“Could this be real?”
Music admirers were abashed aback the names of dearly ancient musicians and singers were amid those on the bill for the Virginia Famefest concert aftermost year on Brown’s Island.
Some affected that the roles of Virginia’s best allegorical singers and musicians would be played by actors, or alike holograms, and hoped they’d be appealing good. Afterwards surrendering adaptable phones and added recording accessories to accident staff, the ample army was understandably anxious. Some of us looked for the technology we affected would be acclimated to about the attendance of admired artists who, to the best of our knowledge, were no best with us. Others formed about aimlessly as the morning allocation of the concert ran hardly abaft schedule.
Then, afterwards preface, the articulation of Maces Spring built-in June Carter Banknote cut through the morning air like a scythe, arch the Carter Family bandage in a active achievement of “Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By).” Her articulation was bright and strong. If this was a recording, it was one from Cash’s prime. You’d anticipate that an artisan assuming up for a concert afterwards casual abroad in 2003 would shock and awe an audience, but abounding appeared indifferent, at atomic at first. Perhaps they were there to see Jason Mraz or Dave Matthews Band?
The Carter Family exited the date afterwards a abbreviate set, having won over abounding of the aloof with their harmonies and conviction, which accept fabricated the bandage — still assuming today with newer associates — a folk music mainstay for ancestors of fans.
If the Carters planned to affected aloofness with arduous talent, the aing act wasn’t abashed to bark to get the audience’s attention.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, admitting her contempo consecration to the Bedrock & Cycle Hall of Fame, wasn’t accustomed by abounding in the audience, based on the affable acknowledgment to the advertisement of her name.
“That was unreal,” they whispered. “I don’t accept it. It can’t be,” said one. “Animatronics,” claimed another.
Tharpe anon won over the army with a advised aplomb that defied them to acquisition her beneath than compelling. Her abounding white black clothes and her Gibson guitar additionally fabricated an impression. The above Barton Heights citizen launched into activation renditions of actuality songs she’d fabricated accepted like “Rock Me” and “Didn’t It Rain.” Yes, it was a actuality accompanist alleged Rosetta, who shopped at Thalhimers downtown, performed at the Mosque and created bedrock ’n’ roll.
While the sky remained clear, there were some tears and amusement in the army as Tharpe proselytized, bantered and flirted amid songs. She didn’t appetite to leave the date and said as much, adding, “But I got to go anyhow.”
After these performances, there was abrupt abeyance while stagehands set up mic stands, confused monitors and acquainted guitars. A accumulation of music nerds and audiophiles were overheard confabulating a the stage. “Just like her,” they said. “That was unreal,” they whispered. “I don’t accept it. It can’t be,” said one. “Animatronics,” claimed another.
If we all believed the old adage that the alone certainties in activity are afterlife and taxes, we were comforted by the ability that if the aboriginal allotment of the adage was attractive iffy, the additional was still ironclad. During The Statler Brothers’ set, amid the accidentally dressed men, women and accouchement in the army roamed clandestine agents from the Internal Revenue Service, accustomed abroad by their earpieces and holstered calculators. If any of the artists died with an outstanding tax bill, the Man was actuality to collect. The Statlers didn’t apprehension and kept with the actuality harmonies that accept fabricated them Staunton’s finest and one of country music’s best awarded acts.
The Statler Brothers’ performance, which followed a abrupt set from The Golden Gate Quartet, fabricated credible their affiliation to actuality music. They were accepted as country singers, but it was their actuality foundation, credible by absolute harmony, that fabricated them. It was additionally a alliance for the group, which featured alone two brothers, had no one alleged Statler and disbanded in 2002.
Mutiny, led by one of the aboriginal Virginians inducted to the Bedrock & Cycle Hall of Fame, Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey, brought some alarm and cycle to the afternoon.
If any of the artists died with an outstanding tax bill, the Man was actuality to collect.
Brailey aing Parliament Funkadelic afterwards a abbreviate assignment as a affair artist and co-wrote the group’s hit “Give Up the Alarm (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker).” His time with the bandage concluded on a acerb note, with Brailey walking off a bout bus in a snowstorm afterwards a altercation over finances. The name of his bandage referred to his agitated time in Parliament, and if that wasn’t clear, he has some best words for the band’s leader, George Clinton, on a song from his aboriginal album, alleged “Mutiny on the Mamaship.”
The bagman and above Brandermill citizen performed some P-funk staples (“Cosmic Slop,” “Maggot Brain”) forth with some jams of his own (“Funk ’N’ Bop,” “Lump”) afore acid his duke on the bend of a tom-tom. Bandaged but unbeaten, he larboard it all on the stage.
Major Harris, who, like Brailey, was built-in in Richmond, was the articulation of the accepted R&B accumulation The Delfonics and enjoyed a semi-successful alone career. He strode assimilate the date in an afar shirt with white tab collar, a few gold chains and best wire-frame glasses. His mid-sized afro was backlit as he fabricated acceptable use of his time, affecting on songs from The Delfonics and closing with his hit “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” as cicadas chirped, about in time.
Scat singing is a absent art, maybe because it sounds so accessible to do that no one bothers to try. Ella Fitzgerald fabricated it attending effortless that night, improvising sounds like a applesauce trumpeter as she riffed with altered instruments and improvised lyrics. Afterwards her achievement of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” backed by the Richmond Symphony, it absolutely didn’t amount to the admirers or the audiophiles aural whether it was absolutely Ella or not. Whoever she was, she articulate good.
Fitzgerald, a built-in of Newport News, was a civic abundance during her career, which spanned from the 1930s to the aboriginal ’90s. She acted in films, was a bedfellow on television shows and did commercials, accomplishments that weren’t accessible to appear by for African-American women in her time. Today in Newport News, a amphitheater bears her name, and there is a statute of her in the Yonkers, New York, adjacency area she grew up.
She was a difficult act to follow, but the appearance went on.
While the date was displace with a admirable piano and a Hammond B3 agency adverse anniversary added for a double-header achievement from R&B accompanist and pianist Stu Gardner and applesauce fable Lonnie Liston Smith, added bodies awash assimilate the island. Smith and Gardner are both sons of actuality singers who were built-in in Richmond, but alfresco of their apparatus of choice, the similarities end there. Smith played abaft applesauce greats such as Miles Davis and Pharoah Sanders for years afore acumen he bare some amplitude and basic his own group: Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes. Gardner is a allegiant body man, who recorded for both the Stax (“Stu Gardner and the Sanctified Sound”) and Motown (“To Body With Love”) almanac labels afore bearing music for blur and television shows in the 1980s.
A alternation boring ashamed the axle a the date as Gardner and Smith angled and began their affable bound of applesauce and accent and blues. As the set continued, it grew aphotic and afterpiece to the time that the headliners would be demography over the stage.
While Smith and Gardner and best who preceded them on the Famefest date were built-in and bred in Virginia, some of the acts’ access to the commonwealth weren’t consistently so clear.
Das EFX, a rap duo accepted for their pop ability references and aesthetic phrasing, and about anticipation to be a New York outfit, were on the bill. During a abrupt set that featured all of their hits, rapper Krazy Drayz, a above Virginia Accompaniment University student, recalled Das EFX accepting their big breach at a bistro on Broad Street, area they absent a aptitude challenge advised by their -to-be mentors, the rap duo accepted as EPMD.
Another abundantly advancing rap duo on this day of reunions and credible resurrections was Clipse. The brothers from Virginia Beach were accepted for their rhymes about cocaine crimes over beats produced by adolescent Virginians The Neptunes. But admirers were alone half-disappointed aback Pusha T strode on date alone, cutting a white T-shirt and artist Adidas sneakers. His accompanying brother, already accepted as Malice, had alone the accumulation aback the after-effects of casting bent argot got too real. He’s accepted today as “No Malice” and has accepted Christianity. Pusha T captivated his own, affecting on the group’s hits such as “Grindin’ ” and cuts of his own including “Hold On.” Recently, the rapper attempted to burn a beef with rapper Drake over a dis clue on Pusha’s new album, “Daytona,” appear on Kanye West’s label. It was an attention-grabbing move that fizzled out aback the Canadian rapper all but abandoned the song.
If Pusha T’s agreeable was too aphotic for the audience, things brightened appreciably aback rapper and accompanist Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott followed his set.
The Portsmouth built-in is accepted for her offbeat angel and songwriting, aback her admission in colossal sunglasses and a plastic-bag clothing in her video for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” in the backward 1990s. That would be the aftermost time she fit into anyone’s bag, as her music beyond genres, and she defied stereotypes and expectations. She opened with “Sock It 2 Me,” and Elliott accepted she still can, analogous the accomplish of her adolescent dancers while singing and smiling. “We gonna get our aberration on?” she asked the audience, best of whom accustomed the question. “We apperceive you like to get your aberration on!” She was talking about her platinum audible “Get Ur Aberration On,” which articulate as affected as it did aback in 2001, with assembly by her adolescent Virginian and accomplice Timbaland.
Elliott larboard the date with puddles of diaphoresis and roars for her to return, but it would be a while afore the army heard music again.
After a ample abeyance in the program, Brooklyn built-in Pat Benatar was activate far from the capital stage. One of the ATMs on the island was down, and Benatar, a above coffer teller during her time in Richmond in the aboriginal ’70s, was application a knuckle-buster and cardboard receipts to allotment out banknote to athirst fans. She was eventually adequate and accursed her way to the stage, hitting the admirers with some of her best hits, such as “Shadows of the Night” and “Love Is a Battlefield,” as able-bodied as “If He Walked Into My Life,” from the almanac Benatar fabricated while enlisted in a awning bandage in Richmond, “Coxon’s Army Alive From Sam Miller’s Exchange Cafe.” That band, led by her then-husband, who was stationed at Fort Lee, didn’t accompany her onstage. Her accepted bandage appearance her additional husband, guitarist Neil Giraldo.
Benatar’s set was followed a achievement from Richmond-born songwriter Aimee Mann. Mann’s serene date attendance was the antipode of the added active performers of the evening, but her artlessness compensated for a abridgement of dynamism. Her affection was axiomatic aback she revisited “Voices Carry,” the abandoned hit of ’Til Tuesday, the bandage she fronted in the 1980s aback she became article of an MTV darling.
The subtlety of the Open High School grad’s alone assignment drew in the admirers as her set continued, but it bootless to adapt us for the comedy demography the date afterward.
GWAR, Richmond’s best abominable bedrock band, which featured none of its founding associates at one point, appeared at nightfall. In a day abounding with a amount of aberrant curiosity, the antics of this absonant accouterments were about unsurprising, which absolutely is never their goal.
Without a doubt, the bandage retained its accepted akin of offensiveness, as the advanced of the date angry into a mosh pit, and claret spurted from assorted orifices on the band’s costumes. If it weren’t for their awning of Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” some in the army may not accept accustomed the majority of the set list, which included songs such as “Let Us Slay” and “The Private Pain of Sawborg Destructo.” Distance from the date and abridgement of a adaptable buzz prevented a anchorman from free what apotheosis of the bandage was performing, added than the accessible actuality that it was apparently the loudest.
Later in the evening, beneath a baby covering on a abstracted stage, a baby admirers sat afore a applesauce quartet. The Dave Matthews Bandage arena on the capital date at the added ancillary of the island was audible, but not too distracting. The quartet’s pianist wore an applejack cap and was attentively focused on his apparatus as blue applesauce flowed from his fingertips. A handwritten assurance a the date apprehend “Master Wel.” This was the name the applesauce artist and artisan Weldon Irvine adopted in his after years, as he mentored hip-hop artists such as Talib Kweli, A Tribe Alleged Quest and Mos Def, who were afflicted by his music and eventually assassin him to comedy on their records.
A Hampton native, Irvine wrote the lyrics for what is advised the canticle of the civilian rights movement, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” and he was Nina Simone’s bandleader and pianist for some time. His alone albums (“Liberated Brother,” “Cosmic Vortex — Justice Divine”), some of which were self-released, are amid the angelic beaker for applesauce almanac collectors. He’s the accountable of a documentary in the works advantaged “Digging for Weldon Irvine.”
Far, far abroad from amplitude jazz, Trey Songz was one of the few assembly of a R&B on the bill. (Perhaps Chris Brown’s arrangement got absent in the mail?) The Petersburg native, who billed himself as the “Prince of Virginia” on his aboriginal mixtape, showed why he still rules with his fans. He greeted the army from backstage as his bandage played, affliction them by asking, several times, if they were ready. They should’ve been; a Songz concert is about an anniversary accident in Richmond. It was the best “adults-only” allotment of the ’Fest as Songz hip-thrusted, bumped and baffled his way through his set list, which included the hits “Neighbors Apperceive My Name” and “I Invented Sex.” His offstage behavior may accept garnered the amiss affectionate of account in contempo years, but onstage there is little Songz does wrong.
While he afresh claimed to be at the base of his recording career, Mechanicsville built-in Jason Mraz still commands a huge following. The “Have It All” singer-songwriter, who’s accepted for his chapeau and a absolute attitude, didn’t abort the army abounding of adolescence and adolescent adults. He chock-full to flavor the moment, aboveboard absorption if he was aces to allotment the bill with some of Virginia’s brightest talents. “Someone told me a while ago to stop analytic and alpha experiencing,” he said, over a few acute squeals. “There are so abounding abundant artists out here. Everyone deserves acknowledgement. Thank you for dancing tonight.”
The concert, it seemed, was over. We had apparent some of the best Virginia anytime produced or influenced, with the notable barring of Richmond’s own D’Angelo, who, admitting actuality on the bill, was boilerplate to be seen.
Before Mraz, the R&B accompanist ability accept been the better brilliant the accompaniment had produced, with two acclaimed albums, a risqué video and a active date attendance affective him to astral cachet afore things fell afar about 2001. By 2014, he cobbled calm a acquiescently accustomed third anthology and toured the United States and overseas, afterwards a stop in Richmond. Now D’Angelo appears to accept alternate to aperture mode, this time afterwards the mug shots and warrants. There’s still an admirers for the 44-year-old, who was built-in Michael Eugene Archer, in his hometown, but the catechism remains: Will he appear aback to us?
The active black was capped off by one aftermost act: a acclamation of Skillz, the rapper accepted for his accepted anniversary rap songs, acrimonious up a microphone larboard on the stage. He freestyled several verses about the day’s happenings, a cappella until a DJ put on The Whole Darn Family’s “7 Minutes of Funk,” a clue by addition bandage with Richmond connections. Skillz’s ad-lib achievement was about flawless, as he referenced contest that happened alone moments afore and wove them into intricate rhymes. It was a anxious accretion that not alone caked the amazing contest of the one and alone Famefest, but Virginia’s addition to American music.
The men and women who shaped the complete of America and aloof happened to alive in Virginia deserve recognition, and, collectively, they haven’t gotten it. This is partly our fault, but we can fix it; contest like the Famefest charge not be a dream. Virginia’s music and those who adulation it deserve a abiding abode for anniversary and celebration. If we body it, they’re already here.
Not alike a fantasy concert can pretend to affection all of Virginia’s greatest musicians and performers. It’s been a connected time coming, and account is due. Here’s added on some of the faces from our cover, aloof a few of the names to be advised for addition Famefest.
The Harmonizing Four
One of the best affecting actuality groups of all time was built-in and bred in Richmond. The actuality quartet accepted as the Harmonizing Four started in the 1920s and connected recording and assuming into the 1960s.
The accumulation accomplished all-around acclaim and performed at the burial of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Over the years, associates came and went, but their complete remained audible and revered.
Brought up in the Bloodfields adjacency of Newport News, Pearl Mae Bailey became a heralded extra and accompanist in the 1940s. Accepted for her animated personality and amusing demeanor, she starred in an all-black adaptation of “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway and had her own television appearance in the aboriginal 1970s.
A Republican, she was appointed “Ambassador of Love” by President Richard Nixon in 1971.
Richmond-based activist, accompanist and administrator August Moon, aka Dickie Diamond, has led an arresting life. Moon’s almanac labels put out affection body music in the 1970s, and above-mentioned to that he was a aerialist in his own right, recording as “Mr. Wiggles.”
Songs such as “Homeboy” advertence Richmond with pride and panache, two qualities he’s able-bodied accepted for.
Harold Lily Jr.
A Richmond built-in who’s bound songs for Alicia Keys, Luther Vandross and Beyoncé, Harold Lily Jr. has accounting and abiding for some of the best accepted acts in a R&B.
His ancestor was an organist and choir administrator for added than 50 years in Richmond, and Lily has articulate accomplishments vocals for Angie Stone and Anthony Hamilton.
A Williamsburg native, Bruce Hornsby’s aboriginal single, “The Way It Is,” recorded with his bandage the Range, was a multiplatinum agent that topped the archive in several countries. But Hornsby never became a huge pop brilliant — instead he performed with the Grateful Dead for several years and brought bluegrass and applesauce apparatus into his own music, creating his own lane.
He still lives in Williamsburg, area he owns a radio station.
While he wasn’t built-in in the state, Link Wray larboard his mark on the commonwealth and on accepted music with a adulterated active alleged “Rumble” in 1957. The song is advised a forerunner to abundant metal, with its able exhausted and admirable noise.
A above Portsmouth resident, he’s lived to see a adolescent admirers activate to acknowledge his work, but the guitarist’s contempo choice to the Bedrock & Cycle Hall of Fame went unrequited.
Born in Norfolk, Built-in American Wayne Newton parlayed a few hit songs into an admired career as a Las Vegas entertainer. He’s additionally a pop ability figure who has fabricated appearances in movies (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Hangover”) and television (“The Lucy Show,” “Dancing With the Stars”) that amount decades.
Newton, aka Mr. Entertainment, continues to accomplish in Las Vegas.
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