Artist Spotlight: Steele Whisnant

“The people I meet while playing music have always kept me motivated to continue to play; everyone from venue/bar owners, event promoters, to fellow musicians. Roanoke has such a vast amount of talented and driven people, many of whom are working together to continue to expand the culture of the area. I’m extremely happy and inspired to be a small part of that scene.”

New wave of artists announced for FloydFest 17 Freedom

FloydFest 17, just added an additional 18 new artists to its already impressive lineup. The five-day festival, being billed as “Freedom,” returns to Floyd, VA, July 26 – 30, 2017.

The newly announced artists include:

Leftover Salmon, Steel Pulse, TAUK, Aaron Lee Tasjan, T Sisters, Banditos, Jon Stickley Trio, The Tillers, Alanna Royale, The Stash! Band, Strange Americans, Whiskerman, The Brother Brothers, Strange Machines, Dixon’s Violin, author Howard Falco and Oakley the Greenman.

Feed the Need

Feed the Need: Martin’s Downtown and Tobacco Apache Host Thanksgiving Food Drive

As Thanksgiving Day draws near, friends and families are prepping their birds, finalizing their menus, and picking out loose pants in anticipation of stuffing themselves into a tryptophan-induced haze. It’s all a big part of our time-honored tradition of Thanksgiving. In Roanoke, another tradition has become well established to help provide for our neighbors who aren’t as fortunate. Now in its 6th year, Martin’s Downtown and Tobacco Apache are kicking off the festivities with a pre-Thanksgiving, Feed the Need Thanksgiving Food Drive.

This Wednesday, Nov. 23, local bands and artists will play to help raise donations for the local area food bank. If this year is anything like past years, patrons can expect a packed house complete with some of the best local tunes our region has to offer.

The Avett Brothers

Concert Review: The Avett Brothers at Roanoke’s Berglund Center

The Avett Brothers returned to The Berglund Center last night, this time in support of their latest album, “True Sadness.” As an admitted core fan of the Avetts of yesteryear, I wasn’t quite sure where I landed on the group’s latest body of work. Last night as I watched the two inherently gifted brothers, Seth and Scott, accompanied by five other equally impressive musicians, play to a smaller, yet devoted audience, my fandom was reconfirmed.

The show, which covered 28 songs and lasted a little over two hours, was, in true Avett fashion, a musical and emotional roller coaster, complete with laughter and heartache, joy and sorrow. The songs danced between high-energy, upbeat rhythms and heavier, emotional tempos incorporated with honest and weighty lyrics that delivered a mix of positive and thought-provoking messages.

Although cognizant of the other high-caliber acts in town last night, I still was somewhat disappointed with the turnout of the crowd. If the band was, they hid it well, generously dishing out praise and love to the audience amid melodies that exhibited their expert musicianship and soaring vocals.

Elmwood park

Music and Money: The Region’s Increased Number of Entertainment Venues Attract Revenue and Buzz

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in Roanoke Business Magazine, Oct. 2017
The Roanoke region has rebranded itself as an outdoors destination over the past half-decade, and at the same time has developed into a musical hotspot.
Music venues have popped up so rapidly it’s hard to believe the 2008 Roanoke city council election split in part over the question of whether to build an amphitheater in Elmwood Park or along the Roanoke River. Today, both sites are home to outdoor music venues that book a steady stream of acts through the warmer months. The Berglund Center — formerly known as the Roanoke Civic Center — is upgrading its facilities, and the Jefferson Center continues to serve as a cultural anchor for live music and performance.
Half an hour to the south, the town of Rocky Mount bought, refurbished and opened the Harvester Performance Center, which now books a steady stream of national acts. In the next county over, the Floyd Country Store is operating under new ownership with renewed dedication to live music. FloydFest, a multi-day music festival, annually attracts crowds of more than 15,000 to see a variety of national touring acts, many of whom eventually return to play smaller regional venues.  And across the Roanoke and New River valleys, bars and restaurants regularly open their doors to a wide variety of musical styles.
That’s a dramatic departure since the early ’90s, when Dylan Locke first began booking music in Blacksburg. Since then, he worked at the Jefferson Center for 13 years until 2014, when he left to buy and operate the Floyd Country Store with his wife, Heather Krantz.

This Friday Our Region Hosts An Impressive Night of National and Regional Acts

These days it is hard to fathom the notion that “there is nothing to do around Roanoke” ever existed. From the festivals and special events, to outdoor adventures, breweries and wineries, the regional calendar is chock full each weekend with activities to choose from. Live music is a big part of those offerings. This Friday, our region is set to host one of the most diverse and impressive nights of national and regional performers.

Here’s a run down of what’s to come:

Andrew Mathews Crosses Genres to Benefit the Punk and Metal Scenes in Roanoke

“Don’t be picky, just play. Play music with others as often as you can, because that is where you learn to communicate and collaborate.”

Guitarist/bassist Andrew Mathews leads by example when it comes to this piece of advice. At 29-years-old, Mathews plays in five bands here in our region. I sat down with him recently to learn more about the metal and hardcore scenes in the Roanoke area, and what drives him to stay so active.

Jamiel Allen

Artist Spotlight: Jamiel Allen

“I have asked myself “Why am I even doing this?” more times than I care to admit. I have frequently been caught up in the idea that chasing my dreams as a music artist does little for the world around me. I could be a doctor, curing people of something. I could be a farmer, growing better food for those who want it. I could be in the Peace Corps doing my best to help people around the world in any way possible. I feel that my gift and my curse was knowing at a young age that music is what I am, and what I would do. Through my experiences, I’ve ultimately learned that music is one of the single most important things we have. While I like to engage in other activities at times, at my core I will never be able to put aside my goals to make my mark on the world as an artist.”

Original Minister of Soul Staple to Roanoke Music Scene

It has been nearly two decades since local musician Hoppie Vaughan made his way to the Roanoke Valley. A native of N. Augusta, SC, and former Nashville resident, Vaughan started playing music at the young age of 10, when he fell in love with the bass guitar during his older brothers’ garage band sessions.

It was playing alongside his brother that carried him to Nashville in the early 80s. Over the next dozen years, Vaughan played with a number of bands and musicians, recorded at the infamous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, and even competed on the hit television series, “Star Search.” Then, in 1996, Hoppie’s wife Sandra landed a job at the Veteran’s Affairs hospital in Salem and the couple moved to the area. They were only supposed to stay two years, but fell in love with the region and its slower pace of life. Two years has now turned into twenty and Vaughan has made a name for himself, playing a mix of soul, blues, and jazz that he calls “blue-eyed southern soul,” around the Roanoke Valley.