the state

– 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.


1 Comment so far
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thats not guy clark its townes

Comment by c comes

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