Turnpike Troubadours Rock the Lime Kiln Theater

I’m hard pressed to name something I like more than outdoor concerts. Saturday night, after years of recommendations by friends, I experienced my first show at the Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington, VA. And what an experience it was. Oklahoma based band, the Turnpike Troubadours had the crowd (of about 700 people) dancing, singing, hootin’ and hollerin’, at this sold out show. I will say, in all honesty, that I haven’t enjoyed an outdoor show this much since I saw the Lumineers at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and there’s a few reasons why.

First, Lime Kiln is one of the prettiest music venues I’ve been to in Virginia. For me, it beats Wolf Trap, and that’s saying a lot. Wherever you’re sitting, you’re close to the action. I spent most of the show in the second row and the sound was perfect, but when I ventured to the back of the theater, the sound was just as good. I even went behind the stage and the band still sounded immaculate. The venue is called “the bowl” because it’s nestled between a collection of large rocks. Looking up, you’re covered by a canopy of trees and after the sun departed, fireflies danced like fairies. In addition to the beauty and sound quality of the theater, the food and beverage options were top notch. Devil’s Backbone Brewery is a sponsor of Lime Kiln and I think we can all agree…yum.

Floyd Fandango Rings in the Summer!

What do you get when you combine 10+ hours of live music with craft beer tastings, a farm-to-table dinner, trail races, children’s activities, and wellness workshops, all in the heart of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains? It’s none other than the next generation cult classic: Floyd Fandango. Being billed as the “FloydFest Love Child,” Fandango…

Randy Williams: The Story Behind the Song

One of the best things about attending Southwest Virginia Songwriters Association meetings is getting to hear the incredible songs that come from local musicians. Last month, SVSA member Randy Williams, brought a song to get critiqued by the group, and it’s so beautiful, and perfect for a special Father’s Day edition of Story Behind the Song.

Williams began writing songs as a teenager, but didn’t start focusing on songwriting until after his kids were grown. Crediting Angaleena Presley, Shawn Camp, Jason Isbell and Richard Thompson as some of his songwriting heroes, he writes to inspire others to see things from an unfamiliar perspective. His only real goal with songwriting is to be able to share an emotion or struggle that people can connect with. And with the song, “Look Up”, he truly accomplishes this goal. He recorded the song at Summit Sound with Jake Dempsey, who Williams said was crucial in bringing his songs to life.

Blue Ridge KIDS Rock: Music Together in Roanoke

As a mom of a little girl, I’ve sought as many opportunities as possible to expose my offspring to music. I remember deciding the day she was born, that I was going to sing her the same song every night before bed: “I Will” by the Beatles. This song has always had the magical power to calm her down when nothing else would. It made her smile before she knew what smiling was. She would clap upon hearing it as soon as she discovered she had hands.

I truly believe that listening to music is a vital part of the developmental process in wee young ones. In Roanoke, there’s an ample amount of children’s music classes and I’ve tried out most of them. They’re all great in their own way but one sticks out, at least from a musician’s standpoint.

Scott Sutton, a Mainstay of the Roanoke Music Scene

“Playing live, at its best is a spiritual rush! When a band connects, it’s like my eyes are closed, and I’ve gone to Pluto and back. When the song is over and I open my eyes, it’s like, whoa, what just happened, where am I?”

The joy that Scott Sutton brings to the stage is infectious as he lays down a steady bed of bass beats he has acquired over years of playing with a wide range of bands and genres.

Photo credits: Aubrey Edwards

Eight Insights to Nikki Hill

There’s a sensational woman named Nikki Hill and she’s playing the Harvester tonight. Not only should you go see her to experience her immense vocal talent and diverse setlist, but go to be inspired by her pure, honest drive, independent spirit, and just general bad-assery. I not-so-secretly want her to be my best friend, because she’s already a role model for all of us who want our music to be bigger than YouTube channels and open mic nights.

Hill has played in Roanoke before on a much smaller stage. In 2013, her first year of touring, Hill played Blue 5, but those small tours have taken her to some pretty unique places. From a theme park in Sweden, to a palace in Morocco, to a tea tree farm in Australia, to the same stage where Otis Redding performed and Jimi Hendrix infamously set his guitar aflame.   This chick has played the world, and she does it all on her indie budget. As an independent artist, this self-described “music nerd”, relies on her passion for music and her “small but mighty” team to keep it all going. I asked Hill a variety of questions to get to know her a little better, so here are my top 8 insights about wonder woman, Nikki Hill:

AL: How did you develop your sound?

NH: It’s still developing and I hope it will continue! I like to think of it as a combination of my love for the energy and call and response style of early gospel, mixed with the attitude and fervor of rock n’ roll and soul, with a one-two-fuck you punch of the human experience and anti-system stylings of blues and punk. Honest and driven and giving it all each time on stage because that’s all there is and it’s all we’ve got.

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.