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Local Women In Music: Take Back The Stage

Hollaback! Fburg and Fredericksburg All Ages have teamed up to bring an event called Take Back the
Stage to Read All Over bookshop this Saturday evening.

The free, all-ages event is billed as a panel discussion focusing on the role of women and girls in music; however, all genders are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Fredericksburg All Ages is well-known around town at this point. Starting in 2008, the organization has blazed a new trail in the Fredericksburg music scene promoting all-ages, generally inexpensive concerts that bring young, local acts together with bigger touring acts that might be on Letterman the next night.

Hollaback! Fburg, a branch of the national Hollaback! Organization, is fairly new to the area, and is led by Kana Zink and Sarah Bachman. Zink is the main force behind the Take Back the Stage event and has gathered a group of panelists that includes a member of the Richmond West End Comedy improve troupe and representatives from the University of Mary Washington. Zink and Lisa Borst–an active member of the FAA community–will also sit on the panel and help facilitate the discussion. Zink had originally planned to also have two members from Girls Rock! DC, but schedules got in the way and she hopes to have them down for a future event.

Some discussion topics will include how to get started playing music, learning instruments, writing songs, performing locally, and what Hollaback! Fburg and FAA should provide the audience.

They will also screen a short film featuring female musicians and performers from Boston, New York City and Paris discussing their performance experiences.

Click here for more info.

-Ryan Brosmer

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The Evens: A Punk Legend Is Coming To Town



Ian MacKaye is a significant figure in the music scene, especially the Washington punk scene for which he helped craft the “D.C. sound” that was made famous around the world by his Dischord Records label. He help meld punk and hardcore with a positive, drug-free lifestyle known as straight-edge. His bands, especially Minor Threat and Fugazi, are legendary. These bands are a big deal to a lot of people and for many of them, MacKaye is a sort of folk hero.

For the last decade or so–coinciding with Fugazi going on hiatus–MacKaye has been playing with partner Amy Farina under the name The Evens. And for their first-ever show outside of D.C., the band is playing a solo Fredericksburg All Ages gig at Read All Over Books this Sunday, 11/11, right around a week before the release of their new album ‘The Odds’.

If Minor Threat was hardcore punk and Fugazi was post-hardcore, The Evens are–as dubbed by the Washington Post–post-post-hardcore. But really, it’s more accurate to describe it as shoegaze-y indie-rock. With MacKaye on guitar, Farina on drums and both on vocals, it’s like a mellow White Stripes with integrity.

It’s rare that a musical legend gets to be alive to enjoy his growing status and see it perpetuate. And it might be even more rare for these legends to pass through town for a performance in the back of a little bookstore.

I’ve been a part of the “punk” scene since my middle school days, being told to wipe the markered-on X’s (the symbol of MacKaye’s straight edge movement) off my hands (I need to find that teacher and thank her). Though I’ve never been much of a fan of MacKaye’s music, I can understand and respect the occasion of this show.

Though when mentioning to fans and organizers that the show goes against FAA’s own formula/mission of always pairing young local acts with bigger name touring acts the response has consistently been, “Yeah, but it’s Ian MacKaye.” And that’s probably a good enough reason. MacKaye is deserving of somewhat reverential treatment and special recognition. He has done great things for the all-ages music movement across the country, just as FAA has here locally. It’s definitely a big catch for FAA.

And with the kids these days still fairly enthusiastic about the works of MacKaye, who is 50, and Fredericksburg housing it’s own fair share of aging punk rockers, this one might really push the upper limits up the whole all-ages aspect.

For more info, check this out.

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Nature Boy Explorer EP Review

“Buena Vista Concrete Jesus.” Say that a few times fast and you’re pretty much ready to sing along to the first track on the self-titled debut from Nature Boy Explorer. It sounds ridiculous, mostly because it is. But once you hear it, filtered through the harmonies of Mark Snyder (guitars/vocals), Becky Brown (harp/vocals), and Natasha Smoot (accordion) it takes on the life of a catchy indie-rock refrain. That line, and perhaps the dreamy harp accompanying it, will become the soundtrack to your waking life, drawing stares as you mumble it under your breath, trying to excise that odd, catchy stone savior from your brain.

Enough with your personal problems. Unfortunately, that same song causes problems for its compatriots. Everything else seems, well . . . normal. The aptly titled “Ambulant” is a jaunty, delicate, heart-on-the sleeve tune that could fit on almost any indie-pop album regardless of the band. It’s the track where the harp adds the most, but somehow fails to stand out.

“Fine” is an exercise in the effective use of dueling accordion and harp. It’s a slow jam where the guitar drones while the other instruments help create some character. The accordion seems to exude a bit of its own raw, forlorn emotion, but it’s mostly Snyder’s voice and his guitar. The harp is nearly hidden–trying to pick it out almost becomes a distraction.

The closer of this four-track EP is the hard-to-define and awkwardly titled “Republican Rape Train,” a song with dissonance at its core. The verses are driven by chunky bass and discordant keyboards with haunting, accusatory lyrics. In contrast, the chorus is almost happy-go-lucky (though obviously a bit tongue-in-cheek) while singing about the eponymous train.

Overall, these four tracks give a great example of what Nature Boy Explorer is. It might still be difficult to understand the music, and even harder to explain it to a friend but it will be clearer. They’re definitely doing something different from most any other band, especially any band around Fredericksburg, and if anything, it’s worth giving the album a listen to be able to sing along at a live show, which is where Nature Boy Explorer really shines.

Listen here.

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Album Review: “Singing About Places I’ve Never Been” By Cat Be Damned


It’s immediately clear that Erik Phillips wants your attention. The singer-songwriter of Cat Be Damned set out to record an album that would take his formerly solo acoustic project into the realm of an electrified, full-band sound, and he wanted to make sure the difference was noticeable.

The new album, “Singing About Places I’ve Never Been,” is a homemade, self-released effort that explodes with opener “Five Minutes Slow.” Along with drummer Kyle Chappell and bassist John Kovalchik, Phillips takes the first song from its meandering and lackadaisical verses to simple, soaring refrains.

This measured aggression carries through to the second track, “You, Me, and the Holy Spirit,” which eventually mellows out as a reminder of the simpler, quieter origins of the band. “Places I’ve Never Been” is an ethereal instrumental interlude after the album’s energetic opening barrage, and seems almost too subdued in comparison. But patience is rewarded in this section of the album, where hidden gems like a simple banjo lick can introduce a whole new sound that still fits into the overall album concept. Similarly subdued “The Earth Don’t Go Around the Sun” is followed by a short, renewed burst of energy in “Sudden Moments of Self-Realization,” an explosive version of a song that was featured on Phillips’ solo Cat Be Damned album, “Pixelated Stuff.”

The album closes with shades of the late Elliott Smith on the aptly titled “Some Sad Song.” It stands in stark contrast to the opening tracks, but bookends what feels like a well-conceived and constructed debut album. Erik Phillips put his heart on his sleeve, laid all his cards on the table and is willing to shred his vocal cords to get his point across. It’s a strong  argument for everyone to stop and take notice.

The album can be purchased or streamed for free at, and there are plans in the works for a physical release.

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It simply blows my mind that Danny Gatton was from Washington, D.C. I feel like kids growing up around there should have been wearing t-shirts with his face on them, or marching in parades honoring his left hand. That influence should have slipped down here, where old men in barbershops ought to be arguing the relative merits of Jimi vs. Danny. Alas, he came, he rocked, and he died in 1994. His technique was overwhelming, but he never managed to cause a musical evolution or revolution. Hell, this set opens with “Mustang Sally,” an insipid power-blues song that was soul kryptonite, even then. Still, Gatton shreds.

7 p.m.
“Mustang Sally >Medley” by The Danny Gatton Band

Gotta love the strange cameo by Marion Barry. Classic Barry.

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Wonder Twin Powers Activate

The All Mighty Senators are (were?) a funky, funky band from somewhere in or around Baltimore led by vocalist and stand-up drummer Landis Expandis. They are a stellar live band with a sense of humor that borders bizarro, but they also pump out booty-movin’ jams. See them if you can.

6 p.m.
“Superfriends” by All Mighty Senators

I met Landis once. Funny dude.

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Native American Jazz

Jim Pepper was an innovative saxophone player responsible for some of the earliest fusion music (jazz + rock). He was also a Native American, and freely incorporated indigenous music into the mix. This is his most well-known song, “Witchi Tai To.” He recorded it many times, but this, recorded with his fusion group Everything Is Everything, was the most commercially successful version. For a longer, more interesting version, check the one on “Pepper’s Pow Wow.”

5 p.m.
“Witchi Tai To” by Everything Is Everything

Kevin Bacon fans might remember this song from the movie “Sleepers.”

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Kayak, A Toyota Kayak

What happened to Baby Gramps? If the world needs more of anything, it’s throat-singing hobos growling out sea shanties. All I know is that he’s still alive and playing, although he doesn’t seem to tour like he used to. I heard he shaved and became Lady GaGa.

4 p.m.
“Cape Cod Girls” by Baby Gramps

I could watch that for days. But we shall move on.

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Mr. Wonder

Musically, it’s hard to beat the version on “Innervisions,” but this 1973 live version just looks so funky I couldn’t pass it up. Too bad it cuts out early. “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” is classic do-it-all technology Stevie, as he plays pretty much all the parts (with help from synthesizers) on the album version. Of course, Stevie is talented enough to make it work with a room full of live musicians as well.

3 p.m.
“He’s Misstra Know-It-All” by Stevie Wonder

“Innervisions” earned Stevie his first Album of the Year Grammy award, in 1974. He would win the same award again in 1975 and 1977. Three in four years, and all well-deserved. Not bad at all.

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The Slide Area

I love pretty much everything Ry Cooder has ever done, but I’m particularly fond of the early 20th century folk songs he unearthed and (sometimes) electrified. This is a live video of “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live,” a Depression-era song first recorded by Blind Alfred Reed. The song is good, and Cooder’s guitar playing is typically stellar. But get a load of that band: Jim Keltner, Van Dyke Parks, Flaco Jimenez, Jorge Calderon and a stage full of top-notch players and singers.

2 p.m.
“How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” by Ry Cooder

Judging by the comments, this 1929 song, performed here in 1987, is still striking a political nerve in 2012.

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The Rumble - large This blog will highlight the best events in and around the Fredericksburg region, as well as reviews, music news and more. Feel free to tell us what we've missed.