August 5 marked the exciting and much anticipated debut of Radio Rubber Room Presents in its new location at The Camel and the music venue kicked things off with a bang! For the debut, R.R.R.
August 5 marked the exciting and much anticipated debut of Radio Rubber Room Presents in its new location at The Camel and the music venue kicked things off with a bang! For the debut, R.R.R. brought Captain Grandpa and Jouwala! to the ears of the good folks of Richmond.
First up, Captain Grandpa. The self-described Psychedelic-Folk-Punk quartet is composed of veteran RVA rocker and psyched-out stoner-rock scallywag Raphael Katchinoff on drums (Milkstains, Southern Belles, Peoples Blues of Richmond, that guy from that one band), Ben Butterworth (Inflatables, Belles Manager, Acoustic solo performer) and Corey Wells (Inflatables, Honorary Belle ) on guitar and vocals, and Zach Hudgins (original bass player of The Southern Belles) on bass and vocals.
If the assemblage sounds familiar it should. All members of Captain Grandpa played in the RVA bluegrass ensemble, The Inflatables. These guys have all made their rounds on the RVA music scene and chances are you’ve seen them before (whether you know it or not), but if you haven’t seen Captain Grandpa, I guarantee you haven’t seen them like this.
The boys started off strong with an upbeat Rockabilly tune from Bob Dylan and The Band, titled “Million Dollar Bash”, and followed it up with a psychedelic re-imagination of “Long Distance”; a nod to the band’s roots and track one of the 2011 Inflatables release “Dirty Looks From The Dog”. The message seemed to be “yes we are those guys, but this is not that band.”
As the room filled with swayers and two steppers, the boys slipped comfortably between genres, combining hillbilly pickin’ and three-part harmony with spacey electric rock jams and dynamic time signatures. Charismatic frontman Ben Butterworth worked the room while Katchinoff, arguably one of RVA’s best pocket drummers, maintained tempo with marked precision.
I’ve been watching Katchinoff for nearly five years in various projects and have always been impressed not only with his ability to seamlessly transition between timing signatures, but also his talent for queuing the rest of the band to ensure a cohesive shift. As the set progressed we heard some choice covers including “Big in Japan” by Tom Waits and the Dead’s “The Golden Road” along with some new tunes that are sure to be fan favorites. As the set came to a close the dance floor was full of smiling, candy-filled (thanks to Grandpa’s toffee dish) faces and the air was filled with excitement and anticipation for what will hopefully be many more stirring performances from this talented young crew of performers.
The year is 2008. A 17-year-old IsMail Bouzidoune arrived in the U.S. direct from Casablanca Morocco, bringing with him a love of traditional Gnawa music, a talent for playing Gimbri and bass, and a core belief in the healing power of music. Today Bouzidoune, along with Gabriel McFarland ( guitar, loutar), James Swisher (keyboards), Kevin Johnson (tabla,percussion), and David Price-Gibson (drums), continues to spread the message as Jouwala Collective, blending Gnawa music with modern influences of funk, jam, jazz, rock and electronic.
The first thing you will notice when Jouwala Collective takes the stage will undoubtedly be the unique instrumentation, the centerpiece of which is IshMail’s Gimbri, a 4-foot long three-stringed skin-covered bass plucked lute mounted on a mic stand. Along with a double stack keyboard and traditional (if stripped down) rock drum kit, the band also features an auxiliary drummer playing wooden conga drums and a set of steel Tabla drums.
As the music started, I was struck by the contrast of new and old world styles. As IshMail belted out traditional Gnawa chants combining classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions, guitar player Gabriel McFarland accompanied with blaring electronic/jazz Fusion influenced guitar reminiscent of Luke Miller.
Accompanied by Keven Johnson’s nimble hand percussion, David Price-Gibson moved between funky off-time drum beats and concise 4/4 rock beats while James Swisher filled the gaps and the room with ethereal ambient tones that made the whole experience feel like some smokey African dream-scape. The show was full of familiar elements from a myriad of styles the combined effects of which created something truly unique. The group had the ability to be simultaneously smooth and funky, traditional and experimental, new and old.
As we put the lid on another amazing night of free live music courtesy of Radio Rubber Room and The Camel, I want to thank everyone for coming out and making this night possible. For those of you who didn’t make it out don’t worry, RRR is back at The Camel tonight with Sea of Storms, Close Talker Stay In and Keith Yetter. Music starts at 10 pm. Be there.
Catch more performances recorded live in the studio or weekly podcast here and on itunes. Join us next week when you’ll hear Derrick Vera Say ” Damn’t Chanelle! Stop touching the friggin thermostat!”