance, or radically scaled it back. Prince leaned into it, and gave the audience an unforgettable performance. We were lucky to have him for the time we did.
After years of flirtation, of eyeballing each other from a distance, FloydFest and Roanoke finally did the obvious Wednesday night and got married in a beautiful little ceremony that featured a big fat moon rising over the city’s Elmwood Park amphitheater stage, hugged tightly and happily by a crowd of better than 3,500.
It actually seemed like about 30,000 with the atmosphere and buzz that the event produced in the midst of downtown on a weeknight.
Tomorrow night The Heart of Rock & Roll is in Roanoke as the first of three rock icons takes the stage at Elmwood Park for the Star City Concert Series. Brought to you by Across-the-Way Productions, this concert series features Huey Lewis & The News on Wednesday, April 20, Blondie on Thursday, May 12 and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys on Saturday, August 20.
Being billed as “Totally Rad Roanoke,” these shows deliver some of the greatest old school rock bands who are still thrilling audiences with their live performances. Huey Lewis, who’s known for hit singles “Stuck with You,” “The Power of Love,” and “Jacob’s Ladder,” has a series of spring shows scheduled, including Myrtle Beach, Atlanta and Nashville, and is also a regular opener for Jimmy Buffett’s annual tour. Local bluegrass band, Love Canyon, will kick things off at Elmwood Park tomorrow night and an after party is being held at Martin’s Downtown with music by local jam band, The Mad Iguanas.
For me, songwriting is putting my heart on a platter with a knife and fork. Performing it, is handing that platter to the audience. I love song writing, but performing original music for a crowd is what it’s all about. Trying to recreate the feeling I had when I wrote the song is what I love most.
I play a variety of instruments, but when I am playing out, it’s just me and my guitar. I feel like I started late in life. At 21 I went to see Dave Matthews in concert. I had no idea who he was and was just blown away. After that, I got an old guitar from my mother’s attic, restrung it, and started recreating sounds I heard on early DMB CDs. Once I found those sounds, I was able to take things in new directions. I still play that way. You give me a little taste of a song, and I’ll figure the rest out. Songwriting is similar. I get that feeling, and the writing is underway. There are songs in my head that I’ve been writing for years, then others will bloom in 5 minutes. I love the mystery and challenge of the process.
Cutting through the crowded bar while jubilant dancers hoot and holler, I grab my friend’s hand and pull her closer to the stage. She is immediately mesmerized by the free-spirted performers, and I can tell that their lively playing and raucous sound has transported her to a different time and place.
The ageless, timeless and softly weathered voice of Spencer McKenna rings out over the country-infused chime of his guitar, while Jessica Larsen glows like a Gatsby goddess singing sultry harmonies to his lead. I notice my partner in crime eyeing the washboard whose raspy rhythm cuts through even the loudest dance floors.
I am very competitive person. For me, every show is a challenge. Performing live is both stressful and rewarding. The stress comes from always wanting to give the best show I can. The reward is seeing the crowd’s reaction to the performance. Nothing compares to feeling like you can hold a room in your hands. I perform for many reasons, and that fan reaction is a big part of it. However, my children are my biggest and greatest fans, and I do this to give them the life they deserve. I truly believe that my music is a talent God gave me, and I plan to use it as long as I am capable.
What began as a gathering of family and friends to honor two young lives lost with fellowship and music, has evolved into one of Martinsville’s signature events.
Now in its eighth year, Rooster Walk brings together more than 4,000 people of all ages for a four-day festival of music and arts. In fact, this annual Memorial Day weekend event has become such a hit that it outgrew its original location at the Blue Mountain Festival Grounds and in 2015 moved locations to Pop’s Farm, 151 acres that sit near the Smith River.