the state

– of preacher at cosmic bowl. by vastate
Saturday, 28 March 2009, 14:00
Filed under: - of shameless self-promo, -of jhumphrey, -of sound

brothers & sisters, you can be saved TONIGHT at plaza bowl in richmond.


more info here.

be there.  or face the fiery pits.


– of extreme birth? by vastate
Friday, 27 March 2009, 14:29
Filed under: -of harrisonburg, -of health, -of jhumphrey

i’m also not sure what to think about this article in the nytimes about midwife, cara muhlhahn, and her clients.

A prenatal visit at the office of her client Nicole Tucker.   (Photo: Liz Rubincam)

A prenatal visit at the office of her client Nicole Tucker. (Photo: Liz Rubincam)

here’s a portion:

She also doesn’t practice like a typical midwife. Personal experience has led her to dismiss many of what she calls the “myths” that are still taught in school as the bedrock of safe practice. The big babies—ten-pounders and more—that most obstetricians are loath to deliver vaginally, because of the risk that their shoulders will get stuck in the birth canal, are nothing more than “fit challenges” to Muhlhahn, necessitating only patience. She regularly does vaginal births after C-section at home, and has even home-delivered the riskiest births, breeches and twins. “She’ll put herself on the line way more than most people, like taking on a birth that’s a little more high risk that most midwives wouldn’t take,” says Abby Epstein, BOBB’s director. “It’s not that she’s a cowboy. It’s because she wants to serve these couples that say, ‘I trust my body. I believe in this process.’ She puts her ass on the line in a huge way every time she kind of steps out of bounds to help somebody. That’s just who she is.”

actually, the whole article is a not-so-very-flattering take on this NYC homebirth midwife so celebrated in The Business of Being Born.  and it points out that the issues with safe homebirth that we have here in our little city are not so unique.

to counteract my feeling of depression after reading the above article, i am re-reading a really quality midwife memoir right now by former bay area homebirth CNM peggy vincentbaby catcher: chronicals of a modern day midwife is a really beautiful look at west coast homebirth in the late-seventies to the nineties: a relative heyday in modern homebirth.


vincent says

I wrote BABY CATCHER as a celebration of the best years of nurse midwifery in California. There was a window of time, a decade when a few of us had everything: supportive backup doctors, hospital privileges, affordable malpractice insurance, and a patient population that wanted exactly what we had to offer. It was brief, and it may never happen again, so I wanted to document all that was so wonderful about it.

lots of great birth stories that encourage confidence.  lots of stories of collaboration between hospital and home.  lots of inspiration or just wistfulness?  i want to believe that the days vincent describes in this book could inded happen again.  and right here in harrisonburg.

i am interested in how the new birth center for area old order mennonite women will affect how the community (doctors, midwives, and women) perceives safe birth.  i am hopeful.

– of chicken fans. by vastate
Friday, 27 March 2009, 12:09
Filed under: -of eats, -of green, -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey

p.s. word on the street has it that over 100 people showed up to the wednesday night backyard chicken event at clementine!

we’re wondering if because of where we live (read: chicken factory land),


official legislation will be very difficult to pass.  maybe seen as a threat (!?!) to the big chicken men…

at any rate, it seems like there is some excellent energy behind this drive.  and we hope that the idea of raising one’s own food hits a libertarian nerve in those conservative types who might otherwise oppose such ideas in favor of supporting big business.



remember, we’re all ready to build a chicken coop in the backyard with long-distance instruction from our own personal chicken guru in tucson.  let’s go!

– of gravity lounge & guest posts. by vastate
Friday, 27 March 2009, 11:57
Filed under: -of guest blogger., -of localism, -of sound

although we think a lot of ourselves, we acknowlege the need to branch out and gather together other perspectives when it comes to our favorite topics (music, chickens, babies, food).  this is especially easy when people not only volunteer, but write up a post and send it your way without any discussion about it.  even easier, when they are related to you…

Wavelength airs from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday on WEMC. Music from the intersection of country, folk, rock and roll, blues, and gospel with host Ted Grimsrud.

and so, we bring to you a post/review/update from WEMC 91.7’s Ted Grimsrud :

Kathleen and I saw another great show at the Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville last Tuesday evening.  Eric Taylor, a Texan soul/blues/country/folk singer.


We only learned of the Gravity a little over a year ago when I found out that Alejandro Escovedo was playing there.  We’ve been big Alejandro fans for years.  He’s brought forth one great record after another.  He’s close friends with a close friend of ours.  He was the No Depression artist of the decade for the 1990s.  So we jumped at the chance to see him.  We were about the first people to arrive at the Gravity that night, so we got to hear the sound check.  Then we met Alejandro and had a nice chat.  He had never played there before and raved about the sound.

Then only about 50 people showed up.  Being a pro and loving the sound of the venue, Alejandro and his band put on a great show.  But only 50 people for one of the country’s very best?

For Eric Taylor, almost as good but not nearly as well known, I counted about 20 in the “crowd.”

So, the Gravity is almost certainly closing down.  We heard June the other night.

Sad.  Very sad.

After loving the Alejandro concert we made a point to go back when we could.  Corey Harris, a Charlottesville resident, packed them in for a great reggae show and we got to see the Gravity at its best.  James McMurtry also drew a good crowd.  He was a bit loud and fuzzy for my taste that night (and he didn’t play “Cheney’s Toy”), but the concert was still good fun.  Jesse Winchester, another Charlottesville native, was terrific.  Woven Hand with David Eugene Edwards, a great, cutting edge band, did a good show–but only in front of 40 people or so.

Then Eric Taylor and the news of the Gravity closing in June.

My sense is that the Gravity has definitely been going upstream with such consistently fine (but relatively obscure) national acts in such a small market.  These artists I loved so much are not the kind of people you’d expect to draw big crowds to see around here (though we did see Alejandro at the Birchmere in Alexandria in front of a near full house–which would probably be close to 1,000 people).  But I also sense that the Gravity was pretty passive in marketing itself–“build it and sit back and watch them come.”  Well, perhaps not.  The only way I ever knew about a show there was via their website.

But let me tell you about Eric Taylor, because I doubt he will be playing around here again if the Gravity’s gone.  In a kind of sad way, Eric and the Gravity were a perfect match.

I first heard of Eric Taylor as one mentioned for being part of a pretty amazing roots music scene around Houston, Texas in the 1970s.  Townes Van Zandt.


Lyle Lovett.


Nanci Griffith (at one time Eric’s wife).


Guy Clark.


Steve Earle.


At one point, early on, I think many people thought that if anyone of this group might make it big it would be Eric.  An amazing songwriter with a gravelly, soulful voice and a very expressive guitar. He released one record on a major label back then that was very well reviewed.  But then drug troubles.  Time in prison.  Divorce.  Obscurity.

So I didn’t know his music, only a vague recollection of his name when I stumbled onto a cut-out version of a new record of his, Scuffletown, seven or eight years ago in Plan 9.  And the record blew my socks off.  The best covers ever of Townes Van Zandt songs.  Powerful, evocative original songs.  An amazing version of the old blues song, “Delia.”

I tried to find everything I could of Eric’s.  Near as I could tell, he only had recorded a few other albums.  They were all very good.  The song “Hemingway’s Shotgun” especially is as finely written as any song I know of.

When I learn that Eric is playing the Gravity, I am delighted and make sure we get there.  During the show, Eric talked about having CDs available.  So we check them out after the show, and I realize he has two CDs, The Great Divide (released 2005) and Hollywood Pocketknife (released 2007) I had never heard of.

Now, I work fairly hard at keeping up on new music of the type I like–weekly All-Music Guide new release reports, E-Music subscription, reading No Depression religiously, constantly checking Rhapsody.  So, how did the music of one of my favorites escape my attention?  Well, (like the Gravity) Eric apparently does not do much marketing.  The CDs are not available via CD Baby or E-Music or Amazon or anywhere else except Eric’s website and at his concerts.

In a perfect world, everyone who might care would know about the great shows at the Gravity Lounge, a comfortable, inexpensive venue with nice food and a great beer selection.  And everyone who might care would know about the great music of Eric Taylor.  These two newly discovered CDs are both terrific if you like thoughtful and engaging story songs with a voice and guitar that go straight to the gut.

We don’t live in a perfect world, so I am grateful that almost in spite of themselves, I did learn of the Gravity and Eric Taylor.  Their existence is at least a small basis for some hope.

– of good publicists. by vastate
Friday, 27 March 2009, 11:30
Filed under: -of jhumphrey, -of sound

so, after a barely there mention of peter broderick in our 3.24 concert calendar, i got a note from the publicist for this project, a broken consort:


my two year old and i listened to a preview song sent to us called the elder lie. eli’s review was, “this is a sad, sad and pretty song.”  i pretty much agree.  i was actually inclined to listen to more because i am a sucker for the cello.  particularly a slightly-messed-up-disonant cello.  this sound features prominantly in this work from richard skelton.  here’s a bit more regarding the artist:

There are many layers to the work of Richard Skelton. I don’t just mean instrumentally, for there is so much more to him as an artist than simply the music. His work is inextrically bound up with emotion, with imagery, with history, with location, with nature, and even with poetry. While I have written about his spellbinding (now re-recorded and remastered) A Broken Consort project on here before, it may well be his Landings project which represents the apex of his achievements as an artist, combining all of the above elements into a cohesive, compelling narrative. With this first release under his own name Marking Time, he strips back much of this ornamentation to produce a work of immense clarity and focus.

i’m still trying to figure out the peter broderick/richard skelton connection.  but it doesn’t really matter.  a broken consort is worth listening to.  and you could have seen peter broderick with efterklang last night in d.c….  all of these artists are good for late rainy march afternoon listening.

– of spike jonze. by vastate
Thursday, 26 March 2009, 17:29
Filed under: -of film, -of jhumphrey, -of kiddos


spike jonze, maurice sendak, six feet under & the arcade fire.

spikejonze1secondfilmmaurice-sendak-wild-things-little-bear-gay-nigh-kitchen-art-author-illustratorlauren-ambrose-picture-3-758067 +  arcade_fire

i’m not sure what to think…

-of local music 3.24.09 by vastate
Tuesday, 24 March 2009, 1:23
Filed under: Uncategorized

we’re ba’ack.

it’s been a birthday week off for this calendar-writer, but i’m sure you found something to see anyway, right?

anyway, from the state & our dear ben, here’s this week’s fill of action:

tuesday (3.24.09)

gravity lounge (c’ville) – eric taylor – 7pm $15

wednesday (3.25.09)

clementinebackyard chicken legalization project fundraiser – richard easley, ears to the ground, mountain valley string band, trent wagler – 7.30pm donate

¡state sanctioned! blue nilewavves, vampire hands, the super vacations, the brooms – 9pm 18+ $5

thursday (3.26.09)

the little grill – open stage – 8.30pm

clementinemissy raines & the new hip – 9pm $10

& just in case:

velvet lounge (d.c.) – spindrift, the flying eyes, helsinki, albertans, resin hits

dc9 (d.c.) – efterklang, peter broderick, bellflur

friday (3.27.09)

¡state sanctioned! the darjeeling cafe (staunton) – preacher, the tomsmen, pablo & the dregs – 9pm donate

the little grillred river rollercoaster (reunion/midwife benefit!) – 8pm $5 +donate

clementinestephanie rooker – 9pm $5

the pub – most wanted – 21+

kronos (staunton) – teddy bear picnic, ten trick pony – 7.30pm

saturday (3.28.09)

dave’s tavernaspoke

the pub – kieth bryant w/ ironhorse – 21+

twisted branch tea bizarre (c’ville) – the extraordinaires – 8.30pm $7

& just in case:

¡state sanctioned! plaza bowl (richmond) – justin jones & the driving rain, mild winter, preacher – 8pm

sunday (3.29.09)

old cabel hall (c’ville) – the virginia world music festival – 12pm

the artful dodgertrent wagler, josh vana, ryan payne – 7.30pm $5

monday (3.30.09)

clementine – a sense of wonder (movie – silent spring author rachel carson) – 7.30pm

the artful dodgerthe post-apocalyptic blues band, secret ninja death squad – 7.30pm $5

p.s.: plan ahead

4.9.09 – the little grill – danny schmidt

5.24.09 – fry’s spring beach club (cville) – bonnie prince billy