George Clinton

Roanoke Gets Funky for a Good Cause

The Godfather of Funk will descend on Elmwood Park this Saturday for the second annual TAP Hope Fest, a music and Independence Day celebration. George Clinton and his band Parliament Funkadelic, or as some refer to them, the “Funk Mob” because of the sheer size, will take the stage at 7:30.

The 75 year-old Clinton, known for flamboyant and electrifying performances, is one of the most highly revered names in music still alive, and is credited with pioneering the R&B genre. While the band is touring in release of its latest album, “First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate” one can expect to hear a number of older hits and hopefully even pay a little “Groovallegiance.” After all, Clinton embodies that motto: We are all “One Nation Under a Groove.”


Floyd Fandango Showdown Throwdown in Review

A dense fog draped over the mountain countryside at the FloydFest site on Saturday morning. With the Floyd Fandango Showdown Throwdown on tap, a few worried that rain would play a role in the day’s events. But shortly after lunch the fog burned off and the day blossomed with cumulus clouds and sunshine, while children and adults of all stripes gathered for a micro FloydFest experience.

Robby Carden

Artist Spotlight: Robby Carden

“Music has always been a bonding experience. When I was 19, I had a close friend who was terminally ill and music served as an escape from the constant reminders of his health. We would play and noodle around to help elevate his mood. My experiences with him are what taught me to listen and react. Now, if I find myself in situations where I don’t know the material being played, I rely on the conversational playfulness of my fellow musicians.”

Blue Mule Roanoke

Blue Mule: Not Your Average Grass

Southwest Virginia’s rich musical heritage is steeped thick in traditional bluegrass and Americana Roots Rock music. Roanoke band Blue Mule embodies the traditional Appalachian genre, but incorporates its own unique flavor. A quintet of masterful stringmen, Blue Mule has fostered a progressive newgrass sound that has become a staple of the local music scene for well over a decade.

Tom Ohmsen (mandolin/vocals), John McBroom (bass/guitar/vocals), Tim Rhodes (banjo/vocals), Eli Williams (guitar/bass/vocals), plus recent addition Jerry Wood (fiddle/vocals), play a hybrid of intricately woven jazz, rock, blues, and country jams, all from a bluegrass platform.

“We’re a little bit of an oddity in traditional bluegrass circles,” said Ohmsen. “Back when I started in the 70s, if you weren’t playing straight bluegrass, you’d get run out of town, tarred and feathers. And usually it wasn’t the audience that objected. It was the old guard musicians who would listen to us and say, ‘That ain’t no grass.’

Concert Painter

Festival Faces

“I got my start working on Shakedown Street at Grateful Dead shows selling posters as a single mom. That was the creative catalyst for my artwork. I’m pretty blessed, I’ve been capturing musicians through art for fifteen years now. There are more than 7 billion people on this planet, I figure even if just one of them likes my paintings then I’ve made a connection. That’s why I put all my mojo into my art. My ultimate goal is to be the first white woman selling rock & roll blues art at Jazzfest in New Orleans.”

Emily Guill

Artist Snapshot: Emily Guill

“My parents both have beautiful voices and I was surrounded by music throughout my childhood. A background in dance catapulted me into a world of music, particularly musical theater at an early age. I was in the second grade when I got the bug to sing on stage in HMS Pinafore. For years after, I was a regular in chorus and musicals, which led me to pursue a BA in Theatre Arts from Virginia Tech.”

“Music took a backseat to graduate school and living expenses in New York City and Chicago. My love for music was revived when I was asked to sing in a dear friend’s wedding. At that wedding, I was approached by Alan Johnson to sing with his band. BOOM! From that moment on, I have been surrounded by musical gurus who have been amazing collaborators and talents. Glen Holmes, in particular, has been extremely integral to my development as a singer and in providing me exposure in the region’s musical community.”

The Missionaries

The Missionaries Say Farewell

Beloved Roanoke band and indie staple, the Missionaries, will be playing their final show this Friday at The Spot on Kirk. The event will be presented by The Bazaar, a combination record and retail shop, coffee/tea café, and music venue created, owned and operated by former Missionaries band member Jamie Booker. The store recently gained status as a non-profit, enabling the funds from its retail storefront to provide space and opportunity for musicians and artists to share their creations with the community. Booker and The Bazaar’s dedication to fostering and cultivating artistic expression in SW Virginia, is something we are particularly grateful for here at Blue Ridge Rocks. And it is in this moment of appreciation for Jaime, and with my fond memories of so many Missionaries shows, that I recognize the positive influence that dedication has had on their band.

It was an attitude that sprang from its founding member, Seanmichael Poff, and quickly spread, finding its way into the hearts of each and every band member that would join them on their decade-long journey. You could always depend on two things from a Missionaries show. First, their set would be killer. Secondly, other impressive bands would almost always be on the bill along with them. Often these were groups that you would not see playing at any other local venues. Missionaries members not only encouraged and shared the stage with the traveling artists, but even hosted them, often in their own homes. Their commitment to bringing in these special acts supplied the Roanoke Valley with a fresh vibe and expanded the music scene greatly.

Chris Shepard

Artist Snapshot: Chris Shepard

“Performing live is a hot, sweaty mess that gets me high, when it’s working right. The more I do it, the more I want to. I’m influenced by everything I hear, but mostly by blues, King’s X, the Beatles, Soundgarden, Primus, Mr. Bungle, Led Zeppelin … the list goes on. My first vocal influence was Lou Gramm of Foreigner. Then, I went on to Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult, Chris Cornell and Mike Patton, but my biggest influence is Doug Pinnick of King’s X. My favorite performance memory has to be watching Albert Bouchard, of Blue Oyster Cult, playing cowbell on my song, “Kitties” as I meowed the lyrics, while wearing a goalie mask.”

Rooster Walk

Festival Faces

“We recently found out we are pregnant, but still wanted to come out and experience Rooster Walk. The layout is grand. The stages are well spaced and there are lots of woods for hammocks and comfortable camping. It’s great when a festival really seems to have it together. We’re especially digging the grassy backbone here. There’s been a lot of good variety in the music, but we mainly came for Tauk and Lettuce. Both banks are super funky and we’ve been digging them for years. Shuffle, play, repeat … just can’t seem to get enough. Those cats will bring us back every time.”