click to enlarge DJ Harrison, aka Devonne Harris, performs at the Daydream Fest at Main Line Brewery on May 30, 2022.

Peter McElhinney

DJ Harrison, aka Devonne Harris, performs at the Daydream Fest at Main Line Brewery on May 30, 2022.

Monday, July 25, 2022

PICK: Shockoe Sessions Live presents DJ Harrison and Friends

Streaming Tuesday, July 26 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2022 at 4:00 AM

This Tuesday's Shockoe Sessions Live offers a rare chance to catch a local performance from Richmond’s own DJ Harrison, aka Devonne Harris, a Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist and producer.

The set will be drawn from his 2021 album, “Tales from the Old Dominion,” which was released on Stones Throw Records, a respected Los Angeles indie label founded by hip-hop's Peanut Butter Wolf.

Having produced more than a hundred events, Shockoe Sessions Live streams on Tuesdays from In Your Ear Studios at 1813 E. Broad St. There is arguably no better place to catch up on local music of any genre from a professional production environment.

One of the challenges for DJ Harrison’s upcoming performance will be the deep layering of sounds within this collection of short, highly-focused songs that sound both freshly modern as well as rooted in classic Black music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. For example, there are covers of Roy Ayers’ theme song to the blaxploitation classic, “Coffy,” as well as Jimi Hendrix’s “(Have You Ever Been) to Electric Ladyland.”

Aside from guest vocalists, Harrison plays, records, and layers every guitar, drum, bass, or keyboard note on the record. It’s an impressive feat for a studio recording, but near impossible to pull off live. Hence the ‘friends’ in the event’s title.

As a longtime participant on the local scene and a member of Richmond’s breakout jazz-funk band, Butcher Brown, Harris has no shortage of options.

“I wanted to keep [the line-up] a surprise,” he says. “It’s a coming-of-age thing, especially since the album came out seven months ago and the vinyl is just getting here from the pressing plant. I wanted to bring it a bit of attention. Luckily, the homies and friends that are involved are down with it.”

The live performance promises to bring out a different side to the music.

“It is definitely a different aesthetic. [The musicians and I] are all super-formed from the same framework, and the songs have the same structure. But when other people contribute, it is not going to be the same,” Harris explains, noting that just because he played it one way on the record, does not mean that's how it has to be performed live. “A song that was one minute long might want to be three minutes. You can have a horn solo where on the record there was a guitar.”

This is the jazz mentality: You call people you trust, knowing the results will be different.

Shockoe Sessions Live! presents DJ Harrison and Friends on Tuesday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be streamed on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.

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