Word & Image: Blasco, 47, Artist and Musician 

"It seems like Richmond wants to be a 21st-century, cosmopolitan city. I’d say its greatest strength is it’s not."

click to enlarge art39_word_image_blasco.jpg

Scott Elmquist

"Growing up in Paris was long and hard. Not the romantic Paris of movies, but the Paris of gangs with bike chains and switch blades. That’s the neighborhood I came up in. Same neighborhood as Edith Piaf grew up, all working-class.

"The first time I came to Richmond was in 1990 and I did not like it. It seemed a very sad city at the time. There was a great underground scene though. The thing that was very weird about Richmond for me was that you never saw people of different colors walking together.

"Once I got followed by a pickup truck driving slowly down the Boulevard near the museum. Passing by me, the passenger pulled out a rifle and yelled, “Hey, n——r lover!” and I ran as fast I could to the nearest alley. I’d never been confronted with that before, with a gun, never even heard that term. Like I said, I didn’t like this town.

"I didn’t end up living here full time until 1996 and it was a little better than when I first came. Things are changing. My favorite thing about the city now is the nature. I’ve only become aware of it because now I have a kid who’s into it. It’s so easy to pass on city streets and see hawks and vultures, raccoons and opossums running by.

"It seems like Richmond wants to be a 21st-century, cosmopolitan city. I’d say its greatest strength is it’s not. Richmond allows people time to think and that’s how people come up with cool ideas.

"I found out that this is where the Carter family had their first radio show in Richmond. Or a Richmond band like LaBradford, who have been thanked on every Mogwai album. Same goes for Gwar, Kepone and Sparklehorse. These are huge things to come out of Richmond, huge but discreet, not as celebrated. That bands like Ululating Mummies and Bio Ritmo can function here for 30 years!

"When I was a teenager, as soon you found out about a cool band, it became a thing. When I was touring with Interpol, Carlos the bass player was a total metal head. He went crazy when I told him I saw Mötley Crüe open for Iron Maiden. It was their first international show and they were horrible ’cause that’s what they were like live then. … Dirty Three opened for Beck here in Richmond. It was a little surreal at the Arthur Ashe Center with lots of kids and preteens. Dirty Three was incredible. People didn’t know what to do. Beck seemed so rehearsed and tiny after that.

"When you open a show, when you’re at the merch table talking to people, something happens. As an opening band, you learn tricks from the headliner. And you get to meet fans."



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