Ashley Lucas

Artist Spotlight: Ashley Lucas

We’re doing something new with this week’s Artist Spotlight. This is the first time we’ve featured a local songwriter. Ashley Lucas is a talented writer, winning honorable mention in international songwriting competitions, and active in the Southwest Virginia Songwriting Association. We reached out to find out a bit more about Ashley and her craft.

“I came from a musical family. My grandpa was in a bluegrass band and played banjo, guitar, bass, and mandolin, and my mom is a wonderful singer. There was always music playing in my house growing up and I was exposed to many different styles from an early age. I knew I wanted to write music, and I knew I needed to learn an instrument to do it. I took guitar lessons briefly at Kelley’s Music here in town, when I was 14, and started writing songs as soon as I learned three chords. For me, the guitar lessons were just a vehicle to the songs.”

Lazy Man Dub Band

Lazy Man Dub Band: Unity Through Reggae

Rastafarian reggae superstar Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley would soon be celebrating his 72nd birthday had he not died from a rare form of malignant melanoma at the young age of 36. Born on February 6, 1945, Jamaican-born Marley is recognized as one of the most influential musicians of all-time, responsible for delivering reggae music and messages of love, religion, and positivity as forces for change against social repression in the world. Roanoke band Lazy Man Dub Band continues to spread Marley’s messages of “One Love,” and plays to help unite the community through music. On February 4, the band will be hosting one of its annual reggae celebrations at Martin’s Downtown in celebration of “The Legend’s” birthday.

Formed in 2007 by Jamaican native Wayne Shorter, who was leading an open-mic night at The Village Grill, the seven-piece band is filled with self-described experimentalists, players unafraid to mix traditional reggae sounds with funk and rock elements, to bring an ever-evolving sound to audiences.  A solid horn section anchors them, laying down a steady bed that allows for impressive guitar and keyboard digressions like on “Full Control Live.” They can then slide into a more traditional vocals-driven tune like “Turn Your Lights Down Low” or one of their Marley covers. Then, just when you think you have them figured out, they’ll hit you with one of their funky originals.

Henry Hancock

A Celebration of Henry Hancock

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.

Artist Snapshot: Paul Tressel

“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.”

Artist Spotlight: Matt Browning

“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.”

Artist Spotlight: Steele Whisnant

“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.”

The Avett Brothers

Concert Review: The Avett Brothers at Roanoke’s Berglund Center

The Avett Brothers returned to The Berglund Center last night, this time in support of their latest album, “True Sadness.” As an admitted core fan of the Avetts of yesteryear, I wasn’t quite sure where I landed on the group’s latest body of work. Last night as I watched the two inherently gifted brothers, Seth and Scott, accompanied by five other equally impressive musicians, play to a smaller, yet devoted audience, my fandom was reconfirmed.

The show, which covered 28 songs and lasted a little over two hours, was, in true Avett fashion, a musical and emotional roller coaster, complete with laughter and heartache, joy and sorrow. The songs danced between high-energy, upbeat rhythms and heavier, emotional tempos incorporated with honest and weighty lyrics that delivered a mix of positive and thought-provoking messages.

Although cognizant of the other high-caliber acts in town last night, I still was somewhat disappointed with the turnout of the crowd. If the band was, they hid it well, generously dishing out praise and love to the audience amid melodies that exhibited their expert musicianship and soaring vocals.

This Friday Our Region Hosts An Impressive Night of National and Regional Acts

These days it is hard to fathom the notion that “there is nothing to do around Roanoke” ever existed. From the festivals and special events, to outdoor adventures, breweries and wineries, the regional calendar is chock full each weekend with activities to choose from. Live music is a big part of those offerings. This Friday, our region is set to host one of the most diverse and impressive nights of national and regional performers.

Here’s a run down of what’s to come: