The Magic of FloydFest Returns to Downtown Roanoke

Across-the-Way Productions (AtWP), an event management company best known for its flagship event FloydFest, brings its unique vibe back to the Star City with two early June events. The first, a picnic-themed day of music, the Giant Jam Sandwich, is this Sunday, June 4, and features a delicious compote of bands at Elmwood Amphitheater, including festival jam band favorites Tauk and Big Something.

The following Friday, June 9, pop country duo Montgomery Gentry takes the Elmwood Park main stage. These events come after AtWP brought the Star City Concert Series to Elmwood Park in 2016 with nostalgic acts that included Huey Lewis, Blondie, and Brian Wilson.

Festival in the park

Festival in the Park Steady Rockin’ into its 49th Year!

Just three years after returning to its renovated home, Festival in the Park is set to kick off Friday evening with a diverse line-up of local, regional, and national talent, headlined by rock band, Blue Öyster Cult. In addition to the music, the three-day event will once again feature an array of arts, crafts, and family-friendly entertainment, that has made it as much a staple of Roanoke as the illuminated star that sits atop Mill Mountain.

It seems fitting that the Festival, which is celebrating 49 years of ushering in summer with great music in downtown, includes BÖC, which has been rocking the world stage for just as long. This year features 40+ bands over the course of three days. Much of the offerings are free to festival-goers, and admissions for the evening headliners are real bargain at only $5 per night or $10 for all three nights.

DIY Roanoke Hardcore

Roanoke Hardcore: A Journey into DIY Culture

I attended my first hardcore punk show in the spring of 2011. I was a senior in high school and had started to discover new music and new genres daily thanks to the advent of high speed internet and MySpace. MySpace was directly influential on Roanoke’s music scene and allowed my group of friends to slowly discover others who enjoyed similar music.

I attended a few metal shows and while very enjoyable, the music couldn’t keep my attention long. This changed the day I went to my first hardcore show. It was a catharsis.

Through the internet, my music taste was ever-growing. My friends and I discovered different bands that we came to understand as hardcore bands. These bands carried themselves with the mentality of punk bands: DIY; but sonically carried more than just the punk sound. These bands had a wide array of influences: Punk, metal, and even somehow, alternative. It was a whole new realm.

The Practice Squad

New Music Alert: The Practice Squad

On April 1st, Roanoke based melodic rock band, The Practice Squad, released their second album titled “The Fighter”. The Practice Squad, who formed in 2013, consists of members Travis Fitch (vocals), Brandon Robertson (drums), Seth Holderfield (bass), Matt Cox (guitar), and Zach Holderfield (guitar).

Previously a part of a cover band, they broke away to write and record their own songs. “Our goal has always been to write honest music that we believe in,” said Fitch. And each member contributes to the writing process. Their songwriting style typically begins with a melody on the guitar followed by the addition of percussion, ending with the lyrics.

Surrender Dorothy

Surrender Dorothy: Never Giving Up

Roanoke rock band Surrender Dorothy is celebrating its 25th anniversary as part of the local music scene. To help highlight that celebration, Blue Ridge Rocks interviewed the band’s only original founding member who is still part of the group: Chris Spradling.

Spradling originally formed the group (25 years ago, go figure) with guitarist Steve Anderson.

“We were both playing with The Worx, but wanted to start a band that played something a little different,” Spradling said in a recent email interview.

Over the course of time, the band has undergone a number of different incarnations. Currently, it consists of Spradling on guitar and keys, Dean Ferguson on guitar, Tad Dickens on drums, and Jason Davis on bass. Davis joined the group after former bassists Henry Hancock lost his life to a series of illnesses following a stroke.

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy Tour Comes to The Harvester

Carl Palmer is a man on fire. His energetic playing style was the heartbeat of the 1970’s progressive rock supergroup Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, (ELP), and then for 80’s rock band Asia. These days, he is still going strong with his current project ELP Legacy which comes to the Harvester Performance Center on Friday night.

I was able to grab a few minutes of the drummer’s time as he travelled from Melbourne, Florida to Atlanta as part of the North American leg of this year’s tour. Palmer is a cheerful, albeit busy man, and he fired answers back the way he plays his drums, fast-paced and with a rhythmic precision. It quickly became clear why he has accomplished so much over the course of his five-decade career: he does not stop moving. The ELP Legacy show has been touring almost continuously since June of 2016, and continues to add dates, including two just this week in North Carolina.

An Interview with Roanoke Hip-Hop Artist Harvest Blaque

Harvest Blaque—the Roanoke hip-hop artist also known as Bryan Hancock—has a show Saturday night from 8 to 11 at The Bazaar of Roanoke record shop. The bill features Equally Opposite from Charlottesville, as well as Knuckleheadz (Grandmaster Jax & Ol’ Dirty Dada) who will “open the evening with a short but memorable set,” according to Blaque.

The artist, who blends multiple genres, including rock, country and blues, to form his original hip-hop sound that he terms “soul hop,” also emcees a regular Poetry Slam at 16 West Marketplace. Blaque recently sat down with Blue Ridge Rocks to discuss his approach to music and his career.

Tell me a little about how you first got started in music?

I have to give my dad the credit. He played a lot of great band records. I remember growing up as a kid and listening to his music and wanting to express myself through music. My parents divorced when I was five and my aunt told me to keep a journal of my feelings. I would record shows and do lip sync battles and write my own verses. I always wanted to rap and do music one way or another.

Barenaked Ladies Show Review with Slideshow

“On an evening such as this,
It’s hard to tell if I exist”

-“Pinch Me”, Barenaked Ladies

The Barenaked Ladies brought their unique worldview and quirky sense of humor to the Harvester Main Stage on Tuesday. To the delight of die-hard fans, some who traveled many miles to catch the band, BNL put on the kind of high energy, yet intimate show, which they became known for in the late nineties.

“They make you feel like you’re the only fan in the room. Their personality really shines through and no show is ever the same” said Kerrie Castle, who’d traveled with husband, Daniel, from Charlottesville to see the band. The couple has seen the Canadian quartet numerous times since the 90s, and the drive in from C’ville was well worth their effort. The intimacy of the performance was made that much richer for Kerrie when lead singer Ed Robertson came into the crowd to serenade her. The joy on her face summarized her experience Tuesday night.

The Bare Naked Ladies played 18 songs, on a variety of acoustic and electric instruments, covering years of their catalogue which included many of their hits like “Old Apartment”, “Brian Wilson” and of course, “One Week“.

They told stories and joked about hanging out in Roanoke the day before, and witnessing the bear stuck in the tree downtown. They talked about eating great sushi downtown, a farm to table meal they enjoyed at Lucky, and gave a shout out to “Amy” at Roanoke Pinball Museum for opening the place up just for them.

Tyler Godsey

5 Points Music Sanctuary: A Celebration of Sound

Tyler Godsey, founder of 5 Points Music Sanctuary, Roanoke’s newest live concert venue, has spent much of his life chasing the highs of live music. That he is considered legally deaf never stopped him from seeking what he describes as, “those magical moments when an energy blows through the crowd and everyone is united in love by the music.” As an expectant father, that passion for music was something he looked forward to sharing with his children.

“When my wife told me she was pregnant with my first son I started compiling a playlist of songs that someone who comes into this world should hear, Godsey shared in a recent interview. “When my son was born, I was on cloud nine, and was playing the list I made for him. I didn’t realize he wasn’t hearing any of it.”

Concert Review: Lone Bellow Rocks The Harvester Performance Center

Last night, The Lone Bellow melted me at the Harvester.  I’m not going to lie, this will not be a totally objective review.  I am a true Lone Bellow fan and I have been since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2013.  Their harmonies are hypnotizing, their songs are simple but chilling, and their own special blend of indie-folk is right up my alley.  Unfortunately, I had never gotten the opportunity to see them live, until last night, and it was 100% worth the wait to see them (front row) at the Harvester.

If you haven’t visited the Harvester, get to Rocky Mount immediately.  The sound was perfect, even sitting about 6 feet from the front speaker.  I don’t know how they do it, but every time I see a show there, it seems like the acoustics keep getting better and better.  Every show feels intimate, a feeling shared by Lone Bellow leader singer, Zach Williams, who commented, “I like this place.  It feels like we’re playing in a living room.”