Artist Profiles, Music, Radio, Virginia Artists

Robin and Linda Williams: The Shenandoah Valley’s Musical Pioneers

When I want to hear quintessential Americana music, all I need to do is to travel up the Shenandoah Valley, 90 miles from Roanoke to Staunton, for the music of Robin and Linda Williams.

Known to many for their regular performances on Garrison Keillor’s live radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” the husband and wife duo have been making music from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia since the 1970’s.

As their official website states: “For more than four decades now, Robin & Linda have made it their mission to perform the music that they love, ‘a robust blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country that combines wryly observant lyrics with a wide-ranging melodicism.

“Today some might call it ‘Americana,’ but these two revered music masters were living and breathing this elixir 20 years before that label was turned into a radio format.”

Robin and Linda Williams in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Last month, I spoke with Robin and Linda via phone to find out what the couple has been doing musically over the course of their career and to check out what their plans are for 2019.

I first met Robin and Linda during my junior year attending James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia during the late 70’s. I worked at public radio station WMRA and was the producer of a daily radio program called “Country Afternoon.”

My radio program featured folk, bluegrass and old time country music. Once a month, “Country Afternoon” would have bands and performers from the Shenandoah Valley come to the station to give a live one-hour concert on the radio. Robin and Linda performed on my “Country Afternoon” radio program. Little did I know that this husband and wife duo from Augusta County would one day be nationally known for their iconic music style.

Robin and Linda met in 1971 and quickly realized that they made beautiful music together. The duo started writing their own songs and by 1975, they recorded their first album, the self-titled, “Robin and Linda Williams” on Flashlight Records in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Around the same time, the husband and wife team met Garrison Keillor in Minnesota. As Robin and Linda’s website states: “They made their first appearance on a little radio show just getting off the ground called “A Prairie Home Companion” and their rich relationship with that icon of American broadcasting has continued for four decades.”

In my joint phone interview with Robin and Linda last month, I asked the Williamses if they ever lived in Minnesota? Linda replied “No. We would fly to Minneapolis on Thursday evenings prior to a Saturday show and then stay in the land of 10,000 lakes for a total of 11 days. We would then perform on consecutive Saturdays but still live in the Shenandoah Valley.”

The Virginian couple met Garrison Keillor, “when he came to see us at a venue about 60 miles from St. Paul,” Linda explained. “After watching us for a set of songs, Keillor asked us to come play the radio show. That was in the fall of 1975 and we have worked with him ever since: On the radio, doing concerts and performing on cruise ships.”

“Concerning Garrison, he has been a friend and a mentor to us and he’s the most talented person we’ve ever been around. And we’ve been around some legends”, Linda admired.   The Shenandoah Valley couple will be working again will Keillor again next winter on a Cuban cruise.

Robin and Linda Williams

Over the years, the duo has performed thousands of concerts across the United States, Canada and Europe. Additionally, Robin and Linda are known as superb songwriters. Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea, Tom T. Hall, George Hamilton IV and the Seldom Scene have all covered songs written by Robin and Linda.

According to their website, “Robin and Linda have made appearances on such major programs as ‘The Grand Old Opry,’ ‘Austin City Limits,’ ‘Music City Tonight,’ ‘Mountain Stage’ and they continue to make frequent appearances on ‘A Prairie Home Companion.’   Having always sung gospel music, in the late 1980s they teamed up with their old friend and “A Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor and bluegrass songstress Kate MacKenzie to form The Hopeful Gospel Quartet.

Robin and Linda Williams

One of the things that I admire the most about Robin and Linda’s music is their focus on the place they have called home for over 40 years: The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

I asked the Williamses if they could share with me the influence that living in the Shenandoah Valley has had on their music. Here are Robin and Linda’s thoughts with their four selections:

 

  1. “Stonewall Country”

 

“[This song] got its title from a little known fact that the term was used in the early to mid-19th century as a moniker for the Shenandoah Valley. Evidently the farmers used the limestone rocks they cleared from their fields as fences and walls, thus “stone wall country.”

 

“We changed the title to “Stonewall Country” because the song was written for the musical we wrote about Stonewall Jackson for the “The Theater “at Lime Kiln in Lexington, Virginia.

 

I make my home in Stonewall Country/Down a crooked lane/Where the fields steep and rocky/Took such toil to claim/Now the plows run deep in Stonewall Country/The ground gives back good yields/And the rocks that blocked the furrows/So worrisome to wield/Stand in fences ‘round the fields.

 

I may leave the Shenandoah/But she’ll never leave my heart/ Stonewall Country, clear-eyed daughter of the stars/Stonewall Country, clear-eyed daughter of the stars.

  1. “Buena Vista”

 

“Another song that comes to mind our song “Buena Vista,” a tale that mentions not only the Rockbridge County town but also some landmarks like the Maury River.”

 

So you beat a path to Rockbridge Baths/ ’cause blood kin won’t quit ya/

Or try to dry you out like they do in Buena Vista/

It’s a long walk from your front porch to the Maury River’s edge/

But it’s longer when you’re drunk and hauling back a broken leg/

So here’s to the sawbones who pinned you up and fixed ya/

But you’re out of action lying in traction down in Buena Vista

 

  1. “These Old Dark Hills”

 

“Linda got the title of the song “These Old Dark Hills” after a late afternoon winter walk around our property and looking over to the Allegheny Mountains. Seeing those mountains every day for over forty years, they almost seem like friends,” said Robin.

These Old Dark Hills/On which sore eyes can rest/These Old Dark Hills/Ridge after ridge to the west          

  1. “October Light”

 

“[This] is a song that comes quickly to mind. It’s about the beauty of fall in the Shenandoah Valley.”

Each day we walk up on the hill/And watch the setting sun/Play on the trees and fields until/It falls and day is done/Yellow, orange, blue and rose/The colors neon bright/The evening sky is all aglow/With this October Light.

 

Robin and Linda Williams

Obviously, the Shenandoah Valley is a special place for Robin and Linda. However, their songs cover a wide variety of topics and are respected by fellow songwriters all across many genres of music.

So I asked the Williams couple if they could share with me their top 5 essential songs. These would be the songs they would like for a person to hear, if they were checking out the Virginia duo’s music for the first time. Here are Robin and Linda’s thoughts on each song:

 

  1. “Old Plank Road”

 

“On the last day of filming ‘A Prairie Home Companion,’ director Robert Altman’s last movie, we were asked to perform one of our songs to use for the movie soundtrack. ‘Old Plank Road,’ is a song about a music party in Batesville, VA, and Altman used seven or eight minutes of the film cutting away from us singing it to other scenes that helped develop the story line.”

Charlie you’re a good old boy Charlie you’re all right/Charlie open up the store, we’re coming down tonight/Out where you can see the stars and the living’s slow/We’ll eat potluck and pull guitars down on Old Plank Road.

  1. “Rolling and Rambling (the Death of Hank Williams)”

 

[This song] has never left our repertoire (probably the only one) and which Emmylou Harris recorded.”

Rolling and Rambling, the women loved him half to death/He sang with whiskey on his breath/His heart broke like a child/Rolling and Rambling, the sun has set out on the trail/The hobo’s drifted up the rail/He’s taken his last ride.

 

  1. “Don’t Let Me Come Home A Stranger”

 

“[This song] was in the “Stonewall Country” musical and has made it into the repertoires and recordings of several American and British Isles singers.”

Will there come a time when the memories fade/And pass on with the long, dark years/When the ties no longer bind. Lord save me from this darkest fear/Don’t Let Me Come Home A Stranger/I couldn’t stand to be a stranger

  1. “Across The Blue Mountains”

 

“[This is] a local, traditional, a cappella song that we found on a party tape with Paul Clayton singing it. We’ve sung it for over 35 years and it’s the vehicle that opened the door to our friendship with the legendary Dave Van Ronk.”

One morning, one morning, one morning in May/I heard a married man to a young girl say/Go dress you up pretty Katy and come go with me/Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny

 

  1. “Famous In Missouri”

 

“We’re proud of it because it was sung and released as a single by Tom T. Hall, a member of the Country Music and Songwriters Halls of Fame. He was so successful and had such respect as a songwriter that folks labeled him “The Story Teller.” His recording of our song helped us garner respect as songwriters ourselves.”

I was famous in Missouri/Everybody knew my name/Kansas City to old St. Louis/They knew how well I played my game/Now it sure feels strange /To be in South Dakota, out on the range

Robin and Linda Williams in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Being part of the Shenandoah Valley music community has always been extremely important for the Williams couple. Linda states, “We have a network of local musician friends – some professional, some not – some old, some new – and via this musical community we’ve been able make contributions to the area.

“Robin and I started a concert series at the Lime Kiln Theater during the mid-80s. We have also helped start a couple of festivals: The Oak Grove Folk Music Festival in Verona (now in its 36th year) and the Fortune-Williams Festival with Jimmy Fortune, the Country Music Hall Of Famer, which ran for 10 years.”

Clearly, Robin and Linda have been an integral part of the Shenandoah Valley music scene for over 40 years and the duo continues to work on and develop new musical projects here in 2019.

Robin and Linda Williams

One proposed project is for a new musical TV show on Virginian music called ‘Road Trip: Virginia Live.’ Robin explains, “The idea is to go to historic venues in Virginia and present a half hour music show based not only on the musical acts but also the venues.”

The other project for the Williamses this year is the production of a new album, which will be recorded at their home in Staunton. “We called our friend Kevin McNoldy, who showed up with portable recording gear and two Townsend microphones in April and we recorded six songs,” said Linda.

“Our house in Staunton is old and has high ceilings and the room sounds wonderful, better than some studios we’ve recorded in the past,” she said. “We sat in our living room with those Townsend mics and got some really good stuff. Robin and I have recorded six CDs with Kevin in the past and it’s been fun re-connecting with him. We’ll continue recording in June and July.”

Robin and Linda Williams in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Touring has always been an important part in the musical career of Robin and Linda, and the couple will have concerts scheduled between now and October. Their next show will be at The Harvester in Rocky Mount, Virginia. The Williamses’ friend, Scott Miller will be opening up for the duo at this concert venue. I am looking forward attending this concert, along with my wife Priscilla. For more information on upcoming concerts and to purchase music, please go to the official Robin and Linda website.

What will be the legacy of Robin and Linda? They are leaders in the Shenandoah Valley music scene and their fingerprints are throughout the musical landscape of Virginia. Without a doubt, Robin and Linda Williams are the quintessential duo of Americana music in America!

 

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Music, Retro Rock, Virginia Artists

Agents of Good Roots Celebrate 25 Years

Agents of Good Roots Celebrate 25 Years

In 1993, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was the biggest single of the year, Michael Jackson played the Super Bowl halftime show and the Dave Matthews Band from Charlottesville, Virginia released their live album, “Remember Two Things.”

While the Dave Matthews Band was gaining popularity nationally during 1993, another Virginia band was formed that same year in Richmond: the Agents of Good Roots (AOGR). Andrew Winn and Stewart Myers, friends from Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Virginia, hooked up with Brian Jones and J.C. Kuhl to form the band that became a darling of East Coast college campus venues and club circuits throughout the 90’s.

Agents of Good Roots are celebrating their 25 years as a band by performing two Virginia concerts. AOGR will playing at The Broadberry in Richmond on December 21st and then the next night will be performing at Roanoke’s 5 Points Music Sanctuary.

My connection with AOGR goes back to the late 80’s when I met Tom and Nancy Myers along with their son Stewart. I was a sound engineer for Grace Covenant Church in Roanoke, Virginia and Stewart played bass with the worship team during his high school years.

Stewart Myers met Andrew Winn at Patrick Henry High School. The two boys played together in various rock bands and formed their musical bond during this time period. After graduation from high school, Winn attended James Madison University and Myers went to school at William and Mary.

By 1993, both Myers and Winn ended up in Richmond and formed a band with Brian Jones and J.C. Kuhl. The original name of this new band was River Jacks and their first show was played at Shockoe Bottom in Richmond 25 years ago. Quickly after the first concert, the band became Taxicat and then finally came up with the name Agents of Good Roots within the first year of the band’s forming.

From 1995 until 2001, AOGR toured up and down the East Coast and had a regional following. The band toured with Virginia artists Dave Matthews Band and Bruce Hornsby, along with Blues Traveler during their active touring years.

Agents of Good Roots recorded five studio albums, two EP’s and released four singles during the years 1995 through 1999. Two of the AOGR singles received airplay on Triple A rock radio stations and one of the band’s videos was played on MTV.

The single, “Smiling Up the Frown” was a radio hit on Triple A rock radio stations and reached number two on the Billboard Triple A chart during 1998. Another popular single for the band in 1998 was “Come On (Let Your Love Come Alive).” This tune also received airplay on Triple A rock radio and MTV added a video for this song to their rotation when the song was popular.

Starting in 2001, AOGR cut back on their massive touring schedule and maintained a limited amount of concerts in and around the Richmond area. Then in 2006, the band went on hiatus and remained dormant until 2017.

According to the official Agents of Good Roots website, the band, “reunited for a memorial show for their tour manager and spiritual advisor, Jeff Peskin.” Since that time in October 2017, AOGR have performed 12 concerts in Richmond, Roanoke, Hampton, Charlottesville and Arrington, all in Virginia, plus in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C.

I had the opportunity to attend the Agents of Good Roots Roanoke concert back in October and also met with band members Andrew Winn and Stewart Myers three hours before the beginning of their concert that evening. It was great reconnecting with Myers and a pleasure meeting Winn for the first time at the 5 Points Music Sanctuary concert venue.

So how does one describe what kind of band AOGR is and what genre of music they play? I asked this question to Winn when we met and he came up with one word: “improvisational”. My one word to describe AOGR’s music is “hybrid”. They play rock, pop, jazz and old school R&B with some retro grooves. The band is known for playing its songs differently each time they perform live.

If you are attending one of AOGR’s 25th anniversary concerts, here is the lineup you will see:

Drums, Vocals / Brian Jones

Tenor, Bari, Soprano Sax / J.C. Kuhl

Bass, Vocals / Stewart Myers

Guitar, Keys, Vocals / Andrew Winn

So what are the “day jobs” that the Agents of Good Roots members are performing here at the end of 2018? Winn now lives in Roanoke and is an anesthesiologist with Carilion Clinic. Myers works in the recording industry and recently produced an album by Virginia folk/country artist Sarah White. Kuhl and Jones both teach college jazz courses at the College of William and Mary, the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.

If you are looking for more current facts on AOGR band members, Tad Dickens of the Roanoke Times provided an excellent article on the band just before their Roanoke concert during October. https://www.roanoke.com/arts_and_entertainment/music/reunited-agents-of-good-roots-in-it-for-fun-headed/article_c6cdc4b0-7258-5857-8068-06eb8f9c5db9.html

Recently, I asked Andrew Winn a couple of questions on AORG music:

What are the Top 5 AORG songs?

  1. “Sidewinder”
  2. “Smiling Up the Frown”
  3. “Bucks in Cash”
  4. “Shot Down”
  5. “The Ballad of Hobby and the Piano

What is the signature song of AOGR?

“Sidewinder”

AGOR’s member Brian Jones wrote “Sidewinder” and here are the opening lyrics to the signature song from the band:

“Standing in the Eden Garden

Lying in the shade

Sidewinder in the dirt

Grass cutting King of Spades

Sidewinder

Adam was combing hair

Eden was bearing fruit”

Agents of Good Roots Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Agents-of-Good-Roots-1630761856948921/

Agents of Good Roots Official Online Page: https://www.agentsofgoodroots.com/

Agents of Good Roots: Photo by Dylan King

As I mentioned above, I attended AOGR’s Roanoke concert a couple months ago and I came away impressed with the musical variety and musicianship of each member of the band. I enjoyed their show and would definitely attend another concert by AOGR.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend an Agents of Good Roots concert, you will not be disappointed. Happy 25th anniversary to the band.

 

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Virginia Artists

Josey Lackey & Tim Lowe: Virginian Artists on the Rise

Josey Lackey with guitar.

It was a perfect sunny October afternoon in Botetourt County, Virginia when I met Virginian recording artist Josey Lackey for the first time. I had the pleasure of attending one of her concerts at Blue Ridge Vineyard that afternoon. I also got to hear Tim Lowe, another musical artist, who opened up for Josey at the concert venue.

Highlighting new and promising Virginian artists is one of the goals I have writing this blog and I am glad to share on these two budding artists.

I first learned of Joesy ‘s music while communicating with her step-grandmother Cheryl Miller Lackey. She is a regular reader of my blog and knew that I feature Virginian artists like Caroline Weinroth/Cinema Hearts and Adele Marie on a regular basis. Cheryl also enjoyed reading about legendary Roanoke band the Kings and suggested that I feature Josey in one of my future blog messages.

So I agreed to Cheryl’s suggestion of attending one of Josey’s concerts. Since I had not ever heard Josey sing before, I didn’t know what to expect when I attended her concert during the first Sunday in October. After listening to the first couple songs at Josey’s show, I can tell you: She did not disappoint. Josey’s performance was engaging and refreshing.

Josey Lackey: Photo by Jenna B Photography.

I met Josey 30 minutes before the start of her show and had the opportunity to interview the 17 year-old singer. Lackey is a senior at James River High School in Buchanan, Virginia and is the starting catcher for her varsity softball team. During the 2018 season, Josey was first all-district and all-conference with her catching skills.

In addition to her softball activities, Josey is taking classes this fall to become an ENT. She also has a goal to study nursing at either Radford University or James Madison University after her graduation from high school in 2019.

Obviously, music is Josey’s passion and she has been furthering her music career during the past two years. She just released her first album, “Made in Virginia,” this past August. Lackey maintains a limited concert schedule on weekends during the school year.

Another young musical talent that I met at Josey’s concert was Virginian singer-songwriter Tim Lowe. It was an unexpected pleasure to speak with Tim and to hear his music as he performed an eight-song music set prior to Josey taking the stage.

Tim Lowe

Tim is a 2017 graduate of James River High School in Buchanan, Virginia and uses social media sites like Instagram and YouTube to promote his new music projects.

Tim released his first single, “Wildfire Season,” in September and in October he debuted the instrumental song “Coloring,” which features Tim playing every instrument on the tune. Later on this month, he has scheduled the release of another song called, “Virginia Summers.”

For Tim’s eight-song set, he mixed self-penned songs and cover versions of pop and rock tunes. One of the highlights for me was Lowe’s performance of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The other song on Tim’s set that stood out to me was Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Before he sang the song, Tim gave a shout out to his girlfriend Hope McCormick, who was in the audience. Lowe announced that Hope had purchased tickets for his birthday to see Bob Dylan’s Roanoke concert on November 10th.

After a short break, Josey came on stage to perform two sets for the afternoon. My best description of her music is a pop/country mix. Josey’s vocals are polished for a young singer and she has a smooth, modern country feel to her voice.

During Josey’s concert, she accompanied herself with a guitar and performed some well-crafted songs. She sang many self-written songs along with a few cover versions from Simon & Garfunkel, Guns ‘N Roses and Bob Dylan.

“Take Me To Georgia” was one of the original songs performed at the concert. Josey shared this with me before the show, explaining why the song is meaningful to her:

“The first song that I ever played in front of anyone was ‘Take Me to Georgia.’ I was with my aunt and uncle in Peachtree City, GA. We decided to eat dinner at their golf resort right down the road. My aunt, Deb, went over to the man playing music on the patio and asked him if I could play one of my original songs. I had no clue, and it was TERRIFYING! He ended up calling me up there, and everyone loved the song! It was so thrilling, and that’s when I knew that I wanted to play as much as I could. I really have my aunt to thank for helping me overcome that fear of sharing my music with people.”

Josey Lackey performing at Blue Ridge Vineyard.

A second song that Lackey performed was, “Daddy’s Song,” a song that she wrote as a tribute to her father. Here are Josey’s thoughts on this tune:

“‘Daddy’s Song’ is another one of my favorites. I wrote it for my dad about two Father’s Days ago. I recorded and put it on a CD for him, and he cried like a baby!”

A third highlight of the concert was the song “Girl’s Night” and Josey revealed to me about how this song came to be written:

“’Girl’s Night’ was inspired by my best friend, Evie, and I. We’ve been close since we were little, and I loved being able to compose a song about that bond.”

Josey Lackey at Blue Ridge Vineyard concert, October 7, 2018.

For anyone interested in Josey’s music and purchasing her CD “Made in Virginia,” you can access her Facebook page here.

Tim Lowe is also available on social media. Click here to view his Instagram.

After the concert ended, I asked Lackey to send me some information on her career and what music means in her life. Here is what Josey shared with me:

Josey Lackey: Photo by Jenna B Photography.

“I’ve always been so thankful for the blessings upon blessings that music has given me. It has truly made the hard times seem like a breeze, and the great times even better! People will ask me, ‘When did you start singing?’ and I really can’t give an answer to that. A better question would be, ‘Have you ever stopped?’ because I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing.”

“Picking up a guitar and writing my own music has been the best therapy for me during my high school years, and I know it’ll continue to help me wherever I go in life. That is what makes me so incredibly thankful for music. Wherever you go, it’ll follow you. You can never escape it, and I don’t think I’ll ever want to. From singing with my grandmother as a baby to being a little rebellious and getting a guitar tattooed on my ankle. music has and always will be a part of who I am. “

I was thankful that I had the opportunity to attend the concert of Josey Lackey and Tim Lowe last month at Blue Ridge Vineyard. As Josey expressed to me: “I am so happy to be able to write music freely and have it as a stress-reliever.” It is a good thing to hear new songs from emerging Virginian music artists. Here is hoping that I will get to hear much more new music in the future from Josey and Tim.

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Virginia Artists

The Kings: Rocking Roanoke Since 1965

The Kings performing at Elmwood Park in Roanoke, VA on July 5

If you think of longevity with rock bands, the Rolling Stones are the first that comes to mind on the international music scene. In the Roanoke community, look no further than The Kings, a Roanoke based band that has been in existence for over 53 years.

I had the opportunity to meet the band members of the Kings and attend their July 5th concert at Elmwood Park. Along with the Kings, DJ Jerry English was laying down danceable tunes before and during intermission times. Many in the crowd danced to the music as DJ English played tunes from legendary Carolina Beach bands like the Tams, Band of Oz and Jim Quick.

DJ English and I at Elmwood Park on July 5

DJ English was kind enough to allow me to shadow him during the entire evening. I had an excellent vantage point from my seat next to him, observing his DJ duties and interacting with the band. I was extremely impressed with the friendliness and hospitality of the Kings band members.

Prior to the Kings opening first set, I met the members of the band and the man that founded the group, Perry Caligan. Caligan started the band, then known as The Royal Kings, 53 years ago and was the lead singer and lead guitarist. He now acts as the business owner of Kings Entertainment Agency.

From 1969 until 1980, The Royal Kings were the house band for the Roanoke nightclub The Kings Inn. The current leader and manager of the band, Larry Wheeling, joined the band during February 1969. It was a thrill for me to be able to meet both Caligan and Wheeling at this event.

Larry Wheeling and Perry Caligan at Elmwood Park on July 5

Before the concert began, I asked both Caligan and Wheeling about some of the bands that The Royal Kings opened up for during their days performing at The Kings Inn. Here are just a few of the artists they mentioned: The Four Tops, Ides of March, Chairmen of the Board and Billy Stewart.

Over the years there have been many members playing with the Kings. However, Wheeling has been with the band ever since he joined in 1969. Joining Larry Wheeling in the 2018 edition of the band are his brothers Brian Wheeling and Randy Wheeling. Below are the current 7 members of the Kings:

Brian Jones—guitar bass

Terry Brown—lead singer

Brian Wheeling—guitar

Tim Martin—lead singer and guitar

Larry Wheeling—Trumpet and Keyboards

Randy Wheeling—Trumpet and Trombone

Ray Mitchell—Drums

The Kings performing at Elmwood Park on July 5

The Kings official motto is “These guys play everything.” That slogan is accurate.

With a total of 29 songs during their two-sets, the Kings had a wide variety of musical styles on their set list. Basically the Kings play all types of dance music: From Motown to current chart topping songs, the band keeps the groove going with guitars, bass, drums and a brass section. Plus the vocals of Terry Brown and Tim Martin makes the Kings a top-notch band.

For a majority of the songs performed in concert, Terry Brown takes the lead singing vocals. For the remainder of the Kings songs, Tim Martin provides lead vocals for the band. This combination of vocalists gives the Kings a nice balance with the various styles of music played during concerts.

The Kings opened up their first set of the evening with the classic Chicago song, ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is.” Other highlights during the first part of the concert includes covers of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”, Looking Glass’ “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”, the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around” and KC & the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes.’

Towards the end of the first set, Tim Martin sang the Old Crow Medicine Show song “Wagon Wheel” which actually mentions the name of Roanoke in the lyrics of this tune:

Walking to the south out of Roanoke

I caught a trucker out of Philly had a nice long toke

But he’s a heading west from the Cumberland Gap

To Johnson City, Tennessee

And I got to get a move on before the sun

I hear my baby calling my name and I know that she’s the only one

And if I die in Raleigh at least I will die free

After DJ Jerry English played classic Carolina Beach music during the intermission, the Kings came out rocking the house with covers of more contemporary tunes from the past five years. Highlights of the second set includes, DNCE’s “Cake By the Ocean”, Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and The Time’s “Jungle Love.”

There were two other exceptional performances by the Kings during the second set. The first song was the Portugal The Man’s “Feel It Still” which featured Terry Brown’s outstanding falsetto vocal range along with the band’s wonderful rhythm section.

The final song of the evening was Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” song. Every part of this performance was excellent. From the vocals, the bass riffs, guitars and drums in sync and the brass section rocking, this ending song was “smokin’ hot” and was a fitting end to an excellent concert by the Kings.

After this event ended, I asked some folks for their thoughts about the Kings concert. Here are a couple responses:

Beth Ledwith of Salem:

“I thought they were great. They offered a variety that appealed to the audience and also played some current hits. They also played a good mix of slow and faster tempos. A great party band with talented members. The brass also adds additional richness to the overall sound. I would highly recommend them!”

Bruce Bias of Roanoke:

“Probably no other band has had such a local impact on the Roanoke Valley’s music scene than the Kings. Going back to the late 60’s to the present they have remained the most known group within a 200-mile radius of the valley. They stayed on top of current hits, while always keeping the roots of their beginnings true. I have always believed the horns was what set them apart form other really good local bands. Larry Wheeling: If Roanoke had a hall of fame for bands, you’d be in the very 1st class. Big thanks for your efforts to keep THE KINGS alive and thriving.”

Thanks to Beth and Bruce for sharing their thoughts on the Kings.   If you are interested to know more about the Kings, check out their webpage.

I want to thank DJ Jerry English, Larry Wheeling and the rest of the Kings band for allowing me to witness the “Party in Elmwood” concert on stage with them on July 5th. It was an honor for me to be able to watch Roanoke’s legendary band perform their magic the day after Independence Day 2018.

Long live The Kings!

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Artist Profiles, Music, Virginia Artists

Caroline Weinroth: Pageant Queen/ Rock Star

Can someone actually be the lead singer, electric guitarist and songwriter for a rock band while at the same time serving as a titleholder for the Miss Virginia/Miss America organization? If your name is Caroline Weinroth, the answer is yes!

Originally from Fairfax, Virginia, Caroline is currently a graduate student at George Mason University and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, with a concentration in Poetry. She also earned her undergraduate degree from George Mason in Theater Performance and Audio Engineering.

While Caroline was an undergraduate at George Mason, she formed a band called Cinema Hearts with her brother Erich Weinroth. This is how Caroline describes her band: “A pageant queen fronts a rock ‘n’ roll band: Haunting harmonies soar over electric guitar in Cinema Hearts’ tribute to the Wall of Sound.”

Caroline’s Cinema Hearts band was selected “Best Local Band 2017” by Northern Virginia Magazine last year and the band has recorded two albums during their career. Cinema Hearts regularly tours at concert venues around the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area and also has played in major east coast cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Richmond.

In addition to her leadership with Cinema Hearts, Caroline is also a pageant queen. Two years ago, she served as Miss Mountain Laurel 2017 and last year she was named Miss Northern Virginia 2018. During both years, Caroline competed in the Miss Virginia pageant contest. Then back in January, Caroline won the Miss Roanoke Valley 2019 pageant competition. She will be vying to be crowned Miss Virginia 2019, next month at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Being the front woman for a rock band is not always an easy thing. One prime example of the type of hardship Caroline has encountered is gender discrimination. Three years ago Caroline was on a family vacation in Corona, California and touring the Fender guitar factory when she faced an extreme dose of sexism.

Caroline Weinroth, Miss Roanoke Valley 2019. Photo by Rick Myers.

Caroline describes the Fender factory experience on her blog: “I wore my She Shreds t-shirt and told the tour guide how happy I was to be at the factory, because I play a Fender Jaguar. Instead of welcoming me and treating me like the other older men guitarists in our tour group, the tour guide said, “Wow, you really play? Chicks who play are so cool.” He prodded me the whole tour, testing me with hard questions about pick-ups and gear and telling me my Modern Player Jaguar was not a “real Fender instrument.” It was hard to be reminded at the place where my favorite guitars are made, ‘You’re not part of the boys’ club’. Later that day, I cried in a hotel bathroom and wrote the lyrics to “Fender Factory.”

The song Caroline wrote that day, “Fender Factory” has become one of Cinema Hearts most popular songs. Caroline plays her Fender electric guitar with this tune as she sings the chorus, “Doesn’t make me wanna buy a Strat, when you talk to me like that.” The song has a catchy new wave/punk groove and features a guitar solo by Caroline during the middle part of the tune. The song absolutely rocks!

Although both men and women love the “Fender Factory” song, it especially resonates with women who have faced sexism not only in music but also with other areas in their lives. Here is a video of “Fender Factory” when Cinema Hearts played the song in Brooklyn, New York during March 2018:

For the upcoming Miss Virginia 2019 pageant, Caroline’s community service platform is Music Empowerment, a movement to create civic change through music education and performance.

On Caroline’s website she states what her goal is when she competes in the Miss Virginia pageant: “My platform is Music Empowerment, because I believe that music has the power to impact individuals and communities. I advocate for women and girls in music by performing with my band, speaking at music events, and collaborating with arts groups. One of my favorite groups I’ve volunteered with is Girls Rock Roanoke, a music camp for girls.”

As Miss Roanoke Valley 2019, Caroline’s community service platform is Music Empowerment, which is a movement to create civic change through music education and performance. Caroline has volunteered with Girls Rock Roanoke, Fredericksburg All Ages, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and other non-profits. She works with the Arlington Art Truck, an Arlington County initiative to bring professional art experiences to schools and communities.

Caroline Weinroth, Miss Roanoke Valley 2019. Photo by Rick Myers.

When Caroline competed for the Miss Virginia 2018 pageant competition last year, she played her own Fender electric guitar for the talent portion of the contest.  Miss Northern Virginia selected the Beatles’ song, “Come Together” for her performance.  You can view a video of Caroline singing and playing her electric guitar on stage at the Miss Virginia 2018 contest below.

By viewing the video above,  you can tell that Caroline does an excellent job performing her cover of the John Lennon/Paul McCartney classic song on the Miss Virginia stage. And during the upcoming Miss Virginia 2019 pageant competition, she is planning to perform another song, utilizing her singing and electric guitar skills.

For those interested, both the 2017 Cinema Hearts album “Burned and Burnished” and the 2016 debut album “Feels Like Forever” are available for streaming and purchase with Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.   These albums are also available for purchase whenever Cinema Hearts performs in concert.

Does Caroline’s story resonates with you?  Would you like to see Miss Roanoke Valley be crowned Miss Virginia 2019?  If so, please view the video below and then vote Caroline Weinroth for the People’s Choice Award.

 

Since I first published Caroline’s story one year ago, I have been impressed with her mission of music empowerment and the dedication in which she promotes her platform. Each and every week, she is active with volunteer activities throughout the state of Virginia, helping to encourage and elevate music awareness through education. Caroline continues to be actively involved teaching, instructing and motivating young children, girls and women with musical guidance.

Caroline Weinroth, Miss Roanoke Valley 2019. Photo by Rick Myers.

Caroline’s enthusiasm and passion to foster music empowerment throughout positive change is admirable. Her unselfish dedication to help, guide and develop young children/girls with music education is an outstanding achievement for Miss Roanoke Valley 2019.

No matter the outcome of the Miss Virginia pageant 2019 next month, I am confident that Caroline Weinroth will continue to be a positive role model for music empowerment throughout the commonwealth of Virginia.

 

 

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Virginia Artists

Adele Marie Music: “No, I’m Not Done”

Adele Marie, "What it Was About You"

“What it Was About You” album artwork. Art credit: Adele Marie

As the title of my blog indicates, I will be writing about various musical topics within my local sphere of interest here in Virginia as well as giving my perspective on the historical aspects of popular music. I will also be giving out information and critiquing musical concerts that I attend from time to time. Hang on to your hats and welcome to my ride.

For my first blog of 2018, I am featuring Virginia artist Adele Marie. I want to say right up front that Virginia’s Adele Marie is not to be confused with the British singer-songwriter Adele who is known for hits like “Rolling in the Deep”, “Someone Like You” and “Hello.”

Adele Marie spent her high school years in Roanoke, Virginia before heading off to college. She attended Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and then received a Bachelor of music degree at Radford University with a concentration in music therapy, classical guitar and voice. Currently Adele Marie is residing in Alexandria, Virginia.

Last Christmas, Adele Marie released a ten song album “What It Was About You.” The album features 10 songs and is available for streaming or purchase online.

I am going to be focusing on one of Adele Marie’s newest songs, “No, I’m Not Done” for the rest of this blog as I viewed a video of her tune that she released on YouTube last weekend.

After I viewed this video, I asked Adele Marie about her lyrics and the message of her new song. She replied, “This song is about letting someone go, but still feeling deeply emotional about that person. It also resonates with the challenges of being a highly sensitive and empathetic person in a relationship.”

Obviously, the message of “No, I’m Not Done” resonates with anyone having gone through a similar situation in a relationship. Another positive aspect of Adele Marie’s song is the music and vocals with her new tune.

When viewing the video, I love that fact that Adele Marie starts off playing an electric guitar and then accompanies herself by playing the keyboard. The tune has a new age/folk quiet groove that produces an almost magical, dreamy flow. Adele Marie’s vocals bring forth emotions of both angst and reluctance with an almost hypnotic, yet soothing appeal.

The other aspect that I like about the video is the swirling visuals behind Adele Marie that gives the film clip a psychedelic feel. Plus the double box feature on the video also is visually pleasing to the eye.

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Art credit: Adele Marie

I hope you will check out Adele Marie’s music after reading about her and listening to her music either here on my blog and/or via the Internet. As I wrap up my first blog, I hope you liked my musical musing on Adele Marie. Please feel free to share your thoughts on my blog and any comments on my featured artist and her music.

 

Until my next post: Rock on!

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