Bubba Webster

Artist Snapshot: Bubba J Webster

“I’m comin’ to you straight outta Mont-Vegas! I’m a proud product of Montvale, VA in Bedford County. Growing up in the rural shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I discovered music from my rockin’ older cousin, Mark, and my bluegrass guitarist grandfather, Carl. Before long I started playing bass for a band that would eventually become Curmudgeon, a ska-punkish act who played the area from the 90’s to 2002.”

“Performing live is like creating a common space to exist with your audience and bandmates. It’s an emotional, electric transfer of energy. I remember so many great moments, but my dearest memories are of the people I’ve performed with and seeing that look on their face when it all clicks together. That pocket gets found and everyone is taken higher.”
“There is tremendous joy in making a noise that people enjoy hearing, in writing a song that resonates with a listener, and in the creative process with talented conspirators. I believe in the therapeutic power of music and desire to make as much as possible while my body allows me to. I have a rare condition called AKU that destroys your weight bearing joints. I’d like to use my music talents to help raise awareness and drive research. But mainly I just want to play what I love until the wheels fall off.”

Matt Leonard

Artist Spotlight: Matt Leonard

“Some call me Matty Dub. I play drums for a number of bands in the region including Relacksachian, Groova Scape, The Dead Reckoning, GOTE, Sly Devil, & Welcome to Hoonah.”

“I first got started in music when I was a baby. My older brother was a percussion player in school band and we always had instruments around the house. One of my earliest memories was using drumsticks to ‘tickle the ivories’ on Mom’s piano (which didn’t go over well with her). I guess I’ve always loved making noise. When I was old enough, I also joined the Woodrow Wilson middle school band, but chose to play bass clarinet to broaden my views of music. Then came high school; Led Zeppelin were gods and rock and roll consumed me, so I taught myself to play drums.”

Steele Cookin'

Salem Restaurant & Lounge Dials Up Live Music

It was another steamy summer night as bluesy rock chords rang out from the walls at Billy’s Barn in Salem. Inside the crowd was divided. Some hung close to the bar where two friendly female bartenders were pouring drinks and serving up cold beers, including the newest draft offering, the Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewery. The remainder were heating things up further on the dance floor to the sounds of the Steel Cookin’ Band playing the R&B classic “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter So Mean”. Billy’s Barn is known by many as a locals’ place that serves up consistently good American food, most nights with a side of live music. What some don’t know is that it’s also a place steeped in history.

Located at 1790 Thompson Memorial Dr., Billy’s Barn originally opened its doors in 1969. Billy Miles Sr., who erected the original building, operated the eatery until 1993. During those early years, Billy Sr. built a solid reputation for the restaurant, delivering high quality meals and entertainment that established a loyal customer base. Billy Sr. was also a real character, and his personality and reputation made the place a beloved destination. A weekly seafood buffet was such a hit with customers that some of the older patrons still reminiscence about it now 30 years later.

In a recent interview, current manager and Billy Sr.’s grandson, Chad Miles, spoke fondly of his memories, “In the ‘70s and ‘80s this was one of three places that did live music and dance music. The place had a big city feel. Athletic coaches and celebrities, and people in the know, came through these doors.”

Seph Custer

Artist Spotlight: Seph Custer

“Anything you’re passionate about is a lot of hard work. It requires hours, days, years, but just don’t give up. That is the only thing that’ll bring you down. I can’t tell you how many days of work I’ve had to endure on two or three hours of sleep, how much money I’ve had to personally invest in equipment, and how much personal sacrifice I’ve made to get to this point.”

“Over the past 10 years of my career, I’m willing to bet I’ve logged well over 500 hours of having an instrument in my hand. And I’m still not as good as I want to be. But I’m willing to put in another 500 hours. You have to love every single second of it, because it’s your time and your art. If you can bring yourself to love your work, then you can never go wrong.”

Corey Hunley and the Millonaires

Corey Hunley: It’s In His Voice

From garage bands to opening up a sold out show for country music legend Marty Stuart, local singer songwriter Corey Hunley has had a guitar in his hands for thirty plus years now. Something he attributes to his childhood friend and a borrowed guitar his dad brought home one afternoon.
These days his guitar of choice is a Gibson Hummingbird, and his music of choice is country or Southern Americana as he calls it. Originality and a love for life, family, and his southern roots fuel Hunley’s music and his song writing. Whether he’s performing one of his solo acoustic sets, or performing a full on rock show with his backing band The Millionaires, Hunley’s shows are three-fourths originals sprinkled with a few covers from his favorites which include Johnny Cash, John Lennon, and the Allman Brothers.
Hunley has the ideal voice for country music, an undeniable deep southern twang that fits perfectly with a cold beer or a backyard barbeque. That voice has cultivated a strong and loyal fan base around the Roanoke Valley, as has the voice in his lyrics. His songs are easily relatable, drawn from his own experiences that incorporate themes of parenthood and the desire to make every moment count with loved ones.

Deschutes Brewery Makes Lasting Impression with Its First Roanoke Street Pub

Deschutes Brewery made its first introduction to Roanoke this week with a series of events that culminated in one gigantic party complete with music, food, fun and taps pouring copious amounts of its signature brews. The heat was in full effect yesterday, but that didn’t keep the Roanoke crowd away where more than 20,000 were in attendance for the Roanoke Street Pub.

Admission to the Deschutes Street Pub was free and those in attendance were able to chose from over 50 different types of beer on tap. One hundred percent of the beer proceeds went to benefit local charities, and more than 20 nonprofits had tents onsite where attendees could learn more about their cause.

Of course it wouldn’t be a party without music, and Deschutes had that covered too. Two stages, Elmwood Park Amphitheater and the Jefferson Street Stage, hosted music throughout the day.

Here’s a full list of the bands and charities, followed by a photo gallery of some of the action. Yesterday’s Street Pub proved that Deschutes knows how to throw one heck of a party. We at Blue Ridge Rocks happily welcome you to the Roanoke Valley!

Click details for more information and photos of the action.

Front Porch Fest: The Evolution of a Party

Eight years ago Chris Prutting was preparing to move out of town when his family threw him a surprise going away party. That party was such a hit that they decided to make it an annual event. What started as a gathering of just over 100 people has evolved into an intimate three-day music festival. This year, Front Porch Fest, held each Labor Day Weekend at Spirithaven Farm in Stuart, VA, is expecting its largest crowd between 1,200 and 1,500 people.

“We’ve had a lot of changes over the past eight years, said Prutting, Director of Front Porch Fest and President of non-profit One Family Productions. “The first few years we were really just throwing a party. Now we spend a lot of time and energy on attention to detail and on bringing in really great bands.”

Erin & the Wildfire

Burning Bright: Erin & The Wildfire

In 2012, Fincastle native Erin Lunsford joined forces with fellow musicians she met in a UVA student recording group to form Erin & The Wildfire. Since then, the band has built a growing fan base in the Virginia music and festival scene by touring consistently in a three-hour radius, and playing a number of major events including Festy, Stepping Out, FloydFest, and Lockn’.

While The Wildfire has a definite bluesy feel to them, the talented quintet combines to play a range of genres from soul to funk to rock. The performances are a mix of originals interspersed with covers where they take classics like the Bee Gees, “Staying Alive,” and Stevie Wonder’s, “Sign, Sealed, Delivered,” and make it their own by changing the beat and tempo. Then there’s Lunsford’s voice. She pulls every ounce of oomph from a song and delivers it on a sultry platter of goodness to the audience.


Monophonics Bring West Coast Soul to the Heart of the Blue Ridge

It has now been a little over two weeks since the ‘Dreamweavin concluded and FloydFest officially came to a close. There was so much good music to cover that it took us (at Blue Ridge Rocks) every bit of those two weeks to write up all the highlights. Today, we wrap up that coverage with a feature on one of the best new bands to play FloydFest, the Monophonics.

Described by FloydFest founder Kris Hodges, in an earlier Blue Ridge Rocks interview, as one band not to be missed, I eagerly awaited the start of the Saturday show on the main stage. A midafternoon rain shower had just blown through and festival-goers were stepping out from shelter and making their way to the stage to hear what this West Coast soul and funk band, better known west of the Mississippi and in Europe than here in Southwest Virginia, had to offer. I’d already done my homework, and knew that we were all in for a good show. But what Kelly Finnigan and the band brought to the stage was more than a good show, it was a powerhouse performance of soulful vocals, horns, and guitar that washed over me in wave after wave, each building to one climax after another.

Devyl Nellys

The Devyl Nellys Return to the Region

The Devyl Nellys, a FloydFest On the Rise band, returns to the region this Friday when they play BoneFire Smokehouse in Abingdon. The following day, the band’s new album, “Delicious Business” will be released.

This funky rock band has six core musicians and twelve substitutes and is led by ‘The Mother Ship’ Nelly Levon, who brings her unique funky style to the stage. The group put on two fun, high energy sets at FloydFest that had all its members, especially Levon, pouring sweat at the end.

“I call us a mix of grass pop and grass punk. We definitely love some of Sublime, and we have a really good drum beat too,” Levon said in an interview after the band’s first set on the VIP stage at FloydFest.