The Bazaar Presents Illbotz, Subtle Munitions and The Aurora Observatory with Slideshow

This past Friday at The Spot on Kirk, Jamie Booker from The Bazaar of Roanoke, a local non-profit dedicated to fostering and cultivating artistic expression in SW Virginia, put together a wonderful line up of eclectic musicians for a fun night of local music.

The Aurora Observatory opened the show with an energetic set. It was their first show in Roanoke since April, and with their new drummer, Phillip Roseberry. They played original songs off their first and second albums, and finished their set with a cover of Faith No More’s, Everything’s Ruined.

Support Live and Local Music This Saturday at the First Annual Listen Local Fest

This Saturday, Dr Pepper Park at The Bridges is throwing its first Listen Local Fest, an event aimed at highlighting a few of our region’s top local music talent. The event, which runs from 3:00 – 9:30 on Saturday, will feature four very different local bands, as well as several performances by local hip-hop artist and DJ Poe Mack.

The event, which was planned in conjunction with Dr Pepper Days (Oct. 24), was planned to help show community support to local artists and will feature local food, as well as some local businesses, according to Waynette Anderson, president of Sponsor Hounds, the company that oversees events at Dr Pepper Park.

Jake Dempsey

Dempsey’s Way: 5 Pieces Of Advice For Musicians

My first thought when asked to write a guest post titled “Five Pieces Of Advice For Musicians”, was that I am probably in no position to give professional advice to upcoming musicians, as I’ve been bumbling along trying to figure out a way to make a living at it for more than 20 years now. My journey has taken me from peanut butter on a spoon in the back of a 90s astrovan with a hi-hat stand jabbing me in the side, to playing for audiences in the thousands with catering and in good hotel rooms. From having credits on Grammy-winning recordings, to being back to the peanut butter, but in a newer model van.
All said, I have played many, many gigs during my career. I have worked in many facets of the business, including musician, live sound engineer, recording engineer, stage hand, event organizer, producer, booking agent, talent buyer, and manager. I do have a good idea of what works, or maybe more importantly, what does not.

So in lieu of “giving advice” with the notion that I have anything at all figured out, I will share five things I have screwed up along the way and how to avoid these things, and why. I’m not an authority on what or what not to do or how to “Make it” (whatever that means). However, I have messed up and learned from it. Plenty. That, I have things to say about.

Go Fest

Go Fest Brings Ultimate Combination of Adventure and Music to Roanoke

This weekend more than 30,000 athletes, adventure seekers, music lovers, and craft beer enthusiasts will converge in Roanoke’s River’s Edge Park for the 6th Annual Anthem Go Outside Festival, which kicks off Friday night and runs through Sunday, Oct. 14 – 16, highlighting the best of our region’s outdoor recreational activities.

This year, the festival is going even bigger with a new partnership to make live music more of an integral part of the offerings. The creators of the event, the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke City Parks and Rec, have teamed up with the annual producers of FloydFest, Across the Way Productions, to bring in top-quality musical acts. While all music is still free to festival goers, this year’s Go Fest music lineup will be the best yet.

The music starts at 7:00 on Friday night with live tunes by Uncle John and Friends, led by local musician John McBroom. Then on Saturday, the Cox music main stage features back-to-back shows by the FloydFest On the Rise winners, Urban Soil and Rebekah Todd and the Odyssey, two North Carolina Americana soul bands. Rock reggae group Dale and the Z Dubs play another 45-minute set before the main headliner, instrumental funk band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, takes the stage at 9:00. Denson, a master saxophonist has toured with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, the Rolling Stones, and acid jazz DJ Greyboy.

Mad Iguanas! Mad Iguanas! Mad Iguanas!

It was a wet, warm summer night at Parkway Brewing Company. One of those where the rain was driving sideways and the roll up doors had to be closed to keep the place and everyone in it dry. But no one inside was worried about the rain as local jam band Mad Iguanas was driving the packed house to a frenzy with a scorching cover of “Fire on the Mountain.”

It’s in between the Grateful Dead covers and a mix of original jams, where the Mad Iguanas have developed a reputation as a highly funky and fun jam band that consistently delivers a good time. Currently, the band’s line up consists of Foster Burton on rhythm guitar and vocals, his brother Daniel on bass and backing vocals, Henry Lazenby on lead guitar, and a rotation of drummers. The Iguana’s lead singer Foster has a style to him reminiscent of the late Garcia. A jolly fellow with a wide smile, that you instantly know you want to share a beer with. I did just that awhile back to discuss the origins of the Mad Iguanas and the future of the band.

Willy Gurley

Spotlight: Willy Gurley & The Fainting Goat Studio

Tucked away in the back roads of Bedford County, you’ll discover The Fainting Goat, a 1500 square foot, two-room recording studio and control room, with 20 foot vaulted ceilings, operated by local musician and drummer Willy Gurley.

The Fainting Goat provides artists a comfortable space for recording, and access to some truly unique equipment and instruments. From the Kurzweil K250 that was played by Bruce Springsteen in a studio in Richmond, to an Acoustic 360 bass cabinet that was used in numerous shows with Wayne Newton in Las Vegas, to a vintage 1967 Bandmaster amplifier, the studio is equipped with more than 100 instruments, including guitars, drums horns, even an accordion.

It was at the young age of seven that Gurley was first introduced to music. His dad, Hal, who owns local seafood restaurant and live music venue, Clam Diggers, started finding and collecting guitars, keyboards, and other cool, rare instruments to fill his house, and Willy started learning how to play them. It was in 2006, that Hal had the idea to build a recording studio, and studio construction and sound proofing began. While it took several years to fully complete, Willy continued to develop his love and training for music by studying at The Jefferson Center’s Music Lab, an after school program in Roanoke focused on music production and performance.

The Harvester Closes Out Huge Week of Music with JJ Grey & Mofro

The Harvester Performance Center closed out a legendary week of music last night with a standing only show by JJ Grey & Mofro, with opening act Major and the Monbacks. This show was the forth in a series that kicked off on Thursday with Buddy Guy, followed by Charlie Daniels on Friday night, and George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers on Saturday.

Blue Ridge Rocks photographer Meagan Reynolds was on site for three of those four shows. You can read the full review on Buddy Guy here, and check out a Meagan’s review and photos of Friday nights’ and last nights’ shows by clicking the “Details” link below.

American Treasure Buddy Guy Shares Lessons from the Harvester Stage

Buddy Guy is one of the last of the original great bluesmen, and he is carrying the load just fine. Last night he carried it to the Harvester with a performance that felt like he was surrounded onstage by the blues masters who had gone before him, as he schooled the crowd on what great blues is all about.

“Here’s your education,” proclaimed Buddy Guy last night from the Harvester stage as he broke into the first few notes of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.”

At eighty, Guy, who has played with blues icons Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter, and has since influenced every great rock and blues guitarist, is still bringing major heat to the stage. Last night’s performance was no exception, featuring hits from his own records, including his opening song, “Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues” to “Someone Else Is Steppin,” as well as a few of the classics, including “Fever,” originally recorded by Little Willie John, and “I Just Wanna Make Love to You,” a Muddy Waters original.

Gary Jackson

The Reverend G Recipe

Gary Jackson has heard the comment often over the years, that’s he’s the one who has ignited the growth and maturation of the Blue Ridge Region’s music scene.“People tell me all the time that I’ve been a catalyst for how the music scene has exploded in and around Roanoke,” Jackson said recently.

The scene, of course, has been listed as one of the quality of life factors that have induced a recent spate of economic development for the Roanoke Valley. In other words, music and arts events equal jobs in the minds of companies such as Deschutes, which earlier this year announced that it will spend millions and bring jobs by opening a new brewery in the region.

The truth is, Jackson says, the growing sophistication of the music scene is a combination of factors and the work of others that has been just as important as his influence.

“Would it have happened anyway?” he asked. “Probably.”
Still, there’s no denying that Jackson has served as an agent of change to take Roanoke and its surrounding venues to a new level of respect and maturity in the music business.

There’s no better evidence of that than the fact that Parkway Brewing Company has named one of its brews, a kölsch, after “The Reverend.”

A longtime industry figure who has decades of experience in the business engaging bands and musicians, Jackson has been spreading his gospel of great music since he relocated here more than a decade ago.

Suddenly, top music acts that had never played Roanoke on a regular basis began looking at it as a friendly spot on the map.

It was Roanoke real estate developer Ed Walker who first nicknamed Jackson “the Reverend” after becoming infatuated with the top shelf shows that Jackson was staging at the old 202 Market.

Jonathan Barker

Artist Spotlight: Jonathan Barker

“My mom played piano, and I remember being a kid and lying in bed and listening to her play on her old upright. I had wanted to play the drums, but after the school deadline to sign up mysteriously came and went without my parents signing the authorization slip, my mom offered to pay for piano lessons. That was in 4th grade.”

“By the time I started high school, I knew that I wanted music to be a big part of my life. I wanted to be a part of the magic that people feel watching and experiencing live music. It’s those magical experiences that I still live for. Those nights when you lose yourself in the music and in the moment. The only thing that matters is the music and your connection with the audience and the others on stage with you. It’s those nights when the music takes over, the crowd is completely tuned in and the band is just the medium that’s connecting the music to the soul.”