2016 was a year filled with staggering loss in the music world. We bid farewell to some of our generation’s most iconic stars. David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince, Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Natalie Cole, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, and the list goes on and on. The losses piled, one right after another, leaving behind a legacy of unforgettable sounds and influence. Closer to home, we lost the distinctive voice and banjo skills of Dr. Ralph Stanley. The founding father of modern bluegrass was born nearby in rural McClure, Virginia. Even closer, we lost Henry Hancock, a talented bassist and family man from Rocky Mount who played with rock-country band Surrender Dorothy.
By Jenna Lazenby
There’s nothing quite like thoughts of the upcoming Virginia music festival season to shake off the chill of winter. One of the premier boutique festivals, Rooster Walk, has helped spur those thoughts by revealing its headliners. Newgrass and festival favorite, Greensky Bluegrass, and legendary reggae band, The Wailers, will be spearheading the 9th Annual Rooster Walk. The two groups will be joined by other new additions, Anders Osborne, who is set to play The Rives Theatre on Feb. 16, The Motet, one of last year’s most talked about Rooster Walk performances will make a much anticipated return. Other acts announced today are American bluesman Anderson East, Charleston-based indie rockers Susto, JGB tribute band, Mission in the Rain, Virginia-based, singer-songwriter Juliana McDowell, and Bassett native “artist at large” Josh Shilling.
While Rooster Walk has gained a reputation for some of the highest quality acts you’ve never heard of, the newly-named headliners each bring star power. Greensky Bluegrass, a band that won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival battle of the bands in 2006, has amassed a considerable following since forming in 2000. These fun-loving guys from Kalamazoo, MI, maintain a grueling tour schedule, packing venues, including a sold-out Red Rocks, across the country. Meanwhile, iconic reggae band, The Wailers, of Bob Marley fame, will deliver its timeless message of “One Love” to the Rooster Walk crowd. Founder, Aston “Familyman” Barrett, once named one of the most influential bass players of all times, will be joined by original Wailers’ guitarists Junior Marvin and Donald Kinsey.
There is something nostalgic about flipping through stacks of vinyl, and discovering a favorite artist or new music that strikes your fancy. In a world now dominated by online music sales and streaming services, vinyl records have made a resurgence in recent years, and more and more people are dusting off their old turntable and playing their favorite albums.
If you’re one of those people, The Bazaar of Roanoke is the store for you. A pale-yellow building that sits across the street from Tower’s Shopping Center, The Bazaar houses a bevy of new and used albums and CDs, as well as music-related art and collectibles.
There was a brief period when the Roanoke region didn’t have any record stores. In early 2009, Plan 9, an independent record store out of Richmond that had bought the once prominent Record Exchange, closed its doors. That’s when Jamie Booker, a record store veteran, saw an opportunity and opened The Bazaar. When the store first opened in September of 2009, it occupied only the basement. Three years ago, Booker was able to expand and take over the top half of the building as well.
Those of you who regularly listen to Roanoke’s local community radio station,101.5 FM , might have noticed that something sounds a little different, but it’s not the format. The station, which signal is broadcast from atop Mill Mountain, has changed its name and rebranded itself. Previously called “The Valley’s Music Place,” moving forward the station will be “101.5 The Mountain.”
In addition to a new name and look, there are a few key changes to note. If you live or regularly travel in the New River Valley, starting January 1, you’ll be able to pick up the station on a second signal, 102.5 FM. Station leadership has also changed, as Rob Ruthenberg has taken over for the original station manager Tom Kennedy. It was Kennedy who proposed and led the change in format in 2011 from oldies rock to its current Adult Album Alternative “Triple-A” format which contains an eclectic mix of roots rock, blues, Appalachian, and indie world music.
“There’s a feeling you get performing that can’t be described. It’s like an addictive substance. Even a bad performance, of which I’ve had my share, while sometimes disheartening, feels better than the best day at any job I’ve worked. If a single person is moved in even the slightest way by what my friends and I are trying to do on stage, I leave happy.”
‘Tis the season for shopping, and we have already begun the 12 days to Christmas countdown. What better way to shop for the music lover in your life than with music-themed gifts from LOCAL shops? In Roanoke, we have oodles of interesting little retail outlets scattered around town. In this article, we focus on just three where you can find unique gifts and quality instruments for those near and dear to your heart.
“Life inspires my music. The words may not come out right, or at the right time, or come at all, but there is never a shortage of life to turn into songs.”
“I was a very shy person growing up, in many instances I still am. I haven’t always known the right thing to say, that is evident in my stage banter and radio interviews. However, performing is different. I enjoy the experience of each performance. I’ve had some that were wonderful, played only to the bartender, and others that were train wrecks, performed in front of 800 people. The magic is in the process. It is one part, “this is what I’ve got, hope you like it,” and 99 parts, this is some sort of mathematical, emotional, black magic that some divine figure has graciously allowed me to be a part of.”
By Jenna Lazenby
Ventura, California swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brings its “Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party” to the Harvester Performance Center next Tuesday, Dec. 13. Together for nearly 23 years, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has toured virtually nonstop, playing in more than 3,000 venues across the world. This is the first time the nine-piece group will visit Southwest Virginia.
“We are really excited about playing at the Harvester,” said drummer and BBVD co-founder Kurt Sodergren in a phone interview yesterday. “We always like coming to new places, and we’ve never played there before. Most of the other places on the tour are places we’ve played. So, we’re really looking forward to it.”
“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.”