Thursday, November 21, 2019

Being There: “Hamilton” media night at Altria Theater, Nov. 20.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 9:34 AM

I’m not a regular theater critic and this isn’t a review per se. It’s just one person’s take on what it was like when the pop culture phenomenon “Hamilton” descended on Altria Theater, Wednesday, Nov. 20. The smash hit musical is the hottest ticket of the year and the invitation to media night was our chance to see what all the fuss is about, four years after its debut on Broadway.

“Hamilton” has a cult of true believers and, at first glance, it’s easy to see why. This new school epic, which runs nearly three hours, feels like it sprung fully formed from the fertile mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who drew inspiration from the biography “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. The musical won every award you can imagine (and then some) and we're just now getting the show on its third U.S. tour – not too shabby for a project begun during a Vassar College workshop by a guy who once wrote jingles for disgraced politician Eliot Spitzer.

From the opening note, it was clear that many in the crowd already knew these songs by heart and, with so much Virginia history in the lyrics, it felt like a home team crowd. When was the last time you saw people cheer every time a Founding Father bounded onstage? Like a Kehinde Wiley portrait come to life, these fathers are played by African-American actors who spend much of the production spitting history in bombastic and in-your-face fashion. While not my favorite era of hip-hop, the rapid-fire wordplay keeps you focused on the clever lyrics, lest you miss something. You quickly see that "Hamilton" doesn't push back too hard on any myths of the Founding Fathers, rather it glorifies and delights in them.

Midway through the first act, my initial reaction was that “Hamilton” felt like the producers of “Glee” staging a “West Side Story”-themed Super Bowl halftime show. The impressive scenic design by David Korins reminds me of an industrial Western set with massive wooden structures, while a rotating centerstage provides the most visual moments, such as the freezing of characters during a duel while others revolve around them like a scene from “The Matrix" or an expensive MTV video.

Most impressive was the ease with which Miranda weaves a tapestry of hip-hop, R&B, gospel, blues and jazz, a credit to his fluency in American culture and Broadway traditions. "Hamilton" is brimming with dense numbers that tend to fade into one another without pause; some of the funniest lines happen so quick you almost miss them. Bass lines boom like canons.

The ensemble performances were great: George Washington, who my program says was played by Paul Oakley Stovall, had a huge presence, his booming baritone delivering some of Miranda's best lines – he even got soulful in Act II, which I thought had far better songs. Lead Edrid Utomi was solid in the title role, if his voice seemed a little quiet, Bryson Bruce tackled Thomas Jefferson with memorable gusto and the Britpop segues from King George III (Peter Matthew Smith) were a fun comedic breather. However, some of the women characters struck me as a little regressive, almost like movable props. And while there are flipped races in roles, I didn’t notice any gender fluidity, which seems like a natural move for a production with this kind of modernization agenda.

One simple way to judge Broadway musicals is by whether the songs stick in your head. I can’t say that many of these did, none being hummed during my cab ride home (I was told it was too crazy to even think about parking around VCU). But the soundtrack is massively popular; maybe it's a generational thing. I might’ve liked more funky “Hamilton” flows in the vein of the socially conscious hip-hop I grew up on (Tribe, De La, Public Enemy) -- or if Miranda, who is Puerto Rican, had mixed in a little salsa maybe, or tried any new musical hybrids. These songs felt like lyrical exercises with soap opera transitions -- I thought of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” reconfigured for the History Channel -- with hip-hop as the operatic ladder from which to disperse chunks of plot exposition in dizzying fashion.

For the sheer spectacle, you can see why “Hamilton” is so popular. It does breathe some fresh air and relevancy into the usual tourism-driven, franchise-happy world of Broadway. And it felt especially aimed at younger fans who probably would be bored to tears by Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and its handling of similar congressional intrigue.

Still I could never fully shake the weight of the heavy exposition, as if a bulky history book was being speed rapped by a Hot 97 cypher – and worse, the interpersonal character drama never amounts to much, which means (gasp! heresy) the action drags in spots with the drama a little unearned. But give this money-printing musical credit for never fully stepping off the gas, even if Miranda could’ve trimmed maybe 45 minutes for a tighter, more effective show.

The timely story of passionate immigrants building a new country is at the heart of “Hamilton,” and it’s easy to like the production's ambition and heart, as well as the shake-up of Broadway’s approach to hip-hop culture (which a friend and actual theater critic indicated was woeful). Regardless of warped historical facts, “Hamilton” will probably end up doing more than most high school classes to excite younger generations about U.S. history.

But I couldn't help lamenting a little: Weren’t there other characters back then who deserve a louder voice in the history books? Who might’ve also charmed audiences by rapping their stories onstage in 2019 and who, in essence, could tell the same story without the patriotic filters? Maybe Miranda could tackle Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” one day.

"Hamilton" runs through Dec. 8 at Altria Theater. Tickets are still available. There is a daily lottery with 40 tickets for each show for $10 each – download the HAMILTON app. There are single tickets as well as limited-view seats and every day tickets are released. For tickets and show information visit www.BroadwayInRichmond.com.

Winners Announced For Design Competition To Reimagine Monument Avenue

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 4:00 AM

"Bound" by Lori Garrett, Robert Riddle, Neil Walls, won in the category of "thoughtful proposals for both temporary and permanent interventions."
  • "Bound" by Lori Garrett, Robert Riddle, Neil Walls, won in the category of "thoughtful proposals for both temporary and permanent interventions."

An international design competition to reimagine Richmond's famous Monument Avenue announced its winners during a closing reception at the Valentine on Nov. 20.

Overseen by the Storefront for Community Design, mOb Studio and VCUarts, the competition launched last year and received nearly 70 proposals from around the world, according to a press release. It all stemmed from the Valentine exhibition "Monument Avenue: Generation Demotion/General Devotion" which has helped spark some local debate and conversation.

“Working together to oversee this competition has really been an eye-opening experience and a truly educational exercise for everyone involved,” said Camden Whitehead, Associate Professor for Interior Design at VCU and Principal, Sadler & Whitehead Architects in the release. “Looking at the winners, all of the proposals and the public response, it’s clear that design has a central role to play in moving forward, and this competition is where that difficult work starts.”

The four winners were awarded $2,000 each after being selected by a jury panel "that included national and local practitioners and educators in the relevant fields of planning, architecture, landscape architecture, curatorship and social justice."

Here are the winners with provided quotes, per the release:

For consideration of scale and the People's Choice Award:

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Memorial by Shane Neufeld and Kevin Kunstadt. Neufeld said: “Our proposal attempts to redefine how we perceive history through design, and specifically, to do so in counterpoint to the means and methods employed by the existing statues on Monument Avenue. We feel fortunate to be a part of this dialogue and hope that our design provides a strategy – rather than a solution – for a continued discourse and future progress."

For thoughtful handling of programming:

The Richmond Engagement Corridor, Pratt Institute Group #2 (Courtney Knapp, Claudia Castillo de la Cruz, Maria "Angel" Munoz Martinez, Dhanya Rajagopal, Danielle Monopoli, Jane Kandampulli, Dina Posner, Di Cui, Camille Sasena, Aishwarya Pravin Kulkarn). "Nine women, representing five countries and three master's programs at Pratt Institute's Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, developed this proposal,” said Dr. Knapp, Pratt Institute Professor whose students developed the design. “The team visited Richmond in October of 2018, and left inspired by the complex, dynamic city they had encountered. This inspiration grounded the ideas in the proposal while also expanding their understanding of anti-racism praxis and reparations."

For response to difficult and complex context:

Center For Productive Conversations, PLAYLAB, INC. (Archie Lee Coates IV, Jeff Franklin, Anya Shcherbakova, Phil Gibson, Dillon Kogle): "Ideas are powerful. Positivity (just like negativity) has a way of seeping into the cracks and taking hold. As a studio, we believe in a positive future for Monument Avenue: one with diverse groups of people energetically exploring new ideas in the public and productive setting of a museum,” said Archie Lee Coates IV, a member of the design team. “With the Center for Productive Conversations, we can create new perspectives that are inclusive of everyone, respectfully looking back as we boldly look forward. It will be no small task to realize these ideas, but thankfully the process has already begun with the opportunity to propose them."

For thoughtful proposals for both temporary and permanent interventions:

Bound (pictured) by Lori Garrett, Robert Riddle, Neil Walls. "I am grateful to the sponsors of this competition and to the Valentine for this exhibit because it provides a catalyst for conversation that is critical not only for true change in our city, but for communities across the country,” said Lori Garrett. “I entered because I believe we unequivocally need to provide the monuments with the historical context that enables us to understand how the heritage of some has perpetuated the physical and social bondage of others. Hopefully our design entry not only will contribute to the on-going dialog, but instigate actions that further Richmond’s journey of racial reconciliation."

You can visit monumentavenuegdgd.com for higher-resolution versions of the winning designs. The winners, along with the 20 finalists and all other submissions, will be on display as part of "Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion" at the Valentine, which runs through Dec. 31.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Bless the Opera

Colorful local accordionist talks about his special role in "Il Postino."

Posted By on Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Barry Bless is, in the very best way, a character.

It was probably inevitable that he would one day be cast as one.

The local accordionist has a featured role in Virginia Opera’s current production, “Il Postino,” a tragic fantasy imagining the exile of communist Chilean poet Pablo Neruda to an Italian island so small that they need to hire the titular postman to handle his mail. The second act concludes with a wedding and the score called for an instrument not usually found in the orchestra pit.

“I imagined someone asking, ‘does anyone know a communist accordion player?” Bless says.

They could hardly have found anyone more suitable. Bless anchors the weekly, unabashedly leftist Breakfast Cabaret at Southside’s Crossroads Coffee and Tea, for well over 200 performances now. His accordion has defined the sound of a swarm of local world music ensembles: Happy Lucky Combo, The Indigenous Gourd Orchestra, the Ululating Mummies.

His personal style is distinctive. He's always clad with natty eccentricity, a ringmaster’s pointed goatee, occasional pirate earrings, and a fondness of fine hats uncommon in a man with a full head of hair.

But the challenges of opera were entirely new to him.

“It’s high anxiety,” Bless says. “I am onstage for only four minutes, but at the front, with the orchestra below me and almost the entire cast behind me. I am accompanying a great singer playing a great poet. And there are unseen people doing the lights, the sets, the sound. All eyes are on me."

He notes that in his regular bands, he plays for an hour and mistakes are embraced, adding: "Here, if I screw up, I am a screwup.”

While the demands are high, so are the rewards. High culture seems to float on a cloud of bourgeois privilege, but the reality is much more down-to-earth.

“The amount of talent is amazing,” Bless says. “The musicians are hard-hard working, and not really getting paid anything in relation to their intellectual and physical labor. And the collaborative culture they have created is wonderful. Credit goes to Adam Turner.”

Polishing his brief performance required significant commitment.

“I cleared my calendars; told my bands I couldn’t make practices. The only thing I carried on was the Breakfast Cabaret,” he says, adding that he doesn't read music and recordings of the piece are hard to come by. "I watched a video from the LA Opera and the playing and music didn’t synch up. This wasn’t me being a bad music reader, I watched his fingers, and those were not the notes he was playing.”

Although he found a better recording, he briefly considered backing out. Demonstrations were starting up in Neruda’s Chile. His daughter Isadora was doing her debut performance with Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet.

“I shared my indecision and they told me I was past the point of no return. I thought, OK, and jumped into the fire.”

One of the biggest adjustments is working with a conductor.

“Usually, when I am playing, my eyes are closed," Bless says. “But here everyone is watching the conductor. The music has so much rubato, tempos always changing. He is indispensable, beautiful to watch, a lovely, gestural dance. But it took some getting used to.”

Over the past month, the company has toured with “Il Postino” in Norfolk and Northern Virginia and returns home to Richmond this weekend for the final performances on Friday and Sunday afternoon. In conjunction will be some special operatic guests at Friday’s Cabaret. Soprano Inna Dukach, who plays Neruda’s wife Mathilde, will sit in. Also featured, in addition to the regular crew, are bass vocalist Richard Williams and trumpet/electronic wind instrument virtuoso, Victor Haskins.

So, if you're keeping score, in one day the discerning listener can drink coffee in the morning to hits straight from the streets of contemporary revolutionary Chile, then steep in a musical evening full of love, death, and mid-20th-century radical idealism.

And inhabiting these parallel artistic and political universes will be Bless, a dapper man in a colorful costume breathing out bittersweet, but ultimately hopeful melodies -- with bellows, buttons, and the pearlescent vertical keys of a classic Guerrini accordion.

The Breakfast Cabaret is at Crossroads Coffee and Tea, Friday mornings from 9-10:30 a.m. “Il Postino” is at the Dominon Energy Center, Friday Nov. 22 at 8 p.m., or Sunday, Nov. 24, at 2:30 p.m.. Tickets are $26.50 to $131.50.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Tedeschi Trucks Band Returning to Play Richmond, Feb. 18

Posted By on Mon, Nov 18, 2019 at 11:43 AM

For the first time in over five years, the Tedeschi Trucks Band is returning to Richmond to play the Altria Theater. The popular blues rock jam band from Jacksonville, Fla. will be performing at Altria on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. at the Altria Theater Box Office, online at altriatheater.com or Etix.com or charge by phone at 800-514-ETIX (3849). Tickets start at $39.50. Additional fees may apply.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

TheatreLAB’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ wins big at Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards

Annual award show also features a proposal from the stage.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 12:01 AM

TheatreLab’s production of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" was the big winner at the 12th annual Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards, taking home seven awards including Best Musical.

The black tie event, nicknamed "the Artsies," was held on Sunday, Oct. 27, at Virginia Rep's November Theatre and also featured a memorable highlight that warmed the hearts of many of those present: While accepting his award for best director, for "The Laramie Project," Lucian Restivo, Richmond Triangle Players' artistic director, proposed to boyfriend Luke Newsome from the stage.

The Artsies event is a popular fundraiser for the Theatre Artist Fund of Greater Richmond, which provides financial assistance to individuals in the local theater community during times of need.

According to a press release: In the Best Play category, there were two winners: Richmond Triangle Players’ “The Laramie Project,” about the 1998 slaying of Matthew Shepard and its aftermath; and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ workplace drama “Gloria,” produced by Cadence Theatre Company in partnership with Virginia Rep. “The Laramie Project” also garnered awards for Best Direction – Play for Restivo and the Best Acting Ensemble Award for its cast.

Here is the complete list of winners -- congrats to them all!

Best Musical: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," TheatreLab

Best Direction - Musical: Deejay Gray, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Actor in a Leading Role - Musical: Alexander Sapp, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Actress in a Leading Role - Musical: Susan Sanford, “Grey Gardens”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Musical: Brandon LeReau, “The Wiz”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical: Audra Honaker, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Musical Direction: JS Fauquet, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Choreography: Kikau Alvaro, “The Wiz”

Outstanding Costume Design - Musical: Jeanne Nugent, “The Wiz”

Outstanding Costume Design - Musical: Alex Valentin, “Lizzie the Musical”

Outstanding Lighting Design - Musical: Michael Jarett, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Outstanding Set Design - Musical: Jason Sherwood, “Atlantis”

Outstanding Sound Design - Musical, Joey Luck, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Play: “The Laramie Project," Richmond Triangle Players

Best Play: “Gloria," Cadence Theatre in partnership with Virginia Rep

Best Direction - Play: Lucian Restivo, “The Laramie Project”

Best Actor in a Leading Role - Play: Jamar Jones, “An Octoroon”

Best Actress in a Leading Role - Play: Haliya Roberts, “Pretty Fire”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Play: Jeremy V. Morris, “Oedipus: A Gospel Myth”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Play: Amber Marie Martinez, “Dance Nation”

Outstanding Costume Design - Play: Sue Griffin, “The Game's Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays”

Outstanding Lighting Design - Play: BJ Wilkinson, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Set Design - Play: Chris Raintree, “Songs from Bedlam”

Outstanding Sound Design - Play: Roger Price, “Talk Radio”

Most Promising Newcomer: Joel Ashur, “Gloria”

Best Original Work: “In My Chair”, Cadence Theatre in partnership with Virginia Rep

2019 Ernie McClintock Best Acting Ensemble Award: For their notable performance as a cohesive and compelling ensemble, the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle honors the cast members of “The Laramie Project,” Richmond Triangle Players: Rachel Dilliplane, Annella Kaine, Amber Marie Martinez, Cole Metz, Jacqueline O’Connor, Stevie Rice, Adam Turck, Scott Wichmann

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Virginia Museum of History & Culture and the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia Partnering to Share Resources

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 4:00 AM

From the press release desk:

"Richmond, VA — The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) and the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (BHMVA) are partnering to share collections and resources to connect more people to the story of Virginia.

Under the agreement, select collections from the Black History Museum will be housed at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, which has expanded storage and conservation facilities as well as expert personnel for the preservation and storage of collections. While BHMVA artifacts are at the VMHC they will be digitized and made broadly accessible through their online public catalog as well as the BHMVA website. The partnering institutions will also share their collections with each other for use in research, programs, and exhibitions.

“Our institutions have much in common,” said VMHC President Jamie Bosket. “We are both committed to revitalizing our programming to preserve Virginia’s past and to using the power of history to inspire. This is a noble partnership for two museums devoted to voicing meaningful stories from our communities, and the public stands to benefit immensely from this collaboration.”

The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia was founded in 1981 by Carroll Anderson, Sr., who led the effort to create the Bill “Bojangles” Robinson monument in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. The BHMVA was founded in 1981 and opened in 1991 at 00 Clay Street where it operated until 2016. The museum relocated to the Leigh Street Armory, which quartered Black troops in the mid-1890s, served as a recreation center for Black soldiers during World War II, and then became an extension of Richmond Public Schools for several years. The new museum features permanent galleries exploring Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Desegregation, Massive Resistance, and the Civil Rights Movement. Changing galleries feature exhibitions ranging from visionary artist Murry DePillars to the experience of Black soldiers during World War II. BHMVA executive director, Adele Johnson, says “Our mission is to preserve stories that inspire. As we expand our collections and curate larger exhibitions, space has become a challenge. When VMHC offered to digitize and store items for us, we thought it was a valuable opportunity to continue growing while also sharing our stories with the broader community.”

The Virginia Historical Society was founded in 1831 and is the oldest cultural organization in the Commonwealth. Its collections total nearly nine million items chronicling 14,000 years of history from Pre-Contact Virginia to the present. In 2018 the historical society launched a new vision and name for its headquarters facility—The Virginia Museum of History & Culture. This transformation was marked by expanded public programming and statewide outreach and a commitment to tell a more inclusive story of Virginia. The VMHC’s current marquee exhibit is “Determined: The 400 Year Struggle for Black Equality, which opened in June 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first captive Africans in English-speaking North America.

Monday, October 14, 2019

PICK: Mike Watt and the Missingmen, Piranha Rama and J. Clyde Morris at Richmond Music Hall, Monday Oct. 14

Posted By on Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 4:06 PM

  • Johnny Gee

Tonight one of the legit, DIY godfathers of punk bass, Mike Watt of Minutemen fame, returns with his Missingmen trio to Richmond Music Hall downtown.

A native of Portsmouth, Va. Watt is more often associated with San Pedro, Ca. where he moved at a young age. A hard-playing road man, this reportedly is his 67th tour lasting more than one month.

Recent setlists have featured covers from the likes of Roky Erickson, Blue Oyster Cult, and The Pop Group, in addition to the occasional Minutemen classic and Watt's solo material. New drummer Nick Aguilar is young and looks pretty great in YouTube clips.

Also on the bill, Richmond's own Piranha Rama and J. Clyde Morris.

The Monday night, Oct. 14 show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $20 bones.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

New Local PBS Series Showcasing RVA Artists Airs This Thursday, Oct.10

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Starting this Thursday, Oct 10, you can watch a new television series featuring Richmond artists and arts groups on VPM PBS at 8:30 p.m.

"The Art Scene" will spend 13 episodes exploring these local arts personalities and organizations from the theater world to fine arts, music and arts education.

The debut episode will feature Richmond murals and the power of public art with a focus on Hamilton Glass and Matt Lively; Live Arts, specifically their mentor/apprentice program; and Dogtown Dance Theatre. To see a trailer for the show, go to Vimeo.

Among the hosts for the series: Haliya Roberts, Bianca Bryan, Noah Scalin and Douglas Powell, aka Roscoe Burnems. According to a press release, both Roberts and Bryan have theater backgrounds. Scalin is a visual artist (Skull A Day book as well as this year's Folk Fest artist) and Burnems is a slam poetry performer.

“We are honored that VPM chose 19RED to produce a show that celebrates the people and organizations that create art that inspires, educates and is inclusive of all Virginians,” said Managing Producer Pam Hervey in the press release. “Our mission with ‘The Art Scene’ is to capture the true spirit of these creative communities in our stories and help make their art accessible to all.”

For more information about VPM, visit VPM.org or follow VPM on social media @myVPM.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

PREVIEW: Skylar Gudasz and Blue Cactus at Black Iris, Friday, Sept. 27

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM

Ashland native and NC-based singer/songwriter, Skylar Gudasz’s upcoming performance in the wood-paneled intimacy of the Tiny Bar at the Black Iris may one day be the stuff of legends.

Or not. Commercial success is pretty random, but she has all the ingredients to deserve it. Her hooks are accessible. The cleverness of her lyrics is just the surface layer of a committed poetic intelligence. She’s been called the South’s Joni Mitchell and “the best singer you never heard.”

She’s toured with the likes of Hiss Golden Messenger, the Mountain Goats, and Big Star Third. And the first single from her upcoming 2020 album has the sugar-razor sensibility of the best from her lauded 2016 debut.

She lightly salts her lyrics with erudite references that betray her degrees in theater and English at UNC-Chapel Hill: “lotus-eaters”, “Byzantium,” and “Oleander,” the title of her first release.

“Art should make you feel something,” Gudasz says. “Words are tools, they have their meaning, but they are also a sound in a soundscape.”

She sings with power and emotional clarity. In online clips she is in front of a big band. At the Black Iris, it will be a stripped-down duo.

“I’ve learned that on tour, so many things are out of control, it is best to let what happens happen. I tread it a little sacredly,” she says. “What makes things exceptional is when both you and the audience forget who you are and just exist somewhere in the middle, in the music.”

Skylar Gudasz opens for cosmic country duo Blue Cactus at Black Iris on Friday, Sept. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 advance/$10 at the door.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

AUDIO: Thorp Jenson's new single "Carry Me Home"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 3:10 AM

Americana musician Thorp Jenson is still showing that he's one of the most talented, up-and-coming singer/songwriters in the Richmond area.

The nom de plume for Richmond-based guitarist Chris Ryan, the artist just released a new laid back, country-tinged single, "Carry Me Home," that premiered at Parade Magazine.

The song, which will likely appeal to fans of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bruce Hornsby, also features well-known local drummer, Dusty Ray Simmons. Check it out: Dude has vocal skills far beyond his age. He sounds like he's already been touring those highways and byways for 35 years.

“Carry Me Home” is the first release since his acclaimed debut album "Odessa" (2017), which earned critical kudos while Jenson was named one of Rolling Stone Country’s "10 New Country Artists You Need To Know" in September of that year. Ryan and band will be touring the Southeast to support “Carry Me Home” beginning in October.

“I wrote 'Carry Me Home' thinking about the magic that happens when you meet someone who just seems to understand you on a deep and sincere level from your first interaction," Jenson says in a press release. "The way I imagined it, it is two people who found each other for the first time, sharing in that magic spark. They are sharing in a feeling of comfort that you can let yourself be vulnerable to this person because they already understand you. They spend the night reveling in that feeling together, sharing their stories with each other and just listening to the rhythm of the night.”

The single will be available on Sept. 27. Go to his website for more info.

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